Sunday, May 31, 2009

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks is part of the standard classic rock canon. At least it used to be. But it's really not even a rock album: it's jazzy folk with other stuff thrown in, unique sounding and very different from anything Morrison did before or after. I think it's been hugely influential -- listen to "Madame George" and it's not hard to picture Tom Waits singing it or Bruce Springsteen stealing a riff. (When I first heard Neutral Milk Hotel I thought of this album as well). I think it's too bad it gets overlooked today. It's not easy listening, Morrison gets in a groove in spots and doesn't seem to worry about whether he's actually carrying his tune. But patience will be rewarded.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brave Combo - Humansville

Before They Might Be Giants, before DeVotchKa, before Beirut, Brave Combo was taking despised music forms like polkas and rhumbas and and cha-chas and making then cool and fun. Matt Groenig claims they're his favorite band, but I like them anyway. On Humansville they're all over eastern Europe and Latin America and the muzak band at the old folk's home. But this isn't just a joke: these guys are great musicians who play with passion and fire. Favorites: "Money Can't Buy Everything", "Canto a la Salsa", "Chem-Oo-Chem" and "Ay, Me Duele".
Trivia: Brave Combo played David Byrne's wedding.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Mekons - I <3 Mekons

The Mekons are one of the most prolific and longest lasting bands to have come out of the 70s UK punk movement. Formed by University of Leeds art students (like their contemporaries the Gang of Four) their career has lasted over 30 years and 20+ albums. Their work has been consistently good, too. While Fear and Whiskey and The Mekons Rock and Roll are well-known classics, they have a bunch of other good albums, of which I Love Mekons is probably my favorite. It's their most accessible record and it's a shame it was totally ignored by the alternative rock crowd when it was released in 1993.

Trivia: Mekons singer Sally Timms was married to Fred Armisen for a while.


The Bottle Rockets - The Brooklyn Side

The Bottle Rockets are the best band ever to come from Festus, Mo. This is 1990s roots rock/"Americana", but the Bottle Rockets were much more of a party band than others from that era. Country-tinged rock played by guys who seemed to listen to a lot of Metallica and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Brian Henneman, the band's lead singer and songwriter, was once a roadie for Uncle Tupelo and was the second guitar on Wilco's first album. I am impressed with Henneman's ability to write these on-the-mark little portraits of rural blue-collar people. Intelligent, self-aware, funny, and fun. Check out "Sunday Sports", "Gravity Fails", "Idiot's Revenge" and "1000 Dollar Car". Not for those who are put off by a little twang or who don't like the Hold Steady, who remind me of these guys a little bit.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Parts and Labor - Stay Afraid

They're getting more attention now, and they've certainly worked for it, but this Brooklyn band has, for some reason, been largely slept on for the past few years. I saw them opening for Les Savy Fav at the Bowery Ballroom in September 2007, and they absolutely blew me away. They were noisy and frenetic, but had a great pop undercurrent to their songs. In that way (and in their approach to songwriting and sonics) they remind me of Husker Du, one of their admitted influences. They released two albums prior to this one, but Stay Afraid is where they really got their footing. It was their first release on Jagjaguwar and their first one where they focused more on songs rather than noisy pieces. Both Dan Friel and BJ Warshaw share vocal duties, and the drummer on this album is wild. He hits hard and fast, and fills in the spaces of the songs. If you enjoy this one, you'll probably like Mapmaker, their next album. Receivers, the most recent one, was a slight left turn. They added a second guitar player and the songs are less energetic, but it was still a really good release.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Weirdos - Weird World Vol. 1

Album number five is another compilation from the first wave of Los Angeles punk bands. The Weirdos were one of the most rightfully lauded bands of the movement, despite never putting out an album and releasing a handful of singles. They've got a really awesome guitar sound: they take the rush of Ramones and mesh it with the angular guitar sounds of Magazine and turn out either ominous and pulsing songs that are reminiscent of early Pere Ubu sometimes and more upbeat tracks that sound something like an artsier version of the Ramones. The band was pretty much the Denney Brothers, and during the 4 years this covers, they went through five bassists and four drummers. They reconvened in 1990 to record their only album (it's not really worth seeking out unless you're really bats over this) but the two Weird World records, which collect their A sides and B sides, respectively, are two of the best punk records you'll ever come across. Just listen to We Got The Neutron Bomb and you'll love it.


