Lost Cause Desperados
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Lost Cause Desperados

Band Rock Punk

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Mar
09
Lost Cause Desperados @ Port City Music Hall

Portland, Maine, USA

Portland, Maine, USA

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Lost Cause Desperados have kept a low profile over the last few months, with gigs few and far between. None of that downtime has gone to waste, however, as Portland's kings of warp-speed garage-punk have been hard at work on their upcoming album, Desert of Broken Glass. And Clashes of the Titans have kept them from developing studio tans, as members Kris Lavallee (guitar, vocals), Stu Mahan (bass), Nick Scala (guitar, vocals), and Brian Higgins (drums) have shown off their considerable chops in face-offs too numerous to mention. Both this show and a performance at last week's Zombie Kickball after-party prove there's no ring rust on these punk-rock prizefighters.

Offering a set of blistering, country-tinged, hook-laden rock, LCD's sound fits in nicely with Maine bands like Covered In Bees and Ghosthunter that push the boundaries of punk beyond the bare-bones "three chords and the truth" ethos with clever songwriting and diverse influences. The opening acts, Youngstown, Ohio's Johnie 3, Maine's own The New 45 and, all the way from Austria, DeeCRACKS, however, fit squarely within punk's sometimes-narrow confines. Both The New 45 and Johnie 3 brought tuneful pop-punk in the post-Green Day vein, while DeeCRACKS (formerly a Ramones cover band called the Cretins) partied (and dressed) like it was New York 1977. All three played with intensity and had a good time doing so, but none could hold a candle to Lost Cause Desperados' Category 5 power. - Portland Phoenix


There's a famous montage in "Rocky IV" in which the film contrasts scenes of the Russians' calculated syringe-and-treadmill training style with Rocky, who is doing one-handed pushups in a barn and dragging what appears to be two cords of wood, uphill, through the snow.

In the rugged world of professional music, the New Yorks, L.A.'s and Nashvilles are hit-making factories, churning out one Ivan Drago after another, often glossing over the soul of a band with too much Pro-Tools wizardry.

To see an old-school, Rocky Balboa of a punk band, check out the Lost Cause Desperados some night. The band thrashes and rages through its emotional ups and downs, all heart, and packages its laser speed pop-metal in 2-minute blasts.

Buzz has been building around the band with one of the best monikers in town as the members put in the blood, sweat and tears to make a new record, the forthcoming "Desert of Broken Glass." All the while, with Portland's hearty scene keeping its creative endeavor afloat, the band has gotten technically better, and has more tightly honed its intentions.

With a roar Friday night, they take the stage at Geno's, this town's proudest all-original rock club. Some champions train to win the title belt; the Desperados (www.myspace.com/tlcd) train for the brightest-burning rock 'n' roll glory Portland has to offer.

The Desperados became a band six years ago and have since weathered some personnel changes, broken hearts and bottles, and a heavy dose of the real world. What has kept you together? What has been the glue?

Nick Scala (guitar/vocals): Kris (Lavallee; guitar/vocals) and I have been in the band since its conception. We formed this band with a focus on having fun. We were drinking a lot and writing songs. Playing crazy shows with a good group of other bands (friends) and having a blast, not really thinking about the next level. With the departure of some bandmates, we acquired Stu (Mahan; bass) and Brian (Higgins; drums). With that came more focus and more musicianship. We're definitely concentrating more on our playing and skills as musicians. But still having fun -- we're friends first. That's the glue.

You guys are veterans of a great, gritty dive scene in town. What's the best stage to play on in Portland and why?

Geno's, hands down. Old and new. I would say that's our home base; we've been playing there for years and will continue to do so. There is a very comfortable feeling walking into a club and feeling at home. Other than that, the dive bars around here have diminished. We used to play the Alehouse a lot, and Amigo's is another great venue.

What's the craziest thing that's ever happened at an LCD show? After all, things get emotional in there with passion raging in a small, crowded room.

Lot's of beer spitting, spraying. Friends coming up on stage feeding us beer while we're playing, beer, beer, beer. Sing-alongs, dancing, plain ol' raging out. We like to have a good time, and so do our friends. I smashed a guitar off the wall at one of our shows at the Alehouse. I'm sure people still have some pieces of that.

"Desert of Broken Glass" (LCD's forthcoming full-length CD) has been anticipated for a while now. Describe how it came together, and what we can expect.

It has been a long time coming, and we are relieved that it's done. The album as a whole is way heavier than our last, but we still have our hooks and catchiness. With the addition of Stu and Brian, we have gotten more technical and faster. All said and done, it's the same Desperados, just a better version.

Who are the best bands to share a stage with? Whose music locally do you respect and admire?

I like this question. We have a lot of friends in the scene, and they all deserve some recognition -- the Hi-Fivin' White Guys, Sun Gods in Exile, Loverless, the Hot Tarts, the Pubcrawlers, Sidecar Radio, the Leftovers, Covered in Bees, Pigboat, Ruin, Confusitron.

We really support local bands and think everyone should get out there and check out a local ORIGINAL band.

