Hello and welcome to the second episode of Kingston After Dark for the still-fresh year of 2019. I assure you that we’re going to try to keep the positive momentum going as we continue our wild sprint out of the gate and leave 2018 in the dust where it belongs. Full clemency to Cyntoia Brown was granted Monday — a refreshing moment of justice to kick off the year. I am battling a horrible cold that has rendered me barely able to speak without sounding like Darth Vader with strep throat, so perhaps you should read this column introduction as if it were the vertically scrolling text at the beginning of a Star Wars movie. With Dems back in control of the House, perhaps we can prevent the rise of a real-world First Order.
I can tell you I have been drinking a lot of tea and coughing up continent-sized chunks of mucus, if that’s exciting for you. In all seriousness, we are actually going to get things moving up to hyperspeed with a discussion of some music news and my top show pick of the month.
Albany groove-metallers The Clay People made their biggest dent in the 1990s-2000s alternative rock and metal scene, constantly gigging and opening up minds and mosh pits in the Capital Region and beyond. The Clay People (1998 album) was produced by Neil Kernon for Slipdisc Records (a Mercury affiliate); Kernon also worked with Queensrÿche and David Bowie, among many others. It was the band’s most commercially successful release, and songs from the record were included in the soundtracks to films Strangeland and Universal Soldier: The Return, as well as several video games. Supporting the self-titled release they toured with Disturbed, Staind, Static-X, Clutch and Rob Zombie to name a few, but despite regional influence the band never had the widespread ongoing staying power impact of all of those household names in the hard rock community.
I wanted to take a moment this week to mention that The Clay People are back with a new record called Demon Hero and Other Extraordinary Phantasmagoric Anomalies and Fables. That gives Fiona Apple a run for her money in the long-winded album title department, no? Chris Wyse of The Hollywood Vampires, Ace Frehley, The Cult and OWL contributed bass to the band’s reinterpretation of fan favorite “Strange Day” and “Gen RX.” Walter Flakus of industrial pop act Stabbing Westward, and one-time Clay People member, contributed keys. Wade Alin, who added programming to the band’s self-titled release, also returns on Demon Hero. For a taste you can check out the single “GenRX” on YouTube now to shake the dust out of your attic. If you are like me and love the melodic but driving sounds of a lot of the heavy bands who came out of this region in the nineties, this will sound like an old familiar friend.
On the very local front, my pick for must see show of the month is Blood & Stomach Pills. The unique duo plays BSP on Saturday, Jan. 19 with soul rock trio The Beautiful Bastards and will warm you to the bone even on a cold night. The band style themselves as economical rock and roll for hard times. Two members, Sierra and Heron Furtwangler, make up the outfit, apparently in competition for coolest local rocker names. White Stripes-esque punky rhythm pairs well with 1970s organ and fierce guitar for a barn-burning experience steeped in country, punk, blues and garage. They remind me a bit if New Paltz rockers NCM were more outwardly into feminism and the Great Depression, if that helps.
Sending love this week to Mike Shaw of hardcore band Mindforce. A longtime member of the local scene, Mike was recently in a head-on car crash. The car was wrecked and he is very lucky to be alive but has a long way to heal ahead of him. As a result, Mindforce stated on their official Twitter at @mindforceny that the band is on indefinite hiatus but you can visit them there and send some love or listen to their buzzworthy new release Excalibur loudly to send some PMA Mike’s way.
Until next week, I’ll leave you to ponder some food for thought from black activist and data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe, who tweeted cuttingly on Jan. 6 — “It’s interesting how the #MAGA crowd is so opposed to the 70% top income tax rate and 77% estate tax rate that were in place during the same time period they claim they want America to return to.” That is indeed interesting. It makes you wonder if in fact they are just greedy and bad-faith actors, now doesn’t it?
I am inspired for gains made to reclaim America from hate and corruption and the fresh and diverse faces that have joined the fray in Washington. Let’s not lose hope and keep our eyes on the prize of making America the best it can be, whether at home here in Kingston or anywhere else. God bless. Dancing is not a crime. Cursing and tone is less important than content. Oh, and The Founding Fathers™ didn’t want us to have car-mounted laser cannons or whatever is in vogue for testosterone points at the moment. Until next time, have an empowering week. It’s back to soup broth for me until we meet again, but, like America, I will also rise again.