U2biquity is nothing to fear.
ALBUME REVIEW: Here’s how Christian I think U2 is: I think they’re the benevolent equivalent of Mel Gibson, or, expressed more economically: Bizarro Mel Gibson. They take the title of their new album from William Blake, who can be described as a “Christian mystic”. Do you think U2 put a lot of thought into what they call this thing they’re giving to half a billion people? I’m gonna guess the answer is yes. So what’s a mystic? The way I’d describe is it is a mystic is someone who experiences the divine as subjective reality . Throughout history, there have always been nay-sayers who find these people insane. Sometimes they even kill mystics. Assuming Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure, one could make an argument that he was not literally “the son of God” any more than anyone else, but his mystical experiences convinced him that he was, and he went around talking about it. Big mistake. And now they wanna kill U2 too.
In terms of how much attention each of their new albums receives upon release, I believe U2 may be on top of the longest winning streak in rock and roll history. Last I heard, U2 are Christians (except for Adam Clayton, which is why he’s the one that went out with Naomi Campbell, I guess.) Since they’re Irish, religion isn’t simply a comforting aspect of their lives, or such is my speculation. What’s impressive about this to me is they don’t advertise or emphasize their spirituality but it has always been reflected in their work. This means they are in the faith, hope and love business, rather than the anger and selfishness business. For the most part, all my favorite artists are geniuses at expressing negativity, from John Lennon all the way down. I love that shit. If Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen or Elliott Smith of Kurt Cobain (extra points for suicides!) are selling darkness and despair I will put mustard (alcohol?) on that shit and gobble it down. But that’s the easy way. BTW: I gotta mention Cohen and Cave have also written many powerfully uplifting songs that express real feelings of transcendent sacred hope. Here’s an interesting snippet of Jim Morrison talking about where I’m going with this:
“A PIECE OF MUSIC IS THE PURE EXPRESSION OF JOY (1968) – JIM MORRISON
Apple and U2 have colluded to revolutionize what it means when a new album comes out, at least this once. What I’m interested in is what they have decided would be the thing they give to basically every person in the civilized world. So U2 being U2 and Apple being Apple, I believe careful consideration has gone into what they’re dumping into everyone’s library. A band doesn’t end up in U2’s position by accident. U2 always worked hard towards the aim of being being the biggest band in the world. U2 in general and Bono in particular have been committed to using their powers for good to the point of near absurdity. I find the reaction to their new free album to be cynical and jaded beyond all rationality, but that’s probably just because I’m looking at my Facebook feed, which consists primarily of crabby old punk rockers in their 40s and 50s who are living in the year 1983 (like myself). But boy, oh boy, do people love making wisecracks about U2 giving them an album they never asked for. The sheer effrontery of this grand gesture has got legions of middle-aged men acting like the snotty adolescent older daughter on all my favorite “golden age of TV” cable serials. It’s just another thing coming at you over the computer, get into it or ignore it or delete it but if you’re complaining about it it’s because you LOVE complaining. I love complaining. Complaining reinforces the ego with beautiful efficiency. But for me, this is no such occasion. I find “Songs Of Innocence” to be inspiring and uplifting and it gives me hope for the future of rock and roll and for humanity.
U2 have the elements of a “real” band. You can really hear the contribution of each of the four members on every song. Like the Who, each member has an idiosyncratically individual musical personality expressed through their style but like the Ramones there is no virtuosity, no element superfluous to the expression of the song. This is consistently the case throughout the album. Bono in particular is singing as beautifully Bono-like as ever but he sounds more interested in the song than he is in his own Bono-nature. He’s not going a step past what is needed. On any other U2 album from “Unforgettable Fire” onward Bono gets a little too rich for my blood, but never on this album.