There's an emphasis on "original" there. How do bands that play covers impact a local music scene?

Cover bands are great; they get the people out there. But the people who play those covers are usually in an original band, and it sometimes goes unnoticed. For every cover band around here, there are 10 original bands. I see cover bands sell out rooms night after night. and the original band has five people at their show. It should be reversed.

As a band, technically, what are the Desperados best at? What needs the most work?
I think the songs are our strong point. We write really tight, melodic songs. There is always room for improvement. The goal is to play the perfect show, and I really don't know if it's possible, and I kinda like the idea of it not happening. It keeps us coming back for more.

Are you guys going to tour out of state when you release the record? How are you going to promote it, besides the usual?

We are going to try. We have a few friends out of state that we will try to hook up with. As for the sale of the album, it will be in the Bull Moose Music stores, maybe Newbury Comics, and of course all the online sites. - Portland Press Harold - Local Music Q & A


While the Lost Cause Desperados might be monickered like a bad alt-country band doing Eagles covers, they have managed to create on Desert of Broken Glass, the band's first full-length with bassist Stu Mahan and drummer Brian Higgins, as frenzied a high-plains drifter as you're ever likely to find. First and foremost, in recording themselves with help from Wally Wentzel and Jim Doherty, they have paired a spare and crisp sound with a heavy punk aesthetic to craft an aggressive album that's very listenable even if you're not a metal/hardcore fan, with each instrument discernible and lyrics that are interesting even when they're screamed (Marc Bartholomew's mastering job at Acadia likely helped there, too).

Basically, they're a hard band to peg, which is of course a good thing. With elements of punk, hardcore, metal, classic rock, and a bit of hillbilly, they manage to craft a sound that keeps you off balance in all the right ways, never letting you settle in to a single mental image of the band.

They open the album fast and searing on "Stomping of Devils," with Higgins's crisp drumming especially noticeable, filled with cymbals and not relying overly on the kick drum. Along with Nick Scala's yelled vocals — "It should be cold in here by now" — you might start thinking they're pretty pure punk, but there's a cool 2001 guitar climb from Kris Lavallee and a subtlety and reserve that should catch your attention. The title track, in the second slot, is sung with enough passion you can just about see the spittle at the corners of Scala's mouth. Mahan revs the song up like an engine, with cycling riffs that give you just enough time to breathe before dunking your head back underwater.

"Helpless" finishes the opening salvo with guitar wailing in the open and vocals that are sung the most-straight yet: "Couldn't find your lover/Couldn't find your friends/Couldn't find anything." The guitar tone is terrific, what they mean when they describe riffs as "peals." It's a defiant barn-burner: "You wanna take your shot? Go ahead and take it."
By mid-album, though, they're showing their expanded horizons. I love in "When You Sleep" the almost prudish, "Your eyes speak by the way that you make love." "Make love?" On this album? And the chaos they create in the break has an energy that's impossible to fake.

But "If This Is It" is the album's best track, even if it's just two minutes long. Showing off the band's penchant for melody (you have to listen closely for it sometimes), it's virtually pop rock, continuing themes that are often positive and uplifting: "It's so worth trying for/When you can have it all."

They return to this pop ethic on "So Say You," with terrific bass work early, quick and fast pop, a little surf, a sped-up shagadelic. Then they open it up for Higgins to drop huge fills in late. They seem to often make nods to classic-rock arrangements and leads, that whole ethos of showing off and introducing the band in stages.

Lost Cause Desperados do finally get around to showing off their country chops, too, with the aptly titled "Restless Wonder," a cow-punk piece like a manic Zeppelin "Hot Dog," complete with clip-clop percussion and a rockabilly kind of bass.

It's a good and varied enough album to vault the Desperados into the upper echelons of Portland's bands and demands that they be taken seriously as recording artists. And, yeah, you're going to really want to see this band live, too. - Portland Phoenix - New Album Review



There is a moment in every band's rise when ambition starts doing some funny things. Ambition clouds judgment, and is a bully to bandmates. It can be the worm in the ear, laying waste to patience, whispering about what a band "should" be doing.

With feet firmly on the ground, Portland's Lost Cause Desperados is a scrappy speed-punk-pop outfit that appears impervious to ambition's lies. Their ascent has been about friends, beer and grinding away at their craft, not about outgrowing their britches.
The reward for this old-school ethic? To this point, it has been the most loyal fans in town, but now, fresh out of the studio, they drop "Desert of Broken Glass" and can add an honest, kick-butt record to their resume.

As if to trample the distractions, "DOBG" opens with lightning guitar, rumbling double bass and vocalist Nick Scala's sandpaper wail: "It's impossible to tell/ Just where your eyes are focused now" on "Stomping the Devils." There is a science to the tone of voice for these screamers, and Scala has a can't-be-taught mix of melody and growl.
On the title track, guitarist Kris Lavallee takes the mic and gives the 'Rados a nice one-two punch for high-energy screamcore. This teamwork is brought to bear around the 1:50 mark, when the two shredders unleash the hounds with a killer guitar breakdown. It's a thrill to hear these longtime friends are putting their powers together in the pursuit of pure thrash.