The Screamers - Demos 77-78

Post number four is the Screamers, one of the most interesting, and sadly underdocumented, bands of the 70s LA punk scene. They were part of the first wave of LA punk bands, and were thought of as the west coast response to Suicide. They were a four piece act consisting of a crazed singer, two keyboard players (one covering bass lines, another guitar, both playing with effects to make them blast more like stringed instruments than traditional synths) and a drummer. Unlike Suicide, the Screamers played loud, fast and confrontational songs, musically in line with bands like the Germs, the Dead Boys and Discharge, but led by keyboards rather than guitars. They had crazy ideas about distribution and recording their music and decided that, rather than releasing an album, they wanted their first musical output to be a VHS movie featuring the band's music as a soundtrack. The production failed, and they broke up in the early 80s. These demos and a few live bootlegs are all you can really find of their stuff. The quality's not great, but it's a pretty fun listen. They had some decent punk songs, and sound like they could have developed into a fantastic act if they'd lasted long enough.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Circulatory System - Signal Morning

Here's album number three for my week of posts.  The first two were old favorites that were, for some reason, by and large passed over by even the underground populace.  The same happened to the first Circulatory System album, but hopefully this one will gain more traction.  The back story on these guys is this:  Olivia Tremor Control formed in the early 90s as the first band to provide an outlet for the songwriting of Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss, and the first incarnation also featured Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo and Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel.  They continued on throughout the 90s, releasing two absolutely astounding psychedelic pop records that melded the sound of 60s pop with drones and experimental electronic pieces.  In 2000, the group split, with Bill Doss forming the Sunshine Fix and Will Cullen Hart, along with the rest of his compatriats from OTC, forming Circulatory System.  The first CS album sounded similar to OTC, but quite a bit darker and more insular.  Then, for the past 8 years they pretty much fell off the face of the earth.  There was an OTC reunion in '05 and the Holiday Surprise tour in '08, and Will Cullen Hart has been battling Multiple Sclerosis, but that's about all we've heard.  This one just popped up yesterday, and it's really pretty fantastic.  I had to include this as my third album, as I'm sure I'll listen to it every bit as much as the prior albums from these guys.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Saints - Eternally Yours

Here's album number 2.  I found this while readin the Kurt Cobain journals, specifically his list of 50 great albums he loved.  I was just skipping through random tracks on it when Know Your Product, the first song on here, came on.  Knowing nothing whatsoever about the band, I was so amazed by the sound that I pulled off the freeway, stopped driving and listened to the next 5 tracks.  I found out that these guys are one of the first punk bands from Australia, and that this, their second album, isn't usually as highly regarded as their first.  What puts it ahead, for me anyway, is the horn tracks.  They take the awesome blasts of 70s Ramones/Sex Pistols/Clash style punk and add a soul-influenced horn section.  The result is absolutely propulsive.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Horseflies - Human Fly

Hey kids!
Bmack here, and this is my first album for the week.  As I already mentioned in the thread, this one's an album I found after my parents saw these guys at a bluegrass festival.  They mix traditional bluegrass with postpunk, early electronic music and other alternative genres, and the album is one helluva blast.  For some reason they never get any lip service, despite the fact that they've put out at least two amazing records (the two I've heard were both great) and have been playing at least semi-consistently since the late 70s.  If you don't have time to check out every single song, I'd say make sure to at very least listen to the opening track, which is their cover of Human Fly by the Cramps, and I Live Where it's Grey, a 7 1/2 minute ambient electro track with some cool modified ukelele and violin sounds .  There are some standard bluegrass cuts on here as well, so keep that in mind if you hate twang (and stop being so closeminded!  Twang rules.)

Rules and Regulations

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Here is the deal. One Coachella Board Member per week (Monday-Sunday) has the option to post any album(s) they want (up to one per day for the duration of their specialness). Then we share anecdotes and discuss, like civilized folk.

Also: please upload to one of those services like Mediafire. That way the links won't expire and this site can serve as a handy archive if people are bored and looking for new tunes that they might have missed in the past.

Let the education begin.