Motörhead – Bad Magic

Print

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

thestooges

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

RSGS

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

SmashingPumpkins-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

thewipers

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

piercedarrows

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

GungaDin

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

Repeater

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?

Continue reading