The Chameleons – In Shreds

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.

I was shocked yesterday (3-13-17) to wake up to the news that John Lever – drummer for The Chameleons, The Sun & the Moon, and The Red Sided Garter Snakes – had passed away after a brief illness. It is not often that you find yourself in touch with your musical heroes, but over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to do that many times. I’d been in touch with John to discuss his departure from ChameleonsVox as well as get information on his latest stunning project, The Red Sided Garter Snakes. It amazed me that not only had John read some of my ramblings on this site, he also seemed to like them. John’s body of work is incredible – his musicianship added that intangible quality to a song that made it rise above the rest. One of the first tracks that John cut with The Chameleons was In Shreds. A blistering punk tune, it was released in March of 1982. A more aggressive track than most of what would be featured on the debut album Script of the Bridge, it features stunning work from Mr. Lever. The song builds and build to a punk breakdown “It seems to me / to be so contradictory / it seems to me / you’ve become a part of the machinery”. Mark Burgess, Reg Smithies, Dave Fielding, and John Lever were on the cusp of something great – and you can feel it begin with this song. RIP John, your art will be here long after us mere mortals are gone from this Earth.

Advertisements

The Red-Sided Garter Snakes – Blue Lake

blue-lake

Less than 18 months after the debut album Endless Sea from The Red-Sided Garter Snakes comes the follow-up Blue Lake. What began as John Lever’s project designed as a catharsis in the wake of his split from Chameleonsvox has become something special in its own right – something reigniting the magic found on those 4 studio albums from The Chameleons. Anger is an energy as Johnny Rotten once said – but what you do with that energy is what counts to me. The Red-Sided Garter Snakes use that energy wisely. Musically, we are drawn into post-punk, shoegaze, britpop, and psychedelic worlds. Lyrically, the songs are imbued with a sense of poetic mysticism. It’d be easy for me to say that it is a group worth exploring just because John Lever was the drummer for the legendary Manchester band The Chameleons – but the truth is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (to quote the original hipster, Aristotle).

Continue reading

Nutopians – What Does The Future Sound Like?

Nutopians

We last heard from the Nutopians in early to mid 2015 with the release of their EP, Time. Musically indebted to the post-punk scene of Manchester in the early 80’s, it struck a chord with me that has remained. I felt that the duo’s debut album would be stunning, and – well, I’m not wrong. As a refresher, the Nutopians are made up of a a father and son combo – Ian & Phil Jackson. I quite like the idea of a father and son working together in the arts, it lends the proceedings a gravity that feels different from friends bashing out a record. Personally, the last two weeks of my life have been marked by some unexpected tragedies and I’ve been able to do little but work, engage with friends & family, watch movies, and listen to music (writing has taken a backseat). This album by the Nutopians has been my go to album as I’ve sorted out heavy emotions. What I love about this band is that the lyrics deal in heavy life issues but always offer solutions. Or at least, wistfulness without regret. Musically, think post-punk with a slant towards power pop.

Continue reading

The Red-Sided Garter Snakes – Endless Sea

RSGS

The Chameleons out of Manchester, UK have long been 1 of my favorite post punk groups (that strange music created in the aftermath of the 1st wave of punk). Kind of a loaded statement, but I’ll make myself clear – when I’m talking about The Chameleons I am including all the side projects and whatever I could get my hands on over the last 20 years. I managed to see the original band in Seattle in the summer of 2002 which was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Sadly, the reformed band didn’t last and the members went their separate ways. No new material from a member of The Chameleons was released until late 2013 when singer Mark Burgess released an EP under the Chameleonsvox moniker. Now we have a full length album by The Red-Sided Garter Snakes featuring John Lever and Dave Fielding from The Chameleons.

Continue reading

Nutopians – Time

Nutopians

Nutopians are a duo consisting of Ian & Phil Jackson. Ian sings and plays guitars whilst Phil also plays guitar and adds some backing vox. A father / son duo that offers up tunes that engage on a visceral level. I can’t think of any other father / son duos – not sure that Peter Hook’s son playing in his band counts? At any rate, the latest EP from the Nutopians offers up a blend of post-punk and power pop indie that is infectious. Time is the band’s 2nd EP and shows the band improving on their debut in every facet.

Continue reading

Soup – Album

Soup - Album

Anyone who absorbs an ungodly amount of music will tell you – sometimes the bands and records become lifetime companions and sometimes….well, sometimes you struggle to remember what they sound like. Those initial impressions are important – don’t get me wrong – but those records that stay lodged in your brain forever, those are hard to come by. Manchester, England’s Soup have released a debut album that I am sure will stick with me forever. It’s one of my favorite records of 2014.

Continue reading

Coffee Thoughts – An Interview With Andy Whitaker

2012 has been an amazing year for music. Not only has it seen incredible albums by bands that have generated a steady buzz over the last few years (The XX, The Men, Chromatics), it has also seen masterful albums by established acts that have ties to the indie and post punk community (Dinosaur Jr., Public Image Limited, Corin Tucker Band). This doesn’t even consider albums by mainstream artists that I loved (Neil Young, Green Day) or those that are a bit under the radar (Honeychurch, Heyward Howkins). The latest record by Andy Whitaker, things that happened on earth, kind of falls into almost all the above categories (except for mainstream, I suppose). Not only is it one of my favorite records of the year, it recalls Andy’s earlier work in bands such as The Sun & the Moon and Weaveworld while also presenting a forward-looking vibe. I had a chance to catch up with Andy to discuss the new record, The Sun & the Moon, and other assorted oddities. I thought I’d start things off with a “soft” kind of question.

Continue reading