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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

For all you drugged up clever kids

So the new Hold Steady record, Stay Positive, is easily my most anticipated record of the summer, despite Andrea (justifiably) still being mad at Craig Finn (and the 9:30 Club, and Art Brut, and the radio contest, and the dazzling array of douchebags that showed up). The song up on their myspace is amazing (Steve, break the rules just once, man), and the promise of Ben Nichols singing backup has me even more excited. I'm hoping for a big, bombastic rock record with the best riffs of the year and beats to get you off your ass and Craig Finn will spin the stories that have us talking until the fall.

To tide you over, I'm posting a big collection of rarities, b-sides, outtakes, soundtrack and compilation appearances, and a cut from their very first single, which predates Almost Killed Me and which routinely goes for $70 on eBay. If you're a fan of the band, you're definitely going to want to check these out, especially "Girls Like Status," which I think should have taken the place of "Same Kooks" on Boys and Girls in America.

I've often said that when you get to the level of Great Bands, the difference can be found in how great their b-sides and castoff outtakes are. The few Ramones and Fugazi leftovers are a good example of this. The Smiths are probably the best example of this - I can think of maybe two songs in their entire discography that isn't at least good, if not great or classic. If your b-material still kicks out the jams, then you know you're a truly awesome band. While not every single one of these songs is album-worthy (some of them you can see why they were kept off records despite being decent - they wouldn't have fit), but they include a truly awesome Dylan cover, the rocker "You Gotta Dance," the melancholy "Modesto's Not That Sweet," and the begging-for-a-Jawbreaker-cover "Teenage Liberation." If that's not enough, for those who follow the snippets of story about Gideon and Holly, some of these songs should shed a little more light.

While not as quality as the party album Atmosphere dropped for free download right before releasing the absoluetly devastating When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold, it should be enough to keep you occupied until July 15th.

Click here for the Zip file:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Leatherface - or - I hate bands whose names resist Google Fu

Tonight's entry will be short and sweet not because this band isn't very good but because it's a rare case of the music speaking entirely for itself. Also, what you can find online has been written by inebriated British punks, who may be some of the most inarticulate people on the planet.

But that's ok. You don't need to know that this band is great, or that Frankie Stubbs sings like Ben Nichols on battery acid. Or that it influenced an entire generation of punk bands despite being more obscure than, say, Samiam. You don't even need to say that Leatherface were making great albums up until they petered out a couple years ago, although that's true. All that is rendered completely irrelevant as soon as they rev up to the chorus of "I Want to Moon," where Stubbs' ragged, tattered vocals sound like a hoarse, wounded man screaming out his life's pain in one burst of defiance while the dense guitars and rhythms pummel. They have an intense sound that doesn't really seem to go out of style, probably because I buy too many things with the No Idea logo on the back. Andrea says they're gnar gnar - I say they're pop punk. She's lucky she's a good cook.

Normally I wouldn't post five songs from one album, but as far as I know, the band's masterpiece (the flawless Mush) is out of print on all formats*, so I hope these highlights are enough to spur you on to finding one in used bins or on eBay or the dickfart snob hive that is the Vinyl Collective message board. If nothing else, they should at least encourage you to hurry up and order their split with disciples Hot Water Music and their classic comeback LP Horsebox, both of which are still available from BYO for not very much money.

I Want the Moon -

I Don't Want to Be the One To Say It -

Pandora's Box -

Springtime -

Baked Potato -

*I say this, and tomorrow's entry will probably be hyping the in-print Back to the Laundromat, the underrated classic from the US Bombs - it's one of the single best punk albums of the decade, as you'll see. I'm nothing if not inconsistent.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Posted just for bragging purposes

I still have about 600-700 left that need a home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Crystals sure are the group I love!

