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Archive for the ‘The Melvins’ 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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kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-psterSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Foo Fighters (1995).

ffDave Grohl was like the anti-Kurt Cobain.  How many photos do you see of him with a big stupid grin on his face.  He seems to be silly and fun all the time (despite some apparent angst in his life).  And how surprising was it to find out that not only could he bang the hell out of the drums, he could also write songs (and play guitar).  Of course we all looked for songs “about” Kurt, on this record, but I realize that Dave only knew Kurt for a couple of years, he likely didn’t even really know him that well.  Dave has other things on his mind.

And somehow, despite the really aggressive often heavy metal feel  of Foo Fighters albums, they are always popular.  Foo Fighters have gotten so big, it’s easy to forget that Grohl was even in Nirvana, which is saying something.

The Foo Fighters debut album was written and performed entirely by Dave Grohl.  I remember when it came out (well, after it was revealed to be Grohls’ album–it was a secret for a little while) listening to it in an apartment in Boston.  I must have listened to it a lot because I know the whole thing so well.

Grohl uses some of the loud/quite format of Nirvana, but mostly he just writes songs with simple lyrics (easy to sing along to even if you don’t know what he’s saying (bridge to “I’ll Stick Around” anyone?) and big catchy choruses.

If you like loud rocking songs, this album is fantastic.  “This is a Call” and “I’ll Stick Around” are super catchy heavy songs.  “Alone + Easy Target” is a bit less catchy, although the chorus has a very cool riff in it.  “Good Grief” is super heavy with an aggressive chorus.

But it’s also git some sweet songs.  “Big Me” is quite tender and it makes me laugh because the drums are so incredibly simple and gentle for a basher like Grohl.  “Floaty” is a really pretty song with some cool fuzzy guitars and a cool riff that goes from bridge to chorus.  The chorus has an aggressive punk riff which complements the rest of the song in an interesting way.

“Weenie Beenie” (I had no idea that’s what the song was called) is loud and aggressive with a massively distorted vocal. It’s kind of a throwaway but shows Grohl’s love of punk.  “Watershed” is a similarly fast punk track and is only 2 minutes.

“Oh, George” is a mid tempo song, with some very catchy moments and a classic rock style guitar solo.  “For All the Cows” opens with a kind of jazzy guitar and drum sound and then really rocks out.  It was released as a single but never did anything, which is a shame because it seems like a joke but is actually quite good.

Even though Grohl did everything on the album, he had a little help from Greg Dulli who played guitar on “X-Static.”  I would never have noticed it was Dulli, although knowing that it’s someone else playing, you can hear a different style in the guitar.  The disc ends with “Exhausted,” a song which sets a kind of trend of longish more meandering songs near the end of Foo Fighters albums.  I don’t love it but its a fine ending.

So many things could have been wrong with this album–a drummer writing songs, and an ex-famous drummer at that.  He even initially wanted to record it with Krist Novoselic, but was afraid that people would think it was a Nirvana band (and he’s very right about that).  Despite all of that, it turned out to be pretty great.  And it was the start of something of a phenomenon.

[READ: May 20, 2015] Montage of Heck

So I was a huge fan of Nirvana (like the rest of the world) when they came crashing forth on my speakers.  And yes, I knew that they saved rock.  But by the time Kurt killed himself, I was bummed but not distraught.  I was never going to have a poster of him on my wall or anything like that.

I was intrigued when I heard this documentary was coming out. But I didn’t have any plans to see it.  And then NPR played an audio excerpt from the movie in which a drugged up Kurt is getting yelled at by Courtney while their infant baby is lying next to them.  And I decided I didn’t need to see that film–it was brutal just to listen to.

Then I saw this book at work and thought it might be an easier dosage than the film.  (Although my friend Eugenie has seen it and says it’s excellent).

It turns out the book has a lot more stuff that the film does (although I can’t say what as I haven’t seen the film).  It consists entirely of interviews and illustrations (very cool ones by Hisko Hulsing and very creepy ones from Stefan Nadelman.   There’s lots of photos and a few excerpts from Kurt’ diaries and the like.

