Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jarvis Cocker-Further Complications

I am not going to post anything from this record because its not out and obviously someone is not happy about it being leaked.  Its awesome though.  I really liked the first one but this sounds much better.  Everyone should grab a copy of this when it hits stores on May 19th on Rough Trade.  Thanks again Steve Albini!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Middle Class-Out of Vogue

"Out of Vogue" by the Middle Class is titled by some as one of the first hardcore punk records ever released.  I feel that "first ever" debates when concerning music are usually completely pointless.  From what I have observed in my lifetime terms like "hardcore", "lo-fi" and "post-punk" are usually made by people who don't really get it in the first place, such as journalists and record executives.  People are usually more comfortable with things if they can place them into a definite category, especially when those people are trying to turn a profit.  Okay, so whatever, this might be the first "hardcore" record ever, this fact has nothing to do with why its good to listen to.  The music on "Out of Vogue" is definitely fast for the time, considering it was released in January 1979 (the same month as Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" EP).  Comparisons to early hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Bad Brains are inevitable but I think that the Middle Class were actually doing something a little different.  Most hardcore bands at this time came from big cities like Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC but the Middle Class were from a small suburban town called Santa Ana in Orange County.  A few years later this area exploded with punk bands like the Adolescents, TSOL and Agent Orange.  Obviously the Middle Class' influence was felt by somebody because all of those bands share more than just geography.  When listening to the Adolescents, Agent Orange or the Middle Class I have always noticed the slight influence of sixties and seventies surf and pop groups.  Obviously Agent Orange covered the Dick Dale song Miserlou and in the liner notes of the Adolescent demos Tony Cadena talks about how he has always loved Cheap Trick.  Growing up in a place that is pretty similar to Santa Ana, I can say that its hard to escape certain musical trends and often times there is just not much else to be into due to location.  If this sounds good Frontier just released a CD with all of their early material including their first two singles and some demos.  I will post the whole "Out of Vogue" 7".  

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Wild Poppies-Heroine

I really don't know much about this band so I guess I will start off with what I do know. The Wild Poppies were from New Zealand and released music sometime in the eighties. Although they were not on Flying Nun you can definitely hear that they shared a lot of influences with their artists. Other than that pretty much nothing is known about this band which is kind of cool in a mysterious way. Judging from the cover artwork and album title I wouldn't be surprised if substance abuse had something to do with them disappearing off the face of the earth. There has to be some reason they are completely unheard of because this record is solid front to back. Most of the songs on "Heroine" have that signature New Zealand jangle on them and really strong pop song writing. For me its one of those records where every time you listen to it you walk away with a new favorite song. As far as I know none of the Wild Poppies catalogue ever made it to CD format and I think you would probably have a hard time finding a physical copy of any of their records on vinyl so I am going to post all of "Heroine". Be warned, can cause physical dependence.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tones on Tail-Everything!

I just recently moved a good portion of my record collection from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Anyone who has ever had to move their collection or even part of it knows what a herculean task it can appear to be.  The good part is that forgotten favorites will resurfaces due to the fact that you literally haven't seen them in years.  Unfortunately my copy of Tones on Tail's aptly titled career retrospective "Everything!" fell victim to a few year long disappearance when I moved out of Los Angeles.  Luckily while I was home visiting my parents I helped them do some spring cleaning and this psychedelic goth gem was returned once again to my ears.  Tones on Tail initially started as the side project of Bauhaus towards the tail end of their first run that included Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins and their roadie/friend Glenn Campling.  Although Tones on Tail only lasted about two years I always perceived it as an opportunity for Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins to experiment and do things they felt restricted to in Bauhaus, as well as lay the foundation for Love and Rockets.  Tones on Tail never released a proper studio album but I think that their utilization of the single format actually helped them reach farther in a different direction.  It is apparent from listening to Bauhaus and Love and Rockets in that order that Ash and Haskins were aiming for something very different with the latter.  I think having the anonymity of a side project group who released only singles let them have the freedom to sculpt their desired sound without having the pressure to deliver cohesive albums.  Since the career of Tones On Tail was so short lived but prolific I can't help but get the feeling that they had specific goals, did what they wanted, achieved their goals and moved on.  The music on "Everything!" leans more on the experimental side in comparison to most of Bauhaus or Love and Rockets but if you like either of them you will undoubtedly like this too.  I am going to post a few songs for this one.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jerry Garcia & John Kahn - Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem, Oregon - May 5, 1982

It's hard to find a place to start with Jerry Garcia's music. You could spend a lifetime listening to Dead shows, analyzing jams and recordings and still not tap the surface. Personally, I find that Jerry seems to shine the most in his solo shows. He began playing with John Kahn in May of 1970 with the Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales project. After that, John Kahn was in every side project Jerry did without the Dead (Jerry Garcia Band, Legion of Mary, Old and In The Way, etc.) These collaborations eventually led to Jerry and John Kahn playing as an acoustic duet in the early 80's. This show at the Oregon State Penitentiary is without question one of my favorite of Jerry's side project shows. It is by far the best recording I've heard of a Jerry Garcia & John Kahn show and Ken Kesey was supposedly in attendance. They play a few Dead songs (Friend of the Devil, Ripple, Dire Wolf), songs the Dead played all the time (Deep Elem Blues, Jack A Roe) and a few of Jerry's own songs and favorites (Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie, Bob Dylan's It Takes A Lot to Laugh, Run For The Roses, Rubin and Cherise). I get the chills everytime I listen to this version of Run For The Roses and I find myself coming back to this show again and again. Supposedly, the Dead crew disliked John Kahn for his encouragement of Jerry's drug habit, especially in the 90's. John Kahn would die of heart failure (May, 1996) a little over a year after Jerry died of a heart attack (August 1995), both deaths most likely due to drugs. I couldn't find a picture from the show so I posted the best one I could find of the two together. Enjoy the show!

Here's a note from a guy who was there: "One thing I remember was a deranged guy hopped onstage during the Reverend Chumliegh's (sp?) act and kind of made for a slightly tense atmosphere. And I think Jerry was without John Kahn for the first two songs and pretty nervous. Kesey had us all hyperventilating, bless him."- Paul

Jerry Garcia & John Kahn - Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem, Oregon - May 5, 1982

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pacific Radio Fire by Richard Brautigan

This is the short story by Richard Brautigan that I borrowed the name for this blog from.  You can find it in his collection of stories called "Revenge of the Lawn".  I doubt I will ever post anything like this ever again but it seemed relevant enough to share. 

Pacific Radio Fire by Richard Brautigan

The largest ocean in the world starts or ends at Monterey, California. It depends on what language you are speaking. My friend’s wife had just left him. She walked right out the door and didn’t even say good-bye. We went and got two fifths of port and headed for the Pacific.

It’s an old song that’s been played on all the jukeboxes in America. The song has been around so long that it’s been recorded on the very dust of America and it has settled on everything and changed chairs and cars and toys and lamps and windows into billions of phonographs to play that song back into the ear of our broken heart.

We sat down on a small corner-like beach surrounded by big granite rocks and the hugeness of the Pacific Ocean with all its vocabularies.

We were listening to rock and roll on his transistor radio and somberly drinking port. We were both in despair. I didn’t know what he was going to do with the rest of his life either.

I took another sip of port. The Beach Boys were singing a song about California girls on the radio. They liked them.

His eyes were wet wounded rugs.

Like some kind of strange vacuum cleaner I tried to console him. I recited the same old litanies that you say to people when you try to help their broken hearts, but words can’t help at all.

It’s just the sound of another human voice that makes the only difference. There’s nothing you’re ever going to say that’s going to make anybody happy when they’re feeling shitty about losing somebody that they love.

Finally he set fire to the radio. He piled some paper around it. He struck a match to the paper. We sat there watching it.

I had never seen anybody set fire to a radio before.