The Desperados have a versatile sound behind the wall of guitars. Stu Mahan and Brian Higgins hold on tight to a crucial rhythm section but can switch to pop on a dime, as on the closest thing to a ballad here, "If This Is It."

The mix on the album is OK; it is calculated domination to put the thunder-and-lightning drums and guitar way up front. It sounds like a live show, which is what the LCDs were surely trying to capture.

What's lost, and it's a shame, is the opportunity to have these two great screamers do their blood-curdling worst with a proper studio treatment on the microphones. Despite fantastic performances throughout, the vocals don't have the same frightening presence as the rest of the band's elements do.

Thankfully though, fans will still act the hooligan and spray beer at Geno's, and the Desperados, for them, will grind forever. - Portland Press Harold - GO Section


LOST CAUSE DESPERADOS, THE PUBCRAWLERS
Geno's Rock Club, Portland, Maine
1/16/10

Geno's is happenin'. The mood is downright festive for a bill that features an unusual occurrence: only two bands. But if you need a band to anchor your CD release, you cannot go wrong with the beloved Pubcrawlers. The bagpipes are being wooed by the dexterous fingers of Travis Pubcrawler, backed by a powerhouse of traditional instruments, with a gut strong spine of punk rock. From the instant they begin the crowd erupts; beer frothing, fists pumping, eyes popping. I love this. I froth at learning they are about to sate my thirst for raging pirate, rum-soaking, Jolly Roger-flying, scally wagging, hard-rocking Celtic punk. Mind-bogglingly talented musicians create crowd fire, just tearing up fiddle, mando, accordion, whistle, pipes, in ways that traditionalist ghosts never saw coming. The way they surge together, gripping; a crab boat anchored in raging waves by ropes of salty power guitar surfing a tsunami of beat. Lead Celtic pirate, Brian Pubcrawler, electrifies like a rogue trap winch, an exposed wire of ocean flash fire. The rollicking crowd is left reeling, sailing, fucking fighting, and drinking. This is the theme of our hearts.

Next, an extremely thick wall of awesomeness treats the ears with Lost Cause Desperados. Surprise: head banging erupts amongst rock roots, a strong punk pepper dash, and many more, not indiscernible, flavors. Never having seen them before, I am comforted by their tightness—a sweet, throbbing release. CD release, I should say, and I am certainly impressed enough at this moment, three songs in, to part with three PBRs worth of currency to buy their CD (PBR being my current reference to currency). In fact a said PBR has just been slammed into my ankle by the still raucous crowd; LCD a sweet distraction. I enjoy when my rattling spinal engagement eclipses the treble of my ankle pain. Kris, Stu, Higgy, and, good lord, the singer guy (his mix is a bit buried in the Wall of Wow, but man, I want to hear the studio version) are consummate showmen. Good. Very, very good. (Stace)
- The Noise: Boston


Discography

Broken Bones, Broken Hearts, Broken Bottles (2006)
Desert of Broken Glass (2010)

Photos

Bio

Hailed as Portland, Maine's kings of warp-speed garage-punk, Lost Cause Desperados deliver a mix of punk, hardcore, metal, classic rock and a bit of hillbilly, creating a sound that keeps you off balance in all the right ways, never letting you settle into a single mental image of the band.

Formed in 2004, Lost Cause Desperados began focusing mainly on writing catchy, hook-laden songs fueled with energy and intensity. Their first album, "Broken Bottles, Broken Bones, Broken Hearts" released in 2005, was a nod to the old-school DIY movement � each album pressed, labeled and distributed by the band. Gaining momentum and a loyal fan base the Desperados continued honing their skills and for the next few years played a number of local and out of state gigs.

With the departure of their original rhythm section in 2006, founding members Kris Lavallee (guitar-vocals) and Nick Scala, (vocals-guitar) recruited two of Portland�s finest musicians, Stu Mahan (bass) and Brian Higgins (drums), to began work on "Desert of Broken Glass ", the much anticipated follow up to their 2005 release. Emphasizing more on musicianship and technicality, the Desperados achieved a tight versatile sound while keeping their undeniable, trademark melodies. When finished, Lost Cause Desperados had written and recorded a full length album that will surely go down as one of the best punk rock albums of 2010.

Having shared the stage with such national acts as The Supersuckers, The Heartless Bastards, Never Been Caught and many more, there is no sign of this band slowing down. Come see this up and coming "rock power-house" on a stage near you and get ready for an intense live show with no ego and no rules. Learn the words and sing your heart out!

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"Desert of Broken Glass is a good and varied enough album to vault the Desperados into the upper echelons of Portland's bands and demands that they be taken seriously as recording artists."

Sam Pfeifle - Portland Phoenix

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"Lost Cause Desperados exude old-school punk passion..."

"...the brightest-burning rock 'n' roll glory Portland has to offer."

Mike Olcott - Portland Press Harold

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"Offering a set of blistering, country-tinged, hook-laden rock...None could hold a candle to Lost Cause Desperados' Category 5 power."

Dan Clark - The Portland Phoenix

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