Category Archives: Paul

Digging in the Garage Episode 3

Digging this feature back out after a few starts last year.  This is where I feature favorite classic picks and new finds in garage rock, inspired by the Nuggets compilation and Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  Here’s a link to the original post that has more details on the idea.

First up, The Knickerbockers – One Track Mind

The pride of Bergenfield NJ, the Knickerbockers formed in 1962 – their classic line up consisted of brothers Beau Charles (guitar and vocals) and John Charles (bass and vocals), Buddy Randell (vocals and sax), and Jimmy Walker (drums).  They got their name from a road that ran through an adjacent town.

I featured their top 20 hit Lies, from 1965, in a Song of the Day back in September of last year. One Track Mind came out in 1966, and didn’t do as well (#45) due to distribution problems.  Both songs have great pop melodies reminiscent of the Beatles.

 

Next up, Big Star – When My Baby’s Beside Me

Big Star (Alex Chilton (guitars, piano, vocals), Chris Bell (guitars, vocals), Jody Stephens (drums, vocals), and Andy Hummel (bass guitar, vocals)) formed in 1971 in Memphis, and before breaking up in 1974, released a series of albums that served as a blueprint for power pop music for decades to come.  They were one of those bands that never really achieved commercial success at the time but in retrospect were hugely influential, cited as an inspiration by REM, the Replacements, as well as many others.  When My Baby’s Beside Me is off their 1st record, aptly names Number 1 Record.

 

Let’s go overseas to Scotland and The Marmalade’s I See The Rain

As I’ve mentioned, one inspiration for these posts is Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  Usually, the 4th set of the show features what Steven calls a “slightly psychedelic” set.  While I’ve never really been into that genre very much, I did hear this song for the first time on the show and really loved it (and to be honest, it is really only slightly psychedelic!).  I especially like the guitar line, the harmony vocals, and the making the best of the situation ethos of the lyrics.

The Marmalade were from Glasgow Scotland, having first formed in 1961 and going under several other names before settling on The Marmalade in 1966.  Members included Patrick Fairley (vocals, 6 string bass/rhythm guitars), William Junior Campbell (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Dean Ford (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Raymond Duffy (drums), and Graham Knight (vocals, bass).  I See the Rain was released in 1967 (and topped the charts in the Netherlands) and was also on their 1968 album There’s Alot of It About.

 

Cotton Mather – Lost My Motto

While I have mostly focused on classic garage from the 1960s, there are many great garage bands still keeping the flame alive.  Here’s another great one that I discovered on the Underground Garage.

Named for the 17th century Puritan preacher, Cotton Mather formed in 1990 in Austin TX, and consisted of Robert Harrison (guitar and vocals), Whit Williams (guitar and vocals), Matt Hovis (bass) and Greg Thibeaux (drums).  Weaving in influences from the Beatles to early Elvis Costello, they play great guitar power pop.  This cut, Lost My Motto, from the 1994 album Cotton Is King, also has a distinctly Squeeze like feel.  As of 2017, they were still active.

 

Well, time to roll the garage door down for now.  Til next time…..

 

Sources: Wikipedia

 

New Music Discoveries

The Beths – You Wouldn’t Like Me

When multiple bloggers I trust start recommending the same band, its time to pay attention.  When I’m in love with a song about 5 seconds into it, time to stop what I’m doing to check them out.  This is what happened with New Zealand band The Beths.  While I missed when their debut album dropped last year, fellow bloggers Steve for the Deaf and Aphoristical both featured them in just the past couple weeks.  Rather than go on too much about them, here are links to Steve and Aphoristical’s posts, which are much more fun to read and erudite than I could ever be.  Just suffice it to say these catchy power pop gems (think Weezer, or Best Coast)will be on serious rotation the rest of the year on my listening device.  There’s not a bad song on the album, so here’s a random cut.

 

Spielbergs – Five On it

I heard this song on a new music playlist and immediately loved the loud, somewhat fuzzy big guitar sound.  And then fellow blogger The Soul of a Clown also featured them recently.  Spielbergs reminds me of bands like Japandroids or Cloud Nothings.  They’re are a three piece indie rock band from Oslo Norway who put out a debut EP last year – this song is from their debut album, This is Not the End, which came out last week.  From the feedback squeals at the beginning and end, this song is two and half minutes of guitar bliss.

 

Tancred – Queen of New York

Ok I’m detecting a theme for this installment of New Music Discoveries – guitar, guitar, guitar!  And fellow blogger recs!  Tancred is the stage name of Jess Abbott, who writes great guitar pop songs like this one.  As with The Beths, this came out last year so not super new (but who cares) – I was alerted to it The Soul of a Clown, who posted this great review of Tancred’s album Nightstand a few days ago.  I’m a complete sucker for these types of bands!

 

 

New Music Discoveries

2019 is only a few weeks old, but of course there is always new music to discover and share.  Below are a few tracks that I’ve been enjoying recently.

Martha – Heart is Healing

I heard this song on a new music playlist right at the end of the year, as it was released in December  Martha are a power pop/punk band from the UK (from the unusually name town of Pity Me in North East England).  They’ve been around since about 2012 and have put out a couple albums and singles which I definitely want to check out.  Interestingly, there is no designated front person, with all the members taking turns singing lead on different songs.  Just absolutely love the guitar riff in this song!

 

Tallies – Midnight

Tallies are a dream pop band from Toronto that just formed in 2018.  This song is from their self titled debut album just released this past Friday.  It reminds me a bit of early Cranberries and definitely of the Sundays – perhaps its because lead singer Sarah Cogan’s voice reminds me of Harriet Wheeler from the Sundays.

 

Ex Hex – Cosmic Cave

Ex Hex is a all female rock trio from here in the Washington DC area who formed in 2013, although its members have been in a number of both local and national bands for a while before that.  Cosmic Cave is the first single off their forthcoming album Its Real, due in March 2019.  I’ve always loved loud guitars and female vocals, and this is just up my alley.

Paul’s Favorite New Music of 2018 Part 2

Ok, let’s round out my list of favorite new music from 2018.  For Part 1, see here

Meg Myers – Tear Me to Pieces

Heard this on an NPR earlier this year and was blown away by the intensity of the emotions – about getting into a situation which you know you will regret but doing it anyway.

 

Hatchie – Sure

Another Australian singer/songwriter from her debut EP Sugar & Spice.  I love the huge atmospheric pop feel of this song about the mixed up feelings at the end of a relationship (or is it the end?)

 

The Wild Feathers – On My Way

Another band my co-blogger Mike turned me onto.  One of my new favorite bands.

 

George Ezra – Shotgun

English singer/songwriter George Ezra’s sophomore effort, Staying at Tamara’s has his biggest pop hooks to date, and that’s a good thing.  I could have picked many from this album.

 

John Hiatt – Over the Hill

34 years and 22 albums in, John Hiatt is still turning out amazing, funny, soulful music – truly an American treasure.  From his latest, The Eclipse Sessions. I had the thrill of seeing him twice in concert this year.

 

Frank Turner -1933

Frank Turner’s latest is his most ambitious musically to date, but still includes the kind of punk folk that I have always loved about him.  When I saw him earlier this year in Baltimore, he opened with this number, and absolutely blew the roof off the stage from the get go.  About the scary times we are living in. Bonus live version below!

Well that’s it – I am looking forward to discovering lots of new music in the new year and sharing it with you all!

 

 

 

Paul’s Favorite New Music of 2018 Part 1

Its been another great year for music, both reconnecting with the classic songs I grew up with, older songs I love, and discovering new music.  I really feel that one way to stay young is to seek out all the great new artists and music that’s being continually made.  So here are some of my favorites from 2018 in no particular order (but I will save my favorite for last).  These are the songs and in a couple cases whole albums that connected with me this past year.  I’ll do this in 2 posts, here’s post 1.

Skinny Lister – Thing Like That

I first got into this self described “shanty punk” band when they opened for Frank Turner a few years back and saw them live earlier this year.  This song is their statement about all the craziness that has been happening in their own country re: Brexit and in the US with the election of Trump.

 

Amy Shark – I Said Hi

Great pop song from an artist getting a lot of attention down under in her native Australia. She’s been quoted saying this song is “It’s an anthem for anyone who is waking up everyday fighting for what they believe in and challenging the universe!”  And its catchy too!

 

Miya Folick – Thingamajig

Off her debut album Premonitions, this hauntingly beautiful song is all about saying your sorry and truly meaning it.

 

The West Coast Feed – You Belong to Me

I first heard about this 9 piece self described “swagger rock/soul” band off a fellow music blogger’s site (but I am forgetting who!).  I love the video where they completely upend the laid back cocktail party.  If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, there is no hope!

 

Liz Brasher – Body of Mine

This quote from this Memphis based artist says it all: “I don’t like rules, and I don’t like to be put into a box.  I make music that’s garage rock meets the Delta blues meets gospel meets soul. It’s southern music — my version of southern music.” This sultry song sums it up perfectly.

 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

My partner in crime Mike turned me onto this Denver based band.  I love the old school soul/R&B vibe of this song off their album Tearing at the Seams

 

Post 2 coming soon….

 

 

 

It’s Christmas Eve!

