This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Who's house? Son's house! (sorry)

One of my favorite records of all time (like, top 30, and that means a lot coming from me) has to be the album Son House recorded after he was "rediscovered" in the 60's by middle-class white kids who had fetishized the alien concept of poverty (to steal a bit from Klosterman), Father of the Delta Blues. The record store I frequented in college, Fantasyland, had a killer blues section that wasn't usually too hard on the old wallet, so I would sometimes buy stuff just because I liked the cover (this was also how I discovered the incredible Mississippi John Hurt, but more on that some other day). I mean, look at this cover! How could you resist? The give-a-fuck pose, the world-weary face that somehow still had a faint glimmer of swagger, the washed-out color photo, the weird metal acoustic guitar, a million Southern summers in every line in his face...gotta be one of the best record jackets of all time.

I spent the next week listening, transfixed. It was so strange and fucked-up sounding to my novice ears. I loved the strange rhythms and the interplay between guitar and vocals, like he could only do one at a time, or how it sounds like a coiled snake ready to bite, or the pauses between guitar runs like he was taking a breath to think about what he was going to next, or how he changes sections willy nilly, like impulsive hairpin turns. Oh, and that VOICE so warm and craggy. His voice tells more stories than words ever could. He used to be a preacher, and you can hear it the sheer projection that is the a capella "John the Revelator" (complete with off-time hand claps that still completely work).

He'd recorded before, of course, thanks to the tireless efforts of Alan Lomax, a visionary responsible for the archiving of big chunks of our cultural history that would have been lost due to the prejudices of the day. He found Son House, a former preacher who'd left the world of preaching for the sinful world of "the devil's music" after a two-year stint at the notorious Parchman Farm for shooting a man. House claims it was in self-defense, and the fact that he did two years of a fifteen year sentence shows it probably was. After a series of sides on Paramount, Lomax picked House to be part of his astounding, crucial Library of Congress recordings (he also got sessions from other luminaries like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly). Those sessions (represented here by "Fo' Clock Blues") are really good, but they also sound borderline generic. House borrows too much from his primary influences, and it sounds representative but fails to achieve that feeling of "great."

With the folk and blues revival in the 60's, House became an in demand player again, hitting up events as big as the Newport Folk Festival. Of course, he wasn't the same man he's been in the 40's. His drinking was more pronounced, yes, but 25 years of playing bars, juke joints, and back porches had turned him into a real performer, someone who could catch a fire on a six string. His newfound fame led to a deal with Columbia that resulted in Father, which as I've said before, is jaw-droppingly good. (The reissue of the album includes all tracks recorded during the sessions, and it's uniformly quality.) A lot of uptight blues purists who think the genre ended at the peak of the Chess years will say that House's output was best in the prewar years, but those people are assholes. Anyone who tries to pinpoint the resounding death of a genre generally is.

I'm honestly surprised he lived as long as he did. In the late 60's, his alcoholism had advanced to the point that one drink would get him sloshed, rendering him almost incapable of performing. However, he managed to outlive almost all his peers, sucumbing in 1988 to a combination of Alzheimers and Parkinsons. His legacy of a man who forged a major part of a huge genre while quietly despising himself (he never was able to shake his belief of the blues being Satan's symphony) is one of the classic American stories, and one you should look into if you're sufficiently intrigued.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The cure-all elixer of the Old Crow Medicine Show

Unless we're talking trip-hop (do you like paying cover charges to be fucking BORED?), I think 'most every genre of music has at least a couple artists that are enjoyable, even if they're anonymous. I have a gajillion klezmer records, but if you asked me to name the artists behind them, I would blank and change the subject. However, the genre of music that get popular almost always acquire semi-justified detractors because the most well-known examples of the genre tend to be the least-offensive, easy-to-swallow ones. I've thought this was kind of shitty. Avenged Sevenfold will always be more popular than Mastodon, but that doesn't mean all metal is full of LA posers who have more tattoos than talent. Nickelback sells roughly a thousand times the number of records the Hold Steady sells, but that doesn't mean they're the best purveyors of crunchy, riff-heavy alt rock. Unfortunately, a lot of pundits don't have the free time that alcoholic fucks like me have, so they base a genre (rock, rap, and country, basically) on the few example of hyper-popular floaters that rise to the top of the toilet that is the music business.

Country especially falls into this category. Modern country is an anomaly in that many of its more popular artists go platinum and sell out arenas across (most) of America, but the average pop-culture writer or observer would be hard-pressed to name an artist that wasn't on the tabloids. Fuck, I didn't know who Kenny Chesney was until I saw his picture with the caption "GAY?" plastered on tabloids in the checkout at the supermarket, but apparently he's sold enough records to buy a small country. A lot of popular country music gets maligned, and rightfully so. Almost as a rule, the most popular artists of the genre are basically playing pop music with a twang and lyrics tweaked towards their self-consciously blue collar audience.

Unfortunately, this leads to an entire stripe of music being discounted by the populace at large, and that's just not fair. Hipsters will cite old legends like George Jones, but ask them if they listen to any modern country music, and they'll scoff so hard they'll pull a muscle in their tonsils. At it's best, country music is as shitkicking as punk and as raunchy as the blues, and the typical focus on working class concerns influenced the street-level lyrical outlook from Bruce Springsteen to Tom Gabel to the Furious Five. Yeah, you can sing about socialism and abstract concepts, but really really matters to most people (including me) is issues of the heart, substance use and abuse, not having a shitty job, and day-to-day encounters/conflicts. The torture of Gitmo infuriates me, but I would be lying if I said I didn't expend more energy working on my relationship with Andrea.

Where this blog barf is going is basically that there are modern country artists with one foot in tradition, one foot in the present, and a ballsack teabagging in the fuck-you. "Cocaine Habit" is a rollicking tribute to the loudest of party drugs, but when they steal the chorus to Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston's "Take a Whiff on Me," it enters into fall-down-funny and heel-kicking great. You'd figger the daughter of class act legend Doc Watson (the gal what discovered the band during their busking days) wouldn't appreicate stoned good-ol'-boys barnstorming country and bluegrass, but she did, and they've even landed on CMT, though they're still a long ways away from opening up for Faith Evans. (I don't think the Future Stuck-Up Obese Girls of America would really understand what was happening.) Still, when you get a load of "Wagon Wheel" (based on a discarded Bob Dylan chorus) or "That'll Be a Better Day," you'll be a convert, too.

Wagon Wheel:

That'll Be a Better Day:

Cocaine Habit:

Hard to Love:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gettin' yer ya-yas out with JP McDermott and Western Bop

Sorry it took so damned long to get this up, but life happens outside the internet sometimes, kids. You should learn this. Or maybe you shouldn't, since our economy seems to be heading towards us sitting inside typing while third-world types do all the heavy lifting.

Of course, since I have so much angst to blow off on the weekend (my co-workers are awesome, but working a government job leads to dealing with dumbasses of all stripes - after 40 hours of this, some steam needs venting), it helps to have a killer bar with a rad beer list and awesome entertainment.

While the Quarry House - if you ain't been, get off your freakin' ass already - usually offers enjoyable groups, none beat their twice-monthly hostings of the inimitable J.P. McDermott and Western Bop. Those cats SLAY. If I had my dancin' partner (who had to bow out at the last second) and I hadn't been still recovering from the ravages of my death flu, I woulda been up there boogying with the rest of the enthused patrons. This being DC, it's hard to get a crowd to do anything but pose, but J.P. and his band really grabbed your attention and shook it by the collar. When they ripped into "Marie, Marie" by the Blasters, you couldn't do anything but pay attention. They rocked without forgetting to roll, which is way more the fuck more important than half of the boring art students armed with instruments who populate this area seem to think.

As much as I love seeing shaggy-haired dudes stab their guitars with screwdrivers 'cause they listened to one too many Sonic Youth records, seeing a man like Bob Newscaster kick out the jams on an electric guitar with a fucking boogie still kicks, y'all. That being said, J.P. does what few rock musicians of any era can do, which is sing above the din. His voice cuts across the racket rock'n'roll, and is probably the most finely tuned instrument in the band. Dudes like him prove that while hollering is fine, being able to sing makes that much more of a difference - s'why I keep buying Johnny Burnette demo records to this day.

If you ever find yourself in Silver Spring on a Saturday night (and you should soon, since he's playing with the effing Ambitions and Buck Forty Nine, who feature members of the freaking Hall Monitors, the best local band in recent memory), be sure to plunk down your six dollars and settle in for a few sets of the best local rockabilly. It'll make you drink and dance the baby, and who could ask for a better weekend?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Three hours of sleep, and four spent being a creep" - Algebra One

It's sometimes funny how the art that ends up touching your life in profound ways comes to you in odd or unexpected ways. I didn't think I'd end up finding The Anthem of the Summer of 1999 on some cheap little comp.

