It’s pretty safe to say that the 90’s were one of the best decades for music in the last century. It’s the decade that just won’t die. From the endlessstream of reunion tours to the pop culture references in movies and television, the hits just keep on coming. Need more proof? I’ve got two words for you – cassette revival. I don’t know anyone who lived through it the first time that longs for the days of tangled tapes jamming matchbooks into the car stereo, so it must be the music that draws everyone back.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all perfect. There were plenty of crimes committed against our auditory wills. Those dreadful line dance songs that your aunt always requested at weddings. Nu-Metal. Auto-Tune. That horrendous Barbie song – a turd polished so brightly it could have blinded a mole from space. But there was a period of time in the early part of the decade where the pop confections of the day sat awkwardly on major radio playlists right along side some wonderful, fuzzy guitar drenched bliss, dished out by the great unwashed, proudly bashing away in their Chuck Taylors and flannel shirts. Can you imagine The Breeder’s “Cannonball” airing on top 40 radio stations today? I certainly cannot.
As we drift further and further away from this unusual time, it’s only normal that musicians and fans alike begin to look back on it fondly and revisit these sounds. But it’s not the kids (or rather than generalize, I should say it’s not MOST of the kids. As you were, Rock N’ Roll Hi Fives). Things have changed and there’s no going back. While my neighbors had to deal with the pounding of drums and squealing guitar amps in the garage, I live in relative peace and quiet in modern suburbia. Still, tranquil and utterly boring peace and quiet. Kids don’t want to “play guitar” any more; they want to “play” guitar.
I know, I sound like some crusty old codger complaining about “these kids today”. Excuse me while I chase a few of them off my lawn.
Where was I? Right, the 90’s…
DOLLAR STORE RIOT – “WHAT’S IT TO YOU?”
SINGLE REVIEW: Luckily, all is not lost. There are still plenty of musicians like the affable and capable Dollar Store Riot, who have found that making music purely for the joy of it can be its own reward. Their new single “What’s It To You?” attacks with the familiar abandon of those long lost gems of the Clinton presidency. Thea Kearney’s direct and forceful vocal delivery echoes Joan Jett at times (in all the best ways) and there’s a clear hint of Sleepyhead in the songwriting and delivery. Brian Boehm, Paul Haley and Will Kramer propel the song forward with pleasing abandaon. It hits like a late summer wave, pushing you back on your knees a bit until you can steady yourself and sway in its swirling flow – until another time shift hits like the breaker you didn’t see coming.
Just like it’s loud and proud retro sound, the video shot at Maplewood’s Woodland Hall immediately recalls late nights on the couch waiting for 120 minutes to start. Shot as a live performance with a bit of comic relief added, it’s a reminder that you can be serious without taking yourself too seriously.
VIDEOS: First-up is a new video from Kurt Vile Directed by Daniel Henry via Matador Records on his coming album b’lieve i’m goin down”. This long hair really reminds me of my old friend Dizzy from Nude Swirl.
KURT VILE – “PRETTY PIMPING”
KITTY FINER – GIRLS IN THE GARAGE
Please meet Kitty Finer, who is the daughter of Jem Finer, founding member of The Pogues. This video ‘Girls in the Garage’ was directed by The Raincoat’s Gina Birch from Kitty’s EP Lobby Star. This tune has a nice Ethiopian feel in the beat and mariachi brass with a bunch of ladies getting jiggy in jumpers in a garage. The lead track on the EP is classic alt rock and really good song writing if you dig the feelies and solo Joe Strummer you will like her guitar and banjo jangle. Same campfire style of song writing and story telling. Follow her on TwitterBandcamp
Introducing multi-instrumentalist Ray Goren talking about his new EP ‘Songs For You’ – out 8/21 via Jay Vee Records and produced by the Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Jordan who does a nice introduction of this new blues guy. Did we mention he is only 15 years old and has already performed with B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt? No ok. He’s smooth man.