The first song is “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”. They come out pushing all the right buttons for U2-80s-new wave nostalgia. They’re coming at you with the “whoa whoahs” and the moody minimalist piano vibes of “New Year’s Day”, then the Edge comes in sounding more crunchy and lo-fi than ever. This guitar is loud and distorted and rocking hard and obnoxious but NOT Ramones-like, which is a good choice. When the groove kicks in I like to imagine they were thinking of Adam and the Ants. It has the stick clicks of “Antmusic” and the “Whoah whoas” associated with Adam and the Ants (and also U2, of course). A little of the old military snare. They always were good at using the snare drum to remind you of a military band and thus the underpinning haunting subconscious knowledge of the ongoing inevitability of the never-ending horrors of war. It’s an Irish thing, these people didn’t just discover terrorism over the last 15 years. This is the first of many songs that evokes the “War” album for me, which is the best U2 ever were. Take into consideration once again, the demographic they’re appealing to is EVERYBODY. Also, most people who like U2 at all have liked them for a REALLY LONG TIME, decades. These guys have been around the block enough to know what side their bread is buttered on. All of us Gen-x-ers grew up with U2, whether we cared to or not. What I like about this song is it seems to say “remember that feeling, it has always been there”. No music gets under your skin like the stuff you got into when you were 14. Ask the surviving Beatles and Stones, who have always embraced this truth. This song is about connecting with what it means to find the healing powers of rock and roll at the most painful and confusing part of life, the transition of adolescence. It’s also a sexy and exciting time, full of the feeling of possibility and the FUTURE. I think this song expresses all of that. For me personally it does somewhat remind me of my favorite band when I was 13 and this song in particular:
and also around the same time I was way into this:
And the hook for the first song on their latest and biggest new album contains the lines:
“Everything I ever lost now has been returned, the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard”
That’s very beautiful to me. It takes me back to when music really was the thing that made sense out of the world. Before I grew up and “figured it all out” and worked out my “philosophy of life”. What’s REALLY deep about it is this: from U2’s Christian perspective, “everything I ever lost” can only mean the connection to God, or the collective-consciousness, “the higher power”, the ONE, the thing bigger than yourself, the thing that the so-called “soul” is said to be hooked into. The pursuit of ecstatic connection triggered by the mysterious powers of music (like, how does it work? Why does it DO that to us?) is an expression of this spiritual longing, just like the booze and drugs and sex and all the other good stuff. Television, for Christ’s sake! ANYTHING to feel connected and immersed in something larger than yourself that you can lose yourself in. So this song and this chorus contain for me all that is needed to show that U2 is back and they have something worthwhile to say to us. Remember, they’re old too, they’re in the same boat. This is a line that fits and is simple and contains the whole meaning of life. And it’s catchy and it has a good beat. The Edge does not lean on special effects here and he’s playing some real satisfying punk rock rhythm guitar. I’m assuming this song had to have been written and recordedy before the recent death of Tommy Ramone, which triggered a wave of nostalgia ultimately resulting in the canonization of the Ramones as second most important band ever. If this is indeed the case, U2 has their finger on the pulse in a way that continues to be SPOOKY! They do a great job of making an anthemic rocker that doesn’t in any way attempt to sound like the Ramones. “Vertigo” sounded more like the Ramones than this one does. They got good taste.
The second song is “Every Breaking Wave”. This song is shamelessly evocative of “With or Without You”, but faster, more driving, which only takes it slightly past the excitement level of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, but I’m really digging it. As a matter of fact, because you can easily picture Sting singing these verses, for the first time ever I know for a fact that I find Bono a million times less annoying than Sting. But this is a cool, middling Police-type song. I like the line, “Every gambler knows that to lose is what you’re really there for”. I’m not a gambler, but I’m familiar with the concept, it’s a big part of the psychology of self-destruction. Contrary to Bono’s assertion, I’m sure there’s a lot of gamblers out there who think they want the thrill of victory but Bono’s talking about the self-examining self-destroyer, who really knows he’s his own worst enemy all along. That’s a lot of extrapolation from one simple lyric and a great example of the strength of Bono’s words on this album. From the unique perspective of the Christian rock star, I find this to be a line that expresses sincere empathy and compassion, without judgement. You don’t get as big as U2 without making a deal with the devil, and I believe Bono is quietly and non-self-aggrandizingly grappling with his own demons, whatever form they may take. This song is about not waiting for the next big thing to make your life worthwhile. “To be swept off our feet and stop chasing every breaking wave” and “I thought I heard the Captain’s voice, it’s hard to listen while you preach” are examples of Bono sharing moments when he discovers humility is where fulfillment lies. “Are we so hopeless against the tide?” Good fucking question the song is asking. This is a song about strength in spiritual surrender, which is the only strength there is that won’t ultimately result in eating yourself alive, somehow. “We’re in love with defeat” has to do with the human condition in general. Did I say this song is about surrender? Bono uses a sweet falsetto that uncharactistically makes him softer at the peak of the melody. The message I take from this song is “the kingdom of heaven is within.” It’s catchy, it’s got a good beat.