As the radio gently burned away, the flames began to affect the songs that we were listening to. A record that was #1 on the Top-40 suddenly dropped to #13 inside of itself. A song that was #9 became #27 in the middle of a chorus about loving somebody. They tumbled in popularity like broken birds. Then it was too late for all of them.

The Honeycombs-Here are the Honeycombs

I've been pretty obsessed with this record lately. At first look this appears to be your standard British invasion sixties pop but if you take the time to listen it becomes obvious it has a lot more to offer.  A cool fact about The Honeycombs is they were one of the first groups of the time to have a female drummer, who's name was Honey Lantree(pictued above in the center). Also, their first single and ultimately most popular song "Have I the Right?" was produced by legendary English record producer Joe Meek. I have got to admit up until pretty recently I had no clue who Joe Meek was. With a little bit of researching I found out that Meek had a really interesting story that unfortunately ended with tragedy.  Here is a condensed version:  Meek produced a string of successful singles on the British charts, when his commercial success ended he sank into depression and ended up murdering his landlady before committing suicide(Eight years to the day after his hero Buddy Holly died).  The main thing that Meek is remembered for is his imaginative and innovative production style. When listening to the Honeycombs its hard not to notice how different it sounds from other recordings of the time. Meek was a pioneer in the field of production and developed many studio techniques such as direct input of bass, echo, reverb, sampling and over-dubbing that are now standard practice. Even though the Honeycombs have a pretty standard pop sound the way they are recorded makes their songs sound full and lush. I think another reason I liked the story of Meek was his commitment to finding the perfect sound rather than what was marketable at the moment. Unfortunately he was working in the field of recording at a time when unprofitable music was seen as not having much value which probably had something to do with his feelings of isolation and severe depression. I am going to post "Have I the Right?" not only because its well known but also because it is a good example of the sound that Meek produced when he was at his best recording bands. The second track I am going to post is called "It Ain't Necessarily So" because its a really cool song, boo ya.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chain and the Gang-Down with Liberty...Up With Chains

Does anyone else remember when Ian Svenonius was interviewing Henry Rollins on his show Soft Focus?  At one point they brought up the idea of freedom actually being a constraining concept by referencing the awesome Saccharine Trust song "We Don't Need Freedom".  Anyone who has followed Svenonius in any of his musical projects is probably familiar with his satirical wit that he seems to incorporate in to everything he touches at least in some part.  Keeping that in mind I think his new project "Chain and the Gang" is a good extension of him and some other interesting musicians taking that idea and running with it.
People seem to either really dig Svenonius and his multiple artistic endeavors since the Nation of Ulysses or they don't seem to have the patience for them.  Not to say that listening to the Make Up is some type of transcendental experience that only a fortunate minority can enjoy but more that he is interpreted by some as being redundant.  I guess I feel like in this situation there is no reason to fix it if its not broken,  I haven't reached that point in my listening to his records where I feel like they are monotonous.  With that said, I have been playing the shit out of "Down with Liberty, Up with Chains" by Svenonius and his new group of familiar faces.  I read that he originally intended to record a spoken word record with Calvin Johnson in his famous basement and this is what resulted.  I can definitely say that I am glad it did, maybe that spoken word album would have been the thing to make me loose patience.
A look at the cover of this record is a great explanation of the ideas and overall aesthetic that you will get with Chain and the Gang.  I think the actual music on the album has more of a blues influence than most of his more recent releases but there is still plenty of catchy garage rock as well.  It seems like on this record he really perfected the call and response rhythm with his vocals which he is already kind of known for.  Bottom line is if you like what Ian Svenonius has been doing for the last two decades than this will probably be a welcome addition to your collection, if not you probably gave up a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Halo Benders

