Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hey Cold War Kids, I'll behave if this next album is more like your first one.

The first Cold War Kids album was good. It had feeling, and good songs. If this teaser is any indication, the band's new EP, Behave Yourself, will be better. I guess we'll find out on January 19 when the four-song EP is released.


Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sort of old and very new: The Steal broke up in October, Guinea Kids are just out of high school

If there is something totally different about the way people find music, it's that you can find stuff that would never get into your local record store.

Like, for example, when a UK hardcore band in the vein of Kid Dynamite with a little CIV or something thrown in for good balance (I don't care if that makes no sense, it's what I heard when I was writing this), breaks up and figures it doesn't matter if people are paying for their music any more. Go download the full discography of The Steal. 

It's a shame I didn't find them until two weeks after they broke up. I've been denied my chance to bitch about them not touring Florida, but have been gifted some really great records.

Based on the last of the posts on their blog, the members of The Steal got distracted by life. While much of that life is interesting in its own right, this was a great band. They finished their run by playing shows with Paint It Black and Dillinger 4, which means they played to quality, appreciative crowds. Download their albums here. (Yes, I linked it twice. I'm that impressed with these guys.)

But wait, as one band bites the dust, another is made up of members that have been alive for less time than you've been reading this post. Enter: Guinea Kid.

To keep it short and simple, these are four not-really-kids from Indiana that absolutely tear apart the hardcore skatepunk thing. We're talking early-80s-style, Minor Threat-meets-The Circle Jerks or something like that. Fashionable Activism (who went with an Adolescents reference instead of mine, and is pretty dead-on with it) found the tape and uploaded both sides. 

So, listen to Side A below, and download the whole thing here. It's worth the extra clicks if this is your sound. They band's members are just out of high school, so hopefully they'll do a real tour and put out some more records. Hopefully. 

Otherwise, we'll wait and see if Guinea Kid is as generous as The Steal.

The Steal on MySpace
Guinea Kid on MySpace
Fashionable Activism is a great punk blog - read it.

Download now or listen on posterous
01 Side A.m4a (6305 KB)

World Wide World by The Steal  
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03 World Wide World.mp3 (2579 KB)

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Mix-Zip goes for the jugular: Doors, Pixies, Spoon, Vultures, ODB and more.

Now this is the kind of list I need mid-week, so I'm going to assume that everybody else could use it too - a bit of the revelatory, soul-freeing rock and roll. (ODB was as rock and roll as they come. Taking the limo to get your welfare check, with MTV in tow, is the same as making the world think you just pulled out your thing on stage. Sort of.)

Nothing ironic or especially hip here. This is purely a list of tracks the Gentleman can't stop spinning right this minute. Classics old and new, including a remix and a cover. If your drive to work isn't long enough to hear it all, circle the building until the list plays through.

Zipping the mix, mid-November-style, it's time to go balls to the wall people. Make it happen. Here's your soundtrack, at least for this week.

The Doors - Five to One (Live in New York, 1/17/70)
The Pixies - Monkey Gone To Heaven (Live)
Spoon - Don't You Evah (Ted Leo's I Want It Hot Mix)
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - Strength Through Shopping
Beat Beat Beat - Psycho
Them Crooked Vultures - Scumbag Blues
Arctic Monkeys - Fright Lined Dining Room
The Bravery - The Spectator
Blackroc - Coochie (feat. Ludacris & Ol' Dirty Bastard)
Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hold Steady - Cattle And The Creeping Things

Cattle And The Creeping Things by The Hold Steady  
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02 Cattle And The Creeping Things.mp3 (5978 KB)

All the End of the Decade lists are pointing to either Almost Killed Me or Boys and Girls in America as The Hold Steady's contribution of their albums to the last 10 years. I say that Separation Sunday was head and shoulders better, even if all you've got is the first three tracks ("Hornets! Hornets!," "Cattle and The Creeping Things," and "Your Little Hoodrat Friend.").

Boys and Girls in America was what Hold Steady frontman and songwriter Craig Finn had seen and felt, as the crowds coming to his shows got huge and the record was buzzed massively. It's a real feeling. But Separation Sunday was balls to the wall, everything he had, everything we've all seen down in the dirt. It's the ups and downs of life to a soundtrack that thoroughly kicks the listeners ass (a sentiment that, to be fair, is true of every one of the albums from The Hold Steady).

Somewhere along the way, people started making Springsteen comparisons. Maybe because the Hold Steady jams the way they say the E Street Band used to. Aside from that - which may or may not be true - I don't see the comparison because where Springsteen is putting it on for whatever the common man is supposed to be, Finn is singing about the underbelly of the teen years and early 20s and probably beyond. You know, the ones that everybody pines for. The ones that so-called adults like to act like they've forgotten about, even as they try desperately to reclaim them.

I dug the The Hold Steady at half Finn's age because he sings ironically about smoking pot and soaking up rock and roll and weaves bible stories into modern tales of suburban growing up. "I always like the guy at door," Finn sings, "cause he always knows what you came to his house for." Separation Sunday is full of wordy anthems with lines like that from start to finish. Words that everyone from the 70s on know about. Yeah, Finn "can't stand it when the banging stops," and neither can we.

But by the time The Hold Steady got to Boys and Girls in America, one of the best albums of the decade for sure, for a couple years he'd been watching 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds that hate each other now get down together to jams about stuff one is living and one used to live but doesn't remember how to get back to. Boys and Girls in America is about both of them. Separation Sunday, among other things, is about the times that both love and hate and never want to give up, and that alone makes it a better album.

(In reality, all the band's albums do this. My preference has more to do with bitterness that Separation Sunday is getting no attention due either to these bloggers "their first album was the best" or "thier biggest album is the best" sentiments. In reality, YOU should download all of them.)

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eels give away new single, prepare for End Times.

Eels are back in January with End Times, the follow-up to 2009's Hombre Lobo. Yesterday, E posted the lead single, "Little Wing," to the band's Web site. For all the bands who sing about being depressed and how cold the world can be, Eels are the saddest sounding band that everybody should be listening to.
From the sound of "Little Wing," a song of missing love that finds E singing to a bird about his broken heart, this one could be a real downer. Hope there's a "Prize-Fighter" or "Dog-Faced Boy" or something on the album to break up the tears.
The 14-track End Times is out January 19, 2010. Download "Little Wing" at the link below in exchange for an email address. As always, it's worth it.

Eels on YouTube

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bad Religion - Supersonic

Supersonic by Bad Religion  
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01 Supersonic.mp3 (2085 KB)

Despite the song posted above, I've had one of the verses from "Materialist" in my head for several weeks now.* Not sure why - I do occasionally think about concepts bigger than I - but it made me pull out BR's 12th, The Process Of Belief. Or, as I like to call it, their comeback album.

Decent as the preceding two albums may be (No Substance and The New America), drummer Bobby Schayer's career-ending shoulder injury is one of two things that contributes to The Process of Belief working as well as it does. New drummer Brooks Wakerman returned the speed and pounding to the original melodic hardcore punk rockers, and brought a sense of youth to a clearly greying but no less intense rhythm and vocal section.

The other is the full reunion of the Greg Graffin-Brett Gurewitz writing team. Graffin did more than well on the hugely underrated The Gray Race, but two albums that followed made one wonder if the band was on its last legs.

Previous albums, and I do mean all of them, balance a mix of introspection and worldly vague political discourse. Sometimes this was something a little more direct, as on "Operation Rescue," "American Jesus," "Fertile Crescent," or even this album's "Kyoto Now," but mostly the scientific and societal statements could stand separate from current events. Almost entirely, though, The Process of Belief is very much a band taking a look at itself.

Both Graffin and Gurewitz spend the album lyrically examining themselves from a religious standpoint, or under the guise of self-perceived failure, or even from age, as I'm pretty sure Graffin is doing on "Supersonic." 

The song finds Graffin opening the album wondering if the world is passing him by, and that the solution is to simply speed up. For me then, at 20, as it does now, the "Supersonic" is a mantra. To a certain extent, I am a careerist workaholic and always have been. I have long had some sort of direction and, when I'm at my best, speed forward with a smooth burn.

Interestingly, the song kicks off an album proving the same to be true of Bad Religion. 

*The verse in my head: "The process of belief is an elixir when you're weak/I must confess at times I indulge it on the sneak/But generally my outlook's not so bleak." 

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Saturday, November 14, 2009

David Bowie - Lady Stardust

Lady Stardust by David Bowie  
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06 Lady Stardust.mp3 (3917 KB)

Wednesday morning, I went into surgery to have an infection drained - a somewhat solo mission if ever there has been one - a little freaked out but, thankfully, significantly drugged up. Heh, as if there's any other way to go into surgery.

When I woke up, after asking what is apparently a standard question - When do we get started? - the band in my head slammed into "Lady Stardust." I didn't hum it, or try to remember the words. I heard the song. 

"And he was all right/The band was altogether/Yes he was alright/The song went on forever/Yes, he was awful nice/Really quite out of sight..."

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust being the first Bowie album to obsess me, over and over, as I imagine it has millions of others, it's not surprising that the song popped into my head at all. 

The song is about Ziggy hitting the big time. This is when he hits the stage and the audience gets it, despite his outlandishness and own brand of art - his ascension. The music is a bit dreamy and comforting, a scene fit for the high, good times of that part of the album and for the high, weird times of coming out of surgery.

The night before, I had begged my wife to bring my iPod to the hospital when she came by. I threw it on the nightstand and didn't touch it, at least partially because I assumed I'd need a full charge on it the next day. I also had a feeling that something would pop into my head because it always does.

When I came out of surgery, after the line of visitors ended and the nurses gave me the strongest of painkillers I'd have during my stay, when I knew I wouldn't pass out, I lunged for the iPod and spun immediately to Bowie's name, that album and "Lady Stardust." I listened to it twice - it was the first sound I wanted to pump through the headphones into my drug-rocked brain - and then again when I listened through to the entire album.

Whatever my body needed that brought that song to me, in a moment of being swirlingly lost, it must have found it. I've listened to the song at least a dozen more times since Wednesday trying to figure it out and what I keep coming back to is that there is something to be said for stepping out from behind the curtain and getting (back) on stage.

I'm pretty sure I can live with that. 

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Dead Weather - So Far From Your Weapon

So Far From Your Weapon by The Dead Weather  
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04 So Far From Your Weapon.mp3 (3445 KB)

By now, everybody has heard of The Dead Weather: Jack White, Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age. 

The album is great and hasn't left my iPod since it leaked. But sitting in the car, outside a store, watching trees and bushes whip around, something about this sinister movie-soundtrack-sounding track caught me. 

The fact is, there's not much menace in any of White's other bands. There's lots of other things, but little if any menace. The heavy menace of "So Far From Your Weapon" has had this song on repeat for me for days now.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop