Well, I’m back again for another week of new-ish fine-ish music. Thanks for the positive comments. I missed you all as well. So, there should be some candy in this week’s episode of Tales From The Drop Box because for some unknown reason there are more pop sounds than usual. So, don’t be alarmed if there is not a plethora of heavy music or you missed your favorite punk rock track. We will get back there at some point but for now,
here is what you will find in Episode 194 (2021-06):
Faded Paper Figures – “She’s Walking Out” (Kairos)
Bull – “Green” (Discover Effortless Living)
Cloud Nothings – “Things I Fucking Like” (April 2021 EP)
Fightmilk – “Hey Annabelle!” (Contender)
Polish Club – “Stop For A Minute” (Now We’re Cookin’)
Acid Dad – “Good Time” (Take It From The Dead)
Ferraro – “Fools Paradise” (Sweet Fever EP)
The Jungle Giants – “Treat You Right” (Love Signs)
Nonagon – “Hack” (They Birds)
Free Throw – “Ocular Pat Down” (Piecing It Together)
Authority Zero – Seas And Serpents” (Ollie Ollie Oxen Free)
LionLion – “Language” (Perspective)
Demolition Doll Rods – “Believe” (Into The Brave)
Eddie And The Hot Rods – “Do Anything You Wanna Do” (Life On The Line)
Maggot Heart – “Lost Boys” (Mercy Machine)
Meet me in the club tell me that’s what’s up baby hold on hold on, wait stop for a minute … Well, I’m a lover, girl, I want you to know well, I will treat you right I got your number, babe …
President-Elect Biden!!!. Well, I can stop holding my breathe after Biden pulled out a win for democracy. I am truly thankfully that a resounding majority of the American populous decided that decency, honor, truth, and the rule of law were more important than demagoguery, corruption and sociopathic narcissism from a crime family that operated the U.S. for the past four years. I am still markedly disturbed that almost 1/2 of the country voted for that sack of shit masquerading as a human, but hopefully once the stench is removed from the people’s house we can all move forward, find common ground, and operate in the best version of a democratic society. So, to those who voted for Biden – Thank You. For those Republicans who repudiated the former president’s message of hate and lawlessness a big Thank You is also in order.
Given how close the race was in a number of states, it is important to note the importance of every single vote. Every vote counted is a vote for democracy. When every vote is tallied, I am confident that the margins in battleground states will be larger for Biden. This election was a mandate for a different type of presidency. The country is still clearly divided on policy but with a stable individual as president I am hopeful bi-partisanship will be the form of governance. That is, with a unity message from President-Elect Biden, we can now, together, begin to truly confront the issues that are out-of-control in America, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic bias and racism in our government and society as a whole, and the unemployment crisis affecting our nation as a consequence of COVID-19 and a republican senate that truly did not give a shit about people. Hopefully cooperation is the order of the day as that is what it is going to take to end each of these inter-related emergent threats that easily could return us to chaos.
This episode of Tales From The Drop Box is a brief soundtrack to a new era filled with hope for a better tomorrow, starting today.
Here is what you will find in Episode 184 (2020-32):
Juana Molina – “Bicho auto” (ANRMAL – Live in Mexico)
Girlfriends – “California” (Girlfriends)
Supercrush – “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (SODO Pop)
Love Fame Tragedy – “You Take The Fun Out Of Everything” (Wherever I Go, I Want to Leave)
Moron’s Morons – “Sidewalk Services” (Looking For Danger)
GWAR – “Death Pod” (Scumdogs Of The Universe)
Cloud Nothings – “A Weird Interaction” (The Black Hole Understands)
Yet another diversionary tactic. Tales From The Drop Box Episode 125 is my humble attempt to divert your attention from reality – at least for an hour. With pipe bombs being sent around the country by yet another mental defective who finally lost the plot to the evil perpetrated by the a-hole in Pittsburgh, it would be easy to give up hope for a better world. However, we must not lose sight of the future and the unmistakable conclusion that we as a species can overcome evil. We must believe that good still exits in the world and not give in to the temptation that the horrific events occurring with seemingly increasing frequency are somehow “normal.” As we reflect on these tragedies, we must act against evil. The prescription is relatively easy. Perform good acts. Take time to be kind. Be helpful. Resist anger. Recognize good in others. Don’t blame. Be honest. All of these actions are within the capacity of us all.
oh…and rock on!
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #125:
Seasaw – “God (Zilla)” (Big Dogs)
Basement – “Slip Away” (Beside Myself)
Cloud Nothings – “In Shame” (Last Building Burning)
Strange Ranger – “New Hair” (How It Al l Went By EP)
GØGGS – “Killing Time” (Pre Strike Sweep)
Baked Beans – “Easy” (Babble)
The Frights – “Over It” (Hypochondriac)
Negative Scanner – “History Lesson” (Nose Picker)
The Cruel Intentions – “Check Your Head” (No Sign Of Relief)
The Parkinsons – “Metal Cranes” (The Shape Of Nothing To Come)
Templeton Pek – “Nowhere To Hide” (Watching The World Come Undone)
Jump, Little Children – “Hand on My Heartache” (Sparrow)
Curtail – “Sleight of Hand” (All Your Luck)
Joe Strummer – “London Is Burning” (Joe Strummer 001)
Amy Stroup – “Lost Ones” (Helen of Memphis)
The sirens’ risin’ there’s a distant blues dance on a crowded street the temperature’s a-risin’ soon you’re gonna be runnin’ down . . . I don’t need to say what I said before you never listened to me anyway, my voice is sore or I’m not sick at all, I’m just sick of you
I am picking up these notes for this month’s dropbox offerings where I left off a couple of weeks ago, because some things should just not be glossed over by just a list. There are some things in the drop box which everyone should give a spin but because of the name of the band or some other nuance they could be skipped in a casual pass. Every month I try to provide a wide variety of goodies, so you should find at least one thing worthy of your collection and perhaps a few others you can sample before giving up some disc space permanently.
Of note, I have not provided the usual links to videos as I’m having a little difficulty with wordpress’ linking after pasting from word. I have no idea why it sometimes sticks wiping out the links when it updates, but when I have time I’ll fight with the program and update some of the notes with links. I hope you like the videos as much as I do.
So, with all that said, I now give you the dropbox notes update with both economy and brevity ……
Atlanta garage rockers, The Coathangers on their fourth long player Suck My Shirt have found the sweet spot in the garage pop genre. Evidencing great progress as a band Suck My Shirt is a well produced, crisply recorded, sonically pleasant album chock full of carefully crafted garage pop nuggets. The Coathanger’s sound is a balance of the Pandoras and early Go-Gos which makes for for a fun filled trip. I will note, that for a band who could not actually play their instruments when they started in 2006 and were critically lauded as a novelty (female bands are still a novelty) the playing on Suck My Shirt is accomplished – the playing is tight and the hard work and touring shows on terrific songs like “Drive” which is an essential power pop song appended to the garage rock found on this record. Try “Drive”, “Zombie,” and “Shut Up.” If you were paying any attention to Coachella this year, you might have seen Future Island’s set – an awkwardly powerful blend of synth laden indie-pop juxtaposed with the gravelly tones of front man Samuel T. Herring. As a live act, the dissonance between the visual and the aural is captivating. Visually Future Island‘s set is about the blandest you will ever see by the other band members, except for Sam’s awkward dancing. But for all of the things that visually work against Future Islands, the music is soaring, powerful, and emotional and for that reason alone, this record will end up near the top of my best of year lists. Singles is not even remotely a punk rock record. Rather, Future Islands on Singles is best described as an up-tempo Kraftwerk record with a non-robot vocalist whose passionate delivery transforms the sterile background into a warm rainbow of sonic colors. Singles is also an apt name for this album – four albums into a career with a relentless touring schedule in mostly small clubs, and all that work has paid off with a complete dominance of their craft laid out on an album where all of the songs are potentially singles (in a universe where these legitimately exist). Try “Sun In The Morning,” “Seasons (Waiting On You),” and “Fall From Grace.” Easily the best reissue to come out this year, Spiderland is a reissue from a band most people are likely never to have ever heard. Louisville’s Slint produced an album in 1991 that was light years ahead of the proverbial post punk curve. Spiderland was Slint’s second and final album and although only containing 6 songs the album has resonated in the punk underground for these past 25 years with sales actually increasing every year since it was released. This reissue box is selling as of this writing for $561.00 on eBay as an auction. Spiderland was a rush recorded lo-fi affair with the spoken word-sing lyrics rush written during the weekend long recording process. When you hear the opener – “Breadcrumb Trail” you will realize that you’ve heard this slowcore approach from multiple bands whom incorporated the Slint sound much later. When I purchased Spiderland (when it was first released in 1991), initially, I was struck by the stark and compelling contrast to everything else I owned at the time. Truly, this is the slowest hardcore record you will likely ever experience – and that is the point – this record confronts you with a listening experience from the leftfield of punk rock – there is anger and aggression but it is not created by tempo. Rather the power in the songs is from the cutting guitar by David Pajo (who copped the prominent guitar feel from the Minutemen’s D. Boon) that works well with a foundation created by a very tight band anchored by drummer Britt Walford – laying hypnotic grooves over which Brian McMahan‘s monologues are laden. The 23rd-anniversary box-set reissue of Spiderland, remastered by Shellac’s Bob Weston, contains 14 previously unreleased outtakes, a 104-page photographic history of the band (with a foreword from Palace Brothers Will Oldham), and a brilliant documentary, Breadcrumb Trail which explores the myth and mythology of Slint. I watched the movie after getting the box and all I can say is wow – the movie sheds new light on the band, and primarily Britt and Brian. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is well worth the look. Since, I cannot possible do this record as much justice as Pitchfork’s outstanding review, check it out here. Then try” Breadcrumb Trail,” “Good Morning Captain,” and “Nosferatu Man.”
New York’s Walking Shapes debut album, Taka Come On, is in reality their second effort – as their first was a mixtape that made the rounds over the past two years. For a band from New York they have not so much adopted the sound as found a way to incorporate the indie influences into an amalgam of flavors highlighted by the simple melodies and complicated harmonies. There is also an almost overwhelming amount of sonic add-ins and instrumentation from the band throughout the record. These disparate elements contribute to the infectious off-kilter indie pop sprinkled throughout the record. The genre skipping is also admirable with everything from indie dance to American inflected folk-core found on Taka Come On – the tempo changes are refreshing and worth the repeated listen. “Try “Milo’s Shell,” “Find Me,” and “Let It Will.”
It is difficult to not like Neon Trees, a band whose earnest and catchy commercial pop is likely to be with us for a while. Like No Doubt, once radio finds something safe to play – it will play the shxx out of it. So, why is Pop Psychology in the dropbox? Because it is difficult to pass up the feel good moments on this record. This is what pop music should sound and feel like. Although the survey of love and romance in the digital age is a little weary, the melodies are not. Tyler Glenn’s a likeable enough front man and it is easy to ignore the designed melodies enough to enjoy the record. This is what disco-pop should sound like, so have some fun. Like Frankie said…relax. Try “Sleeping With A Friend,” “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)” and “American Zero.”
Irish Rockers and avid Beatles enthusiasts the Strypes are back with a gap offering entitled 4 Track Mind as we await the follow up to their excellent 2013 debut, Snapshot which reached Number 4 in the U.K charts. Mod influenced rock and roll – straight forward – like a pure rock version of the Arctic Monkeys, the four songs show greater power and dynamics than on the debut, so their UK tour should wind up with them taking some main stages at the summer festivals in Europe. Try, them all.
The Swan’s thirteenth record To Be Kind is out May 12th so for those of you who are awaiting eagerly, the wait is definitely worth it. As the follow-up to 2012’s outstanding return to form, The Seer, the double length To Be Kind picks up the thread from that album and carefully balances the best of prior records into a psychedelic masterpiece filled with classical components, the Swan’s compelling noise experiments, and the dark undercurrent of American Goth highlighted by the epic sprawl of the 34 minute centerpiece “Bring the Sun / Toussaint l’Ouverture.” There are elements of Tangerine Dream that some will think are Pink Floyd but upon examination there is nothing in the Floyd pantheon that remotely hints at the power of this work. This is not a traditional rock record by any means and there are not going to be any hit singles. However, I dare you to sit in a dark room and listen to this record alone. The sensations frankly raised goose bumps on my arms as I was compelled to confront the music head on. This is a stunning record on all accounts. Try “Bring the Sun / Toussaint l’Ouverture,” “Oxygen,” and the single, all 7:08 of it, “A Little God in My Hands.”
Utah’s Desert Noises traverses some pretty familiar territory – a blend of Band Of Horses and power pop which on 27 Ways is played out in the form of a straightforward dynamic rock record. Sure there is some AOR feeling to some of this, but on the bar band test, they pass with flying colors. From the rocking opener “Grandma Looks” the album plays out like a rock show. There is no mystery to the deceptively simple approach taken by Desert Noises – play well written songs with emotion and keep pounding forward. I’ve seen shows like this and enjoyed them all because the band is enjoying what they are doing and on 27 Ways you can tell this is the sound of a band having some fun. There is smashing and bashing going on all carried by the pleasant vocals of Kyle Henderson. Except for the Mumford fake folk beginning of “Mice in the Kitchen,” the album is filled with rock songs, so enjoy the ride. Try “Run Through the Woods,” “Out of My Head,” and the Blue Cheer flavored “Keys On the Table.”
There is no way that anyone would willingly pick up an album by Sultan Bathery on name alone. However, by taking a look at the cover of this self-titled debut, you can ferret out what this might sound like. If you guessed psychedelic you are only partially correct. This is a slab of garage-psch played with a fervor – so much that if you dance along you will collapse from exhaustion. Lie the mighty Thee Oh Sees, Sultan Bathery occupies the same sonic space. Hailing from Italy, these guys have incorporated the entire Seeds, Sonics, and Nuggets catalogs into their very being and through transmogrification have spit out this raging reverb and fuzzbox filled hypnotic seizure inducing work. Thoroughly enjoyable. Try “Mirror,” “Spring Of Youth,” and “On The Run.”
Debut from London’s Dexters, Shimmer Gold, hints at the Stone Roses but after a few listens you find that there is something more happening with the Dexters having incorporated some of the Foster The People and Neon Trees ethos into their sonically pleasing wall of sound. Lead track “Cloudfest” hits all the right notes, so will find airplay in Britain which has a thing for good music. Here in the U.S. Shimmer Gold will die without ever being found. Too bad, because the album is bursting with energy and although lyrically there is much to be desired, the album is interesting throughout. Perhaps it’s the lure of bands that sound like the Courteneers, but I thoroughly enjoyed the outing and through repeated listens discovered there is much more to this record than first appears on the surface. Try “Cloudfest,” “Recover,” and “Shimmer Gold.”
Nordic singer Monica Birkenes who produces a unique blend of electro-pop under the name Mr Little Jeans was an internet sensation after covering Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs,” and as a byproduct, her debut, entitled Pocketknife which also contains the cover, is a pleasantly varied effort which captures the beauty of Birkenes’ soft vocal approach. Pocketknife, as imagined by Birkenes, paints electo-pop with provocative nuances. Reminiscent of both Phantogram and Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) this is a solid debut album marked with some brilliant songs. Try “Mercy,” “Runaway,” and the amazing “Oh Sailor (feat. The Silverlake Conservatory of Music Youth Chorale).”
I guess if the synthesizer is modern rocks most popular tool, then it is likely there are several albums full of the tool that will eventually make the dropbox. This month, there are several that are worthy. Copenhagen Denmark’s Reptile Youth has produced a post-punk record with synthesizer laden undertones that really is a “new wave” record updated for modern radio. Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone is filled with catchy melodies that are at the forefront and given the driving and somewhat hypnotic synth-bed these are instantly memorable. There is guitar on the record, but its role is to produce highlights, not be the center, and surprising, at least to me, was that it all works. Try “Structures,” “Colours,” and the disco floor burner (and oddball track “Two Hearts.”
Third synth inflected record of the month, and third album from My Sad Captains, The Best Of Times is the darkest of the three, but also the most atmospheric and sonically expansive. It is not an immediate record, and for the first couple of spins, I had it playing in the background, and the record had ended without me recalling having it being played. However, on a Friday afternoon, at 5:05 p.m. I became enthralled with the song “Wide Open” from its piano intro and sparse arrangement and from that moment I was trapped – focused on listening to what would come next as the song rhythmically built – full of dynamic shapes – before the haunting vocals filtered through the repetitive notes. Fascinating. “I wonder why you feel the need to talk so loud like their isn’t anybody else around. …” Ed Wallis’ soft spoken vocal approach fits with the atmospheric base of this record and forces you to concentrate to discover the beauty underlying this collection. Try “Wide Open,” “Familiar Ghosts,” and the acoustic “All In Your Mind.”
How I Missed Dorking, Surrey band Stagecoach‘s album last year is beyond me. Starting as a two piece country band in 2003, the band has evolved into an alt-rock juggernaut with the addition of new players, such that on Say Hi To The Band, it is clear that they were poised for massive appeal…until they $#^# broke up. Released in 2013, the album Say Hi To The Band is a debut – 10 years in the making that is full of catchy sing-a-longs that are up-beat and clearly designed to receive airplay. And you know the story…the band announced their split on September 12, 2013 and played their final show to a sold out crowd at The Brixton Windmill on December 21, 2013. #$@%#@%. Hopefully, those of you with dropbox appeal, will spread the word, because this is a great record. Try “Work! Work! Work!,” “Action,” and “We Got Tasers.”
Another band taking a few years to release their debut, is San Francisco’s Soft White Sixties who formed in 2009 but after constant touring and an appearance at SXSW seem to have found the groove – their soul groove on this 60’s R&B influenced soft fuzz adorned classic rock record. The songs have a traditional feel but the album is a masterwork of production with a full dynamic sound that makes the slow ones such as the beautiful “Roll Away,” transporting as the vocals fill the room. Soft White Sixties would be a great band to see live, and if they can keep up with the Hives, for whom they recently opened a show, they can’t be half bad. Try “Lemon Squeezer,” “Rubber Band,” and “I Ain’t Your Mother.”
Northampton, Massachusetts indie rock stars Speedy Ortiz follow up their amazing debut from last year, Major Arcana, with an EP entitled Real Hair. According to the label, Carpark:
Their debut album Major Arcana, named Best New Music by Pitchfork, saw the evolution of Speedy Ortiz from a lo-fi project into a wholly collaborative effort, marked by Darl Ferm’s thick bass lines, drummer Mike Falcone’s boisterous fills, and the counterbalance between guitarist Matt Robidoux’s anti-melodic playing and frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’s angular riffing. The end result is a band able to distill their influences and impulses into something at once dissonant and melodic.
For their upcoming Real Hair EP, Speedy Ortiz has teamed up with Paul Q. Kolderie once again, resulting in a collection brushed with effected guitars and pop-conscious vocals. Here Dupuis attempts to untangle concerns about misrepresentation of identity in four songs delivered with the band’s signature abrasive clarity. The band will support the EP on the road into 2014 with a January southeastern string of All-Ages shows with Boston friends Grass is Green, their first European tour in February, and supporting slots with the Breeders and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks.
Which is where Speedy Ortiz neatly fit – somewhere in the middle of the Breeders and Pixies and Stephen Malkmus) So, for me it’s the fact that they have expanded their Pixies influences to add the J. MascisDinosaur Jr. guitar musings, and all of this is heightened by Sadie Dupuis’ high pitched spoken-singing. Try “American Horror,” “Everything’s Bigger,” and “Shine Theory.”
Brooklyn New York’s Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes project has taken some twists over a span of three prior records, but on Love, his forth to be released May 12, he has found his inner Kurt Vile producing a record which is strikingly cohesive despite contributions from Iceage singer-guitarist Elias Bender Ronnenfelt (guest vocals on two tracks), avant-garde saxophonist and Bon Iver member Colin Stetson, and Dave Bryant and Efrim Manuck from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The main difference from previous outings is a feeling change. There is noticeably less of a &&$-you feel on Love. Heck, you might want to say that this is a positive record. For example, on “Lonely Richard” he decrees “[h]ave yourself a good time” Sonically, this is a lo-fi garage folk record with less reverb than past releases. Really, a major step forward with some interesting ideas about music. Try “Lonely Richard,” “Rocket Flare,” and “White Child.”
Lots of fourth albums in the dropbox this month, with the latest from Cleveland punk rockers Cloud Nothings who on Here and Nowhere Else continue their pummeling assault on the listener with driving and pulsing punk rock well-crafted and melodic. This is a blast from start to finish, although to be fair, the record does not traverse a varied palette, it still plays remarkably well from the cheap seats. Punk rock as you might recall is a dying art form. Cloud Nothings gives me hope that there may be punk rock 10 years from now with the Menzingers and Cloud Nothings carrying the torch. Cloud Nothings, which started as a bedroom project of Dylan Baldi, were going to have a challenge to follow up the critical acclaim of Attack on Memory which also ended up in Tales From The Dropbox Best of 2012. Here And Nowhere Else while not quite on the same level as Attack on Memory is a worthy record for dropbox inclusion. So there you have it. Try “Psychic Trauma,” “Quieter Today,” and “I’m Not Part of Me.”
Pennsylvania bred and transferred to Nashville, Farewell Flight’s debut record, I Was A Ghost, should fit nicely in the One Tree Hill music collection, with its snappy guitar driven synth-rock full of catchy choruses. This is essentially a new band and a new sound – much less punk rock and much more melodic. In many ways, this is a conventional indie rock record with synthesizer tinged dance rock parts that are commercial radio readymade. Not too deep a listen, but thoroughly enjoyable. Kind of reminded me of the Capital Cities record. Likely won’t end up on your playlist for a long time, but is good for thirty or 40 spins, eh? Think 90’s alt rock with synthesizer flourishes. There is one standout track – the excellent title track “I Was A Ghost.” This is a solid record throughout. Try “I Was A Ghost,” “Scarecrow,” and “Teenager.”
I know you are going to find it hard to believe, with a name like Habibi, that this album one of the best things I listened to this month. This Brooklyn four piece plays on their self-titled album a mash up of garage inflected pop post-punk incorporating the best of the 60’s girl groups with some surf punk edges that is so catchy – it is hard not to play the album repeatedly to the exclusion of everything else. Singer Rahill Jamalifard plays it straight throughout delivering the phrases with her frantic cool vibe that heads for your sweet tooth and keeps your toes tapping. Give this a spin – well worth the time. Try “Far From Right,” the Motown-ish “Detroit Baby,” and “Let Me In.”
Hard to go wrong if you hail from Knoxville TN and you play a mixture of alt-country and rock and have songs that have big melodies. In many ways, Dirty Guv’nahs remind me of the Bodeans, – a seriously underrated band who were great live, had terrific songs and never quite found a slot in a commercial world. On their fourth record, Hearts on Fire, Dirty Guv’nahs play it “breezy” with a smooth record that removes the grit from previous endeavors. I would have liked to see a little more rawness in the production as this record has a somewhat sterile 70’s a.m radio feel. A good example is found on the track entitled “Lyin” which introduces some very white soul to the mix, but as it is so polished, it loses a little life. Will definitely play well on radio. Still a regional act, this record is a good effort which should make their next crowd-funded release a success, if they remember to leave the “soul” on the record. Still, dropbox worthy. Try “Lyin,” “Where We Stand,” and “Under Control.”
Elder Brother is the new indie-rock project from Kevin Geyer (The Story So Far) and Dan Rose (Daybreaker) with help from Matthew and Charles Vincent (The American Scene). Heavy Head is divergent from the path taken by their earlier bands which was pop-punk. Heavy Head is a pretty amazing debut, in part, because it shows an already mature band with excellent songwriting skill in Geyer and vocalist Rose, who produce lyrically compelling songs with catchy melodies. That’s it. The formula works well and this album has some solid highlights. This is a record I listened to while reading with the headphones on, and found myself taken away from my book to just enjoy the playing and mood created on Heavy Head. Try “Throw Me to the Wolves,” “Lightning Bug,” and “Sunday Mornings.”
Being originally from Canada, it would be an easy guess if you thought I was going to put a record by a band called the Mounties into the dropbox. You are correct of course, but this one also happens to be very good. Although its being sold as an “indie-rock supergroup” the band consisting of Hawksley Workman (who plays drums on this record), Hot Hot Heat‘s Steve Bays and Limblifter‘s Ryan Dahle handle the synthesizer joke rock on Thrash Rock Legacy capably and with each sharing vocal duties it makes for a pretty cool record. From opener “Pretty Respectable,” the record bounces around with off-kilter lyrics and playing making for a very interesting listening experience. Are they playing the #$^^ out of the song “Headphones” in Canada? I’ll bet they are. “I’ve got my headphones on every day of my life gonna wear ‘em until I’m dead.” $%&7 I’ve got the song stuck in my head. This should be big. Here’s hoping it is, because I’d like to hear a second album. Think Weezer-Hot Hot. Try “Headphone,” “If This Dance Catches On,” and the weird tribute to “Hall & Oates.”
Dan Wilson, aka Withered Hand, is a singer-songwriter who writes about relationships and has the uncanny ability to write the affectionate jangle pop best represented by Chris Stamey and Teenage Fanclub with Big Star flourishes. On New Gods, the follow up to his also outstanding debut, 2009’s Good News, Wilson contains the influences and produces an album of sunny lo-fi pop songs with bright guitars and darker meanings. Repeated listens hint at more influences from the 90’s alt-rock scene including early R.E.M., Don Dixon, and Marti Jones all sung with Wilson’s Stamey-like vocals. This one has popped up repeatedly in the playlist, because IT IS GOOD. Try “Black Tambourine,” “King Of Hollywood,” and “Heart Heart.”
If you thought the Mounties were a supergroup – they have nothing on Sweet Apple. And like the Mounties record, I played it without even realizing who was in the band, and was surprised because the results are a departure for the key member and not so much for the others. Sweet Apple is the side project of Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis and on the aptly titled Golden Age of Glitter, includes Dave Sweetapple (Witch, Fog), Tim Parnin (Cobra Verde) and John Petkovic (Cobra Verde, Death of Samantha) with special guest vocalists Robert Pollard (GBV) and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees). This is flat out a 70’s muscle rock record with some power pop leanings. There are places that are reminiscent of the Byrds, early Creedence, some Stones work, and a little T.Rex but overall, the album is characteristically a 70’s rock album with some great vocal work. Try “Boys in Her Fanclub,” “Reunion,” and “We Are Ruins.”
