Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Green Day The Grouch From The Album Nimrod

Green Day "Nimrod" LP Cover
“Nimrod” came out in October of 1997. I was a teenager and didn’t pick it up right away. In fact, my parents were breaking anything that I purchased in terms of music, and I had to hide a lot of my records. By that point, I started to get a modest collection after some time, and eventually would get “Nimrod” via cassette tape. The album had a lot of singles on it, and it was once again produced by Rob Cavallo. The band would throw down nearly 50 minutes of music, but today, what stood out to me was the track, “The Grouch”. This is a song that made sense to me when I was a teenager, but more so now that I’m older.

The starting line still rings out to me, “I was a young boy that had big plans, now I’m just another shitty old man”, which is a powerful statement to start through. The song goes down to talk about the waste of youth, and how getting older is just making the singer a curmudgeon. Done in the classic Green Day pop punk style, the song really showers a lot of negativity about growing up into one space. There’s a lot to dissect in this song, and honestly, it’s true to life in many ways. It’s about apathy, getting old, and life getting the better of you, even though the band was super rich at the time. It’s an angst fueled song that speaks to the punk rock ethos of getting older and hating life sometimes.

Production wise, it’s a fast-moving song, but Billy Joe Armstrong’s vocals are clear, as you would expect. The bass guitar and drums are also great here, with all of them getting time in the spotlight, including a slight solo. If there was a blueprint for pop punk songs, “The Grouch” would be a very good example of how to create an angry song with melody throughout. The melody is great, the drums keep time, and the bass guitar doesn’t just follow the guitar work which makes this is a classic song from the guys in Green Day.

While “Nimrod” wasn’t my favorite record from the band, “The Grouch” made a dent in my heart and mind, and as I listened to it today, I had to make time to talk about it. It’s a song that really speaks to getting older, and I see it clearer now in my 30s than I did when I was a teenager. “The world owes me so F-You” is the ender and it is awesome, pointing towards the ultimate scenario of a grouch that’s old and tired.

You can listen to “The Grouch” and purchase “Nimrod” by clicking here, and see just how grouchy Green Day got on their fifth studio record.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jars of Clay Frail From The Album Much Afraid

Jars of Clay "Much Afraid" (1997) LP Cover
Jars of Clay put out a studio record in 1995 on Essential Records. That record would garner crossover success which is very rare for a Christian Alternative Rock Band. I found out about the band through MTV, and then would follow up with purchasing their first record. That was all the way back in 1995, and it was a disc I listened to a lot back then, and still listen to often. I loved their debut, but it was their sophomore release, “Much Afraid” in 1997 that really got me intrigued with the lyrical elements of the band, which included the song, “Frail”.

“Frail” is a slow moving composition, which is a hallmark for the band’s second record. The recording was put together in London, UK, and it took a couple of years for it to come out and for me to get my hands on it. None of my friends liked it. They thought it was too soft, but I was completely into the music, and lots of the songs stuck out to me. The songs were quiet at times, eclectic at others, and had a sensibility of meditation to them, which was different than their debut. “Frail” spoke to me then, and it speaks to me now, with a notion of doubt, lacking confidence, fearing the future, getting old, and encapsulating the beauty of introspection in a song that is very much a key factor to the sound that Jars of Clay would create many albums after the fact.

The lyrics of “Frail” speak to the heart of many people, including myself. “Convinced of my deception, I’ve always been a fool, I fear this love reaction, just like you said I would”, haunts me. The song is haunting, and it’s raw, yet beautiful, as it comes through in just under 7 minutes, with a sound that is so melancholy and focused on the spiritual side of life and love. It’s so deep, and so intriguing that you can’t really dismiss it upon hearing it.

There are a lot of tracks that haunt me, and they dissect my heart. Jars of Clay was able to do this with their release of “Much Afraid” which is an album that took away some of the rock sound that they were famous for with their debut, and traded it in for a much more subdued, and complicated soundtrack. It’s up and down emotionally, and it’s true to life, as it comes through with some poetry and sound that you sometimes don’t get with modern rock. It’s certainly one of their best, and the track “Frail” is worth taking another listen to, as it really does come back to introduce my heart and mind into new ideals.

