Catching Up With Birdeatsbaby

MVA_BEB2013_0682bw

I recently had the chance to catch up with Mishkin Fitzgerald, vocalist & pianist for Brighton, UK’s Birdeatsbaby. The band recently concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign that will help fund their forthcoming record, due later this year. 2012′s Feast of Hammers was a brilliant record as was 2013′s Present Companythe latter staking its claim as Mishkin’s solo debut. 2014 brings winds of change (sorry, bad Scorpions reference) – a band member change and a slight shift in sound. The band has successfully built anticipation for the new record using social media and even got a shout out from Amanda Palmer during their Kickstarter campaign. Here’s a bit of what we chatted about.

Continue reading

Associates – Club Country

associates club country big

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.

In the days before the instant gratification of YouTube or perusing music blogs, you’d have to work quite a bit to find out of print musical gems. In the early to mid 90′s I’d read about the Associates – a group described as Bowie meets Scott Walker with a post punk edge (this was clearly before Scott Walker’s soon to come transformation / return). Oh, and the group also included Michael Dempsey, who was The Cure’s original bassist. Sounded heavenly. The only problem was that all the early records were long out of print and the ones that I could find were bastardized US versions of the albums with the usual ploy of cutting great tracks and tacking on inferior, later period songs. It wasn’t until the reissue campaign began in 2000 that I was able to listen to the Associates in any meaningful way. The 1st three records (The Affectionate Punch (original & remix album), Fourth Drawer Down, Sulk) are the sound of a band firing on all cylinders. Lyrically and musically, it all sounds perfectly contained and on the edge of collapse. Club Country is the 2nd single to be taken from Sulk and whilst seemingly celebrating the club scene of the early 80′s, closer inspection reveals it be a damning admonishment of the New Romantic era. The bass line drives the song, complimenting the operatic shrieks emanating from Billy Mackenzine. A man possessed, and for a short time – on top of the world. “Alive and kicking at the Country Club / We’re old and sickening at the Country Club”

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

stonerosesiwannabeadored

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.

Mick Jagger had sympathy for the Devil. Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads. Ozzy Osbourne sold his soul to Rock ‘N’ Roll OR the Devil (depending on what you believe). Ian Brown? Ian Brown didn’t need to do any of that. As far as opening lines in the history of music, I’d be hard pressed to think of one more impressive than “I don’t have to sell my soul / he’s already in me” from I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses, released in 1989. A statement of intent, confrontation, and mystery. The Stone Roses hadn’t arrived overnight, of course – they’d toiled as a Goth-lite outfit in the mid 80’s before slowly arriving at their sound. In the UK it was “Baggy” – in the US it was “Indie” or whatever else the press could think of (Alternative was a few years away). I Wanna Be Adored was the 3rd single to be lifted from the self-titled debut album, and remains my favorite song by The Stone Roses. The slow fade in of instruments increases anticipation for Brown’s opening lines – make no mistake – Mani’s bass lines, John Squire’s guitar licks, and Reni’s drum fills are among the most memorable ever laid down to tape. Ian Brown doesn’t enter the mix until the 1:45 mark and it’s a vocal performance for the ages. Defiant, questioning, full of emotion – it is simply perfect. The song is a not just an 80’s classic or a great song from the Baggy era – this is one of the greatest songs in all of Rock ‘N’ Roll history.

El Perro Del Mar – God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)

album-el-perro-del-mar

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 to mid years of the 00′s offered up a few groups that were intent on reviving the 60′s girl group sounds made famous by The Ronettes, The Shangri-Las, The Supremes, and dozens others. One of my favorite artists that arrived during the new era of girl groups was Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar (meaning “experienced sailor”). No mere revival, her songs were layered with a sadness that felt lived in. Her self titled record was released in mid 2006, and was her 1st record to be released outside of her native Sweden. The album’s 1st single was the haunting God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get). Phil Spector-ish strings back the heavenly vocals, everything hanging together perfectly, yet delicately so. Overcome with resignation as she sings “God knows / I’ve been taking a lot without giving back”, confidence builds by the time we reach the chorus of “You gotta give to get / You gotta give to get back”. A song that sounds like it could have been made in any era since the 50′s, it is a masterfully executed. I was able to see El Perro Del Mar for the album’s tour and was delighted that the songs were just as wonderful in a live setting. Sarah Assbring – who is El Perro Del Mar – has gone on to release several more albums, each shifting away from the girl group sound. All of it is worth checking out.

Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars

JC

Posthumous releases by acclaimed musicians are as reliable as me having a cup of coffee in the morning. Typically there is a rush released album shortly after the artist bids farewell to this mortal coil, perhaps it even retains the quality the artist was known for. Each subsequent album dips in quality. For every Tupac Shakur, there are a few exceptions to the rule. John Lennon’s after death recording career maintained his exacting standards, and it seems that Johnny Cash is following suit. Not counting the Bootleg series, Out Among The Stars is the 3rd full studio album released since his death, and the 1st in over 4 years.

Continue reading

Withered Hand – Horseshoe b/w Not Another Sunny Day

FPOP161

Dan Wilson – aka Withered Hand – made a splash in 2009 / 2010 with his debut album, Good News. The songs set a standard for what was being called either (depending on what you were reading) anti-folk or UK-based DIY (do it yourself). I suppose either genre description could apply, but it almost does a disservice to the brilliance that is Withered Hand. Anthem like sing-a-long songs, some of the lyrics dealt with Wilson’s upbringing in a fundamentalist religion with a wit that never felt negative. Questioning yet full of beauty, these were the songs that I most connected with. Now it is a few years later and Withered Hand returns with music produced by Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian) and help from a ton of friends including Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm, The Pines, The Shapiros) and Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines). Leaving the past behind? Not exactly, the new music looks to the future whilst retaining everything that made us fall in love with Withering Hand in the 1st place.

Continue reading

Nothing – Guilty Of Everything

1393946850_magicfields_foto_1_1

The ghosts of our past can be ignored, viewed through rose-colored lenses, or confronted head on. Philadelphia based Nothing were founded by Dominic Palermo in 2011 shortly after he spent time in lock up on a few charges relating to a fight. Singer for a hardcore band (Horror Show), jail, a few years away from music – not the ideal career path for a musician trying to break on through (to the other side). Strangely enough, turning an introspective eye to the past has lent Palermo’s music a depth that can only come about by tackling the issues head on. Fortunately for us, we are left with what should be a contender for one of the finest albums of 2014.

Continue reading

Billy Idol – White Wedding

114815557

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.

By 1982 Billy Idol was on the verge of stardom. Following a brief stint in the punk band Chelsea, he fronted Generation X over the course of several albums and singles. After Generation X came to a grinding halt, Idol released a stop-gap EP in 1981 that featured an updated version Gen X’s Dancing With Myself. Retaining the snarling punk attitude, but layering it with an increased focus on the airwaves, it laid the groundwork for Idol’s self titled hit album of 1982. White Wedding was released as a single on October 23, 1982 and instantly became one of Billy Idol’s most recognizable songs. A propulsive beat married to 80′s synths, punk attitude, and a “Greaser” 50′s vibe, this is an absolute classic. The album and single version label the song as Part 1, and yes there is a Part 2 – you’ll have to hunt down the 1982 12″ release to hear part 2, which is a more synth heavy coda to the main song. The song peaked at #6 in the UK and #36 in the US. The video was somewhat controversial at the time, but seems relatively tame by today’s standards. As great as this song is (perhaps Billy Idol’s best, solo or Generation X), it is worth your time to hunt down Rowland S. Howard’s haunting cover version. “It’s a nice day for a white wedding / it’s a nice day to…start again”