Monday, June 30, 2008

Lists Suck!

Why do I torture myself with “lists”? I almost never agree with them, and more often than not I get mad as Hell at them. So why do I do it, why do I continue to search out these lists and devour every entry until I’m exhausted, spent and frustrated? Is it because I’m hoping the list will validate my musical tastes? Well, honestly, yeah a little. Less so now than 20 years ago, I can tell you that. 20 years ago I used to pour over every new issue of the New Musical Express and Melody Maker magazine (paying exorbitant import prices, too!), focusing on the ‘new releases” review section to find that special new band. In hindsight, this was not a good idea. I bought my fair share of clunkers by believing every glowing review by the British music press. The Farm, for example. And Carter USM (short for, “Unstoppable Sex Machine”). I did find some good ones, of course, but using the British music press to find good albums is a lot like sales prospecting. It’s all in the numbers. The amount of sales is directly proportionate to the amount of cold calls you make. In this case, my closing ratio was about 20%. Eight clunkers out of 10, but two real gems. Not bad, considering.
That was back in the days before MP3’s and computers, though. Nowadays I read reviews, do my homework on the band then preview the album on iTunes. If it suits my fancy I’ll download the sucker. Now my closing ratio has gone and done a full 180, with 8 out of ten album purchases being pretty decent.
Friend referrals, though, remain the best source for uncovering great artists. If you can find them, friends that share your tastes can be a very valuable asset. They’re like having the best stock broker in the world; someone who’s genuinely excited and interested in your musical welfare. They get a hot tip and you’re the first one they call, the first one to benefit from their insider knowledge. And, with every spot-on recommendation, you become richer. Musically speaking, of course.

And now, with about a zillion really good music blogs out there in cyberspace, the possibility of being exposed to great albums and bands is even better, and more frequent. Alas, there's also a danger of overexposure as well. You get too much good music all at once and there’s a danger that you’ll miss something. You download it to your iPod, give it a cursory listen, then download another two (or six!) and with over 12,000 songs and 1,100 albums there’s a distinct possibility it’ll be months before you hear another track off of that one. And God forbid you get caught in the old “Ipod shuffle” trap, like I have recently. You really miss the whole album-as-an-artistic-statement thing.
Anyway, what was I saying before I started to rant? Right, rock lists. Well, the fine folks over at Pitchfork sat down in a room that no doubt smelt of tacos and wet Cheetos and debated over what they felt were the top 100 albums of the 1990’s. There are no other music critics that piss me off more than the geeks over at Pitchfork, and the thing that really irks me is that they’re mostly bang on, albeit with a little more sarcasm than I like. But, dammit, they usually are right. Usually.

Except for this list.

Out of the 100 listed I agreed with about 1/3rd, possibly ½. They obviously had they’re favorites, and the multiple entries for single artists were maddening. That coupled with the fact that they had way too many rap and hip-hop artists listed were almost enough to make me throw my Doc Martins through my computer monitor.

But hey, I don’t have to agree. That’s the beauty of lists. And if they can convince me to try one single album I haven’t heard, and that one single album becomes a favorite for years to come, then it’s worth it.

Here’s the list, if you’re interested.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

50 Songs, 50 States, 1 Week

The fine folks over at Star Maker Machine are trying something a little ambitious. Here's what they're attempting, with a little help from you readers: "Our goal next week is to post 50 songs, one for each state in the United States. Please post songs with the name of an American state in the title.
Here is the twist: Once a state is used, do not repeat that state. I will kick off the challenge with "California" by Joni Mitchell on Sunday morning. After that it's first come, first served."

Pretty nifty concept.

A Brief History Of The Album's Decline In Value

From the L.A. Times...
"Mired in what will soon be an eight-year downturn, the music business has not only struggled to sell CDs, but has failed to find a consistent price point for new albums. is bringing the cost of an album to new lows, having publicized Tuesday its sale price of $1.99 for a piece of Coldplay's catalog.

Throughout the week, the digital retailer will offer each of Coldplay's prior albums at the $1.99 price point for one day as part of its "daily deals" program. While this writer thinks it's high time that music retailers began heavily discounting the cost of MP3 albums, Apple's iTunes store has set the $9.99 standard, despite the desires of major labels for variable pricing. (Regardless of sound quality and distribution costs, it's an inferior product to a CD, as the consumer must back up the files.)"
...continue reading here

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bangers And Mash, Or Hot Dogs?

Which country has bragging rights to the best bands of all time? In my teens and early 20’s it would have been England, hands down. Now, well, I personally think that the good old U S of A has the advantage.

England owned the 60’s, I think. Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Who, Zombies, The Pretty Things, The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and, er, Donovan. Hard to beat, but then again the States had The Doors, Hendrix, The Band, Dylan, The Dead, The Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, The Byrds, Zappa, Velvet Underground, Big Brother, and all that great Motown stuff. Oh yes, and the Monkees. I think I’m still gonna give it to England.