Doug Martsch and Calvin Johnson.  This sentence should be enough to get you excited about whatever it is I am about to write about.  For the purpose of focusing on their collaboration records together I won't write in depth on either of their former bands (Built to Spill and Beat Happening) in this post.  Even though I love listening to the records that both of these bands released I always find myself running back to the Halo Benders records faster.  I think the reason for that is the way the two front men decided to approach the band.  I feel like a lot of the time when there are bands where two formerly known and definitely talented people are involved there is too much pressure to create some type of groundbreaking record or something that outdoes their past.  The reason The Halo Benders appealed to me is because I never perceived them to have any pressure about making something "more" than their former projects.  Basically what you have here is Calvin Johnson and Doug Martsch making songs on top of each other more other than collaborating.  My favorite songs have always been the ones where they sing together throughout, usually not quite at the same moment but enough apart that you can make out each of their lyrics.  Another interesting thing about their process as a band is they write lyrics separately which is obvious once you hear them.  I think the point of this is that neither one of these extremely talented dudes tries to out-do the other.  Even when they are literally playing different songs on top of each other it sounds natural and comfortable.  Not to mention its funny, Johnson has always expressed his good sense of humor through his art and now that I think about it Martsch has a lot of really witty lines as well.  I always loved the title of the first Halo Benders album "God Don't Make No Junk" which I believe was stolen from an old blues song of the same title in true Johnson fashion.  I am going to post a Halo Benders song called "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain" from their record "The Rebels Not In".  I made a mistake earlier and said that it was a cover of the Smiths song "Reel Around the Fountain" but other than the titles the songs have nothing in common.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bored Games-Who Killed Colonel Mustard

There are a million different reasons to love this record.  First of all it was released on New Zealand's legendary Flying Nun label label in 1982 kicking off the career of singer Shane Carter and the golden age of the label.  Carter later went on to form the Doubly Happys and then the Straightjacket Fits, both releasing records on Flying Nun.  Carter was only seventeen years old when Bored Games were active, even though this EP was released a year after the band broke up.  You can find a really great video out there for the song "Happy Endings" that shows his age if you look hard enough.  Even though this record is probably the least known item in Carter's career its definitely my favorite.  If you are familiar with the early eighties Flying Nun stable than you probably know what this sounds like and already dig it.  If you like early eighties punk with a spoonful of pop then you will love this.  I guess if I had to compare it to something I would say the Spiral Scratch EP from the Buzzcocks. Even though I do feel guilty comparing Flying Nun bands to their better known contemporaries because usually they were better.  I will post this whole record because its only four songs and I think they work best together since it is basically this bands complete discography. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I realized today that there is not a single female mentioned in any of the posts on this blog up to this point.  I have been meaning to write about Grouper for a while anyways and this seems like a perfect time to do so.  Liz Harris aka Grouper is the Portland based one woman drone machine responsible for last years amazing "Dragging a Dead Dear up a Hill"  LP.  Although her music definitely does drone repeated listens reveal layer upon layer of melody.  On her more recent releases the vocals and guitar can be heard a lot more clearly which reminds me of something like "Souvlaki" era Slowdive on codeine-promethazine. I have yet to hear a bad record from her let alone a bad song so I would say its safe to pick up whatever you can find from her.  I know a lot of her earlier releases were vinyl only and are pretty much completely out of print by this point.  One song below is from her record "Cover the Windows and theWalls" and another from "Dragging a Dead Dear up a Hill". 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pissed Jeans-Shallow

For better or worse I think did it backwards with Pissed Jeans.  When "Hope for Men" was released almost two years ago I picked it up based on a review I read that said they sounded "My War" era Black Flag and the Jesus Lizard.  When I see music journalists using either of these bands for reference points I am almost always skeptical and rarely interested.  Keeping all this in mind I would have to say Pissed Jeans are the real deal.  Even though it took me forever to get Pissed Jeans debut "Shallow" I think it is my favorite of their two full length records.  Although its a short record it really delivers a lot of quality tunes in about the same time period it would take for you to watch an episode of the Fresh Prince.  This is the type of record where one song gets stuck in your head and when you listen to it you decide to start it from the beginning and let it play to the end.  Both of the tracks below are off their record "Shallow".  Buy their records, you wont regret it.