The CHIRP Blog
This week, we pay tribute to the quiet Beatle, the first Beatle to play live on stage in America, the late George Harrison. Harrison’s sister lived in Benton, Illinois in the ’60s (way down south), and George paid her a visit and during that time, he stepped up on stage to play with a local combo. Little did they know who they were playing with. Harrison was a masterful guitarist, a philanthropist, a populizer of eastern religion, a very good songwriter, a man who bankrolled a lot of great British film, and the Beatle who had the best single scene in A Hard Day’s Night (“She’s a drag, a well-known drag. Sometimes we turn the sound down and say rude things about her.”). In honor of this musical giant’s birthday, please get out your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
- Radiohead – Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors (Amnesiac): It’s good to start out with this, considering all the chatter the new Radiohead album has generated. Some see The King Of Limbs as a throwback to this Amnesiac and Kid A sound, as opposed to the prior two more guitar oriented albums. That is true to a certain extent. However, the new stuff is more languid and mellow. This particularly track has echoing electo-percussion, a processed voice popping in and out and unexpected piano interludes. It’s more aggressive and jarring than the new material. Which isn’t a judgment, it’s merely an observation.
- Jamey Johnson — Playing The Part (The Guitar Song): Johnson is the rare contemporary country singer who actually plays real country music. With his distinct baritone voice, Johnson’s music sometimes comes close to ’70s Southern rock, but it never loses its more traditional feel. He’s a good songwriter, whether it’s telling stories of how overrated Hollywood is (as on this song), singing from the point of view of an old guitar, or taking on rich folks who don’t understand the needs of the poor, Johnson is a throwback in the best sense of the word.
- The Pogues — The Gentleman Soldier (Rum, Sodomy & The Lash): I cannot underestimate what an impact the second Pogues album had on me. The band did a masterful job of mixing a punk rock attitude and amped up vibe to traditional Irish and folk music. Moreover, they drew the lines clearly for me on how the roots of American country music came so strongly from Ireland, Scotland and England. This got me back into more traditional country and embracing the cowpunk scene of the mid-80’s even more. This is just a fun little romp.
- The Olivia Tremor Control — Memories Of Jacqueline 1906 (Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk At Cubist Castle): At around the time I was reveling in the power pop revival of the late-‘90s, with some of those bands evincing strong psychedelic vibes, the Elephant 6 collective was putting out lots of great psychedelic pop. OTC was my favorite of all these bands, as their best songs really had an authenticity matched by their catchiness. This is a typical number with some inspired mid-fi production touches.
- The Byrds — It’s No Use (Mr. Tambourine Man): A folk rock number that really rocks. This has a great lead guitar figure and chugs around really nicely, augmented by the ominous harmony vocals that I always associated with this band. It seems like The Byrds have been marginalized a bit, which is a shame, as their early albums are full of gems that influenced legions.
- Emitt Rhodes — Take You Far Away (The Emitt Rhodes Recordings: 1969-1973): Indeed, that Byrds influence can be heard on this edgy pop song from cult favorite Rhodes. This also has a strong lead guitar figure, and Rhodes multi-tracks his voice to create some awesome harmonies. The bass part sounds like Paul McCartney on a psychedelic Beatles track, giving this jangle psych-pop a bit of an Eastern gloss.
- Guadalcanal Diary — Everything But Good Luck (Flip-Flop): This Georgia band was part of a brigade of jangly guitar bands who got oodles of college radio airplay in the wake of the ascension of R.E.M. And they were quite good, with three of their four albums being keepers. This is from the band’s final effort, where the guitars were amped up a bit in one last attempt to get radio play. This was actually a welcome addition, as guitarist Murray Attaway always wrote strong tunes, so a little more volume was not a detriment. This is a scolding moralistic song, which was something this band did from time to time.
- Johnny Cash — Southern Accents (Unearthed): Rick Rubin did a great job of giving Johnny Cash a variety of material to record. Here, Cash really delves into one of Tom Petty’s most personal numbers, elevating a good song into a great one with an engaging and empathetic performance. Rubin’s production is spot on, augmenting Cash’s acoustic guitar with light percussion, organ, piano and harmonica. Cash sounds great on this.
- The Orange Peels — Everybody’s Gone (Square): This San Francisco band is led by Allen Clapp. They have come up with a great power pop variation on the sunshiney soft pop that came out of California in the late ’60s. Clapp’s voice is key. He’s not a traditionally great singer, but he is tuneful and his voice exudes a cheerfulness and empathy that imbues his words with feeling, whether a song is happy or takes on something less pleasant. This song does a great job staying bouncy and finally leading up to a big hook in the final chorus.
- Fountains Of Wayne — Mexican Wine (Welcome Interstate Managers): FoW’s biggest seller is just a small step down from their first two classic albums. The band mixed witty observational lyrics with an encyclopediac knowledge of guitar pop from the ’60s through the ’90s. This song starts off softly, before building to a nice mid-tempo rock with some great stylized guitar (a la Elliot Easton of The Cars), and building more, with horns and stacked harmony vocals. A pretty darned good way to start off an album. Great use of dynamics throughout the track.
It’s President’s Day, and you know what that means — time to [Whig] party! Tonight, come out to the Whistler for a night of rad local music and a chance to support your favorite independent radio station, CHIRP! A portion of the night’s bar sales benefits CHIRP, so drink up while you listen to some great tunes from our friends Wumme (formerly Altered States, ex-Bird Names) and Oriental Rugs. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE to enter! See you there.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Wumme (formerly Altered States, ex-Bird Names)
2421 N. Milwaukee
9:30pm – 2am
CHIRP DJ Dustin Drase spins before and after bands!
Raffle tickets sold throughout the night — win awesome prizes for cheap!
I’m not sure if you could fill out a Jeopardy category based on great musical twins. There was the hip-hop group Twin Hype and Hee Haw regulars The Hagar Twins (neither who were Sammy, BTW). But those are the first two that come to mind. Maybe that’s because twins often seem like a gimmick. That’s not the case with Jez and Andy Williams of England’s oh so wonderful Doves. Jez writes the tunes and plays guitar while Andy plays the drums and they layer wonderful melancholy melodies with a big sound. They don’t exploit their twin-inness, I suppose and just concentrate on making good music. So they deserve a salute. Grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first ten tunes that come up.
- Leatherface – Fine (The Last): At the time, it seemed, as the album title indicates, that Leatherface was done. And, at the time, they really went out on a high note. The Leatherface formula is simple muscular yet melodic guitars that are powerful and sad. Franklin Stubbs then sings in his ultra sore throated style, which is full of emotion, and every song builds to some sort of release, whether in a chorus or an instrumental break. This is typical of that style and sounds swell.
- Maximo Park — A Fortnight’s Time (Our Earthly Pleasures): Lead singer Paul Smith’s recent solo album confirms how much the structure of his lyrics informs the construction of the tunes. At their best, and this is a really nice tune, he engages in serious yet witty wordplay, which resolves itself in a happier chorus. He is the classic smart guy who is dumb when it comes to matters of the heart.
- The Beach Boys — At My Window (Sunflower): Bruce Johnston takes the lead vocal on this Brian Wilson/Al Jardine composition off of what many consider to be the second best Beach Boys album after Pet Sounds. Johnston has an airy vocal quality that is well-suited for this soft-pop trifle. A pretty song, but one of the weaker cuts on the album.
- The Boys — U.S.I. (Alternative Chartbusters): In 1978, these guys were punk, but in retrospect, they were just a really loud power pop band. I don’t know what U.S.I. stands for, but this song takes a very basic hook and works it for all its worth in less than two minutes.
- Bad Religion — Henchman (No Control): Wow, each song is getting shorter. This is a barely over one minute burst from this amazing punk album. Not sure if Bad Religion is heavy enough to really qualify as hardcore, despite their velocity. Their music just soars while Greg Graffin crisply sings more multi-syllabic words than any vocalist in rock history.
- The Brothers Johnson — The Devil (Look Out For #1): A moralistic mid-tempo funk song from the debut album of these (non-twin) brothers who had four Top 40 hits in the ’70s and ’80s. George and Louis make it clear that Ol’ Scratch is a bad dude. For some reason, I seem to recall at some point the made a switch to Team Islam, but I may be confusing them with another ’70s R & B band.
- The Zombies — Road Runner (Zombie Heaven): This Bo Diddley number was a staple in the repertoire of any self-respecting British beat band circa 1965. While Colin Blunstone is more known for his stately crooning, he was a very credible blues rock vocalist and gives it all on this cover, which stands out due to Rod Argent’s organ playing.
- Richard X. Heyman — Anyone Who Tried (Cornerstone): A power pop artist who put out two albums on Sire in the ’80s, Heyman is a one man band. He layers on jangly guitars and harmonizes with himself on uplifting songs. While can be pensive, the bulk of his material is teeming with energy, mixing the jangle with a few power chords and his punchy drumming to make for catchy fun.
- The Lemon Pipers — Rice Is Nice (Green Tambourine): One of my favorite bubblegum bands, in part because they were allowed two smoking blues rock songs amongst the juvenile rhyming songs like this one. The rice they are referring to is the rice that gets thrown on a couple after they get married.
- The Hold Steady — Stay Positive (Stay Positive): I’m in the minority of folks who liked this album much better than Boys And Girls In America (though I agree their last one sounded like they were running out of gas). I just thought the balance of rockers and slow ones was right, the lyrics were better and there were no duds. Anyway, the title cut is a great mix, with verses that allow Craig Finn to bust out pop culture laced bromides building up to a chorus that is meant for shaking ones fist to and singing along.
We know how inane Valentine’s Day can be. And just because society makes us feel like we need to search for a better half one day a year, we at CHIRP would like to celebrate our appreciation of The Single. Both the carefree, unbound guy or gal who gets your heart a-racin’ — and the standout song that does the same.
And so, for singles and B-sides alike, we’ve put together a post-Valentine’s Day “Singles Mixer” and Mix CD swap on Tuesday, February 15 at Cole’s Bar . (Get it? A mix CD of singles! A “singles mixer!”)
If you’ve got the notion, bring a mix CD (of love songs, or anti-love songs, or love-devoid songs) to exchange with other folks — single or otherwise — and even if you don’t meet Prince or Princess Charming, at least you’ll take home a new mix CD!
Cole’s Bar is located at 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave and entry is free! It all starts at 8pm and the venue is 21 and over.
He is the frontman for what many consider the greatest hardcore punk band of all-time. Bad Brains combined lightening speed with incisive songs and a charismatic lead singer. Of course, the band also knew it’s way around a reggae tune. While Bad Brains was never prolific, they inspired legions of bands and fans over the years and continued to shine in concert long after their best recordings had been released. They even provided the title for the great indie rock magazine, The Big Takeover. In honor of H.R., get out your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first 10 songs that come up.
- Dallas Orbiter — Arise (Magnesium Fireflies): I know next to nothing about this band. I was sent this album to review for Fufkin.com. This song immediately stuck in my head, It is basically the title cut for this solid album of indie pop. The tune starts with the chorus, which is a simple choral singalong with all sorts of guitar and keyboard noise going on underneath. The verses are Neil Young filtered through Britpop with bits of distortion, and do the job of getting back to that awesome chorus.
- The Bees — Stand (Octopus): This comes off the third album from this underrated British band. This song navagates a languid ska groove, mixed with the usual psychedelic-pop vibes. So this sounds like The Specials meets the ’60s, on a track dripping with atmosphere. And, damn, the chorus is mega-catchy.
- Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band — Best Batch Yet (Doc At Radar Station): After a brief hiatus, Captain Beefhearts final few records moved him away from the mainstream, and into a place where he tried to take the blues meets free jazz approach of Trout Mask Replica and make it a bit more palatable. He did a great job, creating blues based songs with dissonant touches that rocked and challenged a listener equally, as reflected on this song.
- Jesus Jones — Song 13 (Liquidizer): I still love this band’s debut album, which was primarily guitar heavy rock with dance beats. Really fast dance beats, along with major hooks on every song. This is a more straightforward rock tune, with heavy guitar and shouted verses, but a sublimely melodic chorus.
- The Instant Automations — Scared To Be Alone (Messthetics Greatest Hits): A fuzzy slice of oddball post-punk pop from the excellent Messthetics series. This is a compilation of a compilation, skimming the cream of obscure British singles from the late-‘70s and early-‘80s. This song relies on a very prominent bass and effects laden guitar, with a simple drum machine beneath, while the singer emotes over the collective drone. A saxophone bleats in the background.
- The Pipettes — Judy (We Are The Pipettes): This group’s first album is so full of brilliant tracks, taking a modern approach to the classic girl group sound. This really came through in the lyrics, which often were more aggressive than the moony girl group songs of old. This tune is a character study of a girl with a rough exterior, from the position of an empathetic acquaintance. A very mature perspective, well sung and arranged, making for a resonant pop tune.
- The Hotrats – E.M.I. (Turn Ons): Here, Gaz and Danny of Supergrass do an acoustic rearrangement of this Sex Pistols’ tune. They make it sound like a peppy Ziggy-era David Bowie track, with no electric guitars — instead acoustic guitars and keyboards dominant. The only element that is true to the original is the chorus. So it’s like taking the song back to about 1974. Clever.
- Funkadelic — Comin’ Round The Mountain (Hardcore Jollies): As Funkadelic followed Parliament into major labeldom, their music became less hard edged and rock oriented, but enough of that aspect was left intact to differentiate the two acts. This song melds chanted vocals, some funk guitar and a disco shuffle beat with a bit of a rockier chorus and some meaner guitar. The tune feels like it’s on the verge of exploding throughout, but it basically stays in the pocket, until a wicked solo near the end.
- Jerry Lee Lewis — Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Live At The Star Club): For one night only, The Killer played the Star Club in Hamburg, backed by Britain’s The Nashville Teens, who had recently backed Jerry Lee for two weeks in the UK. Thank goodness this night was captured on tape, because Lewis was on fire. He drives everything with his forceful piano playing and intense vocals, keeping the energy level high at almost all times, while the Teens try to keep up. Many of the songs are better known by other artists, but The Killer makes them his own. Here, Jerry Lee takes on one of his biggest hits, getting very playful during the breakdown in the middle, and then speeding the song up to punk tempo thereafter. This is likely the greatest live rock ‘n’ roll ever made and a testament to the greatness of Mr. Lewis.
- Eagles Of Death Metal — Cheap Thrills (Heart On): I enjoy all three Eagles of Death Metal records, as they keep the notion of big dumb blues rock guitar riffs viable in contemporary music. This song has a bit more of a Queens of the Stone Age vibe than the typical Eagles song, as Josh Homme takes a more prominent vocal role and adds some psychedelic moves that I’d associate more with his main band. This juxtaposes with the trash rock chorus quite well.