Giants In The Trees – s/t

In late November I found myself at The Sunset Tavern in Seattle for the sold out record release party for Giants In The Trees – a new band featuring Krist Novoselić of Nirvana fame. The last time I’d been to The Sunset had been to see Fred & Toody of Dead Moon fame. Fred Cole had recently passed away so I wore my Dead Moon shirt in his honor. There were 2 opening bands, Giants In The Trees were not due on stage until after 11 PM. After the 2nd band played, I noticed Krist hanging out backstage near the merchandise table – I bought 2 copies of the debut album “Record Release Party Commemorative” edition (an extra copy for a friend, not an eBay reseller), and wandered over to introduce myself. I talked pretty quickly introducing myself and the 1st thing Krist said was “I like your shirt”. I was thrilled, shook Krist’s hand, and headed back to my spot directly in front of stage. I’d only heard two Giants In The Trees songs – I really was curious about what the evening would be like.

Continue reading

Nirvana – Negative Creep


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.

Like many people in high school in the early 90’s, I first heard about Nirvana through their world-changing 2nd album, Nevermind. Simultaneously killing the hair metal scene and bringing attention to the Seattle scene, it was an event that is unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime (I hope I’m wrong though). I did what any music obsessed 14-year-old would do – I took my paper route money to the local music store and asked the owner for anything relating to Nirvana and bands from Seattle. Bleach was the band’s 1st album, released in 1989. Dave Grohl is nowhere to be found (though he is on the live version embedded below). The sound is the rawest Nirvana would ever be (and for my ears, the best they ever would be). This is the sound of Aberdeen, WA. Where the bay leads to the sea. Gray mornings, rainy days. Negative Creep is quite possibly the most aggressive song Nirvana ever cut. An unholy blend of Sabbath riffs, Melvins sludge, and Mudhoney-ish lyrics. This one’s made for the mosh pit. The chorus positively kills “I’m a negative creep and I’m stoned!” Some of the other lyrics seem to pay homage to Mudhoney – can there be any doubt that “Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more” owes a debt to Mudhoney’s “Sweet young thing ain’t sweet no more”? Only a positive in my book. Notable cover versions include Velvet Revolver’s and Machine Head’s. A deep album cut by Nirvana that deserves more attention.

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.

Paul McCartney – New


The press for Paul McCartney’s 16th album, New, indicates that it is his 1st record of new material (not cover versions) since 2007’s Memory Almost Full. To view that as an accurate accounting would be akin to viewing the past through rose-colored lenses (which I’ve been known to do on occasion). In 2008 Paul McCartney released a gem of an album in collaboration with Youth (Killing Joke) as The Fireman entitled Electric Arguments. Though it was the duo’s third record, it was their 1st with Paul McCartney’s signature vocals. Experimental yet with strong melodies, it was one of my favorite McCartney releases. A few years off followed by a covers collection record had me a little worried that Sir Paul had possibly resigned himself to riding away gently into the sun, a happy life in old age. I needn’t have worried so – 2013 brought strong collaborations with the surviving members of Nirvana as well as dance outfit The Bloody Beetroots. The new full length by Paul McCartney, New, uses some of those experiences and fuses them into a record that sounds current while also nodding towards his time with The Beatles.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading