Obligatory “I’m Alive” Post!!

Hey, I was pretty regular there for a while!

Times were good. I’d buy albums. People would send them to me. I’d write words about them. I’d put them on WordPress every week. But times change. I buy albums. People take their sweet time sending me vinyl with no mp3 download codes. My record player’s power cord disappeared without a trace. You know the drill…

How does a record player power cord disappear?

That’s not the only excuse. But it’s a good one. Also, I’d have to find the time to rip all these from vinyl. And I’m getting married, so officially ALL of my discretionary income is going to savings. So, you know who pays? You, the free web consumer, that’s who!

I used to have an official stance where I’d only review music I had purchased. During this time of austerity, I’m bending this rule. Bands may send me music. This isn’t going to happen, so don’t expect a flood of reviews.

But DO expect year end lists! All the other ones are wrong. Mine are right! Also, some reviews. My will is often tested. For example, I just signed up for the big Singles Going Home Alone Matador singles club again for next year.

Hey, they’re only doing 750 subscriptions!

Lock Down This Rock – 21 – Radar Eyes/Self Titled

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

Hey Bands, and Labels,

I’d review more of you faster, if you sent purchases out in a timely manner! Otherwise Gordon Lightfoot dominates my iPod. You don’t want to lose out to Gordon Lightfoot, do you? Consider yourself duly warned!

So here’s an album from a prompt label… Radar Eyes. And yes, they have much more going on than fulfillment skills. Lots of warm, fuzzy psychedelia Sometimes the melody gets lost in the wash of feedback, but I understand that’s sometimes how it goes when one lets go of the reigns. I particularly enjoy the song about being high and puppies. I think it succinctly summarizes Radar Eyes’ worldview.

One track, ‘Disconnection’, sounds like if J Spaceman woke up after 3 days with nothing in his room but pillows, the remains of crushed pills, a hooka filled with the resin of some exotic, powerful herb, and a master tape of the song.

And one more observation. If the name of your band isn’t Jethro Tull, I’m not sure you can use the phrase “In the shuffling madness…” in a song. Can you? I dunno. Maybe I should try?

Check ’em out!!


I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

Music done run out!

That’s the problem with art. By nature it defies quantifiable measurements. Sometimes you find stuff you like, sometimes you don’t. It’s like fishing. And chaos.

Don’t worry, another payday approaches. Meanwhile, I’m studying deep cuts of The Clean for recording inspiration, and relying on Redd Kross and Mind Spiders to transport me anywhere in the world that isn’t sitting on mass transit. Happy places that are devoid of desperately unhappy people and pee smell.

Also, I missed out on this first Grinderman album the first time around. At the time I was obsessed with the second one. Rock and roll is becoming an old man’s game. For once in my life, maybe I’ll be in the right place at the right time!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 19 – Dum Dum Girls/End of Daze

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

Why aren’t Extended Players more popular?

You’ve heard me reference that a common failing of most albums put out in to the world is the 7th song slump. The band front loads the disk with their best songs, and once you’ve passed the mid point, the steam begins to peter out. That’s where the mid temp, half formed songs go. The Hail Mary’s that don’t connect. The filler before the hopefully strong ending number(s).

With an EP, you get rid of all of that cruft. But the market clings to the album model, even in this age of post material product. Perhaps it’s the value add of MORE SONGS.

Enough rambling. More Dum Dum Girls.

I do enjoy the Dum Dum Girls. There’s a lot of catty, backstabby gossip about the band out in the wild, but I quite like their girl band worship. Giant, lush, reverb drenched pop. There’s a real world story arc behind their last few releases that reflect a mother’s sickness, death, and in this End of Daze EP, closure. That is to say these songs are structured from sad to happy.

And at the end, I want more. Maybe that’s why people don’t buy EPs.

Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 18 – Nude Beach/II

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

What can you say about a band that writes Tom Petty songs, and then sings them like The Boss?

Yes, I realize that last sentence was horribly reductive in a way that only the most hacky of the hack music critics indulge in. But what happens when it’s true? Should I ignore it completely? Go out of my way to pretend the blatant influences that are worn like retro leather bomber jackets don’t exist? But how can I when you sing the word “Baby” like that? What am I to do with you Nude Beach?

Well, I’m an Elephant -in-the-room kinda guy. So there the pachyderm is, right on their album II. Tom Petty fronted by Springsteen. Well crafted jangle pop with some earnest wailing, and a stack of Byrds records.

And none of the above is a criticism. I bought the vinyl, after all. With all the cookie cutter freak folk, and tepid garage* overexposing the wells I draw from, it’s a welcome change. I will say that I’m a much bigger fan of the upbeat singles than the mid-tempo numbers. Wield those hooks, boys! Wield them like two-handed swords!

Check ’em out!!

*Obviously, there’s good stuff in these genres, but the wannabes are currently driving the bus into the lake.

Lock Down This Rock!! – 17 – I Like New Stuff!!

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

I’m into uncovering bright, new, shiny gems. My friend Rich is into digging deep in the past to uncover tarnished, old, vintage gems. Who knows why I do things the way that I do, but I’m guessing that in this case the key is: context.

Music is new once (pretty deep, eh?). The times in which we live set up a unique context. Years add history, lore, and mythology. And those are fine. But there is magic in freshly baked music, still warm enough to melt butter.

That being said, here’s what stuff I’ve been listening to that isn’t current:

  • REM – The IRS albums (mostly Document, Reckoning, and Fables Of The Reconstruction): For many years, I held that Murmur, and the greatest hits Eponymous, was all you needed until Green came around. My friend Art maintained that I couldn’t be more wrong. I see what he’s getting at. There’s lots of deep cuts just as rewarding as the hits. Damn, those guys pumped out quality.
  • Guided By Voices – Get Out Of My Stations: Rarely a week goes by that I don’t listen to GBV.
  • Melvins – Houdini: They don’t riff like this anymore. Unless you’re the Melvins. Another band that has kept the quality level up over the years. When they’re not trying to sound like a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
  • The Lawn – What is the Sound Of…: Don’t front. There’s no way you know this band. The world’s loss. Syd Barrett by way of loopy, psychedelic prog. Reunion please!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 16 – White Wires/WWIII

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

I should just give up the battle. I play “punk” music, right? Everyone plays punk music. All music is punk music. The word embodies a very strict set of rules the includes AND excludes all bands.

So yeah, saying White Wires is a punk band is a completely useless descriptor. I’d say that underground, hook-filled rock is better. Not much, but at least it presents a ballpark to reside in.

I came around to the White Wires. Here’s a peek into my particular music mania: during the week, I listen to several different internet radio stations, and jot down tracks for further investigation. Come payday, I investigate. For the White Wires, I passed the first time around. Then I heard them live on the Cherry Blossom Clinic with Terre T on WFMU. Changed my mind. They have a great attitude.

What does attitude have to do with anything? Sometimes everything.

I love it when a band is overjoyed with the music their playing. According to the mission statement that came with the vinyl, WWIII was conceived to be their big pop album, with hooks, and guitar, and singles, and everything. The White Wires are just happy to be here, and just happy to be playing their songs. That’s infectious.

Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 15 – Redd Kross/Researching the Blues

I am guilty of many crimes. One of which is not liking the right bands.

Are there ‘right’ bands to enjoy? I find myself fascinated with the bands I should like. The Pavements* of the world. The Roxy Musics**. The Spoons***. All of these bands should be in my wheelhouse. In theory. But only leave me cold. Why can’t I love the Replacements****? People with the same taste in music, people whom I respect, they love them unequivocally. It must be my problem.

As a result, I’ll revisit a Clash***** from time to time. This time around it’s the new album by Redd Kross. To my surprise, I liked half of it! That’s the half I’m going to talk about.

I have a theory about the musical Rosetta Stone. It’s the one song that allows you to suddenly decode a band’s output. More on that later. Much more. But on this album, that song is Choose to Play. It’s a fantastic bit of distilled, euphoric power pop. I think it’s the euphoria that elevates my favorite songs on this album. Almost psychedelic in it’s scope. The songs without this I skip.

Also interesting about this album, is that the good songs are bottom loaded. Most bands cram them at the beginning, and then lose steam after the midpoint. Maybe I don’t know what the goods songs really are?

So yeah, check it out!! But I doubt that I needed to tell you, the world, that. You’re already clued in.

**The Hell you Say!
****Heresy!! Burn the Heretic!!
*****Against God and Nature!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 12 – Mind Spiders/Meltdown

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

What is a Mind Spider?

I’m not quite sure. But from piecing together referencers from the songs on this album, I can safely say that it’s some manner of invisible creature that invades the brain, causing an elevated state of rock consciousness.

So, I played this at game night, and Rich said it sounded “retro”. Which is an interesting choice of words in these times. Nostalgia always has a place in the music underground. Bands longing for musical genres and individual bands long since forgotten by everyone else… these are the building blocks of scenes. These days, “garage rock” is a movement. I have bands in my collection that sound like they swept the cutting room floor of the James Gang. Or Sabbath. Or The Sonics. Circle of life.

I’m not saying this is bad or good. I’m just sayin’.

Back to the Mind Spiders and their album Meltdown. They start off by proclaiming that us, the listener, are dead. And then proceed on to fastidiously power garage-y pop, with nu-wave flourishes. Nu-wave is code for keyboards.

Here’s the thing with keyboards in bands: often disappointing. The curse of the rock keyboardist is that they must find a place in every song. And much like the dreaded saxophone, keyboards simply don’t fit in every rock song. Luckily for the Mind Spiders, the keyboards are never out of place. Even the throw-away final track is jaunty. I like jaunty.

I find this album solid. It may lose a little steam near the end, but that’s endemic for the medium.

Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 11 – Young Governor/A Love Too Strong

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

These Canadians and their rock collectives! Perhaps all this meritocracy is keeping rock alive!

But today, I’m not going to talk about that. i’m going to talk about the “solo” incarnation of a Canadian band. In particular, Young Governor.

One of the giant guitars in Fucked Up (collective), Young Governor has a very particular notion of “keeping it real”. He only releases singles and extended play records. Scattered like seeds on the wind of the underground. I pre-ordered his latest, A Love Too Strong, which he released under the moniker Young Gov & The Scuzz.

This here is 10 inches of lovingly crafted power pop. Not skinny tie type, more Big Star type. The crispy sizzle from the treble knobs being cranked permeates all of these upbeat, catchy numbers. I can’t help be reminded of the 70’s AM dial. This songs make way too much noise to be from that era, but the feeling is the same. These are the songs that play on the 70’s AM station in Young Governor’s mind.

As expected, this release leaves me wanting more. For better or for worse*, I’m not sure. I do like singles, but I’d like to hear the mythical full album.

Check ’em out, and try to ignore the unfortunate blog title.

*A Canadian pun? You decide!