SOME GOOD 2017 STUFF

I’ve been trying to keep up on new 2017 releases, but I haven’t done a very good job of it. Last month I went through A TON of new music, most of which I was just okay on. 2017 seems to be an off year for me. But I did find some really great records and I’ve picked out a few to share with the group. Most of these are going to be punk//rawk records…because that’s what I listen to.

I’m going to start with my FAVORITE 2017 album by my FAVORITE band called MORDECAI. They’re from Butte, Montana, and in the last couple years they have developed a cult following of sorts. They were even featured in a Vice News (or Noisey I guess) article earlier this year.

They put out a couple things this year, including a 7″ with Louisville’s SOPHOMORE LOUNGE label called “WHAT IS ART,” a couple Bandcamp only releases (demos and home recordings by Holt Bodish, their lead singer/guitarist), and a full lengh album called ABSTRACT RECIPE. They’re sound is often descibed as “no frills rock,” but there’s a lot more about them that appeals to me. Their songs are simple but their sound, attitude, and lyrical content is wholly unique, and there’s never been nor will there ever be a band like them.

Here’s the song “PICTURES OF HER” by MORDECAI.

Second, I have a 12″ called CELEBRATION by the band PLAYBOY (saucy!). I know VERY LITTLE about this band beside the fact that they hail from Quebec, Canada, and they make weird, good music. The band’s lineup is pretty unique. From what I can tell, they have a bassist, a drummer, a singer, and a sax player. Their sound is difficult to pin down. I’ll go with “psychadelic and generally nasty.”

Here’s the whole record because individual tracks aren’t on YouTube. Enjoy!

Oddly enough, there was another 12″ that I really loved this year. MOONDOGS’ 12″ called “WHEN SIXTEEN WASN’T SO SWEET” struck a chord with me. The story behind it is what sold it for me. According to the label MIGHTY MOUTH’s Bandcamp page, these recordings are from 1979 when four high school friends decided on a whim to get a band together and record some songs. It wasn’t until this year that these recordings were released. And man, they’re great. Perfect summer music.

Here’s a link to their Bandcamp where you’ll find the song, “WHEN SIXTEEN WASN’T SO SWEET.”

https://almostreadyrecords.bandcamp.com/track/when-sixteen-wasnt-so-sweet

Image result for moondogs when sixteen wasnt so sweet

Next I have my favorite 7″ of this year, one put out by the Atlanta label STATE LAUGHTER. The band is MUTUAL JERK and the 7″ is self titled. It’s intense music. MUTUAL JERK seem to obviously invoke bands like NO TREND and FLIPPER but these guys are able to overcome those comparisons (especially the NO TREND comparison) and make something unmistakably modern and ferocious.

The first song on this, “He’s Harmless,” is fantastic.

Annnnd finally I have an album by a new band called TAIWAN HOUSING PROJECT featuring legend Mark Feehan (BROKEN TALENT, POP CRUDS) on guitar. They’re a dancable no-wave band that’s unlike any other group going right now. The songs are strange and noisy but catchy.

Here’s “Authentic Alien Perfume” off of their album VEBLEN DEATH MASK.

 

 

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SUMMAH SONGS (4/24/17)

Summer may not start until the soltice in June, but summah has already begun. With highs reaching well into the 70’s, I we’ve already begun that transition into better weather and happier states of mind.

To fit the change in climate, I’ve prepared a list of SUMMAH SONGS that I hope you’ll appreciate. They are meant to get you all charged up and ready to enjoy the sun and the grass and the flowers and the picnics and the concerts and the tumultuous summah love affairs and whatever else.

First, I have a song by legendary Portland band THE EXPLODING HEARTS (featuring the amazing garage punk guru King Louie). It’s the song “MODERN KICKS” off the record GUITAR ROMANTIC.

Next, I have a nice political resistance song by THE MICE. It was written during the Bush administration shortly after the beginning of the Iraq War. It is not only a great rallying cry, it’s also a fantastic song! Super catchy!

Here’s the song “NOT PROUD OF THE USA” off the EP FOR ALMOST EVER.

The Cocteau Twins are a band that’s normally associated with doom and gloom and all that, but their record HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS is pure summah!

Here’s the title track from that album…it’s really really good.

A big part of summahtime for me is horror movies. It’s a great time to watch horror movies, and a lot of horror movies take place during the summah for whatever reason.

So, here’s a song by THE RAMONES about one of the best horror flicks ever THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (or as Joey Ramone pronounces is “massa-cre”)

And, in the end, what is the purpose of summah besides doing one thing: rockin’ and rollin’. So, to honor that, I have one of the best rawk songs ever, “ROCKET REDUCER NO. 62” by MC5.

