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.
I’ve had this song on my mind over the last week or so – the Puget Sound region has experienced Winter conditions that are very unusual for the region – snow, ice, and well…more snow and ice. It certainly has led to many nights by the fire trying to warm up. Frozen was released as a single in February, 1998 by Madonna – hard to believe, but this single is old enough to drink. It represented a change in direction for Madonna – spiritual yearning, electronica beats, and an overall more mature presentation to the world (one that sadly would not last). The song was lifted from the Ray of Light album with a peak chart position of #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also was accused of plagiarism in Belgium, with similarities noted to Ma vie fout le camp by Salvatore Acquaviva – in fact, sales of the single were banned for an eight year period in Belgium, as the case went through the courts (no plagiarism was found). I have fond memories of playing this single (and to a lesser extent, it’s parent album) and noting the strange new direction Madonna’s muse had taken her. Vocally it is vulnerable while lyrically conveying strength as the orchestrations swell at the emotional apex. Perfection.
It’s been about 4 years since we’ve last heard from New York City’s The Lost Patrol. A lot has happened in that time, including the resurgence of Twin Peaks. Mention of David Lynch’s masterpiece is apt, as I’ve always thought The Lost Patrol’s music would be right at home in that fictional world (Note: I live about 30 minutes from where the series was filmed). Atmospheric, emotionally resonant – The Lost Patrol have always operated in their own world. And it is a world that I love being in. Redemption serves as a reintroduction to the band, an EP of 4 originals with 2 remixes. You know, in the 70’s they’d call that an album. Anyway – all the elements that I love about The Lost Patrol are here – hypnotic vocals by Mollie Heckerling, dream like musical backing by Stephen Masucci, and assorted help from familiar names & friends. So how does it stack up to past efforts?
Redemption has been on constant repeat since I received the album – an embarrassingly long time ago (this review is long overdue). Opener Some Other Time is all eerie synths, mysterious vocals, and tugging at the emotional heartstrings. Perfection, in other words. But the 2nd song Your Own Medicine might be my favorite song by The Lost Patrol ever. 60’s girl group vibes, heartbreak, heartache, and an epic sound for the broken. “I’m gonna make you feel / Like you have no other choice / I wish I could make you hear / Nothing but my voice”. Lyrics that cut like a knife. Don’t Cry
is not a Guns ‘N Roses cover, but nevertheless it is a great song. It continues the girl group heartbreak vibe in stunning fashion. It’s Time continues the vibes, with an atmospheric guitar lick coursing through the song. The EP is rounded out with two remixes, which enhance the vibes quite a bit.
Verdict: Short But Sweet
For Fans of: Lush, David Lynch, Lan Del Rey, Cocteau Twins, Chris Isaak
Later Fortune is the brainchild of Philadelphia’s Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins – two indie artists who have made their mark with solo records that stood apart from the crowd by using intelligent lyrics married to ridiculously strong melodies. Chet Delcampo (real name Chris Madl) took his name from Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brothers’ classic, Barton Fink. He’s released a few solo records and singles along with two records under the Hong Kong Stingray moniker. Indie rock at its finest. Heyward Howkins might be familiar to some of my readers as I’ve reviewed both of his solo albums. I really have always loved his folk / pop sensibility as filtered through historical anecdotes by way of his Philadelphia roots. A band formed around these two huge talents is a major force to be reckoned with.
The band started out as a way for friends to get together and record spontaneous collaborations. The idea of recording a song a month was thrown around, with the result being an album released at the end of 12 months. Sometimes the best ideas start out with the best intentions but lead to a different result. And here’s what we have – the brand new, debut single from Later Fortune. As an introduction to a new band, it is perfect. It makes an impact and leaves the listener wanting more. A 12 Year Audition is a low-key gem, hushed vocals and resonant, joyful melody that builds as the song progresses. Birds of Papau is an instrumental b-side, evocative in the atmosphere it builds over the course of 3 minutes or so.
