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Archive for the ‘The Huffington Post’ 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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laurenSOUNDTRACK: PIXIES-“Bagboy” (2013).

pixies-bagboyThe first Pixies song in nine years…doesn’t feature Kim Deal on it.  Which is kind of a shame.  She was with them for a lot of the recent tours, but she went back to the Breeders recently.  I assume that everyone else from the lineup is still in the band.

But the real question is what does the song sound like?  Well, to me it doesn’t sound like the Pixies.  It sounds very much like a 90s song, but by… some other bands of the time.  Even Frank Black’s (or is it Black Francis’) voice sounds different—less brittle (despite the brittleness of what he is saying).

The song begins with keyboards and a kind of dance (electronic) drum sound.  I actually thought I clicked the wrong link when it started.  There’s chanted backing vocals while Black is singing/talking.  It all sounds very familiar but not like the Pixies.  Even the guitars sound different–less bright with a bit more flash in the solos.

The part that does sound like the Pixies is the chorus which has soaring guitars and a female singer (unknown to me at this point but she sounds a lot like Deal) singing “bagboy” while Black shouts the same.  The chorus is a comforting reminder of the Pixies’ sound.

I understand that in nine years (and countless Frank Black albums) the Pixies are going to sound different.  And while the tone is definitely Pixies, something is missing from the track, which I hope the rest of the album (should there be one) replaces.

[READ: June 28, 2013] Someday, Someday Maybe

I’ve been a fan of Lauren Graham the actress since I had a major (age appropriate) crush on her during The Gilmore Girls.  I haven’t seen everything she’s been in, but I also enjoy Parenthood quite a bit and initially tuned in because of her.  And now she’s written a book.

This book is pretty far from my usual thing (and in an interview on Huffington Post she says she doesn’t think many men will read the book).  I gather they won’t but I’m glad I did.

Set in 19995, Graham creates a wonderfully flawed character in Franny, a struggling actress who has moved to New York City and has given herself three years to become successful.  At the end of the three years, if she hasn’t made it, she’ll move back to Chicago to be with her long-term boyfriend, Clark.

She lives in Brooklyn with her best friend who is also in the business but as a production assistant (it’s nice to have them not be fighting for the same jobs).  They recently added a new roommate Dan, a writer who seems oblivious to the women (he is so focused on his screenplay that he doesn’t even seem to notice them watching TV).  It seemed apparent from the get go that there was going to be a romantic interest there.  And there was.

But first we get to see Franny’s trials and tribulations starting two and a half months until her deadline.  She’s still taking acting classes, and while she hasn’t gotten offered anything yet, she seems to be well-regarded in class.  And, she has the big showcase coming up—the performance when agents come to watch them do their thing.

And then, hurrah! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JONATHAN FRANZEN-Commencement Speech (audio) (2011).

You can hear the entire speech from the Kenyon College site.

[READ: May 28, 2011] Commencement Speech

On May 21, Jonathan Franzen gave a commencement speech to the students of Kenyon College.  When I think about my commencement speech (from Judy Woodruff of CNN), all I can remember is that I had never heard of her (and when I typed her name just now I got it almost entirely incorrect–the only thing right was the “wood” part).  I don’t recall a single thing that she said.  [It’s also fascinating that I can’t find any record of this speech anywhere online–what a different world it was twenty years ago].  I rather expect that most people feel this way about commencement speakers.  I have to wonder, if Jonathan Franzen had spoken at my college, would I have cared?  Is there even a chance that I would have read any of his novels (had they been published of course) when I was in college?  Would I be treating this any differently than my whatever speech in 1991?

But I like Jonathan Franzen and I wanted to read what he had to say. 

His speech is about love.  Love is kind of an odd topic for a commencement speech, isn’t it?   I mean, aren’t they supposed to talk about the Future and Jobs or something?  Or maybe even sunscreen?  But really, what is more useful for a 21-year-old to think about than Love.  Franzen hits the nail right on the head about Love, how it is a dangerous, risky proposition to put yourself out there, to take off your veneer and reveal all of your flaws–and hope someone will love you.  Not new or novel, but still true.

The way that Franzen gets into this subject is through technology.  It seems weird and artificial at first, but it’s a wonderful way to get into a young audience’s state of mind.  They were probably all looking at their iPhones while he was extolling the virtues of his new Blackberry (the old person’s phone, right?).  And when he segues into Facebook (who even knows if he has an account–but he seems to be well-versed with it, so maybe he does) you can imagine students raising their head in familiarity (maybe even updating their status) and wondering (as he puts it) if this 51-year-old guy is going to dis Facebook. (more…)

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