Nutopians – Time

Nutopians

Nutopians are a duo consisting of Ian & Phil Jackson. Ian sings and plays guitars whilst Phil also plays guitar and adds some backing vox. A father / son duo that offers up tunes that engage on a visceral level. I can’t think of any other father / son duos – not sure that Peter Hook’s son playing in his band counts? At any rate, the latest EP from the Nutopians offers up a blend of post-punk and power pop indie that is infectious. Time is the band’s 2nd EP and shows the band improving on their debut in every facet.

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The Kinks – I’m Not Like Everybody Else

TheKinks

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.

History is littered with obscure tracks and b-sides by artists that far exceed the standards of the artists’ singles & album tracks. The Cure, Joy Division, New Order, Oasis, The Beatles – those are just a few of the major bands that made it a practice to keep up high quality no matter where the song was being released. The summer of ’66 saw The Kinks release the single Sunny Afternoon backed by I’m Not Like Everybody Else. The A side was a a slice of musical hall whimsy that was a hit single. The B side – well, it just might be the best B side in history. A stunning slab of garage rock, it bears traces of the punk movement that would come into focus a decade later. Written by Ray Davies but sung by his brother Dave, it is an anomaly in The Kinks discography. It has that timeless quality – the lyrics might be directed at a woman, but you can sing along and use the chorus to reaffirm everything that makes you unique. Anger, isolation, and sweetness collide in winning fashion. A revamped version was cut in the mid 90’s with Ray Davies singing instead of Dave, and it also added a bit of hard rock muscle – this was the version used in the hit show The Sopranos. I like both versions, but prefer the original. Notably, the song has also been covered by the Television Personalities and Peter Perrett’s post The Only Ones band, The One. “If you all want me to settle down / Slow up and stop all my running ’round / Do everything like you want me to / There’s one thing that I will say to you / I’m not like everybody else / I’m not like everybody else”

Satellite Paradiso – self titled

Satellite Paradiso

I 1st became aware of the Psychedelic Furs early in my youth as MTV played the hit single Love My Way – it might have been on 120 minutes or even during the regularly scheduled videos of the day, my memory is hazy. I was instantly hooked and began collecting every tape I could find by the band (I hear tapes are making a comeback these days). Along with the 1st Live record and the Pixies, the ‘Furs were my gateway to what they called “alternative music” back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Although I had 1st heard mid period ‘Furs with their eerie synths and otherworldly vocals, I gravitated towards the earlier records that had edgier guitar work.

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SupaJamma – We Run Tings

WeRunTings

The last single from the great SupaJamma with the great Martin “Sugar” Merchant on vocals? Say it ain’t so! Last year Merchant left SupaJamma on friendly terms, leaving the band to carry on with special guest singers. The last recordings with Merchant are being released, with We Run Tings being touted as the last single (surely there is an anthology forthcoming – one can hope and pray). Curiously the band is releasing their strongest song as their final single, which speaks of what a tight unit the lads in SupaJamma are / were. As a recap, the band features Sugar on vox, Simon Collier on bass, Lord Bevs on guitar, Steve Wilson on keys, and Dan Adams on drums. We Run Tings is driven by a killer bass line and Portishead type orchestration. The band is on fire, absolutely everything gels here. The vocals alternate between dancehall toasting and sweetly crooned vocals. Again, during those sweetly sung sections it reminds me just a bit of Portishead in the best possible way. The key line from the song that I keep returning to is “let’s get together / let’s all unite”. An uplifting message and a wonderful song to close out this chapter in the SupaJamma story. A reminder of the power of music and the euphoria it can bring. The single is available at most of the major digital retailers and again is being released by Stereokill Recordings, who are releasing music from some of the finest indie bands out there today. Nice one.

Verdict: Classic Single

For Fans of: Audioweb, The Chameleons, Ian Brown, Bob Marley, Portishead, Gang of Four, PIL

The Sonics – This Is the Sonics

ThisIstheSonics

A couple of weeks ago in the city of Seattle, WA I bore witness to an aural assault not witnessed since the last time I saw Mudhoney live and in the flesh. That I had just taken part in the live Mudhoney experience just 30 minutes earlier has no bearing on what I am saying. The Sonics – forefathers to garage rock, punk, and grunge were headlining a star-studded affair to launch the release of their 1st full length album in 49 years, This Is The Sonics. Rooted in the 60’s, yet sounding delightfully abrasive and modern, it was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. Do you know how sometimes artists will insist on playing their new songs and the audience is polite until the better known tracks come along? The Sonics didn’t have to worry about that – the batch of new songs slot in well alongside their covers of Louie, Louie and garage rock classics / originals such as The Witch and Strychnine. In fact, I think quite a few younger bands would do well to see The Sonics and take notes on how to deliver raw, energetic songs that still have the ability to engage with the audience on a visceral level.

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Dot Dash – Earthquakes & Tidal Waves

DotDashEarthquakes

Recap: Dot Dash burst onto the music scene way back in 2010 with the release of their debut album, Spark > Flame > Ember > Ash released on the indie label The Beautiful Music. Dot Dash members include singer / guitarist Terry Banks (formerly of Julie Ocean and Glo-Worm, among others), bassist Hunter Bennett (also formerly of Julie Ocean), guitarist Bill Crandall (formerly of Modest Proposal), and drummer Terry Banks (formerly of Youth Brigade and Swervedriver). Such diverse musical backgrounds enrich the Dot Dash experience – mod influenced punkish rock ‘n’ roll that delivers on every front. Following their debut, the band has released a winning record at a clip of about every 18 months – 2012’s Winter Garden Light and 2013’s Half-Remembered Dream bettered the debut record whilst building and expanding on the mod-punk template. What does a band do for an encore? If you are Dot Dash you go ahead and deliver your best record yet – the just released Earthquakes & Tidal Waves.

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The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

AnotherGirlAnotherPlanet

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 path to my discovery of the band The Only Ones is a curious one. In the early to mid 90s my obsession with The Cure had completely taken hold, to the point of obscuring other gems in the music world. I became aware that The Cure had covered a tune called Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones during a soundcheck in 1987. Of course, I hunted down a bootleg and added it to my growing collection of rarities. I also decided to grab the original version of the song, released on the self titled debut record in 1978. This is a case of me not really getting the band until years later – shame on me. The Only Ones released 3 albums from 1978 to 1980 that were lumped in with the punk scene, but had nods to power pop, classic rock, and especially the proto / pre punk sound of Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell, and the New York Dolls. I just don’t think the 16 year old version of me was ready for music that was of such a timeless nature. The late 30’s (no, I mean 29-year-old) version of me plays The Only Ones at least once a month and sings along with enthusiasm. Another Girl, Another Planet kind of qualifies The Only Ones as 1 hit wonders, but what a song! You have a band putting forth all of its strengths into a perfect song. The long instrumental intro lays the groundwork for the positively explosive chorus. John Perry’s guitar work straddles the line between punk and rock classicism, Alan Mair’s bass bounces along like a freight train, and Peter Perrett’s vocals recall a New York poet punk spouting off lines about life, love, and death: “I always flirt with death / I look ill but I don’t care about it / I can face your threats / Stand up tall and scream and shout about it”. The demo of the song was so strong that the band wanted to keep most of the sound whilst fleshing out certain elements in a studio (bassist Alan Mair also served as producer). Mike Kellie’s drum sound was achieved by drumming over top of the demo and mixing the elements together on the master copy (necessary because of the way the demo was recorded – it was impossible to separate elements in the mixing process). All of these elements contributed to a perfect song that has stood the test of time, covered by many, many artists over the years. Yes, including that version by The Cure that I hunted down 20 years ago.

Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock

Planet Rock

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 days of hip hop collided with the early days of electronic music and no other artists encapsulated the era like Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. Bambaataa embraced the groundbreaking eerie synths used by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra and married the sounds to rhymes that were positive in nature. Produced by Arthur Baker, Planet Rock stands as the pinnacle of the sound & vision Afrika Bambaataa brought to music. Kraftwerk are a huge influence on this particular song – the TR-808 (and heartbreak) beat is based on the song Computer World while the melody is the synth line from Trans-Europe Express. The only other song I can think of that uses a sample to such stunning effect is the remix of Busta Rhymes Fire it Up that incorporates the Knight Rider theme. Planet Rock peaked at #4 on the soul charts and #48 on the Hot 100 – but has proven to be influential far beyond its modest chart positions. Hip-hop, dance, electronic, and trance all owe a huge debt to Afrika Bambaataa. The founders of Kraftwerk – Ralf Hütter & Florian Schneider – were later added as principal songwriters after reaching a settlement with Tommy Boy Records. Lyrically, this is a far cry from the later days of misogyny and violence in hip hop – in fact, the song is positively inspiring in places. With the perfect beat and infectious melody married to the perfect words, how can you go wrong? “You gotta rock it, pop it, ’cause it’s the century / There is such a place that creates such a melody / Our world is but a land of a master jam, get up and dance / It’s time to chase your dreams”