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Archive for the ‘Earth’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WOODEN SHJIPS-Live on KEXP, August 7, 2011 (2011).

while ago I reviewed an Earth concert and while I felt like I should have liked them, I didn’t like them as much as I anticipated.  Well, Wooden Shjips (no idea what’s up with that “j”) sounds like I would have liked Earth to sound–a bit faster and yet still ponderous   They play with really distorted guitars and heavy bass, but their songs aren’t terribly fast or anything.   The thing that sets them apart is the keyboard–loud droney keyboards that take a kind of lead role and add a weird sort of retro feel to the heavy proceedings.  Indeed, even the voice is fuzzed out and echoey, making the keyboard one of the few clean sounds in the show.

As befits droney metal bands, all of these songs are long.  The first two “Lazy Bones” and “Black Smoke Rise” are over four minutes while the final two “Home” and “Flight” are over 5 and nearly 7 minutes respectively.

Lazy Bones is dominated by a spacey keyboard riff and vocals that are echoed almost into oblivion, reminding me of a kind of mid 70s Black Sabbath (if Ozzy’s voice was deeper).  The riffs on “Home” and Flight” sounds like we’re in for some real classic rock, but again that droney keyboard (which also sounds retro but in a different way) mixes with the heavy distorted guitar in a new way.  I’m intrigued to hear more from them.

Rock out here.

[READ: November 15, 2012] “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”

I’m always surprised to see a Stephen King story in say Harper’s or the New Yorker.  Not because he’s not good, but because he’s such a famous genre writer (and he certainly doesn’t need the exposure).   I don’t even think of him as a short story writer, really.  I wonder how he gets his stories in these magazines?  Does he get vetted?

Well, this story was really enjoyable and if I hadn’t known it was Stephen King, I never would have guessed.

The first 3/5 of the story are about Dougie Sanderson and his Pop.  Pop is in an old age home, suffering from Alzheimer’s. They have a routine, which is easy enough for Dougie  to do, even if to his father it’s new every time.  Dougie visits every week, they go Applebee’s, and they come home.  This depends, of course, on how good Pop is doing that day–as long as he’s fairly lucid and isn’t cursing out everyone in sight.

What I appreciated about this story was that Pop has moments of incredible lucidity that can be immediately followed by moments of utter confusion   Like when Pop calls him Reggie (Dougie’s brother who died forty-five years ago in a car accident .  But the moments of lucidity are nice for Dougie–although they’re not encouraging exactly, because most days he guiltily admits that he wishes things would end sooner rather than later.

The Batman and Robin of the title refer to a Halloween costume that Dougie ad Pop wore when Dougie was little.  Indeed, Pop remembers it very well, “Halloween, you dummy.  You were eight, so it was 1959.  You were born in ’51.”  Pop even adds a detail that Dougie didn’t remember: that Norma Forester looked at Dougie and said “trick or treat” and then looked at Pop and said “trick or drink” and offered him a bottle of Shiner’s.  Dougie is silent–amazed at the memory.  Then Pop says “she was the best lovin’ I ever had.”  Dougie doesn’t know whether to believe this or not thinking, “They hurt you….  They may not mean to, but they do….  There’s no governor on them, no way of separating the stuff that’s okay to talk about from the stuff that isn’t.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: EARTH-All Tomorrows Parties, October 5, 2011 (2011).

Anyone who likes Black Sabbath a lot knows that they were originally called Earth.  About mid way through this concert, the lead singer/guitarist of Earth says that he grew up listening to Black Sabbath and reading HP Lovecraft, so Earth is clearly something of a tribute.   Incidentally, he grew up in Manalapan, NJ which is just down the road from us.

All of these bona fides means that I should love Earth.  But I have to say that although I didn’t dislike this show at all, it’s really not my thing.  Earth creates long droney songs.  I tried to measure a couple of BPM of songs and came out with 60 for one song and 42 for another (by contrast Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” is 180 BPM).

The songs are all instrumental and range from 8 to 12 minutes.  Again, nothing objectionable about that.  Indeed most of the songs are cinematic and cool sounding.  My problem with them is that there wasn’t a lot of dynamism in the songs.  The bass wasn’t crazy heavy or loud or chest rattling (as I had been led to believe Earth’s bass was).  The melodies were pretty, but it came across as soundtrack music–for a very very slow zombie chase, perhaps.

According to some basic history, Earth used to be a heavier, noisier band, but have morphed away from that, and I suspect I would have liked their earlier stuff a bit more (although the one older that they played, “Ouroboros is Broken” wasn’t that much different from the rest.

NPR broadcast most of the All Tomorrow’s Parties concerts, and I enjoyed listening to them all.  But Earth is just not my thing.  You can check it out here.

[READ: October 20, 2012] “A Farewell to Yarns”

I mentioned the other day that I read one complete piece in the three Outside magazines since I subscribed.  It was this one.  The thing that I have enjoyed about the Outside articles that I have cherry picked is that unexpected writers pop up to write an essay.  So here’s Ian Frazier, comedian and essayist, writing for Outside.  Weird.  (Or maybe not so weird, he’s an Editor).

And, unlike many of the other things I’ve read in Outside, Frazier is not, repeat not going to do anything brave or daring or stupid, he’s just going to muse about a topic.  I like it.

Basically, this whole piece is a compliant about how with everything documented and digitalized it’s impossible to tell fibs about the one that got away or as he calls it, “an outdoorsman’s sacred right to exaggerate.”  What I like is that he takes us all the way back to ye olde mapmakers who wrote Here be Monsters which leads to this wonderful idea that I have never considered “the pictures of the monsters must have been accurate; how would the mapmakers have known what to draw unless eyewitnesses had told them?”

And he moves on through those who spied the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.  He even talks about one I had ever heard of, a hidden city in Siberia called Gorod Koka-Kola, built during the cold war as a reproduction of an American city, they speak English and live and behave like Americans–perfect for spymasters to practice   Genius–and how would anyone ever know if it existed in remotest Siberia?

But Fraizer’s greater point is that “Lies make the wild scary and alluring.”  He grew up in Rural Illinois afraid of the Argyle Monster who haunted Argyle State Park–and, boy, how many adventures he had or dreamed of having back then. (more…)

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