The Wipers – D-7


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was famous for promoting the bands he loved while growing up in the coastal town of Aberdeen, WA (just drove through there a few days ago). It’s safe to say that quite a few people wouldn’t have heard of The Raincoats or Vaselines without the prompting of Mr. Cobain. For me, the best band that he introduced me to was The Wipers based out of Portland, OR. Nirvana covered two songs by The Wipers – Return of the Rat and D-7. Both songs appear on the band’s 1980 debut, Is This Real?. Both songs are insanely strong (as is the entire album), but I prefer D-7 just a tad. The song seemingly features the template Nirvana would use to take over the world just 11 years later – dirty guitars, pop-like melodies, and pure emotion. The Wipers were Greg Sage on vocals & guitar, Dave Koupal on bass, and Sam Henry on drums (Henry would later go onto play with pre Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows band, The Rats). I love Nirvana’s version, but I REALLY love The Wipers version. The song just smokes – a guitar riff that won’t quit, and emotion bleeding out of Sage’s vocals. Seven dimensional space refers to a place without any notion of distance. Sage’s lyrics take this idea and add appropriate vague statements that heighten the dread: “Standing on the stairs / Cold, cold morning / Ghostly image of fear / Mayday mayday / Gonna leave this region / They’ll take me with them / Dimension seven”.  An unheralded masterpiece that deserves a wider audience.

Pierced Arrows – This is the Day


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

This past weekend I finally had a chance to see Pierced Arrows in Portland, OR at a co-headlining show with The Sonics. Featuring Fred & Toody Cole, it exceeded my wildest expectations. The friend I went with was familiar with The Sonics (who hasn’t heard the best version of Louie Louie ever laid to wax?), but wasn’t too familiar with Pierced Arrows. The best I could come up with was “a punk rock version of Neil Young w/ male + female vocals. Also, they are peers of Neil Young”. Something like that, and certainly doesn’t do the band justice. Singer / guitarist Fred Cole has led many bands, the most famous being Dead Moon. He also led Portland punk stalwarts The Rats, the early 70’s hard rock band Zipper, and became famous with his first band in the late 60’s – The Lollipop Shoppe / The Weeds (band name was changed from The Weeds). Pierced Arrows were formed when Dead Moon ground to a halt in 2006, after being active since 1987. Featuring Fred Cole on guitar & vocals, Toody Cole on bass & vocals, and Kelly Halliburton on drums, they are a slightly less shambolic unit than Dead Moon were and feature some of my favorite songs the Cole’s & company have laid to tape. This is the Day features emotionally bare vocals from both of the Coles as well as an infectious punk rock chorus. It encapsulates everything that makes the band so great. Starting anew, putting past mistakes to rest – lyrically, it is universally resonant. Thankfully they played it when I got to see them live, and they absolutely nailed it. It is a performance that will stay with me forever. The song can be found on the band’s 2010 record, Descending Shadows. It’s a great entry point for the wonderful world of the Coles, and you’ll find yourself collecting every one of the records these great musicians have been involved with.

The Libertines – Gunga Din


I kind of missed out on The Libertines the 1st time around, 13 years ago or so. An English version of The Strokes the US press seemed to ramble on about (or so I believed at the time). The band was led by Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, but it seemed like the press gravitated towards the junkie exploits of Mr. Doherty. It was a turnoff for me, to be honest. Well…I was sorely mistaken. The Libertines took elements of The Clash and Blur and created a shambolic racket of punk inspired Britpop. Sometimes it felt like everything was going to fall apart, and sometimes it did – all part of the band’s charm. If you told me that the endless tales of Pete Doherty’s debauchery got on your nerves, well…you wouldn’t be wrong. With such a compelling discography with very few signs of weakness, I’d say…overlook the junkie horrorshow. Indeed – Doherty and Barât have never equalled the highs of The Libertines in their post breakup bands or solo, though Doherty has come the closest. Here we are in 2015, 11 years after the last album by The Libertines. Gunga Din is the lead off single from upcoming album Anthems for Doomed Youth and believe it or not, it might be the strongest single the band has released. Now older, and maybe wiser – the song features separate verses from Pete & Carl, and perhaps the catchiest chorus the band has ever given authorship to. The music moves from a druggy reggae vibe to a positively explosive Britpop chorus. Perfect, it hits every strong point imaginable. A bit from Pete’s verses: “Woke up again / To my chagrin / Getting sick and tired of / Feeling sick and tired again”. Carl weighs in “Woke up again / To my evil twin / That mirror is fucking ugly and I’m / Sick and tired of looking at him”. Both verses lead to that perfect anthemic chorus “Oh, the road is long / If you stay strong / You’re a better man than I / You’ve been beat and afraid / Probably betrayed / You’re a better man than I”. The video features the band out on a night drinking in Thailand, where they recorded their upcoming album. Don’t overlook Gary Powell’s drumming or John Hassall’s bass playing – everything works perfectly here. And what is a Gunga Din? It is an 1892 poem by Rudyard Kipling, written from the perspective of an English soldier and immortalised in the final lines of the poem “Tho’ I’ve belted you and flayed you / By the livin’ Gawd that made you / You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”. There are also songs by The Byrds and Jim Croce that share the name. The Libertines deserve to be discussed among those greats. Welcome back, boys.

Verdict: Here Are the Likely Lads

For Fans of: The Clash, Blur, The Jam, Television Personalities, Comet Gain, The Kinks

Repeater – self titled


Long Beach, California’s Repeater have released a steady stream of albums and extended plays since the mid 00’s. Formed by Steve Krolikowski and Rob Wallace, who had played together in The Main Frame, Repeater took that band’s darkwave aesthetic and added in elements of post punk classicism. The band (now also including Alex Forsythe on guitar and Matt Hanief on drums) generated a steady buzz, eventually working with famed producer Ross Robinson on their 2nd full length album, We Walk From Safety. One more EP would follow in 2013 before the band in its original incarnation ground to a halt. In a way, it was a shame – the band had reached the point where noise and beauty intersected as one, they truly were firing on all cylinders. Where does a broken up band do for an encore?

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The Raveonettes – Attack of the Ghost Riders


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The early 00’s (aughts for you hipsters) were fraught with throwback bands indebted to the cult of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus & Mary Chain. The Strokes and Black Rebel Music Club were the bands that got the most press, but The Raveonettes have proved to be the most consistent band of the last decade or so. Equally indebted to 50’s surf rock as well as the 80’s white noise assault of The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sune Rose Wanger and Sharin Foo struck a chord with me immediately. I can honestly say – every album, EP, and single offer up multiple rewards. It all starts with the late 2002 release of Attack of the Ghost Riders – a song that the epitomizes The Raveonettes esthetic. Surf styled guitars, harmonized vocals, noisy freakouts – the song has it all. The video is seeped in 50’s noir and was censored by MTV due to its risqué content. The song was the lead single from the Whip It On EP while the single was backed by two very strong b-sides (Go Girl Go and Demons Fire) . It is a great starting point if you aren’t familiar with The Raveonettes  – a gateway to one of the strongest discographies, ever.

Michael Nesmith – Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care)


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Most people, when they think of the intersection of country and rock, think of Gram Parsons. I do too, but I also think of Michael Nesmith. Yes, the very same Michael Nesmith from The Monkees. The latter-day records from The Monkees featured a handful of original Nesmith tunes that hinted at country music; freed from the chains of The Monkees, Nesmith embraced cosmic country rock in a groundbreaking and brilliant way. Nesmith’s 3rd solo record, 1971’s Nevada Fighter, was one of his strongest offerings. Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care) is arguably the strongest track on the record and happens to be my favorite solo offering from the erstwhile Monkee. Lyrically, the song concerns something that happens to just about everyone in life – not realizing what they have right in front of them. Musically, the song is breezy – a light country vibe with strong melodies. The song was originally demoed as a tune for The Monkees in 1968 – it is my belief that it would have been a late era hit for the band. It also might be the finest vocals recorded by Nesmith, conveying emotion with ease. The steel guitar from OJ “Red” Rhodes is simply exquisite. Oh, and the word propinquity? It means “the state of being close to someone or something; proximity”. It also doesn’t appear in the song at all. Oh, Michael. “Oh, it’s taken me a while / But I have finally found / what you are to me / And that’s what really counts / And what you are to me / Is something we can share”

Galaxie 500 – Strange


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Galaxie 500 followed up their impressive 1988 debut album Today with 1989’s near perfect On Fire. The tunes were stronger, the lyrics more cutting. It remains the highlight of the band’s all too brief career – Dean Wareham’s affecting unconventional vocals in tandem with his Velvet Underground inspired guitar riffs, Naomi Yang’s slowcore bass, and Damon Krukowski’s perfect drums displaying a band perfectly in sync. Strange is the 4th song on the album and perfectly encapsulates the Galaxie 500 experience. Warbling, slightly out of tune vocals working hand in hand with infectious guitar & bass riffs. The emotional havoc emanating from Wareham’s vocal delivery is a rewarding & exhilarating journey. The lyrics alternate between philosophical & ordinary, tying the two together as one. How can anyone know what someone’s impression is of you or if it lines up with your self view? That’s my take on it, and the song has served me well for years.

Why’s everybody actin funny?
Why’s everybody look so strange?
Why’s everybody look so pretty?
What do I want with all these things?

I went alone down to the drugstore
I went in back and took a Coke
I stood in line and ate my Twinkies
I stood in line, I had to wait

The Chimpz – EP


Think of the term rap-rock and you might be inundated by bad visions of late 90’s / early 00’s radio friendly bands that drove the movement into the ground. For me, I think of the early 90’s records by Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine. Angry and melodic, their albums seemed to point towards a future that would never be (as least in the mainstream). Who could have predicted that a decade later the genre would be associated with frat boy shenanigans? I always thought it was a shame that a genre that showed so much promise seemed to peter out as an indistinct genre on modern rock radio (or maybe it didn’t and I’m just a hipster snob). Fortunately, this is where The Chimpz out of Los Angeles, CA come into play.

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