Rage against the machine
Quintaine Americana could be the future of rock
by Joe Longone
When the sun goes down, the faint cries of thousands of bands
rise up into the night, warning of a new apocalyptic underground. As the earth
crumbles around the feet of commercial radio stations, mainstream publications,
and the millions who'll contemplate spending fifty bucks to catch Styx in
concert, music groups like Quintaine Americana continue to seethe and smolder
like an awakening volcano . . . until the time is right.
"I'm not a violent person," says the group's guitarist/vocalist Rob Dixon. But
these words echo false when you listen to this Boston trio's debut disc,
Needles (Cherry Disc), or when you see them live. Violence is what
they're all about -- not the petty furor of a downtown drunk, or hormone-laced
frat boy, but an active rage against an America that is cheapened by mass
merchandising and the soulless for their lack of wanting anything better. The
band paint a dim picture in their lyrics of a land dotted by boarded-up stores
and trailer parks. Through their vision, we see the world's greatest nation
populated by hicks and whores (anyone ready to sell themselves short).
Much of what has made Quintaine Americana who they are can be drawn back to
Dixon's and drummer Jason King's childhoods, growing up in Mississippi.
"We came from a place of very little hope," Dixon says. "If you live in the
South, you either get married or end up in jail. When I was a teenager, I had
two things that preoccupied my time, music and thoughts of leaving Mississippi.
I started my first band down there; we quickly learned that we were safe from
pissing off the townsfolk as long as we kept playing Steppenwolf and Lynyrd
Dixon and King finally escaped to Boston in 1988. They became friends with
bassist Marc Schlesicher and formed a band in 1993. In the three years that
followed they gained a loyal following by playing for next to nothing in an
overcrowded bar scene. Attention came quickly when they won last year's
Noise readers' poll for best live band in Boston. They were signed to
Cherry Disc and almost won last year's WBCN Rumble.
Quintaine Americana's music is lead heavy, yet rhythmic. Their messages are
universally condemning but not without shades of truth -- this could be the
future of rock. While they wait for their chance to explode on to the American
music scene, you can capture their all-out attack of the senses next Thursday,
April 24, at Ralph's.
Bob comes clean
Live and Let Live (self-release) is as commercial as Bob Jordan
is likely to get. The latest tape from this local wildman of folk is a
cleaned-up version of his greatest hits. Selections from his past two tapes
(I'm Better Now and Don't Listen to Me) along with a number of
covers by fellow musical strangemen make up most of what's contained on this
direct-to-DAT live recording. What's left off the new release is the random
bits of noise and low-tech hum that marred his other releases.
Jordan displays his typical weirdness with "1'8 ohm chant -- 60 cycle hymn"
and "Invocation," but soon the music settles in on some crystal-clear
performances. Fans of his past tapes will recognize numbers like "Petites
riens," "Sea Home," "Turn Around," and "Don't Listen to Me." Debut
compositions, "The Ice-Breaker," "Go Move Shift," and "If Not You," contain the
same cockeyed brilliance this veteran performer is known for.
The spirit of Arthur Lee (Love) makes its presence known on the cover songs
"Live and Let Live" and "Alone Again Or." Jordan has contributed to Lee's
defense fund -- the famed guitarist is one of the latest casualties of
California's three-strikes law. Material by Michael Hurley, Ewan Maccoll,
Frazer Debolt, and Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) are also interpreted with
passion and humor.
Local musician Bob Swanson has again picked up the guitar to lead a new
comedy/musical outfit this time called Turtlehead. Many area rockers will
remember Swanson from the days when he sang and played the guitar with the
Dialtones (in the '80s). In recent years, he has been the drummer of
Providence's Big Nazo. That strange muppet-like performance troupe are taking a
few months off, and Swanson and fellow Nazo, Kieth Monslow, have put together a
side project just for laughs. Munslow will play the accordion, while Andy
Celley (keyboards), Dave Martel (bass), and Glen Auburn (drums) fill out the
Turtlehead plan to inject humor into everything they do. You can check out
this funny crew when they play the Firehouse Cafe next Friday, April 18.
Best Music Poll update
This is the final week to vote in the 1997 Worcester Phoenix
Best Music Poll. You'll find a ballot on page 23. Or you can vote in person at
upcoming Best Music Poll Ballot Nights. On Friday, April 18, Phoenix
contributer Mark Edmonds will blitz Framingham's blues clubs, distributing and
collecting ballots at the Blue Buffalo, Chicken Bone Saloon, and Mugs Away Pub.
Also look for us to turn up at the Palladium, in Worcester, next Thursday. All
ballots must be at our office by 5 p.m. next Friday (April 25). Results will be
announced in the May 23 edition of the Worcester Phoenix.