Electrafixion – Lowdown

Electrafixion-Lowdown

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.

What if I told you that a band that are considered 80’s legends, responsible for some of that generation’s timeless “New Wave” hits reformed in the mid 90’s under a different name with a grunge inspired sound? Not only that, but that the guitarist of The Smiths, a certain Johnny Marr, had a hand in writing a few tunes? Echo & the Bunnymen in their original incarnation broke up in the late 80’s (let’s not discuss the album without singer Ian McCulloch). Egos, members leaving the band (rejoining in some cases), and the death of drummer Pete de Freitas seemed to put an end to the band as we knew them. In the early 90’s, with the explosion of Nirvana, singer Ian McCulloch found inspiration in the rawness of Kurt Cobain’s lyrics and the honesty of the music. He partnered up with Johnny Marr on a few demo recording sessions which proved fruitful – his muse returned. The logical next step was reaching out to Echo guitarist Will Sergeant to rekindle their partnership. It wasn’t Echo & the Bunnymen – not yet, at any rate. Electrafixion is one of the noisiest records either musician has been involved with, and I consider it a lost classic. “Lowdown” was rescued from the Johnny Marr sessions and his influence is felt throughout the track. Echo (sorry) sound f/x, with a jangle that would sound at home on a record by The Smiths, it’s a promising opening minute. Mac’s vocals slither along, he’s cool and he knows it (he’s still like that). Music builds to a garage rock type roughness that was absent on the Echo records. Lyrics seem to reference depression and trying to rise above “You wanna be up there / But you’re underground / Now, now, now / Do you feel it lowdown”. The entire album is pretty great actually, if you like this song you should seek out the double disc reissue that is the entire Electrafixion discography. It is a shame they don’t play these songs live. The rest is history – Echo & the Bunnymen reformed and the new records hold their own against the classics. This phase of their history was forgotten about, never to be revisited with the same sense of angst and noise. Fortunately, records live forever. Enjoy.

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Paris Angels – Door to Summer

Paris Angels Door to Summer - cover

The Paris Angels were / are one of the great “what if” stories of the early 90’s. Contemporaries with The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Primal Scream they released a handful of singles along with a full length album and then all but disappeared. A casualty of record company shenanigans it seemed that the band’s place in history may have been relegated to a footnote in musical history – but tragic circumstances brought the lads back together. The unexpected passing of drummer Simon Worrall (Big Si) in 2011 found the band reuniting in his memory and contributing an unreleased track “Sleeping With the Radio On” to the Distant Drums charity compilation. That track, as well as new single “Door to Summer” are from the forthcoming record Eclipse. Recorded 21 years ago but sounding relevant, Door to Summer brings to mind the phrase “what was once old will be new again”. The track would have been fresh in 1992, reveling in its chill after party atmosphere – it sounds just as exciting in 2013. I’m pretty sure the word I’m looking for is ‘timeless’. I’ll be posting a review of the full length album when it comes out early in the Fall. In the meantime, make sure to pick up this track to whet your appetite. Available from Itunes for about $1, its money well spent. You can read more about the band and get up to date information on Paris Angels releases via Stereokill Recordings.

Verdict: Un Bel Ange

For Fans of: The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Black Grape, Primal Scream, Inspiral Carpets

Mono – Life In Mono

Mono

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.

In 1998 I went to see a film adaptation of Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow (since this is a music site, I guess I should say Chris Martin of Coldplay’s wife). I’d consider the film to be slightly underrated – the reviews were mediocre but I thought the updated names and quickening of the pace compared to the book were changes I could live with. The previews for the film had featured music that was haunting and seemed to fit the film perfectly. The track of course was “Life in Mono” by the UK band Mono and it is a track that I’ve come back to often over the last 15 years. The song starts out in an entrancing manner, trip-hop beat married to a pop song structure. Vocals come courtesy of Siobhan de Maré and are simply perfect. Evocative, sexy – all wrapped up in an air of mystery. Martin Virgo’s musical backing recalls a 60’s spy film and for good reason – it features a sample from “The ICPRESS FILE” by John Barry (of James Bond fame). At the time the duo were compared to Portishead which I can see, but I’d say they live in a world all of their own. The track seems like it was a bigger hit than it actually was – it hit #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the US (#26 on the Modern Rock charts). Emma Bunton of Spice Girls fame later covered this track – and it is a tribute to the songwriters that her version is so enchanting as well. Key lyrics:

The tree-lined avenue
Begins to fade from view
Drowning past regrets
In tea and cigarettes
But I can’t seem to forget
When you came along

Ingenue,
Ingenue,
I just don’t know what to do

My Life Story – 12 Reasons Why

MLS

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores lesser known 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.

Continuing on where I left off with Suede’s contribution to this series, we shift to another band with a Britpop pedigree that was almost unknown in the United States (even more so than Suede). The band was led by Jake Shillingford and straddled the line between Britpop and full on chamber orchestra – similar to fellow Britpop comrades, The Divine Comedy. This song was the 1st song I ever heard by My Life Story (though in an extended version called “17 Reasons Why”). It presents a conundrum for me – how can you view anything else in the band’s catalog with a balanced view when you’ve heard one of the greatest songs ever recorded? Dramatic strings, flamboyant & emotional vocals in tandem with lyrics that resonate deeply – that’s called perfection. The album this is taken from is The Golden Mile released in 1997. The band released one more record before disbanding in 2000 (they’ve since reunited sporadically and have released a greatest hits package as well as a b-sides double disc compilation). The original studio albums range from good to great – but this track is quite simply a masterpiece for the ages. Feel your pulse race as the strings swell and Jake Shillingford belts out these words:

One She prefers the night to day
Two She never calls me when she says
Three Motorcycle riding to the south
Four The way she puts her fingers in her mouth
Five Running just in time to miss our train
Six The old park benches where we scratched our names

Pulp – Different Class

Part 37 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

Human sexuality can be such a curious thing. Each one of us walks around with our own little secrets and sexual history. We are secure with the knowledge that each experience is our own, private moments in our memories that no one else can possibly share. Or can they? The world’s population is steadily increasing, so it is pretty clear that other humans are making love, having sex, fucking, or whatever else you want to call it these days. What happens when someone says everything you aren’t supposed to say about sex? You might know someone in your circle of friends (sometimes that is me, I’ll admit) or admire a comedian that walks this dangerous path (Louis C.K. perhaps). How about a record filled with these private moments? Not in the Marvin Gaye, classic “make love” mode. I’m talking about the sexy but creepy guy giving a play-by-play commentary on each move.

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eels – electro-shock blues

Part 36 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

In the late Autumn of 2008 I received notice that my Grandfather (mom’s side) was deathly ill and in the hospital. I quickly made plans to grab a direct flight to Philadelphia from Seattle to spend a weekend with my Grandfather. It is a curious feeling to move 3000 miles away from where you grew up and start a new life. In the Pacific Northwest, my friends and family know who I am and what I stand for. We may not always agree, but we always have fun debating things over coffee. People who know me from my formative years in Pennsylvania can have differing opinions. An adult steps off of the plane, but is instantly viewed as a child. Questions about life choices (Why did you leave your parent’s faith?) and other preconceived notions could be read on the faces of family and old friends. All I wanted to do was spend time with my Grandfather. Music can be a godsend, and the soundtrack that helped me cope with these things on that weekend was electro-shock blues by eels.

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Hole – Live Through This

Part 25 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

“There were so many things I wanted to say to him, so many questions I wanted to ask. But Eddie and I, we had a deal, we never talked about the future. We thought the present was so fine, why ruin it by planning ahead? But as Eddie drove off, I knew, I knew it then, it wasn’t gonna be any future. In the morning, they told me that Eddie was gone…” – Joanne Carlino in the film Eddie and the Cruisers talking about her relationship with Eddie Wilson, the lead singer of the fictional band Eddie and the Cruisers.

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