Sure, it’s fun to listen to November Rain in its entirety before getting out of bed in the morning, but sometimes it’s nice to spice it up a little and add some variety to your stockade of Sad Bastard Music. I’m here for you.
:Modern Lovers – Girlfren: Do kids these days know about the Modern Lovers? They fucking should. They need to understand the beauty of a simple song that proposes that: I’d be happy if I could only have a girlfriend … not only that, but I’d be able to understand the true art of Cezanne and would better connect with the breathing city of Boston. If only. And kids – take note: it’s spelled “G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N.”
:The Mountain Goats – Autoclave: Crippling depression, dreams of death and destruction, perfect metaphors – this Mountain Goats song has it all. What a hook this is: “I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam And no one in her right mind would make my home her home” It has a beat and you can doubt your very core to it!
“How’d the date end? Horrible. How’d the date end? Deplorable.”
That Dr. Frank sure is a sweetheart.
:The Rentals – Say Goodbye Forever: “I’m in such a lonely place (It’s a lonely place) … And I could be forever (Goodbye)” 1999’s Seven More Minutes is a classic album and we’re so lucky to be alive while Matt Sharp has a NEW album on Polyvinyl Records entitled Lost in Alphaville that comes out August 26. First one in 15 years and yes there are still some sad bastard homeruns up his sleeve. That’s a promise. Preorder it HERE.
:Harry Nillson – She’s Leaving Home: This Lennon/McCartney gut-wrencher from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has the listener right there with the lonely runaway girl who’s setting out on her own to try and find happiness and we also get to peek into the crushed parents who will never understand what happened. The original song was played for Brian Wilson before Sgt. Peppers came out and it made him uncontrollably weep right then and there, which is no small feat – but I’ll argue that this Harry Nillson version is as much of a tearjerker if not more. And he does it without the trickery of that breathtaking string section. The Nillson covers appears on his 1967 record Pandemonium Shadow Show and paved the way for a greater friendship with the Beatles who eventually helped him get more and more fame and consequential money. If you haven’t seen the documentary WHO IS HARRY NILLSON AND WHY IS EVERYBODY TALKING ABOUT HIM – I highly recommend it.
:Dolly Parton – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright: One of Bob Dylan’s many timeless sad bastard tracks here has a jangly and Dolly-ized treatment that makes sense somehow. This song has been covered countless times by all sorts of musical greats over the years …. most recently by … ummm … gulp … Ke$ha. Yup – read it and weep. Let’s all just enjoy this Dolly version shall we?
The Divorcee project of Yoni Wolf (from Why?) and ex-girlfriend Anna Stewart is a fantastic EP out now on Joyful Noise Records. It’s full of tunes from fragments of a broken relationship. Yoni was able to sift thru tiny moments and feelings on various Why? albums, but here Stewart is able to as well.
“Living with you is like driving in the rain, I can’t see where I’m going but I still don’t press the brake.”
Using poetic lyrics and slivers of what was, the release is a successful victory for any couple, and doubly so for an ex couple. Yoni handles all of the beats on the record while Stewart heads up all things lyrical – so we have her to thank for name-dropping both Law & Order (created by Dick Wolf – no relation) and Woody Allen in this great song. Note: the colored vinyl is outta sight and limited to 400 copies … I snagged mine, make sure you do the same.
I you like what you read here and happen to live in Austin – you should come to NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music at the Volstead on September 16th where this sort of music will be played all night long and there is an abundance much kleenex.
Let’s close this month’s column with getting November Rain stuck in your head:
:Thurston Moore – The Best Day: While I would have preferred to get a another Chelsea Light Moving album, I’m still excited about a new Thurston Moore solo effort (his first since 2011′s Demolished Thoughts). This single is a spectacularly crafted piece of alt-rock. The Best Day is expected out on October 21 via Matador.
:Half Japanese – Our Love: I’ve really been loving the new Half Japanese tracks (listen to another one). What’s especially crazy is that they’ve been around for 40 years and haven’t put out an album since 2001′s Hello, and yet they still sound more hip and enthusiastic than most bands out there. Look for Overjoyed on September 2 via Joyful Noise.
:Deerhoof – Exit Only: Here’s a loud, wonderfully weird new one from the magnificent Deerhoof. Their albums are always a fun/intersting time, so I’m looking forward to the new one (13th overall, yeah?). La Isla Bonita is due out November 4 via Polyvinyl.
:Charli XCX – Break The Rules: And so we come full circle with the spiritual successor to Icona Pop’s I Love It arriving from the girl that was featured on it – Charli XCX. Consider me curious to see what else is on her upcoming LP. Sucker is due on October 22 via Neon Gold/Atlantic. See her at Emo’s on October 17.
Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album turned 10 earlier this year, and that just sort of weirds me out. I vividly remember scoffing at any sort of possible legal action, participating in Grey Tuesday and then sharing the album as much as I could (like all real outlaws and difference-makers did, right?).
What’s funny though, is that despite my fondness for the record and what I thought it meant to me, it wasn’t until recently that I actually realized how much I love The Grey Album. It’s definitely my favorite mashup of all time and I admire the enormous amount of work that Danger Mouse obviously put into it. No wonder he went on to be involved in so many rad projects – he’s a dedicated and brilliant fella. Anyhow, have fun revisiting The Grey Album.
A week ago I had no idea there was a band in Austin called Gloves, and now here I am premiering a video for them. Yes, our love has developed quickly, but it isn’t hard to explain – I just simply required no time at all to become rather attached to their really catchy, dance punk-enthused single, Hot Checks, and the hypnotizing video that was crafted for it. I can’t wait to check out the rest of the band’s debut full length, Get It Together, which should be out at some point later this year. Enjoy.
PS – Let’s all get together soon and watch them play. Their upcoming shows are listed here.
Rockpile were not just an extension of the pub rock established by Brinsley Schwarz (see my column on them here) in the early 70’s. The group would undoubtedly play an integral role in the UK new wave/punk scheme being hatched in the mid to late ‘70’s in England by creating music that was shrouded in tradition yet written/recorded/performed with abandon.
The Rockpile name originated in 1971 with the release of Edmunds’ first solo album aptly titled Rockpile. The album contained Edmunds’ #1 UK single from 1970 – a cover of the Smiley Lewis original, I Hear You Knocking. Edmunds put together a band to tour the album and high-charting single under the name Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, but the band broke up shortly after tour. The band included former Man and Love Sculpture drummer Terry Williams. Interestingly, the backing track for I Hear You Knocking was first intended as a cover of the Wilbert Harrison original Let’s Work Together but Edmunds was beat to it by Canned Heat. Edmunds then tailored the arrangement to suit Lewis’ song and had a hit.
With the Brinsleys’ demise glaringly evident, Edmunds and Lowe soon joined forces on the 1975 album Subtle as a Flying Mallet. Brinsley Schwarz would make an odd appearance as Edmunds’ backing band on the same album for two Chuck Berry numbers, No Money Down and Let It Rock, before dissolving completely in ‘75. Edmunds would also produce Terminal to the Taxi Zone by Ducks Deluxe this same year.
1976 found Edmunds and Lowe beginning work on what would become the classic Jesus of CoolLP. Though not released until 1978, these sessions would create a tight-knit unit that would come to be known as Rockpile – featuring Edmunds and Lowe as well as Terry Williams and guitarist Billy Bremmer. Stiff Records was founded at this time and Nick Lowe was the first artist signed to the now famed label. Though the label promoted Lowe’s ties to Edmunds, Edmunds would sign to Led Zeppelin label Swan Song due to a rocky relationship with Stiff co-founder and Lowe manager Jake Riviera. 1976 also saw Rockpile opening for Bad Company, Edmunds producing the power pop staple Shake Some Action by The Flamin’ Groovies and Lowe releasing the first ever single for Stiff with So It Goes.
Released in 1977, Get It would be Edmunds’ first album for Swan Song and featured an early incarnation of Rockpile (Lowe/Edmunds/Williams) as well as songs co-penned by both Lowe and himself. The album also featured songs written by Lowe, Graham Parker, as well as country funk giant Jim Ford’s tune Ju Ju Man – first covered by Brinsley Schwarz in 1972.