The original Take Action! comp was one of the endless sub-$4 punk comps that I bought in junior high and high school because I was eternally broke and was purchased mostly because it had songs from a lot of bands I was listening to at the time, like Against All Authority, Falling Sickness, Dillinger Four, FYP, Funeral Oration, Scared of Chaka, and Fifteen. In retrospect it was probably the best of the infinite budget punk comps from the 90's (sweet god, it seemed like Hopeless and Epitaph were putting them out like every other week, dinnit?), but at the time it was mostly a way for me to have an hour of music for $3. The centerpiece of the whole CD was an almost-six minute song called "Fireball" by a group I had never heard of called Algebra One that alternated between cathartic howls and romantic defeatism. My profound attachment to this song is almost certainly entwined with the fact that the summer of 1999 was also The Summer I Was Madly in Love With Carleigh Jacobsen. Listen to the song and you can pretty much figure out why the two are bonded together.

For years I didn't know a single thing about the band. I didn't know if they recorded anything beyond "Fireball." All I had was the song. I've since learned that they were from Blacksburg, VA, and recorded about 20-some songs, all released by Delmar Records. Of their releases (which I've since heard, thanks to the wonders of the internet), the only one really worth listening to was the "Keep Tryst" EP (which contained "Fireball"). Earn Your Halo doesn't do it for me, and the Jawbox-influenced "Conscious Pilot" EP has it's moments, but it doesn't really click.

Has hearing these albums for the first time after years of wondering ruined the magic? I'd like to say so 'cause I'm a rat bastard cynic, but "Fireball" still stands as one of the best songs of the 90's, regardless of genre. I love everything about it, from the tempo shifts to the drop-outs to the way they fuck up at about 4:11 to the pained, utterly sincere vocal delivery. It jumps back and forth between puppy-dog romance idealism and cynicism-laced reality checks in the same way my 15-year-old brain did in the endless clash between fact and daydream.

I don't expect you to understand.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I mean "Goddamnit!" in the best way possible

"I need a beer to wash it all away without a trace
And it'll take 23 more to wipe this stupid smile off my fuckin' face"

It was announced late last night that the Alkaline Trio (aka the band most likely to cause Aaron and I to pound brew and singalong like this was some retardo movie about hetero man love) will be reissuing their classic debut album Goddamnit! this year with new artwork (I assume to cut out pictures of original drummer Glenn Porter and pictures that underscore the fact that Matt Skiba's hairline has been receding like the front line of a French war), remixed/remastered sound, and a documentary DVD about the band. Sweet is fuckin' right!

There's no doubt about it, the Trio has been one of the single most influential bands of the last decade. It's impossible to imagine the non-white trash side of rock (i.e. bands like Nickelback that appeal to Maury-worthy dipshits in tiny towns) without their potent combination of charging, catchy punk riffs and liquor-soaked tales romantic woe. As much as I love Jawbreaker, Blake was an intellectual, and his amazing lyrics still come across as very adult and high-falutin'. Skiba's songs sound like your recently dumped friend who's still young and smarting from his latest failure without necessarily being some self-absorbed sadsack. While he has a flair for kitchen-sink melodrama, it never really threatens to spill into histrionics or bathos. Imagine if the Morrissey that sang "Handsome Devil" was an alocholic bike messenger with a Misfits tattoo.

They introduced a band of Jawbreaker-influenced pop-tinged Midwest punk that had an effect on basically an entire generation of underground rock musicians. If My Chemical Romance covered "Trouble Breathing," they'd sell a million copies. I don't know too many people of similar sonic sensibilites to me that haven't worn out their copies of From Here To Infirmary, which might very well be their masterpiece. Still, it's the crunchy opening salvo "Cringe" that introduced them to the world and still stands as one of their greatest songs (the same goes for the sadly funny "As You Were").

I might do a series on the Trio (or at least the albums they did before they became goth-lite), I might not. Either way, getcherself a copy of the reissued Goddamnit when comes out. Hopefully within the next ten years it'll be recognized as the classic it is.


