Monday, March 2, 2009

The Witches- On Parade

Bizarre psych-pop band from Detroit, led by lead singer and songwriter Troy Gregory. The Witches don't play by any conventional rules here. The lines and music on most of the songs seem to come out in stream of consciousness rants about, usually, some type of love and madness. As much as I like this album, none of it makes much sense to me, though "who wants 2 sleep with the birthday grrrl" and "the invisible miserable people have reappeared" are very memorable, catchy stuff, like the Velvet Underground singing mid '70s AM pop songs on a sugar high (and no those aren't typos, even the song titles are messed up on this one). "on the haunted side of the house" closes out the album with a 4 minute random sampling of what sounds like someone channel surfing at 3 am, which actually sums up this platter quite nicely. Info in comments.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Willie Nile- Streets Of New York

Here is not just a great, but possibly classic album, especially considering it was made by a 57 year old rock veteran with more passion and intelligence in it than most younger artists will be able to muster in their entire careers. Nile has never made a record this good, or this accesible in his career. There isn't a bad track here, and certain ones (the opener "Welcome To My Head", the supreme jangling of "Best Friends Money Can Buy" and the phenomenal "Game Of Fools" would be hits in any just musical universe. While these songs are the catchiest, they don't form the albums core. That is found in the variation from track to track. "Back Home" channels Dylan circa Blonde On Blonde about as good as I have ever heard. "The Day I Saw Bo Diddley In Washington Square" is played as a catchy as hell Irish jig, which it's title wouldn't indicate at all. "Whole World With You" is a beautiful love song played as a hard rocker, and the next track "On Some Rainy Day" is just a beautiful love song. It's stunning how many great hooks and passionate songs are on this album, and it is certainly one of the best of the last 5 years, if not the entire decade. Info in comments.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Del-Lords- Frontier Days

Straight ahead Bronx rock n' rollers The Del-Lords were led by ex-Dictator Scott Kempner and featured Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Joan Jett's gutarist) on lead. This first release is roots rock through and through, dealing almost exclusively with the plight of the working man. Fortunately that is not as boring as it sounds. Opener "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live" is like rockabilly Woody Guthrie, and "Get Tough" is just a very solid rock song, which the Del-Lords have a knack for effortlessly pulling off. "I Play The Drums" is a clever ode to a working loser who hits the skins to escape his trouble, and "Mercenary" makes it clear they know their rock history (listen for the guitar line from another song about a man who lives a life of danger.) Put the real gem is "Double Life", the best, most melodic song here, and one of the only songs on the album to deal with a romantic relationship not in the context of economic hardship (and, I might add, sort of a preview of an even better song in this vein on their next album.) Frontier Days isn't quite as good as any of their next 3 albums, but is a solid start for a great, overlooked band. Info in comments.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Translator- No Time Like Now

I can't even say that I'm that enamored of this record to be honest, I'm just sort of fascinated by how run of the mill it is. Translator were a new wave guitar band located out of San Francisco,  this being their second release. On one hand, the first three songs "Un-done", "Beyond Today", and "I Hear You Follow" have enough early 80's guitar rock charm going to make them very enjoyable, but "Breakdown Barriers" and "L.A., L.A.", though not terrible songs, seem to break the overall mood of the first side of the record, which ends strongly with "I Love You." Side two is dominated by some good guitar work on 'Everything Is Falling" and the atmospheric "Simple Things." While by no means a classic, No Time Like Now is certainly worth a couple of listens, especially if you are a fan of early R.E.M. or Wire Train. Info in comments.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Pandoras- Stop Pretending

Star-crossed girl group from Los Angeles led by Paula Pierce, The Pandoras were a garage revival group through and through, though they weren't scared of crafting a nice hook now and then. Stop Pretending is their best effort, more hard rock oriented than their debut, and filled with much better songs.  Organ dominates garage rants like "You're All Talk" and "That's Your Way Out" though the real standouts are the hook-filled hard rock opener "In And Out Of My Life (In A Day)" and the slightly melodic title track. The Pandoras, in all their various incarnations, could never get along or keep a stable line-up together, and Pierce was the only glue that held the band together. Tragically, Pierce died suddenly in 1991. It's impossible to imagine that groups like The Donnas or Bikini Kill never ran across and loved The Pandoras, and since they rarely, if ever get credit as one of the great girl groups, we'll at least give them credit here. And Stop Pretending is a hell of a record. Info in comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

C-86 Casette

A somewhat legendary compilation cassette released by NME in 1986, it lended it's name to a whole genre of music, C-86, which basically boiled down to a sort of British jangle rock influenced alot by The Smiths, though not all the songs on this comp fit that description (Stump's "Buffalo" is just plain bizarre, The Shop Assistants "It's Up To You" is obviously inspired by the dream pop of The Cocteau Twins). That being said, those looking for a little rickenbacker action are going to be more than satisfied with songs like The Mighty Lemon Drops "Happy Head", The Pastels "Breaking Lines", Close Lobsters "Firestation Towers" and most of all, the fantastic (and ridiculously short) early Primal Scream track "Velocity Girl." All the songs have a almost palpable indie rock charm, the kind that almost doesn't exist anymore. Anyway, can't recommend this one enough. Info in comments.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Three O' Clock- Vermillion

For any Three O' Clock fans who have searched in vain for it, here is the infamous Vermillion. Long derided as being too commercial (no doubt due to Prince's involvement, as it was realeased on his Paisley Park label, included his slight but charming "Neon Telephone" and, honestly, sounds alot like his own Around The World In A Day) that's actually a crazy accusation, since The Three O' Clock could never have broken through to a wider audience. Most of this is due to the fact that that Michael Querico's voice, while a fantastic instrument to those who appreciate this kind of twee psychedelic power pop, was never going to allow this band to be altogether that commercially succesful. The complaints that it is overproduced don't resonate with me either, since anyone who has listened to this bands progression would logically assume they would eventually make a super slick pop record like this. And as that, it is quite wonderful. Also notable for the appearance of Jason Falkner (soon of Jellyfish). Highlights are the aforementioned "Neon Telephone" and the delightful, bouncy "When She Becomes My Girl." Info in comments.