J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Notes From Underground - #38

Warm up the seats, junior, 'cause after a bit of a hiatus, Randomocity is back. Doing it every third week started to tire me out a bit and it was less fun. But, after taking six weeks off from it, I think I can ease myself back into it. Plus there's tons of new stuff to possibly come up. Which means my computer will thwart me with things I've heard a million times.

A reminder - 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.

#1 Seven Mary Three - "Cumbersome" : You are freakin' kidding me. I didn't even know I had this on my computer. Seven Mary Three is one of those bands that I assumed would have their 15 minutes in the 90's alt-rock sun and then disappear. But they, along with Better Than Ezra and those sorts of bands, have proved surprisingly resilient. It's really quite interesting. They've sort of built up a cult following of sorts. This was, of course, their only really big commercial radio hit. 'Cumbersome' is a cumbersome word to sing and I have always found the chorus to this song to be irritating. It just seems like a songwriter trying to show off vocabulary skills without any real knowledge for how well those words fit into lyrical poetry. If I remember, the name of this album is American Standard, which I always remember as the name of a brand of toilet. I'll leave it there. - Play It!

#2 Camper Van Beethoven - "Beautiful Child" : This is from a great little rarity. CVB, holed up somewhere recording, trapped by snow, decided to re-record the entire Fleetwood Mac Tusk album. Their version of "Tusk" is pretty awesome and really the whole album is pretty great. Fleetwood Mac is a band I had to be won over to over a long time. I used to eye all "classic" rock with a mightily suspicious eye. Don't trust any music over thirty and all that. Shut up. I know I owned the Stooges' Fun House which predated this album by a number of years. I didn't say I was a smart adolescent. I'm enjoying this. It's a beautiful song and their version is pretty lovely. I'm just going to let this play. Ironically, not far above this on my playlist, Calexico's "Not Even Stevie Nicks." - Play It!

#3 Willie Nelson - "Whiskey River" (alternate version) : This is from the really stellar collection of Willie's three albums for Atlantic - Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages and a live album. It's well worth it if you don't own a lot of Willie's albums from this period. Right after he finished these three, he left Atlantic, and Nashville, and recorded Red Headed Stranger which is just a completely brilliant album. This is a pretty funky version of this song. Great keyboards and Willie's amazing guitar punctuations. Willie is such a great anomalie in American music. Standing outside of the mainstream, yet firmly within it, making his own rules about recording and just endlessly inventive and enjoyable. I'll just rave on and on about this. - Play It!

#4 The Darkness - "Bald" : From One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back! My computer likes to torture me by bringing up things I've focused on recently. I just played the Darkness on my show last night, but granted, this is from their second album. People didn't fall for it the way they did for their first. And yeah, the second time around the Darkness' sound isn't as novel. But there are some great songs on this album. The title track. Oh, and "Knockers," with its amazingly awesome chorus. This song has a lot of potential, but it just doesn't take off like it should. The chorus is great, but the rest of the song is just a little underwhelming. I can see people calmly pumping their fists during the verses though. That's good. - Play It!

#5 The Replacements - "I Will Dare" : How young are you? How old am I? Let's count the rings around my eyes. How smart are you? How dumb am I? Don't count any of my advice. Meet me any place or anywhere at any time, now I don't care, meet me tonight. If you would dare, I might dare. Call me on Thursday, if you will. Call me on Wednesday, better still. I ain't lost yet, so I gotta be a winner. Fingernails and cigarettes, a lousy dinner. How young are you? Meet me any place or anywhere at any time, now I don't care, meet me tonight. If you would dare, I will dare. Cute Peter Buck's mandolin solo. How young are you? How old am I? Let's count the rings around my eyes. How smart are you? How smart are you? How dumb am I? Meet me any place or anywhere at any time. Now, I don't care. Meet me tonight. If you would dare, I will dare. - I love that fingernails and cigarettes line so much. Westerberg is the master of those types of lines. - Play It!