San Francisco:

As You Were:


Trouble Breathing:

My Friend Peter:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Johnny Burnette mighta knifed Elvis is prison

Rockabilly, as a genre, always brings up mostly familiar names: Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, early Roy Orbison, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and that's about it. Peruse any used record store in America, and those artists will comprise the entirety of the rockabilly section, along with some unsurprisingly good-shape records by the Stray Cats and Jason & the Scorchers.

One of the crucial names that always gets left off the lists not written by genre die-hards, is Johnny Burnette from his Trio days. Before he started making unbearable schlock like "Dreamin'" (see below), he was part of one of the shitkickingest rockabilly bands around. Long before Dave Davies stuck pins into his amp and cranked out "You Really Got Me" with the Kinks, Johnny's brother Dorsey was kicking out the fuzzy jams on a broken amplifier, making dangerous music sound even moreso in the process. While even the most obscure of rockabilly artists were able to churn out at least one side of Big Muff-related debauchery (see the incredible collection Rockin' Bones), The Johnny Burnette Trio put out almost a double LP's worth, amazing in an age known for singles' artists. It's a shame he died after making his crap pop sellout records (in a tragic boating accident, too boot), but at least we have the records that matter.

For those of you who, like me, listen to songs like Elvis' "Teddy Bear" and wonder why in the hell this music started riots and changed basically the course of American culture for the latter half of the 20th century, people like Johnny Burnette are they key. Their songs are loud, distorted, and uptempo in a way that not even Benny Goodman could have competed with. It's raunchy and when turned up loud enough, you start to understand why this was the soundtrack for white kids stabbing each other. "Honey Hush" is amazing, the narrator telling the woman to stop crying before informing her that she shouldn't make him nervous, since he's holding a baseball bat. Fuckin' A! you don't find shit like that anymore. Some annoying woman with really short hair would probably be offended before going off to some Bikini Kill cover concert with "RAPE" written on her revealing tank-top in lipstick.

For the coolest cats in the room. You know who you are.

Friday, May 18, 2007


You read right, motherfuckers! Legendary DC oi! band Spitfires United are reforming for a show two weeks from now, opening for other local legends The Pietasters at their 9:30 Club date. While seeing the 'Tasters at a hometown show would be treat enough, fucking Spitfires United, man!

I missed these dudes. Local scene rats know I go to Alleged Bricks and Babies With Rabies shows not just to be rocked, but also in the vain hopes that maybe they'll break into "Hooligans" or "Working" for old times' sake. I'll always associate their music with hanging out behind that dumpster at the 7-11 near Jaxx (the sure stop for Wang Chung as they pass through northern Virginia!), paying that creepy guy that hung out there to buy us 40s and giving the finger to West Springfield students we didn't like.

Very few American bands can pull off being an oi! band. It's so quintessentially English - it's the kind of music you imagine Vinnie Jones listens to when he gets half-cocked on lager and beats up twats in some dirty East End pub. Of the few American bands, Spitfires pulled it off better than most. Yanno, now that I think about, they were second only to the Templars (who were better than most of the Brits they were aping in the first place). They got the 1-2 lockstep riffs, the barked vocals, the pit/fight-starting anger and energy, the I'm-drunk-fuck-you attitude, and they can inspire a mellow cat such as yours truly to start hurling club furniture. (Listen to "Broken Teeth" and tell me if you don't feel like starting a fight.)

I haven't listened to a lot of oi! or streetpunk since I stopped hanging out with Skinhead John, but I have a feeling June 1st is going to be a magical night. As much as I would have liked to have seen the Dismemberment Plan reunion, this is the REAL one-off reunion show for DC punks. See you there, Chester.

For people who wanna hear the gangsta rap sect of punk.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No, they're not European, actually - The United States of America

First things first. I would normally never condone any urging to watch MTV, but tomorrow at noon up-and-coming sketch comedy group Human Giant is taking the station over and bringing Ted Leo, Andrew WK, and Bob Odenkirk with them. Keep in mind these dudes used an Iron and Wine song to score a bit about a man in a bush costume getting peed on. Check out this clip. If you don't think it's funny, well, you probably own Dane Cook DVDs.

In other news, I have contracted strep, the mumps, and/or the haunta virus. So I finally get a day off work and a chance to see Maury, and what do they show? One of those shitty clip shows with that tool from Cheaters. Zzzzzzzzz.

So what was I gonna talk about today? Ah yeah, some long-forgotten-except-by-basement-dwelling-record-nerds band called The United States of America. They were weird even by psychedelic standards, and that's saying something. Eschewing guitars for then-novel synthesizers and other electronic gadgetry, they only existed for a very short time, putting out a single record and going on a lone tour. Killer opener "The American Metaphysical Circus" (which is huge piss-take on lame crap like Sgt. Pepper's) aside, it's an astoundingly forward-looking record. What else in 1968 sounded like the creepy, raucous "Garden of Earthly Delights?" In college I used to get stoned and playing it at 45 RPM just to freak myself out.

All in all, it's pretty impressive for a bunch of UCLA students, because, as we all know class, hardly anything good ever comes out of Los Angeles. Their sole LP was a critical hit, but it failed to ignite any real public interest, and they soon disbanded, mostly going on to careers involving music teaching. Mmmmmm, sweet taste of that west coast music stardom! Seriously, fuck Southern California.

The Garden of Earthly Delights:

The American Metaphysical Circus:

Stranded in Time:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Ergs! - or - More Songs About Chocolate and Girls

I swear I've been listening to more than pop-punk lately. I swear! The new Brother Ali triple LP, for example.

First up, back from Georgia. Had a killer time with mah lady. Soon as she finishes summer school she's moving up here, and we're getting a place together. Expect a TON more rockage.

Secondly, Jerry Falwell died today. And although I feel it is inappropriate to celebrate the death of a man who is not Kim Jong Il or Dick Cheney, I would be lying if I said that I'm not ecstatic that his voice has been removed from the public debate.

Anyhoo, glad to be back posting. I know y'all missed yer free MP3sees. Continuing my recent focus on 2007 releases, I have to drop some tracks from the hotly-awaited new album (and Dirtnap Records debut) by the Ergs!, Upstairs/Downstairs. Falling under the dubious dub of 'Orgcore, the Ergs! have spent the last few years churning out impossibly speedy snot anthems for dorky punks who like drinking and Scrabble.

It's not going to change the world, but it's ridiculously fun, and that's an end in and of itself. Rumor has it that they're playing The Fest VI this year, so that makes me look forward to the road trip with Andrea, Aaron, and Tara all the more. I've posted three new songs and three classics, so enjoy. I'm off to chug more NyQuil and try to get in shape for the Virginia Beer Festival this weekend.

Your Cheated Heart:

It'll Be Okay:

Bike Shop:


Pray For Rain:

Obligatory Song:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ted Leo's got the prescription...for rock!

Ted Leo is the manz. There's really no other way to put it. Dude rocks so hard that it almost defies description. Both times I've seen him live, he owned the stage so hard the club owner must have been sweatin'.

'Course, when a talented songwriter holds the Clash, Elvis Costello, the Jam, and Thin Lizzy in equal esteem, good shit is bound to happen. Leo's razor-wire take on mod-punk is some of the most consistently thrilling rock music happening today. Ted Leo is the pudding-ensconced proof that writing great songs and playing guitar like your heart is about to explode is a hell of a way to cultivate a dedicated following.

Other than some regrettable bedroom recordings he released after Chisel broke up, Ted's been like Robin Hood, hitting the mark every time. Even on borderline filler like "Annunciation Day/Born on Christmas Day," his strong tenor and forceful delivery carry the tune. Along with his backing band The Pharmacists (hence the awful joke in today's title), Leo rocks harder than just about any other six-string-slanger out there today. His new record, Living With the Living, is the fourth classic in a row for the scrawny man with the huge voice.

I have a feeling that I'm going to speak of being able to see groups like Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and Against Me! with the same kind of awe that people use when speaking of being able to see the Black Flag or the Screamers. He's touring on one of the single best catalogues in rock, and Living more than adds a ton of classics to the bunch. "Who Do You Love?" and "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb." are taut rockers that sound great in a beat-up car stereo, while the astoundingly good "A Bottle of Buckie" explores a tender moment. It makes me think of drinking fortified wine on a half-finished Civil War fortifications with a good friend while the lights of Front Royal twinkle like stars. The give and take of "La Costa Brava" gives way to the hardcore-cum-Pogues turns of "Annunciation Day," which in turn sets up the credible stab at dub reggae, "The Unwanted Things." (Trust me, the sequencing of this thing is bomb.)

One of the many highlights, "The Lost Brigade," holds a place in my heart. The first time I heard it, I was curled up with Andrea, and we drifted off to a peaceful sleep while Ted crooned "every little memory has a song" over and over and over and over's rad.

Easily one of the best records of 2007. If you're not down with Ted Leo, you ain't shit.

A Bottle of Buckie:

La Costa Brava:

The World Stops Turning:

The Lost Brigade:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The schlubby genius of the Queers

Five years is a long time to wait. Most people, even the slacker degenerates, can graduate college within that time. Some marriages don't even last that long. It's an especially long wait for a band like the Queers, who've been cranking out wildly entertaining hybrids of the Ramones and the Beach Boys since the late 80's. The return to standards that was Pleasant Screams, as great as it was, didn't prepare longtime listeners for Munki Brain, a record at least as good as (but probably better than) The Beach Boys Today.

The Queers have always been one of my favorite bands, and they have a gazillion full-lengths and EPs, almost all of which are killer. Taking into account that they are fronted by a fat, drunk smartass who travels the world under the nom de punk of Joe Queer who just might be punk's Brian Wilson, well, that's all the more amazing. While their output hasn't been as steady as their mid-90's heyday (things just ain't been the same since Hugh died and Joe kicked B-Face out of the band, replacing them with an ever-changing cast of Ramones freaks), they've still been kicking out the jams with records better than 'most any of their peers.

But still, five years? I'm a rabid Queers fan, and need regular fixes. Fortunately, holing up with Ben Weasel and writing a lot of sunny pop songs (punctuated by punk ravers like "Monkey in a Suit" and "Whatever Happened to Philthy Phil") in the vein of Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys paid off in spades. The doo wop of "I Can't Stay Mad At You" and the heart-melting pop of "Something in My Heart" are perfect summertime concoctions, while the Brian Wilson-esque "I Think She's Starting to Like Me" grows on you over several listens. Speaking of Wilson, his fingerprints are all over this record. Munki Brain sounds like what would have happened if the California composer had grown up listening to the Ramones, instead of the other way 'round. In fact, the gorgeous closer pays explicit tribute to the troubled Wilson - "when did reality become the enemy?/when did the summertime die?" Elsewhere, they take Helen Love's "Girl About Town" back behind the school for some good ol' fashioned deepknuckling and lament the rise of dumbass scene kids in "Houston, We Have a Problem."

Joe Queer ain't winning any poetry awards any time soon, but damn if he isn't still writing some of the best American pop songs ever. For people who went to part-time at the comic books shop so they could drink and hit on high school girls more.

Girl About Town:

Brian Wilson:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sage Francis' life-affirming death dance

I'm tired of doing multi-part series for now. Besides, I'm going to be in Georgia for the weekend to see Andrea graduate. Instead, I'm going to catch up on some recent killer releases rather than keep digging through the archives. So you're getting 2k7 tunes instead of me finally getting off my ass and using my Ion to turn all my old Slickee Boys seven inches into mp3s.

First up is a record that dropped today, Sage Francis' eagerly anticipated third album Human The Death Dance. I have to say, having listened to it most of today, I think it might be his best record yet. It's a well-produced, streamlined record that doesn't stifle Francis' off-the-cuff post-Beat stream-of-consciousness so much as frame it accessibly. His first record, while having high points, consisted largely of song scraps, like incomplete torn diary entries that were intense but lacked beginning and end to complement the wrought middle. The follow-up, A Healthy Distrust, was amazing, but moments found Francis struggling to combine his raps with his spoken word, going off the beat jarringly in order to cram in a few more syllables.

This new one is definitely his most accessible effort to date. It's certainly the most varied production-wise. "Underground for Dummies" reminds me of nothing so much as Raising Hell-era Run-DMC, a taut rocker that sounds equal parts churning metal and old-school party starter, while at the same time sounding like DJ Young Einstein sampling Marble Index. "Got Up This Morning" quite frankly is the best blues-rap beat I've ever heard, and Jolie Holland's inspired guest spot sounds completely natural, like a backpack version of Ja Rule and Ashanti's old collaborations, but, yanno, good. The speed-rap of "Civil Disobedience" rivals his past triumph "Escape Artist."

Even with all the bangers, though, the real stunners are the short gut-punches like "Good Fashion" and "Waterline." Akin, at least in terms of album construction, to Morrissey's "Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together," both songs are fragments that still are jaw-droppingly affecting in their conciseness and make you believe his claim that he's largely influenced by Johnny Cash.

One of the raddest records of the year. Check it, holmes, and check back here for posts on Brother Ali, Ted Leo, the Queers, and possibly more.

Underground for Dummies:

Civil Disobedience:

Good Fashion:

Midgets and Giants:

Monday, May 07, 2007

Annnnnnnnnnd here we go - Driving Songs Pt. 5

Sorry for the delay, campers. I was in Ohio for the weekend. What would I have rather been doing? Getting my toenails pulled out by an autistic sadist, that's what. Apparently Ohio is flat because a glacier crossed it during the Ice Age. I say it's flat because hills remind people of bosoms, thus completing Satan's work on Earth. I will say that trying to find a brunette at Miami of Ohio is like Helen Keller trying to find Waldo. When several thousand females aspire to be Tara Reid's body double, you know you need to get the fuck away from the children of the corn.

In music news, it looks like New Order is completely over, which is a shame. While they weren't putting out classics like Low-Life or Technique anymore, songs like "Krafty" and "Waiting for the Sirens' Call" were some of the best singles of the 00's I shall write about them tomorrow.

Today's picture is taken from the new Overcompensating print. If you're not down with Overcompensating, you should be - it's one of the single funniest comics ever created, newspaper or otherwise. Jeff Rowland is a comic genius, and I would consider it a pleasure to buy him drinks from now until Armageddon.

Oh, here's some more songs. This damn series is finally over. What the hell was I thinking?

All Girl Summer Fun Band - Video Game Heart:

Andrew WK - Party 'Til You Puke:

Briefs - Criminal Youth:

Burning Airlines - Outside the Aviary:

Common - Be:

Dubliners - The Fairmoy Lasses:

Jay-Z - Dirt Off Your Shoulder:

Mustard Plug - Go:

Teenage Bottlerocket - Stupid Games:

Zero Boys - New Generation:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Here's some more songs, you fuckers - Driving Songs Pt. 4

I'm running out of witty things to say and viewable pictures of people ghost riding the whip. Fuck it, all the searches turn up are inscrutable youtube screen shots. Andrea's on my ass for some chill beach songs, which mostly means rocksteady and reggae songs not about the Carribbean struggle.

My job kicks so much ass. I share an office with a rootin' tootin' hard-drinkin' gal who loves country and punk. Rad is right. I love what I do, my co-workers kick ass, and I'm doing something socially positive. I think of it in the way that every dollar I send out in scholarships is another dollar the federl government can't spend on bridges to nowhere and an unjust war.

I'm glad I live in a country where I can buy a dozen frozen tacos for $3.50.

Alkaline Trio - Old School Reasons:

Blink 182 - Rock Show:

Bouncing Souls - Hopeless Romantic:

Mahones - Drunken Lazy Bastard:

New Pornographers - Letter From an Occupant:

Os Mutantes - Bat Macumba:

Riverboat Gamblers - Rattle Me Bones:

Talib Kweli - Supreme Supreme ft. Mos Def:

Turbonegro - Blow Me (Like the Wind):

Ugly Duckling - Einstein's On Stage:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cheez it, the cops! - Summer Driving, Pt. 3

Today I drove home from work with the windows down and Separation Sunday playing so loud that it could be heard in neighboring counties. If you were wondering, the answer is yes, I am cooler than you. Loud music always makes driving better. It keeps me from falling asleep on those never-ending straightaways between here and Georgia, and when you're 16 and flush with a license still hot from the laminating machine, driving around with your friends all singing Bad Religion songs loud and out of key is probably the best way to spend your time when you're not copping a feel from your girlfriend. Andrea is probably reading this and clucking her tongue at my sentence construction. Watch it toots, or I'll split an infinitive. Don't think I won't do it!!!

Check back tomorrow for more MP3 goodness.

Basement Jaxx - Plug it In:

Ben Kweller - Commerce, TX:

Gene Vincent - Race With the Devil:

Joe Tex - Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman):

Lucero - California:

Man...or ASTRO-Man? - Joker's Wild:

Screeching Weasel - I Was a High School Psychopath:

The Thermals - Here's Your Future:

Three 6 Mafia - Dancin' On a Pole: