Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Friday, April 27, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #9 - Gaunt - Yeah, Me Too

Each week or so I will ask my wife to dive deep into our CD cabinets and pull out one of the thousands of  CDs at random. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will  reflect on the disc for awhile in this blog no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, how old was I,what was my first reaction to hearing the album, do I still listen to it today and anywhere else my stream of conscious takes me in regards to the "Out Of The Vaults" weekly pick.

Out Of The Vaults #9 - Gaunt - Yeah, Me Too

One of the things Columbus, Ohio's Gaunt is know for is they were the other band on the legendary Dapanaik Records split 7" with the more well known New Bomb Turks. Before lead singer Jerry Wick's life was tragically cut short, Gaunt did record five solid albums. The last album, Bricks and Blackouts, was even released on the major label Warner Brothers. This album, Yeah Me Too, released in 1995 on Amphetamine Reptile Records, fell right in the middle.

Gaunt wasn't a band made for listening to while relaxing around the house. This was a band made to be listened to while driving. Whether it be a long interstate drive or just a trip across town, Yeah Me Too will be your perfect soundtrack.

Turning the key in the ignition, the brief instrumental title track plays as the car warms up. The car goes into drive as "Now" kicks in, the hooks take control and you are off. The urgency and drive of  "Justine", "Insangel", "Hit The Ground" and "Richard Generation" keep you moving as you merge onto the highway. By the time the album reaches the super fast "Just Leave" cruise control has been put on as you continue to speed along. To quote Charlie Ryan's "Hot Rod Lincoln" (also done by my favorite band ALL), "The lines on the road just look like dots".

"Breaking Down" plays as you swerve between freshly placed cones marking a highway construction zone. Seeing your exit sign in sight, "Frank Stein" gives you one last chance to press down on the gas pedal before you make your way off the highway.

The slow album closer "Give Up" plays as you pull into you destination and get ready to  the car. The great thing is pretty soon you will have to make the trip home. It's the perfect chance to try out one of Gaunt's other awesome albums.

The two songs in this video, "Mixed Metals" and "Pop Song" are actually on their Bricks and Blackouts album recorded live on the short live HBO2 show Reverb. I couldn't find a decent recording of any of the Yeah Me Too songs but they are available on iTunes. Go check them out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (according to a Pet Groomer)

A few days ago my wife reached into "The Vaults" to blindly pull out a disc for the next installment. When she reached in she hovered around one of my all-time favorite albums. Unfortunately the CD picked ended up being the one which was sitting next to it. By my own rules I must now write about that album for "Out of the Vaults #9. But we'll do that tomorrow. For now let's do that one she didn't pick:

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys, in my opinion, really screwed themselves big time. In 1988 they released the song "Kokomo". Because of this ridiculously terrible song myself and thousands of other people around my age stayed clear of anything with the Beach Boys name on it for years.

Of course all those years I heard how great of a rock and roll album the 1966 album Pet Sounds was. Still, figuring it was probably somewhere in the middle between their very early catchy beach rock sound of "Fun,Fun,Fun" and the atrocious "Kokomo" , I was still in no hurry check out anything else released by the band.                                                

Then in 2000 while working in a local Book/Music Store chain I ran across a whole box set dedicated to Pet Sounds. Over four discs there was the album in mono, the album in stereo, backing tracks to each song, the string overdubs to a few songs, the "Stack-O-Vocal" mix of each song, this song with vocals no drums, this other song no strings or bass and in mono, and all kinds of different variations of the original 13 songs of the album. The box set was definitely a little overkill but it made me think if someone went through the trouble of compiling all these different versions of  the 13 songs then the album must be more than that "Aruba, Jamaica oo oo I want to take you. Too Bermuda, Bahama. Come on pretty mama" mess.

I took out the disc containing the "Stereo Mix" of the album and placed in the CD player. What came over the speakers was pretty amazing.

Of course I had heard "Wouldn't It Be Nice" before but always on the radio or in the background somewhere. Definitely not as clean and crisp as it sounded now. The next two songs "You Still Believe In Me" and "That's Not Me" continue just as crisp, both filled with so many different instruments coming at you from all directions.

The album also knows how to bring it down a notch. "Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)" is a stripped down slower track. Singer/Writer/Genius Brian Wilson singing along to a lone cymbal while a very low organ and strings play behind him.

Deep marching band drums kick off the beginning of what will soon become one of my all-time favorite songs. "Waiting For The Day" is just a perfect song complimented nicely by the equally perfect "God Only Knows" a few songs down the line.

But before we reach that song, after the two minute instrumental "Let's Go Away For Awhile", we find another classic song. Although I had heard many artists including Johnny Cash and Dick Dale perform versions of the song ,with even more artist to perform it in the future, "Sloop John B" will always be owned by the Beach Boys. The old West Indies folk song receives the whole Brian Wilson treatment with an orchestra featuring an unexpectedly prevalent baritone sax player. Mike Love's great vocals on the second verse and his perfect "This is the worst trip I've ever been on" at the end of the song almost make me forgive him for the "Kokomo" debacle twenty years later.

"I Know There's An Answer" (accompanied on this CD by it's original version in the LSD referenced "Hang On To Your Ego" )", "Here Today", "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times", the underwater psychedelicized instrumental title track and "Caroline No", with it's barking dog outro, finish off what Rolling Stone magazine picked as #2 in their list of the 500 greatest albums of All-time, second only to The Beatle's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In my book this one is just a little bit better

Friday, April 13, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #8 - Fugazi - Repeater

Each week or so I will ask my wife to dive deep into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and pull out one of the thousands of  CDs at random. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will  reflect on the disc for awhile in this blog no matter how good, bad, or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, how old was I,what was my first reaction to hearing the album, do I still listen to it today and anywhere else my stream of conscious takes me in regards to the "Out Of The Vaults" weekly pick.

Out Of The Vaults #8 - Fugazi - Repeater 

When I was in High School I had a bright yellow 1979 Toyota Corolla. On the car's bumper there were two stickers, both black with yellow lettering. The first one read "New Kids Suck", the second said "Fugazi". For years people would ask me at gas stations, in parking lots and even sometimes while driving down Route 29, "What is a 'Fugazi'"?

The first time I ever heard the name Fugazi was on a flier for a show the band was set to play the local Atholton High School when I was 15 years old. Unfortunately it was a year before I bought that yellow car and had no way to get to the show.

The next summer while away at baseball camp in Gettysburg, PA a few of the campers and I slipped away one afternoon to the local town. While there I found an awesome tiny record store. Inside there was a section with punk and hardcore tapes. Among the tapes of Black Flag, The Descendents and other bands I had been listening too there was two cassettes by that band who's name I had seen on the flyer. One was self titled, the other called Margin Walker. I bought both of them. The two tapes were played over and over again during my remaining week at the camp. When I returned home I read the band was ready to release a full album. It's title was Repeater.

On Repeater it is the same sound on those previous two cassettes (now available on on CD as 13 Songs) but it was crisper. Songs like the lead off track "Turnover" and the distorted vocals of the following  title track were perfectly recorded. By the time I reached the instrumental "Brendon #1" at track three Repeater had become my new favorite album. This was even before I reached the loud and anthematic "Merchandise" with it's great chorus of "We owe you nothing. you have no control", two lines a semi-rebellious 16 year old like my self could relate too.

The album also contained a few slower songs in "Blueprint" and "Two Beats Off", each one building with serious intensity. Besides "Merchandise", side two contains two more of my all-time favorite songs in the equally anthematic "Styrofoam" and a rerecording of Margins Walker's "Provisional". This time recorded louder and rechristened "Reprovisional". The anti- domestic violence song "Shut The Door" closes out the perfect album.

But we are not done yet.

Even though the self titled and Margin Walker eps were purchased on cassette my copy of Repeater was on Compact Disc which as a bonus had an earlier 7" called 3 Songs tacked on to the end. On it was the bouncy "Song #1", an instrumental named after the bass player Joe Lally entitled "Joe #1" (the album's "Brendan #1" had been named after the drummer Brendan Canty) and "Break In". All three compliment Repeater perfectly.

The next year I went away to college. When I set up my new dorm room one of the first things to go up was a poster of the cover of Repeater. Soon my new roomate showed up. After we introduced each other  he turned to the poster on the wall and asked, "What's a 'Fugazi'?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Random Run Around The Central Park Reservior

With my gym closed due to the Easter/Passover Holiday Weekend I need to find another means of getting some exercise. I've never really enjoyed jogging outside. After about not even half a mile or so I usually become bored, stop, turnaround and go home without burning off barely any calories. Luckily for me I live just a few short blocks from one of the most interesting jogging routes in New York City: Central Park's Jackie Onassis Reservoir.

Although I run at least 3 miles everyday at the gym it is always on a elliptical or some other machine. Real running on real ground is a whole different story. It definitely takes a larger tole on your legs. 3 miles will be a lot harder to accomplish.

In the past having the right music while running the reservoir has been an issue. One song may be right but the next just doesn't fit the pace. The second I take to look at my iPod to skip a song could result in collided with one of the other runners on the Reservoir's sometimes crowded path.

On this evening even though my 180 gig iPod containing over 29,000 songs completely on random, the songs which came on while I was running the route matched up perfectly for my  run.

As I stood opposite Engineers Gate, at the top of the monument to New York City's youngest ever mayor John Puroy Mitchel stretching before entering the jogging track, The Descendents' "Pep Talk" gets me psyched up for my run. Taking off the Pixies' "Trompe Le Monde" fills my headphones just as my pace begins to pick up.

As I round the first corner and head over to the west side Nirvana's "Breed" really takes me into a groove. My stride matching each riff of the guitar.

By the time I pass the north side Pump House on my left and the cast iron Gothic Bridge to my right, Duran Duran's "Rio" keeps me in a steady pace. I weave in and out of pedestrians absentmindedly walking in the middle of the track.

Glancing over to my left I am greeted with striking image of the buildings  of New York City's East Side skyline. The Frank Geary  designed building of the Soloman R. Guggenheim museum  among  them.

 As I turn the northwest corner and head south Billy Idol's Generation X cover of  John Lennon's "Your Generation" comes on my iPod. Ironically The Dakota, the apartment building where the ex- Beatle was gunned down, is located right next to the west side of the track where I am running. 

Right after making the South West turn back to the East Side, the beginning drums of The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" comes crashing through the headphones just as a group of 20 plus joggers overtakes and passes me. 

As I begin to tire, become overheated and contemplate walking the remainder of the track I pass the reservoir fountain on my left as it shoots a continuous plume of water into the air. The spray of the fountain and Dinosaur Jr's "Feel The Pain", now on the headphones, wash over me. By the time I pass the South Gate House I have a whole new wind.

Turning the southeast corner to travel back north towards the John Puroy Mitchel monument I know this is the last corner of the Reservoir I will have to travel. There's not too much further to go. With the end finally in sight, one last song comes on. The fast pace of The Alkaline Trio's "We've Had Enough" becomes the perfect soundtrack for the final straightaway sprint back to Engineers Gate and the Finish Line. Halfway there I take a quick glance to my left, this time to admire the view of the equally striking skyline of New York's West Side.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Suicidal Tendencies and Wire: Two Bands You Thought Could Never Be In The Same Post

Suicidal Tendencies was one of the first hardcore/punk bands I ever got into. Sometime in the 7th grade one of my friends showed up to school with a 90 minute tape they stole from their older brother. On one side was the thrash super group S.O.D  but more importantly on the other was Suicidal Tendencies’ self-title debut. Right from the maniacle laugh of singer Mike Muir before the lead off track “Suicides an Alternative” at the very beginning of the album I was hooked. It had fast songs like “I Shot the Devil”, “Possessed”, “Won’t Fall in Love Today” and “Fascist Pig”. There even songs with slower parts like “Subliminal”, “I Want More”. Plus how could you forget one of the first punk videos played on MTV "Institutionalized". Every song on the record is chock full of thrash riffs and a few metal guitar hooks here and there. 

All twelve songs were awesome but the one which was really original was track 9 “I Saw Your Mommy”. The song had an awesome bass guitar riff at the beginning of the song setting the pace before the metal guitars kicked in. Most importantly the  rhyming semi graphic tongue in cheek lyrics were a hit among me and my friends. 

It wasn’t just the music which made us like Suicidal Tendencies so much. Eventually one of us scored a copy of the actual LP. Looking at the cover and insert, the band looked even cooler than their songs made them seem. Suicidal Tendencies were the real deal off the streets of Venice California. Finding articles about the band in magazines like Thrasher we discovered the band was rumored to be members of various Los Angeles gangs. In the linear notes of the album it thanked Flipside Magazine for voting them “Biggest Assholes” and “Worst Band”. My friends and I thought it was awesome how the band actually printed that in their own record, even better when we learned Suicidal Tendencies showed them by be voted "The Best Band" the following year. Overall everything we found out about the band just made them cooler.

A few years later Suicidal released their second album Join the Army. In the five years between records Suicidal Tendencies sound had moved more into heavy metal territory where they would stay for a long time. Although I own or have owned almost every Suicidal Tendencies album since the debut, they were not anywhere near as good as that first album.

As I grew older and my musical tastes expanded one band’s name which kept popping up: the English band Wire. Artists like R.E.M’s Michael Stipe and The Cure's Robert Smith were always dropping their name as a big influence on their music.

At the time I watched MTV’s late Sunday Night Alternative video show “120 Minutes” religiously hoping to learn about new bands. First I would set the VCR to tape the show but after a few times of missing the show because the VCR’s timer would not go off I would force myself to stay up to ensure I would not miss anything.

One Sunday night as I sat there half asleep in a losing effort to stay conscious until the show’s finish at 2 Am, the VJ came on and announced they were going to play the new video by the English Post-punk band Wire. Instantly I was 100% awake. Then the video came on. It was for the song “Kidney Bingos” off the band’s new album A Bell Is a Cup until It’s Struck. The song was very underwhelming. I thought this band which half the bands I have been listening to have been singing their praises would somehow blow me away, I found a band playing laid back synthesizers and drum machines while the singer sang the same words over and over again. I guess the music was okay but nothing really too mind blowing or special in any way. At least half the bands on the show that night played the same style music, most played it better.

I thought maybe  I was missing something and two days later I purchased the record only to find nine almost identical songs. Just in case this was just a bad album I bought the only other record the store carried by the band, the prior year’s Ideal Copy. Again I found the lazy, almost boring synths and drum machines. When It’s Beginning to and Back Again (IBTABA) came out the next year it was more of the same. Not to mention 120 Minutes played the video for IBTABA’s first single “Eardrum Buzz” week after week after week. The song with its chorus of “Buzz, buzz, buzz in the drum of the ear” may rank up there among the most annoying songs of all-time. For the life of me I could not figure out why this band was so highly touted by so many artists in my collection. Figuring maybe I just didn’t get it, I moved on.

When the Wire album Manscape was released there was even a sticker on the cover with a Michael Stipe quote proclaiming "Wire changed my life in '77. It's time for this decade's dose".

Then in 1990 I read that a new division of Restless Records called “Restless Retro” had released the first three albums by Wire. The albums titles were Chairs Missing, 154 and the debut Pink Flag. Giving Wire’s reputation one more shot I bought all three at the same time.

Each album left me floored after the first listen. This is what all those bands were talking about! All three of the albums were perfect with guitars and drums, not just the washed out keyboards and drum machines of the Wire which had gotten back together 1987.

Although all three of the albums were awesome the one which I favored most was the stripped down art punk rock of Pink Flag. From the dirgy beginning of track 1 “Reuters” (the song still goes through my head everytime I walk by the Reuters building on the way home from work) all the way through the short, sharp and bouncy tracks of side one until the great droning title track closes out the side. Side two has 11 more short, sharp and bouncy songs, including “Strange” which had been covered on R.E.M.’s Document album and “1,2 X U” (definitely the fastest song on the album) which Minor Threat had covered on the legendary Flex Your Head compilation.

But there was one song which sounded so familiar: Track # 20 "A Feeling Called Love". The beginning bass riff and guitars sounded so familiar but I just couldn't place it. Before buying Pink Flag I had no idea "Strange" on R.E.M.'s Document album was even a Wire song until I heard it on here . I scoured my record collection to see if maybe another band had covered "Feeling Called Love" but the song was nowhere to be found. I listened to the song over and over again trying to place where I had heard it. Eventually I gave up and decided to just enjoy what was now one of my favorite records.

The next Monday I got in my car to head to school. Pulling out of the driveway I realized there were tapes to listen to on the ride. Reaching into the back seat while trying to keep my eyes on the road I found one tape lying on floor of the car. Without even looking to see who was on the tape I placed it in the car's tape player and pressed play. Coming over the car speakers was that bass riff of Wire's "Feeling Called Love" which I had listened too a dozen times the previous day. The only thing was I had not yet dubbed a copy for the car. Then the metal guitars came on. It was "I Saw Your Mommy" by Suicidal Tendencies. 

The fact that Suicidal Tendencies "borrowed" the riff to Wire's "Feeling Called Love" is not what shocked me. Many songs have borrowed riffs from other songs over the years. The Door's 
"Hello I Love You" sounds so  remarkably similar to The Kinks "All Day And All The Night" to the point of Ray Davies taking it too court.

The thing which totally shocked me was it was Suicidal Tendencies. I could understand R.E.M. from the college town of Athens, GA running across a copy of Pink Flag in a local record store. The Cure almost coming from the same late 70's/early 80's post punk scene as Wire. Even the young urgent hardcore band Minor Threat covering "1,2 X U" would not be a stretch considering they were actually pretty smart kids from the suburbs who has attended the high class Georgetown Day School. Plus "1,2 X U", like I said before, is definitely the fastest song on the record. But Suicidal Tendencies? This was the band who spawned countless thrash, metal and hardcore bands. The band from the mean  streets of Venice, California.  The band with some of their members rumored to be in gangs. This band made up of big menacing looking guys dressed like "cholos" was secretly listening to a English art punk band. 

I don't know if they "borrowed" the riff because they liked the song or because they thought the bands sounds were so far removed from each other that no one would notice, but after the initial shock I was actually pretty impressed. Like when I found out the band The Dead Milkmen took their name from a character in a Toni Morrison book, it gave me a whole new respect for the band. Now when either song comes over my iPod or car stereo, I laugh about it. Sometimes I even sing the other songs lyrics, always pointing out to whoever is in the car with me the fact which I had discovered. Now you can impress your friends with this info too.

Surprisingly all these years later when you do an online search for the two songs together the only things which comes up is a quick blurb I wrote about them on the website Mog about three years ago.