The Raveonettes – Attack of the Ghost Riders

GhostRiders

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)

MichaelNesmith

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

Galaxie500

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

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.

Continue reading

Sunstack Jones – Good This Time b/w This Can’t Keep Going On

Sunstack Jones

Summertime anthems are quickly becoming a tradition with North England’s Sunstack Jones. In 2013 the band released one of my favorite indie singles of that year called You Can Help Me Out. They bettered that in 2014 with a full album of anthems called Roam – Britpop infused melodies with hints of Americana. 2015 continues the tradition with the release of the Good This Time single b/w ace b-side This Can’t Keep Going On.

The title track just might be my favorite release from the band to date. Hints of shoegaze by way of The Verve shine bright on this tune – shimmering melodies, vocals evoking a dream like state. “Listen and I’ll try to talk you out / Listen get your feet back on the ground” urges vocalist Chris Jones, a ghost like voice rising out of the walls of instrumentation. This Can’t Keep Going On is every bit the equal of the A side (so, I guess tied as my favorite Sunstack Jones song). A distinct Slowdive by way of Mojave 3 vibe carries this tune. Still wandering in and out of a dream like state, there is a driving urgency on this song that makes for an engaging listen. Fuzz tone guitar riffs immediately after the chorus recall a Phil Spector wall of sound. Perfect.

You can pre-order the 7″ from the band and get digital copies of the tunes here. You can also follow the band on The Social Network here. I’m looking forward to what comes next from Sunstack Jones.

Verdict: Hazy Shade of Summer

For Fans of: The Verve, Mojave 3, Slowdive, The Ocean Blue, Swervedriver

Wire – Pink Flag

PinkFlag

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.

Wire are a tough act to categorize – coming up with the initial UK punk revolution in the late 70’s, they seemed to be instant outsiders. Chainsaw guitar tones, shouted vocals, songs that ended before the chorus repeated – post punk before it existed? The band churned out 3 vastly different albums in the late 70’s – punkish, post-punkish, and art rockish (I guess). The 80’s found them experimenting in pop structures and seeking more electronic pastures – strangely enough, not much connects with me from this era. The band’s return in 2003 heralded another golden era of Wire for me, culminating in the recent release of the band’s self titled album (their 5th upon returning again). Where’s the Wire novice supposed to start? I had to answer this question recently, and undoubtedly I’d push the listener towards the title track from the band’s 1977 debut. It is a perfect song, not just from the punk era – from any era. Bands have spent close to 40 years trying to duplicate the guitar sounds Bruce Gilbert conjures up. The rhythm section is a machine-like beast here, Robert Gotobed’s drum patterns playing off of the impeccable bass playing by Graham Lewis. And how about those vocals? Reserved for the 1st 2 1/2 minutes as the song builds, positively exploding in animal like yelps for the last minute or so. Perfect. As a forward thinking band, even all these years later, I can only hope they play this track at their upcoming Seattle show. Once things for certain – I won’t be the same afterwards. I’ll be changed.

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.

Continue reading

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”