The fact that it took this blog over 4 years to reach the landmark of 100,000 hits pretty much outlines the very notion of Un-Herd. This will never be a popular site (and let me just thank those few kindred souls out there who continue to visit and comment - it's both appreciated and comforting), and likewise most of the bands championed will tragically never be huge sellers, but neither of those dour predictions take anything away from the greatness of the music. So I'm using this occasion as an opportunity to offer some gratitude by returning to the primal source of the music I cherish.
Rock 'n' roll. It's a name that sounds so quaint and old-fashioned now, easy to forget that it started as a hip euphemism for sex. Every time I say it out loud I can't help visualize Dick Clark heartlessly uttering it just before introducing some anti-rock abomination on American Bandstand. Ol' Dick talked it, but sure as shit didn't walk it, and his show was quite obviously uncomfortable with the real deal and instead sought safety in whitewashed treacle by Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and their ilk and, ultimately (and predictably), sided with the cold, mechanical conservatism of disco over the untamed beast of rock 'n' roll.
I've long held the belief that a band is entirely worthless if they can't master the simple 4/4 beat of rock 'n' roll. It's seemingly so simple, usually scoffed at by musicians and prog fans, but here's the thing: most of the people scoffing can't do it. Oh, they can play a 4/4, but they can't make it move. It's like Bob Seger's attempted tribute to the music, "Old Time Rock & Roll." All the elements are there (and hey, Seger was a true fan with some stone cold classics to his credit) but in the years between "Rambling Gambling Man" and Night Moves Bob had lost the plot. As a result, "Old Time Rock & Roll" just lied there, static, unmoving. Devoid of swing. Dead on the carpet. A dusty museum piece that was more of an embalming than a celebration. I fucking hate that song so much, because so many people can't hear the difference between it and the real thing.
Another key element to a band's worth is a sense of humor. And that's not to mean comedic. A great rock 'n' roll band holds two key contradictory beliefs: 1) they take it utterly seriously, and 2) they know it's all a little ridiculous. Take as an example my fave band of all time, the New York Dolls. Their sartorial choices poked fun at the very notion of teen idol sexuality, turning the Jagger/Richards model into an awesome cartoon. You couldn't look at them without at least a smirk, and you could see them smirking back. And yet, those guys lived and died for the music (three fifths of them quite literally). You can extrapolate that same sentiment to all the greats along the continuum, from Elvis's self-parodying hip gyrations to the Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten's simultaneous hatred for rock 'n' roll and his absolute commitment to singing it. It was funny, and they meant it, man.
True rock 'n' roll is about transcendence. It's about breaking out of the mortal bounds, both societal and psychological, however briefly. It taps into religiosity. That's why the lyrics are often incidental. Exhortations to dance, to rock, to roll, to get crazy; demands for more and, if not more, at least for something else. It's what that smug Steve Allen couldn't comprehend back in the day when he intoned the lyrics of "Be Bop A Lula" in an attempt to demonstrate its idiocy. Of course it was idiotic; that's what made it genius! Steve Allen only managed to show he didn't get it. Plus he helped draw the battle lines that still exist to this day (and if they've faded at all, I'm always available with my chalk to redraw them).
This mix, then, is straight rock 'n' roll. You'll hear a lot of the Holy Trinity of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Guitars, drums, bass, pounding 88s, saxophones that squeal and honk. Background vox as gang chants. Vocalists that shred their larynx in the pursuit of that unexplainable Other. No genre splicing. No experiments. Just the real hairy deal.
This music doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel; this is the wheel.
1. The Yum Yums Let's Rock & Roll
2. JD McPherson North Side Gal
3. The Meows This Man's Crazy
4. The F1eshtones Hard Lovin' Man
5. River City Rebe1s Her New Man
6. Heavy Trash The Loveless
7. Barrence Whitfie1d & the Savages Hey Little Girl
8. De1 Moroccos I Want Some More
9. Two Wounded Birds Daddy's Junk
10. The Computers Se1ina Chinese
11. The Detroit Cobras Shout Bama Lama
12. Jim Jones Revue High Horse
13. Lucero Women & Work
14. The Bamboo Kids Bad Man
15. Brand New Hate Hoochie Coochie Baby
16. Nick Curran & the Low Lifes Baby You Crazy
17. Janis Martin As Long As I'm Movin'
18. The New Trocaderos Real Gone Kitty
19. Joe E1y & Sue Fo1ey Great Balls of Fire
20. Teenage Head You're Tearing Me Apart
21. Lars Fredriksen & the Bastards 6 Foot 5
22. The Outrageous Va1entinos Action Man
23. The Fondas Might As Well Go
24. The Dozen Dimes All I Wanna Do Is Roll
25. The Stompers Rock, Jump, and Holler
26. The Swingin' Neckbreakers Rip It, Rip It Up
27. Nikki Hi1l Strapped To The Beat
28. Screamin' Stukas Action
29. Chuck E. Weiss Jimmy Would
30. 1an Hunter Still Love Rock 'n' Roll
Popular in their home country of Australia yet puzzlingly obscure everywhere else, You Am I occupy that gray area in the UnHerd universe. A populist band whose only sin was to favor those heralded virtues of the past: melody, hooks, guitars, and passion packed into the 3 minute glory shot. They combined go-for-broke rock & roll with wit and wounded romanticism in a way that's comparable to the Replacements, with front man Tim Rogers equally liable to pen a heart-on-the-sleeve confessional ballad as a raging slab of punk insolence. That unclassifiable range, of course, might be the aspect that kept them from the larger audience they so clearly deserved - but it's also what turned me into such a fan. Their last transmission as a band was in 2010, so let's hope this story isn't finished yet.
1. Baby Clothes
2. If We Can't Get It Together
3. Heavy Heart
4. Radio Rumble
5. ...And Vandalism
6. Kick a Hole in the Sky
7. One Cent Coins
11. Givin' Up and Gettin' Fat
12. We Hardly Knew You
Tracks 1, 2 from Hourly, Daily (1996) Tracks 3, 4, 5 from You Am I's #4 Record (1998) Track 6 from Dress Me Slowly (2001) Track 7 from Damage EP (2000) Track 8, 9 from Deliverance (2002) Track 10 from Convicts (2007) Track 11 from Dilettantes (2008) Track 12 from You Am I (2010)
Still behind any regular schedule, but still finding the gems. This past third of the year has seen some amazingly good releases, and some equally amazing teasers for upcoming releases. It looks like when it's all said and done, and after a slow start, 2014 will be as good a year for UnHerd music as any.
And on an up note, I've recently heard the new Spoon reckid blasting from a yuppie mansion and at the local gym. That suggests Spoon have wormed their way into the consciousness of the greater public, which is extremely gratifying for someone that's been a fan since their days of being booted off the A&M label. "The Agony of Lafitte" must seem like a million years ago to Britt Daniel. Congrats to him and them. And even further congrats for They Want My Soul, the album and the song. The album is completely awesome, and the song might be my favorite track the band has yet produced (which is why it's leading off this mix's hit parade).
It's a small victory for the good guys. Next task: get the rest of these bands blasting outta gyms, houses, and clubs.
1. Sp00n They Want My Soul
2. S1oan Keep Swinging (Downtown)
3. Brand New Hate Feeling Bad Feels Good
4. Happiness It's On You
5. Army Navy The Mistakes
6. Lydia Love1ess I Really Wanna See You
7. Har1an Pepper TV/ Let It Slide
8. Stephen Lawrenson Obscuriosity
9. The So1icitors If You Let Me Hold You
10. Bitrs Indigo
11. The #1s Sharon Shouldn't
12. Twin Peaks Making Breakfast
13. Reining Sound My My
14. Blue Skies for B1ack Hearts The Past
15. The Dwarves Sluts of the USA
16. Suger Stems Some Might Say
17. Nude Beech For You
18. Sp1it Squad Feel The Same About You
19. A1vvays Archie, Marry Me
20. The Orwe11s Bathroom Tile Blues
21. The Phenomenauts One in Seven Billion Girl
22. Strand of 0aks Goshen '97
23. The Muffz Paint By Numbers
24. The Empty Harts I Don't Want Your Love (If You Don't Want Me)
This year's summer mix comes when there's not much summer left. Suffice to say, life has been considerably too busy to enjoy the sun as much as the little guy above. This mix is the usual sweltering smorgasbord of different eras and genres, and should work nicely for those last few pool parties - or even for that first hint of Fall. Summer's coming ----> summer's gone.
1. Adam Danie1 Summer's Coming
2. James Younger Quiet Life
3. Pa1ma Violets California Sun
4. Si1ver Sun Last Day
5. Beach Day Walking On The Streets
6. Bedouin Soundc1ash When The Night Feels My Song
7. Brownsvi1le Station Go Out And Get Her
8. The Vio1et Archers Time To Kill
9. Ween Flutes Of Chi
10. The Zutons Valerie
11. Pa1oma Faith Taste My Own Tears
12. The Mounties Tokyo Summer
13. Dead Professiona1 Hold Back
14. Happiness Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same
15. Ted Leo + the Pharmacists Already Too Late
16. Auburn Day Dreamin'
17. Foxygn No Destruction
18. The F1eshtones Tear For Tear
19. Average Times Summer Nights
20. Nikki & the Corvettes Summertime Fun
21. The Lo1as Having A Party
22. Phonagraph Waiting For The Sun
23. Chrissy Hynde You Or No One
24. The Proper Ornaments Summer's Gone
It's fairly obvious I'm a fan of covers. The reason for that has less to do with a recreation of the familiar (although that's part of it) and more to do with the reveal of a band's acknowledgement of the continuum and their self-awareness of where they stand in it.
One of the best examples of that notion was delivered by Marah during their tour for If I Didn't Laugh, I'd Cry. They opened the show with their version of the Jam's "In The City" and then closed it with Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again," and in between Marah played their original material, which sonically and unmistakably connected those two poles. I mean, there's almost no better description of Marah's music than first generation punk rock crossed with an outlaw cowboy. And Marah knew it and proclaimed it proudly, as musicians and as fans themselves.
For exactly that reason, I love hearing Joan Jett's uncontainable glee as she rips into one of the Stones' nastiest songs, or Daniel Ash exposing the glam undercurrent of Love & Rockets (or Bauhaus or Tones on Tail), or young upstarts the Strypes paying homage to spiritual granddaddy Nick Lowe. Ditto all of these tracks. Ditto all previous ten volumes.
1. Daniel Ash Rock on (David Essex)
2. Joan Jatt Star Star (Rolling Stones)
3. Uncle Tupalo I Wanna Destroy You (Soft Boys)
4. Aimee Mann Baby Blue (Badfinger)
5. The Jags Here Comes My Baby (Cat Stevens)
6. Reno Bo I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better (Byrds)
7. Frankenstein 3000 Tenement Funster (Queen)
8. The Flashcubes Do Anything You Wanna Do (Eddie & the Hot Rods)
9. The Hold Steady Hard Luck Woman (Kiss)
10. Del Amitri Cindy Incidentally (Faces)
11. Me First & the Gimme Gimmes Believe (Cher)
12. The Sirens Glycerine Queen (Suzi Quatro)
13. Supersockers Never Let Me Down Again (Depeche Mode)
14. Hoodoo Gurus I Heard Her Call My Name (Velvet Underground)
15. Locksley It's No Use (Gene Clark)
16. The Redbeards Gudbuy T'Jane (Slade)
17. Tommy Keane Have You Seen My Baby (Flamin' Groovies)
18. Rachel Gordon Goodbye to You (Scandal)
19. The Cry! Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)
20. The Strypes Heart of the City (Nick Lowe)
21. Los Straitjackets w/ Raul Malo Black is Black (Los Bravos)
22. Jim Keays Tell Me When It's Over (Dream Syndicate)
23. Mathew Sweet & Susana Hoffs All The Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople)
24. M.O.T.O. Dancing in the Moonlight (King Harvest)
Definitely running late on this first collection of fave tracks. I'd apologize, except that it's not due to laziness. I grab 'em as I find 'em, and the fact is 2014 has been a tad slow so far. It took a full five months to gather a mix's worth of songs that I like enough to pimp.
That's not to say the year has been lacking for awesome. The first third has already brought the return of blog faves the Breakdowns and Needles//Pins, as well as great new albums from Chains of Love, the Rich Hands, and the Cry! There's also Ted Leo and Aimee Mann teamed up as The Both (with an album that surpasses all expectation), and semi-supergroup Sweet Apple (with a guest list that includes Mark Lanegan, Bob Pollard, and J. Mascis), and the perennial blast from supa-rock stalwarts the Fleshtones. As well there's a swack of new discoveries (for me) like J.J. & the Real Jerks, Stagecoach, Role Models, and the totally awesome Nuclears. And everything else on the mix is guaranteed 100% Grade A quality UnHerd hits.
And that quality acts as my excuse. The process takes time. It takes searching and scouring. So much listened to, so much rejected, so many important chores ignored. Until, finally, there's the few gleaming nuggets left to compile. After all, you can't expect gems like these to just fall from the heavens.
1. The Breakdowns Sweet Pamela Jayne
2. The Cry! Discotheque
3. The Both Milwaukee
4. The Nuclears Suburban Gurls
5. Stagecoach 56k Dial-Up
6. Sweet Apple Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)
7. Pink Mountaintops New Teenage Mutilation
8. Penny Blacks The Digital Age
9. J.J. & the Real Jerks Out Of My Means
10. Needles//Pins Only Call Me When You're Drunk
11. Tweens I'm Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend
12. The Rich Hands No Harm Blues
13. Chains of Love It's a Shame
14. Sacret Sisters Black and Blue
15. Sleeper Agent Me On You
16. Steve Cante Dark in the Spotlight
17. Role Models Saturday Night
18. Sky Pilots Only When It Rains
19. Phonograph California
20. The Fleshtones Hipster Heaven
21. Petter Baarli Don't Start Again
22. Honeyblood Killer Bangs
23. The Men Going Down
Well, who'da thunk it, but it turns out that Netkups deletes files with no warning, so fuck them and fuck that. A new game plan has become necessary.
What I'll do from here on out is first post mixes with a temporary link from a reliable source like Zippyshare (and, yes, maybe even Netkups). That link will be for the first rush of downloads. And then after that the files will be archived in Mediafire.
"But why Mediafire," I hear you ask, "When they've totally boned you in the past?" That's a good question, and I'm glad you brought it up. Because Mediafire may not always work, but the files don't get deleted. And frankly, I'm getting pretty annoyed at constantly needing to do these re-up posts.
And besides, this site has so few downloads that any kind of archive will suffice for the handful of latecomers. As far as I can tell, there's less than a hundred of you who've found this corner of the net and bother to return on a regular basis. Which is the way it should be. It can't be Un-Herd if there's a herd involved, after all.
SWM, slim, attractive, likes candle-lit dinners, romantic walks in the rain, the purring of contented kittens, and pointing and laughing at the handicapped. No head games please.
Everything on this blog is an attempt to support bands and artists that I feel deserve more attention. If you have a problem with my use of a song or a link, please contact me directly and I'll simply remove it. T'ain't no big thang.