ok now that ides of March are here it’s time to check out Freddy Fudd Pucker originally from Dunedin, New Zealand who brings a subtle americana dark masked feel to this tune “Blood Diamond Mind”. Via Monkey Records
WATCH: “BLOOD DIAMOND MIND” BY FREDDY FUDD PUCKER
Check out this trippy trio called Little Death Machine with their new video single “Pale” which reminds us of PJ Harvey and soundscapes you might expect to find on 4AD. Lots of quick cuts shot on black with couple nicely dressed ladies in dresses and somebody spray painting some shit in the background. Simple video and evokes the song nicely. Via Glasstone records. Band Website | Twitter
ok death cab for cutie fans you will dig this band from Canada called We Are The City. The trio already have a “buzz” but we really think their sound is unique and video really evokes their tune “Kind David” extremely well. Maybe because we are partial to the idea we/I am/are the king of our domain in our head. The drumming is off kilter and the guitar rhythms are tight like something off of hit liquor by Shudder to Think. Production and editing wise this is best video in this batch. Very much their own sound borrowing nicely from influences and just being. This song is from their sophomore release called — Violent. Band website | Twitter
WATCH – “KIND DAVID” BY WE ARE THE CITY
ok great, now your turn to share the love on facebook.
VIDEOS: Here’s a bunch of recent videos from bands from new jersey that we like for one reason or another.
Check out the latest Video for the song “NJHC” off the album Givin’ Up On Free Jazz by the love-able rockers The Everymen. You probably could write this song if you wanted too but you might have to be a pretty good googler to make the lyrics work. I’m proud when I see such Jersey pride. You can buy their album at www.ernestjenning.com | facebook them
WATCH: THE EVERYMEN- “NJHC”
WATCH: SCREAMING FEMALES – “HOPELESS”
Produced and Directed by Lance Bangs and Edited by Pete Larsen. We like this song. I think these two ladies from these first two bands could be sisters. It’s as close to pixie-like song as it gets for The Screaming Females. Catch them on tour! Jim from Cool Dad Music does a nice and goes into a lot of detail song for song reviewing their new recordRose Mountain – Visit the official Don Giovanni Records website space for music: http://dongiovannirecords.com/
WATCH: DENTIST – BIRD IN A CAGE
New video directed by City Gardens ex-bouncer turned videographer our pal Mr. Jim Norton. Takes the band to the snowy lanscape of new jersey. Singer shows off her pearly whites and comes-off very angelic. The tune is is vert pop-alt. The vibe is good in this song. The other songs on their record are faster, punkier, surfier and just as sweet. Get their latest on bandcamp page.
If you have a video you think we should feature just drop a line.
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Disclaimer: I am 46 years old and I very rarely listen to new music and I avoid leaving my home as much as possible. This means that much of what I’m aware of comes through my Facebook feed, which everyone knows is designed to make you keep scrolling, so I’m becoming less intelligent and my world is shrinking. If the reader feels my top ten things reflect myopia, tunnel vision, or the ramblings of an old man with his head up his ass, I’m sure you’re right. So here goes:
1) Terrifying cop videos.
This is where the facebook newsfeed/feedback loop really kicks in for me. I don’t intend to start discussing the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases BUT there’s a reason why Spike Lee filmed a fictional version of the murder of Eric Garner back in 1989 in his classic “Do The Right Thing”. Back in 1989, you’d have to live in the world Spike Lee lived in to be aware that cops killing black men when it wasn’t necessary “was a thing”. So most everyone has seen the Eric Garner video but my Facebook feed (again, niche marketed to me, and I have all these anti-American pinko “friends” posting this shit all the time) has been coughing up countless videos of cops acting fucked up, and bullying and threatening, using undue force, threatening people at gunpoint inappropriately and behaving as evil machines rather than people. It used to be the case that if you were a very consistently meek and unnoticeable person you’d never be aware that cops could do such things. Here’s one of my personal favorites that resulted in a relatively “happy ending”.:
So now the squares gotta face it: cops are no less scary than the “criminal element” they purport to protect you from. Many of us have known this all our lives. So I think this trend of filming cops acting like Nazi Stormtroopers and posting it online is good for society. There is starting to be more of a real dialogue, and this is an example of how the new surveillance culture cutsboth ways.
DOWNLOAD: Bring the Noise MP3 by Public Enemy from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
2) Delightful animal videos.
No one has time to click on every one of them but my personal experience is they always make me happy and are the perfect antidote to the aforementioned terrifying cop videos. Here’s a recent favorite:
Seriously you grumpy punks, John Houlihan from Live from the Barrage went to town on this NY exclusive FB Meme with some 800 group members. Think WFMU meets Howard Stern and that is what their Friday night podcast is like. The meme might be better but it’s the podcast is our favorite of the low-brow.
Correction: Kurt Gottschalk started the group but Houli invited us but he still gets credit for making it a thing – plus we think the podcast is the tits (yea we just said that). Not everything needs to be linear. -Ed
4) Matthew McConaughey
McConaughey is gonna have a hard time beating 2014 for his own personal best year. He’s a big muscular guy who was sooooo skinny in the AIDS movie and he’s an easy going southern party guy who portrayed an absolutely convincing functional alcoholic nihilistic genius ex-cop on the coolest new cable show. Alright, alright alright!
5) True Detective
This is my kind of TV. The coolest weirdest most intense artsy fartsy television show since Twin Peaks. This show actually caused me to start posting shit on Facebook, my theories about it and insights and whatnot. Slippery fucking slope.
6) Breaking Bad
Vince Gilligan and his posse really did this right. As of now, I believe Breaking Bad is the most perfect cable long form storytelling multiple season television show ever made. They never made a bad move and ended it in a way that was utterly satisfying. Best series ending since that HBO show about the family that ran a funeral home.
7) Tom Petty “Hypnotic Eye”
Maybe there are new people playing this kind of seriously deeply righteous tradational guitar driven rock and roll and I’m oblivious to it, please refer back to my disclaimer. If you haven’t dug into this and have ever liked Tom Petty in your life, listen to the whole thing for free right now. Mike Campbell dominates this album, more than usual, even. This album makes this year’s Black Keys album sound like Taylor Swift. And I like the Black Keys and have no problem with T.S. either.
8) Prince “ART OFFICIAL AGE”
Sort of the same deal as with Petty. Pick whatever the last time a Prince album totally blew you away and I’ll tell you this is his best thing since that album. For me it’s his best since the “unpronounceable symbol” album that opened with “My Name Is Prince”. And I sucked up the one hundred or so albums he made between that one and this one. For me what makes this album great is it just reeks and oozes of everything that has made Prince the greatest singular talent on Earth for the entirety of his recording career. Underrated.
9) Nick Cave
Nick Cave may well be the most consistently right on the money “cool” artist ever. The album he put out this year, “Push the Sky Away” is great as usual but live he’s proving to be the new Bowie as far as I’m concerned. Specifically, he has a surplus of the quality of poise that Bowie has, which is an exceedingly rare trait among rock and roll frontmen, even the greatest of which tend to be organ grinder monkeys (the Jagger/Tyler tradition). At the same time, much of his greatness is expressed through the group mind of the amazingly powerful and sensitive and idiosyncratic Bad Seeds. Bowie in his best eras had a similar thing going, where the band gets Bowie’s intention/vibe and fucking runs with it and jams the shit out of it. You want dynamics? There’s no greater range of moods, rhythms and volumes than a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert. I was fortunate to catch their show last summer at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. A truly magical night. Here’s an audience filmed thing from that. Dig the reaching hands and think about the end of the Ziggy Stardust concert film:
10) Scott Walker and Sunn 0))) “Soused”
I’m a long time Scott Walker fan but this was the one release I heard this year that blew my mind by not sounding like anything else I ever heard, yet hooking me in with the traditional elements of a beautiful voice, great melodies and instrumental hooks. If you’re curious you should read Tim Sommer’s piece on this, I agree with every word he says, but I’m not smarticulate (my neologism) enough to cough up this level of analysis:
And here’s the”single”:
2014? Could have been worse. 2015 holds some promise. I have total faith that “Better Call Saul” will deliver the goods at the very high standard of quality we’ve come to expect from Vince Gilligan and company. Also, my favorite fresh and current band, Radiohead, is working on a new album, so 2015 may well be a Radiohead year. My new year’s resolution is to tweet. Have a happy.
LIVE VIDEO: DRIVE LIKE JEHU is one those groups we all hear from so many good indie rock bands that they influenced their sound in some way. Your truly unthankfully included. Jehu existed at the same time as Rocket from the Crypt in the 1990s and we dug them both. And it’s funny we (i mean me) talk about the 90’s like we do the 1960’s like we do Hendrix, Zep and The Who. Not that there is any comparison with the notoriety or the level of world wide influence as lets say Nirvana got who existed at the same time as Jehu. In fact they over-shadowed 100 of bands and Interscope was never really able to cash-in on them when there was the free-for-all. But basically bands from the 90’s are the results of having heard those bands and going the complete other directon by disregarding harmony and infusing a punk ethos and getting the opportunity to record a major label album like Yank Crime at not have a radio hit in the conventional sense. At least in my humble opinion this is one of the bands that defines the energy of Southern California and I am thankful for their existence and can’t imagine part of musical landscape without them. Think about it for a little while and then leave a comment if you want.
Anyway, there were always two sides of the fence and resentment from fans that these guys didn’t get as much fame as lets say Husker Du or The Replacements who came before as the attention Rocket from the Crypt got but in their brief Hey Day they were prolific and continue in the formats of Obits, The Night Marchers and of course Hot Snakes where they continue on building their indie rock empire and chapters in history. I like them all and in partcular enjoy the guitar interplay between Jon and Rick and they happy they get to rock for a living. It’s a rare thing to see and hear. These two are the few who mastered the art of re-invention in exploratory and irritating noise guitar. We say it’s a nusance because they do it so well. Needless to say the grinding in this video has tons of energy and maybe would be a fun show to see at some dive bar since the stage they are playing on is huge but either wayt when Rick Froberg thanks the audience “for watching their retarded music.” That is basically a nice summary of their formula and something for new bands to take notice of. This could be your 1960’s.
The annoying hum you can feel underneath the music is driven by the organ piping in some crazy bass undertones from the GIGANTIC PIPES behind the band. Not sure if you can notice it because the regular bass and drums are not feeding back but for the most part this sounds great and its a compilation of all the people who shot the band from various angles. Some in focus and some not. Eventually the hum calms down and the sound engineer gets it under control. So almost like you are there. Youtuber Fabio Cunha took the time to edit and sync the audio so kudos to that guy. The last song in their set just kills what guitared indie rock is all about.
VIDEO OF THE DAY: Youtuber Tasha R claims she made this Superchunk video of their song “FOH” for her son because “he loves legos!” The band’s drummer Jon Wurster says on the facebook they don’t know her. Now we don’t know if her next one will be Kraftwerk backed by Erector sets but time will tell where this goes. It’s really fun stop gap motion 9-fiver storyline and you know how “projects” go when you are doing them for your kid(s). Your more into than they are but this turned out great. Never under estimate the power of the brick.
” God, I remember when the Brick Haus would only book Zeppelin cover bands and Star Wars characters.”
This is a really old technicolor film made by RCA Victor Corporation in 1956 which demonstrates how music goes from performance to how actual vinyl records are made. Going into a step by step examples of the production process which is totally riveting. Starting with a live instrumental recording being taped, how a lacqour master is made (The Grandfather), the duplication of the master, how a mold is created, and getting the duplication of the mold ready for mass production of your latest audio masterpiece.
The biggest take-away is that Loud passages need more space between grooves. Lower passages need less space between the recorded grooves so there are definite rules on much music should go on each side of a album. The cutting stylus is a small piece of sapphire which is heated. This is pain staking operation and in time you will have a laquor master for which you can mass produce records.
Nothing but the highest fidelity standards here kids in this film…
VIDEO OF THE DAY: We like the foo fighter style nerd character thing in the storyline in this rock video co-direct by Slim Wray and Tamara Lee. Pretty funny situation comedy thing not to be undermined by the thick sounding rock duo that they actually are. All bands should have a sense of humor and not take themselves so seriously.
If we had to compare the voices on their debut Sack Lunch we could easily say Jim Morrison and not just because they included a Doorish sounding cover of Van Morrison’s tune “Gloria”. Definitely a southern accent kind of thing reliving the rockus days when tube amp rocknroll was the wild wild west. Which is basically what they are going for. We want to believe they are having a good time doing it. Which is not the usual sloppy mess duo’s get away with. The Jack White formula is fairly easy to follow for a bit.
It does not get much more rock-n-roll than this. Here’s Jeff Tweedy just being a lead singer guy while Tommy Stinson from the temporarily reformed Replacements playing “Color Me Impressed” on guitar. This is at some festival in Mass we think. Looks fun. This is the rocking wilco we like.