It’s been a while since our last update, and it’s not that I was too busy with family, friends, and feasts to write. Rather, the holiday seemed like a good time to take a few days of vacation away from I Rock Cleveland to recharge and refocus my efforts.

I have a handful of album reviews in various degrees of completion, but seeing as though this was a blog vacation, I spent most of my listening time revisiting some classic albums in my collection.

One of these days when I’m overcome with boredom, I’ll compile a list of older albums that send the Rockometer to 10 or higher. Near the top of the list has to be Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque. Every time I listen to this one I’m struck by how perfect it is: the guitars crunch like guitars used to do 15 years ago and the melodies stick with you long after “Is This Music?” ends.

Teenage Fanclub – The Concept (Live on SNL)

I also had a lot of quality time with The Verve. It’s not that I need a reason to revisit 1995’s A Northern Soul and 1997’s Urban Hymns, but The Verve’s recent reunion and their recent recording, “The Thaw Sessions” did just that.

The Verve – Sonnet

Like most, I’m a much bigger fan of The Verve than anything Richard Ashcroft did as a solo artist. Without knowing much about the band dynamics of The Verve, besides the fact they always seemed to be on the verge of breaking up, broken up, or reuniting, I’ve always assumed that it was Ashcroft’s band mates who reigned in the extravagant tendencies that have plagued his solo material. It’s as if all he needed was someone else in the studio saying, “No, we don’t need more strings.” Still, there are parts of his solo output that do stand up well to The Verve, and “A Song for the Lovers” from his 2000 solo debut, Alone with Everybody, is one of those moments.

Richard Ashcroft – A Song for the Lovers

From the exact moment Black Mountain’s set ended at the Grog Shop on October 13th, I’ve been eagerly awaiting some new tuneage from their forthcoming album, In The Future.

I distinctly remember one point during Black Mountain’s show where my bud Jeff turned to me and said, “Zeppelin.” I replied “Floyd.” I also remember being blown away by these Vancouver monsters of rock, and saying more than once, “Wolfmother are a bunch of p*ssies.” It’s not that I don’t like Wolfmother, I do, but in the world of retro rock, they don’t even come close. Therein lies the strength of Black Mountain — their music can recall the grandeur of classic rock acts like Zeppelin or Floyd, but they don’t come off as a masquerade act reliving someone else’s glory days.

Black Mountain – Tyrants [download]

My holiday started with the This Way Out 2nd Anniversary Party at the Beachland Tavern and Ballroom. Cobra Verde headlined the musical portion of the night, and frontman John Petkovic was in top form. Too often these days, frontmen (and women) do little more than stand on stage and sing and/or strum. That’s not the case with Petkovic. His first move was to jump and punch out one of the Tavern’s ceiling tiles. That provided him with a good place to keep empty Pabsts, pieces of broken tile, and his bag of circus peanuts. Later in the night, he was sh*t talking local rock “legends” Kid Leo and Michael Stanley. Look, I’m not saying a frontman has to talk sh*t and keep his empties in the ceiling to be entertaining, but it sure does help.

Cobra Verde also played some tunes. While most of the set consisted of numbers from their forthcoming disc, due out some time in 08, they did include some classics from their back catalog like “Modified Frankenstein,” “Was it Good,” and “Riot Industry.” The band were loud, rowdy, and “Modified Frankenstein” in particular, with its big meaty guitar riffs, was perfect for some pre-holiday rockin’ out.

If I said it once, I said it twice: The Dreadful Yawns’ “Don’t Know What I’ve Been On” is their top jam.

The Dreadful Yawns – Don’t Know What I’ve Been On [download]

This was probably the fourth, maybe fifth time I’ve seen the Yawns in the past year, and quite honestly, I don’t have much new to say about this band, other than they continue to perform some of the best rock shows in the local scene today.

News from Camp Yawns is that good progress is being made on their next full length release, and a release date during the first quarter of 08 is a distinct possibility.

Did I mention that during the This Way Out Anniversary show there was this dude in a tutu serenading his yo-yo to the tune of Journey’s “Faithfully?” Well, that happened, and if you weren’t there, then you’ll have to trust me on this one — it was even funnier and more absurd than it sounds.

One last note before we get back to our regular posting — If you’re a fan of Rock and/or Roll, you should check out Witchcraft at the Grog Shop tomorrow night.