Oct 152012
 


Cheap Trick‘s “Surrender” is the greatest late-’70s pure power pop/new wave song ever. This from someone who also believes it’s possibly the “Secretariat’s 30-length Belmont Stakes victory” relative to any other song in any band’s career. This is a testament to the song’s strength as much as it is my lukewarm appreciation for anything else Cheap Trick has released. But that’s another story. There’s nothing I’d like least than to distract you with my thoughts on Cheap Trick.

I would guess we’re all pretty much in agreement that The Records‘ “Starry Eyes” is the second-best late-’70s pure power pop/new wave song that made a dent in the US charts. (An important distinction for purposes of this discussion that rules out some of our personal favorites, such as my favorite song of this genre ever, The dB’s’ “Big Brown Eyes.”) That point settled, the time is long overdue that we settle—once and for all—a related topic that’s long stumped deep thinkers in the world of rock: Continue reading »
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Aug 302012
 

I’ve always had a negative feeling about Redd Kross—just one of the many California hardcore bands. Sorta the way I feel about The Circle Jerks.

The problem is this: I never really listened to Redd Kross. Maybe it was their name. Or I saw a badly art-directed poster. Chock it up to being a close-minded dick.

Well anyways…I heard a cut from their new album yesterday in the car (on WKDU).  And damn, it was pretty darn good. Super poppy, fun and rockin’—sort of the smart/simple hooky pop/rock I love from Sloan.

And this after like a 7-year hiatus!!! These guys are old!!!

So Redd Kross, I’d like to officially apologize for grouping you into a group without really knowing who you were. My bad.

The whole album is really neat btw. Thanks itunes for your instant gratification. I will be buying more of their earlier stuff now.

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Jul 092012
 

The first new album by the classic dB’s lineup, Fall Off the Sky, has been available for the last few week for streaming audio at Rolling Stone among other outlets. I keep putting off listening to it, even though I have a deep love for the band’s first 2 albums and everything they seemed to stand for, even though I always hope that they will miraculously recapture what they—and I—once had. Care to listen along with me? I will listen, and I will report my initial impressions. Feel free to do likewise, or if you’re like Townsman Oats and have somehow possessed a copy months before Chris Stamey completed his file naming and filing of mix stems, add your comments as you feel fit.

Since Stamey first left the band, Gene Holder shifted from bass to guitar, and all the wrong people started getting into the band just as their albums were going downhill, I’ve been nothing but disappointed with most releases I’ve heard by anything approaching The dB’s (ie, anything going by that name or anything involving both Stamey and Peter Holsapple). I like some of Stamey’s early solo albums and the one Holsapple solo album I’m aware of, but I share Mr. Moderator‘s dread of the Stamey-Holsapple duo album Mavericks and its use of the 128-string guitar. Will a newly reconstituted dB’s, with all its pieces in their rightful place, allow these guys to pick up even remotely where they left off after Repercussions? We shall see…or hear, in this case. My thoughts follow.

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Aug 012011
 

I caught this video on VH1 Classic about 4 years ago and, despite the fact that it blew my mind, I forgot everything about the song that would enable me to search for it once I got on the internet. What can I say? It was early in the morning, and I’m really no good until my second cup of coffee. Fortunately, I found it on a blog this morning — after all, lots of people are posting their favorite early-’80s videos in commemoration of MTV’s 30th anniversary.

The intro to this video is weird and goofy and corny as all get out. (Be careful, the first few seconds of this YouTube file are quieter than the rest.) Yet it makes me incredibly happy that it exists, that someone involved in rock ‘n’ roll thought to do this. For those of you who were paying more attention to music (particularly power pop and new wave) back then, had you seen this before? What were your thoughts then? And how about now?

Also, according to Wikipedia, this band was from Atlanta, GA. I call upon jungleland2 to provide any special insight he might have.

I look forward to your responses.

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May 142011
 

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

In this week’s edition of Saturday Night Shut-In Mr. Moderator celebrates the good parts of the spring season, right before summer hits and he gets all hot and sweaty. We will also reveal the identity of this week’s Mystery Date, live, hopefully through the brainpower of a real, live Townsperson calling into the Rock Town Hall Contest Line! Something tells me the smartypants among you will be ringing the phone off the hook.

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[Note: The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player. In fact, you can even set your iTunes to search for an automatic download of each week’s podcast.] Continue reading »

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Jan 182011
 

Don't worry...

Philadelphia’s The Bigger Lovers, the town’s torchbearers for guitar-pop at the start of the millennium, have reunited for the 10th anniversary reissue of their debut album, 2001’s long-out-of-print How I Learned to Stop Worrying. The remastered vinyl and digital reissue is coming March 8, 2011 on the band’s Miles Above imprint. The digital version will include two bonus tracks. To mark the occasion the band will also release a new Maxi-Single and treat hometown fans to a March 12th show at Johnny Brenda’s. Details on all this good stuff can be found at the band’s website, thebiggerlovers.com.

For a limited time, from now through February 1, the band is offering a free download of “Little Giant,” the lead track from the Maxi-Single. You can download it here. If you find that too troubling, click on the Rock Town Hall Player, below.

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The Little Giant Maxi Single, including 4 newly finished tunes (plus a remix), began its life in the 2005 and finally wrapped up with the help of Tony Goddess (singer-guitarist of Papas Fritas). It will be available February 1 through the band’s website and iTunes.

The reunion show at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia will take place on Saturday, March 12. Tickets are available now through the Johnny Brenda’s website. Dennis Diken (Smithereens drummer) and Bell Sound will open.

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Sep 212010
 

I went to a Record Show the other day, which is something I have always liked to do. Lately, they’ve been like having a mega Record Store all to yourself, but last Sunday was different. It was packed! The way it used to be in the early ’80s. [Which reminds me, if you have never been to one, and you go, don’t put your bag on a row of records and look through the one next to it. I know, there isn’t anywhere else to put your records, but I got tired of asking people to get their shit off the crate next to them.] That was good to see, and prices were still generally three bucks for the records I want anyway. Since Alive Naturalsound started reissuing The Nerves‘ and Breakaways‘ stuff, I’ve been getting more interested in Paul Collins‘ side of things. I always liked Peter Case, but didn’t really follow Paul at all. I found the first Beat album, and loved it. I found a more recent one, Ribbon of Gold, and I loved that, too. So I was kind of surprised to find the second Paul Collins Beat album, The Kids Are the Same at the show I was at, and I figured I had to grab it. I was expecting another good power pop kind of album, and I think it holds up well.

This came out in ’81 or ’82, which is about when I started raising a family on $4.50 an hour. Cable TV was something I did not even think of having, so I missed whatever MTV airplay Wikipedia said this album got. What I did have was a radio and we listened to it all night at work on the night shift. I can remember hearing this song, “On the Highway,” and it was one of those songs that I instantly loved and instantly thought was a perfect nighttime song, like “Marquee Moon.” The problem is, I knew who sang “Marquee Moon,” but back then college kids spent way more time playing records than telling you what they played, so I never knew who sang this, what album it was on, or anything about it. I put it on yesterday afternoon and was feeling pretty good about my purchase (nice clean record, not noisy, flat and sounds great) and this song that I loved came out of nowhere and was cranking out right there in my own living room!

Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened once or twice to me, but it’s been a long time. I think that’s like the best feeling of all in a Rock Music Nerd’s Life (or lack thereof). It happens so seldom, but I have a feeling it’s what keeps me digging through crates and reading about music instead of living a normal life. What song jumped off a record unexpectedly on you?

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