What with all the angsting online recently, I thought it would be nice to post something everyone can agree on. It's hard to deny the power of radtacular of The Girl Group Sound. Not just for middle-aged secretaries dancing during happy hour, it's actually a sound so sweet and infectious that even the crustiest of punk and most hesher metal dude can get down with. Everyone loves this shit, because it's awesome and a huge reminder that pop music doesn't have to be meth addicts writhing around onstage in front of children.

Whenever I'm blue or burnt out on barre chords and grunted punk affectations, I fire up the One Kiss Can Lead to Another boxset, which if you don't own/illegally pirate is fucking crucial.

And it doesn't get much better than Phil Spector's stable of groups he molded into hit song factories. Despite a revolving lineup that shifted based on things like pregnancy and flight times from the East Coast, the songs recorded under the Crystals banner still stand up pretty strong. He never gave them the attention that he gave his other groups for various reasons. They didn't have as big hits as the Shangri-Las, he was fucking Veronica from the Ronettes, the response to the BATSHIT INSANE song "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)," etc. This just means he didn't coax the radio-perfect performances he demanded from his other groups. It gives it a charming, relatively ragged and lo-fi take on his normal perfectionist output. "Girls Can Tell" is a perfect example of this, and probably the best song they ever did.

Despite having a massive hit in "Da Doo Ron Ron," they've been kind of relegated to second-tier status of the big girl groups. Like contemporaries the Shirelles and Martha and the Vandellas, they are richly deserving of a modern exhumation and examination. True fun fact - "He's Sure the Boy I Love" will always sound great on mixtapes next to Dead Kennedys songs. I'm not joking.

Does everyone feel better?

What a Nice Way to Turn 17 -

He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) -

He's Sure the Boy I Love -

Da Doo Ron Ron -

Girls Can Tell -

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ain't no drama like hardcore kid drama

Holy fucking CRAP is there teh drah-maz online right now. I won't get too much into it, but here are three things:

1. I flew off the handle too much about Jason breaking up LaGrecia, especially in light of the revelation about the real (legitimate) reason the band broke up, for which I offer some apologies. I wouldn't want to be in a band with an ex, either. He was dumb for shitting where he ate, but whatever. I'm still pissed for the same reason I was pissed before - he broke up the band on the eve of the record's release, leaving his label in the lurch and with a ton of boxes of CDs that will probably gather dust because he won't man up enough to do any kind of promotion. I've probably lost some friends and allies with everything I said today, but I don't like it when people fuck with Virgil, a man who bends over backwards to do his part in making punk rock a culture worth giving a damn about. The fact that Jason has not even intimated an apology on this front or that his supporters have admitted that it was a dick move upset me. For all the NY/NJ crew's talk about standing by your friends thick and thin, this was a fucking dagger in the back. Brian Banal from punknews is encouraging everyone who goes to the NMB reunion shows to yell out for LaGrecia songs the whole time, and I couldn't endorse an idea more.

2. The new H2O is bad. Like, laugh out loud bad. It's not as terrible as the abortion that was their major label record, but geez. I'm not saying every lyricist has to be Blake Schwarzenbach, but christ, it would help if you opened books of poetry instead of the Idiot's Rhyming Dictionary every now and again. The fact that they sound so defensive about having "NOTHING TO PROVE" does nothing but betray insecurities about how they are perceived in a scene that pretty much laughed them out of music for seven years after said major label album. Apparently Ryan and I are in some kind of minority here in thinking this. I loved the Punk-O-Rama comps too when I was 13, but that doesn't mean I swore a blood oath to all the bands found therein.

3. It's pretty much bullshit that Nas' label is preventing him from calling his new album Nigger. God forbid a black man in this country make a blunt examination of race identity and divides and give it an appropriate title. Everyone knows true art requires asterisks and bleeps and castration.

