Wednesday, 29 June 2011

#448 - "For Your Own Special Sweetheart" - Jawbox

Released On:  Atlantic Records, 1994

Jawbox were a typical victim of the Alternative Revolution; after achieving indie cred on the legendary Dischord label, they released two great but under-selling albums and imploded.  In Jawbox's case it's particularly hard to take, as their major label debut, For Your Own Special Sweetheart, is a pinnacle of indie rock circa the mid-90s.  It takes Fugazi-esque post-hardcore and makes it sound absolutely massive.  With a major-label recording budget behind them it avoids the middle-heavy muddle that other albums of the period trapped themselves in.  Each instrument is distinct and separate, which for a 1994 band with their sound is impressive (*cough* Sunny Day Real Estate *cough*).  It proves that sometimes it isn't necessary to constantly progress; it perfects the sound that at the time was still being called "emo".  It would never have succeeded anyway, not as a major label record; it's hooks aren't obvious enough, it's charms weren't as straightforward and easy for the masses to digest as Green Day and the Offspring would prove to be.  It's simply a blessing that some idealistic A&R guy at Atlantic took a chance on them in the first place.

Where You'd Know It From:  You were an indie-kid in the mid-90s, you remember when emo wasn't a dirty word, you got caught up in reissue fever in the late Oughts.  "Savory" was on MTV for a while in '94.



Track Listing:
1.  FF=66 (2:41)
2.  Savory (4:39)
3.  Breathe (2:47)
4.  Motorist (3:43)
5.  LS/MFT (2:50)
6.  Cooling Card (2:51)
7.  Green Glass (3:26)
8.  Cruel Swing (2:16)
9.  Jackpot Plus! (2:34)
10.  Chicago Piano (3:30)
11.  Reel (3:39)
12.  U-Trau (3:10)
13.  Whitney Walks (3:57)


("Cooling Card")


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

#449 - "Travels With Myself And Another" - Future Of The Left

Released On:  4AD Records, 2009

After this album leaked three months before its release date, singer Andy Falkous pitched a hissy fit about "entitlement" and "this valueless modern culture" that was stealing the bread from his mouth (conveniently ignoring the fact that as a regionally 'famous' punk rock band he likely wouldn't have made a bloody dime off his record sales anyway).  One thing he got right was that the album deserved "a fanfare and fuss befitting its status".  Featuring half of mclusky, the album exemplified the caustic wit and flair for the dramatic that the long-dead Welsh band had been known for, but shaved off the rougher edges and made it swing more.  It makes moments like the breakdown in "Arming Eritrea" or the buzz-bin-'92 riffing that propels "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" all the more poignant.  Click the "BUY" link though, if only for the rest of us.

Where You'd Know It From:  You read hipster blogs.  

Track Listing:
1.  Arming Aritrea (2:57)
2.  Chin Music (1:56)
3.  The Hope That House Built (3:41)
4.  Throwing Bricks At Trains (2:36)
5.  I Am Civil Service (2:17)
6.  Land Of My Formers (2:47)
7.  You Need Satan More Than He Needs You (2:46)
8.  That Damned Fly (2:07)
9.  Stand By Your Manatee (2:08)
10.  Yin / Post-Yin (2:54)
11.  Drink Nike (2:33)
12.  Lapsed Catholics (4:15)

("The Hope That House Built")

("Arming Eritrea")

("You Need Satan More Than He Needs You")

Saturday, 25 June 2011

#450 - "Pink" - Boris

Released On:  Southern Lord Records, 2005

Japan and noise go hand in hand - their hardcore punk scenes are legendary and experimental artist Merzbow is internet shorthand for noise music.  Boris is the sludge of Japan's noise-punk community, playing heavy riffs like Sleep and Jesu with enough amplifier worship to wrap every note in an aura of screaming bright volume, but they still clung to the hardcore scene which they sprang from.  Pink was their most accessible album, if you can call it that, moving things into a more melodic direction but keeping the feedback-laden production.  The album opens with "Farewell", which brings the idea of metalgaze to the point of post-rock.  The temp then kicks up to a high degree.  Tracks like "Nothing Special" and "Woman On The Screen" were crash-along noisy hardcore; "Pink", "Blackout", and "Pseudo-Bread" came off as doom metal played by a thrash band.  The closing track, "Just Abandoned Myself", crushes out god-tier headbanging for nearly six minutes before resolving into twelve minutes of hazy, spaced-out feedback.  It sounds like nirvana being achieved in a sweaty basement filled to the choking point with weed smoke.

Where You'd Know It From:  Weirdos with imported music collections, metalhead P4K readers.




