June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
You guys! The delightful Ryan Koreski, of The Damage Done fame (using “fame” loosely here ‘cuz this is punk we’re talking about) will be in Missoula Wednesday to play his Jefferson Death Star tunes. I really hope he has some of those amazing stickers left. Plus those Buddy Jackson meatheads appear, and also Cat Heaven reunites for a ninth life.
Either way, you should check out my JDS review for the Indy, in which beer, pop punk and feelings ensue: “Allow me to acquaint you with the Pop Punk Lyrics Drinking Game for a moment. (Or Google it; I did not invent this.) Take a shot for every reference to friends or girls. Chug a beer during gang vocals. Eat one slice of pizza during references to growing up, the past, or self-deprecation in an upbeat song.”
In Melvins-type news, here’s Chris La Tray’s writeup of the King Buzzo show at the Palace. Sounds cool! If I had had an extra $20 to throw around, I would have dressed up in a Prince costume just to troll Buzz Osborne.
Anyway, setting all that business aside, here’s 25 Drinks And What They Should Really Be Called. (Yes, I am a sucker for stupid internet lists, but so are you.) Whiskey, Neat is “Time to prove to this bartender that I am cool as shit.”
-Please buy Kate all the stickers.
December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Tim, of Bird’s Mile Home and Buddy Jackson, speaks on his favorite tunes of this year…
10. Damage Done, Nothing is Over:
So what can I say about these guys that won’t be like kissing their asses? One of my favorite bands. Best described as triumphant, heart-on-the-sleeve exultant punk rock. Four sweet, engaging friends and brothers making a tight, joyful racket. This is what I listen to when I need to be jolted off my ass, snapped awake. When I need to have more optimism in my life. When I need a certain something of I don’t know what. They sing about friends, family, Star Wars, and the daily life of your everyday average punk rocker who works, loves, creates and has fun fun fun. Hey! That’s like, me! Listen to Damage Done on Bandcamp.
9. Cory Branan, Mutt:
This guy is a Radish Cake. I mean a Caddish Rake. Southern fella who knows what he’s got here. Songs full of lyrical repose and mint juleps n’shit. Also cigarettes, booze, restlessness, traveling, women and the chase of all that with a gleamy southern twinkle in the eye. This collection of songs runs the gamut from Springsteen E-Street Band style rockers to John Prine inspired folk songs to Tom Waits-ian drunk ballads. Good road music, makes you feel like never getting anywhere. Like a hot, southern cakewalk. mmm-mmm. Cory Branan’s official site.
8. Bob Mould, Silver Age:
I wonder if this album is called Silver Age cause he’s such a goddamn silver fox? Motherfucker looks good. Especially compared to his Husker Du days when he was all doughy and frowny looking. In any case this album reflects that well. The best melodicism of Husker Du mixed with Sugar’s Beaster EP and his aforementioned “distinguished older gentleman” quality. It’s all here folks, and that means he’s basically outdid his younger self in my opine. So fucking good.
7. Hot Water Music, Exister:
This is another band that has been around forever and I’ve always had a healthy admiration for. I’m not the hugest fan of this band by far and I don’t necessarily like everything they’ve released but when they hit that high mark there is nothing better. Tightly wound, technical driving rhythms and guitar work, personal no-nonsense lyrics, sing-along choruses. Daddy likes! A return to form for these guys and all that shit.
6. Cheap Girls, Giant Orange:
Another Mid-West band of three vaguely nerdy looking fellas playing beautiful mid-tempo power pop punk rock. Reminiscent of mid-eighties to mid-nineties college rock. This is the kind of band where I pop their cassette into my car’s deck and drive all over town pointing at all the things that they could be singing about, where the scenes of their songs take place. And after three or four flips of the tape and no fast-forward (A rarity for I, believe me), I’m out of cigarettes and glad for it. There’s an optimism here that makes each verse about loneliness and heartbreak seem like no big deal and holy fuck do I need to hear that sometimes just cause, man. And I’ve realized I’ve listened to this record so much that I can’t believe it only came out this year. I feel like I’ve been listening to this for years. Or maybe it’s the songs. Old friends or some shit. I dunno.
5. King Tuff, S/T:
I was on tour when these guys played Missoula and I had no idea. I had no idea who the hell they were actually, which means if I was in town I probably wouldn’t have gone, ha! This was an impulse buy at Ear Candy Music because Adelaide and John were playing it on the stereo. It was catchy, relaxed and well played poppy garage rock and not usually what I listen to or buy. Kinda flavor-of-the-weekish and hipstery (whatever that means) to me but! sometimes flavors be tasty enough and I don’t fucking give a shit no more so fuck it!… I see that these guys are extensively reviewed on Pitchfork.com if that gives you any idea of what they’re like. Either way read their reviews there cause I’m done describing something that’s already extensively written about.
4. Waxahatchee, American Weekend:
I listen to this record over and over and I keep hearing new things. I can’t pin anything on it. I’ve always been all ‘squee squee!’ about that melancholy tight chest feeling and after attempting to squirt out a tear or two I end up just sitting there as the turntable needle crackles and spins on the finishing groove. Well, this is a resonant, assured collection of songs about things, optimistically heartbreaking things, things that sure sound good-like. Lo-fi guitar and voice has always had a place in this guy’s tiny charred broken heart and yeah… you know what? These songs remind me of dust particles floating around in sun rays shining through a window. Take that as you will. I’ll take two please. Waxahatchee on Bandcamp.
3. Al Scorch & The Country Soul Ensemble, Tired Ghostly Town:
This guy has been a huge influence on my music making for a number of years now and recently seeing him live, solo with just his banjo was a privilege-treat-thing or something, and being able to play a number of shows with him on tour was transcendent, mmm yes. Pretty goddamn funny and charismatic guy too. This record is a collection of songs with a large group of people playing lyrically specific, smart, folk songs about a myriad cast of characters from all over the goddamn place but it’s very mid-west to mine ears. Like a goddamn Chicago Dog with all the fixin’s! Tired Ghostly Town on Bandcamp.
2. Tim Blood & The Gut Panthers, The Fall of:
We got lost trying to drive to Moscow, Idaho. We finally pull into town, it’s late out and we can’t find the venue we’re supposed to play at. It was next to an RV dealership behind a billboard. This is all true but also allegorical in regards to this band being that they’re from this sleepy little town. It turned out to be one of the funnest shows we played on tour and easiest, and if it’s both of those things it makes traveling very enjoyable. And Tim Blood & The Gut Panthers, they’re so hidden, cloistered in the inner Northwest and the music they play because of this is like the freshest breath of air after living and breathing van filth and cigarette fart air.
Fun, spastic punk rock, evocative, smart lyrics, effortless they be. If I had this record playing in the stereo that night, I would have found Moscow, Idaho with my eyes closed. Tim Blood and the Gutpanthers on Bandcamp.
1. Propagandhi, Failed States:
I was thirteen, smoking a Marlboro red in an old, yellowed 1974 GMC pick-up and my cousin Ron put in a cassette of Propagandhi’s first album. I think I pooped a little. Fifteen years later and I’m drinking a cheap beer in my apartment and I push play on Propagandhi’s newest album. I think I pooped a lot. For me anyway, and I say this either because of my advanced age and subsequent pooping prowess, these Canadian mad men’s albums keep getting better, more brutal, angrier more ‘real’. A close, almost sequel to 2009’s Supporting Caste, this record slays so hard. SO FUCKING HARD! Best record of 2011 and 2013 too! I guarantee!
Other things I enjoyed this year? Mike Watt at Zoo City Apparel, Rites of Spring’s six song demo EP, Lucero’s new album, pretty much all of Swearin’s stuff, awesome live too. Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond Band. Seeing Johnny from The Reddmen, Nels and Kelly from Noise Noise Noise butcher Guided By Voices songs to a bunch of soaking wet and drunk half naked punks in a tiny garage in Billings Montana. Tenement and Iron Lung at Totalfest. Tenement and Iron Lung at The Lab, Forgetters’ new full length, Nick Knockoff locking the keys inside our van right before load-in at The Charleston in Bremerton, Washington. My son’s birthday, and his first time saying ‘Shit’ (can’t say I’m proud of that one.)
Happy New Year and all that horseshit. Don’t die, stay alive.
December 21, 2012 § 1 Comment
Presenting Grant’s Top 10:
10. Billy the Kid – Stars, Exploding: This had me pretty excited ever since Billy announced she was recording this, and I reviewed it for MPN in November. I donated to her Kickstarter-like page and it was definitely worth it. This album is pop/alt-country at its best and a great listen, too. I’m excited to see what the next move is for this Canadian songwriter.
9. The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past: I really didn’t listen to the Menzingers much before this album. I had heard a few songs from time to time but never really listened to a full album until this one. This is the band’s Epitaph Records debut and if this is the beginning, wow. Songs like “Good Things” and “Casey” are catchy as hell and definitely two of my favorite songs of this year. Side note: their set at Fest was fan-fucking-tastic.
December 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
Stuff I enjoyed the hell outta this year. Now with 6 through 10!! Read Part One here.
