LENNY LASHLEY'S GANG OF ONE–ILLUMINATOR

The single best record buying experience I’ve ever had ever ever was the day Lenny Lashley’s first Gang of One 7″ came in the mail. I didn’t know Lenny beyond the Piss Poor Boys record (the DTR cover, etc.) and I didn’t know anything about this record beyond the fact that it existed–Snodgrass mentioned it in an interview. The record was #HF001, the first and, so far, only release by a record store in Asbury Park called Hold Fast. They sent me the Record Store Day release-party edition of the 7″– a picture disc and a flyer autographed by the Gang of One, which I was surprised to learn wasn’t just Lenny. Reading the autographs, my jaw dropped lower and lower: Joe “the Kid” Sirois from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Streetdogs! Pete “The Pete” Steinkopf and Bryan “Papillon” Kienlen from THE BOUNCING SOULS, the band that changed the course of my life at nine years old. I never expected to see those names in my mailbox. I never expected the songs to be so great. And that’s what this band feels like to me now–a surprise family reunion. You never know when this band will show up, but when they do it’s with such warmth, sincerity, and lack of bullshit that it feels like exactly the hug you need so badly. That was in 2011; now the Gang of One full-length is finally finally out! Family sometimes disappoints (not blaming) but the Gang of One doesn’t. This is Essential Listening.

Illuminator picks up where the 7″ left off with a holy, sanctimony-devoid, bar-rock-street-punk-country-soul sound that nobody else does. The Gang of One offers no airs; this is not a mysterious band; I don’t think they expect strangers to listen to their records. However true that is, the record certainly comes out uncanny. Think about what a music career has given Lenny Lashley–from his Boston punk band Darkbuster, who were hometown battle-of-the-bands champs in their time but don’t get talked about at all anymore, to the quiet original release of the Piss Poor Boys record, the botched Suburban Home reissue, a broken hand, a nervous breakdown–it’s made him dear in many hearts, and I don’t mean to speak for him, but I’m sure it has been hard as fuck and not reliably profitable.

And then think about what this guy still gives to music–this album, this lonely and brilliant thing, the hard-won concord he’s able to anthemize, the desolation he balladates–he gives it his therapy, he trusts his zen assets, his songs, to a world/audience/void he knows isn’t going to fix much for him, but it’s still stabilizing to try–still a flexing of trust like what happens after finally seeing your parents as mortal, mistaken people, or watching a loved one move out, or standing by while a career demystifies without reward–it all comes back to you and things you can’t keep from admitting to yourself and finding a strength you can build with after that deconstruction. That’s what this band is about to me. Recalibrating your compassion and your self-worth in the face of total shit. Lenny Lashley is great at writing songs that deal and move on. Every single song on this album is important to that end. And he ends the album, either stubbornly or heroically, with the lines, I could never reach out and go that way anymore / I don’t need re-covering / I’m fine the way I am.” Deal, sing along, and go.

Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One – U.S. Mail
Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One – White Man
Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One – Happily

Stream Illuminator at New Noise Magazine. Buy the physical from Pirate’s Press Records or Panic State Records. Buy the digital from iTunes, but Panic State also sells a digital version for cheaper, so buy it from them.

DEBUT: LENNY & THE PISS POOR BOYS – LEAVING IN THE MORNING

Virgil Dickerson of Suburban Home Records once did a guest post for Ninebullets about a band he absolutely loved and hoped to re-release on Suburban Home. Well, it only took over 2 and a half years, but his dreams have come true. Towards, the end of of November, Suburban Home will be re-releasing Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys self-titled album.

Today, you can hear a track from it here on ninebullets.net that you might better recognize from Drag The River’s cover of it.

Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys – Leaving In The Morning

GUEST POST: LENNY AND THE POOR BOYS

Hey guys and gals. I’m sitting here in Colorado waiting for the sun to come up so I can get out of this room and onto the mountain. The nice thing about having an east coast internal clock is that I get up early enough to have coffee and eat without rushing.

Today’s guest  post comes from the owner of the Colorado based (see the tie in there?) label, Suburban Home Records, Virgil Dickerson. It is about a band that quite frankly, I’ve heard of numerous times but had never heard. I hope  y’all like it.

When a post from Bryan looking for Guest writers popped up on Twitter, I emailed Bryan letting him know my interest in contributing. Being a big fan of Ninebullets.net and having a background in zine publishing (Suburban Home started as a zine in 1995), I was thrilled when Bryan gave me the opportunity to write a little something. I asked him if there were any guidelines to which he replied, “No guidelines at all outside of take it seriously…I put alot of time and effort into ninebullets. Other than that, have fun with it.” Fair enough. At this point, I started thinking long and hard about an incredible band that I could share with all of you. I ruled out about writing about one of our bands (but let me shamelessly plug a few of our bands that I hope are on your radar – Drag the River, Two Cow Garage, Tim Barry, Austin Lucas, Yesterday’s Ring, The Takers, Jon Snodgrass, and Ninja Gun). I considered writing about Murder by Death only because Bryan told me he wasn’t a fan (I love them very much), but decided against it. I thought about writing about the new Justin Townes Earle, “Midnight at the Movies” which I got a promo of this week and am digging big time, but since I know that Bryan also loves them, I figured he would soon be writing about the album himself. After further thought, I could only think about one band that I think everyone should know about. This band is Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys.

Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys are from Boston, Massachusetts, and I first heard about them from Drag the River. Drag the River were given some early demos by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys when Drag played a show with Dropkick Murphys. Chad and Jon loved those songs so much, they started playing “Cambridgeport Saloon” and “Leaving in the Morning” live and during the recording sessions that would become “It’s Crazy”, they recorded a cover of “Leaving in the Morning” which became the first song on the album. I had always thought “Leaving in the Morning” was a Drag the River original, but I was told that this was a song written by Lenny. After hearing that, I decided to pay a visit to the band’s myspace page and I am sure I listened to the 2 songs on their profile (“Cambridgeport Saloon” and “Lonely Days and Whiskey Nights”) about a million times. I loved every second of those 2 songs and immediately looked everywhere I could to find a copy. That search lead me to the Ludeboy Records’ site where I didn’t hesitate to mailorder the album although the $16 price seemed a bit high. I had heard that the label was slow at sending out mailorder and after 2 weeks, I still hadn’t received a copy of the album. A really kind friend burned a copy and mailed it to me and I received it before the copy I had purchased.

As I thought would be the case, I absolutely loved every song. Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys perfectly marry Country and Punk Rock unlike any band I have ever heard. Lenny has fronted the street punk band, Darkbuster, for years and he brings that energy to Honky Tonk Country. The upright bass and pedal steel guitar give the band a much older sound than you would otherwise think. The songs tell stories of late night bar fights, boozing, salvation, their favorite Ramones’ song, more boozing, and they even cover the Lowenbrau theme song. In one particular song, Lenny sings “I’m Thirty Something and I don’t Feel Old, Still listening to Punk Rock still like my beers cold,” and I think that lyric spoke to me more than any other lyric. I loved this record and this band so much, I contacted the band. I mentioned my interest in working with them and hopefully putting out their next album. This is when they told me that after their bass player passed away, the band pretty much fell apart. This my friends, is a true tragedy. I have spoke to the label that released their album and mentioned my interest in licensing it for release on vinyl, something I still want to do. With any luck, this will one day happen.

Although Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys are not active, Drag the River did play a show with Lenny the last time they were in Boston. Lenny, if you read this and are ever looking for a label to put out anything, please drop me a line.

Friends, I hope you like this band as much as I do. Thanks Bryan for letting me rant.

Leaving in the Morning (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Cambridgeport Saloon (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Lonely Days and Whiskey Nights (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Leaving in the Morning (by Drag the River)