#6 The Rain Parade - "Talking In My Sleep" : This is from the Explosions in the Glass Palace EP I think. This was recorded after Dave Roback left the band to wonder off into the paisley colored wilderness. Even though Dave was gone, this was still a really fantastic album. My getting into the Rain Parade was the complete accidental result of me going off on a chase after a 'genre' of music. I read about 'the paisley underground' and was completely taken with the name and the description. So I hunted down the various bands. These guys and the Dream Syndicate are the ones I've fallen the most in love with over time. Though someone in Aquarium Drunkard comments today mentioned Game Theory, another of the bands from the movement. This all just sounds like it's about 20 years removed from its time of the early 80s. 20 years earlier, obviously. [ed. note - and here to find I put my foot in my mouth. This is from before Dave Roback left the band - in fact it's the lead track from their debut, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. I guess I'm used to listening to my beat-up vinyl copy and this sounded too clean. My bad. - Play It!

#7 The Mountain Goats - "Maybe Sprout Wings" : From Get Lonely. Darnielle's really amazing documentation of relationship dissolution. I didn't spend a lot of time listening to this album the year it came out as I was going through one of those of my own, but its songs are really harrowing and beautiful. He's really been on a roll since Tallahassee, but especially since The Sunset Tree. Man. The chords between the end of the chorus and the beginning of the second verse. Haunting. - Play It!

#8 Mclusky - "KK Kitchens, What Were You Thinking" : See? This is from The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not On Fire. I just played something off of this last night. Velouria, snap out of it! The nice people want to hear different music. I do too. I mean, this song is relentlessly amazing as is just about everything Mclusky put out, but still. Badass. That's all I can say. - Play It!

#9 Del Amitri - "Driving With the Brakes On" : There we go. Thought this would've been a perfect end to this, rather than next to last song. This is from Twisted. Justin Currie and Del Amitri are brilliant at these sort of pop songs. Wistful, wandering, reminiscent and gorgeous. Currie is a consummate lyricist. When he nails a turn of phrase, he really nails it. He's good at it in a way similar to how Paul Westerberg is good at it. This album was Del Amitri's biggest here in the U.S. thanks to "Roll to Me," their whimsical pop confection for the album. And that video with them in the baby strollers. - Play It!

#10 Glen Phillips - "There Comes a Time" (live) : Is my favorite part of this the guy shouting at the beginning? I think so. That or the low level of talking underneath it all. That has to be tough for solo acoustic artists to play in bars and such where so many people are going to stand at the back and talk. If it's a loud rock band, no one notices it. When I saw Michael Penn back in '03, he was having a similar problem at South by Southwest. He actually got rather fed up. To be fair, he was playing in a huge venue (Jay Farrar was on next, followed by the Yardbirds with Slash) for the festival and anyone who cared was up front and center. I don't know if Glen was getting irritated with people. I haven't listened to this bootleg in awhile. Meanwhile, I like this song. Even though his most recent solo records have really rolled over into the adult contemporary mediocrity I was afraid it would, his solo shows are a great exercise in good songwriting. He's also a master of great covers. I played Billy Bragg on the show last night and, aside from his albums with Wilco, the first time I heard his work was Glen's cover of "Levi Stubb's Tears." Good stuff. - Play It!

BONUS: Fountains of Wayne - "Revolving Dora" : Oh, why not? This was one of the songs from Traffic and Weather that, when I thought I was disappointed with the album, became increasingly stuck in my head. The song's title pun is rather hideous, but man that chorus (the whole "turning out to be / immune to gravity" bit) is really sharp and hummable. When they jam on it for just a bit towards the end, it's lovely. Long reign power pop. - Play It!



  • At 8:05 PM, April 05, 2008, Anonymous Soylent Ape said…

    Man, it's gratifying to see Del Amitri get some love Stateside. Great songwriting and a unique bluesy-indie-power pop delivery is the band's calling card. Anyone who enjoys the Replacements has my attention, as well.

    Keep exercising your exceptional musical tastes on WQFS. I'll listen when I can.

  • At 3:21 AM, April 07, 2008, Blogger J. Neas said…

    Del Amitri is wonderful. I used a quote from "Not Where It's At" in my senior ad of my college yearbook. Good stuff.


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