Dot Dash – Earthquakes & Tidal Waves

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Recap: Dot Dash burst onto the music scene way back in 2010 with the release of their debut album, Spark > Flame > Ember > Ash released on the indie label The Beautiful Music. Dot Dash members include singer / guitarist Terry Banks (formerly of Julie Ocean and Glo-Worm, among others), bassist Hunter Bennett (also formerly of Julie Ocean), guitarist Bill Crandall (formerly of Modest Proposal), and drummer Terry Banks (formerly of Youth Brigade and Swervedriver). Such diverse musical backgrounds enrich the Dot Dash experience – mod influenced punkish rock ‘n’ roll that delivers on every front. Following their debut, the band has released a winning record at a clip of about every 18 months – 2012’s Winter Garden Light and 2013’s Half-Remembered Dream bettered the debut record whilst building and expanding on the mod-punk template. What does a band do for an encore? If you are Dot Dash you go ahead and deliver your best record yet – the just released Earthquakes & Tidal Waves.

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The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet

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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.

The path to my discovery of the band The Only Ones is a curious one. In the early to mid 90s my obsession with The Cure had completely taken hold, to the point of obscuring other gems in the music world. I became aware that The Cure had covered a tune called Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones during a soundcheck in 1987. Of course, I hunted down a bootleg and added it to my growing collection of rarities. I also decided to grab the original version of the song, released on the self titled debut record in 1978. This is a case of me not really getting the band until years later – shame on me. The Only Ones released 3 albums from 1978 to 1980 that were lumped in with the punk scene, but had nods to power pop, classic rock, and especially the proto / pre punk sound of Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell, and the New York Dolls. I just don’t think the 16 year old version of me was ready for music that was of such a timeless nature. The late 30’s (no, I mean 29-year-old) version of me plays The Only Ones at least once a month and sings along with enthusiasm. Another Girl, Another Planet kind of qualifies The Only Ones as 1 hit wonders, but what a song! You have a band putting forth all of its strengths into a perfect song. The long instrumental intro lays the groundwork for the positively explosive chorus. John Perry’s guitar work straddles the line between punk and rock classicism, Alan Mair’s bass bounces along like a freight train, and Peter Perrett’s vocals recall a New York poet punk spouting off lines about life, love, and death: “I always flirt with death / I look ill but I don’t care about it / I can face your threats / Stand up tall and scream and shout about it”. The demo of the song was so strong that the band wanted to keep most of the sound whilst fleshing out certain elements in a studio (bassist Alan Mair also served as producer). Mike Kellie’s drum sound was achieved by drumming over top of the demo and mixing the elements together on the master copy (necessary because of the way the demo was recorded – it was impossible to separate elements in the mixing process). All of these elements contributed to a perfect song that has stood the test of time, covered by many, many artists over the years. Yes, including that version by The Cure that I hunted down 20 years ago.

Chris Bell – I Am the Cosmos

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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.

The Big Star story is full of “what ifs”. What if the 1st record had proper distribution and had become an International hit? (1972’s modestly titled #1 Record). What if Chris Bell hadn’t left the band and had carried on his songwriting with Alex Chilton? Would the world be in awe of Big Star’s mythic 3rd record, Third / Sister Lovers? Would the world be blessed with the equally haunting solo LP from Chris Bell, I Am the Cosmos? That’s a lot of questioning, and sadly the story remains the same – Chris Bell left Big Star after the 1st record and faced personal problems and difficulties in getting his music heard (Alex Chilton & the rest of Big Star faced these issues concurrently, to be discussed another day). Sadly, Chris Bell’s story came to an end with a fatal automobile accident in late 1978. Earlier that year he had released his 1st officially released solo single I Am the Cosmos b/w You And Your Sister. Bell had a spiritual yearning and had an interest in Christianity – I Am the Cosmos alludes to a higher power, interjecting romantic insecurity along the way. Chris Bell’s voice conveys pain and hope in equal measures, whilst the melodic guitar refrain / solo running through the track might be the finest playing of Bell’s career. Truly, one of my favorite songs of all time. It wasn’t until 1992 that the single was compiled along with unreleased recordings to give the world a solo Chris Bell LP also titled I Am the Cosmos (reissued in 2009 with tons of more goodies). “Every night I tell myself  / “I am the cosmos, I am the wind”  / But that don’t get you back again”

Bel Argosy – Let’s Hear It For Bel Argosy

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In my early years of driving, I’d roam the streets of suburban Philadelphia with my favorite cassette tapes blasting as loud as possible. I wasn’t a very good driver, but I felt like the King of the World (say it in Leo’s voice) when my music was playing. At some point I went slightly more HI-FI and began to play my CD’s (compact discs) through the cassette deck by way of a Sony Discman. It seemed that the golden age of cassettes had run its course. Or so I thought. Recently cassette tapes have begun to make a comeback, even scoring their equivalent of Record Store Day with Cassette Store Day. If you’ve ever made a girl (or boy) a mix tape, you know the feelings of nostalgia that a cassette tape can evoke. Bel Argosy hail from Brooklyn, NY and recently released their stunning debut EP on cassette tape (and as a free download).

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