Ah, settling in for a nice evening with family and Christmas movies…

Wait, what’s that noise?!?

MUST BE SANTA!!

I’ve said before that one of the great things about doing a music blog is getting turned on to music I may not have heard of before – perfect example, Thom at The Immortal Jukebox posted a wonderful entry last night on Christmas (here), and included this video.  I knew Dylan had done a Christmas album but had not checked it out.  I have no idea why he is wearing a wig in the video, or what’s going on with the altercation and chase at the end of the video, but the look that Dylan and Santa exchange at the end is priceless.  My new favorite Christmas song and video!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

 

A few of my favorite Christmas songs

Christmas songs – there are as much a part of the holidays as all the other traditions – at least in our house.  Start with the canon of songs, perhaps a couple dozen or so?  This leads to endless variations on the same songs, some of which are horrendous, most just shrug your shoulders eh?, and few good ones.  Of course, I realize that what fits in that last category varies widely – as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.  Here are some of my favorites.

Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, and very Eurythmics take on this classic

 

Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Sixty years old this year, this song by Johnny Marks (who also wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) has always seemed a modern addition to the canon (even though it is 60 years old, when rock was in its infancy).  Brenda Lee was 13 years old when she recorded it.

 

Chet Atkins, Jingle Bell Rock

Originally recorded in 1957 by Bobby Helms, this instrumental version by Chet Atkins was first released in 1961.  Somehow hearing the song without the lyrics and just Atkins playing makes it a better song imho.

 

Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time is Here

I could pick any song off this album, the soundtrack to the 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.  One of my favorite Christmas shows with a real message, and an thoroughly original set of songs that worked perfectly.

 

Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Another choice from A Very Special Christmas, Chrissie Hynde’s vocal take on this 1944 classic of the canon makes this song one of my favorites.

 

Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

If you know me, or have followed this blog for any length of time, this isn’t a surprise – how could I include a list of favorite Christmas songs without including Bruce’s version of this classic! –  of course I am biased, but I think this is one of those rare occasions where the cover version meets or exceeds the original!  Just love this version!

Anyway, again, very best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday season!

Take it away Bruce!

 

 

Here Comes Shatner Claus!

Ah, the holiday season.  A time to celebrate with family and friends, to partake in long standing traditions of religious services, meal sharing, gift giving.  And as music lovers, to appreciate the music of the season.

So just in time for Christmas, we have a new album from William Shatner (of Star Trek Captain Kirk fame) called “Shatner Claus”.  Shatner, the self described “godfather of dramatic musical interpretation” (ahem…) has released a number of “albums” over the years in a number of genres.  I’m not sure what is meant by dramatic musical interpretation, but if it means Shatner talk/singing lyrics to songs in his patented way over the top, overly emotional dramatic to the point of farce way, then he is in peak form on this album.  The songs are so distractedly bad that when listening to it for the first time on my way home from work, I accidentally took the wrong exit off the freeway (a route I have taken so often I could normally do it in my sleep!)

Interestingly (or amazingly in my mind) he has recruited a number of legitimate musicians to accompany him on these songs.  Its an eclectic mix, from Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to Brad Paisley, Judy Collins, and Rick Wakeman of Yes.  In a number of cases, this makes the songs tolerable, until of course we begin with the “dramatic musical interpretation of Santa Shatner.

So what does it sound like?- picture if you will the obnoxious uncle who comes over for the holiday celebration, has too much to drink, and commandeers the Christmas song karaoke machine to entertain the family.  Let me give you some examples.

Have you ever wondered what Jingle Bells would sound like if on the sleigh ride you brought along a case of beer, and had Henry Rollins along to scream “JINGLE BELLS!!” at you?  Well, here you go:

Winter Wonderland is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and when done right, it can really conjure up a beautiful traditional Christmas scene, even if its not snowing outside.  And then there’s this.

After this performance, perhaps the other adults suggest you take your uncle out to get something to eat – unfortunately, the restaurant you choose is playing Christmas music, and Feliz Navidad comes on – Uncle Bill (after a few more drinks) decides he really needs to wish everyone in the restaurant a Merry Christmas.  Well, it might sound something like this.

And it goes on from there.  I won’t torture you with many more – but if you wonder how Silent Night as done by Shatner and Iggy Pop might sound, or Shatner’s take on the “ba radda da dum” of Little Drummer Boy” you’re on your own.  Oh, and there is also a punk rock version of Jingle Bells again with Henry Rollins that sounds like an outtake after a long night of drinking – just perfect for the family sing along.

I leave you with the only official video from the album, Shatner Claus “singing” Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with some help from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.  If you can ignore the creepy elves and the fact that they appear to have decided midway through to finish the song at a college frat party/rave with Santa dressed as a Vegas lounge singer, its not that bad….

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Digging in the Garage – Episode 2

Time for a second episode of Digging in the Garage, where I feature some of my favorite garage tunes, as heard on Nuggets or Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  See here for the inaugural episode which has more background.  Let’s get digging.

First up, (We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet by the Blues Magoos.

The Magoos were a Bronx psychedelic rock band that was part of the NY scene in the mid 60’s, along with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Youngbloods. According to Songfacts, the Magoos were a huge influence on Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd.   Released in October 1966 on the album Psychedelic Lollipop, the song reached #5 on the US charts in February 1967.  The boastfulness of the lyrics about being on their way to massive success was apparently matched in their live performances, where they wore electric blue suits with flashing lights.  Ironically, it was their only hit.

 

Outside Chance – The Turtles

The Turtles are best know for their #1 single Happy Together, which famously knocked the Beatles Penny Lane out of the top spot in the American charts.  The vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later achieved fame as Flo & Eddie.  Outside Chance was a single released in 1966 that amazingly failed to chart.  Fun fact – the song was co-written by a young Warren Zevon.  I love the contrariness of the lyrics – rather than pleading with the girl to love him, the singer flatly states: Stone walls surround me I’m surprised that you even found me, And you don’t stand an outside chance.  Although perhaps there is hope, since the next line is: But you can try!

 

Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)The Swingin’ Medallions

This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  A classic example of “frat rock,” so called because the record sounds like it was recorded during a frat party (with party voices in the background).  The Swingin’ Medallions were from, of all places, Greenwood, South Carolina – which just goes to show you that great songs can come from anywhere.  Their 1966 cover of Double Shot (originally recorded in 1964 by Dick Holler & the Holidays) went to #17 on the charts.  It contains the all time time classic line It wasn’t wine that I had too much of, It was a double shot of my baby’s love.  Hilariously, it was banned from some radio stations (perhaps in the South?) for its mention of drinking and sex.  My how times have changed.  Anyway, I first heard of it on a Springsteen bootleg where Bruce mentions it while introducing Sherry Darling (an homage to frat rock songs).

 

If you have any favorite garage songs you think I should feature, let me know in the comments.

Til next time…

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts.

Creeps, Deviants and Psychopaths

So its that time of year – Halloween.  Traditionally its has been associated with ghosts, vampires, and monsters.  Spooky fun.  But in the US, especially in the last 50 years, the holiday has also become associated with slasher flicks, serial killers, and other psychopaths – blame John Carpenter’s classic movie Halloween.  Or maybe not – maybe this is just my excuse to do a blog on some of my favorite songs about creeps and deviants.  I’m sure there’s a whole subgenre of these songs that I’m not aware of – my picks are by artists that you’ve probably heard of and that I’ve always liked.  And one is probably the creepiest song I have ever heard.  So without further adieu:

More Than I Can Do- Steve Earle

From his come back album of sorts, I Feel Alright, this uptempo song seems at first to just be about a guy’s unrequited love for someone – but as it continues it definitely moves into stalker territory.  “You left me just when I needed you
So l ain’t even close to through with you.”  Definitely Creepy.

I Feel So GoodRichard Thompson

From Rumor and Sigh, this song is definitely not an endorsement for the ability to reform juvenile delinquents.  Again, a pretty uptempo melody but there’s no denying where things are going right from the start: “I feel so good I’m going to Break somebody’s heart tonight I feel so good I’m going to Take someone apart tonight.’ And it goes from there.  Definitely Deviant.

Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon

From the album of the same name, this darkly humorous little ditty from the incomparable Warren Zevon starts weird and moves straight to deviant/psychopathic.  Zevon’s tongue in cheek lyrics – “He’s just an excitable boy” also perhaps are a dark commentary on society’s penchant for making excuses?  Also love the sax solo.

Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones

From Let It Bleed, this classic song from the Stones is pure psychopathy and evil.  It was written in part about Albert De Salvo, aka the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the early 60’s Boston area. Keith Richards has called it a blue opera, or a blues in 4 parts, even though the chord sequence isn’t a blues one.

And the finale, the song that always creeps me out just listening to it –

What’s He Building in There – Tom Waits.

From the album Mule Variations.  Not really a song, as much as a spoken word performance with a montage of assorted random background sounds.  Is it about a misunderstood freak?  A deviant, or something darker?  That’s the beauty of it – you can only wonder.   If you listen to any of these songs, listen to this one – even in the middle of the day,  it’ll freak you out.

Ok I have to go turn on every light in the house right now – til later…… oh, and Happy Halloween!

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts