Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon


I recently finished Kim Gordon’s memoir detailing her time in Sonic Youth along with the intimate details of her breakup with husband (and fellow Sonic Youth member), Thurston Moore. I mostly enjoyed the book, but I had to laugh – she spent a few sentences bashing Lana Del Rey. It was puzzling to me, as Sonic Youth have championed the music of The Carpenters for over 30 years now. Take away the tragedy of Karen Carpenter, and you are left with brilliant pop music. The time spent bashing Lana Del Rey reeked of indie elitism which both amused and got under my skin a bit. Hell, Sonic Youth covered Madonna! In this day and age, who cares? Anyone can listen to anything at anytime. Music should be an all-inclusive family – no cool kid games. At least, that’s my outlook. As far as Lana Del Rey? I think she is brilliant, and her latest record is her strongest yet.

Continue reading

Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz


I honestly never thought I’d ever review – much less listen to – a record by Miley Cyrus of Hannah Montana fame. In fact, the fake hipster and indie elitist inside of me still can’t quite come to terms with this turn of events. At any rate – long story short: TV / pop star erases her goody two shoes image a few years ago by revealing more and more of herself, makes friends with the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, collaborates on a few songs and eventually this leads to the free release of the double album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.

Continue reading

Mercury Rev – Goddess On A Hiway


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 September 1998 release of Mercury Rev’s 4th album Deserter’s Songs represented a creative rebirth. Gone were the shambolic noise freakouts. In its stead were songs of beauty and despair fleshed out by classical music elements. The songs were also mastered to 35mm magnetic film to lend the album a cinematic vibe. Lead off single Goddess On A Hiway was written by singer / guitarist Jonathan Donahue in the late 80’s while he was a member of The Flaming Lips – the song was found on an old cassette and rescued for the album sessions. The song serves as introduction to the sound of the entire album – ghostly, emotional vocals from Donahue, while strings rise up in emotion at key junctures. It also helps that the tune is a natural sing-a-long song, taking of advantage of a clever homonym. The 1st verses words “I got us on a highway / I got us in a car” change to “She’s a goddess on a highway / a goddess in a car” as the song progresses. The single was initially released in November, 1998 and reissued in August, 1999. One thing you will notice is that the sound of the song (and album) is very similar to the career redefining album The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips. In fact, the albums shared producer (and Mercury Rev member) Dave Fridmann. The success of Deserter’s Songs helped ensure the success of The Soft Bulletin, and raised the profile of the ‘Lips considerably. The video for ‘Goddess was a point of contention, with two different videos eventually released. I like the strangeness of the one embedded below – it seems to flow well within the haunting vibe of the song. Just try and get the refrain “And I know / it ain’t gonna last” out of your head after listening to this song. Perfection.

Motörhead – Bad Magic


There’s really only one band in my mind that has successfully bridged the gap between punk and heavy metal. Of course I’m talking about Justin Timberlake’s favorite band, Motörhead. Formed in the wake of Lemmy Kilmister’s ouster from space rockers Hawkwind, the band has churned out album after album of solid hard rock, punk, and metal anthems. Always changing, always the same – I believe John Peel said that in reference to The Fall, but he could have easily been talking about Motörhead. Members have come and gone over the last 40 years, and yet Lemmy is still standing (though drinking vodka instead of whiskey for health reasons). The current lineup of Lemmy on vocals & bass, Phil “Wizzo” Campbell on guitar, and Mikkey Dee on drums has been together since 1992, making it the longest latest incarnation of the band. Bad Magic is the band’s 22nd studio album and comes hot on the heels of 2013’s very strong Aftershock.

Continue reading

The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog


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.

Truth be told – I’ve never gotten around to seeing Iggy Pop or the reconstituted Iggy & The Stooges in a live forum. That’s a shame, with the band apparently again on ice. Fortunately, Christmas comes to Seattle in August this year by way of the Raw Power tribute band’s free show on Sunday, August 23rd from the roof of Pike Place Market. The band features Mark Arm of Mudhoney on vocals, Duff McKagan of Guns n Roses on bass, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam on guitar, and Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees on drums (side note – Duff, Mike, and Barrett are also members of a fairly new-ish Seattle group called Walking Papers, whose debut album was incredible). I’m looking forward to the concert, but it also got me thinking – what’s MY favorite song by The Stooges or the later incarnation, Iggy & The Stooges? There are contenders from the 1st three albums, but I always have to come back to the band’s debut single, I Wanna Be Your Dog. The single was released in June of 1969 and stands as arguably one of the heaviest songs of the 60’s. Heavy in a way that paved the way for bands such as The Fall and Sonic Youth (in fact, I mistook it for a song by The Fall during a memorable scene in a Guy Ritchie film for some odd reason). The repetitive guitar riff plays throughout the entirety of the song and once you’ve head it, you’ll never forget it. Sleigh bells and piano (by John Cale!) add to the mix of imminent self-destruction, an unholy atmosphere of riotous rebellion. It certainly stands as my favorite song by The Stooges, but I could easily pick out highlights from each of the band’s albums (including the 2 reunion albums). My only hope is that the Seattle musical icons that make up the Raw Power cover band find it in their hearts to play this gem – one of the greatest songs of all time.

The Red-Sided Garter Snakes – Endless Sea


The Chameleons out of Manchester, UK have long been 1 of my favorite post punk groups (that strange music created in the aftermath of the 1st wave of punk). Kind of a loaded statement, but I’ll make myself clear – when I’m talking about The Chameleons I am including all the side projects and whatever I could get my hands on over the last 20 years. I managed to see the original band in Seattle in the summer of 2002 which was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Sadly, the reformed band didn’t last and the members went their separate ways. No new material from a member of The Chameleons was released until late 2013 when singer Mark Burgess released an EP under the Chameleonsvox moniker. Now we have a full length album by The Red-Sided Garter Snakes featuring John Lever and Dave Fielding from The Chameleons.

Continue reading

Smashing Pumpkins – Today


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 90’s brought forth grunge to the mainstream, but it also heralded a new age of what was called “Alternative Rock”. Smashing Pumpkins were in the mix and seemed to bridge the divide between ultra cool indie hipsters and mainstream rockers. In September, 1993 the band released Today as the 2nd single from their 2nd record, Siamese Dream. Say what you will about Billy Corgan’s later records, this is one of the defining songs of the 90’s. Lyrically, the song pulls of a neat trick – it has listeners singing along to the chorus “Today is the greatest / Day I’ve ever known” while somewhat obscuring the dark subject matter detailed in the verses. The song is about Corgan’s suicidal thoughts that plagued him as he went through a deep depression. Corgan himself told Rolling Stone: “”I was really suicidal … I just thought it was funny to write a song that said today is the greatest day of your life because it can’t get any worse.” The song itself has elements of pop, shoegazing, and classic rock – a song that sounds both of its time and timeless.  The song became the breakthrough single for the band, and was made even more popular with its video that played on MTV nonstop (embedded below). Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, D’arcy Wretzky, and James Iha would go onto even more success with slightly darker sounds – but Today remains an effortless masterpiece, reaching towards the light while mired in darkness.

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.