Lowe would also release the first EP ever for Stiff Records in ‘77 with Bowi. The title was a quip at David Bowie’s 1976 album called Low. Lowe thought it only natural to return the favor to Bowie, without the e, just as Bowie had done with his release.
The release of Nick Lowe’s now classic Jesus of Cool (released as Pure Pop for Now People in the US) in 1978, first credited Rockpile on both the live recording of Heart of the City and the studio version of They Called It Rock. The album also contains yet another Jim Ford composition in 36 Inches High and the irreverent Lowe/Edmunds tune Little Hitler.
On the other hand, Edmunds’ Tracks on Wax 4 was the first full blown album to feature all four members of Rockpile for its duration. Bremmer penned two of the songs on the album under the surname Billy Murray, including the killer Trouble Boys (later covered by Thin Lizzy), and Heart of the City has the same backing track as Lowe’s cut on Jesus of Cool, only with Edmunds on vocals. This year also marked Rockpile backing former Legend frontman Mickey Jupp on his 1978 solo Stiff LP titled Juppanese and Edmunds producing Now by The Flamin’ Groovies.
In 1979, Rockpile simultaneously recorded Edmunds’ Repeat When Necessary and Lowe’s Labour of Lust at Eden Studios in London. The BBC filmed during the recording of both albums, creating a one hour documentary special in 1979 called Born Fighters.
Labour of Lust led off with the US hit Cruel To Be Kind – a song co-written by Lowe and former Brinsley bandmate, Ian Gomm. The tune was originally recorded by Brinsley Schwarz for an album called It’s All Over Now in 1975 but Schwarz broke up and the song was never officially released until 1978 as the B-side to Lowe’s Little Hitler single. Labour of Lust also included a cover of Mickey Jupp’s Switchboard Susan and the Rockpile collab Love So Fine.
After multiple appearances, including the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the Heatwave rock festival in 1980, Lowe and Edmunds had begun to have had enough and Rockpile disbanded by 1981. The only other official Rockpile release came posthumously in 2011 and is a live recording of their performance at Montreaux in 1980. The album includes a phenomenal live rendition of Jim Ford’s Ju Ju Man that features the strength of each member of the band in their top form.
In preparation for the release of his upcoming album, Primitives, Roger Sellers would like to remind you that he is not a DJ. He is a musician/producer/songwriter who crafts an eclectic range of songs and sounds from a variety of instruments – guitar, banjo, drums, electronic loops and samples. His performances range from solo sets (switching from acoustic instruments to the electronic set-up that gave the impression that he was a DJ) to a full band. As described on his Bandcamp page, “imagine folk -dance-americana-electric-symphonic fusion.” All of the disparate elements seem to effortlessly blend together both in live performances and recorded songs.
Primitives will be released on September 27 (a release show at Cheer Up Charlie’s is also set for that date) via the Austin-based Punctum Records. Check out the first single below!
Following the release of the album, Roger plans to do a three week West Coast tour, and in order to make that happen, he’s looking to fans for their help and support. There’s an Indiegogo campaign currently taking place with 10 days remaining and perks for contributors include downloads of Primitives as well as his previous albums and more. Funds raised will go towards tour expenses along with hiring for press to help get the word out. Anyone that contributes to the campaign gets entered to win two passes to Utopia Festival this September; if he makes his goal, he will have a thank you performance upon his return from tour for anyone that can make it. He is also encouraging fans and friends to spread the word about the fundraiser campaign even if they can’t make a financial contribution.
I became a fan after his 2012 release, 8 Songs, and was fascinated at how adept he was at alternating between his different musical personalities and styles; he has the talent and grace to make it work and stand out.
Spray Paint are an Austin based no wave punk band that draws comparisons to The Fall, Wire, Gang of Four and early Sonic Youth. The trio, Cory Plump and George Dishner on guitars with Chris Stephenson on drums, are local music vets having played in such bands as When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, Dikes of Holland and Expensive Shit.
Since forming in early 2012, Spray Paint have attracted considerable attention for its distinctive style. In 2013 they released not one but TWO full albums, each of which received considerable and well deserved praise. The band also played a number of high profile shows like Fun Fun Fun Fest, Chaos in Tejas, Gonerfest, and SXSW while also touring with the equally brilliant Protomartyr.
