Monday, January 29, 2007

Welcome to My Blogroll

I try to limit my blogroll to sites that I actually visit. I guess I visit a lot of blogs. I couldn't resist adding two more mp3 blogs that I found this past week, because I love the bloggers' taste in music, as well as the themes they choose for their posts, and the photos they add.

Please welcome Jon from Brighton (on England's southern shore), and his blog Southcoasting. We share a first name, we're both fathers and music fans, and we've both been blogging for a year this month. Southcoasting is featuring a series on a wonderful era, UK Indie Pop of the early 1980's (e.g., JAMC, the Fall, Felt, the Pastels, and Biff Bang Pow!)

And hello to Tom from Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and his blog Bag of Songs. Tom features interesting new bands and new releases, and I enjoyed his Top 25 CD's and Top 50 Singles of 2006. He recently posted some excellent Lucinda Williams rarities, and he has some great photos of live shows he's attended (Pernice Brothers, Hold Steady, etc.) Both of these blogs are well worth visiting, and I recommend reading through their archives.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thrice Times a Lady

The Driftwood Singers' blog made a thought-provoking statement the other day: what if, ten years or so from now, a subculture of record collectors arises to celebrate the lesser-known bands of the 1990's that have largely been forgotten today? I have a feeling that I will be one of those nattering nabobs of Ninety-ism, going on and on about bands like Hypnolovewheel, Christmas, and the 3D's, who made off-kilter, brainy pop with squalling guitars. The nattering is already underway among graying music bloggers who carry a torch for Big Dipper, the Drop Nineteens, (insert name of your favorite Homestead band here) etc.

And why not? These bands were overshadowed in their day by Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets, Pavement, the Pixies, and Dinosaur Jr., but were arguably their equals in terms of creativity and quality, if not influence and airplay. If Our Band Could Be Your Life is the official history of alt-rock in the 90's, then there is an alternate history that remains to be written, but is kept alive in the minds (and on the blogs and iPods) of aging record nerds like yours truly.

The thought that I might be missing some brilliant but unappreciated musician somewhere is what keeps me digging through the record crates, reading and rereading the music guides, and surfing the internet, perpetually adding to a collection of music that I can't keep up with anymore, but that will never be complete. When I hear that one song that lights up the aural pleasure center in my brain, another trigger is sent to the part of the brain that governs obsessive collecting and fact-finding, the desire to know about and possess all the recordings and associated trivial minutiae about that musician. Lately I've been fighting the irrational desire to wire large sums of money to an Australian mail order firm so that I can own the rare self-released debut of the band Tiger by the Tail (and its 2006 follow-up). Their song "Get Set to Go" appears on the Monsters of Australian Rock comp that I wrote about last month. Their singer/guitarist, David Thomas, is a former member of the bands Bored! and Magic Dirt. "Get Set to Go" reminds me of bands like the Clean and Bailter Space. (David Kilgour's new solo record is out now, by the way!) The other song I'm posting here today is one of those lost gems from the 90's. And both songs use the word "thrice".

Tiger by the Tail: Get Set to Go
3D's: Outer Space

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Was Uncool When Uncool Wasn't Cool

Cryptograms, the new Deerhunter album, is now available on eMusic (though it isn't officially released for another week). Fans of local bands may also be interested in the new album Funny Story by the Atlanta band Cassavetes, and the 2004 and 2006 releases by the Athens band Casper and the Cookies.

Recently, eMusic also added several releases by Love Tractor. Eno fans will enjoy the cover of Love Tractor's holiday album. And over 280 reggae and dub releases from the Greensleeves label were added to eMusic during the past weekend.

A fellow blogger hepped me to next week's Ladyfest in Atlanta, and my friends at Eat More Records pointed out that International Pop Overthrow comes to Atlanta for the first time next month (though the lineup is regional, not international).

Monday, January 15, 2007


There's food for thought from Bitter Andrew about the man whose life and accomplishments we celebrate today. Some things have changed for the better in these past forty years, but so much hatred, fear and mistrust still separate us as a people.

UB40: King

Friday, January 12, 2007

Burning with Anxiety

Clinton Heylin's new book, Babylon's Burning: From Punk to Grunge was supposed to be released this week (according to Amazon), but the publisher's website says March 2007. Heylin is the author of From the Velvets to the Voidoids and books about bootlegs, Dylan, Van Morrison, PiL, Orson Welles, and Sandy Denny. In June 2007, Grove Atlantic is also publishing another Heylin title, The Act You've Known for All These Years: A Year in the Life of Sgt. Pepper.

It looks like Babylon's Burning starts with Lester Bangs and the Detroit scene (MC5, Stooges, Creem Magazine), and ends with Kurt Cobain's suicide. Should make for good reading.

I recently acquired a CD by the band Moving Parts, which was formed in 1977 when Roger Miller moved to Boston from Detroit (where he had been playing with Destroy All Monsters, among other bands). Roger Miller (not the "King of the Road" dude) hooked up with Erik Lindgren, who was a keyboard player influenced by Pere Ubu and 1960's garage bands. When Lindgren and Miller had a falling out in 1978, Miller and the Moving Parts' bassist, Clint Conley, became Mission of Muthafuggin' Burma. Burma's "Max Ernst" single came out in 1980.

Mission of Burma returns to Atlanta tomorrow (Saturday 1/13) at the EARL.

Moving Parts: Max Ernst (1978)
Moving Parts: Talk Talk (Music Machine cover)

Buy Wrong Conclusion by the Moving Parts at Bomp.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Figgs Featurette: Pete Donnelly

The Figgs' other prolific songwriter (Mike's cohort in the "Slimmer Twins") is the multi-talented Pete Donnelly. Pete is a tremendous bass player who is also talented with keyboards and other instruments. He is a big fan of the Kinks (the Figgs have covered "Father Christmas", "Johnny Thunder" and "Village Green"). Pete D. has also played bass in the Candy Butchers and has done some engineering work for major label artists, as well as producing and playing on the Death Vessel album.

Wait on Your Shoulders is one of my most favorite Figgs songs, and I love to hear them perform it live. I get chills when Pete and Mike harmonize on the refrain, a celebration of freedom and indolence: "Cuz it won't have happened to me/ All day long, I'll be enjoying/ Hanging around in a tree/ Taking a load off my feet." The song is from the band's last album as a quartet, The Figgs Couldn't Get High.

Happy is not a Stones cover; it is a track from the Figgs' first cassette album, Ginger. The song was also the A-side of the "My Mad Kitty" single.

Powder King is the 7" single version of a Pete D. classic that was rerecorded for the band's only major label album, Banda Macho.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Figgs Featurette: Mike Gent

One of the reasons I love the Figgs is for their live shows, but I haven't been able to see them onstage for several years since they don't visit the South very often. On record, you can't appreciate the tight interplay that the band displays onstage. They have been playing together for almost 20 years!

What the records demonstrate better than the live show is the songwriting. The Figgs have two great songwriters in Mike Gent and Pete Donnelly. (Nothing against drummer Pete Hayes, who has written "The Bar", "Wiser Goldfish" and "Je t'Adore"). Mike is clearly a music fan as well as a musician, and his original songs reflect his tastes for classic Stones and the "angry" singer-songwriters of the New Wave era (Joe Jackson, Graham Parker, and Elvis Costello).

On the Figgs' new album, Follow Jean Through the Sea, Mike adds "Regional Hits" to the stack of great songs he's written about the music industry (which include "FTMU", "Tint", "Simon Simone" and "J-Card"). One of my favorite Gent songs on the new record is "City Loft Home", which demonstrates his mastery of economical storytelling (sample couplet: "Fought with my addictions/ Served with an eviction").

Mike Gent also writes and performs with the Gentlemen, a Boston-based quartet that includes members of the Gravel Pit. They have released three fine albums. Here are a few of Mike's earliest songs. "My Mad Kitty" was the b-side of the Figgs' first single, and it's a cassette dub of a scratchy 7". I did my best to clean it up.

The Figgs: My Mad Kitty (1992)

The Figgs: Floored (from the band's first cassette, Ginger).

The Figgs: Go Before (from a 1993 single produced by Adny Shernoff).