If you go here you can download a free live show of William Elliot Whitmore. If you recall this blog post I spoke very highly of this man and his newest album Animals in the Dark which I recommend to no end. If that were not enough for you, Whitmore did a second session over at Daytrotter. He covers “Don’t Prey on Me” a Bad Religion song from Recipe for Hate penned by Anti records label head Mr. Brett who was smart enough to sign my Whitmore. The first session is available here.
Also, Pitchfork is getting funny. Or at least more funny in a haha sense these days. First they have a great story about some band called Wavves (that is not me misspelling the name either) having a meltdown in Barcelona. I enjoyed this story on a personal level as I too once had a meltdown on stage (well it was at a roller rink) in Ocean City many years ago. Musicians are stupid.
Also they are currently hosting a video by a metal band called Children. The guitar shredding is pretty awesome, but the lack of bassist leaves something to be desired. However the video is pretty awesome. Not quite as rad as Mastadon’s “Divinations” video that I told you about. But it’s pretty cool. Peep it below.
So that’s what I have for you this week and today. Expect a review of the new album by Paleface soon and a new feature that I hope to call “Song of the Week” where I talk about a song that I obsess over. Oh yea and I will be working on a post about albums I bought because I read an article about the group or performer or whatever. Hope you are awesome.
Cage’s album from 2005, Hell’s Winter scared and impressed the hell out of me. Chris Palko weaved his way through a harsh, dystopian sounding album of a personal hell of abuse, institutionalism and drug use that made hip hop turn it’s cheek. It was a violence that was a far cry from gang banging bullshit that went from being telling white America what was up as a way to sell records and put no talent ass clowns all over MTV, replete with women in bikini’s and dollar bills “raining” from the sky. While Hell’s Winter may not be It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back it was a far more personal and self realized album then Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.
Since then it seems Cage went way underground. The promise of his follow up Depart from Me seemed to be pushed back and pushed back with a lot of secrecy and not much in the way of pre-release material that Def Jux, the mega underground label that Cage calls home, is known for letting out. So when news that he would be prefacing the new album with a free download EP came this winter I was stoked.
At five songs and just 16 minutes Cage does a lot on I Never Knew You. It’s got the slow dark and dirty coming at you with the title track. It’s got a fucked up party song closing it out with “It’s the 80’s Again”. It’s got scrary, stalker lyrics, it’s got hopelessness and loss. It packs a bite for 16 minutes and it definitely leaves you wanting more. Cage, a master of making his listener salivate, cock teases you quickly, and leaves you breathless, blue balls and all.
Cage has the distinct misfortune of releasing an album after Aesop Rock and El-P both released some of their best and most left field work to date. And for me Cage has always seemed like the little brother or cousin tagging along with the big boys. He’s got the talent like those around him and maybe he has to overcompensate because he’s not getting his due, but I Never Knew You shows Cage growing into his own. He may not spit fire like Aesop Rock and he may not have the obsessive production skills as El-P, but he does have a wild imagination and through his almost calm, yet disturbingly easy delivery Cage is poised to deliver 2009’s best hip hop album.
In a world full of T.I.’s and T. Payne’s and Lil Wayne’s and auto-tuning bullshit trying to sound like emotional robots Hip Hop badly needs Cage to step up and scare the fuck out it’s constituents. The flannel clad, Kurt Cobain looking white boy seems to be raps least unlikely unsung hero, but if hip hop keeps letting sand bagging crying as rich boys like Kanye keep ruling it’s course, it’s gonna look like shit. Cage is gonna shove coal in your mouth and punch you in the ear, but when you finally come to, your gonna thank him for it.
I did not intend for this to happen. But there is a bit of a story here. I was at work last Friday (not this most recent Friday). Things had slowed down, included in that was my brain. I was thinking about the world and music and some how my mind wondered over to the new NOFX album Coaster. This was a fairly unusual thought to be having on a Friday night, except that I had recently read that FAT WRECK CHORDS were cutting prices on CD’s to $10.00. So somehow I decided that spending ten dollars on a CD was worth it to listen to a band I hadn’t checked in with since the 90’s. This is what we do in this country. We spend the money we earn on shit we don’t need and there are two things I can say about the new NOFX album. #1 is I certainly don’t need it. I own Punk in Drublic. Frankly I don’t need any other pop punk album other then that because the genre was perfected upon this records release in 1994. #2 is that yup, this is a NOFX record. It’s got power chords, that signature bass sound, rapid blast beats and lyrics that are, sadly getting increasingly less intelligent and worth while.
This isn’t to say there aren’t some highlights. One of them is that the album is only 12 songs. Coaster never gets over burdened in repetition, at least not any more then pop punk can. And no doubt the first four tracks are strong. It seems over the years that Fat Mike has gotten a bit more “politically minded” (never mind the fact that Propgandhi is no longer on the label and that rocking just against Bush isn’t really exploring all options, but I digress). So “We Call it America” comes as a bit of a surprise from a dude that wrote “Liza and Louise” and so many sequels to that male fantasy of the lesbian experience story. He also tackles, for perhaps the first time, something personal with “My Orphan Year” which is a pretty fantastic song musically and somehow endearing despite Fat’s gross out humor and drug addled topics that litter the album and the history of the band. Hearing Fat Mike sing about the death of his parents and getting personal on a NOFX album for the first time is refreshing.
After that it’s down hill. “Creeping out Sara” just feels awkward as Fat Mike pontificates about a drug induced meeting with Sara from Tegan and Sara. The line “This Jew knows about the Juno’s” has to be one of the worst lines ever etched in a song by anyone. Yes, I get it, it’s supposed to be funny. And I do appreciate that NOFX has always tried to add some humor to their music, but this just isn’t really that insightful. So when you add in songs like “The Quitter” and “I AM an Alcoholic” and drag out all the other instances when the band is getting drunk and high you realize that perhaps NOFX has lost that creative edge they once had. And while I appreciate the Atheist sentiments of songs like “Blasphemy (The Victimless Crime)” and “Best God in Show” somehow I think the grand argument could do with out these entries. While I certainly agree with the message, the delivery just falls short for me.
Also, and this has to be said, there are no EL HEFE songs on this album. What the fuck guys? I am in need of the Hef here. There is something about those reggae inspired jams, complete with trumpet that just seems to be a defining aspect of NOFX. Without that stuck haphazardly in the middle of the album I get fatigue. By the time we hit track 7, “Eddie, Bruce and Paul” which is probably the strongest track on the album I seem to loose interest. Which is probably okay because the album just continues with more of the same.
The upside to all of this is that I have revisited much of the NOFX back catalog from yesteryear. I also don’t want NOFX to go away. For all the problems they illicit, I feel that if a band like this can survive for over 25 years now, that maybe punk rock and the sub genre of pop punk has a shot. Because pop punk music, while juvenile and often appealing to the lowest common denominator of my musical intellect is fun as shit to listen to and bounce of the walls with. That NOFX still wants to provide this for a new crop of snotty nosed, doe eyed 15 year old boys makes me feel a little better about the world. Yea, I wish they would do a slightly better job (The Ergs and Dillinger Four come to mind), but you can’t ask a 15 year old boy to grow up when they are 42.
It’s always flattering when a band uses your work. Especially when it’s a band yr really hyped on. Go see them if they are playing your town.
Here at Franconia Station we pride ourselves on giving you dear reader links to free/donation based music from time to time. Well here I am again for you dear readers. Hopefully you checked out Mike Hale last time. If you haven’t, you should. It’s a very descent release and a song on it may end up on my top 5 for the year.
So the other day I had this dream that involved Indie Rock Goddess Juliana Hatfield. The dream was weird as fuck but I took it as a sign and went to the local used CD store and picked up any and all used albums of Ms. Hatfield’s available. They happened to be her debut Hey Babe and her most recent How to Walk Away. Anyway, all this Hatfield got me thinking and I checked out her web site. It seems Ms. Hatfield offers a lot of music on there for donations. So, for the first time ever since Radiohead, I donated $5. I downloaded all the songs available (as opposed to her suggested price of .99). I have not listened to any of them yet so I can’t speak to them, but if you are at all interested in what the pop princess has been up to, go hook her up. (as an aside I just want to publicly propose to the Ms. Hatfield and let her know that I can play bass in her backing band but will not, under any circumstances impede on her creative process. Were talking backing band only. So you know, just throwing it out there.)
So the decision to pay for Juliana’s music led me to think of all the great music I have copped for free at Quote Unquote Records over the last few years. So I was feeling guilty at this point and headed on over there to make a pay-pal donation. Happy I was to find that Bomb The Music Industry! has released there first singles collection Others Others Volume 1. So I dropped another five dollars through Paypal and downloaded the awesomeness. So, please, I urge you now, if you haven’t checked out this fun loving band, please do so NOW!
Finally, my day of web surfing brought me to Liza Kate. Liza Kate makes songs on her guitar down in Richmond that I love so much. She has a new album coming out on Holiday for Quince records in about a week or so. In the meantime you may get yourself acquainted with Ms. Kate by downloading a seven song live set hosted by RVA News. Once you hear that order her new CD from the label that loves you the most this year.
So that’s all for now folks. If you can give to these artists that offer music, do like I finally did and hook it up. I know you can’t always do it, but try to chip in as much as you can. These people work hard and it’s kinda awesome.