You can listen to “Frail” by purchasing “Much Afraid” here, and listening to a truly deep cut for me personally.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Denison Marrs A Consequence Plan From The Album World Renown For Romance

Denison Marrs "World Renown For Romance" Original LP Cover
It was during a Stavesacre tour that I was able to find the record that would stick with me more than anything that the heavy rock band put out. Yes, I love Stavesacre, don’t get me wrong. However, at this show where they were performing with Project 86, Living Sacrifice, and Dogwood, they released an EP that I was first in line to get. That EP was a split with the band Denison Marrs. On that record, the band had introduced me to several songs from their upcoming record “World Renown For Romance”. They previously had another record, but it was this record that really got me hooked, and to this day, I still love the tracking, including this song, “A Consequence Plan”.

The song starts with guitar work that is soft, then leads to drums that bring along a bass line that is bouncy, and yet spiritual in it’s treble. The bass guitar has a treble to it that makes a lot of sense overall, in line with the bass guitar, and the guitar work. The lyrical components then start to talk about creation, art, and so much more. It’s a mix of things that you would expect from an artistic movie, or a painting and it’s truly original, with the angst and ethos of emotional rock music from the past and present. “I never wanted this, I never wanted this in any way, your pain kills me every day”, the lead singer croons.

It’s a story based song that leads you to really consider the bigger picture of love, honor, respect, and what it means to be with someone at times. It’s an artistic element, it’s maternal, it’s paternal, it’s spiritual and yet it’s melodic in nature. It’s this type of melody that really makes bands like Sunny Day Real Estate such a powerful player in indie rock music. The band would do so well with the former, rock icons.

“A Consequence Plan” hit me hard when I was a teenager. So much so that in my 30s, I still think it’s one of the deep cuts that I would love to share with more people. There’s power to the way Denison Marrs hooks you, lyrically, with their guitar work, and the high treble bass at times. The drums are perfect, the layered guitar works, and the vocals soar, like a mix of Sunny Day Real Estate, Death Cab For Cutie, and U2. It’s a powerful song, with a simple message, and an interesting introspection about love, and birthing a creative process. It’s one of their stand out songs from “World Renown For Romance”. The record was released in 2008, but the EP it first appeared on was released in 2000. So there’s some years between the recordings and releases etc.

You can listen to “A Consequence Plan” by purchasing “World Renown For Romance” here, and see why this is truly a deep cut for me.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Three Is A Magic Number By Blind Melon From The Album School House Rock Rocks

School House Rocks! Rocks CD Cover 
Today we venture back to April 9, 1996. We are talking about one of the last recorded tracks that Shannon Hoon did with the band Blind Melon. The band was riding high on the release of their debut record, and was getting a lot of radio play when they were asked to cover the song “Three Is A Magic Number” for the record “School House Rock! Rocks”. The band did a perfect solution and honestly, it’s one of my favorite tracks from this record, a portion of which was given to the Children’s Defense Fund. Going back to the mid 1990s, this Atlantic Record’s release first caught my eye in Santa Monica.

There was a used record shop on Wilshire that bought and sold records. It’s long gone now. But I would go in there and try to sell a lot of my records, and then look into the crates and the used section. That’s where I first saw “School House Rock! Rocks”. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the record line up of covers featured a ton of my favorite bands. The record included tracks from Blind Melon, Better Than Ezra, The Lemonheads, Biz Markie, Chavez, Moby, Skee-Lo, and others. There was even an EP released that featured Man or Astro-Man? And Pavement. Either way, the track that I wanted to focus on was the one that was most memorable to me, which was the track from Blind Melon, which is the third track on this record.

Blind Melon did a great job in capturing the beauty of the original song. The band’s eclectic blend of alternative rock, mixed with Shannon Hoon’s vocals really made this song stand out amidst the rest of the tracks on the record. The lyrics are excellent, and if you remember the song, you now the opening. “Three oh it’s the magic number, yeah it is, it’s the magic number, somewhere in that ancient trinity, you’ll get three, it’s the magic number”, and it continues. It’s such a great educational tune, and Blind Melon does so well with it, that you get it stuck into your head once again.