RAMA LAMA FA FA FA!

Also, here’s “EGYPTION SHUMBA” by THE TAMMY’S.

 

 

 

THE TIMES ARE A CHANGIN’ (4/10/17)

As a junior, I’m currently entering the RED ZONE, meaning that there are only a couple months left of school and things are really heating up. I’m spending more and more time worrying about school and extracurriculars and less time focusing on THE MUSIC.

But I’m still listening to some stuff, so I’ll highlight it here (per usual).

First, I listened to THE REDS a little bit. They’re a band on the legendary Rip Off Records label. I don’t love all of their stuff, but I really enjoy their second LP, entitled IT’S ABOUT TIME.

Here is the best song from that album: “Lights Out”.

 

Also, I’ve been listening to some salsa because of this podcast AFROPOP WORLDWIDE that is archived from an International Public Radio show of the same name. I discovered this song in the newest episode about Puerto Rican music. It’s very very good!

Here’s “Abaniguito” by the Puerto Rican All Stars!

I’ve also been listening to a lot of HALF JAPANESE. If you don’t know about these guys, I’d advise you to look them up. Their story is pretty unique…there’s no band like them. I find it bizarreb that, of all people, Penn Jillette (the magician and Dancing with the Stars contestant…) was a HUGE fan of the band and helped them release records on his label 50 Skidillion Watts. Very weird!

Anywho, heres the song “Vietnam”.

Annnd here’s a Buddy Holly song.

A WEEK, WHAT A WEEK (3/9/17)

Here’s another weekly roundup of what I’ve been listening to!

First, I’ve been listening to MORT GARSON a little bit. He’s one of the first true “electronic music” composers. He worked with these huge Moog synthesizers and made a lot of songs about space travel and the cosmos. I highly recommend his music for doing homework and studying!

I picked what I believe is his most well-known song off his most well-known album: the song “PLANTASIA” off of the album PLANTASIAEnjoy!

Next, I have a song by the magnificent punk rawk band, THE DICTATORS. Not much else to say about them that hasn’t been said a million times.

Here’s the song “THE NEXT BIG THING” off of their first record. Get’s me all pumped up!

I’ve also got a song I found on a Killed by Death compilation (the first one, in fact). It’s by a band called THE DOGS from Detroit. They’re an early punk band that never really got their fair shake despite writing some truly awesome songs.

Here’s the song “SLASH YOUR FACE” by THE DOGS. It’s a banger.

Annnd finally for your weekly dad rock fix I have a live video of THE WHO playing “HEAVEN AND HELL”.

A WEEK IN REVIEW (2/23/17)

I listened to some good stuff this week! I have decided to dedicate more time to listening to new music so I can EXPAND MY HORIZONS and enjoy more great songs! This week I tried to pick some interesting songs and added more words in all caps to ENTICE and ENGAGE the reader because I felt last week’s blogpost was a bit of a snooze.

First I listened to the album GROTESQUE (AFTER THE GRAMME) by THE FALL. This record came out in 1980, and it’s the second album of theirs I’ve listened to. I’m currently trying to get through them all (but there are over 50 in total so that’s not happening). Listen to this LP if you want to feel like a British sophisticate.

I picked the song TOTALLY WIRED because it’s one of the most straightforward/catchy tracks on the whole thing. It’s also really ironic and sneery like all Fall songs.

Next, I listened to the album WEIRD LOVE by Australian rawk band THE SCIENTISTS. Basically all of their stuff is bonkers good, but I never listened to this LP until this week. Tons of quality songs!

I picked the first song on the album called SWAMPLAND to showcase. “In my heart…is a place called Swampland” has to be one of the most melodramatic lines in any song ever…

I also stumbled across this song…I don’t know much about the band except that they’re called GEE TEE and they’re from Australia as well. They just released a 7″ last month called THUGS IN CARS.

So the song I picked is the title track: “THUGS IN CARS”. It’s fun…a pretty dumb song. But it got stuck in my head. It’s only like 1 min and 20 secs, and if it was any longer I may hate it. Love that “OUUGH!!” at the beginning.

And finally I have THE BYRDS’ live cover of “CHIMES OF FREEDOM” by Bob Dylan. It’s a nice little song…found myself listening to it a lot this week. Not quite sure why David Crosby is always wearing a ushanka on his head, but whatever…more power to ’em. ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

17th anniversary of Lambchop’s Nixon

February 8th will mark the 17th anniversary of the legendary album Nixon by singer-songwriter Kurt Wagner’s band Lambchop. In this blog post, I’m going to look at several aspects of this work that make it so important to me.

