The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Backyard

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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 Sixth Great Lake – Up the Country

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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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Primal Scream – XTRMNTR

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Part 38 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

The truth can be a curious thing. I once knew a person who would follow each opinionated rude statement with the disclaimer “At least I’m honest”. But what is honesty? Really, each one of us is making judgments based upon our life experiences and spinning our opinions back as “the truth” (not talking about Scientific facts). At what point do opinions and perception become indisputable facts? That really isn’t for me to say – my memories of “truth” are tainted for the reasons outlined above. In the early 00’s, Primal Scream released an album that dealt with truth head on with an amazing display of virtuosity.

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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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Pixies – Bossanova

Part 32 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

My very 1st “alternative” record (briefly alluded to in my review of Live’s debut album Mental Jewelry).In the somewhat fundamental Christian environment that I grew up in, outright parties were frowned upon (though people who were “living on the edge” had them). Instead, what we had what were called “gatherings”. Want to get a group of folks together to celebrate a graduation? See you at the gathering, friend. Want to get a group together to celebrate an anniversary? See you at the gathering, friend (I think you get the point). It could be somewhat maddening, but it was at one of these “gatherings” (OK – it was a party) that I was introduced to the album that changed my perspective on the world of music.

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History: America’s Greatest Hits

Part 31 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

Childhood memories can be tantalizing in the way they play with our emotions. For me, they are usually tied to specific songs and / or records (or to be honest, cassettes). I grew up as the eldest of 3 siblings, now all scattered throughout Planet Earth (Washington, Pennsylvania, New Zealand). I have clear visions of singing along to America’s Greatest Hits in the back of my parents car, the crisp fall day in Bucks County, PA providing the backdrop as my brother and I belted out “Sandman” in unison with the cassette. Nostalgia can be a dangerous mindset, but fortunately the album has held up extremely well and has inspired countless artists (chief among them are former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and the band Fountains of Wayne)

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Toadies – Rubberneck

Part 22 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 years after the release of Nevermind by Nirvana the radio waves (remember those?) exploded with bands mimicking the verse chorus verse song structure made so famous by Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Some bands deserved their status as Nirvana-lite or grunge wannabes (no names, this is a positive website) while others offered up something wholly unique (and were unfairly lumped in with the others). The 1994 release Rubberneck by Tyler, TX band Toadies falls into the latter group.

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