As far as the 1990s are concerned, this is not the heaviest of alternative tracks, but it’s so good, that you are going to fall in love with the whole “School House Rock! Rocks” record again. This tribute record featured such good tracks, and interpretations that I look back fondly at owning the record, and recommend getting it once again. Of course, since this is a blog about deep cuts, I would suggest getting the single “Three Is A Magic Number” by Blind Melon, because they truly make this track memorable.

You can pick up “School House Rock! Rocks” by clicking here, and listening to the Blind Melon version of “Three Is A Magic Number”.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Back To You by Riverdales From The Album Riverdales

Riverdales "Riverdales" (1995) LP Cover
Back in 1995 a Ramones influenced punk rock act came through in the mail for me to listen to. It was the band Riverdales release which was self titled. “Riverdales” is a record that has 24 songs on it and nearly an hour of music. The three piece band put on a display of punk rock that you would get from bands like The Ramones, The Huntingtons, and many other bands. The track that I wanted to talk about, however, is one track that reminds of my teenage angst, longing for girls and finding that they didn’t like me. It also is one of the songs that makes me remember one of my first girlfriends. As I’m an older person now, I look back and see my mistakes, and feel like life would’ve been way different if I went down some different paths. Either way, the track “Back To You” is one of the stellar tracks from a record that doesn’t get a lot of praise.

The record probably got a boost from the release of the movie “Angus” which told the story of a fat kid that wanted to date the school’s head cheerleader at his high school. He asks her to the prom and she accepts, only to find out that everyone thinks it’s a joke, and he has to grow up while his grandfather passes, and his friend betrays him. He grows up fast and realizes that no matter what, the girl of his dream is flawed, just like he is. That movie had one of the best soundtracks of all time, and if you can find “Angus: The Motion Picture Soundtrack”, I suggest you pick it up for an excellent round up of punk rock from Reprise Records, including the opening track “J.A.R.” by Green Day.

“Back To You” has a simple message, a little punk rock tune in the same category that you would find “I Want To Be Your Boyfriend” from the Ramones, and “GSF” from Mxpx. The track is a lamentation from a guy that has been left behind by a girl, and yet wants to come back, and the heart wants what it wants. The lyrics are simple, the song is simple, it repeats the chorus and the track is just stellar through a three piece musical component of punk that is nothing short of catchy. This song is the fourth track on the record, and yet it sticks in my mind, brings a little tear in my eye, and makes me remember how butterflies form in your stomach when you meet someone that you connect with.

A break up song, a love song, a song that has the punk rock position that could only exist in the mid-1990s, and one hell of a track from the album “Riverdales”. “Back To You” is a song that I can hear again and again, and it never gets old, simply because I can connect it to real things in my life, and the movies that I’ve seen. Even in 2017, this track from 1995 is so good, and deserves your attention.

You can listen to “Back To You” by Riverdales by clicking here, and purchasing “Riverdales” their record from 1995.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Downside by Klank From The Album Still Suffering

Klank "Still Suffering" (1995) LP Cover 
I know a lot of people that claim that they like techno music and they love industrial. I always love talking to them, and when we start naming bands, they always forget about one of the best industrial bands from the 1990s, and it’s all because they never really get their due for how good they were. This band is none other than Klank. Since 1995, they have been putting out some incredible tunes of techno and industrial heavy metal music. In 1996 on Tooth and Nail Records, Klayton, produced and created one of the most unique albums on the Tooth and Nail Records label. The release “Still Suffering” was put out in the mid 1990s and immediately hit my ears as one of the coolest records you could get from the Christian music scene. However, the band was far heavier than just calling them a religious act. “Downside” is an example of how good the music was, despite any labels that you could put on them.

“Downside” begins much like you would expect a Rob Zombie song to start, with a focus on vocal samples, then introduces a riff of industrial elements, guitar work, and techno beats. It’s a focused solution that has a great deal of techno themes that you would get from other bands in the 1990s, mixed and remixed to put on a great showcase of heavy sound. I can easily compare this to Rob Zombie, which is really what this sounds like at times, but it’s more than that, because there’s a heavy mix of techno to it, kind of like early Nine Inch Nails. You cannot put this band into a single layered approach, because it’s not.