A couple of Record Store Day 2014 exclusive releases hit the dropbox this month (if you take a glance at eBay, these records are going for beaucoup bucks, so listen here first, eh?):
First up, are Australian psychedelic rockers, Tame Impala with 9 tracks of Live Versions recorded from a 2013 show in Chicago. I love Tame Impala and these live versions are some trippy $%$%$ arrangements of some great songs. I would love to see them live. Perhaps I might, some day. Anyway, these are not note for note recreations of the originals, rather they are impressions of the originals, played with zeal and give a glimpse of the live experience. An excellent bootleg. If you’ve followed the band for a while, these are mostly the “hits”, whatever that means. Try “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” “Be Above It,” and “Mind Mischief.”
Similarly, Green Day, whose recent work is a bit sketchy, has put together a pretty decent album of 18 demos recorded at Jingletown Studios in Oakland, CA, in 2012 during the sessions for the band’s ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! album trilogy. In addition to the 18 demos, Demolicious includes a previously unreleased track, “State of Shock,” and an acoustic version of “Stay The Night” from ¡Uno!. Of interest to dropbox listeners is that these demos are in many cases better than the versions that appeared on the albums – perhaps it is the looseness of the band in demo mode, or the fact that these have the flubs and rawness that was squeezed out of the final production. Anyway, this is the best collection of songs since Warning came out for me. As a standalone, I enjoyed listening to this more than the three other albums which were a patchwork of good and bad. I sense that the songs you enjoyed on the trilogy albums are mostly found in this collection. Try “Stay the Night,” “State of Shock,” and “Stray Heart.”
After an apparently short hiatus (band speak for we are not going to put out any more records) the venerable garage-psych rockers, Thee Oh Sees are back, with Drop, their latest (and 13th) slab of awesomeness. John Dwyer has been playing with his other mostly lo-fi project the Coachwhips, but for this album, he has adjusted the lineup to include Mikal Cronin (another dropbox favorite) and drummer Chris Woodhouse. Unlike the amazing last record 2013’s Floating Coffin, this records roots are earlier 60’s garage rock. I numerous places Thee current version of Thee Oh Sees sprinkles some a.m. radio dust on the proceedings, particularly on title track “Drop” which has some great guitar work and a traditional song structure must like Mitch Easter’s 90’s work – and unlike most of the tracks on the album. Another solid album to add to the collection. Try “Savage Victory,” “Drop,” and the very Beatles Sgt. Peppers sounding “The Lens.”
The Baseballs are a German rock and roll band that have figured out how to modernize a sound born out of early 50’s rock n’ roll. The Baseballs are composed of three vocalists: Sam, Digger, and Basti; with a traditional backup band consisting of Lars Vegas (guitar), Klaas Wendling (upright bass), Jan Miserre (piano), and Tomas Svensson (drums).Think Sha Na Na for the hipster set. Rockabilly and Elvis influences pervade this collection which in small doses makes for a pretty fun time. For the first time ever, I enjoyed that “Royals” song by Lorde, when performed by the Baseballs it is transformed into something else entirely. Game Day is not reinventing the genre, rather just trying to keep it interesting. This is an oddball for the dropbox, but I liked it. Try to spot the originals from the covers. Try “My Baby Left Me For A DJ,” “#Flashback,” and “On My Way.”
On their third and latest release, Himalayan, Southampton trio Band of Skulls vary the efforts of their prior indie rock outings, by expanding their oeuvre – the guitars on the slow burners shimmer and the space between notes is longer – all part of a plan to take their brand of blues inflected metal to more popular places. Himalayan adds a layer of desert rock a la Queens of the Stoneage to the proceedings, and in so doing, expands the sonic territory of their carefully crafted balance of blues rock and metal. There are some glam highlights on Himalayan, such as the T. Rex sounding tracks “Asleep At The Wheel” and “Hoochie Coochie” as well as some straight out rockers such as “I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying.” (Steve Miller Band sound-a-like!) Definitely ready for the next big thing. Try “Asleep At The Wheel,” “Hoochie Coochie,” and “Get Yourself Together.”
Finally, Chicago psych-rockers Secret Colours (Canadian spelling!) have released two EP’s this year which finds the sweet spot between Tame Impala and Ty Segal, two drop box favorites and does so by adding some 60’s British beat influences, primarily the Kinks ( love the melotron) to their sound producing a blend of guitar goodness that best represents the overall sound of this record. Even the band no less self describes their sound as “bastard seed of ‘60s psychedelia and ‘90s Britpop.” As you might have noticed over the past year or so, there is truly a British Invasion at least sound wise as bands wholesale incorporate British psychedelia into their sound. The effort pays off for Secret Colours as this album is the perfect sonic experience with some Stone Roses moments throughout. The dropbox contains both EPs fused together. Try “Into You,” “It Can’t Be Simple,” and “Rotten Summer.”
I should have a new batch of tunes and reviews for you next week…so stay tuned. And of course, until next time…let’s be safe out there.
Easter is today. Happy Easter to all. I figured I’d start with the non sequitur and then move on. After a really good month of releases, April is also shaping up to be a great month with a number of excellent releases worthy of inclusion in your collections. Most importantly, Record Store Day was yesterday, so I’m sure that I will have a number of rarities to add to the dropbox next month. Most are one of a kind, rare, or never issued items. I snuck a few in this month’s dropbox including the Springsteen, Pixies, and Green Day for a couple of buddies who collect. I have also recovered fully from the rants of the past couple of Dropbox Notes, so these notes should be a little more positive – unless of course I am dispossessed to erupt again as some of these issues are long not expressed and finally I’m getting some release from years of frustration. Not that anything is likely to be fixed, but at least I’m putting it out there, eh?.
Feel free to browse through the dropbox. I generally put in things in a completely random way – As I listen to something and it strikes my fancy, I save it to another location to listen again. At the end of the day, when the telephones are turned off, I crank up the set asides and take time to enjoy these finds. And then, after several listens from that culled group, I select the month’s dropbox. So, the secret is out, finally. I’m spent.
Lastly, I have also dropped a couple of recent and not so recent things into the drop box by request so you’ll find Reverend Horton Heat’s latest – Rev and London Grammar’s debut in case you also missed them the first time around.
So, with that introduction here are this months Tales From The Dropbox:
Long time favorites Stiff Little Fingers return with their 10th album ( of originals – they probably have 50 compilation albums out being one of the most heavily reissued bands of all time rivaling the Who and Elvis Costello) a Pledge Music funded release entitled No Going Back. What is singularly amazing about SLF is that over a career spanning 35 years the band has not lost any of the qualities that made them exciting in the first place. If anything, Jake Burns’ songwriting is better and more thoughtful – some of the songs on this record will quickly become fan favorites and end up staples in SLF’s live show. There are very few bands that could make this claim. That is, after 35 years, SLF is putting out new music that is as good as or better than some of their earliest and most beloved work. This album has everything that you would expect in a SLF record: aggressive anthemic punk rock that is catchy as hell. From the opening riff of “Liars Club” through the terrific “When We Were Young” SLF plays with renewed energy and although Not Going Back covers some dark territory, particularly Burn’s battle with depression on “My Dark Places,” the overall record is uplifting and spirited. Definitely a band worth seeing live (as I have a number of times). So, as the band ranks among my top 3 all time favorite bands, I might be a little biased. For the unwashed try: “My Dark Places,” “Throwing It All Away,” and “Trail Of Tears.”
Minneapolis’ Howler return with their second effort World of Joy as the follow up to their excellent 2011 debut entitled America Give Up which was also a drop box favorite. Second records are tough enough, particularly when critics loved your first, and this would be doubly difficult when the band takes a healthy stab at incorporating and updating the Jesus and Mary Chain, so when you discover that the second record is likely better than the first, well there is a little bit of shock. Not so much the Smith’s (Johnny Marr) guitar sound is present as the Reid brothers, as other critics are fond of claiming (since vocalist Jordan Gatesmith dates? Johnny Marr’s daughter, Sonny), but a magnificent sound to be sure. The shoegaze feel of the only ballad “Here’s the Itch That Creeps Through My Skull” coupled with the shimmering guitars, gives a little darker presence to a great ballad. Perfectly balanced and an all too brief 28 minutes World of Joy – is precisely that an entrée into Howler’s creepy world – of joy. Try: “Indictment,” “World of Joy,” and “Don’t Wanna.”
Adam Granduciel’s band The War on Drugs on their third album Lost In The Dream is deservedly receiving quite a bit of hype. This is a brilliant record in the same vein as Kurt Vile and The Men, but with a sonically different take on the psychedelic synth-laden inflected country tinged rock of those bands. The lyrical journey is somewhat depressing essentially the tale of a man struggling to keep it all together, but I was mesmerized by the classic rock sounds throughout the record (Springsteen/Dylan comparisons are inescapable). This will likely end up on many best of the year lists, and it will also find a place on mine. Try “Red Eyes,” “Under The pressure,” and the hauntingly beautiful “Lost In The Dream.”
The world is a better place with the Afghan Whigs. I played endlessly the entire Afghan Whigs collection of great records (and they were actually records at that time). I loved every song and it would be hard to argue that Greg Dulli’s vocals on Do The Beast are as unmistakable, powerful, and captivating as they are on ever record he has put out. So, imagine my surprise to find that 16 years after their last release, 1965, the Afghan Whigs are about to release Do The Beast – another awesome addition to their catalog – a little stranger than previous because there are definitely flavors of Dulli’s other band, the Twilight Singers incorporated into this record. However, I’ve been playing Do The Beast repeatedly for about the past thirty days (along with the Stiff Little Fingers and the Horrors records). This fact that the Afghan Whigs were playing both days at Coachella was almost enough to make me want to brave going, but I am sure I’ll see them in a better venue another time. (Which I Did – in my living room on the big screen. Thanks to whomever uploaded weekend 1). This is not the original band, and so the guitar sounds are slightly different than the 1.0 version of the band – noticeably absent is guitarist Rick McCollum – but this is such a treasure of a record and like all of the previous Dulli records (including those with the Twilight Singers) the collision of love, lust, greed, and need are pervasive throughout as Dulli tries through his vocal approach to bring color and clarity to these philosophical constructs. Try “It Kills,” “Royal Cream” and “Algiers.”
To be truthful, I was not ready for Bob Mould’s debut solo record, Workbook following the very nasty breakup of Husker Du more than 25 years ago. I doubt anyone was. If you loved Husker Du as much as I did, then when you put the needle down on track 1 – “Sunspots” you went …what the $#^%? However, with time and a little perspective, you come to find that Workbook after 25 years is a work of, well, genius. I have listened to this record well over one hundred times in the past 25 years and each time I’d discover something new to amaze. After reading Bob’s book See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage And Melody, I gained a new perspective on the place and importance of Workbook in the pantheon of Mould/Husker Du/ Sugar recordings. And here it is reissued and it shines and sounds as if it was a new release I am supposed to write about. So, what is new? Well Disc 2 collects a live show from the Cabaret Metro on May 14, 1989 during the tour and gives incite to Mould’s artistry and captures the magical qualities of an artist finding his way after the trauma of losing everything important in his life. The live version of “See A little Light,” captures this place and time perfectly as does the gem “If You’re True” which plays entrée into Mould’s rawness following the split. To be fair, I’ve not taken sides in the end of Husker Du. I think Grant Hart is a genius as well . Also included on Workbook 25 is “All Those People Know,” the B-side of the “See a Little Light Single” which was not on the original album for good reason as it sounds like a Husker Du outtake. For those of you trying this for the first time, Try” See A Little Light,” “Poison Years,” and “Compositions for the Young and Old.”
The reason that music is not a competition, is best exemplified by Horrors, whose latest and 4th album, Luminous, is the follow up to 2011’s masterpiece Skying. To be released May 5, Luminous captures a brighter sounding Horrors with the album firmly including elements of 90’s shoegazers Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, and containing overall much less lyrically dark offering than past releases. I understand that a more positive more electronic organic effort was what the band was looking for, and they have accomplished those goals but what is staggering is the brilliance of the dynamic guitars and dance (for England) friendly songs all of which are going to be killer when played out in a live setting. If they can play the Arctic Monkeys in the U.S. on commercial radio then there is absolutely no reason why they couldn’t find space for all 7:33 of “I see You.” If you loved Skying, then Luminous will not disappoint. England’s got the band covered, but America should really dig this record. Try “I See You,” “Sleepwalk, and “First Day Of Spring.”
Lo-fi is always a difficult genre for most people to get into because we are all so used to playing lush full sounding mostly over-produced elector-pop. However, when done right, Lo-fi combined with hardcore is absolutely the most compelling sound to listen to. Where Husker Du on Zen Arcade and the Minutemen on Double Nickels On a Dime both hinted at the possibility of this unique sound, La Dispute on their third album Rooms Of The House, achieve the brilliant balance and in so doing emerge with a breathtaking look at hardcore that won’t scare off the listener who like pop. The reason is likely that on this third record, Jordan Dreyer, the bands songwriter and vocalist finally has figured out that songs have a unique structure outside of poetry which on previous outings sounded exactly like that – poetry with a musical background. Now, the poetic edge is still present but the music is of equal presence and importance. It is this cohesiveness that makes this such a great listening experience and why, this record belongs in your collection. While Rooms Of the House may never reach the prominence or importance of Zen Arcade or Double Nickels in the punk/hardcore mythology, I think it will be a record that you’ll dig out 10 years from now to tell a friend – I remember this, it was so ^$%$ cool! Try “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice,” Scenes from Highways 1981-2009,” and “The Child We Lost 1963.”
Montreal’s Mac DeMarco’s second solo release Salad Days is upgraded by his move to Brooklyn, the current home of indie music. The style is not different than the very good debut – a mix of 70’s influenced soft rock and catchy melodies, filled with slightly off kilter lyrics. The acoustic guitar shines, but it is Mac’s personality, somewhat Beck like in intonation that carries the day for these songs. I’m somewhat reminded of Jonathan Richman but not the nasally voice that is Jonathan’s alone, but rather the presence on each of these songs. It’s fair to say that DeMarco is a non-slacker for the slacker world producing carefully crafted mini-masterpieces that seem to be almost lackadaisical throw offs. Try “Let Her Go,” “Salad Days,” and the left field mostly electronic “Chamber of Reflection.”
More Canadians, this time from Prince Edward island, Paper Lions album My Friends was one of my favorites from the past year ending up at Number 8 overall, and their latest EP, entitled Acquaintances is really a stop gap before their next full length, features another great indie pop song in “Do You Wanna” and a couple of remixes of “My Friend.” Wow, I’ll bet they are playing the crap out of “Do You Wanna” in Canada. Here….crickets. Try them all. Can’t wait for the nest record. Try them all.
More freaking Canadians in the drop box. And they are awesome! Upping the nerd-core game I discussed last month, Pup are according to Pup “[w]e’re called PUP. We’re 4 dudes from Toronto. We play loud music. You’ll like it. Or maybe you won’t. Listen and love it / hate it / whatever.” Really they are Weezer for a new generation and it is blistering amalgam of noise, punk, pop, and hardcore all battling for sonic territory and it all works. Not a duff song on the record. Canadians do it better. “Meet me at the Reservoir”… I am singing along…. alone in an office building…wait someone’s coming…oh what the hell…they are singing along too! Perhaps they will play somewhere near me I’m thinking. They played New York recently. Hopefully this will catch on big. Not radio friendly. College Friendly though. Maybe they will play my house. Sure would freak out my San Marino neighbors. Try” Reservoir,” “Yukon,” and “Lionheart.”
How long does it take to make a hit record? For Brooklyn, New York’s American Author’s who’s self-released self-titled EP was released on August 27, 2013, apparently almost a year. When I put the EP in the drop box last year (See September 29, 2013 Dropbox Notes) I thought the song “Best Day Of My Life” was a hit – writing then ‘[y]ou will like American Authors if you like sugary commercial alternative music that is very well written. Hopefully future releases will demonstrate some willingness by American Authors to try to expand the formula a bit. Still, it is difficult to not like the band or their music as each song on American Authors is built for maximum alt rock catchiness.” A year laterthe same holds true on the full length Oh, What A Life. “Best Day Of My Life” is a commercial radio hit single, and the rest of the album is completely filled with similar hook-laden catchy alternative rock, that is a little overproduced on album, but likely sounds amazing live. As you know, if its here, I like it. Apart from the two hits, also try “Think About It,” “Luck,” and “Heart of Stone.”
You either are going to like the latest album from Elbow, the bands 6th called Take Off and Landing of Everything or you are not. There is really no middle ground with this band. And the band is not really that interested in altering significantly the formula from record to record, there are minor tweaks along the way, but the formula remains the same – Guy Garvey’s distinctive baritone melodically singing his tales of his own life – apparently one filled with loss, isolation, and confronting his own middle age. And for me it is great. While much will likely be made of the resemblances to Peter Gabriel with the art rock leanings and lush sound and recording this record in Real World Studios probably doesn’t help dissuade the detractors, but Take Off and Landing of Everything stands alone from the comparison and ambles boldly with some excellent songwriting and measured playing, all of which combine to produce an interesting and pleasurable listening experience. In short, it is not boring. And believe me, Elbow has produced some boring music on past releases. And that is why you are either going to love this album or hate it. If its not your style, then its going to be a tough slog. However, on a Sunday afternoon, and it’s raining outside ( I’m creating an allusion here – it doesn’t rain much in Los Angeles), then Take Off and Landing of Everything will be a perfect record. Try “Fly Boy Blue / Lunette,” “My Sad Captains,” and “The Take Off and Landing of Everything.”
Surprises happen on rare occasions for me. And Foster The People’s latest, Supermodel, is one of those surprises. It’s not what you think – both Supermodel and me. I am excited when a band makes a great record, and I don’t care if it is popular on radio. I am not one of those individuals who stops liking a band just because they are popular. The goal of this blog is to hopefully contribute to the popularity of the music I describe. So, when Foster the People released this new record, the overriding question was is it going to be “Pumped Up Kicks” Volume 2 from the Torches LP. The answer refreshingly is no. Supermodel is a complicated assemblage of indie dance rock with world elements infused throughout. So, it is a surprise when the album resonates – it is a much more refined offering. Lead Single “Coming Of Age,” is undeniably good – at least until local radio kills all that is good about it, by playing it every two hours for %$^ days. However, like the first record, Supermodel is filled with great songs so you are likely to hear several over the next three years ( which is about how long some radio stations play a “hit song” pummeling the listener to until they can’t take anymore). So, try “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon,” “Coming Of Age,” and Are You What You Want To Be?”
I feel a rant coming on….. I warned you at the beginning I might be disposed to a rant. Well its too late…Here it is….
Aside: I know I’ve hinted at this property of radio stations in the past. I love radio when it is good, and in Los Angeles it has now achieved a level that is truly terrible. It is like watching the CW television network – play similar sounding music with a commercial every three minutes and then make sure there are endless repeats. It has to stop. Please people, turn off your radios. Stop listening, and then maybe they will respond to their audience who doesn’t actually buy any of the stuff they advertise and can’t actually like any of the stuff they are playing. The biggest radio joke in Los Angeles is without a doubt KROQ. Who have now figured out that Coachella may be something great – and are now playing catchup broadcasting from somewhere near Indio. KROQ’s new catch slogan in response to Alt 98.7’s slogan (Music Discoveries First) is “Alternative First.” And that my friends, is the joke. Alternative to what? Growing up in the college radio days of the 80’sand early 90’s when the term Alternative music was referenced as a genre, it had some meaning – it was alternative to metal and punk and featured shimmering guitars i.e. it was early R.E.M. and the bands coming out of the Athens and North Carolina scenes. From there it was co-opted to not scare off older readers and listeners and was affixed to Nirvana when “grunge” became a dirty word. Now, exactly what would pass for Alternative music on KROQ? I have no freaking idea but it certainly isn’t the massive amount of electro pop and fake folk or Chris Martin’s whining on the frankly boring “Magic” single. Really, I do love radio and for the most part having listened to KROQ for almost thirty years, I have learned that I absolutely abhor Kevin & Bean (and Ralph you too) who have single handedly destroyed anything intelligent to be offered by the station. And to be fair, I believe that they all have more in them and the potential to change, but likely all of their spirit has been destroyed, by the soul sucking need to drive advertising and keep revenues flowing. There must be a better model. Hell, I even miss Jim “Poorman” Trenton now so you can see how low my bar can go. So, if anyone reading this with any power to influence programming/hiring decisions (alt 98.7 – please turn off the annoying Kennedy’s microphone), then start fresh and build something that actually is intelligent, interesting, and fun. Local radio has none of these elements right now. Sad. Now that I’ve finished my rant, I’ll move on. Maybe rants are not the way to achieve change, but at least I’ve made an effort. KROQ – post a comment and I’ll hook you up with something new to play.
Toronto’s Fucked Up are a singular entity in the annals of punk rock. Who else could release such a remarkable sonic effort such as Year of The Dragon with the 18 minute long title track leaving you emotionally wrung out? Only Fucked Up. As hardcore as a genre has made its way towards the deeper, blacker, and less vocally appealing end of the spectrum, Fucked Up plays it right down the middle and finds the pocket of the genre. Capturing 70’s metal acts penchants for lengthy guitar driven workouts which resulted in the prog movement, creating the environment for punk in its wake, Fucked Up retain the punk aspects while experimenting with the progressive hardcore sounds and the sounds are Killer ( Yes, with a capital K). While this is an EP in anticipation of their next full length Glass Boys due out June 3, it doesn’t feel like a stop gap. This EP is the 6th in their zodiac series and features two cover songs from the early the Toronto punk scene ( in the late 70’s), namely “I Wanna Be a Yank” by Cardboard Brains and “Disorder” by the Ugly. Try them all.
Last month dropbox listeners enjoyed the Gaslight Anthem’s B-Side Collection, and this month for your listening pleasure is the latest from the Gaslight Anthem’s 45 RPM Club featuring two songs “Anywhere I Lay My Head” (Tom Waits cover) and “This Is Where We Part” (Twopointeight cover). It’s the Gaslight Anthem – you know what to expect by now. Try them both.
It took a little work, and a number of listens before I actually got the latest record from Spain entitled Sargent Place. Since 1995 Spain have been putting out quality releases, but in all honesty, I’ve never really connected. Perhaps it’s the pacing, as these records, much like slow-core originators Low, are sparse affairs with a pacing in places that is not even close to 4/4 time. If you like jazz inflected Americana then this is a great album. For me, it was listening to the 2nd track, “The Fighter” that I finally connected with both Josh Haden’s vocals and the bands casual pacing. From there I was hooked, because as the pacing picks up, particularly on “Sunday Morning” the feeling is electric. I think it took some time to feel the record as opposed with the immediacy of most releases, this blindsided me a little bit, because what makes this work are the jazz edges creating a unique sonic experience. “Sunday Morning” is a hit. Try “Sunday Morning”, “The Fighter, and “You and I.”
It must be difficult being the Pixies. Releasing their first record and only their 5th in total with their last record being released in 1991 (Trompe Le Monde), the band has experienced some critical backlash for its recent collections of EPs which are collected and were released on April 19th ( Record Store Day) as a collection entitled Indie Cindy. Sure, as bands age, there is a tendency to create different sounding music, and heaven knows, Frank Black has been around a number of wagons. The problem for the Pixies, apart from their personal inter-band squabbles and personal dysfunction, is that everything, and I mean everything, is going to be compared to their past releases, in particular the brilliant Doolittle which arguably ranks as one of the greatest records of all time. So, the real question is whether the record sounds like the Pixies? And in short, it does. It’s a little uneven as it was imagined first as a series of thee EPs, but overall, there are some great moments on this record, and contrary to the assertion made by at least a few so called critics that this is not the Pixies without Kim Deal, the truth is that the Pixies sound is still emanating from these tracks and the songs are without a doubt the Pixies. Try “What Goes Boom,” “Ring The Bell,” and “Jaime Bravo.”
Craig Finn must be wondering what the &%$67 is going on and what he and his band The Hold Steady have to do to actually please a critic. On Teeth Dreams, the Hold Steady’s 6th album, Finn and band actually hold steady (see – puns are convenient sometimes) and create an album of solid Hold Steady songs that will fit nicely into their growing collection of amazing song stories that refocuses the band – a band that kind of lost the script on 2010’s Heaven which smoothed out the edges and was frankly overproduced to the point where I am unable to actually enjoy the record. Sure, there is a Springsteen vibe on all Hold Steady records, but that vibe is created by the cast of characters that populate the songs. In short, it is not a dance record. Rather, it is tougher, tighter, and the rawness has a spark that captured my attention throughout. And that is what makes Hold Steady records great – it is a journey through Americana influenced indie rock with a few pub rock edges ( I am thinking Brinsley Schwartz and early Nick Lowe here with hints of the Singles soundtrack) with stories that touch a nerve. Try “Spinners,” “Walk A While,” and “Records And Tapes.”
Previous dropbox favorites the Menzingers return with their latest on April 22 entitled Rented World. From Scranton PA, the band like Boston’s Dropkick Murphy’s, incorporates the punk sounds from the city, and on Rented World, their 4th and is kind of a crossover in sound from their last release, 2011’s On The Impossible Past, which was definitely a smoother more traditional pop influenced punk record, whereas this record in places is a return to roots effort, cramming more aggressive sounds into tightly played punk rock with sing-along melodies. I love this record. Played the thing in my office at full blast as I am apt to do on weekends when no one is around. I’d venture to say that with bands like the Menzingers around, punk rock is safe for a while. Try “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore,” “In Remission,” and “Hearts Unknown.”
That’s all for now folks. As always, have a great month of music, and here is the list:
Stiff Little Fingers – No Going Back 
War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream 
Afghan Whigs – Do to the Beast 
Bob Mould – Workbook 25 [2CD]
Horrors – Luminous 
La Dispute – Rooms of the House 
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days 
Paper Lions – Acquaintances EP 
Pup – Pup 
American Authors – Oh, What a Life 
Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything 
Foster The People – Supermodel (Deluxe Edition) 
Fucked Up – Year of the Dragon 
Gaslight Anthem – 2014 45 Record Club [7”] 
Spain – Sargent Place 
Pixies – Indie Cindy 
Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams 
Menzingers – Rented World 
Amen Dunes – Love 
Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else 
Farewell Flight – I Was A Ghost 
Habibi – Habibi 
Walking Shapes – Taka Come On 
Swans – To Be Kind 
My Sad Captains – Best Of Times 
Future Islands – Singles 
Desert Noises – 27 Ways 
Dexters – Shimmer Gold 
Mr Little Jeans – Pocketknife 
Reptile Youth – Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone