Mansun – Six

Mansun

Part 47 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

In 1997 at some point – the exact details are hazy – a friend and I set out to see a show at the TLA on South Street in Philadelphia. The headliners were a band called The Seahorses, featuring John Squire, formerly of The Stone Roses. Although I had their record, I really wasn’t there to see them (and as it would turn out, I wouldn’t even stay for their set that night). The opening band was a band called Mansun who had recently released their debut record, Attack of the Grey Lantern.

The mid 90’s was a strange time period for a wannabe hipster latching onto the Britpop scene. Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede (that’s The London Suede for us Yanks) were all clearly within the genre, but there were dozens – if not hundreds – of bands that didn’t quite fit so neatly into the tag. I bought anything I could that was lumped into the scene, sometimes based on an article I’d read in an import music magazine whilst killing time at Barnes & Noble. I’d read about Mansun, and their glam inspired look combined with decidedly non britpop musical leanings pulled me in. Their 1st record quickly became a favorite of mine, culminating with the show I caught at the TLA. They ended their set with an incredible version of their 1st single “Take it Easy, Chicken” and my friend and I felt like there was no way The Seahorses – John Squire and all – could ever top Mansun. And so we left the venue. Upon reflection, this may have signaled the end of my personal Britpop phase.

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The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Backyard

deadmilkmen

Part 46 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I received my driver’s license in the great state of Pennsylvania just shy of my 17th birthday (spring of 1994). This opened up a world of possibilities for me, from a geek’s perspective. Suddenly I could let my parents know that I was doing all sorts of activities locally (not true) while driving to Allentown, PA with a like-minded cohort. Our goal (as always) was to meet up with some girls we had met at some gathering or party (the same, I guess). In the world of a 17-year-old, all of this made total sense (the girl we both liked didn’t end up with either of us anyway) – but it was the trips to Play It Again Records in Allentown that stick with me almost 20 years later. On one such fateful journey my buddy picked up what he had heard was a punk rock classic from our home city of Philly. Over and over we played the ridiculously catchy pop-punk during our 45 minute drive home. Of course, I still wasn’t wearing my prescription glasses because they revealed me to be a geek, so our soundtrack as I drove into a median on the way home was Big Lizard In My Backyard by The Dead Milkmen. I’ve worn my contacts or glasses ever since by the way.

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The Beatles – Rubber Soul

beatles

Part 45 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I debated whether I should really tackle an album by The Beatles – probably the most popular and biggest band of all time (sorry Rolling Stones fans). I 1st became obsessed with all things Lennon while still barely into my teens and the sickness has only progressed from there (I even developed an appreciation for Mr. Lennon’s 3 Amigos over the years). When I was 1st getting interested in buying albums by The Beatles a family friend advised me that the cut off for acceptable records was Rubber Soul (the thought was that this was the end of the soft “tea” era / prior to the lads moving on to harder, mind altering “tea”). Of course, I ignored all such conservative rationale and spent all of my paper route money on every CD by the band (that’s about 13 LP’s and 2 odds ‘n’ sods collections for a span of 7 years). I love every record, but I have to admit – Rubber Soul still remains my favorite.

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John Lydon – Psycho’s Path

john lydon

Part 44 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

What does the term “punk” mean? The other day I was driving in my suburban neighborhood and noticed a group of teenagers hanging outside of Starbucks (Dr. Evil’s Headquarters). Does social and monetary status define how we define ourselves? It’s a difficult question to answer, really. I remember in the early 90’s when I was discovering the original punk scene I’d mock those kids who wore Rancid shirts (I probably hadn’t heard of Operation Ivy yet) and blabber on about the Sex Pistols and The Clash. An old friend recently sent me an article on The Onion from 2003 featuring a guy ranting on about how he was a true punk – cause he’d seen the 1996 Sex Pistols reunion show and how could kids in 2003 be old enough to remember that? Sigh. I was BORN in 1977.

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Nirvana – In Utero

in utero

Part 43 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

It is exactly 2,823 miles from Hatboro, PA to the Lake Washington section of Seattle, WA. I grew up in the former, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana resided in the latter (post fame). There is a part of me that wishes I could tell you that I discovered Nirvana in the late 80’s and was one of the few who had a copy of their debut, Bleach, years before they hit it big with their 2nd record, Nevermind. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. I was a slightly awkward kid in 9th grade that had come across a video on MTV’s buzz bin that sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard. Of course that song was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and would propel Nirvana towards becoming one of the most famous bands in the history of modern music. The full length record was released on September 24, 1991 and I believe it put into motion the chain of events that would lead me to move to Seattle just 11 years later in early 2002. A poet and visionary from Washington State had heavily influenced a geeky 14-year-old from Pennsylvania.

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Strangelove – love and other demons

strangelove

Part 42 of a series that will run the last Friday of each month throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

The mid 90’s were a glorious time to be a music junkie. The Britpop era was in full force and it seemed like every week there was another new band or record that was a “must have”. These were the days before Itunes, torrents, and Bandcamp made it easy to discover new bands and download new songs almost instantly. My routine would usually consist of driving to Siren Records in Doylestown, PA to see if they had what I was looking for. If they didn’t have what I needed, I’d cruise up I-95 until I arrived at the exit for the Princeton Record Exchange. Once I was inside the corridors of the record store, time seemed to stop. I’d wander endlessly (after trading in a ridiculous amount of CD’s for credit, of course). If I didn’t have something in mind, I’d check each CD’s cover art to see if I could figure out what kind of music was waiting for me. And this is the story of how I discovered Strangelove – one of the 50 bands or so that live in my “top 5 of all time” (something like that).

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The Sixth Great Lake – Up the Country

sixthgreatlake

Part 41 of a series that will run the last Friday of each month throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

Well so much for sticking to my “2013 Mission Statement” for this series – I mistakenly thought today was the last Friday of January and only realized it was February when I started thinking about every Pennsylvania native’s version of Christmas, Groundhog’s Day. The good news is that you will get two Flashback Friday articles within the month of February.

In the late 90’s, the Elephant 6 scene really began to intrigue me. The bands with the most press (Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo) were great, but I began to gravitate towards loosely associated / fringe bands. The 1st band that I began to really listen to was The Ladybug Transistor. Stunning melodies, music that sounded like it was actually made in the 60’s. Album covers that recalled those glorious Bee Gees records from the late 60’s. As I began to dig deeper, I found that some of the band members were also in The Essex Green. Once I discovered The Essex Green, I discovered Guppyboy (slight difference in band members). I adored everything by Guppyboy and The Essex Green – even more than The Ladybug Transistor. This laid the framework for the 2001 release of the debut record by The Sixth Great Lake, Up The Country.

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