The CHIRP Blog
The Minutemen were one of the greatest American rock bands ever, but their time together was all too short. This was due to D. Boon’s tragic death in a van accident right around the time of the release of The Minutemen’s wonderful Three Way Tie (For Last) album. In their relatively brief time together, Boon, with best friend Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley, melded together punk, post-punk, funk, jazz and classic rock influences and intelligent lyrics about politics and social problems into an invigorating and innovative sound. Boon was a big man with a big heart, an enthusiastic singer and performer and a terrific guitarist, fronting a band that, for all they achieved, seemed to have only scratched the surface of their considerable potential. Let’s pay tribute to Mr. Boon by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
- Stevie Wonder — Golden Lady (Innervisions): During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama told Rolling Stone that Stevie Wonder’s five-album run, culminating in 1976’s Songs In The Key of Life, may have been the best sequence of albums ever. Whatever you think of Obama’s policies now, his acumen as a music critic is unassailable. Innervisions was part of that run, full of amazing songs. This is one of Wonder’s sublime romantic songs, bursting with joy, as Wonder’s melody effortlessly envelopes the ears. One of Wonder’s many deep cuts that could have been a smash hit.
- Kaiser Chiefs — Caroline, Yes (Employment): The title is a clever nod to The Beach Boys’ song from Pet Sounds. However, the song has no resemblance to the Brian Wilson composition. Well, maybe a bit, as there is a sad or wistful feeling to the verses, but it all builds to a big chorus tailor made for punters in football stadiums to sing along with. Nothing wrong with that, by the way. This is a band that is so consistent, they are easy to take for granted. Don’t.
- The Kinks — Skin And Bones (Muswell Hillbillies): This album is anamoly in The Kinks’ catalog, coming between the amazing run of Britpop classics that ended with Lola Versus…. and before the mediocre concepts that filled their dance card in the first half of the ’70s. This is the rustic Kinks, with a bluesier orientation, and even a bit of country seeping in. Yet the songs are unmistakably Ray Davies. This song sounds like it could have come from the Village Green era, but for the slide guitars and the performance.
- Madness — Sweetest Girl (Mad Not Mad): This Scritti Politti tune was perfectly suited for the urbane music hall approach of the Nutty Boys at the tail end of their original run. The original was Scritti Politti’s first break from agitprop post-punk into actual pop territory, but the recording was still a bit raw. Madness smooths all this out, with one of Suggs’ best vocals. An awesome song and a fine performance.
- The Beach Boys — Summer Means New Love (Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)): A somewhat cheesy guitar instrumental. The Beach Boys kicked out a lot of albums back then, so there was some filler. At least this filler, with lush string accompaniment, gives some insight to where Brian Wilson was heading to with Pet Sounds, albeit not as Muzak-y as this track, for which we should be thankful.
- Paul McCartney — Ever Present Past (Memory Almost Full): If you’ve been paying attention, recent television appearances by Paul McCartney have revealed that his amazing voice is finally weathering a lot. It is evident on this solid pop track from his last album. The flair for melody is still there, but as his voice declines, it gets squeakier, and future records may be tougher listens.
- Ram Jam — Wanna Find Love (Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Ram): The story of Ram Jam is pretty amazing. They were originally founded by the original lead guitarist for the bubblegum band The Lemon Pipers, Bruce Barlett. His previous Ohio-based group had splintered after having a regional hit with Ledbetter’s “Black Betty”. Barlett took that recording and called his new band Ram Jam, and musicians were hired to fill out the band, who recorded an album which featured that eventual Top 10 smash. A whole new group of musicians were recruited for the second album, and Barlett was effectively pushed out. Both Ram Jam albums are full of solid hard rock, and I really like the second album, which hits on everything from boogie to proto-metal. This is chooglin’ rock number that would have done any bar band proud.
- Smoking Popes — Welcome To Janesville (Stay Down): Despite the success of their intial post-reunion concerts, people wondered if the Popes could generate good new material. The opening track from the band’s first post-reunion album made that evident, as it is wonderful loping power pop number, that seems to throw in a little Michael Nesmith/Monkees (think “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ‘Round”) with Josh Caterer’s strong sense of melody. This song was strong evidence of a total return to form.
- Sea-Ders — Thanks a Lot (The Freakbeat Scene): A slightly psychedelic ’60s beat number from an obscure British band with a terrible name. The song has a nice guitar line and would be a solid tune for a current garage band to play, as it could use some extra punch.
- The Rolling Stones — Neighbours (Tattoo You): A fun throw away track from perhaps the last terrific Stones album. While I have a lot of Stones albums, I’m not as hep to their history, but apparently, Tattoo You was put together from a mish-mash of tracks the band had been working on over the years, which cohered into a fine full length. This is simply a peppy mid-tempo track with a great energy and a fun Mick Jagger vocal — the composition may have been tossed off, but they are clearly enjoying themselves.
All hail to the Queen of Soul on her 69th birthday. Yes, Aretha Franklin is one year older, and, thankfully, in better health, as she is soon to be touring. Next to Ray Charles, perhaps no one in soul music was so successful in translating the fervor of gospel music into the more commercially palatable rhythm and blues. Of course, when you’re father is a revered (C.L. Franklin) perhaps you have a leg up on the competition. Franklin’s voice is inspiring and oft-imitated, but not equaled. But it’s not just the voice — she is a great interpreter, who can make a song her own (the best example being how she revamped Otis Redding’s “Respect” — you top Otis, you must be a queen), a fabulous pianist, and had adapted to other fields, including opera. So let’s honor Aretha by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
- Sweet — Into The Night (Sweet Fanny Adams): This hard rock number, featuring guitarist Andy Scott on lead vocals, came out in the States on the Desolation Boulevard album, which combines tracks from the Sweet Fanny Adams and U.K. Desolation Boulevard release, plus two singles. The song is somewhat in the vein of 1973-74 Deep Purple, with the addition of Sweet’s awesome harmony vocals. The track showcases Mick Tucker, who plays a snare-heavy drum break with a phased gong. The Beastie Boys dug the drum break, sampling it on a track on their classic Paul’s Boutique album.
- This Perfect Day — Could Have Been Friends (C-60): This Swedish power pop act managed to get this album released on a U.S. major, where it sank like a stone. Don’t blame the band — they mixed strong melodies with crunchy guitars about as well as fellow countrymen such as The Wannadies and Eggstone. And, they generally wrote clever lyrics that didn’t merely restate power pop cliches. This song has a great hook and that’s all one can ask of a pop song.
- The Angels — Long Night (Night Attack): The great Aussie hard rock band fronted by Doc Neeson. A lot of their songs could be described as “thinking man’s AC/DC”. The Angels (who were called Angel City and later, The Angels from Angel City, in the U.S.), are basic riff rockers, but Neeson’s growly voice and lyrics that focused on things other than sex, drugs and rock & roll set the band apart. This is a very representative track, full of drama and plenty to shake a fist or bang a head to.
- Randy Newman — Roll With The Punches (Land of Dreams): A bluesy number from Mr. Newman. This is classic Newman, exposing the follies of racism by singing from the perspective of a man who thinks that poor people of color should just deal with things, the ol’ pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Of course, the lyrics and singing make make this position seem absurd.
- The Pearlfishers — Todd Is God (Sky Meadows): Yes, this is a flat out homage to Todd Rundgren. The song has mixes a melody in the vein to Todd’s “We Gotta Get You A Woman” with The Pearlfishers’ Bacharach meets Brian Wilson sound. There is a lovely horn arrangement, and the song is lush and so darned happy.
- Fabulous Poodles — Work Shy (Mirror Stars): The whole new wave ‘movement’ allowed older pop songwriters a new place for tunes that didn’t fit in with ’70s rock orthodoxy. The Fab Poos fit that bill, as they were a very Kinks inspired band, down to the vocals. Arguably, their first couple albums were better than the ones Ray Davies and company were releasing at the same time. This is a fun blues based pop tune on the virtues of laziness, with good violin work by Bobby Valentino (chekc ).
- Superchunk — Rope Light (Majesty Shredding): I think Mac McCaughey spent Superchunk’s lengthy hiatus just collecting great riffs, as their return album, Majesty Shredding is chock full of memorable ones. The riff sustains the verses which then sets up a ripping chorus. Of course, the playing is terrific too. This sounds like it could have come out 20 years ago from a young eager band, a compliment to how well Superchunk still is a preminent hooky punk band.
- The Dentists — Space Man (Behind The Door, I Keep The Universe): The Dentists were a C-86 style pop band who graduated to a major label, and some fans criticized them for getting too slick. Since I had never heard their earlier work, I had no beefs with their perky, jangly Brit pop songs. This is my fave Dentists song, as it leaps right into the chorus and is full of cheery energy throughout.
- Mano Negra — Patchuko Hop (Puta’s Fever): The seiminal rock en espanol band, led by Manu Chao, had only one album issued in America while they were still together. Puta’s Fever is a classic, with Mano Negra mixing styles and languages, while performing with manic energy. As a result, even an ethnic folk type number still rocks, as is the case here.
- The Orgone Box — Disposable (The Orgone Box): Rick Corcoran originally had a band called Orange, which never got much of anywhere. But he loved the sound. A mix of ’60s psychedelia and influences like John Lennon, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison, among others, define Orgone Box music. This is combined with cool mid-fi production that gives the songs the right feel. Although this is retro, there is an aspect that gives away that this is a modern take. Corcoran released two albums under The Orgone Box and they are both excellent.
Hey you! Quit it with your “winter blues” — it’s 60 degrees out! Get into spring mode and hear some blissed-out shoegaze and psychedelia from our friends Panda Riot and Relay Beken tonight for our monthly benefit at the Whistler! The night starts at 9:30pm, and DJ sets from yours truly will happen throughout the night. As always, entry is free, you must be 21 or older to enter, and we’ll be raffling off some very rad prizes. A portion of bar proceeds benefits CHIRP, so have a beverage of your choice for us, will ya?
Check out the facebook invite here, if that’s your style: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=131990133537845
See you there!
Lush stood out amongst the band’s of the shoegazer movement. They took cues from the Cocteau Twins, but added a lot of dense guitar sounds, aided, appropriately enough, by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. They went on to make a series of fine records. If there was a shoegazer pinup girl, it had to be Lush’s Miki Berenyi. Berenyi’s voice, alone or in combination with Emma Anderson, helped the Lush sound, well, Lush. In honor of Ms. Berenyi’s birthday, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
- Superdrag — Aspartame (Industry Giants): When this Knoxville, Tennessee power pop band got back together, all bets were off, with front man John Davis having released a Christian rock album prior to the reunion. Well, whatever his beliefs, he hadn’t lost his taste for rocking out. The Industry Giants was spotty, but this blistering track was a highlight, with Davis bitter and the band smoking, with just enough melody and nifty reggae tinged middle eight.
- Nat King Cole — Stardust (Selections from the Nat King Cole box set): One of the all-time great crooners, swelling strings and a classic song. How can you go around? Cole could be bluesy or urbane or both at the same time. This is so romantic.
- Run-D.M.C. — Proud To Be Black (Raising Hell): A deep cut from one of the first major commercial rap albums. Of course, the first two Run-D.M.C. albums were pretty great too, but this album augmented the hardcore beats and rhymes sound with a few extra elements, but not to the point of diluting it. This is closer to the spare sound of the debut album.
- Beastie Boys — 5 Piece Chicken Dinner (Paul’s Boutique): Some sampled hillybilly banjo picking, a short interlude on this stone cold classic (yes, an old expression, but the album’s old, so it’s okay).
- Doleful Lions — Driller Killer (The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!): A winsome melody, some pleasant jangle rocking and Jonathan Scott’s angelic voice. The first two elements are familiar and well executed, but it’s Scott’s voice and words that make this stand out. One thing that has made Doleful Lions consistently rewarding is how Scott continues to hone his songwriting while finding new musical contexts as he evolves.
- Kid Creole & The Coconuts — The Seven Year Itch (Doppelganger): August Darnell showed how adaptable funk was, as his songs mixed calypso and other tropical songs, with elements of Tin Pan Alley and showtunes, and the funk guitar parts in the background never sounded out of place. This song is so full of cool elements. The chorus isn’t as hooky as some of the horn lines and chord changes.
- Bettie Serveert — Have A Heart (Log 22): This Dutch band is steeped in ’80s college rock by way of the jangly side of The Velvet Underground, and with Carol Van Dyk, they skillfully mix melody and drone, topped off by an appealing personality up front. This is a languid mid-tempo tune augmented with some nice horns.
- Green Pajamas — Laura Silver Bell (In A Glass Darkly): This band is best known for “Kim the Waitress”, which Material Issue covered. Jeff Kelly, the leader, writes wonderful psychedelic songs. It’s not all about fuzzy guitars and backwards tapes, but it’s more in the vein of early Pink Floyd and Kaleidoscope, with mystical lyrics. If the band was heavier, they might lurch towards prog. Laura Weller takes the lead on this pretty song.
- Electric Light Orchestra — Bluebird Is Dead (On The Third Day): An early E.L.O. song, with a basic blues progression and a bit of a John Lennon vibe in the verses, but more McCartney-ish as it heads toward the chorus. The string arrangements are pretty dazzling and Jeff Lynne’s singing is particularly strong.
- Blur — Entertain Me (The Great Escape): This is from my favorite Blur album, where I think they just hit all of their strengths on one album. This is a cool tune that has a bit of a Bowie feel. It works a very simple rhythm, with some busy bass work and mechanical disco drumming. Not one of the top tracks, but an interesting number.
The annual South by Southwest Music Festival will be in full swing next week in Austin, TX, and CHIRP Radio will be there! Here’s a rundown of shows we’re participating in…
Wednesday, March 16th: CHIRP Radio presents The Burger Boogie Tour @ Trailer Space Records [1401-A Rosewood] for an all ages show from 1:00 PM to 12:00AM. The scheduled lineup:
2:30PM – Summer Twins / 3:00PM – Feeding People / 3:30PM – White Mystery / 4:00PM – Jaill / 4:30PM – Mean Jeans / 5:00PM – The Pizazz / 5:30PM – Dreamend / 6:00PM – Devon Williams / 6:30PM – Gentleman Jesse / 7:00PM – Cosmonauts / 7:30PM – Audacity / 8:00PM – Peach Kelli Pop / 8:30PM – Apache / 9:00PM – Wrong Words / 9:30PM – Shannon and the Clams / 10:00PM – Hunx And His Punx / 10:30PM – Bad Sports / 11:00PM – Conspiracy of Owls / 11:30PM – King Tuff
Thursday, March 17th: Threadless, in association with Bud Light, Mike’s Hard Punch & CHIRP Radio, presents the 15th Annual Schubas & Lincoln Hall SXSW Round-Up @Yard Dog Gallery [1510 S. Congress] starting at 12:00 PM (18+ & free, RSVP on Facebook), featuring…
Alejandro Escovedo / Alex Winston / California Wives / John Vanderslice / Kopecky / Family Band / My Gold Mask / Reptar / Screaming Females / Walk the Moon
…Plus DJ sets throughout the day by Flosstradamus & Midnight Conspiracy.
Also on Thursday, Hardly Art and Art Fag, in association with Sailor Jerry’s and CHIRP Radio, present the Hardly ArtFag Party @ Sailor Jerry’s Shangri La [1016 E 6th Street] from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Featured performers include…
La Sera / Dirty Beaches / Unnatural Helpers / Las Robertas / Dizzy Eyes / Young Prisms / Colleen Green / Heavy Hawaii
Friday, March 18th: CHIRP Radio presents TWO free showcases from HoZac records:
@Beerland [711 Red River St.] from 1:00PM to 6:00PM…
Mickey / Heavy Times / Outer Minds / People’s Temple / Fungi Girls / Xray Eyeballs / The Shrapnelles
@Cheer Up Charlie’s [1104 East 6th St.] from 6:30pm to 9:30pm…
Rayon Beach / Women in Prison / Radar Eyes / Teepee / Sleepovers / Reading Rainbow