First, Nixon features an album cover painted by Wagner’s school friend Wayne White. Apart from designing four of Lambchop’s albums, White has established himself as a popular and influential surreal and pop artist. He is recognizable for his distinct style, as he often paints bucolic scenes with large 3-D text either overlaid or integrated into the piece.

Here’s the cover of Lambchop’s Nixon.

Image result for lambchop nixon

It should also be noted that a lot of people are credited playing on this album. 14 people are cited as contributing parts, not including the Nashville String Machine, a huge aggregate of session musicians that play orchestral parts in the album.

This band size isn’t unusual for Lambchop, as the band is made up of a base of ever-changing group of musicians that play alongside Kurt Wagner, who serves as the leader of the band.

Image result for lambchop band

Moreover, Nixon‘s sound isn’t necessarily a huge departure from Lambchop’s sound in the six albums that preceeded it. The album continues the band’s tendancy to borrow from R&B, funk, folk, and soul. What sets this record apart is its sheer scope. The album sounds huge, as if it was recorded in a ginormous room with everyone in the band contributing their own unique part, whether it be a rhymthm guitar part or an organ part, or a saxophone part, to form on cohesive, fairly consistent sound throughout all 10 songs.

Here is my favorite song off of Nixon, “The Distance From Her to There”. You can hear all these little parts: guitar, chimes, piano, a pedal steel guitar, drums, horns, some kind of percussive instrument that souds like wind, background vox. It’s great.

As well, the reissued  version of this record comes with an emotional solo performance by Kurt Wagner called “How I Met Cat Power.” It’s worth checking out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best of 2016, babyyyy

Well music blogs tend to do top 10 lists at the end of the year, and since this is a pseudo music blog, I think I should probably do something similar. To be honest, I didn’t listen to a lot of music this year because I got really caught up in tons of older releases. I’m just going to do a top 5 list of my favorite LPs in no particular order.

  • My first record is kind of cheating because it’s just a compilation of 3 short EPs that were released in 2014 and 2015, but it’s good enough that I thought it deserved a spot on my list. Mystic Inane’s style varies on each track, but their genre is unmistakably hardcore punk rawk. They’re rough and angry and frequently tons of fun!

The track I picked contains the lyric “I want you to drink f*cking bleach…I believe in UFOs” which just rules.

  • My next album is simply entitled “2017” by Angel, a project spearheaded by Adam Stonehouse, drummer and singer of the band the INSANE band The Hospitals. This LP is so incredibly noisy and at moments incoherent, but it succeeds due to Stonehouse’s amazing talent in producing the thing.

The song I chose for this album is Dye Hair (Never Feel Real), one of the few tracks on the album that has a really clear, recognizable structure.

  • For my third album I have a realease by an ELECTRONIC band called Not Waving. These guys mix together punk rawk and industrial electronic sounds to create a surprisingly unique LP in which each track defines itself from another (my problem with music like this is that sometimes the songs can all blur together). The album is called Animals and it is GOOD.

My favorite track on this album is the song Work Talk. It’s INTENSE STUFF!

  • Annnnd finally we have…wait there’s still one after this. For my fourth pick, I chose an album I’ve talked about before: Total Freedom by the wonderful Spacin’.

I chose to post the opening track of Total Freedom, “Over Uneasy”, because this is the song that right out of the gate sold me on the band. It’s 8 minutes and 50 seconds, yet it never loses my interest. It’s a completely unpretentious jam that both RAWKS and RULES.

  • And finally we have Heavy Air by The Lavender Flu, a “psychadelic” garage rawk project by former member of The Hunches Chris Gunn (😍). This one is similar to the Angel LP (Heavy Air also credits Adam Stonehouse with something called the “Vacuum Creature”. Not entirely sure what that means.) in that it features a lot of “non-songs”. There are a lot of instrumental tracks that are less than a minute long.

The song I chose is the catchiest tune on the whole thing. It’s called “My Time”.

 

 

 

The Cleaaaaan and others

Similarly to last week, I’m going to highlight some albums and link a song from each respective pick. I’ve been listening to a bunch of music recently as I put off exam prep, so I have a lot of good stuff to choose from!

First, I’ve been listening to THE CLEAN, possibly my favorite band ever or at least in that very top tier for me. They’re a band from New Zealand, the most recognizable of the groups signed to legendary NZ record label FLYING NUN. Anywho, these guys are fantastic and I picked my favorite song off of their 1990 album Vehicle. I promise it’s more interesting than that album cover!

Next, I’ve been listening to Memphis, Tennessee’s beloved REIGNING SOUND. They’re a garage punk band that’s been around since about 2001 and have consistantly put out some really  great stuff. Not much else to say except this group distinguishes themselves with tons of other average to below-average garage punk bands by actually knowing their source material. It’s clear that they have a real grasp on not just old blues stuff but with early country and soul groups. Their music comes from a place of real love of what they’re playing.

I also FINALLY listened to Raw Power by The Stooges. Not much to say about this except it rules, every song on it is GREAT.

Finally, I’ve been listening to a few PEBBLES anthologies, these pretty famous collections of old 60s psych/garage rawk songs. One band that stood out is THE DOVERS, whose guitarists, Tim Granada and Bruce Clawson are super great. So here’s a song by them!

 

b-b-b-blog post

Full transparency, I’m writing this blog post at 11:30 PM after an exceedingly long and  stressful day, so this may be a little rough and a little brief. But that’s okay!

Alright so I’ve been listening to a few albums quite a lot this week, so I thought I’d talk a bit about each one and post my favorite track from each. That should be fun!

1. First, I’ve been listening to this album Total Freedom by the band Spacin’. Spacin’ is a rawk and roll band straigh out of Philadelphia. Their sound is…spacey I suppose. Their production is pretty rough and lo-fi, which can sometimes distract you from all they’re able to do musically. I mean they’re able to go from a 10 minute jam to a three minute burst of crazy sounds to a 2 minute pop tune and it all just kind of works. The tracks all fit together perfectly into one complete piece. It’s GREAT! They also have a song “US Ruse”, a reference to an MC5 song. So that’s cool.

2. I’ve also been listening to Songs of Leonard Cohen, Cohen’s first album, released in 1967. It’s my favorite of his. I’ve been relistening to this is in light of his recent death. He passed away just last week. So, obviously, this is a pretty emotional listen. I so rarely pay attention to the lyrical content of songs because, for whatever reason, vocals don’t tend to catch my interest in that way. But with Cohen’s songs, you just have to pay attention to what he’s saying. His songs are first poems, then music. It’s important to look at them in both ways and weigh both parts equally.

3. Finally, I’ve been listening to this Raspberries Greatest Hits record A LOT recently. These guys are the kings of power pop. They’ve got Beach Boys level harmonies mixed with old school guitar rawk and it’s just perfect. And Eric Carmen is one of the best vocalists of all time. I’ve discovered a bunch of my new favorite songs listening to this album. All hail the Raspberries!

 

Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices are one of my favorite bands. They are the epitome of rawk and roll, the essence of legitimacy, the epicenter of a perfect storm of fragmented melodies and distorted guitars. Most of their albums sound like they were spontaneously discovered, lost to time yet utterly timeless. In short, they’re really good!

Guided By Voices always have been and always be a project COMPLETELY commanded by the mind of Robert Pollard. Pollard was born in Dayton, Ohio. He went to college to become a teacher, and in fact, he taught at a Dayton high school for 14 years! It was in this time that Pollard began to meet up with former Northridge High School alums and use 8 track tapes to record their music.

Initially, GBV released four albums independent of a major label: Devil Between My Toes, Sandbox, Sandbox, Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, Same Place the Fly Got Smashed, and Propeller. It was after Propeller (their best album up to that point, maybe their best album ever), that Pollard decided to split up the band and start teaching full time. Nothing was sticking, nothing was attracting attention, the experiment had failed. The end.

Until some genius at Scat records heard Propeller and decided that Guided By Voices was a band worth investing in. GBV got signed to an actual label! Woohoo! And then they put out Vampire on Titus on Scat and which was…alright. Not their best, not their worst.  The end.

Image result for guided by voices

Okay is the whole “the end” thing getting a bit tiresome? I’m not a fan. May edit this stuff out.

So yeah, Vampire on Titus comes out, it’s okay. And then, a year later, Pollard releases Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. Two back to back masterpieces. Absolutely wonderful records. These two records mark a shift between two labels Scat (BT) and Matador Records (AL), which was HUGE for the band, as Matador is a juggernaut as far as indie labels go. This was when Guided By Voices started coming to national attention, with underground hits like “I Am A Scientist” and “My Valuable Hunting Knife”.

After Alien Lanes, Pollard recorded some more legit studio albums with Matador, shifting the band’s lineup constantly. You could argue they peaked with Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, but these later studio albums like Under the Bushes Under the Stars and Mag Earwig showed that GBV didn’t need the overtly lo-fi asthetic to define their sound. Instead, it was the quality of songwriting that defined them as a band.

As of now, Robert Pollard has about 2,000 songs assigned to his name. He’s still touring with GBV and releasing records. I had the pleasure of seeing them over the summer when they had Doug Gillard (a former band member and guitarist in Death of Samantha) in to temporarily replace the guitarist touring with them. Little did I know that the show I saw would mark Gillard’s official induction back into the band and that Gillard would continue to tour with them this year. Damn this is dorky stuff. There’s no way anyone finds this interesting.