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.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Husker Du's songs and stories Pt. 1

Back when I wrote about Dick Dale, I mentioned the very tiny percentage of musicians who can claim they invented a genre. While Husker Du did not necessarily invent the wheel, they reinvented rock music in a way that would ultimately spawn a decade-long paradigm of rock music that we're still feeling ripples of.
Most people rightfully regard hardcore as a musical ghetto. Really, with very few exceptions, the only hardcore bands that make a lasting impression are the ones that early on stretched out and resisted the barriers that the thugs in New York and Boston are still imposing on themselves.* Minor Threat veered into proto-emo; Bad Brains threw reggae and metal riffs into their bottled lighting; the Adolescents and Agents Orange amped up surf music for the moshpit generation; MIA and False Prophets threw swing beats around; the Dicks, DOA, and the Big Boys gave in to their fondness for blues, working-class rock, and funk, respectively. (Do I really need to tell you what the Beastie Boys ended up doing?) Hell, of all the hardcore bands today, Paint it Black's odd but completely wonderful choice to work with left-field hip-hop producers Dalek represents really the only thing close to the bands mentioned above.

This all leads us in the most roundabout way possible to the three people that make up the justifiably legendary Husker Du - a dour Midwesterner, a chubby hippie who played barefoot, and a man who resembled a gold prospector. Oh, and they all gobbled speed and acid like it was going bad. And, in one of the most militant, macho scenes in the country, two of them were out homosexuals. They also took a musical form designed for wrist-snapping tempos and barked slogans and used it as a springboard to make a double-LP concept album that was written, recorded, and mixed in 3 days. Clearly, theirs is an interesting story.

Like all great indie bands, the Huskers were founded by intelligent slackers who spent too much time in record store. Bob Mould and Grant Hart, the future Lennon and McCartney of the underground dwellers, were two diametrically opposed forces with nothing in common but he Ramones and psychedelic pop and whose songs put their personalities naked on the dissection slab. Mould is the sneering, wounded malcontent bellowing against the world, while Hart is the holdover from 60's, all airy melodies and earnest, misplaced romanticism. Together they were honey and lemon, rose and thorn. In the process, they fused hardcore punk and hippie pop, basically inventing the 90's. While I know Smells Like Teen Spirit blah blah blah Spoon Man blah blah blah Jeremy blah blah blah, Husker Du's eventual contract with Warner Brothers was the reason you weren't listening to Poison in 1995.
It all started innocuously enough, with the live album Land Speed Record not giving away too much of what was to come. There was no indication at all that the hardcore thrash band behind such ditties as "Punch Drunk" and "Let's Go Die" would produce the bitter, heartfelt classic "Everything Falls Apart." Endless touring did what it used to do in the day before instant MySpace gratification, which is get the band noticed, eventually signing to SST. They recorded Metal Circus, which was meant to be an LP but due to shortages in the recording budget and power outages in the studio, ended up being a long EP. It consisted mostly of Mould's hateful rantings, but Hart's two contributions were the best songs on the release. "It's Not Funny Anymore" is a better kiss off than Mould's "Real World" and "Diane" creeps me out to this day, no matter how many episodes of SVU I catch on TV.
Other than Hart's songs, Metal Circus showcased for the first time Mould's molten lava guitar, a Flying V played at trebly, distorted levels to give the effect of both melodicism and meltdown. It sounds unlike any other guitar tone I've ever heard, and it's on full display on what some consider their zenith, the sprawling Zen Arcade. An ambitious concept album that went from conception to creation in less than four days and featured the story of a disillusioned runaway trying to find solace in cults and drugs before giving up and going home. It's an emotional gun in the mouth and a work of art that leaves most of its contemporaries in miles of dust. They had spent so many months occupying the same house, jamming 8-10 hours a day while Hart dropped acid every 24 hours and they all gobbled speed that they had formed this cracked-windshield rapport that allowed the most minuscule of idea to blossom into fully formed songs that modern day hacks are still copping and dudes like me are still boggled by years later. God knows how many of my days have been spent with "Whatever" on loop, my bleary eyes looking at nothing outside a window.
While I'm going to leave off here (there's gotta be some story to tell later), just trust me that even more awesome music is to come. Sometimes I'm just too damn drunk to write.

*Of course, try explaining this to Andrea when she's stuck in a car with me for 12 hours with nothing but my farts and Kid Dynamite CDs. I'm lucky she loves me, 'cause she has to put up with a lot.

Everything Falls Apart -

It's Not Funny Anymore -

Broken Home, Broken Heart -

Never Talking to You Again -

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What would you say is your all time favorite album?

The above is the question I sent, unsolicited, to basically every musician on my MySpace page. (*sigh* I know, I know...). There was nothing else in the body of the message and no subject line.

This little diversion was inspired by finding out that there's a good chance they'll be releasing the footage from the Ramones new year's eve show in 1977. Aficionados of da brudders will know that this was released as the record It's Alive, aka my single favorite record of all time. Lord knows how I haven't worn the grooves out of that thing I've played it so damn much. It's everything I love most about rock 'n' roll - fast tempos, chainsaw guitars, catchy pop melodies, four-on-the-floor drumming, and stoopid lyrics written by smart, funny yahoos.

To me, It's Alive, which features selections from their classic first three albums played at blitzkrieg tempos, is the gold standard for rock music. It's the culmination of everything great about rock music up until that point, i.e. the snotty attitude of the greasers, the melody of the bubblegum pop groups, the retarded sexuality of the Stooges, and the guitar roar of a million garage bands all poured into a blender marked "breakneck." The Ramones made it okay to be a freak and a nerd, and It's Alive is in my opinion the height of rock 'n' roll of every genre.

So what did those I wrote to have to say when asked about their own personal favorites? (In cases where it wasn't signed, I'll just lust the group.) Some interesting choices.

"The Last - LA Explosion"

-The Descendents

"Rock over London, rock on Chicago. Arby's, think fresh." (Wesley Willis, WHAT?)

-Joey Erg, the Ergs!

"only one??? come on, man!

Husker Du - Flip Your Wig

Hickey - Naked Cult

The Who - 30 years of Maximum R&B

Cheap Trick - S/T
Black Flag - ANYTHING... well, except Rollins

That's only grazing the top. Why would you make me choose??!?!?!"

-Annie, This is My Fist

"For this time of year? Silver Jews- The Natural Bridge"

-Landis?, Cinemasophia

"Too hard to choose. 24 Hour Revenge, London Calling, My Brain Hurts, Death Certificate, ETC..."

-Chicken, Dead to Me

"In general? "Quadrophenia" by The Who. Punk? "Boom!" by the Sonics, Screams first record or maybe even "Throb Throb" by Naked Raygun. Or "Tired Of You" by Scared Of Chaka? Man, too many to list...."

-Dillinger Four

"probably the West Side Story soundtrack, or 36 Chambers, maybe London Calling, or Kiss Alive II. Hard to say. You?"

-Paint it Black

"Down - NOLA
but these ones are right behind it
Latterman - We are still alive
Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
High on Fire - Death Is This Communion
Jawbreaker - Bivouac"

-Randall, No Brass

"My all time favorite albums would have to be "this is satire" by None More Black, anything by Jawbreaker, "astray" by Samiam, and also anything by the master blasters, Dillinger Four (I say master blaster to look like a fuckin idiot), the whole thing changes all the time though, but those are some definites. How about you?"

-Tyler, No Brass

"i dont know what the other guys are going to say, but "this is satire" by none more black is one of my favorite albums... two close seconds are "left & leaving" by the weakerthans and "makers" by rocky votolato... "

-Max, No Brass

"Gold - ABBA"

-The Briefs

"difficult question and one with an answer that changes w/ the months and sobriety.right now i would say gino washington's "out of this world" on norton records."

-Shake Revard, Thee Crucials

"Oh sheeeet! That's a tough one...At this current state in time, I'd have to go with The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette, with a close second to The Smiths - The Queen is Dead."

-Nick?, The Limit Club

"Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

The Stairs, Mexican R&B, also comes to mind."

-Sean Crowley, The Hall Monitors

"I don't know, maybe thriller"

-The Points (I love these guys so much)

"I'd have to say that my favorite album is the Hank Williams box set that was released in the late 70's. It has almost all of the stuff on it, it's essential for any songwriter or musician to have, it's VINYL!!, it's relatively easy to get your hands on, and what ding-dong wouldn't love Hank, anyway? Really though......I think it should be in everyones record collection."

-The incomparable Slick Andrews

"Not a fair question. Here are several candidates, in no particular order.
Rubber Soul ,The Beatles
This Year's Model, Elvis Costello
Twenty Golden Greats, Buddy Holly
Get The Knack, The Knack
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley
Revolver, The Beatles
Beatles 65, The Beatles
Johnny Cash and his Red Hot and Blue Guitar, Johnny Cash
Live at The Apollo, James Brown"

-The equally incomparable JP McDermott

"captain beefheart-safe as milk"

-The Black Lips

"Leave Home by The Ramones or Psychocandy by Jesus and Mary Chain"

-Joe Queer, The Queers

"I really like m. ward - transistor radio"

-Fake Problems

Thanks to everyone who responded!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Please tell me this means a Rumbleseat reunion too

Aaron has been telling me to update more. True fun fact about Aaron - he never brushes his teeth, so when he exhales, you catch the distinct aroma of King Cobra and semen. Whether it's his own or not is a mystery I'd rather not solve.

So what should I post to honor my obnoxious Hispanic counterpart? How about a band that was recently responsible for news that had Aaron and I shitting our pants out of delight? No kids, it wasn't the Blood Brothers breaking up (thank fucking GOD). Hot Water Music is back together! They've only been split a year, but with the band splintered into Chuck Ragan's solo career and the remaining members carrying on as the Draft, we bearded motherfuckers didn't have much in the way of hope.

Granted, while it was fun playing the new game Homeless or Hot Water Music (in which you look at a picture of an inebriated bearded person and determine if they are vagabonds or Chris Wollard), but like all the other heads over at the 'Org, we were all hoping that this was just another yearlong break up like last time. Lo and behold, shows have been scheduled and they've announced they will be recording new material for the long-delayed Till the Wheels Fall Off. (Saying Wheels is "delayed" is like saying Chinese Democracy and C I V I L W A R are running a spot late for tea and crumpets.)

So why are we all ga-ga gay for a bunch of smelly dudes with tribal tattoos? Depends on what you like about them. Me, I go for the dueling aspect of the guitars and vocals. Like Sleater-Kinney or Black Star, the guys in HWM are constantly trading off vocals and their interweaving guitars battle for supremacy in the mix. It's tension and release worthy of the Angus brothers.

Tread wary, children, for you will not find the overt hooks here that you would find on a Lawrence Arms record. Rather, they bowl you over with sheer intensity. Two muscular guitars chug and wail like the six stringers that could while a basslines snakes in the crevices and constantly shifting snare hits falls a beat behind the gruff vocals spouting oblique tales of life. It's a killer concoction, and one that's responsible for a lot of the best punk being produced in the United States right now. Taking lessons learned from Leatherface, they have forged a deliberate, angular trail that cuts through the heart of anyone who's sick of slogans and would be-pop stars in studded belts. As great as it is, "Take it as it Comes" will never be a top forty, and it's almost as incapable of being co-opted as Big Stick or Scratch Acid. Like family, they will always belong to the people that love them most.

Owning Finding the Rhythms, No Division, and Caution is crucial for any serious listener of punk rock. Trust me, Aaron and I know all about being kicked out of punk (we do it to each other enough), and not being down with HWM is an express train to Squaresville. You don't want to be a Herbert, do you? And yes, I'm quoting Star Trek to say essentially "all the cool kids are doing it." I'm sure you'll manage to cope.


Our Own Way:


Take it as it Comes:

Sons and Daughters: