Raiding the Airwaves, Volume One

A Benefit Compilation for Humboldt Free Radio Alliance 

Band Sites 

Dragged by Horses


El Sonido

Yer Dog

Bret Bailey

Floating Goat

The Hitch

The Long and Short of It



Take a look behind any local music scene and you’ll usually find a handful of dedicated people working hard to keep music alive and accessible. Fortunately for us behind the Redwood Curtain, there exist a number of individuals and organizations that selflessly commit themselves to this cause and provide a variety of outlets that allows the Humboldt music scene to remain relevant and strong. The Humboldt Free Radio Alliance (HFRA) can certainly be counted among this number, as they have been livening up the airwaves around Arcata and supporting local and national talent by presenting shows at the Alibi, Big Pete’s, and other local venues since 2001. As you’d expect, these kinds of efforts come at a price, especially when the long arm of the FCC becomes involved. Recently, in an attempt to defray expenses and finance future expansion, the folks at the HFRA solicited tracks from several bands and musicians and put together a benefit compilation entitled Raiding the Airwaves Volume One.

If you’ve ever flipped your radio dial to 99.9 FM, then you know that the HFRA is not really interested in settling eardrums or adhering to commercial radio conventions. Much is the same with Raiding the Airwaves, a collection of ten fierce rock tracks gathered from up and down the West Coast. And when I say “rock” I mean it in the gritty blue-collar sense of the word. You know- dimly lit bars, cheap beer, t-shirts and ripped blue jeans, amps turned to ten, and the band pummeling full speed ahead.

For obvious reasons the disc is heavy (pun intended) with area talent that prove Humboldt bands can hold their own against acts from other more recognized scenes such as Portland and Seattle. The collection includes previously unreleased jams from Dragged by Horses and Yer Dog and a crushing gem courtesy of local faves The Hitch. San Francisco is well represented by the stoner clutching of Floating Goat’s “Kung Fu Grip,” and Bellingham, Washington’s Cicadas are truly impressive with their instrumental brand of frenzied rock fury.

From the scathing wit of Bret Bailey’s “Hippie Hatin’ Me” (which I feel is the disc’s crowning moment) to the spastic flurry of San Diego’s The Long and Short of It, every band on this collection captures the kind of ferocity that recalls the energy and attitude heard from bands like the Dwarves, Turbonegro, The Jesus Lizard, and early Melvins. This is not to suggest that the comp sounds dated but instead carries on an underground rock tradition that refuses to die or comply with corporate label standards, thus providing a perfect soundtrack for our local renegade broadcasters.

The HFRA hopes that proceeds resulting from this release will help upgrade facilities and introduce new programming, including plans to air alternative news broadcasts.  However, as is the case with any other unlicensed radio station, the status of Humboldt Free Radio is always in flux. And as was reported in the Journal a couple weeks back, the FCC has recently been sniffing at their doorstep. Perhaps the presence of the feds, along with spirit of supporting free expression and free-form radio, makes this a crucial time to dig up five bucks and lend a helping hand.

Raiding the Airwaves Volume One is available at People’s Records, The Works, and Metro Music. Humboldt Free Radio is currently anchored down at 99.9 FM and can be heard operating Thursday through Sunday.



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