I love an album that puts the best song 3rd, and for me this is clearly one of them. On “California” they kick into my favorite groove which my friend calls “The Sex Pistols beat” but I think of it as “the ‘Funtime’ beat” and here’s a couple favorite examples:
IGGY POP – THE IDIOT – FUNTIME
DAVID BOWIE – RED SAILS
But it makes me want to dance like this:
SCENE FROM FOOTLOOSE
Now I’m really digging this album. It is building momentum, the tempo is faster, dancier, but still rocking and the message is super-duper Christian! “There is no end to love”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s up there with “All You Need Is Love” and “The love you take is equal to the love you make”, as far as I’m concerned at the moment. This is a great song about Universal Cosmic Love. Warning: this Love does not disintegrate haters, it absorbs them. We got us a new Van Morrison here, Irish mysticism expressed directly and simply. That may be wishful thinking on my part, but there’s no denying this groove don’t quit. This is some super-entertaining new wave power pop. The synths in the chorus sound warmly soothing in a way that reminds me of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” (again with the 80s retro), but there’s also some subtle tasty string arrangement sounding stuff and then the Edge takes a melodic guitar solo that is more straightforward in expression of simple and loud and fat melody than I can ever remember hearing him do, he sounds like more like Television and the Skids, which he always credited as primary influences. Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton (from here on in referred to as “the rhythm section”) are appropriately propulsive. There is no song ever written where it is more obvious when you’re hearing The Hook and I mean that in the best possible sense. My favorite “whoa-whoahs” on the album. It’s real catchy and has a really good beat. Unfortunately, for me it’s all downhill from here. Plenty of quality U2 for the next 40 minutes or so, but I could listen to “California” all day. I hereby declare it is my favorite U2 song of all time.
This next “Song For Someone” starts with a nice acoustic Edge guitar. This is sort of a nice new “One”, if you want that kind of thing. I like it better than “One” which, again, is a little rich for my blood. Yet another “classic-U2″ sounding song on the album. Again, in his guitar solo, The Edge evokes his primary original influence, Stuart Adamson of the Skids:
THE SKIDS – CHARADE
Stuart Adamson went on to further refine his bagpipe-like melodic guitar style with a band called Big Country. He’s dead now.
“Iris” has the band as one rhythm unit. This is real old school U2, “Where The Streets Have No Name” with a little of the mood of the “War” album style but faster and leaner and meaner. The Edge has got his delay back and he remembers how to use it. Not a bad song, but maybe the closest they get to doing “U2-by-numbers” on this album. It’s a fairly silly love song (some people want to fill the world with them). I like the ending tagline “Free yourself to be yourself, only you can see yourself”. Positive energy!
“Volcano” starts with bass and drums, almost like an old Pixies tune. The chorus reminds me a bit of Siouxsie and the Banshees with maybe even a little REM “This One Goes Out To The One I Love” thrown in via the guitar line at the end. The 80s mood continues, this is the point of the album where I’m starting to suspect they front loaded all the really good songs, but that’s no crime. Total album track, not bad. There’s some nice guitar on here, as always. Single note-lines rather than chords makes it sort of modern-sounding.
“Raised By Wolves” builds tension through the first two verses with some typically minimalist U2 style piano, gradually increasing in volume. This song is about growing up in the urban blight of war-torn Dublin, and the tension builds until the chorus bursts out : “Raised by wolves, stronger than fear”. And what’s stronger than fear? Conventional wisdom says the answer is love, but they don’t come right out and say that, sneaky Christians that they are. The pattern of evoking nostalgia for the classic, early, “innocent” U2 is continued. On this track it’s a nice little bit of “New Year’s Day” style piano. So we’re back where we started once again, pretty much in a good way.
“Cedarwood” is all over the place. It’s got some incongruously non U2-like heaviosity that reminds me at times of Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” of all things and some great melodic bass playing from Adam Clayton. This song seems like it was built out of leftover parts that were too good to be thrown out. Every part is stylistically different, but it sounds like it should be four different developed songs instead of one string of different ideas. It’s all good, except I don’t think it works as a song.
“Sleep Like a Baby” has nice minimalistic synth work. These sounds reminds me of stuff like U2’s early contemporaries: Yazoo, early Depeche Mode, Heaven 17 and good old Human League mores than U2. Bono’s singing in a style and using some sort of vocal phasing effect that makes him sound like Marc Bolan, which is pretty fucking cool. The song ends up sounding almost like a cross between U2 and the Eurhythmics. Bono hits an incredibly high falsetto in this tune, so high it’s like he almost disappears into it. And the outré solo-is super rude and fuzztonish. Nice groove and sound, not a great song.
“This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now” sets up some nice vibes with acoustic guitar, more classic-style U2 piano and a group vocal that makes me think once again of the “War” album. Getting towards the end of this album, I’m thinking U2’s own “songs of innocence” culminated on their third album, “War”. Remember, they had the picture of the same little kid on the first album and the third album (and a handful of import singles, and the video for “Two Hearts Beat As One”). “War” was the end of the innocence for these boys. That was the album where they hit their stride stylistically and became big rock stars in America. Say, I wonder if that’s presently being rereleased on iTunes, in remastered form? (along with the rest of their catalogue) Wouldn’t that be something?
Now all of a sudden, at the last song, the plot thickens! Is U2 trying to edge themselves into the Beatles/Bowie/Stones/Elvis Costello category of artists who can sell you their old classics over and over again? The reason I ask this is I gotta say, I loved the first three U2 albums when I was a kid but I have never owned them since the advent of the compact disc, because I was too cool to buy U2 records when their latest hit was consistently omnipresent all throughout MTV’s entire music video playing era. But I’m starting to feel like I want to own those first three albums again, and it’s this album that is making me feel this way. You gotta be a certain age to get the urge to buy albums, or a weirdo. And that’s why Ace Frehley is at number 2 in the charts and Bowie releases a new old album every year.
So I digress, the second last song’s got “Soldier, soldier” in it and when U2’s got a gang of voices singing about anything to do with war, it’s gonna remind you of “War” in some way or other. The Edge is doing some great, semi-Radioheadish electric guitar in it in the intro. Or is it ZZ Top? And then it goes disco. A more 70s version of “Achtung-era” U2, another winning period for the group. As a matter of fact I’m gonna say it’s got “Achtung” verses and “War” choruses. The Edge is playing some real cool spiky single note rhythms on this. Even with all these assets the song seems to deserve it’s placement as second last song on the album, a traditional dead spot. Not that anyone’s ever gonna listen to the whole thing all the way through. AND it’s the longest song on the album! Nice touch. I guess it just HAD to have that superfluous acoustic breakdown!
So finally, the last song is a long, slow, boring thing called “The Troubles”. Starts out with some female voices. It’s a moody song that maybe gets into that mood of “One” but with a different approach. I’m not loving these lady vocals at the end of the album. This song starts from a low place dynamically, but really seems to try to have “moments”. Seems like all icing. At least they give The Edge the last word, with a long strong outré solo that is very traditionally Edge-like.
It occurs to me this album could actually be great it if it were 15 minutes shorter. The 35 minute album! That’s what I really miss and it’s one of the reasons we used to listen to entire albums. Overall, I enjoy this U2 album. It’s got all the elements I like about them and a few great songs. I don’t think they owe anyone an apology.
RELATED: What is going on with Tom Petty that he feels a need to rock so fucking hard at this specific time?
YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO FACEHOOKERS
ALBUM REVIEW: Brian Fallon, frontman for the Gaslight Anthem (GLA), always spoke in interviews of what to musically expect with each new upcoming GLA album. Ironically, every time he declared the band was taking their sound in a bold, new direction, they delivered yet another kick ass collection of familiar “punk-n-roll soul” with gritty, Ness meets Petty vocals.
This time around discussing Get Hurt, their fifth full length release, Fallon spoke about the wonder of some bands that drastically changed their sound and live to talk about it, a very risky move that often doesn’t end pretty for rock bands. Get Hurt is by no means Achtung Baby or Kid A but for GLA it is. Unlike their peers in the National and the Hold Steady, both recently releasing great but “safe” albums, in efforts to reach the next level of rockdom, it seems GLA courageously said “fuck that” and decided to shake things up a bit. The Garden State darlings finally kept their word, grew a pair and took the plunge, interestingly at a time when they too are eyeing that same rockdom and should play it safe. Audacious? Ballsy? Yup…I agree.
