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Archive for the ‘Social Distortion’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JADE JACKSON-NonCOMM (May 17, 2019).

I thought this was Jade Bird when I saw her name listed.  I have come to like Jade Bird quite a bit.  I had also forgotten about Jade Jackson.

Jackson is getting ready to release her second record, Wilderness, next month, and she and her band came prepared with a seven-song set of catchy country rock tunes.

I guess it’s the “country” part that meant I’d like her less.  I don’t like country music (duh) but I do really like the feminist lyrics that so many country singers have been writing lately.  All of these new country singers who are getting crossover airplay write about strong women.  I just wish I liked their music and their voices (too twangy) better.  Having said that Jackson’s voice is far less twangy than most.

And her lyrics are pretty good. Like in “Bottle It Up”

I cross my heart
I don’t need a man’s hands to open the jar

Although it seems like a lot of modern country songs are about drinking (old ones too, of course).

But her songs are certainly more rocking than country, I’d say.  “City Lights” rocks a lot harder and was more enjoyable to me.

 Jackson pushes the boundaries of that genre label in any way she can, citing influences from Lucinda Williams to Mazzy Star and The Smiths, and enlisting seasoned punk rocker Mike Ness of Social Distortion to produce her records.

Jade Jackson flew in from California just in time to play the last set of NonCOMM this afternoon. But you’d never guess the singer-songwriter was a bit jet-lagged — and struggling with a guitar that had just endured a cross-country flight in the cargo hold — if she hadn’t told us.

“Finish Line” is slower but still pretty catchy.  “Tonight” is even slower.  She says it’s a personal song about something that happened to her.  The lyrics are not explicit although it is clear what happens and “Jackson emphasized that its very personal content made it the most difficult one on Wilderness to write.”  It’s surprising to make it have such a catchy chorus.

She thanks the audience for being so nice and promises that they will carry on their guitars next time.

Her older songs have a lasting familiarity, like the foot-stomping “Good Time Gone.”

This does sound familiar, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard it before.  It is catchy and foot stomping.

“Secret” opens with an guitar intro that sounds a bit like U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” but which goes in a different direction.  There’s a pretty ripping guitar solo which I adds an edge to the song.  She says she wrote it in her car on the way to the gym.

She ends the set with “Troubled End.”  This one is the real foot-stomper, the one kind of country song I like.

So yes, I guess she’s a country crossover sing that I do like.

[READ: June 3, 2019] “Prosperity”

After reading the essay from Salman Rushdie about India, I was interested to read a story about India–using what I learned from that essay to help flesh out this story.

And this story had everything: torturing dogs, torturing cats, child prostitutes, religious violence, infidelity and incest!

This was, without question, the most horrible story I have ever read.

All of the above things were done by the narrator (well, he didn’t torture the animals, but he did calmly report about it and described it in detail).  All of it is told in first person, which makes it so much worse. (more…)

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dasha SOUNDTRACK: SACKVILLE-The Principles of Science [CST007] (1999). 

sackvilleFor Sackville’s only release for Constellation Records, they created a short disc of great folk with a hint of art rock

“Gold Dust” is a catchy uptempo folk song with some nice violin melodies as accents.  It’s a catchy number with Levine’s vocals sounding once again kind of like the guy from Social Distortion singing a mellow folk song.  The chorus has nice backing vocals added.  “Water” is a mellow song with, again, a beautiful guitar and violin melody.  The vocals have a great distinctive melody over the top.

“Blue Lips” has a kind of saloon sounding quality in its piano and a super catchy violin riff that runs through the song (and informs the vocal line).  I really like the lyrics on this one: “If memory serves me well…I may forget your name but not your face…unusual face.”  This song is only 3 minutes and it is over way too quickly.  “Four Alarm Fire” is a slow, evolving song coming in at nearly 7 minutes.  It opens with some quietly played guitar and a bass line that seems to be quiet but soon plays and interesting line that propels the song (albeit slowly).

The title song picks up the pace with a pretty guitar and piano melody.  The catchiness of the chorus “this light will disappear like breath on a mirror” is a great ending to this quiet disc.

Their final album of odds and ends, Natural Life, is available to stream on bandcamp.