The interview subjects are listed on the page 18-19 spread of the book.  Each has a photo.  There’s Don Cobain and Jenny Cobain (Kurt’s father and stepmother).  Then there’s Wendy O’Connor, Kurt’s mom and she looks exactly like Courtney Love WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?  In her early younger photos she doesn’t.  It is creepy. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HARVEY MILK-“I Did Not Call Out” (2010).

This album is #2 on Viking’s Metal and Outer Sound list of 2010 CDs (from NPR).  During the radio show when Viking revealed his Top Ten albums, he mentioned that Harvey Milk is his favoirte band of all time.  I’d never heard them before, so this was eye opening (confusing them with Harvey Danger is a big mistake).  This song comes from the album A Small Turn of Human Kindness.

The melody is dark (pretty but in a bleak sort of way), but the instrumentation is sludgy and menacing.  It is very slow-paced with occasional “riffs” that run through the “verses.”  It has a sort of Melvins meets Swans kind of vibe, but run through the menace of a black metal band.

The lyrics are sung/growled, but unlike a lot of growled vocals, there are only a few words and they are stretched and held for several beats.  It’s a weird thing to hear the demon voice hold notes and actually sound like it is singing!

Interspersed within the ponderous heaviness are some beautiful if not uplifting guitar melodies and soaring solos.  Until, that is, the very end when the song slows to a crawl… deep notes and ambient noise stretch out and the track ends with crackling silence.

It’s menacing, but after several listens, I’m hooked.

[READ: December 30, 2010] “Empire Records”

This is the second of the one page articles labelled “Something Borrowed.”  I have also never read anything by Mistry before.

A few months before leaving Bombay for Toronto, Mistry loaned a friend his LP of A Hard Day’s Night (this was circa 1975).  Albums were very important to him because his father ritualized the playing of the gramophone.  When they eventually progressed to 45s and LPs the family got into pop music and from there, obviously, The Beatles. (more…)

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wild thingsSOUNDTRACK: FANTÔMAS-Suspended Animation (2005).

fantomasIf you know Fantômas, then you know what you’re in for.  If you don’t, well, it’s a surprise!

Fantômas are the brain child of Mike Patton (Mr Bungle-era more than Faith No More with help from Buzz Osborne from The Melvins and Dave Lombardo from Slayer).  Suspended Animation is designed as a soundtrack to April, 2005.  There are thirty tracks, and each one corresponds to a calendar page.  The limited edition (which is apparently still in print as I got one last month) is a calendar with art by Yoshitomo Nara.  Nara’s work combines cuteness and menace, just like the CD.

A piece by Nara

A piece by Nara

Although, really the CD is more menace than cute.

This disc seems to combine Patton’s favorite things: cartoon music (many ‘toons are sampled here), death metal, short sharp blasts of noise and his fascinating vocal deliveries.

This write-up makes the disc sound very intriguing, but before you rush out to check it out, do know what you’re in for: short, noisy blasts of utter chaos.  It is not for the weak of heart or the queasy of stomach (or for the lover of melody).  It’s not even a case of , oh the songs are short, the next one will come along soon.  While there is diversity, it’s diverse within it’s own little world.  Of noise!

Be afraid.  But if you’re still interested after that caveat, then by all means check it out, if only for the calendar!

[READ: August 23, 2009] Where the Wild Things Are/”Max at Sea”

Because of Dave Egger’s story “Max at Sea” (which is basically a retelling of Where the Wild Things Are I felt I needed to re-read the original.  So thank you Dave Eggers for that.

The original is a fun story which seems to be more visually based than word based.  The drawings are sublime and indeed there are several pgaes with no words at all.  And, so, the filmmakers’ question remains: how to you make a film out of a 48-page book, many of which don’t even have words?  Stills from the movie do look pretty awesome.

And thus, Dave Eggers’ story was born.

I’m not actually going to reveiw Where the Wild Things Are, because, well, it’s a classic, and it’s  awesome.  What more can I say about it?  But I did want to reevaluate Egger’s piece having re-read Sendak’s.

It is quite clear that Eggers is in no way trying to re-write the story.  He has fleshed out a lot of details that are absent from the original (which the original in now way needs, but again, if you’re going to make a film, you need some kind of backstory). (more…)

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