You can pick up the record here. I’m really looking forward to what comes next from Later Fortune , this is an impressive debut.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Neil Young, Honeychurch, Simon & Garfunkel
Philadelphia’s RunHideFight are a breath of fresh air and are a fitting band to kick off 2019 reviews with. This is their first release, a 2 song 7 inch that clocks in under 5 minutes total – but what an incredible blast of brilliance to introduce themselves with. The band features Geeta Dalal Simons on guitars & vocals, Christine Weiswer on bass & vocals, John Terlesky (aka Brother JT) on guitars & vocals, and Jon Kois on drums. Collectively, the members of the band have a ton of connections and experience playing in the Philadelphia region with various bands. After a decade+ away from the music scene Geeta Simons was ready for a return – now approaching the music with the perspective of being a parent. It makes for interesting and heartfelt approach. The band name? That’s the new stop drop and roll for kids – run hide fight is a catch phrase for active shooter situations in schools across America. The new normal. The band excels at fuzzed out garage rock rave ups. He’s A Jerk is the A side and it is a noisy 2 minutes of white noise bliss. The band is locked in sync and I’ll tell ya, Geeta’s scream is absolutely killer. Because I Love You has a slightly less aggressive approach with a sing-a-long vibe and catchy guitar riff pulsating throughout the entirety of the tune. I can’t wait for the full length.
You can buy the single here – physical copies or digital. Follow the band on The Social Network and if you are near a major Northeast city, keep your eyes open for their tour schedule.
Verdict: Fiery debut
For Fans of: The Raveonettes, The Sonics, The Runaways, R.E.M.
When I was about 19 in the mid 90’s in the midst of the Britpop scene, I used to wander the aisles of the Princeton Record Exchange (Princeton, NJ) looking for the latest and greatest up and coming bands. Back in those days record collecting wasn’t as easy as following the links on the “world wide web”. You had to read, read, and read some more. And sometimes, I went with my intuition if an album cover caught my eye. And so it was with the 2nd Strangelove album, Love and Other Demons. A “blind” purchase, if you will – it instantly became a favorite record. There was a connection to the band Suede, but I truly had no idea about that when I bought the album. It has remained a treasured album in my collection for over 22 years since. A perfect mix of hope, melancholy, and a sense of being out of control. I loved it, love it, and will always love it. Singer Patrick Duff in particular spoke to me on a deeper level. Lyrically, I related to the themes of loss, love, and despair. Vocally, he was somewhat indebted to the nuances of Depeche Mode’s David Gahan, as filtered through the glam rock sensibility of Suede’s Brett Anderson. The years passed, the band sobered up, broke up, and Patrick forged his own path as a solo artist. But that path was quite unlike any he had walked before.
This time of year I’m always reminded of a skit from the show Portlandia – Fred had been on a seemingly perfect trip with a dream date. He sighs and shakes his head. His friends are puzzled – “What do you mean, it looked amazing” they exclaim. “Everyone on the internet – they aren’t having as great of a time as you think they are” Fred explains. And Carrie chimes in “Yeah, they’re just cropping out the sadness”. It is a perfect summation of Facebook posts this time of year – perfect this, perfect that. And I’m sorry, that just doesn’t exist. The new EP from Tacoma, WA’s Strangely Alright brought this whole thing to mind. They are a tight band playing straight forward glam rock ‘n roll, deeply indebted to the T. Rex and Bowie school of thought. No frills, no BS – they just hit you in the soul with real vibes.
The legend of Dinosaur Jr. is one that has reverberated through the indie rock scene over the last 30 years, and one that I am surely not qualified to discuss in a detailed fashion. Noisy and melodic, the original trio of Dinosaur Jr. albums were released in 1985, 1987, and 1988. The dynamic between J. Mascis and Lou Barlow bordered on hostility – eventually, things would come to a head and Dinosaur Jr. became a vehicle the songs of Mascis, while Barlow moved on to Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion (whose Natural One is likely the biggest Dinosaur Jr. related song). Drummer Murph recorded off and on in the reconstituted Dinosaur Jr. but didn’t play a part in the post Dino band J. Mascis + The Fog. Against all odds (take a look at me now), the original version of Dinosaur Jr. reformed in 2005 and have put out 4 records over the last 11 years. Noisy and melodic, the records felt like a continuation of the band, not a band trying to recapture past glories. I caught them in Seattle in 2016 and was impressed by the noise assault – the amps and speakers seemed to reach to the ceiling of The Showbox venue. A great feel good story – but it isn’t the whole story.