I spent some time in Los Angeles recently. Driving the rental Hyundai around, I was forced to do something I never do in New York: listen to FM radio. Luckily, KROQ still exists, and better yet -- it's still good. It was exciting to want to listen to radio for a damn change. Though I'll never understand why it is I heard Bush's "Machinehead" (1994) enough times (about seven times in 9 days) to make me wonder if Gavin Rossdale had been kidnapped, killed, or was otherwise making headlines; nor how, at more than five minutes long, the station seemed to play Muse's "Uprising" every three minutes. Magic, I think.
Whatever. A bad half hour of KROQ is still better than... ah, well, you know how that one ends. I heard some good new stuff, some great old stuff ("Thunder Kiss '65" and "Los Angeles is Burning"), and was reminded of how much I like sharing music on this site. So, here this is. It's not a Pointcast, since you won't hear me talking on the thing; it's not a randomized Friday 10 -- these are a dozen tracks I handpicked for you to hear. It's a playlist, I guess.
Download. Then enjoy. Then type comments below.
Back Against The Wall - Cage The Elephant (Cage The Elephant): Had never heard of this band before I heard them on KROQ. I went back to the friend's apartment where I was staying and scorched the WiFi until I had everything they'd released, which is the self-titled 2008 album, a few alt-version b-sides, and an obscure Pavement cover. I really like this song, and most of the album as well. I haven't said this since forever ago: the video is cool. It'll creep out your kids!
Piss and Vinegar - Alkaline Trio (This Addiction): I don't know if I've ever written about Alkaline Trio here. That's a crime. I might have mentioned that Matt Skiba is a fucking genius. With ease, he could be mentioned in the same breath as Westerberg, Mould, Merritt. He writes lyrics with a big broken heart and bashes out the songs post-punk style. Listen to "Piss and Vinegar" from the brand new record, and then be aware that man and band have a back catalogue documenting every strain of heartbreak, revenge, rejection, and catastrophic no-mance you and I have ever survived. In 4/4 time. I don't have everything they've released, but I'm working every day to correct that.
Barely Legal (live) - The Strokes (bootleg, Vienna 03.09.02): I was just looking at a Strokes fan website that lists all their tours and setlists. They kicked off the 2002 tour with a secret show at the Merc in NYC (under the name The Shitty Beatles), and did 4-5 shows a week with practically the same setlist. That explains why they sound so tight almost two months in, at this show in Austria. I've seen them live a couple times. Once, Casablancas was so slack and indifferent it flat-out pissed me off. Another time, he and the band were keyed up like a killing machine, and that was a great show. This bootleg is worth pulling down off the so-called Internet; it's not hard to find. It's a great show.
Motherfucker - Primitive Radio Gods (Rocket): Yes. Primitive Radio Gods. Best known for the 1996 hit that heavily samples a killer BB King song. You know it. Unwieldy title. "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand." Last week, I was having a late lunch at a place near Amoeba Records, and it came on. It was cool to hear it again, but it reminded me that there were a couple other ear-worthy songs on that album, too. I couldn't name them then, but looked them up when I got back to where I was staying. Sure enough, "Motherfucker," was already in my iTunes. Right on. This song really does it for me once it's past the three-minute mark. That's when it heads off into a real cool place.
Swords of Truth - These New Puritans (Beat Pyramid): These guys are a trip. The music reminds me of Shriekback or Front 242, and then you hear that vocal and it sounds all wrong. What? Is somebody playing an Arctic Monkeys record somewhere nearby? Somehow, it just fucking works. I don't want to know too much about them, lest I learn something that completely turns me off. This song is from their first album, released in 2008. They just released a new one, called Hidden. TNP hail from Southend, on the southeastern knee of England, the same tract that bore The Horrors and Danielle Dax. Something's in the rain in Southend.
Brick By Boring Brick - Paramore (Brand New Eyes): I heard this virtually every time I got in the car in L.A. After the first couple times, I still hadn't heard a DJ back-announce it, so I had to do the caveman thing and type lyrics (as best I could remember/decipher them) into the Googles. I'll admit I was surprised, even a little embarrassed, when I learned it was Paramore. I had long ago written this band off as "not for me." And maybe they're still not -- I just know the one song -- but shame on me for not doing the due diligence and first looking into that which I denounce. Alright, listen: when the singer hits that refrain as the lead guitar drops out for a moment, I'm on the hook. Are you kidding? "B'dah bah b'dah bah bah dah!" I'm not made of stone.
Fuck Was I - Jenny Owen Youngs (Batten the Hatches): Famously used in a scene from season two of Weeds, I had been wanting to get this into a Pointcast for a long time. This week's playlist thing seemed like as good a time as any other, since no further explanation is necessary for this gem.
I Still Get Rocks Off - Blonde Redhead (La Mia Vita Violenta): It took me a while to get to Blonde Redhead. Usually when bands come with a lot of hipster hype attached, the music doesn't hold up. Reviews of their early records always compared them to Sonic Youth, and I just ran away from that kiss of death. The music is unique and challenging, makes me wonder why the hipsters dug it. The other day, I was in a serious Blonde redhead mood, so I pulled out the first four albums and just had at them. I love this band, and I'd always spent very little time listening to the earliest releases: Blonde Redhead (1995), La Mia... (1995), Fake Can Be Just As Good (1997), and In an Expression of the Inexpressible (1998). Their three releases since 2000 are so absolutely hot snot that they diverted my attention. So I have fixed that and spent a LOT of time with this brutal and beautiful music lately. Believe it!
Lay Me Down - Dirty Heads: Officially, that's Dirty Heads featuring Rome Ramirez of Sublime. But since Mr Ramirez was not actually in the original Sublime lineup, but rather in the newly reformed edition, maybe it's "Dirty Heads featuring Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome." Whatever. This is another one I heard a lot on KROQ. I liked it in spite of not knowing what the hell it's supposed to be about (are the main characters in some kind of trouble? Or is it, like, their Spring Break?). Sure, this could be 311, and I hate 311; but, what the hell?
New York, NY 10009 - Black 47 (Fire of Freedom): I'm sure I've written about B47 on TSP before; I've mentioned their legendary nights at Paddy Reilly's (10016). The celebrity guests at some of those shows would end up on Page Six -- the audience more noteworthy (to the New York Post) than the band, Here's a decent gig archive from their earliest days, with MP3s of those shows. OK... what's not to love about this track, especially if you're a music geek like me? In the first verse, Lance Kirwan sings, "...I drank my way down to the Lower East Side / 'cause I was nuts about Thunders and Suicide..." Straight off, references to three of my all-time favorite musicians. Then, for much of the song, he gives a lyrical bio of his first band, Major Thinkers. (Yes, I have the "Avenue B" 12-inch.) It all goes well until the girlfriend joins the Scientology Church and one of the Thinkers catches a bullet in Staten Island. Fucking love this song. Obviously.
Last Dance - The Raveonettes (In and Out of Control): I am a big Raveonettes fanboy. I was late to get to this, their latest album, but was well-rewarded when I finally arrived. A generous handful of good songs, but this one is a standout for me.
Prodigal Son - Bad Religion (New Maps of Hell): And, like that -- 30 years of solid music sneaks up on you. Amazing. Teenagers from El Camino Real high school in the Valley evolve and morph through several lineups, and end up with three of the original four members playing on this one in 2007. A new album will be recorded in the spring. Those of you who know, KNOW. Those of you who don't, you really owe it to yourself to not go to jail or get hit by a train so you can dive into the deep end of the Bad Religion canon.
Please, leave comments. Thanks for reading and listening.