Quite simply, Get Hurt is far more rock and far less punk, more Petty and less Ness, full of ambitious, stadium size anthems with the band trying to live up to their very name. Sure you have the traditional punkish ferocity of “Rollin’ And Tumblin” that still packs a similar punch like “1930” does on their 2007 debut album Sink or Swim or “Orphans” on 2012’s American Slang, but is also the closest “typical” GLA song on the entire album and smack right in the middle of the playlist, reminding their fans that they didn’t forget where they come from and still punk as fuck. The intriguing title track sounds like a scrubbed up, leftover Horrible Crowes (Fallon’s side project, check out their excellent debut record, Elsie) number that is just begging for radio play. Other standout tracks include “1,000 Years,” “Helter Skeleton,” “Selected Poems” “Stay Vicious” and “Dark Places” (my favorite track thus far).
But yet again, perhaps both GLA and their fans should have seen it coming since it isn’t like the band didn’t flirt with different ground before . Mixing punk driven rock with 50’s sha la la’s and 60’s R&B groove has been constant in their music since 2008’s The 59 Sound (their second full length release). Or check out the Cure-ish “Old White Lincoln “on the same album. Then try listening to “Get Hurt” and “Here Comes My Man” from 2012’s Handwritten back to back. Pretty complimentary if you ask me. One could even argue that the band has already been mildly indulging in experimentation with 2008’s Senor and the Queen EP since the recording has a much different, almost disjointed feel to it despite decent songs (especially “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts.”).
Overall Get Hurt is a solid effort and, I will say it again, a ballsy move by a band whose engines have been noticeably sputtering a tad bit on their last 2 releases. If you are looking for the blue collar punk of the past you may be let down but I am kind of relieved GLA sound has pleasantly aged and matured from the first time I saw them at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony on their 59 Sound tour and from the New Brunswick basement scene where they hatched. Will GLA fans get hurt with this new release? If you grow a pair, dive in like the band did maybe you will suffer some scrapes or a bruise at most…and pleasantly so.
Give this a like Facehookers.
ALBUM REVIEW: What has gotten into Tom Petty that he feels a need to rock so fucking hard at this point?
Every now and again a very great and classic singer/songwriter/rock and roll type artist, who are believed to have more than earned the right to be “past their prime” and rest on their laurels, just for no apparent reason, up and make one of their greatest albums ever. My favorite examples of this are Dylan’s “Time Out Of Mind”, Bowie’s “Heathen” (well, maybe not one of his BEST but that’s a high fuckin’ bar) and of course the one that started it all; Neil Young’s “Ragged Glory”. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Hypnotic Eye” is one of THOSE albums.
I suspect that the Petty camp has been appreciating the strengths of the post-modern, lo-fi, soulful, semi-ironic primitive blues-ness of the Black Keys. At least that’s the first thought I had listening to the first tune, “American Dream Plan B”.