The 70’s are too close to call, with both countries developing excellent singers/ songwriters and some great bands. I have to call the “ME” decade a tie!

The 80’s? Probably the English.

The 90’s? Probably America.

The 00’s? Anyone’s guess.

Of course I like bands that come from all over the globe, but the absolute majority of great bands came and continue to come from America and England, I don’t even think that’s debatable.

What do you think? Have a favorite team? Think I’m not giving a fair shake to Canada, who surely dominates the alternative landscape of the new millennium? What about Sweden, Germany, Australia (some GREAT bands over there!) or Mexico?

How about the country that consistently produces the worst bands? I know what my pick would be...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Time To Take Inventory

It’s mid year, fires are blazin’ all around our little chunk of Northern California and I just reckoned that this would be a good time to stop and evaluate the best releases of 2008 (so far). Here’s the new stuff that got my attention the first half of the year:

Dig Lazarus Dig by Nick Cave
In The Future, Black Mountain
The Breeders, Mountain Battles
Flight Of The Knife by Brian Scary and the Shredding Tears
You Cross My Path, The Charlatans
Take A Good Look by The Fleshtones
Flight Of The Conchords by Flight Of The Conchords
Stop, Drop and Roll by Foxboro Hot Tubs
Made In The Dark, Hot Chip
Parallel Play by Sloan
Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket
Stainless Style, Neon Neon
22 Dreams by Paul Weller
Songs In A and E by Spiritualized

That’s all I can think of, but I have every confidence that you’ll help fill in the gaps! What albums did I miss? What albums are you folks looking forward to that are slated for release in the second half of 2008? How about your favorite re-issues?

As Seen In Cottonwood, California...

...not really...stole this idea from helicopter pilot Bob Barnes...

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Critter On A Stick" Thong? Say It Ain't So...

The wacked out perverts over at Philbertosophy have taken one of Philbert's most famous renderings, "Critter On A Stick" and placed it on a veritable cornucopia of useful items available for purchase! I'm thinking of purchasing the emblazoned thong for my wife, you know, just to "spice it up a little". I'm not entirely sure how she'll take to it, though. It's kinda creepy.
Anyhew, click on the link for the full catalogue of disturbing items up for grabs.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thom G Rides On...

In honor of Thom G over at The Surface Tension

He is a true maverick. A punk rock, opinionated journalist-anarchist with a passion for all things outdoors, he will be sadly missed, but as Thom has mentioned on many occasions, “it was time”. He is uncompromising as a journalist and as a person, which I think is part of the reason he stood out so much at the paper. He has earned many prestigious awards over the years as our Outdoors writer, something he couldn’t have done if he didn’t have a true love for the subject. As he has said before, he can sometimes be "perceived as an asshole", but I never personally witnessed that aspect of his personality. He was frustrated, sure, but believe me when I say that his decision to leave this place was a tough one. He really agonized over it, but I think he has made peace with it now, recognizing that this new detour in his life was necessary for his growth and for his health.
Due to prior family commitments, work schedule and the fact that I’m a lame-ass, I am unable to help give him a proper send off. No worries though, as his many friends and allies are legion. He will get drunk, he will shed a tear or two, but the truth is that when he gets to ND he will make new friends, win lots of new awards and hopefully keep in touch with those of us here in Northern California with whom he has affected in so many ways.
I take comfort in the fact that he will still have his blog and I am looking forward to reading tales of his new adventures on a (hopefully!) daily basis.

Good luck, Mr. G.

Ride on.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Have To See This!

Interesting as Hell, this...Jimmy Page, eat your heart out!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Junk Or Junque?

I posted some more of my musical guilty pleasures a couple of days ago and friend and author of the wonderful blog "Dispatches From The Away Dad Nation", Hal, stated: "I guess it shows a lack of musical sophistication on my part that I didn't find much to feel guilty about in your list. But then, heck, my list might include The Monkees."
Well, this got me thinking. I don't think it has to do with someone lacking "musical sophistication", or anything else for that matter. We like what we like and that's it. No point in analyzing it, really. Music is an extremely personal thing, and tastes can vary dramatically from one person to the other, even if you think that you're simpatico with another so-called music snob. Sometimes we like to think that our tastes are superior, that we have a better ear for the finer sounds, but it's all relative. Really, who am I to say that the stuff you listen to and enjoy sucks dog ass?
Now don't get me wrong, the whole point of this here little blog is to spark debate and perhaps introduce you to some really good music that you've never heard before. It's those "A-HA!" moments that we live for, right? Discovering an album that, after hearing it once you wonder how you've gone your life without owning a copy.
So, you like Lennon and I prefer McCartney. You like Tears For Fears and I prefer The THE. I think John Prine is one of the most underrated songwriters and you believe Jim Croce had more influence than Bob Dylan.
But, on this blog anyway, you're gonna have to prove it. Tell me why, give me an educated reason, why you like or dislike something. All so-called music snobs are open to new experiences and all can take a little constructive critisism. There is so much good, undiscovered stuff out there that we'd be foolish not to keep an open mind. I've discovered more great bands in the last 5 years than I have in the prior 15, and that's the truth.

In my opinion good music is like good wine: it has everything to do with taste and nothing to do with the vintage. You can study it, dissect it, swish it around in your mouth, spout your educated witticisms, but bottom line is if you don't like it the first time you will spit it out. You may, however, aquire a taste for it over time.

Never be ashamed of liking the Monkees, Hal. Heck, the TV show introduced me to rock music. I heard them before I heard the Beatles!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One From The Vault

ARTIST: Leapin’ Len Montague And The Frizzbeez
ALBUM: Hybrid In An Elevator
RELEASE DATE: February, 1991
*(Album art not available. Above photo of Mr. Montague courtesy of The Montague Performing Arts Center in Acton, Ontario)

The following album review might be true…

Leapin’ Len Montague and the Frizzbeez one-upped their major-label debut, “Fudge It!” with the solid, vastly underrated effort entitled Hybrid In An Elevator. Hybrid’s lead single, the jumpy hard rocker "Nearly Caught It" proved itself a highlight on the hugely successful, Hamilton-themed Steel Workers Unite movie soundtrack. But even though Leapin’ Len and his band stacked up quite well against their more famous peers in that particular showcase, the exposure didn't make them stars. Perhaps it was because Hybrid In An Elevator had been released several months before the soundtrack, or perhaps it was due to Len‘s 3 month battle with lime disease that lost them the chance to capitalize on the extra publicity that goes along with new releases. For whatever reason, Steel Workers Unite didn't push sales of Hybrid, as the latter only scraped the lower reaches of the Billboard charts. And that's a shame, because the record is quite good — the best songs here are easily among the best in their limited catalog, and the songwriting was their most consistent yet.
“Watching The Lightning Storm”, it’s epic theme of immortality apparent after one listen, is the perfect companion to the sweeping orchestration the Frizbeez create with a little help from the Royal Hamilton Symphony Players. It’s a majestic number and a hell of a way to kick start an album.
“Lee’s Theme”, the second track, continues the drama, starting with a lilting keyboard melody and quickly escalating into one of the finest power pop moments ever laid to wax. Batting third in the line up is “Wake Up Stu”. It’s one of the weakest tracks on the album, partly due to the background noise which has been famously attributed to guitarist Frankie Tunic’s pet cockatoo who died during the recording of that number. The band, incredulously, decided to go with this take, which I firmly believe was a major contributing factor in the album going largely unnoticed. Leapin’ Len’s magnificent finger cymbal playing almost saves the track, but not quite.
Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, the next number (“No Dumping“) brings the album back in a monolithic way, defining not only the band but the sound and style of '90’s hard rock. Expanding on the breakthroughs of prior EP‘s, Leapin’ Len and the Frizbeez fuse their majestic hard rock with a mystical, rural English folk that gives the record an epic scope. Even at its most basic — the muscular, traditionalist “Sidrabene Gypsies” — the album has a grand sense of drama, which is only deepened by Montague's burgeoning obsession with mythology, religion, and the occult. Montague’s mysticism comes to a head on the eerie folk ballad "Persephone The Placid," a mandolin-driven song with haunting vocals from guest star Mickey DeSadist, and on the epic “Cheese Bread and Shaving Cream." Of all of Montague's songs, "Cheese Bread and Shaving Cream" is the most famous, and not unjustly. Building from a simple finger picked acoustic guitar to a storming torrent of guitar riffs and solos, it encapsulates the entire album in one song. Which, of course, isn't discounting the rest of the album. "The Oakville Beaver" is the group's best folk song, and the rockers are endlessly inventive, whether it's the complex, multi-layered "Brother Michael," the pounding hippie satire "Long Hair and Fritos," or the funky riffs of the title track. But the closer, "The Legend Of Hoover," is the one song truly equal to "Cheese Bread," helping give Hybrid the feeling of an epic. An apocalyptic slice of urban blues, "The Legend Of Hoover" is as forceful and frightening as Montague and the Frizbeez ever got, and its seismic rhythms and layered dynamics illustrate why none of their peers could ever equal them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Few More Guilty Indulgences…

Every once in a while the rock snob in me takes a sabbatical and is replaced by the 12 year old boy that was discovering his cousin’s record collection. Bear in mind I was born in 1968, so that would make the year 1980. My cousin was older than I and his collection was pretty much dominated by the classic rock of the 1970’s which is, you’re soon to find out, where the majority of my “guilty pleasures” originate. I have no real fear of any retaliation (except maybe Philbert--he knows where I work!), but just in case I think I’m going to invest in some Kevlar body armor.

So here’s the latest UEMN’s guilty pleasures list. Let the snickering begin!

The Alan Parsons Project, I Robot
I had this really hot drama teacher in public school who used to use this album as a “warm up” for our interpretive movement sessions. If I can be totally honest, the fact that she was a hottie is only part of the reason for my affinity towards the APP. Listening again with unprejudiced ears I have to say that the dude knew how to build a mood. In addition, I think I could make a pretty good case for the guy as an electronic pioneer! He would soon sink into mediocre balladry, but this…THIS…was a fantastic record for it’s time.

The Steve Miller Band, Fly Like An Eagle
So I had this really hot French teacher who…just kidding. I think Steve Miller’s stuff has stood the test of time…really. Maybe it’s that blues foundation that’s the backbone of most of his songs, but I think a primary reason is that he just knew how to write a really good hook!

Adam And The Ants, Kings Of The Wild Frontier
I’m not talking about the “Goody Two Shoes” era (although, I have to admit, a damn fine pop moment!), but the era where the Burundi drums were a real innovation in Western music. Malcolm McClaren and Bow Wow Wow would later steal that unique sound but it doesn’t take away from this wonderful early 80’s pop gem of a record.

Bobby Darin, Mack The Knife
How can I , or anyone with a soul for that matter, press the skip button when a Bobby Darin song comes on the old ipod? Mack The Knife, Dream Lover, Beyond The Sea…good stuff. It doesn’t hurt that Beyond The Sea was used to great effect in a memorable jail scene in Goodfellas, either.

AC/DC, any album with Bon Scott & Back In Black
The best damn disco-heavy metal band EVER! Tell me who out there hasn't shaken their thang to at least one AC/DC song? They were bad boy boogie with a penchant for discofied rythms, killer guitar riffs and double entendres. "Big Balls". Need I say more?

The Cars, The Cars and Candy-O
They were terrible live (reproducing their songs perfectly, no enthusiasm or energy, no crown interaction), but the first two albums are pure new-wave pop tasty goodness.

Gordon Lightfoot, Gord’s Gold
I got no excuse for this one. Except that I’m half Canadian…and Sundown contains one of my all time favorite lyrics in "Sometimes I think it's a shame/ When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain.” Poetry. Sheer Canadian, hockey luvin’, tuke wearin’ drunken poetry.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Great Albums Released In 1980

For your consideration...

The Pretenders – The Pretenders
The Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It
Echo And The Bunnymen – Crocodiles
Joy Division – Closer
Ry Cooder, The Long Riders
Psychedelic Furs--Psychedelic Furs
Bauhaus--In The Flat Field
Dead Kennedys--Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
Adam Ant, Kings Of The Wild Frontier
AC/DC, Back In Black
Alice Cooper, Flush The Fashion (yet another of my guilty pleasures!)
David Bowie, Scary Monsters (marks the end of his reign)
The Clash, Sandinista!
Blue Peter, Radio Silence
Yello, Solid Pleasure
Bob Marley, Uprising
XTC, Black Sea
The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
PiL, Second Edition
The Ramones, End Of The Century
The Stones, Emotional Rescue (underrated!)
RUSH, Permanent Waves
Bruce Springsteen, The River
Teenage Head, Frantic City
Queen, The Game
The Cramps, Songs The Lord Taught Us
The Cure, Boys Don’t Cry
D.O.A., Something Better Change
Joe Jackson, Beat Crazy
Elvis Costello, Get Happy!
Squeeze, Argybargy
John Lennon, Double Fantasy
Madness, Absolutely
The Monks, Suspended Animation
OMD, Organisation
The Specials – More Specials
Talking Heads – Remain In Light
Killing Joke – Killing Joke
The Jam – Sound Affects

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day All You Pops Out There!

And in honor of my old man, here's a song he used to play by the original rock and roll outlaw, Johnny Cash (and my favorite song of his, to boot), Man In Black...

They Walked Among Us!!

Since my bud Thom over at the Surface Tension blog decided against posting a video of one of my favorite early punk groups, The Misfits, I thought it only fitting to give you a brief history of their discography and key tracks. As Thom briefly stated, the Misfits were certainly one of the creepiest bands of the early 80's, especially when Glenn Danzig was fronting, but they always did it with tongue firmly planted in cheek, paying homage to the sci-fi and horror "B" movies of the 50's & 60's in the process. I have pretty much ignored any album without Danzig, and any Danzig solo album as well for that matter. He got a little too serious about the whole "King Of The Damned" thing. Anyway, these guys were a powerful beast of a band during their heyday and influenced a host of other acts in the process, including many bands from the speed metal and hardcore groups of the mid to late 80's, especially Rob Zombie.

Walk Among Us

KEY TRACKS: Night Of The Living Dead, Devil's Whorehouse, Astro-Zombies

Earth A.D.

KEY TRACKS: Green Hell, Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?, Die, Die My Darling

Static Age

KEY TRACKS: Static Age, TV Casualty, Some Kinda Hate, Angelf*%k, She

After these three seminal albums they kind of lost the plot, in my humble opinion. And Danzig? Well, he pumped up to twice the size of Henry Rollins and is still scaring little kids and grandmothers to this day. Even appeared on an episode of "Adult Swim's" Aqua Teen Hunger Force!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Evil Urges" by My Morning Jacket

This album has me by the short and curlies.

It’s certainly got elements of past MMJ albums, but they’ve upped the ante on this one, folks. If 2005’s “Z” was their “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots”, then this one is their “At War With The Mystics”. Like that 2006 album by the Flaming Lips, MMJ seem absolutely hell bent on proving to their fan base that they’re not a band to be pigeonholed. If you need proof, listen to the 3rd song (Highly Suspicious”), which seems to be a curt “f@*k you” to anyone who thought they were going to release another “At Dawn” or “It Still Moves”. Jim James is channeling his inner Prince and, I’ll be honest here, it’s kinda jarring at first. Batting third in the line up, this song is meant to polarize, to spark debate, and if you read any of the customer reviews on Amazon or itunes you’ll see that I’m on the right track. The title song, I Think I’m Going To Scream pt 1 and Highly Suspicious are experimental turns, but by the fourth track and first single off the album, I’m Amazed, you’re back in classic MMJ territory.
There are elements of early 70’s Laural Canyon on here too, but not in a sugary sweet way, more like the Eagles circa One Of These Nights. It stays this way through the middle section until it hit’s the raging rocker Aluminum Park, and ends with the Pet Shop Boys-meet-Pink Floyd 8+ minute epic I Think I’m Going To Scream, one of my favorite tracks on the album.
One of the big differences I found on Evil Urges is the almost total lack of effects used on Jim James’ voice. For the most part it’s crystal clear, up front in the mix, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the dude’s got some pipes.
Overall the album is sequenced very well, the flow is tight and the production is top notch (but almost over-produced on a couple of tracks--almost). Not a perfect album, but a very, very good one. Not sure if I like it as much as “Z”, but it’s growin’ on me.
Four stars (and possibly ½ star more) out of five. One of the top albums of 2008, so far.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh, That's Just Great!

Ok, so, like, home made CD’s and DVD’s last only two years. What kind of crap is that! What you’re telling me is that all of those hundreds and possibly thousands of downloads I’ve invested in, burned to CD’s and DVD’s, carefully labeled and gently placed in jewel cases are going to disintegrate in two f*@kin’ years.



And don’t give me that crap about saving them on an external hard drive, either. Do you know how many out of date hard drives I have in my garage that are currently housing generations of mice? That, plus I like the physical, single pieces of data; it’s comforting somehow. I even make covers out of high quality photo paper.
I hear there are things called “Gold” CD’s and DVD’s that apparently last 50+ years, but they’re also apparently expensive as hell. I’ll have to pick some up, of course. Maybe the DVD’s so I can make archival copies of an entire bands discography.
That’s fine, that’s not what I’m so pissed about though. It’s the fact that NOWHERE on the cheap-ass CD packages do they ever once mention the lifespan or potential longevity of these things. The last I heard CD’s were supposed to last eons if you cared for them correctly.
I feel duped, deprived of hours and hours of my life I’ll never get back. Just another way I’ve been bent over the table and screwed in the pocketbook by “The Man”.
Actually, I’m not really that angry, just ignorant. What do you guys do to back up your MP3’s? If it’s a hard drive, give me a reason or two as to why that’s the answer. If it’s the gold DVD’s, or something else, tell me about it. What I’m looking for is a reason to relax, to protect my investment here.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog...

...for a special report. I just previewed the new My Morning Jacket album Evil Urges, and I LOVE IT, so far. It's always scary for me when I love an album this much so fast, but upon first listen it's so very different, yet the same somehow, from their prior releases. It's a relatively lazy thing to say that "this album is a combination of everything they've released to this date", but it's actually appropriate in this case, I think, a hybrid of It Still Moves and Z.
But I'm gonna live with it a week and post a full review after I've let it digest. Any of you out there have an opinion yet?

Anarchy In The U.K.!

According to the fidgit live traffic feed thingy it appears that the United Kingdon has overtaken my adopted homeland of Canada in regards to visitors. The good old US of A still has a commanding lead with 54% of all visits, while the UK has jumped to 15%. Canada, however, has fallen to third with 5%, just below France.
First and foremost, a big shout out to all me new mates across the Atlantic, and to Canada...what's up, eh? You should be starting to thaw out by this time! I promise that I'll try to do more posts on Trooper, ok? I did do one on Nash the Slash...that should count for something.

(insert smiley face here to denote "kidding")

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Installment Of IPod Roulette...

The next installment of UEMN's IPOD Roulette. Just a reminder that the following was random in every sense of the word. No skipping by the embarrassing bits, I assure you...

The Strange Design Of Conscience by The Flaming Lips
From the Flight Test EP, one of my favorite non-LP tracks.
Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice), by The Clash
Off the underrated Sandinista triple album.
Donation by The Wonder Stuff
From their best album, Never Loved Elvis.
Jack, You’re Dead by Joe Jackson
From Joe’s Jumpin’ Jive album. What a tight band he had for this one!
Casey Jones by The Grateful Dead
Ok, love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can’t deny their place in the R&R cannon…
The Boogie Bumper by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Swing for the masses, nothing authentic or deep but still good fun.
You Dress Up For Armageddon by The Hives
Garage rock for the new millennium. They’re really growing on me…
Machine Gun Ibiza by Prefab Sprout
From the PROPER follow up to Steve McQueen, Jordan: The Comeback
Take Your Mama Out by Scissor Sisters
For a band that’s named for a lesbian sexual position, they sure wrote some catchy tunes on their debut album, and this was the best of the best.
Mother by John Lennon
The most affecting song on Plastic Ono Band.
Red Rabbits by The Shins
From Wincing The Night Away, a real grower of an album.
Can I Get A Witness by Marvin Gaye
What can I say about this? Soul personified.
Keep It Together by Aqueduct
Under the radar, vintage synthesizer one man band. Surprised more people haven’t heard of this.
Butterfly McQueen by The Boo Radleys
From their masterpiece Giant Steps.
Where The Hell’s My Money by Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper
Have seen these guys live many times, and this is Mojo at his angriest…and funniest!
The Good The Bad and the Ugly by Hugo Montenegro
From the movie of the same name.
The Golden Path by The Chemical Brothers
The Chemical Brothers with Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips on vocals. This is his first lead vocal on disc, as far as I know, and he sounds eerily like Ian McCullough from Echo and the Bunnymen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Great Albums Released In 1979 was a very good year!

Elvis Costello And The Attractions – Armed Forces
The Undertones – The Undertones
Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps
The B 52’s – The B 52’s
XTC – Drums And Wires
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Tom Petty, Damn The Torpedoes
Gang Of Four – Entertainment
The Police – Regatta De Blanc
Specials – The Specials
Simple Minds, Reel To Real Cocophony
The Clash – London Calling
Nick Lowe--Labour Of Lust
Roxy Music, Manifesto
Sex Pistols, The Great R&R Swindle (ok, noty an OFFICIAL release, but still plain FUN!)
Pink Floyd, The Wall
Madness, One Step Beyond
Adam And The Ants, Dirk Wears White Sox
Ian Dury, Do It Yourself
The Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette
The Cars, Candy O
Cheap Trick, Dream Police and At Budokan
Dave Edmunds, Repeat When Necessary
The Stranglers, The Raven
Supertramp, Breakfast In America (guilty pleasure, admittedly)
Squeeze, Cool For Cats
Graham Parker, Squeezing Out Sparks
The Jam, Setting Sons
Joe Jackson, Look Sharp/ I’m The Man
The Kinks, Low Budget

...anything else?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hey, I Didn't Know Charles Manson Had A Sister!?!

You folks have proven that you're a creative bunch, so why don't you take the above photo of everyone's favorite freak-muffin Devendra Banhart and create your own caption? Hey, you could get really creative and come up with your own story to go along with the photo! Or you could just leave a snide comment. Readers choice.

This blog is now, officially, in your hands...

Friday, June 6, 2008

10 Fun Facts About Jim Croce

Did you know…

#1. That Jim’s famous ‘fro was actually a wig? It’s true! His hair was burned off at age 6 in an unfortunate smelting accident.

#2. That his hit “I Fell In Love With A Roller Derby Queen” was originally entitled “I Fell In Love With A Whore From Dairy Queen”?

#3. That he subsisted on nothing but pine needles and guacamole for the last 6 years of his existence? It was a ‘new age’ diet recommended to him by ex-roomie Arlo Guthrie.

#4. That for the entire 30 years that he was alive he never once cut his toenails? Look closely at his concert footage and you’ll notice that he always kept his feet wrapped in velvet “Crown Royal” bags.

#5. That he once swam over 2938 km down the Mississippi River just to retrieve his Jerry Garcia balsa wood hookah?

#6. He would only wear blue jeans that contained a unique purple dye found only in a rare form of sea urchin?

#7 That he once sneaked into Ed McMahon’s house and lived undetected in his closet for a full year?

#8. That he and 6 others still hold the record to this day for “Most People To Fit Inside A Single Soap Bubble”? It’s true! Google it, if you don’t believe me!

#9. That his moustache actually housed an entire generation of trained circus fleas, which were actually a Croce heirloom passed down by his father, Hercules Croce?

#10. That before Stanley Kubrick took over, Jim Croce was considered to play Alex, the lead "droog" in A Clockwork Orange?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Spoonful Of Angst Makes The Medicine Go Down

*(Written Wednesday night, 7:43pm)

I’m in a real foul mood.

When this happens (which it does, more frequently lately) I don’t want to listen to any music that isn’t a) really loud, b) really obnoxious and puerile, c) anything with more than three chords, d) really fast and e) anything that I need to “think about” to enjoy.
Let me be clear: I want my fu*#in’ ears to bleed! I want to be able to yell along with the music, not simply sing, and I wanna be able to pound my fist into the dashboard in time with the drum beat.

Yeah, that’s about it. And usually, by the time I get home, I’m over whatever got me in this mood to begin with. A musical form of primal scream therapy, if you will. And I needed it today. BAD.

Here’s the track list that did it for me today:

“War” by D.O.A.
“Riot” by the Dead Kennedys
“Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC
“Kill All Hippies” by Primal Scream
“Blindness” by The Fall
“Candy Ass” by The Fleshtones
“Damaged Goods” by Gang Of Four
“Raw Power” by The Stooges
“Kick Out The Jams” by The MC5

…and that’s all I had time for. I actually stayed in the driveway until “Kick Out The Jams” was complete. Now it’s time to self medicate with some Ny-Quil and a Guinness chaser and I’ll be back to face it all again tomorrow.

A new day.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Great Albums Released In 1978

As before, let me know if I've left any off.

The Cars - The Cars
The Kinks - Misfits
Buzzcocks – Another Music In A Different Kitchen
Elvis Costello – This Years Model
Funkadelic - One Nation Under A Groove
Various Artists – Saturday Night Fever Ost
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
Blondie – Parallel Lines
Nick Lowe- Jesus Of Cool
John Prine - Bruised Orange
Devo – Q: Are We Not Men A; We Are Devo
The Jam – All Mod Cons
Dave Edmunds - Tracks On Wax 4
Dire Straits - Dire Straits
The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Neil Young - Comes A Time

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Friend Tim

I wrote the following about a friend of mine who was diagnosed in January with a very aggressive brain tumor. After I found out I just started writing about it with the intent of publishing it here on my blog. But I didn't, and I'm unsure why. Even now.
Well, we just got the news today that Tim passed away, and I feel the need to post this now, so I am. For those of you that knew him you know what a wonderful guy and inspirational presence he was at the paper. For those of you who didn't, you'll just have to take my word for it. He will be missed terribly.

I have a friend and colleague who has brain cancer.
He is one of the most charming, funny (downright hilarious, actually) and life affirming individuals I have ever met in my life. No one who has met him has ever had a bad word to say about him and he has never had a bad word to say about anyone either.
This cancer appeared seemingly out of nowhere and has grown virtually overnight and is threatening his existence in a way I have never seen or ever want to see again. It’s been a tough ride for all of his many friends and, of course, even tougher on his family. I have seen it affect the people he used to work with, and I am not immune. Quite a few of us have used a particularly silly photo of him as our screen saver to remind us of his humor and zest for life. Speaking with him the other day from his hospital bed, he jokingly asked me if the newspaper we worked for would like to do an in depth article of his particular situation, which he hoped would lead to Dick Chaney paying a visit to our little town in Northern California so he could see first hand the devastation our current health care policy has on a “registered republican’.
My friend was a sales person in the advertising department with the largest geographical territory we had, which meant long daily commutes to see his clients. To pass the time he had his iPod, which was filled with an eclectic mix of artists and genres. Before this happened he made me a mixed tape from his favorite station, KPIG, which is comprised of folks such as James McMurtry, The Devil Makes Three and The Trailer Park Troubadours. It’s fun, life affirming music filled with hope and humor, just like Tim, and I listen to it whenever I am in need of a boost.

I hope he beats this thing, I truly do.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Just What The Hell Is “New Wave”, Anyway?

The “New Wave”, that most maligned of genres, is usually synonymous with the Flock Of 100 Haircuts set.

And synthesizers.

LOTS of synthesizers.

And the 80’s, primarily.

There are probably close to 1000 compilations out there, and pretty much none of them are representative of the best that decade had to offer, and there were some wonderful bands and some pretty amazing albums.
Was it MTV with their ‘fashion first’ modus operandi that pigeonholed the good bands of the 80’s into the same genre as A-Ha, Naked Eyes and Wang Chung or was it actually the music itself? Knowing what I know about the really great bands of the 80’s I’d have to say no, it wasn’t the music.

During the late 70’s and all through the late 80’s artists such as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Talking Heads, Squeeze, Split Enz, XTC, Tom Petty (!) and many others were labeled “New Wave” bands. In hindsight, these artists were different but not part of that set. Only because many of the above were angry and jittery did they get labeled as such.

I really think that during that time if you released a debut album you were automatically labeled as a “New Wave“ band. Not that there was anything wrong with that, I just think that in hindsight “New Wave” was an over simplistic way of saying “sounds different”. Now the term is kind of derogatory, something to be ashamed of. Truth be told, even back then it wasn’t a term we used.

But the bands that came out of that era were fantastic for the most part. Some were disposable, some were artsy and some had longevity, but the term that I like to remember the 80’s by is diversity. Not since the 1960’s has a decade produced so many different genres and styles. Goth, Electro, Madchester, House, Ska, Hardcore, Experimental Pop (synth and otherwise), Chamber, Grebo and the birth of the late 80’s Alternative movement which is still bearing fruit to this day. Sure, you could argue that those movements were all started in the late 70’s, and I suppose you could go back even further. But even if that is true, I think that they came to full fruition in the 1980’s. That point we’ll just have to leave open for debate, I suppose.

Were there failed experiments? Of course there were, but name me a decade that didn’t have them and I’ll buy you a vintage Atari game console complete with Asteroids and Space Invaders cartridges. But the successes far outweigh the failures, really and truly. I mean, any decade that gave birth to the Smiths couldn’t have been bad.

Here’s my own personal list of the best "New Wave" from that decade. Those that lived through it, chime in. This is by no means a complete list, that's what you're here for!

The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
The The, Soul Mining
Tears For Fears, The Hurting
ABC, The Lexicon Of Love
Art Of Noise, Who's Afraid Of?
Bauhaus, Mask
Big Audio Dynamite, The Globe
Blue Peter, Radio Silence
Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory
The Specials, The Specials
Elvis Costello, Armed Forces (and many others)
Joe Jackson, Night And Day (and Jumpin' Jive!)
The Cars, Candy O
China Crisis, Working With Fire And Steel
The Clash, Sandinista (London Calling, released in 1979!)
The Cramps, Psychedelic Jungle
The Cure, Head On The Door (I like it better than Disintegration)
David Bowie, Scary Monsters
Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward
XTC, Skylarking (and many others)
Orange Juice, Rip It Up
English Beat, I Just Can't Stop It!
The Fall, This Nations Saving Grace
Gang Of Four, Entertainment
The Fixx, Reach The Beach (come on, you know you like it!)
The FLeshtones, Hexbreaker
The Fuzztones, Lysergic EmanationsSqueeze, East Side Story
The Lilac Time, The Lilac Time
Happy Mondays, Bummed
Pop Will Eat Itself, This Is The Day, This Is The Hour, This Is This!
Hoodoo Gurus, Mars Needs Guitars
The Housemartins, London 0, Hull 4
The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
The Jam, Sound Affects
The Jazz Butcher, A Scandal In Bohemia
Pet Shop Boys, Introspective
Jesus And Mary Chain, Darklands
Joy Division, Closer
Kraftwerk, Computer World
Lloyd Cole, Rattlesnakes
Love And Rockets, Express
Men Without Hats, Rhythm Of Youth (I will fight anyone who disagrees)
Minutemen, Double Nickels On The Dime
Mojo Nixon, Frenzy!
The Monks, Suspended Animation
Nasty Rox, Inc., CASH
New Order, Power, Corruption And Lies (and many more)
Nick Lowe, The Rose Of England
OMD, Architecture And Morality
REM, Murmur
Pixies, Doolittle
The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and The Lash
Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
Prefab Sprout, Steve McQueen
Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mother's Milk
Renegade Soundwave, Soundclash
The Replacements, Let It Be (and everything else they recorded)
Roxy Music, Avalon
Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Flaunt It!
Simple Minds, New Gold Dream
Sisters Of Mercy, Floodland
The Stranglers, Feline
Spacemen 3, Playing With Fire
Style Council, Singular Adventures Of
Talk Talk, The Colour Of Spring
Tears For Fears, The Hurting
Teenage Head, Frantic City
Thomas Dolby, The Flat Earth
Waterboys, Fisherman's Blues
Wonder Stuff, The Eight Legged Groove Machine
Yello, Stella

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The National Geographic Stonehenge Interviews, Pt I

...with Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap.

AND, as an added bonus, Spinal Tap performing Stonehenge!