The Little Black Books

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Certain bands come along that have an energy that pushes on the opinion of what a band is. They play music that twists your ears and precariously punks out your mind. A barrage of sound, with musicians and artists attacking their instruments.

That is what The Little Black Books presented at the Nor Shor last weekend. Their drummer was also one of the cockiest musician I have ever met. That drummer is Ryan Lund or Chunk, the mad-capped, free wheeling 22 year old artist. He does tricks that control the band and an audience. When we spoke after the show he lamented about my Black Labels article I wrote last year (of whom he is also the drummer) and how I talked about reggae and surf rock without punk. I explained that at the time I was new to the scene and tried to describe them as best as possible. He was a little spent after playing for two bands and the evening was catching up to him. He rocked on the drums in about 10 different styles and believes in the art that he makes. Sticks thrown out, up, and a beat that keeps with it. His playing is confident, like his personality, but then he had this ruthless side that emerges also. A fascinating addition to both bands.

The Little Black Books are punk, with many influences and sounds. On their album, Only One Name (In My Little Black Book) Mark Lindquist (Guitar/Vocals) had his opportunity to unleash a new sound on Duluth in fall of 2004. The story on The Little Black Books web site tells, "Shortly after agreeing to work together, both Chunk and Mark ran into Kevin who built a studio above his used book and record store. He said he wanted to record the project and play bass on it. Then, as if their luck couldn't get any better, Bob Olsen (Black Eyed Snakes) snuck into the bar and demanded to play guitar on the said project. More booze was poured, recording dates were set, and Mindy Johnson (the Keepaways) was kidnapped at knife point to add her musical talents to a few songs." The album moves through different genres effortlessly, but stays within the feeling of where Mark is going.

"Zenith City" opens with guitar feedback and moves to a fuzzy interlude of steady strumming and powerchords. Mark sings like a pinch of David Bowie/ Lou Reed with this punk rasp that has a hidden agenda. When we get to song two, "Wish Away," there is much more popular appeal, becoming just a great tune to enjoy. "Whiskey So Soft" changes entirely from the form that the first few songs establish. There is a guitar riff a minute and a half into the piece that flies up the neck and lights a fire to the song. You can feel things pick up and Mark sings, "Whiskey So Soft, my headphones are on and my lights are off…" "Magnets" sounds a bit like Oasis or perhaps even Coldplay; although Coldplay is a bit too commercial at the moment, the song has a Brit feel from some era. "Turn Me In" has a rockabilly punk tone to it, and works well. The changes and choruses are heavy, accentuating a strong fundamentalism that shows a great deal of expertise. But when "Let It Slide" plays, there is finally hope to those of us who grew up listening to Velvet Underground. It is experimental and very Warholish in nature, coming across as something new.

Overall the album is strong and seeing the band live was also a great experience. At the Nor Shor crazy things were happening that night. When the Black Labels were playing a huge guy got up on the stage and tried to take the bass away from Matt Norby. Sadly, the stage area was locked and everyone crowded into the mezzanine area. The Nor Shor should be the big concert hall of Duluth for rock bands. Usually when you see shows there only a sparse crowd collects, so the mezzanine bar gives the appearance that the place is packed. Too bad the main stage area doesn’t have a bar, bathrooms, and smoking area right in front of the stage. Such a waste of a beautiful venue. But for those who were there to support the Old Big Lake Bookstore great tunes showed up from many local bands. There was also a release for a Duluth Compilation CD, with more information coming soon.