Track Listing:
1.  Farewell (7:33)
2.  Pink (4:20)
3.  Woman On The Screen (2:38)
4.  Nothing Special (2:18)
5.  Blackout (4:49)
6.  Electric (1:45)
7.  Pseudo-Bread (4:30)
8.  Afterburner (4:22)
9.  Six, Three Times (2:53)
10.  My Machine (2:01)
11.  Just Abandoned Myself (18:14)


("Nothing Special")


Thursday, 23 June 2011

#451 - "...And Out Come The Wolves" - Rancid

Released On:  Epitaph Records, 1995

...And Out Come The Wolves is, of course, one of the four major pillars of the second wave of punk, along with Dookie, Smash, and Stranger Than Fiction.  Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman had both done their time in legendary Berkeley ska-punk band Operation Ivy; they would carry that influence into Rancid, an influence that is instantly recognizable in the radio-invading bounce of a track like "Time Bomb".  That song and "Ruby Soho" shot the band straight into the awareness of the younger siblings of the grunge kids.  Other second-wavers like NOFX, Green Day, and Bad Religion would develop a slick pop sheen to their punk rock core but Rancid refused to shave all of their rough edges off; the vocals were still gritty, and the songs could have still held their own at a show in the anarchic communes (maybe).  These songs were their lives; they were restless, a little aimless, and infused with a burning desire to do something.   

Where You'd Know It From:  "Ruby Soho", "Time Bomb" and "Roots Radical" were all hits on rock radio in the 90s.

Download It:


Track Listing:
1.  Maxwell Murder (1:25)
2.  The 11th Hour (2:28)
3.  Roots Radicals (2:47)
4.  Time Bomb (2:24)
5.  Olympia Wa. (3:30)
6.  Lock, Step & Gone (2:25)
7.  Junkie Man (3:04)
8.  Listed M.I.A. (2:22)
9.  Ruby Soho (2:37)
10.  Daly City Train (3:21)
11.  Journey To The End Of The East Bay (3:11)
12.  She's Automatic (1:35)
13.  Old Friend (2:53)
14.  Disorder And Disarray (2:49)
15.  The Wars End (1:53)
16.  You Don't Care Nothin' (2:28)
17.  As Wicked (2:40)
18.  Avenues & Alleyways (3:11)
19.  The Way I Feel (2:34)

("Ruby Soho")

("Time Bomb")

("Roots Radical")

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

#452 - "Meat Puppets II" - Meat Puppets

Released On:  SST Records, 1984

Meat Puppets II is an album that is simultaneously shitkicker music and music that will kick the shit out of you.  Songs like "Lost" and "Split Myself In Two" are just as much rooted in hardcore country-and-western traditions as they are in the anarchic spirit of hardcore punk.  The result is the perfect go-nowhere small-town punk album, music that makes you want to get drunk in the barn and crank it because your nearest neighbours are far, far away.  Kurt Cobain was very obviously a fan; three songs from Unplugged In New York, "Oh Me", "Plateau", and the funereal "Lake Of Fire", are included herein.  A lot of bands that would adopt the idea of "cowpunk" were largely NOFX-esque skater punk bands with a twang; the Kirkwood brothers actually got country, though, and realized that there was always a darkness hanging around at the edge of town.  Life was a black affair, and their adaptation of the 'poor white blues' incorporated this just as well as their mid-20th century influences did.

Where You'd Know It From:  Nirvana, again.  I'm sure most of the kids from the middle of the generation know about the band from Unplugged In New York.  

Download It:


Track Listing:
1.  Split Myself In Two (2:24)
2.  Magic Toy Missing (1:22)
3.  Lost (3:26)
4.  Plateau (2:22)
5.  Aurora Borealis (2:44)
6.  We're Here (2:43)
7.  Climbing (2:43)
8.  New Gods (2:12)
9.  Oh, Me (3:02)
10.  Lake Of Fire (1:57)
11.  I'm A Mindless Idiot (2:29)
12.  The Whistling Song (2:57)


("Oh, Me")

("Split Myself In Two")

Saturday, 18 June 2011

An Interesting Quandry...

That is, should I start sharing mediafire links for these albums?  On one hand, the links are already out there and interested parties could just search for them via Google anyway.  It would make the entries more complete, in my mind:  "Here's a blurb about the album, here's some YouTube links to give you an idea, if you like it here's the mediafire link to download it".  I suppose that if the album is available on iTunes I could put a "Buy It" link as well, right?  On the other hand, "insert corporate stooge ideology about piracy and hurting artists here".

Wow, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Time to edit some links.  Maybe I'll FINALLY get some comments up in this place...even if it's just "cease and desist".

Thursday, 16 June 2011

#453 - "Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts" - Matthew Good Band

Released On:  Independent (Later A & M Records), 1995

Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts is the best-selling independently released album in Canadian history.  The mid-1990s were a boom time for the Canadian recording industry; the alternative revolution in the U.S. translated into a huge burst of alternative-leaning rock bands from the North.  Canada's rock history consisted for the most part of ex-pats (like Neil Young or the Band), and the Guess Who.  Our bands in the 90s, lacking a solid national tradition, tended to ape American rock bands like the Smashing Pumpkins (Our Lady Peace), Built To Spill (treble charger) or Nine Inch Nails (Econoline Crush).  Matthew Good was a step apart from these others; he always sounded as though he were treading a path of honest-to-goodness original thought.  There was perhaps more than a little R.E.M. guitar work going on in most of these songs but the lyrics, the vicious delivery and the mood of tonal despair are all very much his own.  Not one electric guitar was used on the record, either; just an ex-folkie's acoustic guitars run through Marshall stacks that powered such propulsive attacks as the gigantic "Haven't Slept In Years".

Where You'd Know It From:  You're Canadian, and you grew up in the 90s.

Track Listing:
1.  Alabama Motel Room (3:18)
2.  Symbolistic White Walls (4:30)
3.  She's Got A New Disguise (6:17)
4.  Native Son (4:52)
5.  Vermilion (4:49)
6.  Every Name Is My Name (4:00)
7.  Haven't Slept In Years (3:23)
8.  Radio Bomb (3:09)
9.  Fearless (5:15)
10.  The War Is Over (7:56)
11.  (Omissions Of The Omen) (4:32)

Download It:  There's no mediafire link, so find it at your own discretion (you may have to download an entire discography, or, I don't know, just buy the album)


("Symbolistic White Walls")

("Alabama Motel Room")

("Haven't Slept In Years") (The Raygun EP version)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

#454 - "Wowee Zowee" - Pavement

Released On:  Matador Records, 1995

The sound of a hyper-literate, hyped-up American indie band reacting to fame by sprawling their genius all over a lengthy canvas.  After having a minor sort of hit with 1994's "Cut Your Hair", they retreated into their humble beginnings as messy art-rock sound collage.  There was still the melodic brilliance that made their first two full-lengths such instant classics; "Rattled By The Rush", "Motion Suggests Itself" and "Best Friend's Arm" are easy additions to the list of great rock songs Pavement has made.  It feels looser, though, with a lot more breezy jamming in the middle of songs and a lot of mid-song direction changes.  There are even tracks ("Brinx Job", "Serpentine Pad", "Flux = Rad") that feel like the band trying on other genres to see if they fit.  "Father To A Sister Of A Thought" contains some of the best countrified steel guitar I've heard outside of it's usual cliche settings.  When it came out, Rolling Stone tried to say that it was sprawling and experimental because Pavement was afraid of success; Stephen Malkmus counter-claimed that it was because they smoked a great deal of weed while they were recording it.  Rolling Stone also only gave it 2.5 stars, one of many reasons why RS is complete shit.

Where You'd Know It From:  Pavement were indie-famous in the 90s, meaning that hip know-it-alls with the time to read music magazines knew them and pretty much no one who listened to mainstream rock radio did. Still, they've been deified so much since they broke up the first time that you've probably seen them mentioned at least a few times.  There's even a Canadian teen's show that named one of the main characters after a Pavement song.

Track Listing:
1.  We Dance (3:01)
2.  Rattled By The Rush (4:16)
3.  Black Out (2:10)
4.  Brinx Job (1:31)
5.  Grounded (4:14)
6.  Serpentine Pad (1:16)
7.  Motion Suggests Itself (3:15)
8.  Father To A Sister Of A Thought (3:30)
9.  Extradition (2:12)
10.  Best Friend's Arm (2:19)
11.  Grave Architecture (4:16)
12.  AT & T (4:16)
13.  Flux = Rad (1:45)
14.  Fight This Generation (4:22)
15.  Kennel District (2:59)
16.  Pueblo (3:25)
17.  Half A Canyon (6:10)
18.  Western Homes (1:49)

("Best Friend's Arm")

("Rattled By The Rush")

("Father To A Sister Of A Thought")

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

#455 - "Hot Fuss" - The Killers

Released On:  Island/Universal/Mercury, 2004

If Interpol wanted to be Joy Division by way of The Cure, then the Killers were the mid-decade aftermath - New Order.  It was as bright and polished as one might expect from a band coming from Las Vegas, yet underneath that pop sheen and Eighties-Retro groove was a sense of sadness and resentment.  Not to harp on the obvious, but the Killers and New Order shared the same ideal:  bang-on pop songs that sound as if they could have been formed whole by a versificator that were also fucking downers.  To the casual listener they were good-time songs, pop hits to soundtrack nights at alterna-clubs, but it was always just an illusion to mask the real emotions:  the emotional toll that is taken by living and loving in Sin City.

Where You'd Know It From:  Any of it's four big singles.  Maybe you're one of the 3.4 million people in the U.S  (or the 300 000 from Canada?) that bought it.  Probably you've just heard it on the radio.

Track Listing:
1.  Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine (4:04)
2.  Mr. Brightside (3:42)
3.  Smile Like You Mean It (3:54)
4.  Somebody Told Me (3:17)
5.  All These Things That I've Done (5:01)
6.  Andy, You're A Star (3:14)
7.  On Top (4:18)
8.  Change Your Mind (3:11)
9.  Believe Me Natalie (5:05)
10.  Midnight Show (4:02)
11.  Everything Will Be Alright (5:45)

("Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine")

("Somebody Told Me")

("Mr. Brightside")

Monday, 13 June 2011

#456 - "Hello Nasty" - Beastie Boys

Released On:  Captiol Records, 1998

I vividly remember listening to the radio at one point when this album came out.  The local modern rock station ("London's Best Rock", FM96) had put "Intergalactic", the planet-destroying first single, into rotation, and this wasn't sitting well with some of the more belligerent listeners.  "I'm going to stop listening if you keep playing this rap crap" is what one winner actually said.  Suffice to say, it was on there for good reason; listener demographics and secret racism likely kept the vast majority of great hip-hop tracks off of rock radio but Hello Nasty was unstoppable.  It's a party that doesn't flag once, from the massive beat that starts off "Super Disco Breakin'" through to the appearance of Lee "Scratch" Perry on "Dr Lee, PhD".  It fit in perfectly with the Alternative Nation, too; witness the declaration on "Putting Shame In Your Game" about never being in an ad on television.

Where You'd Know It From:  You've heard it.  It was a freakin' #1 album.  Someone's played it, in their car, at a party, while hitting the bong.  You've at least heard "Intergalactic".  I mean, come on.

Track Listing:
1.  Super Disco Breakin' (2:07)
2.  The Move (3:35)
3.  Remote Control (2:58)
4.  Song For The Man (3:13)
5.  Just A Test (2:12)
6.  Body Movin' (3:03)
7.  Intergalactic (3:51)
8.  Sneakin' Out The Hospital (2:45)
9.  Putting Shame In Your Game (3:37)
10.  Flowin' Prose (2:39)
11.  And Me (2:52)
12.  Three MCs And One DJ (2:50)
13.  The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin') (3:01)
14.  Song For Junior (3:49)
15.  I Don't Know (3:00)
16.  The Negotiation Limerick File (2:46)
17.  Electrify (2:22)
18.  Picture This (2:25)
19.  Unite (3:31)
20.  Dedication (2:32)
21.  Dr. Lee, PhD (2:25)
22.  Instant Death (3:22)


("Super Disco Breakin'")

("The Negotiation Limerick File")

Saturday, 11 June 2011

#457 - "And Don't The Kids Just Love It" - Television Personalities

Released on Rough Trade, 1981

Before shambling/C86, there was Television Personalities, the first stable full-length by Daniel Treacy as his soon-to-be-permanent nom-de-rock.  Recorded on 4-track tape machines at the dawn of the generation, it fully spelled out what lo-fi would mean for every poor hip rock band to follow, as well as the future career of Art Brut.  The album is also quintessentially British.  "Jackanory Stories" named for a popular BBC children's show of the time, may as well be the bowler-hatted, Micheal Caine-looking geezer on the cover.  "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" is as sweet and addled as the man himself.  It was still essentially three-chord punk, but rooted firmly in the aesthetic of the Merseybeat.  Later, Treacy would release a number of albums that sold fairly well in Europe, develop a rather bad habit, and spend six years in another curiously Anglo construct, a prison ship.  This whole entry may as well be drinking tea right now.

This rather delightful article also posits that Treacy might be the shadowy brains behind another all-too-English band.
Where You'd Know It From:  You live in England, and/or you're a fan of obscure British rock bands.

Track Listing:
1.  This Angry Silence (2:39)
2.  The Glittering Prizes (3:01)
3.  World Of Pauline Lewis (2:38)
4.  A Family Affair (2:36)
5.  Silly Girl (2:49)
6.  Diary Of A Young Man (3:59)
7.  Geoffrey Ingram (2:15)
8.  I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives (2:34)
9.  Jackanory Stories (3:04)
10.  Parties In Chelsea (1:41)
11.  La Grande Illusion (3:33)
12.  A Picture Of Dorian Gray (2:13)
13.  The Crying Room (1:59)
14.  Look Back In Anger (2:40)

("This Angry Silence")

("I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives")
("Geoffrey Ingram")