Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Faves of 2011 (vol. 2)

Wait, how is this Vol. 2 and why is Vol. 2 appearing after Vol. 3? Whelp, suffice to say I put up this volume two times previously and each time it got zapped by the powers-that-be. This time, I've pulled every major label-affiliated band from the mix, and replaced them with much more deserving tunes.

The three volumes of faves from 2011 really put into focus how difficult it's going to be to narrow the year into a top 20. My last count for that list exceeded 30, which means there's some tough decisions ahead. In the meantime, however, all we have to do is enjoy. And hope the link stays alive.

1. Cirrone Here Is My Song
2. Redondo Beat The Sweetest Sound
3. The Dahlmanns Candy Pants
4. An American Underdog Nothing I Can Do
5. The Biters Hold On
6. The Barreracudas Baby Baby Baby
7. The Kills Damned If She Do
8. The Booze Rachel
9. The CRY! Forget It
10. Sun Wizard Golden Girl
11. Warren Zanes Nothing To Do Now
12. The Hot Toddies Hey Hey
13. The Viatones Isn't It So True
14. Sloan Unkind
15. Ralph Covert & the Bad Examples No Message in Your Bottle
16. The Sick Rose Take It All Back
17. The ABCs Italian Girls
18. The Eulogies Better Than Nothing
19. The Love Me Nots I'm Gonna Be Your Girl
20. The Greatest Liar You Deserve Better
21. Marvelous Darlings Teenage Targets
22. The Shivers Used To Be
23. The Diamond Dogs Be Here Tonight
24. Dirty Wings Scott Walker, Motherfucker

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Un-Herd Christmas 2011

Hard to believe it's this time of year again. Also hard to believe there's another 25 rockin' tunes that flash their collective 'nads at the Christmas spirit, but here's the proof.

I don't know where Vegas puts the odds for this link's staying power, but it should be safe. Then again, I might be flirting with doom by including a couple oldies like Mud and Roy Wood's Wizzard (and, by the way, how damn genius was it for Roy Wood to intro the song with the chime of a cash register in place of the typical sleigh bells?). Anyway, let's have at it. And to paraphrase Santa himself: have a tolerable holiday everyone!

1. Billy Childish & the Musicians of the British Empire Santa Claus
2. The BAcksliders Christmas (Doesn't Have To Be So Bad)
3. E Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
4. REM Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
5. Pugwash Tinsel and Marzipan
6. Deer Tick Christmas All Summer Long
7. Tina Sugandh White Christmas
8. Blue Skies for Black Hearts Wishing You A Merry Xmas
9. Vancougar Dysfunctional Family Christmas
10. Mud Lonely This Christmas
11. Roy Wood's Wizzard I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
12. The Montgomery Cliffs Don't Feel Much Like Christmas
13. The Chesterfield Kings Hey Santa Claus
14. The Len Price 3 It's Christmas Time, Ebenezer
15. The Fleshtones Mr. Santa Claus
16. The Wellingtons I Guess It's Christmas
17. The Spring Collection Christmas With You
18. The Krayolas Run, Rudolph, Run
19. The Boss Martians 3 Ghosts (A Modern Christmas Carol)
20. X Jingle Bells
21. Dylan Thomas Band For Christ's Sake (It's Christmas)
22. Marah New York Is A Christmas Kind of Town
23. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects
24. Crocodiles w/ Gum Gum Dirls Merry Christmas Baby (Please Don't Die)
25. Tight Solid I Hate Christmas

Previous Xmas mixes can be found here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Faves of 2011 (Vol. 3)

Okay, trying this again. I've removed all bands that are affiliated with major labels.At least, I think I have; it's quite hard to find out if an "independent" label is really independent or simply a vile subsidiary of the evil empire. Apparently such an admission is bad for business. I wonder why, huh?

I've Got Permission

1. The Van Buren Boys Turn It Up Loud
2. Meyerman  Permission to Rock You
3. The Adjusters You Gotta Say
4. Butch Walker & the Black Widows Every Single Body Else
5. Locksley Oh, Wisconsin!
6. Everybody Else First Class
7. The Black Rabbits Hypno Switch
8. The Handcuffs Come On Venus
9. The Breakdowns If Only You Knew
10. The Boulevard Beat 8 Track Breakdown
11. Wiretree Dakota
12. Chewy Patriarch Boogie
13. The Dead Trees World Gone Global
14. Phoebe Killdeer & the Short Straws Scholar
15. Mother's Children (Baby You Ain't) Tough Enough
16. The Cute Lepers Tribute To Charlie
17. Spazzys Makin' Trash
18. Bare Wires Television Girls
19. Giuda Number 10
20. Sally Crewe & the Sudden Moves Punk Rock Kid
21. King Louie's Missing Monuments Dance All Nite
22. The Krayolas Gonna Walk Downtown
23. Reigning Sound Can't Hold On
24. Howler You Like White Women I Like Cigarettes

