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Aug 262015

I’ve been on a big Wilco kick the last week or so.  I guess I got kind of egged on by the free download for the new Star Wars album. I’ve been going back and listening to some of their older stuff on Tidal, even though I have everything except the new one on CD. (God, I can’t believe what I’ve turned into — too freaking lazy to dig out my CDs most of the time.)

I’m transported back 20 years ago when A.M.  came out — and remember the collective shrug that greeted its release. I sure didn’t like it much — and thought Son Volt’s Trace kicked its ass.  I still like Trace but have really came around on A.M. in the last 5 years — “Pick Up the Change,”  “Passenger Side,” and “I Thought I Held You” are pretty decent songs. Yeah, it’s straight ahead alt-country, but it holds up. The “hit”  — “Box Full of Letters” — is kind of cute for those of us that wrote or received love letters and remember trying to sort out “merged” album collections after break-ups.

Anyway, can you think of an album you initially dismissed, but have come to appreciate? I look forward to your responses.

Jun 112015

Has anyone listened to the new FFS album? FFS stands for Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. Sparks is a band I had not thought about in years, until I heard about this new release. I didn’t even think they were a going concern, but I see they’ve cranked out a bunch of music in recent years.

From what little I’ve listened to them, the song above is consistent with what I recall about the band — offbeat lyrics, choppy start/stop beats, and quasi-operatic singing.

A buddy in college thought these guys were the greatest thing going — and I owned Big Boy and Sparks in Outer Space at one point, but I never understood them.

Can you enlighten me on the merits of Sparks? I look forward to your responses.


Mar 302015

This may seem kind of odd, but man, I’ve been listening to a bunch of what seems to me to be Elastica-inspired new music lately. Speedy Oritz, Wolf Alice, and Torres.  I remember getting that Elastica album thinking — are they going to blow up into then next Pretenders? Connection (above) and Stutter — I loved it. Are they a one-(well, two-)album band that needs a bit more respect? They fizzled out quickly partly because of lawsuits, but a new bunch bands seem to working the same territory. What do you think?

Here’s Wolf Alice:

Mar 192015

I was reading an album review a few weeks back where the writer mentioned “the holy trinity of power pop”: The Beatles, Badfinger, and Big Star.   I thought that was an interesting line and got to thinking what other bands might make up other rock “holy trinities?” It could go in many directions — obvious and not-so-obvious.

Such as: The holy trinity of ’70s midwestern US pseudo-prog rock: Styx, Kansas, and Starcastle.

Can you come up with your own holy trinity?

Jan 162015

We have a sick boy at home, so that means movie time—and he’s young enough (7) to watch just about anything that shows up on TCM without much complaint. Earlier this week, a movie called Hootenanny Hoot was on—and who pops up but a young Johnny Cash, looking pretty doggone cool.

The movie, which is sort of a cash-in on the early ’60s folk movement, isn’t very good, but does include a couple of great performances by Judy Henske. She kind of steals the show for me because they only have the one Cash song. I’d never heard of her, but she seems like a precursor of Janis and Grace Slick. I guess her most famous song is an early version of “High Flyin’ Bird,” which predates the Jefferson Airplane cover by 3 years or so.

I also like movies that pop in surprises—like Marshall Crenshaw playing Buddy Holly in La Bamba  or Aimee Mann in The Big Lebowski.

What are some of your favorite artist cameos: musical performance or acting?

Dec 232014

I just bought tickets to go see The Pat Travers Band at our little suburban club in Vienna, VA. As teenager, I was into this stuff for a short period of time, and it will be a fun retro trip back for me and my fellow-Midwestern buddy. I remember buying his albums, other than his big live album, in the cutouts. He was on Polydor records in the late ’70s, and for some reason a lot of their artists ended up in the $2.99 bin as I recall.

Most of Pat’s music strikes me as just missing the hard rock mark for some reason I can’t put my finger on. Is it because it wasn’t drilled into my head on what became Classic Rock radio?

It’s “off-brand” rock—not quite up to Bad Company or Aerosmith at their best, and probably more than a few notches below. It reminds me of Tommy Bolin solo records or Robin Trower or UFO. Of course, I am probably  thinking about this the wrong way—because these folks have their diehard fans,  I just grew out of it. Anyway, I am kind of looking forward to seeing what Pat is up to at age 61.

Do you have any “off-brand” rock in your stacks that you listen to?


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