Talk About Charles!

Posted on March 22, 2009 – 3:02 PM | by OldManFoster
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I am seated at a sticky table at Old Ironsides, years of spilt PBR and other mysterious liquids and liqueurs forming an impressive mélange. Seated to my immediate right is Charles Albright, with his debonair 70’s cop mustache, affable manner and a couple of his latest recordings for my perusal. What was supposed to be an hour of good-natured questions and answers turned into a sprawling three hour conversation where I was asked twice as many questions as I asked him.

AlbrightAlbright has a love affair with all things Sacramento – especially its music – and he is genuinely curious about the local punk scene circa 1980-90, so I answer a barrage of inquiries about Tales of Terror, Laughing Jesus, Cactus Liquors and a host of other bands whose names I hadn’t heard in ages. It’s the continuum that interests him – how one band begat another, who’s played with who, old music venues and record stores. For someone a year shy of 30, he talks with an encyclopedic knowledge of this area’s musical output. And I am hard pressed to find a more avid champion of our quaint, quirky and totally lovable scene than he.

He’d blush at the notion, but Albright is a big part of this continuum, having been in 20 bands in the 10 years he’s been playing out live. The list is impressive: Milhouse, the Colonels, the Knightmares to name just a few, plus his two current endeavors, the muscle-car boogie of Rock the Light and the garage-a-rama of the Pizzas, his band with the equally busy/talented Matt K. Shrugg. Recently, he’s added ‘solo artist’ to that list with his self-released 7” entitled, uh, Charles Albright, a case of truth-in-advertising, since he plays all the instruments himself on this 3-song single. Recorded in glorious lo-fi, the songs nod to garage as well as punk and pop, perfectly encapsulated by ’I’m Just A Fine Young Man and I’m Doing So Well’, a sped up 12-bar blues that could have come from some Flamin’ Groovies bootleg. The ironically-titled opener, ’I’m On Drugs’ comes from Albright’s perception of how he thinks his parents sees his musical pursuit. The final track is the killer: ‘I Wanna Hold You’ is a lurching thug, both menacing and sweet in its insistence of its title while everything is overdriven into the red. It’s a bracing listen and a standout in a fine, fine year of local releases. The artwork by Matt Shrugg (who has a pretty flippin’ great 7” himself) shows a Ganesha-like Albright with drumsticks (drums being his main instrument), microphone, bass and guitar while wearing a Black Flag t-shirt, his favorite band. The insert is his drivers’ license, altered and defaced and it brought howls of laughter, and not just because he’s wearing a woman’s jacket in the official DMV mugshot. It is the sleazy low-life criminal aspect that the picture captures.

“It’s the ‘killer hitchhiker’ look, a “person of interest” for a pair of murders back in ’79,” he says. “I look like the guy selling weed out of a van to your older brother. I’m still hanging out at high schools even though I’m 30.”

Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Having already gotten his degree in Philosophy, and a second B.A. in Mathematics, Albright is teaching as a grad student. With academia beckoning, he’s had to cut back his practice time with his current bands which opened him up to pursuit his musical career ala carte. This was something that he’s always wanted to do.  “I’m surprised more people don’t do it.” he said before adding, “Now I’m interested in recording some duets with other people.”    

But for now, Charles Albright is doing just fine. He’s just sold another 25 copies of the 7” to local label/distributor SS Records after the first 25 sold quickly. He’s hoping that the Pizzas record will be wrapped up soon since it was started last summer. And when asked if another solo endeavor is to be expected, he smiles.

 “Oh definitely. Another 7”. I’m going to call it Charles Albright Writes More of the Same.”

More of the same sounds just fine to these ears.

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