The Milwaukees has bestowed us a gift. The band has recently offered a 7-song EP, titled The Vasectomies, for FREE to anyone willing to sign up to their mailing list. Hardly what I would call a bad deal!
The Vasectomies EP
The seven songs are ones they have deemed a collection of b-sides and near misses from their prior releases. I think most bands would be very pleased to have so many strong songs in their circular file.
If you are not familiar with the Milwaukees, they have been around the block. This is a seasoned group of veterans with five full length releases under their belt spanning the last 17 years. As they have aged, their sound has become more honed and listener-friendly. This is not to say that their songs are weak. They are lean, tight, and well-crafted. While all members shine in their respective roles, Dylan (lead singer) has a voice that will get into your ears. It’s hard to miss his mixture of angst and emotion in his delivery.
The EP starts with the demolishing Rock and Roll Part 3 (Gary Glitter laid claim to parts 1 and 2). Part anthem, part sinister riff rock, this is such a great lead off track. Jeff Nordstedt’s tasty guitar playing really shines.
Tracks 2 and 4, One Night Stand and Record Deal, are solid rockers. One Night Stand has a twinge of Tom Petty in there. The chorus is really catchy and the bridge has a little bit of that great Rocket From the Crypt feel. Record Deal is a cautionary tale on the industry, with another super strong chorus.
Tracks 3 and 5, Won’t Let You Down and Story of Our Love are solid ballads. They are sweet without being saccharin. Dylan’s voice makes these songs work well.
The last tracks, Jersey Style and Wasted Uptown, leave you ready for more. Jersey Style has a killer verse riff that reminds me, believe it or not, of a really good old Kiss song. Then they bring in the chorus. Damn! Another great chorus! Wasted Uptown has some great lyrics, reminiscent of something I would expect to hear from Bruce Springsteen. Love the line “Irish boys….should be polishing the marble under their feet”.
So, if you haven’t heard anything from the Milwaukees, their music is easy enough to find. Google them! All their releases are on Spotify. They’re on Facebook. On their site, Milwaukees.com, you can find the link to sign up on their mailing list and get the Vasectomies EP. Go check them out September, 9th at the Ringside in Caldwell. They put on one hell of a show.
In case you care what I have been listening too lately (and I know you secretly lose sleep wondering)…here you go…since you insist….
Local Maplewood, NJ hometown indie rock A-Leaguers, Tri-State, continue their collective, at ease, upward momentum with their latest 5 track release , we did what we could do(2016) on the ultra-cool and equally Jersey label, Mint 400 Records . The killer riff on the opening track (and one of my personal favorites), “Summer Nun” kicks in the thruster a bit since their beautifully gliding, yet slightly subdued 2 song EP, New Minuits (2015). Again you find guitarists Julian Brash and Jeff Zelevansky trade off engrossing and seamless electric six-string conversations when not splitting vocal duties, while the complimenting percussionist union of Mason Rather (bass) and Brady McNamara (drums) keeps everything delightfully moving and grooving along. wdwwcd is simply a fun record from start to finish. It’s a perfect album on replay, tapping your foot on a sunny, sandy Miami beach while lounging lazily under palm trees, slightly concerned about falling coconuts, weird, unrecognizable birds and equally weird, unrecognizable insects (proven this past holiday weekend). Other stand out tracks include “Petty” (“boy, you got a lot to say….”), Siamese twin track “Suture”and “Automatic Man.”
My “Buffalo Bro” Daryl who I can “geek talk” music for days, weeks, even months on end (and have the never-ending text to prove it), have been digitally nudging (read: nagging) me to listen to the latest Touché Amore’ record, Stage 4 (2016) for months, but not as long as he has been nagging me to listen to Elliot Smith’sXO. I finally broke down, found time and listened…and listened…. WOW. I like it…. a lot! Based out of Los Angeles, this four-piece hardcore band found the perfect balance of familiarity and unique, of the definable and almost indefinable. They apply a unique spin on an otherwise played out genre, somehow making melodic shoe-gazey, indie rock riffs hardcore with minimum doses of extra crunchy distortion and beautifully bridging the hardcore and post-hardcore/emo sound, similar to Title Fight. Atypical singing patterns/rhythms and very deep, extremely personal thought provoking lyrics only add to their refreshing approach. The album title holds a double meaning, being the bands 4th record and also the very worse stage of cancer, a subject that rears its ugly head throughout the recording, apparently due to leader singer Jeremy Bolm losing his mom to the dreaded disease recently in 2014. The subject matter certainly sends my brain hurtling back 30 years ago when I lost my own mother in the same fashion, leaving me slightly envious that Bolm could scream about it for months on end touring and finding relief while I just buried those feelings deep down inside somewhere long ago where they mostly remain to this day. Ironically, after all this time, I can find some relief in Bolm’s circumstances and the bands music, knowing I am not the only one that ever went through such a soul-shredding event. Opening track, “Flowers and You,” “Displacement,” “Benediction,” and “Water Damage” are just some of the many great songs on this record. Check it.
The Menzingers is a Philly band I heard of a number of times but only started listening to their music because I saw they played a recent show at Garwood, NJ’s infamous Crossroads, this time nudged by the club’s Facebook page. Another 4 piece, the band plays an all too familiar sound, but they do it in a way that keeps my interest. Punk -n- Roll at its finest. The first song of theirs I got hooked on, “Remission,” off of 2014’s dour-ish Rented World, is nothing special when it comes to many other songs I subsequently discovered in their impressive catalog, but it only takes that little something to keep the tune and video on replay in my life (in this case, it’s that little “uh” leader singer Greg Barnett blurts (Accidently? Deliberately? Both?) after the first verse, or even the killer sing along chorus “Everyone needs a crutch…I need a wheel chair…I need a reason to reason with you…”). Their new record, After the Party (2017), was released just a few weeks ago and remains in heavy rotation in my life. A much cheerier release, they managed (and I slightly plagiarize from another review because I agree), to keep their street cred intact while making radio friendly songs. Check out song like “Lookers,” Mid-Western States,” “Your Wild Years,” “Black Mass” …oh, just listen to whole record, it’s great from start to finish!
Dinosaur Jr.’s latest, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (2016), is also filed under easy listening in my life. For die-hard fans, this is a typical, predictable record for the original band lineup, and that is just perfectly dandy for us. Interestingly, a little bird (i.e. drummer Murph) mentioned in an interview that GAGOWYN came to life because J. Mascis “freaked out” about not having any new songs and quickly threw some together. Many in the know would agree that the thought of J. losing his shit is hard to imagine, considering he never seems to have a pulse and really quiet during interviews. And when he does say something it is quite clear why he constantly accused of being a stoner (which he isn’t, at least according to him). Yes, the final results sound rushed when knowing this little back story, but the results are still rockingly impressive. Standouts include the opener “Going Down, “I Told Everyone” and “Tiny” but my favorites are “Lost All Day” right into “Knocked Around.”
The Cloud Nothings is another band I was slow on the draw about until I stumbled upon their latest release, Life Without Sound(2017). An incredibly solid listen from start to finish. It took me multiple listens on many runs final figure out what I love about this band/record: I can’t pigeonhole this band because they don’t sound like any other band that I heard of. I can’t honestly think of any other band that the Cloud Nothings sound like. Offering a completely refreshing, catchy indie sound. they mix the perfect blend of melody with umph…what’s not to like? Such tracks as the piano-tinged opener “Up to the Surface” and “Internal World” are pretty rocking tunes.
PODCASTS: Little Records archives the best of ’80s underground rock and the early days of ’90s indie rock into exceptionally thoughtful and curated playlists that it’s our go-to listening. I almost wish they would chat in-between sets but they just jam one great song after another relentlessly for the shear love of spinning great music. Half the tunes I admit I never heard until them because honestly in the late 70’s 80’s 90’s there was just too much great original music to keep up with it and is a full time job to listen. Thankfully these Baltimore based guys have done this job and only taken them 30+ years to create this ongoing themed archive that deep dives into a bunch of shows about the different music scene that offered so much american culture with all sorts of fun sets. Can’t recommend enough for a proper music lesson in what today’s bands are doing completely fucking wrong so just sign-up to their mixcloud stream right now. Don’t question my authority in this matter they take great care each and every show. Plus not to mention my lazy ass does not to get up and visit the stax. I just click play and they are already two steps ahead of me. Enjoy this service.
Podcast 045. Sub Pop Singles Club
One of the more genius moves for Sub Pop in its early days was the creation of the Sub Pop Singles Club, in which subscribers received a new, limited-edition seven-inch once a month via the postal service. READ ON AND LISTEN.
Totally like this so your mom see’s what good taste you have in music.
SINGLE REVIEW: For months I have been uninspired to click a single fucking link. You could say even 1,000s of them have been ignored. Obsessed with changing my reality to live in the now but every once in awhile I dare to see what others have dreamed-up and take a break from my bullshit; and so I discovered the band Why We Run from Sydney, Australia. They had the promise of something visually unique. Their video for their debut single “Comfortable Lie” Directed by Tim Gibbs; who is a rock video pioneer having worked with the likes of John fucking Lennon, Dire Straits, Motorhead, Billy Bragg, and XTC. Gibbs has taken the pin-hole camera obscura photographic technic and made something visually stunning. Inspired by this dream-scape song presented to him by the band and paired it with an idea that grew from his sleep flat. The unique part is he took this mobile and made them do actions in slow-mo in the back of a truck. Now the music stands all on it’s own so If you are fan of radiohead and a little bit of depeche mode mixed with eno’esque ear candy; then this song will speak to your hazy state. The melody is hypnotic like a pendulum swinging in front of your eyes. This will lift your soul up in the right place as you dream big along with me. I looped this song a few times and at every turn the rem chase was sweet. This is more than your normal video of the day. This is driving art musically and pushing imagery with a simple idea and turning you upside down with great care and patience. Here’s the Band’s Facebook | Twitter
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.
ALBUM REVIEW: Some of you know who Mr. Doug Gillard is even without actually having his phone number in your contacts or perhaps you got his digits from his previous release Call from Restricted. If we lead you to any record this year please let it be his latest and greatest Parade On as it’s guitardedly good.
We mean this with all affection and not a single bit of sarcasm; this is a bus you must get on. Doug’s passion for manipulating a 6 or 12 string guitar is on the same level as Johnny fucking Marr; strum for strum and we never met that Brit. He’s a band leader who will lead you down a path with several possible outcomes. One, inspire you to make your next record greater than good and NOT just ok, but great. Two, in the process make you pay attention to the details, or you will do us a favor and quit playing music so the good stuff can bubble-up. Three – you’ll take a deep dive into the depths on a download binge 30,000 feet of stacked records. Four, sell some off your guitars (Maybe you’ll donate one to a charity like The Project Matters @TPMNJ) while you mull over the second option. Actually you might NOT have to do any of this because this one stands all on it’s own. However, if some of you actually happen to step foot into a record store (even if just on record store day next week) and look up the likes of Nick Lowe, XTC, or Death of Samantha. Some of you may consider seeing him play with his band or taking the leads in Nada Surf. The two shows he’s playing with GBV are sold out so your out of luck there.
The pointed point is this is his third solo full-length coming out on Nine Mile Records strewn out over a few years of being a professional musician. I can’t even count all his other releases he’s played for you but it does not matter that is what wiki is fucking for. If I were record clerk (I vowed never to do so this) — this is the album I would literally point you towards besides the song “I AM a Tree” he recorded once with Guided By Voices. There I said it and it only. Took me two, three whole paragraphs. After that you are on your own.
We interviewed Doug Gillard last year, even played a show with him at the Asbury Lanes and enjoyed him nerding out talking about his guitar set-up. There is enough exploratory timeless guitaring on this album set forth as a reminder the guitar neck is an expansive and mysterious place. Dudes can play guitar and makes all the tones sound effortless while allowing you to hum along with vocal melodies. Our faves on this album are all of them. “Your Eyes” is the most Smiths like one, the opener is another classic similar to XTA or Nick Lowe with something off of Labour of Lust (1979) but don’t let us bore you with our shallow knowledge record store clerkdome. This one is going directly to our top 10 of 2014.
MUSIC REVIEW: El Terrible is band/project by Terry Ashkinos from Fake Your Own Death and Rob Easson ex-Rogue Wave. Goth 80’s inspired alternative with dark baritone vocals like the fall. The short of it is if you took some of the washed out sound away from interpol and swizzled in some cutting guitars it would sound like these guys. Seriously a lot of bands come to mind. It’s sparse enough and even throw in some female vocals sung by Sierra Frost to give it something whimsical. Four great tracks Brought to you by the fine folks at Breakup Records february 7th digitally and on cassette!
BONUS RANDOM STUFF: The Fall – Mr. Pharmacist MP3 from Bend Sinister Sisters of Mercy – Heartland MP3 Temple of Love 12″ Les Negresses Vertes – Zobi La Mouche MP3 (sire/wb) from Mlah very weird accordion indie sounding folky stuff from France. For Neutral Milk Hotel fans.
SINGLE OF THE DAY: People meet Tim Foljahn. If you don’t know him already know from his haunted past with doing Two Dollar Guitar with Steve Shelly from Sonic Youth or the myriad of other guitar work with Cat Power, to the noise of the Boredomes; he’s been there hacking away on six strings for a long time. He is the original slow guy of rock music bringing you something new on Kiam Records called “Bird” with backing vocals by Amy Bezunartea and Bass guitar and drums by Jeremy Wilms. Song written by Alexa Wilding. This new material will be available December 10, 2013. Is it a song about a bird or something else? You tell me. I think of it as the music behind the painting that watches you walk by. What is the art thinking or feeling exactly? This music is that feeling personified. His catalog is deep and full of slow jams like this so catch-up with Tim and his epic handle on sitars from his 2012 release Songs For An Age Of Extinction which we can only described it’s as if Nico was a strange man with a dark voice arising in a poppy field of mysterious dreams.
VIDEO OF THE DAY: Multi-instrumentalist dude Austin Hartley-Leonard may or may not be a serial killer hanging out on random street corners in LA. We don’t mean to make fun of dudes with three first names but just want to make sure we distinguish him from the pack of talented serial killers you may run into. Review Stalker presents Broken Anchor to you with this video of a very hot chick (Nicole Steinwedell) pretending to fight and do normal boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. He’s not exactly a country singer although he does have an ability to tell a good story lyrically with a soft serrated knife in his own hybrid alt-americana way. While we also don’t think he could pull off Gram Parsons Flying Burrito Brothers outfit (that would be too obvious if you ever saw the flick Mariachi) that we normally associate with serial singer songwriter types. He does sound similar to Gram. Austin’s music and voice is as smooth as a cello in heat and you should check it out on his full length called Fresh Lemonade to cool yourself off. Which is probably why the girl fell for him in the first place although we don’t know because it’s not a talkie. Go for a deep cut like “Head Is A Hole” and “My Marie”. The “Always” video is a good intro track to a nice solid and well produced release.
So it’s CMJ and we honestly don’t give a flying fuck. Fans of real awesome sadcore as was coined back-in-the-day and was brewed when the 90’s were a confusing time in rock history may have missed Chokebore all together in the same way. This band originated from Hawaii and then migrated to Los Angeles and was soon championed by Tom Hazelmeyer on Amphetamine Reptile Records for a bunch of releases. Now the French Label Vicious Circle is re-releasing two must have albums on vinyl because they too know something about real fucking music and don’t need some confusing festival to tell them so. Their albums Motionless (1993) and Anything Near Water(1996) came out right when Nirvana were bigger than the sum of their parts and dwarfed any body else trying to make a dent. These guys made records we looked forward too and were cut from the same tree of bands like Melvins and Jesus Lizard that got to open for them. We really dug their live performances a whole hell of a lot too. Which we don’t see many bands like this any more playing guitars like they mean it. It’s all these internet band bores. On stage the two brothers Kroll had a burst of musical energy led by the rock crooning being bellowed by singer/guitarists Troy Balthazar and all together they came across like a exploding tsunami made up of passion and bong resin all up in your ear holes.
Anything Near Water and Motionless are two bongeriphic albums. We said a few times in our old fanzines that we were once appalled by the vocal delivery on one 7″ but quickly noticed it’s the sum of this very organic musical thing we realized there was much depth once we got to get into it. Anything Near Water is super moody and what really drew us in about them. I don’t think bands like this get made by any one entity, especially our then narrow view of the world, with a then readership of like 100 people. That number has grown over time now in the 10’s of thousands but that is not important. The real important part which this is one band we would pay to go see again is Chokebore. Don’t take our word for it. Let your ears do the listening because like we were saying. Not a brooklyn band comes even close to this music but if you are in Europe in November you have a chance to check them out. The band recently went back “online” after a fairly long hiatus and on the very short list of bands we would like to see back in action this is one of them.