6. Buddy Jackson, for the toe-tapping, clever and crabby tunes on Impound EP. I would like Buddy Jackson even more if I didn’t have deep reservations about the character of most of the band. It ruins everything if I say Buddy Jackson songs make me feel feelings, because that would be like Tim and Nick having feelings like I do, and that can’t be true because they are jackasses. Grant is cool. I neglected to mention that he is an awesome drummer in my review for the Independent, and I’m sorry. Grant is definitely the glue that holds the band together. 10 out of 10 Lawdogs.
7. Lady Gaga. “Edge of Glory.” Haters can bite me. I love this song and the video and all of it. I want to frolic on a fire escape wearing nothing but studded black leather belts, but lacking those things, I’ll just dance around in my room living vicariously through her. Okay, this is one is a tie with “Put A Ring On It,” because Beyonce is also a great motivator on slow Friday nights at work. Bear with me here. “If You Valued Our Relationship, You Would Have Made a Commitment” would be much less catchy. Ten out of ten embarrassing dances I do at home alone.
8. Dopamines. This is one of those bands that sneaks up on you: You download an album of their desperate prescription-addled pop songs, you aren’t super-impressed upon first listen, and yet you keep playing it. And playing it. When I really paid attention to “10 Stories,” the whole band just clicked for me. I know what it’s about– the lead singer struggling with addiction in front of his wife– but it’s such an understandable pean to being fucked up and in love and falling on your face. It’s also the one and only song in the history of ever that uses the phrase “make love” in a non-cringeworthy way. Five out of five coffee jitters. Go listen to it.
9. Two Gallants. This is the mournful Americana band I play on hungover mornings when I’m feeling kinda guilty but mostly pleased– a distinctly ex-Catholic emotion, I suspect. Their first album in years is excellent, all driving and anthemic in places without losing the country feel. I get the most awful grin listening to the creepy “Love Won’t Wait.”
10. Torche’s Harmonicraft. I love Total Fest, though 90 percent of the line-up is bands that aren’t generally my cup of tea. I’d heard a lot of hype for Torche but didn’t expect to like their brand of melodious metal quite so much. It ruled. I got gnarly bruises and lost my earplug during their set at the Badlander. I’ve had “Kiss Me Dudely” on my iPod shuffle ever since. Five out of five cases of tinnitus.
SPECIAL BONUS! Glossary. Another one of my favorite hangover cures. These Tennessee folks make sweet, smart, heartachey Americana without relying on any cliches, which is pretty tough to do. Just listen to Some Eternal Spark: “You know the stars all died a long time ago, so make a wish on a satellite and hold it close… I’ve seen the Northern Lights, but girl, you make the south seem brighter, so let me be with you tonight.” Ain’t nothing about no honky tonk in there, but it works just fine. Ten out of ten slow dances.
Other things I listened to: Cory Branan’s new record Mutt (meh), Gateway District’s album that came out in late 2011 (has good moments), Micah Schnabel’s second solo album (Not as great as the first) Murder By Death’s new album (real good) Nu Sensae (fuckin’ rad) Limp Wrist (queer hardcore fuck yeah) Waxahatchee (depressing) Against Me! (forever my favorite band) and a shit ton of Prince (you know, Prince.)
I also really wanted to put the killer Portland band Divers on the top 10 list but they haven’t released enough recordings to make a proper judgment. The two songs they have released are stellar. Listen and download Glass Chimes and Montrose.
My Top 10 2012 Part One is here.
So what did YOU like, eh? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanna send me a top 10 list.
November 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
In this latest review of Billy the Kid’s new album, Grant gets a little bit mellow and a little bit country:
I don’t even know how I stumbled upon Vancouver, B.C.’s Billy Pettinger but it might have been back in the MySpace era. I do remember listening to a bit of her band, Billy and the Lost Boys. Just like social media, Pettinger herself has evolved over the past seven years, putting out some solo outings, a joint venture with Joe McMahon of Smoke or Fire and now this new record, Stars, Exploding. Out of all the records I’ve been listening to this year, Stars is by far the most accessible out of all and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The record does a nice balancing act between straight up pop-country style jams and the more punk/alt country influences scattered throughout, like in “ Long Way From Home” and “Running,” with their faster tempos and simple structures. Songs like “Boxcars” and “American Cities,” two of the stronger tracks on the album, rock with a mainstream country vibe that’s just flat out impressive. I feel, that if given a nice, big push and the chance to gain substantial airplay in the United States, breakthrough most of the American garbage on pop/pop country radio, Miss Pettinger could give frauds like Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood a run for their money.
Most of the songs on this record are slow which might turn off a few listeners but don’t be deterred by listening to something pretty. My biggest compliment to Miss Pettinger is how her vocal works seems, to me anyway, leaps and bounds better than when I listened to her first release, The Lost Cause. While this might not be a record that get’s the party hopping at your humble abode, it is one that after a long work day would be a nice soundtrack to a six pack of beer and a prelude to a great night’s sleep. Click here to stream the tracks.
Also check this out:
September 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
As I write this review, I keep thinking back to all the times a Motion City Soundtrack record has been, if you will, a soundtrack to my life.
I was first introduced to this band junior year of high school by my girlfriend at the time who showed me the perfect makeout soundtrack, I Am The Movie. The band’s ability to be playful in songs (“The Future Freaks Me Out”) but also the ability craft a powerful, depressing song (“My Favorite Accident”) with tons of energy really drew me in. Their second outing, Commit This to Memory, is one of my favorite records, with themes of being able to smile through the depressing shit that guitar player/singer Justin Pierre was going through at the time. It really created an album of pure beauty. After that came a little stumble (Even If It Kills Me) and a solid major label debut (My Dinosaur Life) but now back at their home turf of Epitaph Records, Go shows a more mature, focused Motion City Soundtrack.
Motion City is one of the very few bands that have been able to ride the downturn of pop punk in the mainstream but I believe their reason for this success is that they don’t try to kid themselves and try to be a band they really aren’t. The songs on Go are ones you can tell they wanted to make and they did. While some of the “L.G. Faud”-esq playfulness might be absent a bit, the bands’ more mature route really shines in songs like “Timelines” and “The Worst is Yet to Come.” Overall, MCS has crafted an album that’s honest and they aren’t ashamed about it in the slightest.
With their return to the indie label (if you can call Epitaph that), Go has the feeling of a band being able to breathe, without trying to create that next Billboard-shattering-top-radio-40-better-make-the-label’s-money-back-pressure that I’m sure many bands feel when trying to craft a major label record release. While the album does induce some cringe-worthy lyrics (“Son of a Gun”) the band still presents a record that is catchy, experimental, and melodic while being straight-up honest to themselves. Motion City are back on their stride from My Dinosaur Life and with Go have now have put them back into a position where I am excited to see where they go next.
If you’d like to review something for MPN–movies, music, we ain’t picky– email@example.com.
June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
So I decided singer-songwriter/charming Southern cad Cory Branan‘s new record, Mutt, out now on Bloodshot Records, is best played with the tracks in backwards order. Not only does this reveal awesome Satanic messages but the songs seem to follow each other better, and ending the album with The Corner puts it on just the right wistful note. (Kidding about Satan. OR AM I??)
His first releases, The Hell You Say, 12 Songs and the split he did with Jon Snodgrass, are all perfect hangover music for saps. The kind of music that’s best when you’re lying on the floor, mildly hungover, in the morning after a person has vacated your bed, and you’re finally left to yourself and you feel either sad, victorious, still turned on or a mixture of all three.
Half of Mutt is just like that. It’s the parts that aren’t I’m struggling with. Mutt branches out stylistically with a cheesy violin-backed track, jazzy cabaret-style song and what I can only shudderingly describe as country pop rock, and it’s those forays that don’t work as well for me.
Mutt is a fine album for listening to. It’s just not as emotionally powerful as 12 songs. While Branan’s albums are sometimes disjointed, what they’ve shared in common is mostly pretty acoustic guitar work, really strong lyricism and great lines. Just go listen to Prettiest Waitress in Memphis or Muhummad Ali- “my love put the deep in the ocean, my love talked the sky into going with blue…my love ain’t no delicate snowflake, my love’s a bull with the china shop blues.” Mutt doesn’t have as many songs I want to put on a CD and listen to on repeat.
I can see this record being a transitioning point in Cory Branan’s career to being more musically diverse, but I don’t think he’s yet figured out how to make it really work.
I still would highly recommend getting Mutt in whatever format you like, but I’m glad to have the mp3s so I can fiddle with it and play it in whatever order I like. It won’t be an album that I reach for when I want hangover-brain comfort food, but that’s okay.
Also, Fangirl Story Time: I saw Cory Branan at Revival Tour in Seattle in April (see photo), and after the show went up to him and said ‘Hi, just wanted to say the show was awesome’ and giggled like a shithead, because I lose my cool completely around my favorite musicians. I told him word is he’s a cad, and he said, “Why, I prefer to think of myself as a rake.” And he held my hand in both of his and said it was nice to meet me. Sigh.
Mp3: Bad Man, off Mutt
Mp3: The Corner, version off split with Jon Snodgrass (of Drag the River)