Northwest Underground rock 1980 'til the End of Time


Nov. 2020: Al Bloch – Protest Songs

Al Bloch guitar & amp

Well, well, well my Stark and Beautiful Children,

Another hoary November is upon us. The election is over. The pandemic surges. Still, we carry on, we persevere. And what better way to do that than through the timeless, mystic magic of music, I ask you.

So let’s get down to business, shall we?

Al BlochAl Bloch, after having gone through many years of near silence, has released his second album of all new material this year, Protest Songs. Eleven new slices of pure Al goodness. It is being released Nov. 20, on CDr (from our GMR Bandcamp site) and all the usual streaming/download joints. Did I mention it rocks and is wonderful and pure? Check out his new video for You Gotta Have A Plan.

So …  what does Brother Al have to say about this one?

Al BlochHello, Al Bloch here.  This album, Protest Songs was recorded in September and October of this year, with me recording my parts remotely in Roanoke, VA and Kurt Bloch producing and recording his parts at Strictly Vintage in Seattle.  I wrote all the songs after the recording of my other 2020 album, It Was All Once Bright Jewels, and while I thought the songs would be profoundly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, they turned out with nary a mention of it.  Which probably is better for the listener, because really . . . who wants to keep being reminded of the events of this horrible year?  So, ultimately the songs ended up being about zombies, pirates, cavemen, and other topics important to me, but not at all relevant to the year 2020.  They came out of me, nonetheless.  I thought the songs were good enough to present to my brother Kurt, and see if he would be up for working his magic and bringing them to life.  He accepted, and arrangements were created and recording ensued.  The songs were laid down very quickly, and that was pretty much that, as they say. The Bloch Brothers don’t mess around.  Tom Dyer, from Green Monkey Records, jumped onboard and agreed to release Protest Songs.  (happily -td)

Al Bloch walks awayThe album could very well have been credited to both Al Bloch and Kurt Bloch, as Kurt’s contributions were monumental and breathed life into my songs and really made them crackle.  AND, because Kurt has much clout in the music world, he was even able to get the band BAD SCENE to join us for a cover of the great 1975 UFO song, “This Kid’s.”  That song ends this album, but before that you get ten new Al Bloch songs that are pretty great, if I do say so myself.  All songs were written on a Taylor acoustic guitar in a small room in my house, dedicated to my musical pursuits.  In this room, which I keep very dark, I’m free to visit those places in my brain where I think those deep, rambling, non-linear thoughts that I try to coax outside with the sound of a pretty guitar chord.  Sometimes I succeed and I have something that I call a song, a designation many would find debatable.  These songs make me happy, and I’m glad I was able to record them with my brother Kurt, who is awesome.  Also awesome is my daughter, the very talented Olivia Bloch, who sings with me on “A Pirate Melody.”  Sort of a family affair, you could say.  Which is just fine with me.  I hope you, the listener, enjoy this album.  And don’t get too comfortable, I hope to have another album out in mid-2021 that you might like even better.  Thank you!

Al Bloch - It Was All Once Bright JewelsAnd, let’s not forget what was said about last May’s It Was All Once Bright Jewels? “Many of the songs rush by at a quick clip, and it’s charming to hear Al struggle to get the words out at that pace. I suppose that could have been fixed digitally, but they wisely chose to let it stand, and it really enhances the naturalness and honesty of the songs. It Was All Once Bright Jewels is an effective antidote to slickly produced albums that could have been produced by algorithms instead of human musicians. And let’s hope it’s not another 20 years before Al Bloch sees fit to write some new songs.” Jon Davis Expose’

It didn’t take 20 years.

tHe FaR bE iTs single

What else?

How about our beloved Gary Minkler? On October 30, 1 tHe FaR bE iTs released their debut digital single “The Strange Case Of Dr. Head And Mr. Hyde” b/w “Broken Ballerina” on our GMR bandcamp, Spotify and all that other streaming stuff! Hmmmm, you say. Something sounds strangely familiar about those titles.

Well, they should, if you are any kind of a Northwest musicologist. Both titles appear on Popllama PL2CD-4994. Red Dress, The Collection, a very fine album which is out of print but can still be found on Discogs. Both songs are written by Bill Bagley.  Quite right!

The Scoop. tHe FaR bE iTs are Bill Bagley and Gary Minkler. Gary and Bill from Red Dress. This single is a reworking of those very two recordings, with tracks added and tracks subtracted. If you want to know exactly which ones are different, you’d best talk to Bill or Gary. At any rate, they are just the same as before and completely different. Or as musicians like to say, better! And totally hip.

There is serious discussion of putting this out on a 7′ vinyl single because Gary loves them and he loves you and knows your life will be better with one. It has not gone out to press yet so for now just do the digital groove thang.

The theory is that this is the beginning of tHe FaR bE iTs debut album, which will be out as soon as it is ready. And we will let you know when it is ready of course.

It is also worth noting that Gary has recently recorded some very fine new (and sometimes awesomely weird) solo songs (without Bill I’m fairly sure) that are making their very leisurely way toward some sort of release. And in case you don’t have Gary’s Little Trailer Ruby album we released a few years ago, I recommend you buy it this moment. Perfect stocking stuffer. Right here:

Jeff Kelly - Haunted HillThere is news on the Jeff Kelly front. First off, Jeff has released a new solo album on his St. Brigid imprint – This Haunted Hill. I am listening to it as I write this and must say it is a fine album for a gray day.

From St. Brigid: This album grew out of a series of YouTube videos Jeff made called, ‘From Home,’ the concept of which was to capture each recording’s vocal take as it was being performed live, with his desktop camera. Another way to connect with people during the current isolation brought about by the pandemic.

“I chose some old favorites of mine and dressed them up, for the most part, in very different arrangements. I wanted to do some songs where the lyric is maybe a bit more of a priority, so I’ve kept those live lead vocals up high in each mix.” – JK

Additionally, on Oct. 28, this statement credited to Mr. Kelly appeared on the Green Pajamas Facebook page. “Thinking about a new Green Pajamas album for 2021 -IF Joe Biden wins…” Not saying that is the definitive statement, but Mr. Biden did win, so…

Jeff also has a new post-election digital tune – “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which will be the final track on this year’s Holiday album, Pandemic Christmas.

Speaking of which, the GMR Xmas charity download album is happening once again. As every year, it’s a damn miracle. I never have an idea who will participate when I put the word out in October, but here they are. It looks like about 23-25 participants this year (which is some sort of record for sure) and will be available December 1 as usual.  All proceeds will go to MusiCares.

On the album will be the spirited tune “Pandemic Christmas” by The True Olympians, our first recording with drummer Michael Stein. As is my want for all True Olympian Christmas tunes, I will be making a small run of CDRs available to the remotely interested.  In related news, the Olympia album is picking up steam as I now have 4 operating Pro Tools set ups at band member houses and have them actually working. Chug chug!

Richard Peterson's First AlbumFinally, on Jan 1, 2021, we will be releasing the rest of Richard Peterson’s catalog digitally. His original Topaz single, taken directly from vinyl, and the First and Second albums remastered from the original master tapes. Like the releases taken from CD, the download will include complete scans of the covers, including his notes, so you are able to have the full RP experience. This will be the first time in recorded history that the complete Richard Peterson catalog will be available from a single source. As always, all sales moneys will go to Richard. We keep nada.

td Nov. 2020

ps. Tune in to my FreeForm NW radio show every Wednesday at 1:00pm – KAOS 89.3 FM Olympia or stream it at I also make it available to stream for two weeks after broadcast on Soundcloud.

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