Tag Archives: rock
Much to the surprise of your 1995 self, Mudhoney have outlasted many of their Seattle, grunge scene peers. Pearl Jam is still alive, of course. Soundgarden reformed after an extended hiatus, and Alice in Chains did the same once they found a new Layne Stanley. Nirvana is long gone (The Grunge Beatles with Paul McCartney doesn’t count) and Mark Lanegan has been free from Screaming Trees for years. In the meantime, Mudhoney would crank out a new album every few years, without getting close to the type of fame and money showered on Seattle in the ’90s. Not that they’re bitter about that last part. No, no, not at all. They don’t regret that time they took major label money, and to prove a point, quickly threw together a “grunge” album and called it Piece of Cake. They’re to busy enjoying their status as a cult band. In “I Like it Small,” from Mudhoney’s 9th studio album (4/1 on Sub Pop), vocalist, Mark Arm, runs down all the perks they currently enjoy:
All of which, you’ve gotta admit, are pretty sweet. That’s if you don’t mind supplementing your band income with a day job at the Sub Pop warehouse, of course. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty sweet day job for Mark Arm to have, too. Mudhoney are the luckiest band on earth, and we’re all lucky for still having them around.
Look, I don’t want to play this track any more than you do, not after the badness of The Weirdness, The Stooges last attempt at a 21st Century record. However, it is Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and being rockers, we should give Iggy some leeway, right?
Plus, he did sound pretty nasty when he teamed up with the young, LA band, Zig Zags, on this Betty Davis cover for Light in the Attic Records’ 10th Anniversary late in 2012.
That was only a year ago. Pop’s still got it, except when he doesn’t.
Here are some of the choice rhymes from “Burn,” the first track from what Iggy and The Stooges are billing as the follow up to 1973′s Raw Power (the band is wishing The Weirdnesss never existed, too):
“Burn, burn/Am I concerned/Should I be so/Well, I don’t know”
“And there’s insight/In the fire light”
“As the wind blows/Through your window”
Should you manage to ignore Pop’s hammy lyrics, “Burn,” is only half bad, only half wasting the fine work of James Williamson on guitar, Scott Asheton on drums, and Mike Watt on bass.
There’s hope for this record, yet. A slim hope, like down two goals in stoppage time with your top two strikers on the bench and Peter Cech in the opponent’s net, slim. But, it’s still hope.
In a recent interview with the Village Voice, the men of the six-piece Brooklyn band, The Men, revealed their adoration Tom Petty. The excitement they expressed over Petty headlining Bonnaroo was akin to the reaction a hipster caricature would have to the announcement of a show by Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, or Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. This can’t be the same band of scuzz-punk noisenicks who gained acclaim by reimagining decades of underground nasty, can it?
Yes, it can be. Yes, it is, but there’s a catch. One just can’t unlearn years of Husker Du, Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Even during New Moon’s most rustic moments, and the A-side of their new record has its share with “Open the Door,” “Half Angel Half Light,” and “Seeds,” The Men sound more like Tom Petty with The Heartbreakers, as in the classic punk band led by Johnny Thunders, than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the classic rock band with Southern charm.
The instruments of Americana — harmonica, pedal steel, and a casual vocal drawl, often have to share living space in the same gutter as that old guitar screech. That’s the case with “I Saw Her Face,” where the first half is a tear-jerker in the Jeff Tweedy mold and the second half is a thrash. It’s punk for rockers not afraid of getting old and country for those who prefer their country not be recorded by professional, Nashville session musicians.
While New Moon’s mix isn’t lo-fi in the place-a-boombox-in-the-corner-of-a-room way, its thinness compared to heavily produced, modern rock, marks another critical, stylistic choice by The Men. The mix is meant to invoke classic records by The Stooges and the Hearbreakers, and songs like Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black).” Guitar tracks collapse under the weight of their own feedback and every drum hit could topple a teetering kit duct-taped in place.
“Electric,” is just one cut where The Men use the tools of the studio to deftly navigate the history of both classic rock and cult rock bands. The melody could have made for a favorite on the FM dial, while the energy is ripped from the underground. Similarly, “I See No One,” is a road song in the ’70s tradition, but one whose motor needs a pit stop at every rest stop to refill an oil leak. Steppenwolf would never let their guitars sound so muddled. Husker Du did.
With their transition from a ’90s noise lovers’ favorite band to an all-purpose rock band all but complete, New Moon has The Men primed to leave those dirty, DIY spaces behind for a bigger stage. And once they finally arrive, with their old, leaky Chevy van hitched to the rear of Tom Petty’s million-dollar bus of comfort, they will still be the same men — Not the men of craft beer, top shelf booze and all organic riders; not the men of time outs for costume changes; and, not the men of 20 guitars and 20 guitar techs, but The Men whose honky-tonk culminates with eight minutes of curb stomps and gut punches. That’s your closing track, “Supermoon,” and your assurance these men, no matter where their music takes them in the future, will never forget their noisy roots.
Yes, Psychic Ills have a one track mind. It says so on the album cover, right above those smiling skulls.
Now, would you care to guess which track Psychic Ills have on their mind. I’ll give you one clue: Needles.
Was your guess heroin? Congratulations, you now know everything you need to know about One Track Mind.
If you enjoy the experience of sinking into your carpet as a band woozes their way about their instruments and sing in a half-cognizant state, then Psychic Ills have an album for you. It’s run time is only around 40 minutes, so you may want to queue up some ’90s Primal Scream or some Brian Jonestown Massacre before you take the plunge. It’s just a suggestion, you know. For once Psychic Ills get that one track on their mind, they are powerless to let go, and the second track, third track, and fourth track all indiscriminately blur together. You may want to perk up from time to time with a song whose tempo has, you know, a tempo, and Psychic Ills are content to let you sink. Again, this is all just a suggestion. Drugs are bad.
In the standard Hollywood version of a breakup, man gets a divorce, man loses things, and man replaces those things with a red Mustang. Man is now vibrant and young, again. Man is free to chase other shiny, young things.
The story of Thurston Moore’s separation from Kim Gordon and the subsequent dissolution of Sonic Youth follows a similar path, except that red Mustang is a light truck and that light track carried the name of a moving company operated by composer Phillip Glass, Chelsea Light Moving, and that truck and that company would become the name of Thurston Moore’s new band. It’s this new band, with Keith Wood on guitar, Samara Lubelski on bass, and John Moloney on drums, which enables Moore to turn back the clock to the late ’80s, early ’90s period of alternative rock and record a smashing album in the vein of Sonic Youth classics like Dirty and Goo. Let’s call it the IFC version.
For, when was the last time Moore consistently ripped like this?
Look, I don’t wish unpleasant life events on anyone, especially my indie rock icons, but if that’s what was needed to get Thurston Moore to shake the doldrums and return to being a veritable rip factory of experimental guitar, then, so be it. Get on board and enjoy the ride.