[READ: June 20, 2016] A Year Without Mom

This book is a graphic novel (mostly) about a year without mom.  This is actually a memoir from Tolstikova about the year in her life when her mother left Moscow to study in America.  Dasha was 12 years old in 1983 and her mom was an advertiser in Russia.  But she didn’t like the kind of advertising she did.  She had applied to a Masters program in America and was accepted.  And soon enough she packed up and shipped out.

Dasha was to stay in Moscow with her grandparents.

In August she and her grandparents went to the country for a writers retreat.  Other kids would be there, too.  Her grandparents encouraged her to play with them but Petya, the leader is an anchor on a children’s TV show and his mother is a famous actress herself–it’s an intimidating scene. (more…)

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coralSOUNDTRACK: SACKVILLE-These Last Songs (1997).

lastsiongs Sackville released two full length albums.  This was the first. They’d added a second guitar which gave their songs a bit more texture.  But they still had a kind of gritty folk music sound.  I saw the term “urban country” used to describe them, which is strangely apt.

“Sydney Mines” is a slow folk song with a quiet slow guitar motif.  I love the descriptive lyrics: “In the dead of winter in Sydney Mines they take their cars out on the ice.” The song is accented by a slow, scratchy violin that comes in after the first verse.  But the chorus gets rocking and kind of fun/sloppy with the drums really taking over.  The vocals don’t really change the laconic style but they do get noticeably louder.  “Clothesline” retains that slowness although the verses have a bit more sing-song quality.  And once again the chorus bursts into life with a raw violin and loud drums.

The excellent guitar riff that opens “Good Citizen” is quite a change—the song picks up speed (and the vocals sound very different–clipped and quick).  It’s a great alt folk song.  The chorus is lurching and interesting as well.  “Upstate” has an early 1990s guitar line and pounding chords at the end of each verse.  The juxtaposition of his voice with this electric song works nicely.  “Tie Back Yr Hair” returns to the slow style of the earlier songs although this melody is mostly led by the violin.  “Lines and Barriers” is a slow ballad, mostly guitar—it reminds me of Syd Barrett.

“The Frame-Up’ has more loud drums and quiet creaking violins.  Nearly four minutes in, the violin takes over with a staccato refrain that gets the song sounding more intense.  “Bender” adds a pleasant surprise with guest vocalist Genevieve Heistek taking lead vocals.  The music is much the same but her voice changes the overall style of the music quite a bit.  The addition of fuzzy static at the end adds an alt-rock touch.  “Invisible Ink” has the prettiest violin melody yet, an unscratchy ascending melody that complements the slow guitars.  And just as it seems to be another slow ballad, the 3rd minute ramps up the electric guitar and the song soars for about 20 seconds before returning to that main melody.

“Her Ghost Will One Day Rise Again” has the most country feel of the album—the violin is much more fiddle than violin and the simple melody is very catchy, but in a drunken hillbilly kind of way rather than a country song proper (which means a I like it better).  On “Border Towns” he sounds the most like the lead singer from Social Distortion.  This is a lurching kinda punk y song, although it’s the chorus that really has that Social D feel—a slow catchy chorus in which his delivery is uncanny.  “Pioneers” ends the disc with a downbeat song with really catchy lyrics: “It’s hard to be a pioneer” in the keening voice of the 12-year-old protagonist.

Given the popularity of alt-country, Sackville was sadly ignored.

[READ: June 10, 2016] Coral Reefs

Wicks created the Human Body Theater graphic novel (also from First Second), which I absolutely loved.  This book is part of First Second’s new Science Comics series, in which they take a good hard look at scientific things and present a ton of information in a fun cartoony format–easily digestible chunks with awesome pictures that convey a lot of information.

I loved the dinosaurs one for just how much new information I’d learned from it.

This book has a really inspirational forward about scuba diving which I thought was by wicks (and I wondered how she was so scholarly AND an artist), but it was actually by Randi Rotjan from the New England Aquarium (and is still inspirational).

I didn’t know a ton about coral reefs going into this book and man, is it full of information about them: how they grow and form (yes, they are animals), who lives among them and what we can do to protect them. (more…)

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sandwalkerSOUNDTRACK: SACKVILLE-Low Ebb EP (1996).

lowebb Sackville was a Montreal based folk group who released one album through Constellation Records, and a couple of other releases on other labels.  When they broke up, most of the members of the band went on to play with other bands, many of whom were later released on Constellation.

The focus of the band is really singer/guitarist Gabe Levine whose voice shows a lot of folk, rock and avant garde influences.  His voice sounds at once familiar and also strangely unique.