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A New Mandate

Well, the fuckers have done it again. That last mix got zapped by the RIAA on behalf of one of the four major labels (Sony, Universal, EMI, and Warner), all of whom don't seem to understand that the means of distribution have changed in the internet era. These dumb cunts are so intent on saving a paltry 99 cents from a download that they can't see the obvious benefit of the free and spontaneous dissemination of a portion of their artist's work. These are the same assholes that wanted to prosecute home-taping in the '80s, even while the sheer amount of music sales boomed due to the very existence of that trend.

I want to support bands, but I absolutely do not want to support these greedy and venal major labels. So here's my new mandate: from here on in, if a band is on a major label I will not buy their product nor will I promote their product on this site. I might go see them live - but, then again, if they're on a major they probably won't be worth seeing anyway.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

70s Glam mix

The early 70s saw rock hit its first reactionary movement. A new generation of fans and musicians, weaned on tinny AM radio trash and their older siblings' record collections, came of age with a chip on their shoulder and a desire for something beyond the classic rock cliches that were already fossilized in amber. They looked simultaneously to the past and the future for inspiration. In the past, they found the excitement and simplicity of good ol' 50s rock 'n' roll, and in the future they found an alien androgyny based in apocalyptic sci-fi, and they smushed those two seemingly disparate elements together and created an indefinable beast that ended up getting called glam.

Glam, or glitter, as a term is an admittedly large umbrella spread out over a highly dissimilar bunch of acts. The somewhat foppy UK variant (typified by Bowie, T.Rex, The Sweet, and a parade of one hit wonders) was quite clearly at odds with the darker, messier US strain (which included the Dolls, Iggy, Alice Cooper, and even Lou Reed). What ties them together is their mutual influence and similarity to what was then just lurking around the corner: punk rock. The energy, the distorted guitars, the trash aesthetic, the rediscovered faith in rock and roll, and the rejection of established cliches - those very tenets of punk were the same booster rockets that powered the best of the glam bands.

Don't Blame Us, You 96 Decibel Freaks

1. Mott the Hoople The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll
2. New York Dolls Personality Crisis
3. Alice Cooper Under My Wheels
4. The Sweet Hellraiser
5. Suzi Quatro Glycerine Queen
6. Be Bop Deluxe Maid in Heaven
7. T. Rex Sunken Rags
8. Slade Gudbuy T' Jane
9. Jobriath Rock of Ages
10. Crushed Butler High School Dropout
11. Hobnail She's Just A Friend Of Mine
12. The Rats Queen
13. Brett Smiley VaVaVa Voom
14. Hollywood Brats Sick On You
15. Iggy and the Stooges Search and Destroy
16. David Bowie Suffragette City
17. Wizzard Ball Park Incident
18. Mud Tiger Feet
19. David Werner Whizz Kid
20. Alastair Riddell Scars of Love
21. Roxy Music Virginia Plain
22. American Jam Band Jam Jam
23. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel Make Me Smile
24. Sensational Alex Harvey Band Last of the Teenage Idols Pts. I-III

Note: I found it difficult to contain this mix to 80 minutes, so it's the first one on this site that doesn't fit onto a standard CD.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

River City Rebels

This is a story of a band doing something that I personally find courageous, which is to stay true to itself even in the face of overwhelming commercial failure. The River City Rebels followed their own muse and ended up at a point they probably could never have predicted when they started the journey.

Looking back from here, it's hard to believe that journey started with an album called Racism, Religion, and War (2000). The lack of subtlety in the title is carried through in the music - it's fairly generic Oi-derived punk with a 3rd wave ska horn section that only slightly raises it above a thousand other bands of this ilk. By their very next album a year later the band was already expanding on that sound, and by their third album, No Good, No Time, No Pride (2002), they'd taken that tack as far as it could go. Many consider this the band's apex - and if your preference is for buzzsaw energy with gang chant choruses you could do far worse than tracking down a copy of this album - but for me this is when the band finally starts to get interesting.

It took two years for them to return with Hate To Be Loved (2004), which represents an enormous turning point. The album was produced by Sylvain Sylvain (of personal faves the New York Dolls), and it's as if he sat the boys down and explained the deep rhythm & blues roots of punk rock to them. It sounds like a lightbulb suddenly flickered to life, because as much as the album maintains the gang chants and punk spirit of past songs, it also possesses a much more varied sonic palette. A song like "Glitter and Gold" could have been played by the Dolls themselves (and the album's version of R&B chestnut "Don't Mess With Cupid" actually was). Beyond that glam rocker there were ballads and straight up rock 'n' roll, a grab bag of genres spilling out amid the more familiar Rebel moves. The band handicapped themselves by equipping the record with puerile cover art, and the fans of their first three albums were probably in an outrage over a perceived sell-out - but Hate To Be Loved was the sound of a band finally recognizing its own path.

Three years later they appeared with Keepsake of Luck, and to say it was a bold departure is something of an understatement. It was a quantum leap forward. Its reach far wider than anyone - maybe even the band themselves - might have anticipated, incorporating a rootsy Springsteen/Van Morrison influence that opened the Rebels to strains of both soul and folk. At the same time, there's a new-found sincerity in Dan O' Day's vocals that evoke the softer side of the Clash, a band with a similar (if grander and more dramatic) growth towards diversity and eclecticism. Despite of - or maybe because of - the wide range of musical influences, this is where the River City Rebels actually forge their own unique sound.  The album is a monster at 16 songs, and while not all of them rise above their derivations enough of them do to make this the band's crowning achievement.

Tragically and predictably, Keepsake of Luck was soundly ignored by almost everybody. By the time of the next album, 2008's In Love/Loveless, the band was down to its two core members, Dan O' Day and Brandon Rainer. Somewhat surprisingly, the River City Rebels continued to push their sound forward. Sonically, there's almost no trace of their punk past here, but instead there are echoes of practically every strain of American music this side of country & western.

O' Day and Rainer reconvened again in 2010 with Done With Love. Perhaps more reflective and introspective than any of their previous efforts, it still sounds far from defeated. Conveniently, perhaps symbolically, this album appeared almost exactly a decade after their first. Those ten years, hard fought and most likely filled with frustration, manifest themselves in the depth of the music, while tracks like "Gone Forever" and "Here Today, Dead Tomorrow" suggest this may be the end of the journey. Let's hope not.

1. Religion
2. Gotta Get It
3. Aborted
4. I'm So Vain
5. Dreamy 17
6. Glitter and Gold
7. Nothing Makes You Hard
8. All The Flowers
9. Sick Kids
10. I've Seen
11. Bright Rays
12. It's Still There Now, Dear
13. Josie
14. One Sheet
15. One More Dance

Track 1 from Racism, Religion, and War (2000)
Track 2 from Playing to Live, Living to Play (2001)
Track 3 from No Good, No Time, No Pride (2002)
Tracks 4, 5, 6 from Hate To Be Loved (2004)
Tracks 7 - 11 from Keepsake of Luck (2007)
Tracks 12, 13 from In Love/Loveless (2008)
Tracks 14, 15 from Done With Love (2010)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

End of Summer mix

The days are still gloriously hot, but night is already falling sooner. Those patio lanterns are necessary even before you've got all the ribs off the grill. And every so often, if the wind blows just right, you swear you can feel a slight autumn chill lying just under the warm sting of the sun. Yep, it's the dog days of August, and summer's almost over.

So here's a slight change of pace. A decidedly slower pace, in fact. This mix won't get anyone dancing, but it'll aid in the casual sipping of sangria at dusk. It's not exactly sad bastard music - no bearded troubadours with an acoustic guitar whisper-singing about their cosmic pain - this mix is more about the mellow groove. The slow burn. Songs from a variety of sources and eras that tap into a blissed-out form of melancholy, which pretty much matches my mood at this time of year. Maybe yours too. 

Shade and Honey

1. Oh Mercy Lay Everything On Me
2. Robbers on High Street Nasty Numbers
3. Bing Ji Ling Everybody
4. Daniel Tashian When You're Gone
5. Pinback Fortress
6. Ringside (w/ Ben Harper) Lost Days
7. Pernice Brothers Somerville
8. Luke Rathborne Dog Years
9. Vulgar Boatmen You Don't Love Me Yet
10. Largest Living Things Hellbent
11. High Dials What You Call Love Is A Lie
12. Yep The Rain Song 
13. Cat Power Lived In Bars
14. Matt Costa Drive
15. Apex Manor Coming To
16. Warren Zanes Hey Girl
17. Girls Love Like a River
18. Roman Candle Baby's Got It In The Genes
19. The Chevelles Sunshine
20. Penny Blacks Chop Yourself Into Little Pieces And Mail Yourself to New Brunswick, Canada For Immediate Reassembly

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We're Getting Loaded - the 2011 Summer Mix

In honor of the thousands of people who braved swimming in each others' pee for the pic above, here's the latest UHM Summer mix.

These mixes tend to skew far and wide, spanning genres and eras (although this one obstinately sticks within the last decade) with little regard for any particular theme beyond the fact that they all sorta sound like summer (to my ears). Subsequently, the wistful melancholy of the Love Language exists side by side with Giuda's modern update on '70s glam stomp, the Sweetback Sisters' boppin' '50s hoedown, Sharon Jones' R&B groove, and the River City Rebels punkaroll drive (produced by Sylvain Sylvain no less!) and all manner of UHM obsessions in between. There's no reggae on this mix - not due to any newfound prejudice against the genre but more because of this summer's absence of carseat-melting heat in my part of the world - but don't let that deter anyone from skankin' in the sun. Oh, and credit where credit's due - I have to thank my awesome girlfriend PDX Chica for introducing the Blue Skies for Black Hearts song to me. Apparently her great taste knows no bounds. Now, wine coolers for all!

We're Getting Loaded

1. The Twisteroos (Let's Go) Where the Action Is
2. River City Rebels Glitter and Gold
3. Blue Skies for Black Hearts Majoring in the Arts
4. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros Coma Girl
5. Stewboss I Hope You Miss Me
6. The Black Keys Dearest
7. The Star Spangles This Side of the Sun
8. The Breakers Here For a Laugh
9. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Better Things To Do
10. The Silver Seas The Country Life
11. The Black Rabbits All Alone Again
12. Big Talk Getaways
13. Albert Hammond Jr. GfC
14. The Ike Reilly Assassination The Boat Song (We're Getting Loaded)
15. The Sweetback Sisters Love Me, Honey, Do
16. The Spazzys The Sunshine Drive
17. Bubble By And By
18. Giuda Get It Over
19. Maxim Ludwig & the Santa Fe Seven Stacy, C'mon
20. David Vandervelde California Breezes
21. Redondo Beat My Baby (Knows How To Have a Real Good Time)
22. The Love Language Summer Dust

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Covers Project Vol. VIII

Here we go again. After eight volumes of these covers mixes there isn't much to add, although there is a small handful of surprises. Dan Kelly's stab at "Nothing Compares To You" is particularly noteworthy for its totally original, almost jaunty arrangement that magically improves on the song's dynamic. Also outside the typical Un-Herd box, the 1234 turn "Blitzkrieg Bop" into straight-up a capella doo-wop, which only reinforces the sheer mastery of melody and songcraft behind the flash of genius that was the Ramones. In a similar move, the Baseballs expose the basic rock 'n' roll roots of Lady Gaga on "Paparrazi", and Hillbilly Moon Explosion re-imagine the old synthpop chestnut "Enola Gay" as a jumpin' rockabilly ditty. And that's it for curveballs - the rest stays pretty firmly in the indie/punk/power pop wheelhouse of this blog, which is to say it's all good.

You're Gonna Hear Electric Music

1. Dan Kelly Nothing Compares To You (Prince, by way of Sinead O'Connor)
2. The Ex-Gentlemen Untouchables (Generation X)
3. Kurt Baker Hanging On The Telephone (Jack Lee, by way of Blondie)
4. Smash Fashion Benny And The Jets (Elton John)
5. REM Baby Baby (The Vibrators)
6. The Feelies Barstool Blues (Neil Young)
7. The Blue Shadows Raised On Robbery (Joni Mitchell)
8. The Yum Yums Blame It On Suzie (Backstreet Girls)
9. Cobra Verde Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)
10. The Hoodoo Gurus A Hard Day's Night (The Beatles)
11. Army Navy Right Back Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale)
12. The 1234 Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones)
13. Green River Ordinance Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
14. Chixdiggit She's So Modern (Boomtown Rats)
15. Baby Lemonade How Deep Is Your Love (The BeeGees)
16. Jeff Dahl The Moon Upstairs (Mott the Hoople)
17. Everclear Southern Girls (Cheap Trick)
18. The Donnas Drive My Car (The Beatles)
19. Hillbilly Moon Explosion Enola Gay (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)
20. The Baseballs Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)
21. The Gladhands Play On (The Raspberries)
22. The Drive-By Truckers Strutter (Kiss)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Under Attack by Anonymous

There used to be a Faves of 2011 post in this spot. It was taken down today, May 24th, without my consultation even though there was no active link or any kind of copyright violation.

Anyone with a brain can see that this blog is an attempt to bring exposure to bands and artists that I feel have been unfairly neglected. I don't put up whole albums, just mixes of songs that I like.
I'm not about to make an argument against the charge of copyright violation, but I believe it's on the same level as home taping used to be in the '80s. I know for a fact that over the years many bands have sold albums directly because of the exposure from my mixes (in one memorable case, a couple went out and bought albums by every band on the mix) - it doesn't make it right, but it does suggest there's more going on here than simple piracy.

And if you don't agree that's fine. If you don't want your song on one of these mixes, then please contact me directly (email in my profile) and I'll simply remove it.

And, finally, to the anonymous complainant: please identify yourself so that I can never support your band or the band you "represent" ever again. It's unfair to the other artists that may want the exposure for you to assume they all share your intolerance.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sick of Waiting for the Sun

Even though the climate in my part of the world is resisting the fact, it's pretty much summer right now, which means a stack o' sun-worshiping mixes will be uploaded in the next number of weeks. This first one out of the gate is crammed full of power pop and, as much as the interweb disagrees about the definition of that particular term, this mix accurately defines what I think it is. And I am, of course, correct on the matter. So if you're a fan of the 3 minute bubblegummy, windows-down, pop/rock confection, you may have just found your nirvana. Now, if only that damn sun would just come out.

Sick of Waiting for the Sun

1. Skybombers I Could Tell You Something
2. Oh Mercy Can't Fight It
3. The Killjoys Soaked
4. Silver Sun High Times
5. Cirrone All I Know
6. The ACB's Keys In The Car
7. Last Days of April I Can't Control It
8. The Chevelles C'mon Everybody
9. Smash Palace Somebody Up There Likes Me
10. Barely Pink Baby A.M.
11. Mother Hips White Falcon Fuzz
12. The Runarounds Cellophane's Girl
13. Successful Failures All I Can Take
14. Chixdiggit I Remember You
15. Per Gessle Reporter
16. Kwyet Kings Radiated By Your Charm
17. Sun Wizard Safe and Sound
18. Locksley Let Me Know
19. Everybody Else Without You
20. Postelles 123 Stop
21. The Ex-Gentlemen Oh Mona
22. Sweet Water Superstar
23. Throwback Suburbia Head Over Heels
24. The Biters Rock 'n' Roll Loser

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Death to False Monger mix

The Un-Herd Music has been inactive for a little while, thanks to the thief or thieves who broke into my house and stole my computer, along with a half dozen mixes I had ready to upload. Not sure when I'll get around to compiling them again, but I hope the scumbag thief is enjoying the samplers of Jon Spencer and Mott the Hoople, a family tree of Greg Cartwright, another two volumes of covers, and a few random sets. Fortunately, I'd already burned this particular mix to a CDR to test it out in the car. It passed with flying colors - and UHM is back up and running.

This latest addition to the ever-growing family of monger mixes is pretty similar in approach to all the others. This one's maybe a tad more Keef than Thunders - there's definitely a thread of classic rock that runs through a lot of it (and just so we're clear, that's classic rock in the sense of the Stones and the Faces, not the Moody Blues and Jethro Tull) - but as a mix it's still the sort of thing that you only throw on the player once all the married couples have left the party. Not that married couples aren't equally welcome (and likely) to get their serious drink on as anybody - it's just that when they do it usually leads to hamster fights and fisticuffs. Actually, now that I think of it, maybe cue this puppy up when they're still around. This is that scenario's perfect soundtrack.

Death To False Monger

1. Scott McCarl Go Down Swinging
2. Moneybrother My Li'l Girl's Straight From Heaven
3. Zachary James & the All Seeing Eyes Three Outta Five
4. Poison Arrows Hittin' It Hard
5. Kasey Anderson All Lit Up
6. Stacie Collins Don't Doubt Me Now
7. Skybombers Black Carousel
8. The Booze Down On Your Luck
9. Harlan T. Bobo Last Step
10. Watts Chaperone
11. The Adjusters Drinkin' Red Wine
12. The Dictators What's Up With That?
13. Ponderosa Old Gin Road
14. Jim Jones Revue Stop The People
15. The New York Vaults Get Back
16. The Blessings She Thinks She Loves Me
17. Hazy Malaze Satisfy The Jones
18. Young Fresh Fellows Sittin' On A Pitchfork
19. Bubblegum Screw Better Man
20. Two Cow Garage Burn In Hell
21. The Compulsions My Favorite Wine
22. Dax Riggs Living Is Suicide

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Faves of '11 (Vol. I)

And it's already that time of the new year, wherein I offer up a mix of sparkling new tunes that have made my daily toil just a little bit more bearable.

Now, these mixes aren't necessarily meant as ringing endorsements of the albums the songs come from - they're really just a collection of single tracks that I like - but I can already promise that the records by Oh Mercy, Watts, Yep, Apex Manor, and Skybombers will be showing up in my quantum Best-of-the-Year list. As for the others, all I can say is that they all guarantee at least one outstanding track, as is evidenced here.

And, as always, this blog remains a Radiohead-free zone.

Faves of 2011 A

1. Oh Mercy Keith St.
2. Apex Manor The Party Line
3. Skybombers Love Me Like You Used To Do
4. Only Son The Same Two Places
5. Miles Kane Come Closer
6. Beady Eye The Roller
7. Nicole Atkins Cry, Cry, Cry
8. The Dozen Dimes Mean Little Girl
9. New York Dolls Talk To Me Baby
10. Watts The Times
11. The Insomniacs Yeah Yeah Yeah
12. Five O'Clock Heroes I Need You Around
13. Smith Westerns End of the Night
14. Ponderosa Pistolier
15. Ringside Should've Known
16. Lucinda Williams Buttercup
17. Yep Crestfallen
18. The World/Inferno Friendship Society The Politics of Passing Out
19. Frankie & the Heartstrings Hunger
20. David Lowery All Those Girls Meant Nothing To Me
21. The Baseball Project (w/ Craig Finn) Don't Call Them Twinkies
22. Telekinesis Gotta Get It Right Now

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review - Watts "On the Dial" (2011)

Whenever I start to lament the demise of modern music, a band like this will show up and kick my ass. Watts somehow wedge their tough rock 'n' roll in the same space between punk and power pop that once made the Replacements seem so necessary. Each song on On The Dial comes armed with at least a couple barbed hooks, and the band backs them up with the cool swagger of a 50s street gang. Singer Dan Kopko's rasp holds a similarity to Social Distortion's Mike Ness (but with a more advanced sense of both melody and humor), while guitarist John Blout's muscular, dramatic leads are concise and tuneful, and underneath it all the rhythm section of Craig Lapointe and John Lynch pushes every bar forward with a lurching, inevitable momentum. The band may be named after Rolling Stones drummer Charlie, but I'm going out on a limb and claiming they're paying similar homage to Mott the Hoople bassist Overend, because as much as these songs chug along with the Chuck Berryisms of a punked-up Stones they also revel in the hard-bitten romantic fatalism of the best moments of Mott (and now that I think of it, I may have to start a campaign to get these guys to cover either "Jerkin' Crocus" or "One of the Boys" - it might be a perfect fit). Smart enough to title a song "Sweetheart of the Radio", cool enough to cover Angel City (aka the Angels), and, godbless'em, brave enough to even try at all - Watts is a band after my own heart.

Watts on Facebook

Watts on Amazon

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hidden Track mix

I've compiled the following mix from a bunch of albums that took that extra step for the fans. Bonus tracks. More to the point: hidden bonus tracks. As always, the only rule I followed was the song must be something I like. Potential downloaders will just have to trust me on this one.

I'm of two minds when it comes to the hidden track. On one hand, it's pretty cool to find that buried gem as a sweet extra bonus to an album. On the other hand, sometimes bands tend to out-smart themselves in an effort to hide it. For example, I get annoyed when the final track has a few minutes of silence after it followed by the "secret" song. Those few minutes of silence ensure I will never play the album in its entirety or as part of a shuffle selection. Or if, like Dramarama once did, the band cuts up the bonus song into 5 second chunks of separate tracks, which plays perfectly fine until you press "random" and suddenly it resembles what I imagine the inside of Jessica Simpson's head must sound like.

Perhaps the best thing about the hidden track is the fact it isn't titled, which means the band is giving permission to the listeners to title it themselves. Personally, I jump all over that shit. For example, this mix really should look like this:

1. Eels [hidden track] (from Daisies of the Galaxy)
2. Marah [hidden track] (from If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry)
3. Bleu [hidden track] (from Redhead)
4. The Foxymorons [hidden track] (from Rodeo City)
5. Kings of Leon [hidden track] (from Youth and Young Manhood)
6. You Am I [hidden track] (from Hourly, Daily)
7. Liquor Giants [hidden track] (from Liquor Giants)
8. Supersuckers [hidden track] (from Must've Been High)
9. Rich Hope [hidden track] (from Rich Hope & His Evil-Doers)
10. Tommy Womack [hidden track] (from Circus Town)
11. John Oszajca [hidden track] (from From There to Here)
12. The Right Ons [hidden track] (from Look Inside Now)
13. Cracker [hidden track] (from Gentleman's Blues)
14. Dramarama [hidden track] (from Sci Fi Hi Fi)
15. The Pietasters [hidden track] (from Awesome Mix Tape #6)
16. Thelonious Monster [hidden track] (from California Clam Chowder)
17. Heatmiser [hidden track] (from Mic City Sons)
18. The Auteurs [hidden track] (from New Wave)
19. The Libertines [hidden track] (from The Libertines)
20. The Honeydogs [hidden track] (from Here's Luck)
21. Sparklehorse [hidden track] (from It's A Wonderful Life)
22. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club [hidden track] (from Howl)

But why miss an opportunity? Here's my own titles for the tunes:


1. Eels Cheese Wheel Radio
2. Marah Monkey Cuffs
3. Bleu Excuse Me, Ma'am, You're Kneeling On My Neck Ruffle
4. The Foxymorons Tastes Like Children
5. Kings of Leon A Fieldmouse, A Tractor, and a Butane Torch
6. You Am I Two Pounds of Meat in a One Pound Robot
7. Liquor Giants The Scientologist's Arithmetic (Tom's Square Root)
8. Supersuckers (I'm) Trapped (in Parentheses)
9. Rich Hope & His Evil-Doers Shakespeare's Dong
10. Tommy Womack I'm Selling Mom's Urine On E-Bay*
11. John Oszajca Yeah, I Dunno, It's Like, You know?
12. The Right Ons Poultry Lamp
13. Cracker The Rise and Fall of Granny Bumthrust
14. Dramarama Let Go Of My Ears (I Know What I'm Doing)
15. The Pietasters O Spelunker, My Spelunker
16. Thelonious Monster Whore D'Oeuvres
17. Heatmiser The Gunt of Limbaugh
18. The Auteurs Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, Provided the Last Chocolate Means Certain, Inevitable Death
19. The Libertines The Boy Who Cried Wolf Blitzer
20. The Honeydogs Urinal Cake
21. Sparklehorse I Likes Dem Tiggies
22. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Sociopathic Type A Over-Achiever With a Bright Future in the Financial Industry

*actual title - it was too good to change

Full Disclosure: wherever possible, I've tagged each song with its real title.
Full Disclosure pt. 2: there just might be a hidden bonus track on this mix

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hello My Name Is Mix (vol. 3)

The third volume in a series I never thought could get this far. This time there's a couple of slight cheats involved, as I've included two fictional characters. For those of you out there playing the home game, Gladys Kravitz was the nosy neighbor in the old Bewitched series, and Erica Kane was (possibly still is) Susan Lucci's character on whatever daytime soap she's on. And yes, I take a small bit of pride in the fact that I don't know which soap.

Musically, it hews closely to the previous volumes, meaning lots of pop punk amid quirky indie and even a few noo wave oldies.

Hello My Name Is... Vol. 3

1. intro (courtesy of Andy Clockwise)
2. Urge Overkill Erica Kane
3. The Riffbrokers Roy Orbison
4. Binge Anna Kournikova
5. The Gay Blades Mick Jagger
6. Arkells John Lennon
7. Chixdiggit! Koo Stark
8. The Dollyrots Jackie Chan
9. The Adorkables Christina Ricci
10. Betty & the Werewolves David Cassidy
11. The Badamps Scarlett Johansson
12. The Successful Failures Niki Zerenberg
13. Discipulos de Dionisos Traci Lords
14. The Tories Gladys Kravitz
15. Wreckless Eric Joe Meek
16. The Young Jacques Jacques Cousteau
17. Human Sexual Response Jackie Onassis
18. The Jazz Butcher Shirley MacLaine
19. The So So Glos Fred Astaire
20. The Major Labels Richard Randolph
21. Casey Spooner Faye Dunaway
22. Roadside Graves Liv Tyler
23. Thee Jenerators Georgie Best
24. Half Hour To Go John Glenn
25. Corduoroy Jan Michael Vincent

Monday, January 17, 2011

Replacements - A Family Tree

The Replacements - the little band that couldn't - may have been the last of the rock 'n' roll true believers. They didn't hide behind layers of smug irony, nor did they limit their bleary-eyed ambition to the safe havens of indie cool that have sprung up in the internet age. They overtly aimed for greatness even while self-handicapped by a crippling distrust of success - a dichotomy that ensured they exist in a frustrating no-win bubble that could never be broken. But, man, did they ever try to break it.

If you were lucky enough to witness them live, good night or bad night (because either held its own kind of glory), then you know their greatness was realized beyond debate. If you're a latecomer, then you'll just have to take us old folks' word for it as you ponder the recorded evidence. The Replacements albums have all been reissued and remastered with bonus tracks, and they're all worth checking out (particularly Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased To Meet Me). Today's exercise, however, is to compile some of the post-Mats projects.

Once the Replacements crashed and burned, it wasn't surprising that leader/main songwriter Paul Westerberg continued his path of iconoclastic brilliance, whether under his own name or the Grandpaboy moniker. More unexpected was how Bassist Tommy Stinson went on to prove himself an incredibly strong songwriter, first in the excellent Bash & Pop, then in the short-lived Perfect, and more recently under his own name. Drummer Chris Mars managed to put out four albums of decreasing charm before ditching music altogether. And Bob Stinson was predictably rudderless without the controlling hand of Westerberg, but his energetic work in Static Taxi only proved the tragedy in his passing. Bob's replacement Replacement, Slim Dunlap, released two fine records that almost sound like lost Keith Richards solo joints. As a bonus, this mix ends with the '06 reunion of the band that was recorded for the Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? best-of.

It's arguable that no other band has sired so many worthwhile splinter groups. The Beatles, of course, turned into three and a half awesome solo careers - but after that, I'd be interested to hear any other suggestions that rival the Replacements. I know they have to be out there, I just can't think of them.

Let's Not Belong

1. Paul Westerberg Knockin' On Mine
2. Paul Westerberg Ain't Got Me
3. Bash & Pop Never Aim To Please
4. Bash & Pop Loose Ends
5. Chris Mars Reverse Status
6. Chris Mars Popular Creeps
7. Grandpaboy Hot Un
8. Grandpaboy Psychopharmacology
9. Slim Dunlap Partners In Crime
10. Slim Dunlap Cozy
11. Slim Dunlap Cooler Then
12. Perfect Making Of An Asshole
13. Perfect Don't Look Down
14. Static Taxi Max Factor
15. Grandpaboy Let's Not Belong Together
16. Paul Westerberg Gun Shy
17. Paul Westerberg Looking Up In Heaven
18. Tommy Stinson Hey You
19. Slim Dunlap Nowheres Near
20. The Replacements Message To The Boys

Track 1 from 14 Songs (1993)
Track 2 from Eventually (1996)
Tracks 3, 4 from Friday Night Is Killing Me (1993)
Tracks 5, 6 from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (1992)
Tracks 7, 8 from Grandpaboy (1997)
Track 9 from The Old New Me (1993)
Tracks 10, 11, 19 from Times Like This (1996)
Tracks 12 from Once, Twice, Three Times A Maybe (2004)
Track 13 from Seven Days A Week (1997)
Track 14 from Closer 2 Normal (1989)
Track 15 from Mono/Stereo (2002)
Track 16, 17 from Folker (2004)
Track 18 from Village Gorilla Head (2004)
Track 20 from Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? (2006)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Best of the Best of 2010

Get ready for another UHM quantum top 20, compiled grudgingly from the comps I've posted throughout the year (as well as a few last minute additions).

This was another year of great music, and this mix is subsequently filled with one outstanding tune after another. All of this blog's obsessions are represented: a little punk energy from the Cute Lepers, some dirty rock 'n' roll from Jim Jones Revue and J. Roddy Walston, some rootsy Americana from Mynabirds and Kasey Anderson, some modern R&B updating from Asa, a touch of glam from Free Energy, and a whole lot of power pop/pop punk/whatever-you-wanna-call-it from most of the rest.

The Best of 2010

1. Spoon Trouble Comes Running (from Transference)
2. Silver Seas Somebody Said Your Name (from Chateau Revenge!)
3. Asa Why Can't We (from Beautiful Imperfection)
4. J. Roddy Walston & The Business Don't Break The Needle (from J. Roddy Walston & The Business)
5. Jim Jones Revue Dishonest John (from Burning Your House Down)
6. The Biters Dreamer (from The Biters ep)
7. Smash Palace How Can You Say? (from 7)
8. Free Energy Bang Pop (from Stuck On Nothing)
9. Title Tracks Every Little Bit Hurts (from It Was Easy)
10. The Cute Lepers What Happens Next (from Smart Accessories)
11. Yukon Blonde Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore (from Yukon Blonde)
12. Elvyn Those Were The Days (from The Decline)
13. Sunrise Highway Magic (from Sunrise Highway)
14. Locksley There's A Love (from Be In Love)
15. Telepathic Butterflies Aloha! (from Wow & Flutter)
16. Willie Nile Can't Stay Home (from The Innocent Ones)
17. The Gay Blades Mick Jagger (from Savages)
18. Kasey Anderson All Lit Up (from Nowhere Nights)
19. Little Fish You, Me, and the TV (from Baffled and Beat)
20. Jason Falkner Emotion Machine (from All Quiet On The Noize Floor)
21. Mynabirds What We Gained In The Fire (from What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood)
22. The Shivers American Girls (from Sunset Psalms)
23. Dan Kelly Grown Up Solutions (from Dan Kelly's Dream)

So that makes 23 artists on the UHM quantum top 20, and damn, there's still no room for great songs from great albums by Bobby Bare Jr., the Postelles, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes, Luke Doucet, Ted Leo, Macy Gray, My Jerusalem, and Caroline & the Treats, and a whole host of others.