In a few months the band flies to Europe for their first international tour in support of their new album, Clean Blood, Regular Acid. The record will be available via Monofonus Press on September 23. The album maintains their trademark noisey but melodic post-punk sound as evidenced by the first single, Rust Versus Rust. It’s a droney, panicky track with shouty vocals and nervy guitar. It’s unlike any other track I’ve heard in some time and easily one of the year’s best.
For those in the Austin area, you have two upcoming chances to see Spray Paint live – 8/23 at Beerland and/or 9/19 at Hotel Vegas. Don’t miss out.
The last two Interpol albums didn’t do anything for me at all (hell, I don’t even remember what singles were on them), but that’s not keeping me from being both excited and curious about the upcoming El Pintor. It’s going to be rad! I think. Probably.
In any case, the follow-up single to All The Rage Back Home (a track that has been a favorite of mine for about a month) has been set upon the world. Check out the nicely textured track below. Enjoy.
:Tennis – I’m Callin’: I can’t say I ever expected Tennis to go full-on AAA pop, but here they are doing exactly that. I like it, but it does feel a bit thin and I’m curious to see if I’ll tire of it quickly or if it’ll stick with me like so many of their previous efforts. Ritual In Repeat is due out September 9 via Communion.
:Saint Pepsi – Fall Harder: Saint Pepsi has transitioned from being a producer (remixer? masher upper?) to turning out really catchy pop tunes, and I’m digging it. I hope he (Ryan DeRobertis) has more of the same on the way. The Fiona Coyne/Fall Harder single is out now via Carpark.
:Ex Hex – Beast: I feel like it’s taking an eternity for the Ex Hex album to come out. I need it! Mary Timony is the best and I just want to ride around in my car and blast a bunch of hooky pop rock tunes like this one. Rips is due out October 7 via Merge.
:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb: Even if you’re not a big fan of Ty Segall, you at least have to appreciate the way he non-stop churns out albums. I guess downtime isn’t really his thing. Anyhow, this track is rad and riffy. Manipulator will be released on August 26 via Drag City. See Ty at the Mohawk on September 5.
Since SOTO debuted a new Letting Up Despite Great Faults song on Tuesday and will be be partly presenting the Austin act’s album release show at Holy Mountain this Saturday, it only makes sense that I also make them the subject of this week’s Throwback Thursday. So, let’s jump back to October 27, 2009, which is the first time that the then LA-based LUDGF made an appearance here on the site. The song highlighted that day was In Steps, the fantastic opening number (or side one, track one … if you will) off of the band’s self titled debut, and I still dig it now as much as I did then. If you love dreamy electronic tunes that are best devoured while wearing headphones, then the rest of that LP will please your ears. Give it a listen!
There is a decidedly picnic feel to Marissa Deitz and Chace Wall’s The Vale. As if the recently married duo had packed themselves a lunch of hard cheeses and crusty bread and set off to some provincial hill looking down over the streets of San Francisco. Or perhaps, as they mounted their ancestral horse and carriage a wall of ominous looking clouds settled in front of the sun and the light peaks of Deitz’s voice seemed to gain an air of melancholy. But just as they arrived, rain battering their windows, the sun and the harp-like guitar and the folksy bit of melody, suddenly burst through the storm. Somebody might’ve said something about “angels.” There’s a delicate nature to the music of The Vale, an almost lace-like combination of folk and pop and even a hint of classical that somehow manages to cling together, sweet and simple and absolutely beautiful.
The Valley Forge are an emerging Austin-based trio. Their bio describes their sound as Americana, but I also hear a little bit of powerpop in their latest single, New Times. It also reminds me of late 80s albums like REM’s Document and Guadalcanal Diary’s 2 x 4 – foreboding yet hopeful with driving, pounding drums, raw vocals mixed with soaring harmonies, and jangly guitar riffs with a hint of Southern twang. They released their first EP, American Men, in November of last year, and now they’re putting out a follow-up EP, Second Blood.
The EP’s release will be celebrated this Saturday at the Blackheart. You’ll be able to pick up a copy of Second Blood at the show!