So I'm sure y'all are wondering what the fuck music I'm going to trot out after all that hoo-hah. Why, something that pisses off all the punks, of course! I love Andrew Jackson Jihad. Punk needs more people who can piss off the majority of the fringe. It's part of the reasons I love "Candle in the Wind (Ben's Song)" where they tackle topics about people having sex because they're lonely, how he'd like to have more money so he wouldn't have to worry about rent, and how "I'd kill a kitten to save a human being." Our culture has buttons that light up and just beg to be pressed, an AJJ gleefully slam down on each and every one. They remind me of the Modern Lovers in the sense of how awkwardly, painfully honest they are.

I like playing them for the people in my car, because inevitably there will be a lull in the conversation and some lyrics about murder fantasies or lines like "I like telling dirty jokes and I like smoking crystal meth/But darling I love you" set to a lo-fi folk lilt will pop up and you will get strange looks from your companion. We all expect people like GG Alin or Marilyn Manson to shock and provoke, but what if even more outrageous lyrics were set to music normally associated with hyper sincerity and emotional exploration? All the punk and hardcore dudes and dudettes with no sense of humor, irony, satire, or provocation will give you dirty looks, and what can be a better compliment than the tasteless hating you? I'm sure Judd Apatow smiles every time he gets an angry letter from an Adam Sandler fan. There's something satisfying about people who don't get it not getting it.

They just put out a record on Asian Man called People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you like the songs I'm posting, buy it post haste. Like Virgil, label owner Mike Park is one of the few people in punk worth supporting with your wallet.

I Love You -

Little Prince -

All The Dead Kids -

Rejoice -

No More Tears -

Candle in the Wind (Ben's Song) -

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Why's he asking if she's ready to be housebroken?" - Cute deaf guy in the record store

While IKEA generally bores or enrages me in equal measure, I did find a kickass shelving unit for my LPs. I now have ~600 out in the living room lookin all fancy like. I still have about 6 or 7 boxes of ~100 to deal with, but all the crucial stuff it out and I have easy access to it. Who wants to party and listen to me blather on endlessly about Little Walter or Coleman Hawkins?

Mailman brought me Fake Problems, O Pioneers!!!, the Unloveables, and Off With Their Heads today. He also brought no bills. The mailman did a good job for once.

MattRamone Has a Posse stickers should be ready in time for Insubordination Fest. If you're going, I'll be more than happy to give you some. Also, I want to go to Philly on July 4th and personally hand one to Paul Delaney during the None More Black reunion. Just look for the guy with sideburns and beer belly trying to makeout with Ryan North and yelling "RAGING FULL ON!" between every song by every band. (Who the fuck else is stoked for Sloppy Seconds?)

Work has been awful this week, so my nights have mostly consisted of beer, playing God of War, reading Green Lantern comics, and trying to fart on Andrea's crotch while I pretend to be asleep. Things have been going really well though, and every day there's another reminder that this is the woman I'm meant to be with. Who else likes it when breakfast is more garlic than egg?

I smell a Sham 69 song:

So I was in the record store last weekend trying to sell about 100 pieces of my collection in order to winnow it down and maybe giving a bigger Feelies fan a chance to listen to their first record on white vinyl. It ended up taking about 3 hours because it was a busy Saturday, so I wandered over to the CVS and bought a double deuce and chilled like a villain and just listened to the music the clerks were playing through the open door. (How is it that we live in a country that the Mexican dudes with weird haircuts get dirtier looks from the patrolling cops than a wildly unshaved guy in a Good Riddance t-shirt drinking out of a brown bag less than 50 yards from a Chuck E. Cheese's?)

Most of the music was the weird arty crap record store clerks listen to because they cannot possibly bear to listen to Stevie Wonder another day, but Dave put on a record that made me actually pay attention. It was this claustrophobic sounding Britpop that clearly had a hardon for the Smiths. Of course I was hooked pretty much instantly on Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. It's clearly nowhere near the equal of the latter band, but none of the jangly Britpop/college rock bands really were. Having never heard the song "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" (despite being a Camera Obscura fan), sitting out on a humid spring day, sipping on the 'House, watching people hustle and shuffle about to this song made it seems like a soundtrack as natural and beautiful and painful as the sound of wind or birds. Maybe this is why people have iPods (but also why they get the look of solipsistic mouthbreathers if they have it on for more than ten minutes while interacting with reality).

Dig in, holmes.

Are You Ready? -

Perfect Skin -

Jennifer, She Said -

She's a Girl -

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Night Marchers and out adventures in awesomeness

Tonight went off like an atom bomb. Andrea and I drove up to Baltimore to see some of our favorite people - Ryan and Jordan and Wes and Neil and Violet and other Wes. Branden from the board showed up with his posse, and it was like a big gay Punknews field trip.

We ended up at the legendary Ottobar, drunk and stoned and witness to John Reis' new shitkicker entry into the rock canon. Figured dude was done with that, what after Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and Rocket From the Crypt. But no, he's back and kicking super tail. If anyone but Speedo had named their band after the myth of dead Hawaiian warriors, I'd be inclined to write it off.

But he came out out, hair still slicked back and mouth still curled into a sneer, and kicked out the motherfucking jams, riding that 60's groove until it cried and moved back home. The sex jams are firmly in place, as is the hoooooo-backing vocals. It was pretty awesome. Also, Andrea and I made out super hardcore, thus further cementing her position as Most Awesome Chick Ever.

I could go on and on about the music and how rad it is (it's stupid rad), but what really made tonight amazing was the people there. Abe L. was fucking right about how your friends are the better part of your life. The people I know and the people I've met, I would not trade for all the riches at the disposal of Bill Gates. Thanks for all the amazing times, you guys. These songs are for you.

PS - Instrument is for devoted Fugazi fans only.

PPS - holy crap the sun's coming up what the fuck?

Who's Lady Are You? -

In Dead Sleep -

You've Got Nerve -

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ain't no party like a moonstomp party

When I was in high school, I used to run with an awesome, crazy guy named Skinhead John. Despite growing up in McLean, VA, he was an Oi! boy 100%. He once flipped a car in a drug-fueled escape from the police, and in the days before Jackass and viral videos, he was making home videos of his various misadventures, one of which involved a sword and a very stoned punk kid. Because when you're a teen in northern Virginia and can't drive (either by parental rule or legal order), there's not much to do. We mostly sat around and smoked cigarettes and listened to British skinhead music and swapped stories about our various scenes. (It was like "The Ballad of Jimmy and Johnny" come to life.) Despite his upbringing, he was down with the boots-n-braces, working class, drug dealing skins and their one-two lockstep anthems, and I was content to do dumb things to my hair and get drunk on American beer and get amped on the manic energy of punk and hardcore.

One of the things we shared, aside from a passion for Guinness (which was fucking black gold when you're 16) and chain smoking, was a love of a contemporary NY band called the Templars, the only US Oi! band to really capture the verve and hooligan fuckedness that captivated us about those old Blitz songs. It helps that band mastermind Carl Templar can actually fucking play guitar instead of the three same barre chords played in the same chugga-chugga order. I also love how ragged and raw most of their recordings sound - they set up a studio in a garage and said fuck it, let's kick out the jams. It's really fucking hard to create that gusto in an expensive studio, recording separately. I've had several aborted attempts at starting bands. Usually it splinters because I get sick of each person trying to perfect their own part and then trying to ram our circle into someone else's peg. That night I spent with Josh randomly jamming at his practice space after we got drunk and went to the worst strip club in town was probably the best experience I've ever had playing music. Sometimes you gotta plug in and hold on, and that's the vibe I get from the Templars.

They rampage out of your speakers in all kinds of fuzzy Teenage Shutdown glory, marching in in a riot, stomping their boots as a warm up to kicking you in the face. They might be the best Oi! band America ever produced and would be the only reason I would ever travel to New York City, the second worst thing about the US.

Police Informer -

Video Age -

Make Your Mark -


The 60's Are Over -

Frontline -

Pride -