Listening to…

Grimm Generation, The Last Record Party.
The first band that invited me into a Google circle. Jaunty, jovial.. I want to say “jammy” but it’s really more like skiffle. The vocals are so endearing, you understand why they go the softer-rock route when they could just as easily rock out. Carmen Champagne and Jason Krug are so chipper and frisky that they’re hard to ignore.

Arch on the March

We tip our hat once again to the extraordinary rhyme talents of the writers at Archie Comics Publications– especially in the titles odd the one-page gag features.
From Archie Comics Digest #215 (March 2011):
Dream Theme
Hocus Focus
Fee Plea
Quail Trail
Puck Pluck
Lap Flap
Derision Decision
Flee Glee
Bone Zone
Trail Travail

Rock Gods #167: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

The Bedclothes are called that because they came out of the closet. They were clean and fitted, with a comfy sound that didn’t require a sexual orientation to draw an admiring crowd. They’ve been labeled this and labeled that—a crossover act, a cult act, a club act for a specific type of club. They’re tired of it.
So they’ve stopped being gay. At least on stage.
Yes, there was some incident that forced a band meeting that arrived at this unusual strategy. Details are not forthcoming, only gerneratlizations.
“We always intended to be open about everything, says singer Winger Dinger (which he openly admits is a pseudonym, for Joseph Q. Inserf). “But some topics trump other ones, you know? So we’re being forced to downplay our identities so people can pay more attention to our songs.”
Good liuck with that. The buzz has already started that the band is acting straight so they can get on a TV show, or sign a label deal, or appear on some other homophobic mainstream medium.
“We’re not denying anything,” Dinger zings. “We’re just not making a big deal about it anymore. Openness is what got us into this mess.
“Can we talk about our songs please?”

Blockstar and Buyers Picks at the Bullfinch. Huh! Alliterative… The Audigers, Circle of Success and Cloud Kicker Original ‘70s cover throwdown at Hamilton’s, with 79 cent drafts all night… Brooklyn Sky and Cadillac Footwear at D’ollaire’s. We wish we knew what those bands do. We don’t know everything…

Listening to…

Attack! Attack! UK, The Latest Fashion
Power pop used to pop harder, as anyone who saw Cheap Trick on bills with The Scorpions back in the ‘70s will tell you. Faster than the current pop speed limit, Attack! Attack! UK still fits in the harmonies, riffs, wordy verses and simple shout-along choruses. Restores the drum to its proper place in the pecking order. Derivative? Sure—but not of stuff that’s happening now. Of stuff you miss.

Another five of the 45s

One more handful of 45s from the Christopher Arnott basement stash. Perhaps the finest random assortment of this whole ongoing series.

Huey Lewis & The News, Four Chords and Several Years Ago
The best trick in my journalistic repertoire is to take whoever I’m writing about seriously. I interviewed big rock lug Huey Lewis in 1994, a fallow period when he was rich, still recording new records, but had lost relevance. I suspected unplumbed depths in this ‘80s pop hitmaker, and let him ramble. Our long discussion covered his favorite makes of harmonica, his frame of mind while songwriting, and what he did in the mid-‘70s while his band Clover was in the studio backing Elvis Costello on My Aim is True—went sightseeing around Europe, since he wasn’t needed on the sessions.
There was no hope that such a long, sensitive interview, with a pop star clearly on his way down, would ever see print in its entirety. But what did make the paper must have pleased someone, since this snazzy promo package arrived in the mail a week or two after the article ran—and after Huey Lewis & The News had already played town. It’s one of the coolest CD packages ever: an album of ‘60s covers masquerading as one of those stiff cardboard “books” of 45 singles, complete with metal screws in the binding and a faded-looking orange and brown cover. The various 7-inch sleeves contain a CD, liner notes, and an actual 45rpm vinyl record, of Some Kind of Wonderful backed with Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. The market for Huey Lewis collectibles has never been strong, but this item is the exception. I just checked a few places, and it’ll set you back around 30 bucks.

The Furors, I Went Out at Night/Over You in Seconds. A 1981 single from the idiosyncratic New Haven pop duo, back when they were still a trio. The label is immaculately designed to resemble a ‘50s rock record—bright yellow, with “Sunsessional records” emblazoned on it, alongside images of all three bandmates.

Blast 3: The Maker of the Sound by K. R. Campbell. When Black Sparrow Press released their own third issue of Blast, continuing the monolithic art/lit journal beyond the two issues released by Wyndham Lewis during the First World War, they enclosed this single. I’d discovered Lewis and his British Futurist beliefs long before, independently and also through another cultural obsession of mine, Marshall McLuhan, who did his own updating of Blast through the journal Counterblast. I can’t remember ever playing this single—as much as I was enthralled by the very concept of a Blast 3, I also feared that it overacademicize or otherwise misinterpret the stridently accessible Lewis.

Smack Tan Blue, Jenni Lee/Heroin for Breakfast. My allegiance to Willie Alexander, “godfather of Boston rock,” is total, as this bit of ephemera would suggest. Alexander produced and is credited with “additional vocals” on this single issued through the Arf! Arf! label run by frequent Willie Alexander collaborator Erik Lindgren. The band is negligible. I bought it for Willie Alexander’s name on the sleeve.

Janice Harper, “Cry Me a River.” On a train en route to Boston in the late 1980s, I was able to tune in a community jazz station on my Walkman for a few minutes and heard a wispy, eerie, deeply haunting version of “Cry Me a River.” I’ve been trying to track down that version for decades. After hearing me describe it, a record-store clerk once even convinced me to buy an Enya record. This is not it (nor was that horrible Enya album). In fact, it’s a peppy, brassy, showtuney, version that makes the title seems like a hyperbolic joke rather than the trenchant torchsong most singers make of it. (There are big band versions of Hoagy Carmichael’s heartbreaking self-denial song “I Get Along Without You Very Well” which are equally spectacularly misguided.)

Rock Gods #166: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Don’t graze. Stage.
The little “park” around the Founder’s statue downtown is a popular lounging spot for those who’ve just closed down a bar or a coffee shop. Those grassblades have been scrutinized more carefully than any in town. Funny, then, that nobody noticed the electrical outlet in the base of the statue.
Jim Jeans, the scene’s token elderly folksinger, noticed it. He’s acoustic, so he didn’t even need the plug. But he told Rudy Friml, and she mentioned it to her band Frizz & Co. The next time they had a sunset afternoon rehearsal, they remembered.
The impromptu show started about 2 in the afternoon, completely unannounced. “Of course we thought as soon as we hot one note we’d be shut down. But we got through one song, then another one, then, I think, six more? Before we ran out of songs, [drummer] Bendy called his other band, The Monica Saints, and they rushed over. They did a whole set, by which time a crowd had formed.
The festival laid until 10 pm. “At that point, I’m afraid we were really pushing it.”
Indeed. No arrests, but there’s a zoning meeting tonight at 7 p.m. Stay tuned.

Evacuation instructions, On-Board train and Door Control Panel flaunt a faux- Bues Niteat Dollaire’s… This Side In, Specialty Glass and NASG bust chops and break hearts at Hamilton’s… The Bullfinch is closed for “inventory”…

Listening to…

Broken Records, Let Me Come Home
Been sitting on this one for a while, probably because it’s so morose that I was waiting for bleak midwintertime in order to appreciate it properly. I’d wonder if it was being misplayed at 16 rather than 33rpm on the turntable, except it’s a download. Broken Records, indeed—more like Flattened Dark Breakable Objects. Titles go into the self-parodic stratosphere: “I Used to Dream,” “You Know You’re Not Dead,” “A Darkness Rises Up.” Music to suffocate to.