J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Notes From Underground - #20

This is sort of self-aggrandizing, but I wanted to mention that this is the 300th post here at J's Indie/Rock Blog! I also recently passed the one year anniversary of the weekly radio show podcast, as well as the 4 year anniversary of the beginning of this blog. It's so great to get to share a really sincere and, at times, overwhelming passion with fellow music lovers and I only have plans for more diverse and different things to offer in the future. Thanks for reading and listening!


One of the things that I'm loving about doing this Randomocity feature is that it has inspired me to start taking my mp3 player with me to work and listening to it on random. I keep my email open while I'm listening and doing other work, and if I hear something I like, I type it into an email I later send to myself - notes for next week's show or album reviews or what have you. This week's Randomocity is perfectly timed since the ConvergeSouth conference begins here in Greensboro tomorrow and it's a place that thrives on responses to randomness, in comment and ideas and community.

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.

# 3422 - Uncle Tupelo - "Grindstone" [1991 Longview Acoustic Demo] : From the gorgeous re-issue of March 16-20, 1992 that was put out about 4 or 5 years ago now. I'd have to say that this album really does add up to being my favorite UT album. This demo, like a lot of the demos included on the re-issues, are of obvious, lesser quality and don't always add a ton to things - the covers are the best inclusion. Still, "Grindstone" is a great song, as is most anything Uncle Tupelo wrote, so there you go. Obviously in the alt-country community Uncle Tupelo is canonical, but do they get much appreciation outside of that? - Play It!

# 3116 - The Suburbs - "The Best Is Over" : Ah, yes! These guys came up on my player the other week and I said to myself: 'Boy, I wish the Suburbs would come up on my Randomocity sometime.' And sure enough. This is from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Suburbs Have Left the Building, their best-of collection. I'm not sure which of their original records this is off of - I've only ever seen this and their reunion live album on CD. I would love to get my hands on some vinyl. The Suburbs were contemporaries of the Replacements, Suicide Commandos, Husker Du, etc. in the Minneapolis scene. They were a pretty unique sounding band in every way - their keyboardist/piano player, Chan Poling, played piano on "Sixteen Blue" on the Replacements' Let It Be album. This isn't my favorite Suburbs song - it's a plodding, slow and moody piece - not indicative of the best of their early post-punk work. But it's still quite good. - Play It!

# 6419 - Arctic Monkeys - "Dancing Shoes" : From Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not. This is one of the really up-tempo and rocking songs on the record - full of the typical Jam-esque bouncing guitar licks that were pretty rampant on this, their debut album. I think the Arctic Monkeys are one of the most fun and actually unique sounding British bands of the past 5 or 6 years (them and Art Brut, anyway), so I really enjoy listening to them over and over. Their debut was good, their sophomore album, I think, was even better. So here's hoping they keep up that trend. "Put on your dancing shoes, you sexy little swine.." Awesome. - Play It!

# 4741 - The Beatles - "She's Leaving Home" : Confession time - this is the only Beatles album I have, and I only own it because I copied it from an ex whose copy I had for a bit. I've been really, really slow coming around to the Beatles. It just wasn't something I grew up with - and eager to renounce the older, 'less relevant' music of the past, I turned off to pretty much anything pre-punk when I was a teenager. But I'm getting there. I just still don't have the urge to drop fliff on Beatles records that I'm not sure how I'm going to react to them. This is from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and I am quite fond of "A Day in the Life" from the end of this record. That song blew me away - listening to this, I like this song quite a bit. Obviously it reminds me of a lot of things that came afterward - and maybe that's why I always had a tough time with them. I'd heard all the sequels long before I'd heard the original. I heard the Beatles and it was like saying 'It's like Speed 2, only on a bus, instead of a boat!' I can be stubborn sometimes. - Play It!

# 5697 - Sleeper - "Statuesque" : Sleeper has been getting a lot of play on my show of late and now here they come again. This was a single off of this album, The IT Girl, if I remember. I feel kind of bad for Louise Wener - she really did get the short end of the stick in the Britpop explosion. I think Sleeper is a pretty strong band overall. They were sort of outshined by the also-female-fronted (but stylistically very different) Elastica, who were very poorly lumped into Britpop also. Stephen Street is a good producer, by the way. And I should put in a plug for the documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Britpop which is a pretty interesting trip back the halcyon days of the early-to-late 90s. They even throw in a member of Massive Attack to interview, who, while big at the same time, really had nothing to do with Britpop. - Play It!

# 1052 - Buffalo Tom - "My Responsibility" : These are the songs I really want to come up on this thing - bands I have loaded on here but haven't spent nearly enough time listening to, though I've always liked Buffalo Tom. I got into them via this cassette compilation called Generation X that included their wonderful "Sodajerk," which is off of this same album, Big Red Letter Day. That was such an odd compilation come to think of it - Frank Black, Aztec Camera, Paul Westerberg, Buffalo Tom, Inspiral Carpets..even Tool got lumped in at the end (this is Undertow-era Tool). I still love whipping that tape out every now and again. Buffalo Tom actually put out a new album earlier this year if I remember correctly - it's supposed to be pretty good, though I haven't had a chance to listen. I like everything I've heard off of this album quite a bit. They're good songwriters - and certainly very 90s-indie-rock. Well worth hearing. - Play It!

# 4580 - Bill Hicks - "You're In the Right Place" : The opening track from Hicks' Revelations comedy CD which I only have in bits and parts. I'm a huge, huge, huge fan of Hicks and consider him, easily, one of the most brilliant comics of the last 30 years. This was recorded at a show he did in Oxford, if I remember right. Or London, one of the two. He's doing his 'I hate L.A.'s weather' bit which is also on the Arizona Bay collection...or else Rant in E-Minor. Well, well worth hearing is the Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1 album which is a complete Hicks live show recorded in Pittsburgh - it's fun to hear him slowly work up a slightly resistant crowd into a very appreciative frenzy by the end. He was a master. - Play It!

# 490 - Hank Williams Sr. - "I Could Never Be Ashamed of You" : This is from the fantastic Alone With His Guitar collection that compiles a whole series of demos recorded with just Williams and his guitar. Well worth hunting down as he gives some really amazing renditions of some of his most famous songs and a few you may never have heard. This is the CD that was my true introduction to Williams' music and I haven't turned back since. 'Hillbilly Shakespeare,' perhaps. One of America's greatest songwriters of all time? Absolutely. - Play It!

# 2594 - Nicolai Dunger - "My Time Is Now" : From Here's My Song You Can Have It.. This is the most recent Dunger album I've heard. He really does sort of move between styles on records - speaking of chameleons. I didn't enjoy this album as much as I had his previous ones, but a so-so album from Dunger is still pure gold. This album had Mercury Rev as his backing band - how he gets these bands to do this, I'll never know. He's done an album with Will Oldham, The Days of Our Lives and various other musicians over the years. I should give this album a second listen as I'm digging this song. I don't play him nearly enough on my show - met him at South by Southwest a few years ago and he was wearing this Greek fisherman's cap and a purple shirt and the whole ensemble reminded me of the Beach Boys' Mike Love in their Full House era. - Play It!

# 2354 - The Mountain Goats - "Song For Lonely Giants" : From Get Lonely, the album that John Darnielle supposedly crafted after a very hard breakup. I haven't given this album the thorough listens I've wanted to - for one thing it came out close to a very similar situation for me and I didn't feel like trying to deal with it. But I did enjoy the songs I played on my show. This song is, essentially, completely new to me. "Practicing my solitary scales until they are too heavy for me to carry.." I will use this space to again plug how I think Darnielle's music is better with the non-lo-fi production. I like being able to hear the intimacy more clearly. - Play It!

BONUS - # 1885 - The Olivia Tremor Control - "Courtyard" : Speaking of Beatles inspired bands. If you've never had the chance to hear Dusk at Cubist Castle, please do us all a favor and go remedy that. It and Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea are the two best things (of many) that the Elephant 6 collective ever produced. The skewered pop brilliance on display in every aspect of this album - and the sheer audacity of the "Green Typewriters" suite that hangs out towards the back end of the album, deserves to be praised to the high heavens. And it oft is. So, so much beautiful fun. - Play It!



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