And this EP was their first release.

The first song is “Messengers.” I love the way the violin cuts through the slow verses to add a great melody to the chorus (including some raw scratching sounds before the verse starts again).  There’s a hint of Mike Doughty in his delivery too. “Donkey Song” opens with some quiet verses and violins has a loud clamorous chorus—super fun and stomping with a nice side guitar riff.  “William” has a standard American folk song melody but the way he sings it is very Social Distortion (through a tinny modulator).  The fiddle gives it more of country sound, but still kind of alt

“Showcase Showdown”  opens with a cool slide guitar and very different vocal style delivered by Kurt Newman.  And the chorus is fund and perhaps a little silly in three-four  dance rhythm “your eyes scare us more than the mirrors on the dance floor.” It’s the most fun song on the disc.  “Low Ebb” continues with the more rocking sound with big brash guitar and crashing cymbals.  It also features some quiet but cool backing vocals—a kind of scream that acts as a drone.   “Thomas” opens with a slide guitar and quiet vocals, the chorus is a major highlight with the vocal duet playing against the loud crunching stop-start guitars.  “This Thing I Want, I Know Not What” is a straight ahead folk song with a lead violin and a pretty melody.  “Cheap” has a quiet melody ending with some slide guitars and violin.

It’s a solid E.P. with even better music on their full lengths.

[READ: June 25, 2016] Last of the Sandwalkers

This is a fascinating book that proves to be an amazing look at beetles and insects and a somewhat interesting adventure story.

I actually found myself a little confused by the story when it started because while I knew it wasn’t going to be realistic (the beetles are leaving their civilization to discover the world) it was also very rooted in real insect knowledge.  And then it got a little out-there so the level of reality in the story wavered from time to time and I found myself getting pulled out of the story to try to puzzle things together.

Which was a shame.  Another shame is that it doesn’t tell you that there are notes at the back of the book (do most people flip to the end to discover this?  Because I didn’t).  And the notes are one of the best parts of the book.  But more on that later.

The protagonist of the story is Lucy.  She is in charge of a small team who have decided to leave their home to go exploring.  Her team includes Professor Bombardier; Raef, a lighting bug (with a secret); Mossy, a giant beetle with a big horn and Professor Owen who has huge mandibles. They also run into Ma’Dog, an old storyteller who is rather cantankerous.

The story begins with Lucy’s diary as the teams sets out from Coleopolis.  They quickly discover Old Coleopolis which was destroyed by coconuts falling from a tree.  It was said that the city was destroyed 1,000 years ago by the god Scarabus, although Lucy can’t believe how not-overgrown it looks after 1,000 years.  It all seems very suspicious. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 16, 2016] The Shelters

2016-06-16 20.11.09The Shelters opened for Guster.  I hadn’t heard of them before going to the show, so I really didn’t know what to expect from the band.  Sarah and I arrived as they were going on, so by the time we got situated we probably missed two or three songs.

The band paints an interesting visual picture.  On the left side is guitarist Chase Simpson.  He’s got long hair and plays interestingly shaped guitars.  In the middle is guitarist Josh Jove who has slicked back hair and tends to walk to the front of the stage to solo.  On the bass is Jacob Pillot (also slicked back hair) who sort of hangs back but keeps a great rhythm.  And then in the back is drummer Sebastian Harris with long hair (looking a bit like Kurt Cobain) who pounds the hell out of the drums.

Walking into the venue, I’m not sure what song they were playing but it struck me as sounding very L.A. rock (I don’t really know what that means, but I guessed it reminded me of some of the hard rock/metal bands from the 89s/90s).  The song was good and the band was solid, it just didn’t blow me away.  They played another song (both of these were sung by Jove, I believe) that was similarly rocking and enjoyable.

Then they played “Fortune Teller.”  Simpson sang this one and the whole tenor of the band changed.  The song was a bit trippier (whereas Jove has a rocker voice, Simpson has an almost folkie voice).  I loved the song immediately.  And every song after that was really great too. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Make the Load Lighter: Indie Rock for Haiti (2010).

I mentioned this disc a few days ago because it’s a benefit disc for the people of Haiti.  I had encouraged people to order it ($10 to a good cause, eh?) but hadn’t fully listened to it yet.

Well, after playing the disc nonstop for the weekend, it’s time to chime in and say that this is a fantastic disc of indie rock, which spans the indie rock gamut from harder punk songs to beautiful heart-felt passionate tracks.  Each and every track is catchy, and most of them have a cool twist or hook to push it beyond being “just” an indie song

The first three songs are really fast and really heavy.  Footstone opens the disc.  I don’t know a lot by them, but this sounds to me like their heaviest song ever.  It comes across like a really hard edged punk song, but you know there’s a groove too.

Boss Jim Gettys (one of many wonderfully named bands) play a 2 minute punk metal blast that is notable for the cool guitar solo that breaks up the onslaught.  The third heavy song is by Dromedary stalwarts cuppa joe (!?).  “Taniqua” is a fast song with a rocking guitar intro.  It thuds along for 2 and a half minutes and then ends with a wonderfully upbeat chord that leads nicely in to the fourth song.  Moviola’s “Calling on the Line” is a poppy jangly college rock sounding song from the 90s.  It pretty well epitomizes the Dromedary sound.  The band has a bunch of records out which you can see here.

I wasn’t that impressed with Three Blind Wolves at first.  It seemed a little lacking.  But after about three listens I got it, and it’s now one of my favorite songs on the disc.  The singer’s voice is varied and wonderful, warbling over a fairly spare musical intro (the occasional high notes are totally cool).  But the chorus just rocks out wonderfully.  Three Blind Wolves is one of four Scottish bands from what I rather assumed would be a Jersey based compilation.

Paula Corino’s song is okay.  It’s my least favorite track on the disc, but only because it never really grabs me, and, while it’s a totally fine song, it gets a little lost amidst the rest of the tracks.  It’s followed by Wallendas’ “Adrianne” a delightful poppy song like a modern day Byrds.

The next song, The Neutron Drivers’ “All Around the Sun” doesn’t have an original second in it.  And yet it is easily the catchiest song on the whole disc. When you first hear the opening guitars you pretty much know exactly what the whole song (even the obvious guitar solo) will sound like.  It’s like the uber-rocksong.  And yet for all of its sounding familiar, it doesn’t sounds like any specific song. Amazing how they pulled that off.

The Dark Brothers’ “Knee Deep in Sin” is a weird and unsettling song in that it sounds like the singer from Social Distortion with a slide guitar.  It’s got a majorly country feel, until about three minutes in when you get a guitar solo straight outta Teenage Fanclub’s “The Concept” and suddenly this country song is a slow burning rocker.  Very cool.

The next two songs justify the price of the disc.  There Will Be Fireworks’ (Scottish band #2) “Foreign Thoughts” is a fantastic, amazing song.  It builds and builds with tension upon tension as the singer (with a wonderfully aggressive accent) spits the words over more and more instrumentation.  It’s followed by the utterly amazing Gena Rowlands Band’s “Fuckups Of the World Unite.”  This is like the great long lost American Music Club song.  It’s vulgar and yet completely un-profane.  It’s catchy, heartfelt and it blows me away each time I hear it, both lyrically and musically.  The simple guitar paired with the opening couplet is amazing in an of itself but it’s even better when it closes the song.

The Mommyheads come next with a remixed version of “Spiders” from Flying Suit.  I enjoyed the song on that disc, but it takes on a new life in this remixed version.  It feels fuller and even slighty creepier.

On like my third or fourth listen, Scottish band #3, Farewell Singapore’s “Blue” grabbed me and said “HEY THIS SONG IS FUCKING GREAT YA BASTARD.”  And man, is it ever.  I’ve been walking around all weekend singing “Scotland’s as dark as it’s going to be” over and over.  And I’ve no idea what it means.  The sudden breaks in the song sound like there’s something wrong with the track given the propulsive nature of everything else.  And the intense guitar solo that follows the glockenspiel bit is fantastic.  Oh and the male/female vocals sound great together.

Jennifer Convertible (a wonderful band name which gently rips a regional chain store, which seems to have changed its name to the far less inspired Jennifer Sofas and Sofabeds) has a very cool song that opens like a latter R.E.M. track but brings in some wonderfully atmospheric guitar noise to add a real sense of foreboding to the song.  The buzzing guitar solo is a nice touch, too.

lions.chase.tigers (4th and final Scottish band, with a downloadable EP on their website) sound a bit like an early Bob Mould track.  Which is pretty good in itself, but what I love about the song is that it’s a cool jangly indie rock song with a great martial drum sound.  And it bops along, in a minor key until we get a delicate guitar riff and then a rocking chorus.  But the really interesting part is yet to come: the gentle guitars come back but they’re accompanied by a voice screaming its lungs out (and yet mixed way down, so it’s no louder than the guitar).  And the song proceeds as if that isn’t a weird thing to add in.  Man, it takes guts to write a song like that, and it pays off.

The disc ends with Stuyvesant’s song, “Salieri.  It’s another slow builder, but it’s quite catchy and when the harmonies kick in in the last minute, it become quite the great song.  And it ends the disc on a good note.

So, in sum, order the disc.  It’s for a good cause, but even if you’re not into that sort of thing, you get some really great music for your money.  There’s literally not a bad track on the disc, and the bulk of them are outstanding.

Even the liner notes are interesting (and provide a look at why and how this disc came about).  My only complaint is that you get almost no information on the bands!  Now, I realize that in the world of online downloads, you’re lucky enough to get album art (and the photos are sad and beautiful) but I’d love to know more about these bands, where they’re from, who they are, and if any of them are have websites or other discs or whatnot.  But then, I actually read liner notes on discs!

Download the tracks, and the art, here.  Do it!  Now!

[READ: Week of February 15, 2010] 2666 [pg 231-290]

This week’s reading is the first half of the third Part: The Part About Fate.  And I have to say thus far it is easily my favorite part of the book.  I enjoyed it right from the start upon learning that the titular Fate is not an abstract Fate but a person named Fate.  A nice twist right up front.

This section also deals quite directly with matters of race.  Fate is black, and during his travels he is acutely aware of his color.  Plus, many scenes pop up in which race is definitely a factor.

Fate’s real name is Quincy Williams.  He is a 30 year-old reporter for Black Dawn, a magazine out of Harlem.  Quincy is known as Oscar Fate; everyone calls him Fate. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AGAINST ME!-New Wave (2007).

I’m not sure why I never listened to these guys before. I’m not crazy about the band’s name: it makes sense, but it’s awkward to work with. And I think I lumped them in with the whole emo scene, which I was pretty well done with. Anyhow, I read a review of New Wave recently and decided they might be worth checking out.

New Wave is an astonishingly refreshing and heartfelt album. It’s fairly short, as the songs are fairly short, and they pack a lot of punch. In fact, I’ve been singing this great, catchy chorus all morning: “Protest Songs in a response to Military Aggression. Protest songs to try and stop the soldier’s gun.”

The songs are great: really diverse for what is essentially a punk album. And the topics are protestations that I haven’t heard in a while (at least not in such a catchy style): Lack of originality in the mainstream. (“New Wave” & “Up the Cuts”), Drug Addiction (“Thrash Unreal,” the latest single that I’ve heard). “Stop” is a change of pace mid-album, with a catchy chorus and an almost dance feel. “Piss and Vinegar” is a plea for honesty. And possibly the strangest item on the disc: the song “The Ocean.” One doesn’t expect a punk band’s verse to start like this: ” If I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman. My mother once told me she would have named me Laura” and it continues on in that vein. What a shockingly honest (presumably) lyric in a song.

The only thing I don’t like about the album is…the singer’s voice. I just can’t get past it, and I’m not sure what it is I don’t like about it. He sings on key, his voice is strong and impassioned. There’s just something about it I don’t like. Of course, I also don’t like the singer from Social Distortion either. I guess I’m more of a high, whiny voice than a gruff aggro voice. Despite this, whenever the band does harmonies, they sound great! All of the choruses have nice harmonies somewhere in them, and they really make the songs. Plus, there’s a song called “Borne on the FM, Waves of the Heart” which is a duet with Tegan from Tegan and Sara, and it’s really fantastic. They are a perfect match for each other. Normally, not liking the singer would make you not like a band. (How many people can’t get into Rush because of Geddy Lee’s voice?). And yet, I still think the album is great. I’m certainly going to check out some past records as well. I’m especially intrigued by this album title: Reinventing Axl Rose.

[READ: June 25, 2008] Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

I heard about this book when I was scanning the NPR stations and there was a story about authors/publishers making great websites to accompany books. Two of the ones they mentioned sounded pretty interesting, so I jotted them down and checked them out. This was the first one, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. The site was pretty neat, but I didn’t spend much time there, as I was at work. I checked that we had the book and took it out that day. (more…)

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