Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sonic Youth - Paulínia, Brazil 2011-11-14 (concert)

I recently read Kim Gordon's excellent 2015 autobiography "Girl in a Band", which chronicles the rise and fall of Sonic Youth and Kim's relationship with SY co-founder, Thurston Moore.   I previously blogged about the Gordon / Moore split, and as much as I'm a Thurston Moore fan he does not come off as a sympathetic character in Kim's version of the story.

I can't help but compare this to Chrissie Hynde's biography, which I read immediately prior to "Girl in a Band".  While both are good, there are several reasons why I enjoyed Kim's book more.  First, under Kim's aloof, arms-length persona is a poignant and vulnerable storyteller, and under Chrissie's armored exterior, there's just another layer of armor.   At the end of both books, you know Kim far more than you know Chrissie.  Second, Sonic Youth's music means more to me personally, and Kim arranged a good portion of the book to temporally aligned with major releases in SY's extensive discography.  In addition to the broader SY story, I learned interesting trivia such as Kim's father was a professor at UCLA, her teenage boyfriend was Danny Elfman, her life briefly intersected with Bruce Berry, and her dislike of Billy Corgan is rivaled only by Danette's. 

The book began with a description of SY's last concert in Brazil (soon after the announcement of their split), esp. the scene captured above of Thurston's mock surprise when the tech hands him his guitar.  Kim stated that she had not been able to watch this concert because of the emotional entanglement it represents.  Of course, this only increased the voyeuristic appeal of my seeing SY's last concert, and  Kim definitely seems detached from the rest of the band.  Since I would assess the probability of a SY reunion at roughly 0.0, this last show from 2011 is all we're likely to have.



See the reviews of "Girl in a Band" from the NY Times, Slate, The Guardian, and Stereogum

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

LCD Soundsystem - "No Love Lost" (the song remains the same)

LCD Soundsystem's SNL performance last weekend reminded me that I had recently uncovered their 2007 cover of Joy Division's "No Love Lost".  To mark their 2007 tour, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem released a split 7" single to sell at concerts.  LCD Soundsystem's contribution was a cover of "No Love Lost", which first appeared on Joy Division's debut 1978 EP "An Ideal for Living".  My first exposure to the song was on their 1988 compilation LP "Substance", where this song captured my attention because it illustrates Joy Division's early, post-punk influence.  I've written earlier about Joy Division's influence on LCD Soundsystem, and this song is a nice tribute from James Murphy and company.

LCD Soundsystem - "No Love Lost"
Joy Division - "No Love Lost" (with footage from "Control") (live)

B-Side (?) Bonus links:
Arcade Fire - "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son" (2007 live)
France Gall - "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son"

Monday, May 1, 2017

System of a Down - "BYOB" (forgotten song)

A while back Herbert and I were talking about the lack of protest songs from the Second Gulf War.  Not protest songs from Vietnam-era artists (e.g., "Living With War") or from obscure artists, but protest from popular, contemporary artists with airplay on regular radio stations.  Part of the reason is surely a side-effect of the all-volunteer military: the burden is not shared across the general population and the conflict largely disappears from the public consciousness. 

One notable exception is System of a Down's "B.Y.O.B." which received a good bit of airplay on stations like FM99.  The song, from the 2005 LP Mezmerize, came out in the height of the Iraq War.  I'm really not even a "fan" of System of a Down, but 1) this song rawks, and 2) for blistering commentary, I'll put this up against any 60s folk-protest song.  With Trump spoiling for a fight with North Korea, sadly it's time to dust off "B.Y.O.B."  -- perhaps we can get SOAD to rewrite the references to "oil" and "desert" to be replaced with the frozen wastes of North Korea. 
Blast off! It's party time!
And we don't live in a fascist nation!
Blast off! It's party time!
And where the fuck are you?!

Where the fuck are you?
Where the fuck are you?

Why don't presidents fight the war?
Why do they always send the poor?
Why don't presidents fight the war?
Why do they always send the poor?
Why do they always send the poor?
Why do they always send the poor?
Why do they always send the poor?
System of a Down "B.Y.O.B."

Monday, April 24, 2017

J. Geils Band - "Love Stinks" (forgotten song)

John Geils, aka J. Geils of the J. Geils Band, died about two weeks ago.  And no, the guy you're thinking of is leading singer Peter Wolf; J. Geils was the guitarist.  Songs like "Centerfold", "Freeze-Frame" or the over-looked "Angel in Blue" would be obvious choices to mark his passing -- anyone who remembers the early days of MTV can attest to how huge all the singles were from their 1981 LP "Freeze Frame" (I recall Bill Glidden had both "Freeze Frame" and "Showtime!" on vinyl).  Or I could go all obscure fan-boy and choose something like "Must of Got Lost" from 1974.  But instead I'll take the middle road and choose 1980's "Love Stinks", the third single from the LP of the same name.  It was a pretty big hit for them (the 84th video MTV played), but it's mostly been bumped from rotation on classic rock stations by "Centerfold".  It's a fun song, with a lovably bad early 80s video, and the final, deciding factor in my choosing this song is the awesome, crunchy guitar riff from J. Geils...

