Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Your Favorite Trainwreck - Self-Titled Album - One Blogger's Opinion

When I told my wife I was going to write a blog entry about Your Favorite Trainwreck, she replied "That's you"!  While I could not really argue what she said, I assured her it was also the name of a new band with a couple very influential figures of the punk/hardcore/indie world.

Gameface and Farside were two bands I could never really get into when they were still around. In the 90's Gameface's music was just a little too poppy and singer Jeff Caudill's voice just a little to clear compared to the harsher more punk sounding bands on Dr Strange Records. By the time the band made to the move to Revelation Records in 1999, they had long been off my radar.

With Farside's band members having a history in various hardcore bands, including at one point Inside Out/Rage Against The Machine singer Zach De La Rocha on guitar, they were signed to Revelation from almost their beginning. The only thing was when I thought of Revelation Records I thought of  hardcore bands. Gorilla Biscuits, Bold or Underdog to name a few. Bands I could sing along to real loud. When I bought Farside's Rochambeau album alternative/indie/guitar rock was what I found. Lead singer Mike had a very original voice but still not what I wanted to sing along too. When Rigged was released in 1994 I gave Farside one more chance but again I found out it just wasn't my thing.

Around 2006 I finally got into both bands when I found an album by each one in the last few remaining discs at a going out of business record store. For Gameface it was their 2000 album Always On. Their music on this album was much mature then on those Dr Strange albums. Plus this time Jeff's clean vocals just clicked with me. For Farside it was their 1999 great Monroe Doctrine album. With it's awesome loud guitar hooks and very personal lyrics sung in Mike's totally original voice, plus a few fun different style songs  mixed into the 17 tracks, in my opinion it's one of the best albums out there. I would go into the styles of the songs but I do not want to ruin it for anyone. If you like music you owe it to yourself to check out Monroe Doctrine.

Farside had broke up in 2000, not too long after Monroe Doctrine had been released. Gameface had called it a day in 2003.

But now with Jeff and Mike together in power pop rock and roll band Your Favorite Train Wreck, we get the best of both worlds.

The album kicks off with "Let's Get Wrecked" and right away the band has their theme song. The rocking song has a seriously revved up first minute getting you all ready to go before Jeff and Mike start singing half way through. The two of them singing on the same song is an awesome way to get the ball rolling.

When Jeff takes the lead on the power pop of "Bounce Back" his vocals sound fuller and more powerful then on those old Gameface record. Mike's lower voice singing the back ups compliment Jeff's vocals perfectly.  Jeff returns the favor when Mike takes over the lead on "Late Expectations". The main thing which makes the album work so well is the way each singer puts their ego aside and supplies backing vocals when the other singer is in the spotlight.

The band also knows how to bring it down a bit like on the Mike sung "Broken Pieces". The acoustic guitars with a slight twang segue perfectly into the slightly more upbeat "Forget How To Live", this time with Jeff on lead vocals.

With songs like the super fast "The Reason Why You Sang", the driving "On Tonight" and the all out rock and roll hooks of the album closer "Roll Out The Barrel" there is not a clunker to be found anywhere on the album. This is definitely one of my favorite  albums so far this year.

But don't just take my word for it. Your Favorite Trainwreck has their whole album availiable for streaming right here. You can also buy it on RED vinyl straight from Revelation Records here

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of the Vaults #17 - Love - Da Capo

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the Cd for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc, etc, etc

Out of the Vaults #17 - Love - Da Capo (1967)

Sometime around 1988 my father surprised me with a copy of a copy of the Harmony Illustrated  Encyclopedia of Rock. This book was where I learned so much about so many rock and roll groups. Besides the usual big names in there were entries for all the smaller groups too. From A to Z there were so many entries beginning with the New Wave band ABC and concluding with a very thorough two page entry on Frank Zappa. Each one ending with a discography and a rating for each album. I devoured every word in the book, making lists after lists of bands to look for next time I visited the library or local record store.

There was one entry I always ignored. The band's name was Love. Although the group was very highly touted in the book, the band's name kept me from checking them out. Even though I wanted to learn all there was about Rock and Roll, I was still a punk rock kid. The word "Love" being used as a band name was still a little too weird for me.

The funny thing is that a year earlier I watched the premier for a new video  by the punk rock band The Damned. The song's name was "Alone Again Or" and the song, sounding very different then a typical song by The Damned, was immediately one of my favorites. It would be many years before I learned "Alone Again Or" was originally written in the 1960's by a singer/guitar player from Los Angeles. His name was Arthur Lee and the band he was in was named Love. It was time to check them out.

Altogether Love released about eight or nine albums. The first three were classics. The first was the 1966 self titled debut featuring a minor hit in the Burt Bacharach penned "Little Red Book", a pre - Jimi Hendrix version of "Hey Joe" and, my personal favorite, "Signed DC". The last being the album containing the original version of "Alone Again Or", 1967's Forever Changes.

In the middle we find Da Capo. The six songs on side one are a perfect mix of rockers and lighter pop tunes with a touch of the "Summer of Love" vibe.  On the lead off track "Stephanie Says", Arthur becomes possessed, his strong vocals (think Ooogie Boogie of Nightmare Before Christmas fame) drives the song over a harpsichord building up before half way through all the rest of the instruments explode, saxophone and drums going all over the place. When the (rhythm guitarist) Brian MacLean written "Orange Skies" comes on it seems Arthur has taken his meds. The song is very light and laid back. You can almost see Arthur sitting in a open field savoring the feeling as his meds begin to take effect. The sound of the flute a butterfly Arthur is chasing.

At Track 3 "Que Vida" it looks like the meds are starting to wear off. Arthur's voice is still laid back but tension is beginning to bubble underneath. Even the flute is sounding a bit concerned on this one.

Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix
By the time "Seven and Seven Is" starts up, Arthur and band are once again out of control. The fast and heavy revved up song is often sited as being one of the first hard rock songs in existence. There are some out there who even think the song nears heavy metal. For "The Castle", Arthur and band once again manage to compose themselves. To me it sound like the band still wants to rock out but keeps the instruments low as to not wake up a sleeping neighbor. The bouncy "She Comes In Colors", a song which would influence Mick Jagger to write "She's A Rainbow" the next year, finishes off the first side.

Side Two is composed entirely of one song. The album often gets a lot of flack because of this song's inclusion. I usually do not have too much patience for songs that are over ten minutes long but at nineteen "Revelation" still manages to hold my interest.

Overall Da Capo is a fantastic album and I listen to it at least a few times each month. Da Capo serves not only as the perfect progression from Love's Self-Titled  debut but also  sets the stage nicely for one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all-time in it's successor: The note perfect Forever Changes. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Soul Asylum - Delayed Reaction CD - One Blogger's Opinion

It's no secret that ever since I picked up Soul Asylum's 1986 album Made To Be Broken because it shared a record label with another band I had just discovered named The Replacements, I have been a big Soul Asylum fan. By the time I first caught their video for "Cartoon" off of their great 1988 Hang Time album they were among my all-time favorites. I first saw them live in 1993 at the Academy in New York City where they debuted a brand new song entitled "Runaway Train". 

Although I will always prefer the more loud and fast pre- Grave Dancers Union material more, I do love almost every song Soul Asylum has released. There is even a previous Audiolore entry right here where I "explore" their underrated and often ignored ...And The Horse They Rode In On album. Now that Soul Asylum has released Delayed Reaction, the bands first album in six years, I have to give my opinion on this album by the band I have been a huge fan of for the past twenty six years.

"Gravity" kicks off the record in fine form. Although not as powerful as "Someboy To Shove", a song I consider one of the best album lead off songs (Grave Dancers Union), it still has those pattented Soul Asylum hooks. Lead singer Dave Pirner's voice does have a noticeble raspy tinge not on the previous albums. I am not sure if this is from years of cigarettes or just from growing older.

"Into The Light" and "The Streets" are two great driving songs with fantastic sing a long chorus. The former a bit slower but bouncy while the later is faster with an awesome guitar solo about halfway through. Both songs sound like the band is having a great time in the studio while playing them.

"By The Way" and the piano spotlighted "Cruel Intentions" a little later down the album show Soul Asylum still know how to effectively bring it down a notch. Both songs are slower and quieter but by no means boring.

Track 12 "Let's All Kill Each Other" is my favorite song on the album. It's definitely the most rocking. Right up there with "Easy Street" from ...And The Horse They Road In On, "Just Like Anyone" from Let Your Dim Light Shine or even "Ship Of Fools" way back on 1986's Made To Be Broken. I've been singing this song on my walk to work since I first got Delayed Reaction last Tuesday.

From reading this blog it should be pretty obvious I have a strong love for New York City. Any song about or even mentions the city I live in get's a huge boost. It also helps that "Take Manhattan" at track 9 is a very good song.

"Should Have Stayed In Bed" proves to be a great pick for the end to the record. The slow swirling build- up perfect conveys the feeling of attempting to rise out of bed, almost making it before giving up and going back to sleep.

On Made To Be Broken, that first Soul Asylum album I bought so long ago, there is a line in "Never Really Been" where Dave sings "Where will you be in 1993?" At only 14 years old 1993 sounded so far away to me. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine Soul Asylum would still be putting out great music even 20 years later.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Out of the Vaults WITH A TWIST - Queen - Greatest Hits 1 and 2

All the way in the far bottom right corner of the CD "Vaults" there lies a small metal container. This is where my wife keeps her CD collection. Inside the container there is a very eclectic mix of about about 70 CDs. I thought for fun I will reach in eyes closed and pull out a random one of HER discs and write about it. 

Out of the Vaults WITH A TWIST #2 - Queen - Greatest Hits 1 and 2

No one knows for sure If it is their classic rock and roll anthems, the perfect vocals of Freddie mercury or just the complete showiness of the band, but Queen will always be one of those bands it is impossible not to like. 

Even through it was only Greatest Hits Volume 1 I pulled out of my wife's CD collection, it would be impossible to ignore the Volume 2 sitting right behind it.

The near disco-ish tune of "Another One Bites The Dust" leads off the album. I would say this is probably the most famous Queen song out there but I am soon corrected when "Bohemian Rhapsody" follows it. It you look around in books or websites about rock and roll history many places will proclaim the car seen in the movie "Wayne's World"' brought back "Bohemian Rhapsody". I have this perfect memory of at a very young age riding with my father in our old yellow Datsun F10 when this song came on the radio. My father told me how he believed "Bohemian Rhapsody" to be as perfect as a Rock and Roll song could be. Then he proved it by pointing out each part as it came on, explaining how they were so vital to the complete song . So my question to all the writers of the books and websites is when did the song ever go away?

Going back to what I was saying about the most famous Queen song, there really is no answer to that one either. It could be the “Bicycle Race”, the song I hear all around me every time I climb aboard my bike for a ride through Central Park or down Second Avenue to work. Is it “Killer Queen”, a song which shows off the full range of Freddie Mercury’s voice.  Don’t even get me started on the unbelievably triumphant “We Are The Chamions”.

Then there is “Flash” which served a the perfect touch for  one of the favorite movies of my youth. How about the pump anthem of a lifetime in “We Will Rock You”? The piano/keyboard spotlighted “You’re My Best Friend” cannot be left out of the running. The just plain classic Queen sound of “Somebody To Love” may, in my book, may have a slight edge.

Greatest Hits Volume 2 has no shortage of awesome songs either As a matter of fact the collections includes some of Queen’s most anthematic songs including one of my favorites in “Radio Ga Ga”, a song I considered so awesome I forgive it for supplying the name to one of my least favorite popular musicians. Plus there is “I Want It All” and “ I Want To Break Free”, two songs that when listened to back to back will give you the ability to face almost anything.

Then there's the David Bowie guested vocals of “Under Pressure”. Because of the bass line being borrowed for a certain rapper’s song “Ice Ice Baby” which was popular circa 1991, this song will always remind me of skipping school my senior year of high school and spending the afternoon bonding with friends while attempting to finish “Super Mario Brothers 3”.

Sadly not too long after those days Freddie Mercury passed away taking, again in my opinion, the perfect rock and roll voice with him. These two albums, which just happen to be two of the best selling albums in the United Kingdom, are two essentials for any music collection. I thank my wife for including them in ours. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Billy Raygun - S/T Album: One Blogger's Opinion

Ever since sometime 2010 when I stumbled upon their Bandcamp page, Portsmouth, New Hampshire's Billy Raygun has been a band I have kept a close watch on. What originally peaked my interest was the similarity of their name and one of my favorite bands, Naked Raygun. Figuring they may have been influenced by the great Chicago punk band I gave it a listen. Instead of finding that Naked Raygun/Chicago sound so many bands have tried to duplicate, I found this band opting for a more simple revved up pop punk sound. But not “Pop Punk” in the way you may think.

It would be easy for Billy Raygun to go for the “Pop Punk” sound of The Queers, especially since they share the same hometown, Instead the band has a sound more influenced by another band from the area. I am not sure it was intentional or even if the guys in Billy Raygun have ever heard of them, but I definitely hear the influence of the very underrated 90’s New Hampshire band Sinkhole as well as the pre-Sinkhole and even more underrated A.G.’s.

Over the course of a few comp tracks and Eps, by themselves and split with other bands, Billy Raygun has released many catchy punk rock songs with "Asheap" and "Clone", both off the 2010 split with Georgian, being two of my favorite. Each one built around a single tight power riff. Pretty good sounding but also pretty simple too. Keep in mind these guys were still very young when most those songs were recorded. As each release came out the band matured a little bit each time. The new Self titled album is the one exception. On this album the band has matured a lot.

The songs on  the album definitely get a little looser and a little more comfortable. Instead of that stiff single riff, songs like "Stale Smoke", "Ex-Friends" and "Color Me Distressed" have guitars and loose strings going everywhere in the vein of Crimpshrine or Fifteen but both Billy Raygun singers have better and clearer voices then (Crimpshrine/Fifteen singer) Jeff Ott. I'm going to make a few enemies with that one. 

Halfway through the album is the song "Tituba". It is a harder, almost metal instrumental song which serves as a great intermission to the album before the side Two gets going. Every fun punk band needs their own "Go nuts and smash things up" song. With lyrics like "I don't want to sleep right now. So smash it down and burn it up" the song "Silkworm" is Billy Raygun's.

"You're Always Right" shows the band knows how to write a broken hearted anthem with an awesome build up before the song's breakdown. The last lines of the song, with both singers singing their hearts out together is probably my favorite part of the all around great album.

"Go Somewhere", a song reminiscent of Jawbreaker's "Do You Still Hate Me" (off the 24 Hour Revenge Therapy album) closes out the album. The fact that such a young band can write an original song the same caliber of Jawbreaker at the peak of their career, shows how far Billy Raygun has come.

Right now the band has half their album streaming on their Bandcamp page here
but it will soon be available on iTunes and other online music stores. Check out Billy Raygun's Facebook page here here for more information on how to order a copy on CD or Vinyl.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Out of the Vaults #16 - The Violent Femmes - S/T Album

Each week or so my wife will dive into our CD cabinets (The Vaults) and randomly pull out one of the thousands of CDs. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will talk about the CD for awhile no matter how good, bad, obscure or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, when did I buy it, what was my first reaction to hearing it, do I still listen to it today etc, etc, etc

Out Of The Vaults #16 - The Violent Femmes  - S/T Album

The song which is most quickly recognized by hearing just the first few notes is Beethoven's 5th Symphony. At number two is probably "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes.

Chances are if you were born after the year 1970 you have heard or owned this album. You probably drove around listening with your friends, counting off the numbers to "Kiss Off". You definitely enunciated the "F word" every time it was sung in
"Add It Up"

For me the first time I heard many vital classic albums was when they were given to me in pairs on A and B sides of dubbed cassettes. The first time I heard The Smiths and New Order was The Queen is Dead backed up by Brotherhood. The first Suicidal Tendencies album was on the reverse of the tongue in cheek thrash of S.O.D.'s Speak English Of Die. Much later the Gorilla Biscuits hardcore classic Start Today shared a cassette with Underdog's equally great Vanishing Point album.

Before all those sometime around 1984 one of my older sister's friends handed me a TDK cassette with The Dead Kennedy's Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables on one side and The Violent Femmes debut on the other. In the 28 years since I don't think the Violent Femmes album has ever fallen out of my regular rotation.

The album contains so many great songs. The total originality of the before mentioned "Kiss Off" and "Add It Up". The snare drum and acoustic bass of "Please Do Not Go" and "Prove My Love". The evil vocal and twisted guitars with the even more mangled acoustic bass on "Confessions" and "The Kill". The driving "Promise" and "Gone Daddy Gone" (covered by Gnarls Barkley's on their 2006 St. Elsewhere album). Plus how could we forget the slower album closer of "Good Feeling"?

But of course there's no denying "Blister In The Sun" is the main classic on the album. The song appears everywhere.  Just off the top of my head I can think of  the films Grosse Pointe Blank, Adventureland and the television show My So Called Life. A few years back "Blister In The Sun" even appeared in a Wendy's commercial.

I have to say the most surprising place, considering what the song is supposedly semi-about,was at the Homecoming Dance my senior year of high school