The music here is heavy, techno filled and just brings out a lot of elements that will absolutely find a home with fans of techno music. If you’re a fan of the genre, and you don’t have “Still Suffering” then you’re going to be blown away by this. There are swings of emotion throughout, and it all feels so familiar but it’s new to many people. The techno elements here are just outstanding, and ahead of their time. When you read that this was produced in 1996, you really are going to be surprised because the studio recording and levels are perfect on this option, giving you a dance heavy, metal heavy, strong vocal performance mixed with that familiar sound that you would get from older bands like Alice Cooper’s work and of course White Zombie.

While “Downside” is just a single on their Tooth and Nail Records release from 1996, the band continues to play music and put out excellent techno fueled metal. The vocals are great, the guitar work is excellent, and this track is not to be missed. From 1995 to the future, it’s poignant, and has a message that is not going to beat you in the head with religion, but rather is far more intriguing the more you listen to it. Fans of Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, and Static Kills are going to fall in love with “Downside” fast, and perhaps will want to pick up “Still Suffering” as it’s a stellar mix of heavy music.

You can listen to “Downside” by Klank from the album “Still Suffering” by clicking here.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Holy Vanguard by Cool Hand Luke From The Album Cora

Cool Hand Luke "Cora" LP Cover 
I first saw Cool Hand Luke when they opened for the band Noise Ratchet at the Glasshouse in 2002. I remember it fondly because I wanted to go out with this girl that told me she needed space if we were going to go on a platonic date. So I respected that, but I would stay somewhat close. That was the wrong thing to do, because she kept elbowing me. I got the message, and at one point decided to leave the venue and just walk around the block and cool off. I wasn’t going to push myself on her, but I wanted her to know that I wasn’t really going to chase her either. It was the wrong thing apparently, because she and her friend left the show before Noise Ratchet played. I would later find out that her parents pressured her to stay away from me because I was Mexican, and she needed to date more.

Well, she ended up marrying some non-Mexican guy, who had money, and I was left out cold. But the best thing about that night was that I saw Cool Hand Luke, and I’ve followed along their careers for some time. Today’s deep cut is not an old song, it’s a song that comes from the latest release from Cool Hand Luke, “Cora”.

“Holy Vanguard” is a song that speaks to the spirit of the Old Testament, if you’re a reader of the Bible. If you’re not an avid religious person at all, then you will at least enjoy the melody and musical guidance that the band has put forth on this record. The keyboard sounds layered with the intricate bass guitar work and drums are impressive here, with a note to jazz, and psychedelic rock music from the 1970s. Think Zappa for a new era, as the band goes through 4 minutes of spiritual music, that speaks to the wilderness that was written about in the Torah.

Cool Hand Luke is a religious band, but they have been adamant about creating music that doesn’t suck. They’ve been featured in documentaries in which they have described their artistic push, and why they are more akin to bands like Radiohead than other acts that you may know about in the Christian scene. They create a lavish array of rock and pop that is focused on art and musical elements more than lyrical preaching. That being said, “Holy Vanguard” is a song that is equally spiritual and equally artistic. You will feel like this is the second coming of The Doors at times, with an introspection and confidence that is lead through the music, and layered quite nicely.

The album “Cora” is another shining example of how independent rock music can be so decadent, and filled with creativity. It’s a gem of a sound that is represented with ease by Cool Hand Luke on the track “Holy Vanguard”. You’ll be mesmerized by how the band was able to create such a melody and creative output framed within the religious sector like a piece of art hanging at a museum.

You can listen to “Holy Vanguard” by Cool Hand Luke from the album “Cora” by clicking here.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Yesterdays Over By The Pietasters From The Album Awesome Mixtape #6

The Pietasters "Awesome Mixtape #6" LP Cover
When I was a teenager, Epitaph Records has a show that was on late night. It was called Punkorama, and they would play music videos for about 2 hours in a row on public access television in the Southern California area. It’s there that I first learned about a lot of the punk rock bands that would become my favorites. One of the music videos that I distinctly remember hearing, and seeing is that of “Yesterday’s Over” by The Pietasters. As soon as I heard it, I was in love, and it took me a few months to get a catalog and get “Awesome Mixtape #6” on cassette. It was one of my first introductions into a ska-core.

