I wish I could limit this to a song. Or a video. But the fact is that this is a fantastic band. Maybe the best I’ve ever heard. They’re that good. (Okay, this is overstatement, but I hope it got your attention.)
The problem is that they play classic rock, or classic country rock. This is a style of music that is so overplayed, so worn out, that you would think that creating new songs and sounds in the style would be impossible. But somehow Hiss Golden Messenger makes these old sounds sound fresh. The arrangements are fantastic. The songs are very good.
I find this confounding. Listening I hear Delaney and Bonnie meeting mellow Clapton, with some Allmans and Van Morrison, vocals by Steve Earle, a track here is a little like Dylan, that one is a little like the Band, but none of them ripoffs or lazily derivative. They use the phonemes of classic country rock and create a dream team. That is what this band does, on every cut, of the two albums I’ve listened to.
So, here are a few songs for your delectation. Rave on. These aren’t punk gods, like Hans Condor. They’re not innovators, but they’re not nostalgists either. They inhabit their music in a way that only the very best do. They are regular musicians trying to find a pay day. But I think you’re going to like what they do.
I’ll be keeping an eye on these youngsters. Seems like kids fake playing to a Zep tune you’ve never heard, but it’s not.
I remember seeing Pink Flag in a record shop window on Eighth Street in the Village in 1977. It was an import, expensive, and I hadn’t even heard of the band, but the look was clean and lovely, different than the artwork that smudged across a lof of the new punk music elpees, and it made me curious. Not long after, reviews started appearing and Wire were quickly critics’ darlings. That’s what short and incisive pop noise and catchy melody does.
I waited for the US release, I think, a few months later to finally hear what I’d been reading about. I was rewarded, with a punchy tunes that got in and out quicker than you’d want, but more powerfully than you could hope for. Pink Flag is one of the great rock ‘n’ roll albums of all time. Rolling Stone says No. 412, NME says 378, Steve Moyer says 32. I say closer to Moyer than NME, but whatever.
So, this comes up because Wire has a new song out. They’ve been releasing records off and on for the past four or five years, and even more off and on through the aughts and 90s. I have to admit that I haven’t been paying attention, so I can’t speak to what they’ve been doing, but this is a good one. Short Elevated Period.
I remember an indie band called Gomez, but not one called Chavez. But Chavez is back! And the NY Times put this on their weekly list of new tracks to pay attention to.
They were on Beavis and Butthead once, too.
This clip is from a live show the Cramps did at the California State Mental Hospital in Napa in 1978. I found it in a blog post about the excellent music that has come from Ohio over the years. This is kind of funny because a few days ago my daughter played me some music by a band called Twenty One Pilots. They play in that style of modern rock that has a huge drum sound but no guitars, is sometimes rapping and sometimes singing, and lots and lots of added noises from various machines, which means they don’t really rock at all. But they’re from Columbus, Ohio. I asked her if she knew that and she said she didn’t care. I’m not sure why I do.
Uncle Acid is touring in September to support their new album, also coming out in early September. As one of the few surviving bands still worth a shit, you owe it to yourself to see them in September when they are near. Ticket price $20. (My girlfriend made me take her to Elvis Costello and Steely Dan(?!?) recently and it cost me $300 for two decent seats. “Thank God by the time bands get to this level I either don’t care about them anymore or never did,” I thunk to myself.)
Anyway, here’s the newly released “single” (look out Bad Blood!). Sweet Sabbath drone with sweet Lennon vocals and two even sweeter guitar solos. See you in Philly on September 13th.
The boys from Nashville have recorded two new songs, at 3am and drunk, they say, after a raucous gig in June. The production is muddy, the vocals are shouted, there is no reason to love these the way I do, but then again here are all the rock moves you could possibly want in a beguiling package that manages to be fresh and classic at once.
Some of it is the awesome upfront bass playing, some of it is the way guitar solos suddenly pop up majestically, and some of it is the amazing thrash they put together. But the incredible part for me is the way all of this lands at the junction of influence of so many great bands, from the Stones to the Pistols to the Replacements, without sounding like any of them particularly.
I gave them a buck for each track, and suggested they come to New York. I’ll let you know when they get here.
Hans Condor on Bandcamp
The Village Voice published this list in December, but I just bumped into it. The idea of it seems silly, but listening to the 10 songs there is definitely a hard noisy sound that the writer favors. And it is punky without being nostalgic, which means it has an attitude, which is good. What the 10 songs didn’t have were hooks, but I liked La Misma and played some of their other songs, which sound like the one in the list here, and the Hank Wood and the Hammerheads song made me root around for others. I like this one, though I suppose it is more throwback than others, it also stokes the pleasure center.
I came across this band today, just browsing around, and the first thing you notice is their appalling youth. I assumed that they just looked really young, but a little research shows that they’re REALLY YOUNG!
Guitarist Lydia Night is maybe 14 years old now, while the drummer, Marlhy Murphy, is maybe 11.
They were the youngest band to ever play SXSW in 2013, then 12 and 9 years old respectively. Night also plays in the actor Ryan Gosling’s band, Dead Man’s Bones, which we’ll have to check out.
In the meantime, prepare for an excess of cuteness, which comes naturally to the prepubescent playing in the power punk genre, and here is better than most.
This one has an overly long intro, which has something to do with the log lady from Twin Peaks, and scientists looking through microscopes, but also does a creditable job of hitting the White Stripes notes. You can click to about halfway through to get to the actual song.
If you want to know more, here is a fanzine Q+A. Lydia’s favorite bands? Queens of the Stone Age and the Andrews Sisters. Perfect.
I happened on this article in the Guardian today about a new generation of blues rock players who say they learned the blues at least in part from listening to Jack White. Like a game of telephone, mistakes are made.
That’s not really what I mean. Each of the three bands talked about in the story combine modern and old sounds in interesting ways. Benjamin Booker stands out to me, because I could see his mix turning into excellent songs. Right now, this one is probably the best, and it has some excellent drumming and interesting bass playing and Booker is pretty laid back about making some fast and pounding noises with his guitar.
He’s got that diffident voice thing going on, which is too bad, but there’s way more good here than bad. It just isn’t fully baked yet. For instance, Paul Schaffer’s organ part is a nice addition.
You should watch the D.D Dumbo clip, in which an Australian named Oliver Perry one-man bands things using loops, playing African guitar styles (which were at least in part derived from African guitarists listening to Lightning Hopkins), making art rock blues that support his arty vocals and more droney/chanty than catchy melodies. But it’s a cool sound that reminds me to listen to that Dirty Projector’s album I like so much (which nails all the vocal-mix-melody-abstraction issues this music is just starting to explore).