J. Geils Band - "Love Stinks

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Pretenders - "Tattooed Love Boys" (forgotten song)

For my final installment for Women's History Month, I'm focusing on a song whose video got a fair amount of play in the early days of MTV (the 196th video they played), but I don't recall ever hearing it on the radio.  Even though it had its own video, "Tattooed Love Boys" was the B-side to The Pretenders' 1979 single "Kid", from their eponymous LP

"Tattooed Love Boys" is a fast-paced, gritty song with an unconventional structure (i.e., no real chorus).  In 1981 I didn't know what all the lyrics were or exactly what the song was about, but the song (and Chrissie) had my full attention. 

Fast forward some 36 (!) years and I'm reading Chrissie's autobiography "Reckless", only to discover that the lyric "Stop snivellin' / You're gonna make some plastic surgeon a rich man" is derives from "Shut up, or you’re going to make some plastic surgeon rich!", which was said to her while she was being gang-raped by bikers.  Chrissie faced significant backlash for this story and taking responsibility for the situation by acknowledging that she knowingly put herself into dangerous situations.

While I enjoyed reading "Reckless", Chrissie's detatched and obfuscated story-telling style made for a difficult read in which she recounts a lot and reveals little.   More importantly, I was aghast to learn that "Tattooed Love Boys", which had an outsized impact on my pre-teen sexuality, was based on a rape.  If I can't unread the book, can I least unread this chapter?

The Pretenders - "Tattooed Love Boys"

Bonus link:  The Pretenders - "Kid"

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - "Suzanne" (LP Review)

Time for another (belated) installment for Women's History Month.  I'm a huge fan of Mazzy Star, and while they had never officially broken up, their long hiatus between LPs (1996--2013) rivaled only My Bloody Valentine (1991-2013) in the alt-rock world.  So it only makes sense that in the interim Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Colm Ó Cíosóig (My Bloody Valentine) came together and created Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions.  And while technically it's a band, make no mistake this band is really about Hope Sandoval.  "Suzanne" is a four song EP released in 2002, it's also the third and final single from the 2001 LP "Bavarian Fruit Bread".  Although it came out after the 2001 LP, this EP was my first introduction to Hope's post-Mazzy Star work, so I'm writing about it first here.

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions sound a lot like Mazzy Star: if you like one, given Hope's distinctive voice, you'll like them both.  Even though both bands mine the dream-pop vein, David Roback (the other half of Mazzy Star), drawing from the Paisley Underground sound,  often writes material that borrows heavily from The Doors (e.g., "Mary of Silence", "She Hangs Brightly") or is very bluesy (e.g., "She's My Baby", "I'm Sailin'").  I won't say I dislike those songs... but I appreciate the more straight-forward dream-pop sound of HS&TWI.  I like David, and he's definitely one-half of Mazzy Star and its sound, but I like Hope more and she's 90% of the sound of HS&TWI.  Of course now you don't really need to choose, since Colm is now also the drummer for Mazzy Star, as well as Suki Ewers playing keyboards for both bands as well.

I should review their proper LPs, but until then enjoy this EP as your introduction to HS&TWI.

Standout songs: "Suzanne", "I Thought You'd Fall for Me", "Friends of a Smile"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 8/10

Swearin' - "Surfing Strange" (LP Review)

I've already blogged extensively about Waxahatchee, AKA Katie Crutchfield.  Here I will cover her twin sister, Allison Crutchfield, in another installment for Women's History Month.  As documented extensively elsewhere, Allison and Katie lead the punk band P.S. Eliot from 2007-2011, eventually splitting and forming Swearin' and Waxahatchee, respectively.  Although technically separate bands, soon Allison and other members of Swearin' were backing Katie, both in the studio and on tour.  As of 2015, Swearin' is defunct.

When I first learned of Swearin', I was super excited and ordered their 2013 LP "Surfing Strange".  The video for the single from the LP, "Dust in the Gold Sack", was great and I was hoping for an LP as strong as "American Weekend" or "Cerulean Salt".  Unfortunately, while it's not a bad LP, it's not nearly as great as Katie's first two LPs.  The problem?  Too much Kyle Gilbride & Keith Spencer, and not enough Allison.  I totally respect their DIY "if you write it, you sing it" approach, but Kyle & Keith singing (and writing) aren't why I bought this LP. 

Again, this is not a bad LP, and there aren't really any bad songs.  But ultimately it's just "Dust in the Gold Sack" and a few others, making this is a good, but not necessary, LP.    

Standout songs: "Dust in the Gold Sack" (live 2013), "Mermaid" (live 2013), "Parts of Speech", "Unwanted Place"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 6/10



P.S. (Eliot): Fortunately, Allison has since gone solo