The sound is uncluttered and in your face with a “singing soulfully into a tin can” style vocal and a fat and rude low frequency distorted riff over a straight backbeat. It sounds like you’re actually listening to a guy in a room playing a drum set. Then, all of a sudden, the chorus comes and it is EXTREMELY Tom Petty-like:. “I’ve got a dream I’m gonna fight ’til I get it, I’ve got a dream I’m gonna fight ’til I get it RIGHT”. Somehow what he’s singing sounds both youthfully optimistic and worldweary-wise. It’s partly because of the music and partly because of the words, just like all great songwriting. And then Mike Campbell throws a crude, yet impeccably melodic distorted guitar riff in there, evoking (to this listener, at least) “Satisfaction” and Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything”
Them – I can only give you everything
But the most remarkable event happens after the second chorus: the band launches into a beautiful “acoustic-strumming-with-slide” George Harrison tribute lasting less then half a minute and then Mike Campbell rips into a manic guitar solo that sounds more or less exactly like Dave Davie’s on the Kinks “You Really Got Me”
the kinks- you really got me
Post-modern cut and paste playful cultural appropriationism reaches its zenith in the second song “Fault Lines”, which is a fucking rhumba! But when the first crashing chord introduces the verse vocal, you instantly remember you’re listening to the new Tom Petty album. And the hook, line and SINKER: “I’ve got a few of my own fault lines running under my life” is just so classic it’s surprising no one ever came up with it already. “Red River” in the beginning reminds me of Aerosmith and the Stooges (in it’s use of the awesome one-note piano over heavy driving rock)
So let’s talk about the players: I’d like to start by first recognizing Benmont Tench as team player supreme. This album is more guitar driven than any Tom Petty album (at least any I can think of right now) and the keyboards are used here in a way similar to bands that don’t have a specifically designated keyboard player in them. Like the early Beatles or Kiss on Destroyer or early Aerosmith or Ozzy, etc. On one song ( “Red River”) they go so far as to utilize piano like the Stooges used to (wait a second; is SCOTT THURSTON on this album? You bet your ass he is! So that’s the guy doubling Mike Campbell’s badass riffs in “Fault Lines”) My point is you only hear keyboard at certain times and even then it tends to be near subliminal. As for Ron Blair, everyone always wished he could come back to the band and he sounds beautiful on this album. His tone is McCartneyesque. I think his playing is too, except he never plays in a way that draws attention to itself, which McCartney had no way of NOT doing. But like in 60s music, this is an album where the bass lives in it’s own sonic space and is separate from the guitars. It is FAT and fun and sexy like bass is supposed to be.
“Forgotten Man” appropriates the Bo Diddley beat to perfect effect. The song is just classic Tom Petty. Mike Campbell’s solo sounds like Clapton on the Bluesbreakers (best possible way to sound).
“Sins Of My Youth” is a nice bossanova, sort of a callback to the earlier rhumba and just a little hipsterish. Beautiful tremolo guitars on this one. Most Steely Dan sounding of the Tom Petty catalogue thus far. Not that it sounds very much like Steely Dan…
Now here’s another thing to always remember: Tom Petty is a cool stoner dude and that’s why he has a laid back funky song called “U Get Me High” which swaggers in with stabbing guitars and some big round fuzzy swinging bass. Totally lives up to the title. Do you think it’s got a good guitar solo? Mike Campbell, one of the greatest ever, on this solo, sounds like he may have heard Jack White at some point, and in a GOOD way. Show ‘em how it’s done, Daddy! And then there’s some some golden-era of Clapton jewelry in the outro. Have I mentioned yet that this is really MIKE CAMPBELL’S album? The man is a national treasure.
There’s a tradition of the second to last song on a good album being the weak spot and they do a perfect job of it here. A blues called “Burnt Out Town” which is a fairly listenable showcase for the piano playing of Benmont Tench and the harmonica of Scott Thurston. I’m fine with it.
The last song is called “Shadow People” and it’s sort of a Lennon “Cold Turkey” format song with bluesy double stops on the guitar punctuating every line of the verse. Then in the chorus the guitar plays a riff that’s really sweet and sad and reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult’s “I’m Burning For You”, which is a compliment. And the guitar solo is just unbelievably great. Mike Campbell has never sounded so aggressive and balls-out rock.
So in closing, Mike Campbell is God, but so is Scott Thurston and here’s your proof:
IGGY POP – NEW VALUES
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ALBUM REVIEW: 11 songs of noise rock on Slow Release by the Australian power crud rock trio Yes I Am Leaving have a few sharp and dull knifes up their sleeves. The opening track “One” below is a jesus lizardesque pounder and a great introduction to the swinging future punk swagger on the rest of the record. You really need to be a fan of AM/REP bands to appreciate the first three tracks or generally scorching your inner ear drums with cork screw. As the record gets deeper it’s get a little more melodic and husker du sing/song which makes them omni directional. The tracks “Alchemy” and “Timer” picks-up with just a little more of a show-gazer song-scape mentality nod (see what I did there) that I am talking about. So something for everybody here to make you look up the playlist a few times. This record is a follow-up to their 2013 record Mission Bulb. I couldn’t tell you the difference just yet but I can tell you they will be touring the states in Oct/Nov 2014; at least that is the plan anyway and if you were worth the prize tag of your hoodie you would just pick this shit up and check them out. This is minimalistically melodic when needed and has mucho bass thuds to rock the crud out of your head with a swift kick of their boot. You can listen to this record backwards and forwards and it will still be just as good. Facehook| Homeless Vinyl | Soundcloud
RIYL: Janitor Joe, METZ, Today is the Day, Laughing Hyenas
VIDEO: YES I’M LEAVING – FOUR CHORDER from MISSION BULB (2013)
Get some: July Crop of rock-n-roll singles (2012) w/ METZ, Fang Island, The Afghan Whigs
Day of the dead Kristen Pfaff RIP Janitor Joe download mp3 here.
Early Retirement MP3 by Janitor Joe from Big Metal Birds (1993)
My First Knife MP3 by Today is the Day from Willpower(1995)
Slump MP3 by Laughing Hyenas from Hard Times (1995)
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New Jersey is somewhat a musical paradox. Outsiders predictably only know about “The Boss” or Bon Jovi being from the Garden State, unless you grew up on Hardcore, then it the same two plus Turning Point, Vision, Bouncing Souls and Lifetime. Then the Gaslight Anthem eventually exploded onto the scene that even made this transplant proud of his new home state, where insiders never seem to talk about Real Estate, another NJ band that are both hugely popular and play everywhere else.
But after sniffing over the years, I have pleasantly discovered that New Jersey is chuck full of great bands with many indie labels supporting them. Pyrrhic Victory Recordings is one of those labels and the wonderful 65’s, GALANOS and Miss Ohio are some of those bands.
The 65’s I’ve Got You EP (2013) picks up right up where 2011’s kick ass Strike Hard! left off. A solid 4 song onslaught that starts with the punk ‘n’ roll steam roller “Have you Been Saved?”, continues with the darkly beautiful album title track and ending with is pretty acoustic twang of “Safety Net,” each song heavily complimented by the unique, husky Lucero-ish growl of front man/guitarist Joseph O. Pugsley. I Got You is never too far from my weekly listening pleasure, with the 3rd track,”Holes Dug Deep” being one of my personal favorites (“breathe in…breathe out…keep breathing she said“).
THE 65’s “I’ve Got You”
Next up is GALANOS‘ 2 song offering, La Loca, a dark and dreamy, surfy and heavy, beautifully droning offering of slowed down and fuzzed up songs of Velvet Underground-ish proportions. I could see either song (the title track or “Go Home Rose”) being on the soundtrack to the next Quentin Tarantino flick with a return of Uma Thurman dancing to either. Indeed a welcoming sight in my humble opinion! If this is just a the hors d’ourves of what GALANOS is offering, I am looking forward to a full meal and hopefully soon.
Miss Ohio’s latest EP, Whippoorwill Road, was officially released last week, delivering a perfect blend of power pop melody and guitar rock grit, with 5 songs that will no doubt make my personal best of 2014 release list. Oddly, the opening killer track of the same name always brings “Boys of Summer” (either Henley or the Atari’s cover will do) to mind, but in a good way. Tracks “Bobby Fischer” and “Lights” keep the momentum going (with the latter boasting interesting sounds from a vintage phaser pedal) while I find myself mentally humming the coquettish“Day Job” at least once a day while reconciling my own rock ambitions while working for the man. Finally I was one happy camper that they (re)recorded “KGB” one of my favorite tracks off of 2005’s underrated Another Wasted Summer. Homerun, boys.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Gustave Tigers – At The Idylls End starts off with a art school spoke Azalia Snail self titled diatribe which I tuned out on at first. Then the music quickly picks up the pace in what this Budapest band calls cathedral punk. Which is very fast, sharp like steak knifes and fitting like a casket demolotion derby (whatever that is). You how young bands have a energy and bounce to thir music because they might not know better? This music is perfectly dissedent in ways only their music can explain because I’m not fluent in Hungarian. Seems to be mostly female fronted vocal and by all accounts pro-feminist jesus fuckers. This noise goes by at a blisteirng pace and most evident in the star spangled rant called Clitoris Crucifix clocking in at :40 seconds giving Pussy Riot a lesson in song crafting. There are 14 tunes on here in total and not a dull moment to found. Noisy, dreamy, psychedelic with just enough of a vocal hook to remind you that you don’t need a keyboard to make good music. A bunch of delays and reverb but none the less Szurcsik Erika on vocals, Dorozsmai Gergő Guitar and vocals, Mezősi Péter drums and Szabó Csaba bass and vocals make a nice mess of things. You shall name your price on their bandcamp page although we give you a MP3 here for free courtesy of the band. Check them out facehookers but not sure it’s all in english. The name of the band is Gustave Tiger. This is their 2nd album and it’s sonic, dissident-pop in all the right angular hard to reach places, much hipper bands pretend to be but never are.
RIYL: Sonic youth, Alice Donut, Buthole Surfers, Trail of Dead, The Fall, weird art rock
DOWNLOAD: Sister Sybarite MP3 from At The Idyll’s End (May 2014)
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ALBUM REVIEW: I am starting to wonder what is in the water now that all global warming is melting all the snow in Canada because the rock-n-roll that is starting to come down by the likes of Champion Lover is getting meaner and darker. The Toronto based noise punks have their scopes set on getting you fucked-up a lot which we’re totally fine with being that we’re in New Jersey and our home state’s super hero is The Toxic Avenger. This is a monster sized caliber release with jagged distortion episodes that manage to get inside your worst dreams. At other times pretty trippy power psyche(yea we said this) where the bassiness will make your bad day get worse. Pounding you with the opener “Read my Mind” and wipe off the blood with “She Likes Wu-Tang”; these are the real champions on this debut. The last track “Vacant Heart (Spring Break)” is what we can only imagine is a bad trip gone completely sour. So put your head in the barrel on their bandcamp to dose yourself. You might not need drugs listening to them because they are drug rock and will make you scrape your face-off.
RIYL: Weekend, Sonic Youth, Place to Burry Strangers
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Review: Overlake Sighs – NJ Psyche
Singles & Bands to Watch: Mutes, Stagnant Pools, Milan Jay, The Van Doos and Distortion Girls
Singles and Bands to Watch: Sex Scheme, Dead, Barrows & De Duiven
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My band, Dollar Store Riot, humbly shared the stage with Overlake back in January 2014 @ NYC’s Parkside Lounge. When the show promoter told me we will be playing with a “shoe-gaze band from Jersey City” I was immediately intrigued. A shoe-gaze band in 2014? And from Jersey no less? Fate took the wheel as I was one of many completely blown away by their set and eagerly looking forward to their soon to be released record to validate that what I heard live beautifully transposed to any type of recording.
And boy, were things quickly validated.
Sighs, Overlake’s first full length release on NJ’s own Killing Horse Records, was released yesterday (4/15) , but I have been devouring the pre-release sale free mp3 download of the album for weeks now. Sure band members Tom and Lysa were sweet to buy me a birthday shot at the above said post-show, but that doesn’t influence nor change the fact that Sighs is hands down a consistently solid fucking effort and one of the best releases of 2014. For certain you can hear pinches of I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, dashes of Loveless and touches of You In Reverse. Based on the recent press, a lot of the equally impressed critics do too, claims the band won’t deny, yet somehow pull off their own smorgasbord of familiar sounds with unique freshness.
Sighs is simply a beautiful, whispy, swirly reverby experience (just what you expect from a shoe gaze band in 2014…from Jersey no less) from start to finish with too many good songs to mention (read: ALL of them, my favs being ‘Disappearing” and “Our Sky”). It is a perfect soundtrack for a stroll through lonely, rainy NYC streets or Sunday drive through the sunny, Jersey burbs. If you need further proof, Sighs is probably one of the very, very few records I overheard my 9 year old son whistling along too in the back seat. Get. It. Now.
BUY OVERLAKE: BANDCAMP | KILLINGHORSE STORE LP/CD
Fri 4/18 Court Tavern, New Brunswick NJ – Overlake w/ Wreaths, Cicada Radio, TV Sound – 4 Year Anniversary Show for Killing Horse Records
Mon 5/19 Baby’s All Right, Brooklyns – Overlake w/ The Everymen, The Brooklyn What
Singles & Bands to Watch: Mutes, Stagnant Pools, Milan Jay, The Van Doos and Distortion Girls
Are you a GBV/Nada Surf fan? Doug Gillard’s New Album ‘Parade On’ is Guitardedly Good
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