Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Black Angels, The Mark Inside & Show # 441

Coming from Austin, Texas, The Black Angels have been playing their brand of Psychedelic Garage Rock since 2004. The bands forthcoming album will be entitled Indigo Meadow and will be released in April of 2013. Being the follow up to 2010’s Phosphene Dream, Indigo Meadow was produced by John Congleton who has worked with David Byrne & St. Vincent, Explosions In The Sky, and Clinic and is the bands fourth full length studio album. Guitarist Alex Maas had this to say of their newest single “Don’t Play With Guns”:

Our music has always tried to shed light on issues that may be hard to deal with or confront," says singer/guitarist Alex Maas. "If people think they can ignore the issues, they are wrong. Don't play with guns, don't touch a hot stove, don't give your child a poisonous snake, don't turn the cheek when artists are willing to discuss these issues."

Toronto’s The Mark Inside are currently working on their follow up album to 2011’s Nothing To Admit. Here is what I said about the album in an album review back in 2011:

Nothing To Admit features great Post-Punk themed tracks “There Is Nothing To Admit”, “Lime Green Monkeys” and “Questions”, while at the same time dipping into Garage Rock on tracks such as “House of Cards”. “The Bottom Line” is a track that is worth the price of admission of the album alone, the song which has charted on the Canadian Alternative Rock charts at # 31, is a slower soulful track that is lyrically a different kind of working mans anthem one that addresses issues surrounding big corporations. “Shots From A Broken Bottle” a single released from the album is another track that makes this album not only unique, but great. It is a song that simmers with elements of Blues and builds to a soulful roar. The album ends with the bands usual live set closer “The Sky Is Falling Down”, the song captures the bands live energy, which is never short of explosive and it clocks in at over seven minutes. Nothing To Admit features a variety of influences from Garage Rock, Post-Punk, Blues and Alternative, it is the sound of a great Canadian live band coming into their own.

This week's play list:

1. The Black Angels – Don’t Play With Guns
2. Holy Wave – Cool De La
3. James And Blackburn – Two Trees
4. Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs – Bright Lights
5. The Growlers – One Million Lovers
6. Minotaurs – New Believers
7. The Rapture – Alienation
8. Public Image Limited – Theme
9. The Mark Inside – Nothing To Admit
10. XTC – New Town Animal
11. Dot Dash – The Past In Another Country
12. Bleachers – Rooks
13. Actual Water – She’s A Priest
14. The Stooges – Slide (Slidin' The Blues)
15. 63 Monroe - At The Boot
16. The Gruesomes – Your Lies
17. The Fan Club – I Won’t Take It
18. The Cigarettes – They’re Back Again, Here They Come
19. The Soft Pack – Oxford Avenue
20. Indian Wars – Florida
21. Young Rival – Valerie

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 29. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Songs About Buildings And Food Show # 440

In 1978, Talking Heads released their second full-length album More Songs About Buildings And Food. The album was the first to feature producer and future collaborator with the band Brian Eno (it was the first of many releases with Eno). Overall the album is much different than their debut Talking Heads: 77. While the album still emphasized David Byrne’s neurotic and nervous energy, the band and music as a whole is more fleshed out from the soul, garage and funk influences that Talking Heads introduced to us in their debut album. Lyrically, Talking Heads were always different than other bands of that era and on More Songs About Buildings And Food, they seemed to focus on lyrics surrounding a certain feeling that is at times serious, but also sometimes executed with a humorous wit. The overall lyrical and music structure on More Songs About Buildings And Food was perhaps best described by Ken Emerson’s Rolling Stone review of the album in 1978 as “a triumph over diversity, while the words spell out defeat by disparities between mind and body, head and heart.”

More Songs About Buildings And Food
back cover - Portrait U.S.A.
The album starts off with “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” a song that displays the rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth in top form. The bass and drum section is highlighted on this album in more detail and this song shows the first example of this. Musically the track features wavering keyboards/synthesizers from Jerry Harrison and light jangly guitar rhythms, while lyrically it starts the album off on a positive note. “With Our Love” brings Talking Heads funk influence to the forefront. As the dual guitars in the verses battle themselves in the chorus, the song stops and starts with jagged rhythms and smooth soulful basslines. Lyrically Bryne attacks the very psychology of love, how it can blur peoples point of view and how that feeling can make us feel with lyrics such as “Had they forgotten what this all means” and "You're really special/And they can't face the feeling and they can't really tell”.     

“Warning Sign” is different from the songs that proceed it, juxtaposing musically as we are taken away with watery effects on vocals and guitars. The song is bizarre and scary while at the same time it projects the band’s sense of nervous energy which they are known for, “The Girls Want To Be With The Girls” features marching drum beats and wavering synthesizers while the lyrics question the understanding of relationships between men and women displaying how some just don’t get it with lyrics such as “Girls are getting into abstract analysis/Wouldn't like to make that intuitive leap/They're making plans that have far reaching effects/And the girls want to be with the girls”. “Found A Job” comes next with its opening line “Damn that television”, as the song describes a story between Bob and Judy as they work on scripts and make up stories due to their boredom with television and their relationship, which in turn rejuvenates their relationship. The song once again brings the band’s funk influences to the forefront as the scratchy funky guitars attack the listener and the basslines fills in the gaps with the strong drum work by Chris Frantz. David Byrne’s quirky and often high vocals push the story of this song into our heads. The song ends with in a frantic jam like fashion with Harrison's guitar combating and complimenting Byrne's as it does throughout most of this album.

Take Me To The River single
Other songs such as “Artists Only” with its almost surf/new wave rhythm tackles the creative process lyrically, “Stay Hungry” and “I’m Not In Love” question as mentioned earlier "disparities between mind and body, head and heart”. The last two tracks on this album are the clinchers on this album, which transform the album from being just a good sophomore effort into an excellent one. “Take Me To The River” is an organic song and the most straightforward compared to what the first nine tracks offer. Originally by Al Green, it is placed rather fittingly here.  Al Green’s lyrics are executed in a certain fashion by David Byrne that make it relevant to the themes that proceed it, comparing love to a baptismal religious experience. This song, which would become one of Talking Heads top-thirty singles, has an undeniable, mesmerizing groove that wades through the minds of the listener’s subconscious. “The Big Country” ends the album. The song features folk and country-like rhythms while lyrically it emphasizes the empty feeling of flying over cites and places and feeling nowhere, yet wanting to be somewhere with lyrics such as “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me” and “I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane/I'm tired of traveling/I want to be somewhere/It's not even worth talking/About those people down there”.    

I could go on about how the literate lyrics could emphasize or portray certain things, but it is perhaps best to take a look at the front and back cover of this album as further indication to is meaning. The front cover portrays 529 close up Polaroid photographs of the band placed together like a map of the band, while the back cover features the first photo mosaic map of the US, entitled Portrait U.S.A. made of 569 photos taken from space in 1976. Both images are maps that show an overall map of something. One is of the band, one is of the United States and the music on the inside provides deeper detail and meaning to these images. More Songs About Buildings And Food questions the very make up of the body, mind and heart as if it were a map with its refined, yet diverse rhythms and thought provoking lyrics. 

This week's play list:

1. The Remains – Don’t Look Back
2. The Castaways – Liar, Liar
3. Seven Story Redhead – Diamond Geezer
4. Golden BC – The Proof
5. Cold Warps – Stuck On An Island
6. Nirvana – Spank Thru
7. Mudhoney – The Rose
8. The Chemistry Set – Underground
9. Deja Voodoo – Too Cool To Live, Too Smart To Die
10. Simply Saucer – Instant Pleasure
11. Pointed Sticks – New Ways
12. Talking Heads - Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
13. Talking Heads – Found A Job
14. EX~PO – Burn, Burn, Burn
15. Terminal Sunglasses – Terminal Theme
16. April March – Chick Habit
17. Ghost Bikini – Rage In A Cage
18. Thee Rum Coves – Happy Times
19. The D4 – High Voltage
20. Sex Pistols – Substitute
21. The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Smash It Up
22. The White Stripes – Astro
23. The Prisoners - What I Want
24. Magazine – Model Worker (BBC Session)
25. The Clash - Stay Free

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 22. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Velvet Underground's The Gift & Show # 439

In 1968, The Velvet Underground released their second full length album entitled White Light/White Heat. The album was drastically different than the bands previous release which was The Velvet Underground & Nico. While their first album is more delicate in its song structures, White Light/White Heat is more destructive absorbing noise and volume in what John Cale once described as “anti-beauty”. The album is known for its longer jam based songs and fuzzy guitars.  It would also be the last album to feature John Cale as a member as tensions grew amongst Reed and Cale and that sense is heightened in the song dynamics found on this album. In addition to the well known songs on this release such as the title track which addresses use of amphetamines, the pre-Stooges sounding “I Heard Her Call My Name” and the infamous “Sister Ray”, there is another track found here that definitely adheres to the bands early sense of the avant garde and experimentation and that is a song entitled “The Gift”.

“The Gift” is a bit different to other songs the band had done up to that point and would later be taken into a more extreme point in the song “Sister Ray”. The song is actually a short story that was written by Lou Reed in his college days, but read overtop of music provided by the band. The words are read overtop of the music by John Cale in a Welsh accent in a deadpan manner and the story itself reflects a college oriented relationship and lifestyle having the feeling of early J.D. Salinger New Yorker stories. The difference is the ending of the story which is quite shocking and unexpected, as was the bands music to some. Before we get to that I’d like to discuss the music for “The Gift” which in fact was developed from a jam that the band used to play during their live shows entitled “The Booker T”, named after Booker T of Booker T Jones & The MGs. The eight minute song features a prominent fuzz bassline over an intense fuzzy distorted guitar jam. While White Light/White Heat features other songs with similar dynamics what sets this song apart from the others on the album and makes it different is the fact that there aren’t traditional lyrics in the this song. The band could have easily could have put words overtop of the music to tell a story, but they did the opposite putting a story overtop of the music.

The songs content is an example of the bands literate background, literally. This story sucks the listener in with its tale as we hear to story of a love sick student named Waldo. He decides that in order to see his girlfriend who he has a long distance relationship with he will mail himself in a cardboard box. We learn of Marsha’s infidelity and when the box arrives Marsha, Waldo’s long distance girlfriend has difficulty opening it. She then acquires a sheet metal cutter from the basement and slices through the box and its contents inside and the story ends right there leaving the listener to wonder what event would transpire next after its jarring conclusion. The song teaches a strange, morbid yet valuable lesson. It teaches us through its avant garde style why it is not a good idea to mail yourself or people for that matter in a cardboard box. Throughout this story we also learn of the characters strange self-centredness, Waldo is obsessed and clingy, Marsha is uneasy with this and Bill the man who she commits her infidelity with is indifferent to her. We sense their ignorance and indifference to each other and each character cares primarily about no one, except themselves which results in a dramatic outcome and conclusion. It makes us feel as Marsha says in the story “all icky” even before the ending.

And while the song “Sister Ray” is often focused on more, this song was pre-planned in comparison. “Sister Ray” evolved from a jam in the studio in one take, while “The Gift” evolved from a previous jam and a story written well before that. It is just an example of how different and innovative The Velvet Underground were compared to other bands at the time. And while they have four albums (not counting their outtake albums and the one without Lou Reed titled Squeeze), this is just a small example of what makes this band stand out and still relevant even many, many years after being a band. I will leave you with a quote by guitarist Sterling Morrison that can both be applied to this song, the bands status in 1968 and the album White Light/White Heat:

“We were all pulling in the same direction. We may have been dragging each other off a cliff, but we were all definitely going in the same direction. In the White Light/White Heat era, our lives were chaos. That's what's reflected in the record."

This Week's Play List:

1. Devo – Wiggly World (Live At The Walker Minneapolis, MN 1978)
2. Devo – Satisfaction (Live At The Walker Minneapolis, MN 1978)
3. The Nils - In Betweens
4. Threads of Fybre – Mama
5. The Shadows of Knight – Oh yeah
6. The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard
7. 13th Floor Elevators – You’re Gonna Miss Me
8. Toy Love – Don’t Ask Me (Live At The Gluepot 1980)
9. Gang of Four – Damaged Goods
10. Johnny Quest & The Rosebushes – Breaking Glass
11. The Reply – Give What You Can
12. The Falcons – Jokers Wild
13. Boxcar Guitars – This Heat, This Heat
14. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Shuffle Your Feet
15. The Stig – Block It Out
16. Tuff Darts – Here Comes Trouble
17. The Staccatos – You Only Live Once
18. Velvet Underground – The Gift
19. Alex Chilton – The Letter (Live In London 1980)
20. The Hoots – In My Room
21. Actual Water – Three O’Clock Kids
22. Link Wray – Growling Guts
23. Radio Birdman – I-94

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 15. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.