The Pietasters have been around a long time. They have a New York City style of ska, and it shows from the moment that you hear the opening tracks of their catalog. They have gone through traditional dub, ska-core, and even calypso at times. The singer’s clear vocals has a Tom Waits thing going on, but with a little clarity as well. It’s a nice companion to the side winding bass guitar work, and the upstrokes on the guitars alongside the horn section. “Yesterday’s Over” is a quick song with a lot going for it.

The bass guitar work on this song is incredible, with a focus on melody and timing that goes alongside the drums ever so well. Not only that, the keyboards and horns all work out quite well to bring to you a slice of New City Ska that is more serious in tone, than it is playful. This is not Southern California or Florida third wave ska, it’s a traditional note to the Jamaican music, with a throwback to the stellar mono bass guitar recordings that filled jazz records from the 1950s and 60s. When you hear how well the bass and drums are recorded on this track, you’ll no doubt find it to be a stellar standout for you.

“Awesome Mixtape #6” is a stellar album from the band. I love it, and even though it’s a little disjointed at times, it has a lot to offer the traditional ska fan, as well as the punk ska fan. This record was released on Hellcat Records, and there’s a music video floating around with this track as well. The lyrics, the bass guitar, the electric guitar work, and the vocals all lend themselves well to the larger meaning and focus of the music. It’s a track you don’t want to miss, and one that I first found thanks to that late night Punkorama Music Video series.

You can download, listen, stream, and pick up “Yesterday’s Over” by the Pietasters by clicking here. You can also buy “Awesome Mixtape #6” by clicking here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Code of Ethics Pleasant Valley Sunday From The Album Arms Around The World

Code of Ethics "Arms Around The World" LP
Today, we are going back to 1967 first. The first thing that you need to know is that there’s a band named The Monkees. You already know this, right? The Monkees put out a record and one of the leading singles is none other than “Pleasant valley Sunday”. Now, this is a good overall pop beat song, and it’s ripe for a new update, right? Well, lots of people didn’t even know that they put it out, but they sure loved it again when it was covered and placed on the record “Arms Around The World” from the band Code of Ethics. That’s our deep cut today, “Plaasant Valley Sunday” by Code of Ethics, but a cover of the original song by The Monkees. Now follow along, because it’s important to know the basic elements of both.

The Monkees put out this single as a b-side to the record “Words” which was released on July 10, 1967. It was originally a 7 inch record, and was put out by RCA Victor Studios. It’s only 3 minutes or so, and it’s a nice little pop tune with the band singing melodies as you’d expect overall. If you’re a fan of the band, then you’re going to love the way that the band put this song together, and the fact that it’s really about a mental institution.

Now, let’s fast forward to “Arms Around The World”, which is a record that the band Code of Ethics put out in 1995. The band was a new wave, alternative rock outfit, and they were major players in the Contemporary Christian world. However, I saw them more as a new wave alternative rock band. The band put out two of my personal favorite records from the mid-1990s, even though no one reading this is probably going to remember “Arms Around The World” or “Soulbait”, the latter coming out in 1997 and being far more rock oriented.

The track is a new wave, synth heavy, melodic interpretation of the original song, and one can argue it improves on what the Monkees did in 1967. While some may say that the Carole King cover is better, I like the Code of Ethics version a lot better, simply because it updates the elements to use synth, and new wave pop grooves, alongside guitar work that is definitely grand.

To be honest, I never knew that The Monkees put this record out in 1967, until today. So now you know, that I don’t always have every single bit of information to every song that I listen to, until I start looking deeper into them. Either way, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” is a great overall track from Code of Ethics, and of course, The Monkees version is a great one too.

You can listen to “Pleasant Valley Sunday” from the album “Arms Around The World” by Code of Ethics by clicking here.

You can also listen to The Monkees version of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” which was a b-side single in 1967, by clicking here.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Slackers Every Day Is Sunday From The Album Self Medication

The Slackers "Self Medication" (2008) LP Cover
For today’s deep cut, we have to go back to New York City and go towards 2008. Not too far away, but that’s 9 years ago that the New York staple, The Slackers put out a record on Indication Records that would bring about 12 new tracks, and 42 minutes of traditional ska music. The band is a breath of fresh air, and has created a melodious record of 12 tracks, and an opener that is absolutely grand. The Slackers together put a song out that is an anthem for those of us that are freelancers, and are unemployed, and it’s called “Every Day Is Sunday”. This is the opening track of the record “Self Medication”.

I’m always surprised by what big time critics such as Allmusic give albums. They gave this one a 4 out of 5, and yet they didn’t favorably talked about Deftones, and others. Plus they started a feud with me on Twitter a while ago and I had to block them. They gave this record a 4 star out of 5 review, which is a plus, because it’s totally worth it. The band got together to put through traditional ska sounds, without distortion, without that punk edge, and without going towards what a lot of other bands were doing throughout the 1990s and through the 2000s. This is not Reel Big Fish, this is not Less Than Jake. This is a more traditional, rock steady formula and it shows with “Every Day Is Sunday” leading the charge.

The opening lines of this song always gets me, in which the band sings to a classic mix of Jamaican inspired New York City ska, “Every day is Sunday when you’re unemployed, sounds pretty good man, I should be overjoyed, ever day is Sunday, Friday never comes.” I know that feeling all too well because a year after the release of this record, I was unemployed for 18 months, and couldn’t catch a break.

This is a track that catches many ska fans off guard. If you don’t know who The Slackers are, then this is something that you need to hear. This is a great song, and single from the NYC ska pioneers. However, it’s not a core song, like that of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I love ska-core, but this is not that. This is more traditional, and you’ll get that from the start of “Self Medication”. The Slackers “Ever Day Is Sunday” is one of my favorite songs from this record and from 2008. The lyrics are solid, the bass lines are great, and the horn section is fabulous. Of all of the songs from the band’s catalog, this is the one I want to hear live alongside “Married Girl”, which is an instant classic amidst their diverse catalog of songs.

You can listen, stream, and buy “Every Day Is Sunday” from the album “Self Medication”, by clicking here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Humpers Soul Surgeon From The Album Live Forever or Die Trying

The Humpers "Live Forever or Die Trying" LP Cover (1996)
The year was 1996, and the first riffs that opened up the slam section of a Thrasher skateboard video had me hooked on the band that they used. The band played a punk rock tune that would forever make me a fan of theirs. The band was called The Humpers, and the song was none other than “Soul Surgeon”. This came from their jump to Epitaph Records, and it’s a solid song with a lot of raw punk rock elements, some great bass lines, and solid breaks with excellent guitar riffs and one hell of a solo for a punk song.

This song could make or break a band, and if it were played on the radio, it would’ve garnered a lot of success for The Humpers. The record “Live Forever or Die Trying” is the third album from the band, and it has some recordings that have been updated from their catalog, which is fine, but it’s the strength of the catchy tunes that truly speak to the bigger nature of this song.

This is not a super long song, but it has some powerful riffs and drums that can’t be denied. As I saw skateboarders falling and taking some serious hits in the Thrasher skateboarding video, I fell more and more in love with both skateboarding and music. I was only 13 years old at the time, but I put The Humpers on my list of bands to listen to, and at the time would even call the Epitaph Hotline just to hear this track played for a few seconds. I loved it.

The Humpers are a punk rock band that have been around for a long time, and by this point aren’t doing much as they seemed to have dropped out of the punk scene around the late 1990s. However, this is a long living testament to how good the band was getting. The Humpers alongside The Red Aunts and Clawhammer are some of my favorite smaller punk rock bands that didn’t seem to get as much praise as larger projects such as The Offspring, Rancid, and Pennywise.

However, this raw punk rock sound is one of the best examples of that early 1990s punk scene that Epitaph Records was producing, and today, it sounds as good as it did when it was first released in 1996. “Soul Surgeon” is a song that will stick in your head and will not let go, especially that last line, “you’re going to get cut!”, which leads to “Sarcasmatron”, as the next track. The whole record is good, but there’s something special about this single, and it’s one of my personal deep cuts for the band, although they have a lot more to listen to, obviously.

You can listen, stream, and buy “Soul Surgeon” from the album “Live Forever or Die Trying”, by clicking here.

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