Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Video of the Day: "Top of the Pops" by The Smithereens

RIP Pat DiNizio

Song:  "Top of the Pops"
Album:  Blow Up (Official, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Wikipedia)
Artist:  The Smithereens (Official, Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Wikipedia)

The first song by The Smithereens that I really, consciously remember was "Top of the Pops."  I saw the video on MTV's 120 Minutes and host Dave Kendall mentioned how the song was inspired by the band's bit of crossover success.  On a mainstream level, The Smithereens were essentially a one hit wonder scoring minor hits with the likes of  "Only a Memory," "A Girl Like You," and "Too Much Passion."  While I was never a huge fan of the band, I liked everything that I heard and considered them one of the great unsung heroes of the '80s college rock era. 

Lead singer and songwriter Pat DiNizio died on Tuesday.  He was 62.   

Saturday, December 09, 2017

My Year in Music According to Spotify

As we wind down 2017 and begin to look back on the year that was, Spotify has released their 2017 Wrapped including all sorts of playlists of the top artists and tracks of the year from a multitude of genres.  That's nice and all but what's really fun is the personalized lists that they put together for each user.  Here's the thing with Spotify that I've observed...people don't really fall in love with it until they sign up for Spotify Premium.  A friend who recently signed up for the service stated that it had "opened up a whole new world" for him.  This is by no means a plug or an ad for the service (though if Spotify, you want to send me some money to talk up your service I will gladly accept those checks), I just happen to love it.  More than that though, I find their end of the year statistics fascinating.

According to My 2017 Wrapped my Top Artist was The Replacements followed by Beach Slang, Jawbreaker, Husker Du, and Hot Water Music.  Interestingly enough, The Replacements were my top artist of 2016 as well.  My top song of 2017 was of "The Tide" by RVIVR.  This didn't surprise me at all since it is my favorite song of the year.  What I did find surprising was "See A Little Light" by Bob Mould was my second most played song of the year.  I have been a fan of Bob Mould and his various projects for over 25 years and even highlighted his career on an episode of my short-lived podcast The Voices of a Generation X.  With all of that said, "See A Little Light" was a song that I somehow missed over the years.  That was until I heard it on the final episode of the brilliant Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.  The show did an incredible job using music to create tension and drive emotions home and the use of "See A Little Light" in the final moments of the last episode was absolutely perfect.  And even though I didn't know the song, I immediately knew it was Bob Mould.  With some artists you can just tell and Bob is most certainly one of those artists.

Looking at my list of Top Artists and Top Songs, I'm struck by how much of this music is older.  I knew that I was listening to a lot more music from my youth and whatnot in 2017 but to see it, for a lack of a better term, statistically was something else.  That's not to say there wasn't a TON of great music that came out this year (I'm working on my Top 40 Records of 2017 posts as we speak) but when it came right down to it, I picked the familiar over the new more times then not.  This probably has to do with the fact that I am firmly into my middle age years but other things have changed for me as well.  For instance I actually go to the gym.  Sometimes twice in one day.  (Who am I and what have I done with the real Dave Brown?)  Then there's the dread I often feel when opening my email to the never ending onslaught of messages from PR folks.  I'm sure that sounds like I'm whining, and I am but it can be overwhelming to dig through hundreds of emails about the latest shitty hip artists.  First world problems I know.  This isn't to say that there aren't some people that I look forward to hearing from because there are and those are the press releases that I pay attention to and records that I check out.  But more and more when I'm driving in my car or at the gym or doing dishes, I like to listen to stuff I know and my Your Top Songs 2017 playlist is filled with stuff that I know and love.  And really, how could anyone not find great joy in a playlist that includes Hot Water Music's "Trusty Chords," Jawbreaker's "Boxcar," Beach Slang's "Filthy Luck," and Tom Petty's "American Girl?"

Monday, November 20, 2017

Currently Listening

1.  "If I Could" by Lauren Strange (from Salt)
2.  "Everywhere I Go" by Caitlin Rose (from The Stand-In)
3.  "Swann Song" by 3 (from Dark Days Coming)
4.  "New Old" by Restorations (from LP2)
5.  "It's a Wonderful Lie" by Paul Westerberg (from Suicaine Gratification)
6.  "Hawkmoon 269" by U2 (from Rattle & Hum)
7.  "Wild Heart" by Katie Ellen (from Cowgirl Blues)
8.  "This Cross" by Chad Price (from Smile Sweet Face)
9.  "Seventeener (17th and 37th)" by The Lawrence Arms (from Metropole)
10.  "Keep You Company" by Sincere Engineer (from Rhombithian)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Review: ‘Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements’ by Bob Mehr

Title:  Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements (Official, Da Capo Press, Amazon, IndieBound, Goodreads)
Author:  Bob Mehr (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)

 Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements is nothing short of spectacular.  The book follows the life and times of the Minneapolis, MN punk, college, rock ‘n’ roll pioneers The Replacements, a story that has long needed telling but as much as this story needed to be told, it needed Bob Mehr to tell it.  Mehr, a professional music journalist who has worked for the likes of MOJO and Spin, dedicated nearly a decade of his life to writing and researching Trouble Boys and boy does it show.  The book painstakingly details the lives of Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars (The Replacements’ original lineup), their family history, what brought them into music and the band, and what happened to them afterwards.  But that’s not all.  The book also covers the life of Bob ‘Slim’ Dunlap and Steve Foley (the replacements in The Replacements) along with family members, significant others, managers, producers, and the unofficial fifth Replacement Peter Jesperson.  If these names mean nothing to you, then you’re probably unfamiliar with the band, their music, and their history and that’s okay.  The Replacements never had any mainstream success.  They were either too raw when the people wanted polished or too polished when the people wanted raw.  They were misfits, miscreants, and overall fuck ups to the nth degree, often sabotaging themselves and their potential success.  Besides, some things just aren’t meant for the masses.  They are either too good or too quirky or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The Replacements were all of those things and more. 

What makes Trouble Boys so incredibly good is its brutal honesty.  The Replacements were, and still are, a complicated group of individuals and this book does not shy away from that fact.  This band and their story is completely laid bare by Mehr, drunken warts and all, providing stunning clarity into what made them so incredibly special and why their music still touches people to this day.  This is the book by which all other rock biographies should be judged, is a must for fans of the band, and a must for students of the history of rock ‘n’ roll.  

*This review originally appeared on ...and he reads.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Album Review: 'Rhombithian' by Sincere Engineer

Album:  Rhombithian (Red Scare Industries, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, Spotify)
Artist:  Sincere Engineer (Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYouTubeBandCamp, Spotify)

Sincere Engineer's full-length debut Rhombithian  is simply outstanding.   The brainchild of Chicago, IL's Deanna Belos, Sincere Engineer is a band that mixes all of the best elements of catchy, poppy punk, '90s indie rock, and folk punk resulting in a record that feels timeless and modern with its brilliant use of hooks and melody while at the same time keeping the listener on his/her toes with is quirky and off-kilter nature.  And that's just the music.  What truly drives Rhombithian home are the lyrics and Belos' honest intensity.  These songs touch on themes of relationships, self-doubt, growing up, facing reality, and those harsh and often disturbing realizations that things you once cherished are no longer as important to you as they once were.  There is a power in the desperation in these songs.  Hearing that someone else is feeling alone and disconnected is incredibly empowering and that, beyond the greatness of the music, is what makes this record cut so deep into the heart.  Each and every time I listen to Rhombithian I find something new to love.  This is the kind of record that gives me great solace and hope for a better tomorrow because I know that I'm not alone.

Currently Listening

1.  "Kitchen Door" by Buffalo Tom (from Sleepy Eyed)
2.  "Shattering" by Sincere Engineer (from Rhombithian)
3.  "Rebound (Acoustic)" by Sebadoh (from Bakesale: Deluxe Edition)
4.  "Tear Shaped Bruise" by Dead Bars (from Dream Gig)
5.  "Harnessed in Slums" by Archers Of Loaf (from Vee Vee)
6.  "Thirteen" by Beach Slang (from We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags [Quiet Slang])
7.  "Kernel" by Seam (from Kernel)
8.  "I'll Be Right Here" by The Slow Death (from I'll Be Right Here / Factory)
9.  "Katherine The Grateful" by Knapsack (from This Conversation Is Ending Starting Right Now)
10.  "Blood on Your Tongue" by Direct Hit! (from Human Movement)
11.  "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba" by The Mr. T Experience (from Love Is Dead)
12.  "Allison" by Soccer Mommy (from Collection)
13.  "Show Me Mary" by Catherine Wheel (from Chrome)
14.  "Easy to Love" by Cayetana (from New Kind of Normal)
15.  "Shine" by Doughboys (from Crush)
16.  "Profane Geometry" by Iron Chic (from You Can't Stay Here)
17.  "Scuffle Town" by Avail (from Over The James)
18.  "Jazz and Cinnamon Toast Crunch" by Micah Schnabel (from Your New Norman Rockwell)
19.  "Here It Comes Again" by Gumball (from Super Tasty)
20.  "Wring It Out" by Rival Schools (from Pedals)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Currently Listening

This playlist was inspired by my Halloween costume, which is essentially me in 1991.

1.  "Anyway" by The Lemonheads (from Lick)
2.  "Freak Scene" by Dinosaur Jr.  (from Bug)
3.  "Good Enough" by Mudhoney (from Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge)
4.  "Teen Age Riot" by Sonic Youth (from Daydream Nation)
5.  "Waiting Room" by Fugazi (from 13 Songs)
6.  "Just Like Honey" by The Jesus & mary Chain (from Psychocandy)
7.  "Brave Captain" by fIREHOSE (from Ragin' Full On)
8.  "Take the Skinheads Bowling" by Camper Van Beethovan (from Telephone Free Landslide Victory)
9.  "Makes No Sense At All" by Husker Du (from Flip Your Wig)
10.  "Save Ourselves" by 7 Seconds (from Ourselves)
11.  "Debaser" by Pixies (from Doolittle)
12.  "Kiss Off" by Violent Femmes (from Violent Femmes)
13.  "Brand New Love" by Sebadoh (from Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock)
14.  "What Difference Does It Make" by The Smiths (from The Smiths)
15.  "Through My Fingers" by Pegboy (from Three Chord Monte)
16.  "Bastards of Young" by The Replacements (from Tim)
17.  "Graveyard Shift" by Uncle Tupelo (from No Depression)
18.  "Territorial Pissings" by Nirvana (from Nevermind)
19.  "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure (from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me)
20.  "Porch" by Pearl Jam (from Ten)
21.  "Satan" by Teenage Fanclub (from Bandwagonesque)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Oklahoma Lefty Podcast # 18

This week is a double-sized, packed episode that includes new stuff from Iron Chic, The Pathogens, The Slow Death, Sneakers Award, Attic Salt, and Oklahoma's Girls Club plus classics from Morrissey, The Gaslight Anthem, The Odd Numbers, and Stiff Little Fingers and much more.

Listen to "Oklahoma Lefty Podcast # 18" on Spreaker.

1.  "Lead Ashtray" by Fresh (from Fresh)
2.  "Little Love Letters" by Sad Blood (from Little Love Letters)
3.  "Never Say Die" by Sneakers Award (from Demo)
4.  "Chewing Gum" by Muskets (from Chew)
5.  "Digital Age" by Hang Tight (from Grind EP)
6.  "Bury Your Idols" by Hot Water Music (from Light It Up)
7.  "Steady Diet of Sugar" by Goddamnit (from I'll Never Be Okay, I'll Never Be the Same)
8.  "Not Me" by Girls Club (from Polyglamorous)
9.  "Way Back" by Save Ends (from A Book About Bad Luck)
10.  "Be The One" by The Slow Death (from Punishers)
11.  "Drive" by The Gaslight Anthem (from Sink or Swim)
12.  "Marie" by Supersuckers (from The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers)
13.  "Diane" by Material Issue (from International Pop Overthrow)
14.  "One to Two" by Dag Nasty (from What If? Sessions)
15.  "Problematic" by ALL (from Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 5)
16.  "Never Coming Down" by Willamette Stone (from If I Stay [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack])
17.  "Anything" by Static Radio (from Resentiments)
18.  "Tonight" by The Warning Shots (from Tonight!)
19.  "Freaks on the Street" by The Pathogens (from Freaks on the Street)
20.  "Love Is Not an Answer" by John Moreland (from Big Bad Luv)
21.  "Purple Mountains" by Able Baker Fox (from Visions)
22.  "Dead Meat" by Talk Show Host (from Not Here to Make Friends)
23.  "Old Men Die In New Suits" by Michael Kane & The Morning Afters (from Laughing at the Shape I'm In)
24.  "The Third Floor" by The Rentiers (from Bring Me the Finest World Map Shower Curtain in All the Land)
25.  "Candle Wax" by Sincere Engineer (from Rhombithian)
26.  "Nickel Arcade" by Wicked Bears (from Tuning Out)
27.  "Spun" by Wagers (from New Guilt)
28.  "Handouts" by Black Train Jack (from You're Not Alone)
29.  "Love Comes In Spurts" by Richard Hell & The Voidoids (from Blank Generation)
30.  "Start With" by Seaweed (from Spanaway)
31.  "Nobody's Hero" by Stiff Little Fingers (from Nobody's Heroes)
32.  "Don't Bother Me" by The Odd Numbers (from About Time)
33.  "Star Sign" by Teenage Fanclub (from Bandwagonesque)
34.  "Working Class War" by Hudson Falcons (from Desperation & Revolution)
35.  "Reunion" by Drop Acid (from Making God Smile)
36.  "Verse Chorus Verse" by Nirvana (from No Alternative)
37.  "Everyday Is Like Sunday" by Morrissey (from Viva Hate)
38.  "Where Eagles Dare" by Misfits (from Collection I)
39.  "Hometown" by Attic Salt (from Attic Salt)
40.  "Dizzy Wizard" by Hard Girls (from Floating Now)
41.  "To Shreds, You Say?" by Iron Chic (from You Can't Stay Here)

Destination Earth X # 09: Fighting American # 1 & the Fall TV Season So Far

On this edition of Destination Earth X, we discuss the first issue of the new Fighting American series by Timely Comics and the state of comic book based TV shows in the start of the 2017-2018 season, plus a quick review of Terry Brooks' latest novel The Fall of Shannara: The Black Elfstone.

Listen to "DEX # 09 Fighting American # 1 & the Fall TV Season So Far" on Spreaker.