J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Notes From Underground - #17

A little late (due to being utterly demolished yesterday evening - tired, that is) but here none the less. Randomocity is back for another heart-pounding edition. Last time was actually pretty fun, seeing as I was coming up blank on some of the songs on my own mp3 player. Mass-memory technology can really lead you down some strange paths. This week, I've added a lot more music from my older collection, as well as some new stuff that has been released recently, so we'll see what the gods of Random have for me this week.

A reminder. I'm adding a new bit to these - Click on the 'Play It' link at the end of each commentary and you can listen along with me. Sort of.

Here are the rules: 1) can't spend any more time typing than the track is long; 2) have to type based on my own knowledge - no consulting the internets for confirmation, so if I put my foot in my mouth, so be it; 3) no skipping tracks - even if artists/albums repeat, no skipping.

Let's go.

# 4865 - Squirrel Nut Zippers - "St. Louis Cemetery Blues" : From the limited-edition Sold Out EP. I gleefully grabbed a copy of this back when it was actually in stores (and QFS actually still has a copy as well) and it's a lovely little thing. People sometimes look at me strange when I talk about my adoration of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, but they're a home state favorite and put out some pretty brilliant music. I won't stick up for their LPs after (my personal favorite) Perennial Favorites, but they weren't terrible. They're back together now in a limited way, and actually they'll be playing at Guilford College for Homecoming weekend later in October. This is a low key (complete with 'vinyl static') number that recalls the Zippers' old jazz/country influences in a major way. And as much as I stick up for them, I haven't listened to them much lately, so this is a pleasant way to start off. - Play It!

# 5501 - Jesse Malin - "Almost Grown" : This is from Jesse's first solo album, The Fine Art of Self-Destruction, which I really enjoyed a lot when it came out. His subsequent two albums, while having moments of brilliance on them, have been pretty same-old-same-old, but I'll give him this - you won't mistake his voice for anyone else. And there's a decided lack of just good, solid rock and roll writers. This might explain how he managed to land Bruce Springsteen to guest on "Broken Radio" from Jesse's newest album. This song is pretty typical of Malin's softer moments and is, all in all, a pretty good song. The Fine Art.., I think, is his most consistent album to date, but I am really big on the song "Goin' Out West" from his second album The Heat. Maybe that'll show up sometime. - Play It

# 4967 - Space - "Mister Psycho" : Ah, and I was just talking about Space this week. Spiders is an album I've been heavily planning on featuring in the Return Trip feature. I'll go ahead and waste my best comparison here, but if there was every an inheritor (although, an ultimately unsuccessful one) to the type of music the Happy Mondays were creating, Space isn't a bad one. The off-tune vocals that seem to float around in almost nonsensical, silly lyrics (their vocalist is far from being W.B. Yeats) and that ever-present musical feature of the mid-90s: turntable scratches. I don't remember if they had a turntabilist as a full band member, but it sure sounds like it in some points. This is a record that is a lot of fun to listen to, but it doesn't invite often, repeated listens. There's nowhere much to go into the music - it's all kind of out in the open with nothing to work for. - Play It!

# 1061 - Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf - "Talk About a Girl" : Big Shots is one of the overlooked masterpieces of early 90s hip-hop. This is a short song from this record so I don't have much time to talk about it - but trust me. Go out and get this record. You can get it on EMusic from Stones Throw Records and you will have a wonderful time getting the throw-back mood of a lot of this music. It's a great dig back into the Golden Age of Hip-Hop from an artist that was sadly taken from us too early (Charizma). - Play It!

# 5188 - Television - "Call Mr. Lee" : I guess to make up for the last Randomocity, my mp3 player is trying to prove it can read my mind again. Television's self-titled 1991 reunion record is another heavy contender for my Return Trip feature in the coming weeks. Television is by no means the equal of their 70s work, but it's a cool, laid-back venture into some pretty great guitar work and typically-Verlaine lyrics. This is the song that always stuck out to me the most on the record. Television's typical sound is evident - you can hear flashes of the structure that made songs on Marquee Moon and Adventure so incredible. Verlaine and company really hadn't strayed far from that sound in the 12 or 13 years between this record and their break up in 1978. I'll save more comments for when I review the record here in a few weeks. - Play It!

# 6577 - His Name is Alive - "Go To Hell Mountain" : Well, I'm kind of disappointed this came up considering it's on the podcast for Wednesday's show as well. It's from the new album Xmmer and is, obviously, a good song. His Name is Alive is a band that you don't run into people knowing about/liking much. Though I was at a party last year where someone was playing them on their stereo and I was excited. (Good choice, Chris.) His Name is Alive's records don't necessarily stray much from one album to another, but you can certainly hear the changes between, say, Xmmer and Stars on E.S.P. Between this album and their previous one, Detrola, not so much. But Warren Defever has hit upon a pretty successful and enjoyable formula for these records. The biggest kick I always get in talking about Defever is mentioning him being a member of Elvis Hitler also, whose "Green Haze" I would pay money to have show up on my player some week. - Play It!

# 4348 - Nine Inch Nails - "Sin" : Ah, now we're getting into the paydirt from my having 'digitized' bigger and bigger chunks of my older CD collection. Pretty Hate Machine is one of those records that industrial purists won't sneer at, and will usually decry everything Reznor did after, even though the clearly superior Broken EP and, arguably his masterwork, The Downward Spiral were still to come. This debut album definitely sounds like the time - nothing quite sounds like late 80s industrial music like..well..late 80s industrial music. The thin, non-organic drum loops, the fuzzed out guitars, more-percussive-than-tonal keyboard lines. It's all there for your enjoyment. I have the "Sin" single somewhere which contains a great re-working of Queen's "Get Down Make Love." Maybe that'll pop up. - Play It!

# 2044 - The Kingsbury Manx - "Oh No." : From The Fast Rise and Fall of the South. Kinsbury Manx are also a native NC band and, again, one I haven't given enough listening time to over the years despite enjoying them (and their live show) quite a bit. I think they've put out at least one album since this one - this came out when I was a music director in '03, I think. I can't remember exactly, but it was around that time. Their music on this record moves forward in soft, pushing waves of piano and guitar intertwining so that, at time, it's hard to differentiate between the two. This is a pretty, slow song that is unfortunately going to be able to elicit little from me in the way of comment, but definitely give it a listen. Gorgeous Southern music. - Play It!

# 2320 - The Mountain Goats - "In Corolla" : Hey, appropriate. From Get Lonely, the latest (I think?) from John Darnielle. Darnielle moved out to Durham, NC about 3 or 4 years ago and he's been a nice presence in our local music scene ever since. Instead of focusing on this song per se, I'll talk about how great I think the move up to non-lo-fi has been for Darnielle's music. I love his 4-track work (All Hail West Texas is just about perfect), but his music has taken on a new place in my awareness since he signed to 4AD and decided to take that leap up in production. I'd have to say that The Sunset Tree has been my favorite of the albums he's put out since then, but this one was pretty amazing as well. And this isn't a bad song to represent my home state and some of the feelings it sometimes pulls out of us. Thanks, John. - Play It!

# 861 - The Clean - "Flowers" : Merge Records put out a really amazing collection of work by this New Zealand band in a 2 CD set a number of years ago. I honestly don't know much about the Clean, but I've loved listening to Anthology off and on over the years. They have points of comparison with a lot of bands, but I'm not really sure where to point anyone. This song could remind you of..a version of early REM, or maybe a demo that a shoegaze band recorded, or any number of things. Words are going to fail me in this instance. But the Clean are someone I should be revisiting more often. More likely than not, you've heard me play their "Big Soft Punch" on my show which is just a great pop song if there ever was one. - Play It!

BONUS - # 1025 - Helmet - "Milquetoast" : My friends who went and saw Helmet said the lights came down - the band came on stage during this - and "Milquetoast" started up. I can't imagine a more perfect opening for this band. I haven't given the new Helmet records much of any of my ears' time lately. But their early records (Meantime, Betty and Aftertaste) are pretty great progenitors to the nu-metal music that would come to clog and choke the ghost of rock and roll over the ensuing decade. This is from Betty, which is probably the strongest of the bunch. In fact, the first Helmet song I ever heard was "Biscuits for Smut" from this album. Saw the video on 120 Minutes at some point. The last time I played Helmet on my radio show though, it just seemed to invite people who were fans of bad music to call in and make awful requests. I know we're a radio station and should take requests, but I mean, surely the FCC can fine us for bad taste too, right? - Play It!



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