Most times I go to shows these days I am the oldest person in the room, often by a decade and sometimes more. I mean really, BOMB THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? They’re great, but apparently that’s music for the kids who still have some faith. It’s become sadly apparent that my crowd is becoming more and more of the shows at Iota in Arlington, Virginia and this show was certainly no exception. Of course, now at the ripe ol’ age of 32, I was on the younger side of that bell curve and that always makes me feel giddy, but also a little sad. Let me tell you why.
If you are not aware, John Doe is a living legend. He is a learned song writer in his own right, first with his many many years in X (how do you not know this?) and then of course his fantastic solo out put. He may very well be the first rock musician that can be put on the same level as guys like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard (to name of few) when it comes to the quality of his song writing. Song writing that has always been informed by country music. On his new album, and at this fine show at Iota he now pays homage to the genre.
Like every John Doe show I go to see, it’s in conjunction with a new album. In this case it is [i]Country Club[/i], the new Yep Roc release he bashed out with The Sadies. This album is largely made of deep cut country songs, tunes that a true and learned country aficionado would know. They are songs I remember vaguely from my childhood, driving to Placer County with my father to go to his store. At Iota, John Doe and the Sadies ripped through a good chunk of the recorded album. For me the highlights were “Stop the World and Let Me Off,” Merle Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over for Good” and “It Just Dawned On Me” penned by Doe and former partner Exene Cervenka.
The night also included some great songs penned by The Sadies for which Dallas Good’s amazing range penetrated the room. Standing on stage with a man of Doe’s stature the Sadies more then kept their own and were probably the most proficient backing band Doe has had to date.
While it seems the peers of my age group are off having children and getting boring, I see now that the future for me is a life time surrounded by old, gray haired dudes hanging out on Friday nights in smoke free bars with polo shirts tucked into jeans. These grown ups, who are so regimented by there time at the office can’t even break free in their “leisure time” to literally let the shirt tails hang out. John Doe somehow makes that okay. He started out as a rebel and now exists on the fringes of mainstream. X will play at the 9:30 club in a few weeks and I am sure there will be more people my age and even younger in attendance. And while it thrills me to no end that X can still captivate the masses, I feel they are missing out on John Doe. He writes songs and plays music to an even finer degree then he did when he was bashing it out with X. While you can’t beat a sell out crowd, no matter the size and the intimacy of Iota lends it self to fantastic experience, John Doe deserves more respect then he’s getting. But the bottom line is, he’s one of the best out there today.
I have been listening to an inordinate amount of Team Dresch the last few days. This is a good thing. Any regular reader to this blog (of which it is said there is only on average one reader per blog, and that is the writer, but I don’t have time to read this shit) should have a pretty good idea of how important I find Team Dresch. Today, as I was walking to my car I had a fantasy where in all the songs they released on singles were suddenly remixed and remastered and released on CD by Kill Rock Stars (Tobi Vali if you are reading this, or if someone who IS reading this knows her, TAKE NOTE). Then I could properly listen to Hand Grenade (which I was happy to find featured on the film The Itty Bitty Titty Committee) (here I go with the parenthesis again) on my iPod since my vinyl copy of all their singles I have suck and can not properly be converted digitally.
I’ve also really gotten into The Kills lately. Allison Moshart from my beloved Discount is the singer of this band. When they first kicked out the jams in 2003 I couldn’t really get on the band wagon. But now, for whatever reason I get it and really like the fuck out of this band. I just bought Keep on Your Mean Side today. Allison is a spot on vocalist and she has such an awesome, vintage delivery on this album. It’s weird though because she does sound so much different then she did in Discount, but unsurprisingly, no less vital.
My original thought as I was driving home tonight and thinking about all of this was to sort of talk about how influential and important the women of these two bands are to me. I am not sure if my brain can handle it as it responds to the pain shooting from my bank, but I will give it a try. Allison, for her contributions in Discount and now the Kills is that of an artist that, to me exists in a different world. She speaks in a unique language not unlike the chaotic art work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It’s crafted from a connection to the world around her that taps in at different channels then the rest of us. As for Team Dresch, well what can be said about four women who get together and make art out of sheer need. Everything they say, weather it’s something that I have experience directly, or ideas that seem to make sense, just resonates with me so deeply. I really truly don’t know what type of person I would be without Personal Best and I suggest every one pick it up.
I will end this hopeless post by stating that I am seeking the following:
any albums by Jonathan Fire Eater
The Pee Tanks Pro Fun 7″ (still) and Picnic with your Mom (actual cd, I have several back up copies of this)
Anything you would think I might be into.
Hope you are well