Saturday, March 19, 2011

Music Blog # 4: Top 10 Favorite Indie Releases from 2010

I'm going to try and do this as fast as I can.  First off, I realize that it's halfway through March of 2011 already.  But I'm a slacker and better late than never.  Secondly, what is "indie rock"?  I think it's a misused term.  I'm going to just simplify it and say that each band I'm listing is an indie rock band because they play rock music and they're on an independent label.  That's what the term originally meant and that's how I still take it.  So, by that definition, bands that are frequently called "indie rock" like Iron & Wine, Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse are not even remotely indie rock.  They are big-selling, mainstream rock.  And for the record I like those bands quite a bit.  I'm 33 years old and don't really care if my musical taste is hip or not.  I like some popular stuff and I like crazy underground punk rock too.   So whatever, enough posturing.  These are my ten favorite indie releases of 2010.  Some of the sites that help me regularly discover bands like these are Maximum Rocknroll, Styrofoam Drone, icoulddietomorrow and many more.  Starting with a quick honorable mention:

Honorable Mention: 
Gentlemen Jesse & His Men - "You've Got The Wrong Man 7"" (Couldn't find a link to a song from that 7", so here's something from their 2008 LP.  Awesome power-pop.)
Doomstar! - "Rainbow Bloodsucker" EP (This EP is worth it just for the title track alone!)
Mind Spiders - Self-titled EP (Surfy, punky power pop from members of Marked Men.)
Unwed Teenage Mothers - "Blonde Girls" LP (It's too tricky to google this band and still avoid getting Bristol Palin or soft-porn.  But they sound like a wimpy (in a good way) punk band on pixie sticks.)
Drugs Dragons - Self-titled LP (These guys have channeled the spirit and debauchery of early Butthole Surfers. I like.)  

10) BAD BANANA - "Crushfield" LP 

 Two sisters from P.S. Eliot come together to make the catchiest damn album/demo I've heard in a while.  It's kinda poppy, kinda punky.  They name-drop the Descendents and Dinosaur Jr. so that's all I needed to hear. This one never ceases to put me in a good mood. I'm also pretty sure that this is being offered as a free download, so do some google searchin'!

9) IMPERIAL CHINA - "Phosphenes" LP

I continually struggle to classify Imperial China.  That's probably a good thing.  They are from DC, so there's the Dischord Records influence in there.  If I had to make a really, really bad comparison I'd say it's like if Fugazi were a dance band.  I'm sure Imperial China would fucking hate that analogy but that's all I got.  It's a hell of an album though. 

Find more artists like Imperial China at Myspace Music

8)  FREE ENERGY - "Stuck On Nothing" LP

I first heard about these guys when they lived in Minneapolis and were called Hockey Night.  They were one of my favorite bands.  They sounded just like Pavement meets Thin Lizzy and I couldn't get enough of them.  Then they kicked out a few members, moved to Philadelphia, renamed themselves "Free Energy"and now sound like Weezer meets Thin Lizzy.  And it's as good as ever.  Also, I'd just like to state that if I didn't already know how great this band was, I would never, ever have listened to them after seeing this picture.  Embarrassing.  Gross.  Let's all just move on from this ironic 80's bullshit, please?  Anyway, sonically the band is a monster.


Like early B-52's mixed with Eric Stoltz.  That'll probably only make sense to me. 

6) COWLICK - "Wires" LP

Am I incorrect in thinking this sounds like 90's era Sonic Youth?  Am I incorrect to think that's awesome?  Nope on both counts. 

5) SHELLSHAG - "Rumors In Disguise" LP

Either I'm getting old and really miss the 90's, or a lot of bands are starting to sound like that decade.  Either way, I love it.  These guys sound like they could have played alongside Archers of Loaf back in the day.


Whenever a band is from Australia it always impresses me.  I don't know why.  They have cars and buildings and air.  Why wouldn't they have music?  I guess my ignorant head only envisioned Christian Bale and kangeroos and Christian Bale yelling at kangeroos.  Anyway, this is some nice post-punk that gets better and better each time you listen to it.  I actually didn't like it the first time I heard it, but people swore by it so much that I kept listening and now I'm hooked. 

3) WEED HOUNDS -"Beach Bummed" 7"

It's only a 7" but it's catchy as all hell and I predict (rather safely) that this band is going to get real big, real fast whenever their first LP comes out.  There's an undeniable Pixies quality to them and I ain't hatin' it. I wish they had a less lame name, but what can you do?

2) PURLING HISS - "Hissteria" and "Public Service Announcement" LPs

Boom!  TWO releases in 2010.  I can't pick between the two.  This is one of my newest favorite bands.  The recording is such absolute shit that it has to be on purpose.  Regardless, it's grungy classic-rock that can be catchy or hypnotic or whatever they feel like doing at the time.  Here's two clips of the same song.  One is off the record with the bad recording and the other is live with a slightly less bad recording.  Both are great in their own way.

1) SUPERCHUNK - "Majesty Shredding" LP

Does this count as an indie?  Merge is an independent label, but it's distributed by a company that has major label ties.  Also, the Arcade Fire is on the same label so it's definitely not a small one.  But then again, it's owned by the people from Superchunk, so that might give it the indie nod.  Screw it, who cares?  This is the best album of 2010 regardless of the genre.  They're living legends and they're one of the few bands that can take so much time off (their last record was in 2001) and still kick your ass all over the place.  (The other two who pulled it off were Mission Of Burma and Dinosaur Jr.).  Long live Superchunk!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New comedy clip

Here's a clip of me performing last Monday.  

And just for the hell of it, here's one from a year ago.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Music Blog #3 - My Favorite Punk Rock Releases of 2010

And now, my favorite punk rock releases of 2010.  In reverse order, with honorable mention first:


THE ESTRANGED - The Subliminal Man (Post-punk, gothy catchiness)
LOW THREAT PROFILE - Product #2 (Music was recorded in 2000, vocals in 2010.  Fast, hardcore.  15 songs in 10 minutes fast.)
MARKED MEN - On/The Other Side 7" (These guys are the best pop-punk band of the 2000s, if you ask me.  It's recommended to own everything by these guys.) 
NEON PISS - demo (Melodic punk. These guys are future stars.)
OFF! - "The First Four EPs" (Keith Morris from Black Flag, Circle Jerks, etc. It sounds how you think it would.  And that's good.) 
NIGHT BIRDS - demo, "Killer Waves", "Midnight Movies Tape", "s/t" (No album, just a demo and a bunch of 7"s.  Surfy, edgy pop punk. This has the energy of 80's punk to me.)
YOUNG OFFENDERS - "Leader of the Followers" LP (This is only on the H.M. list and not the Top Ten because I just got it and have only listened once.  I'm not even sure what type of sub-genre this fits in.  The video from their link is not from the LP but the video is so damn good.  This is going to get listened to a lot!)


10) KREIGSHOG - "War For Peace" LP

Whoa! Japanese hardcore!  This is what I listen to when I'm on the road doing stand-up comedy and I'm in a town that I don't want to be in, surrounded by people I don't identify with.  This is pure ugliness.  I try to be a positive person, but sometimes we all need a release.  This release is unrelenting and without a shred of melody.  Just aggression, noise and feedback.  That'll do, pig.

9) NU SENSAE - "TV, Death & The Devil" LP

On paper, it should be easy to describe this band.  There's two members - a guy and a girl.  The guy plays drums and the girl sings and plays bass.  Pretty simple.  And yet, sometimes the most minimalist seeming are the most dynamic.  Every time I listen to this album, I still get surprised.  I forget about a time change or that she's going to be changing her vocal delivery from Kim Gordon to L7 in t-minus two seconds.  I love the 80s/90s grunge influence that is happening in punk lately.  And I don't mean Candlebox.  This album's badass.

8) CRAZY SPIRIT - "Burning Churches" EP

I'm going to be honest, there is a lot of hype around this band and I just didn't get it at first.  People compared the singer to Germs legend Darby Crash and acted like they were the second coming of the Sex Pistols.  But they just sounded like a crusty punk band from NYC to me.  Nothing new.  I grew up on punk, but I never gravitated towards the mohawked side of it.  Plus, I already had my designated ugly album with Kriegshog.  I like extra dark albums in doses, but not all the time.  And that's how I felt about it until one day when I realized that he didn't sound like Darby Crash at all.  He sounded like somebody else and I just couldn't put my finger on it.  Who is it?  Oh, it was on the tip of my tongue.  Holy crap, he sounds like POPEYE!!!   That's right, Popeye.  Give it a listen.  It's true!  Now I don't think of the album as dark and ugly at all.  It's just some post-spinach ass-whooping from our favorite sailor cartoon.  And that's all it took to be on rapid rotation in my place.  Well, blow me down.

7) MILK MUSIC - "Beyond Living" EP

Remember when I mentioned a tinge of grunge creeping into punk music?  This is another example of that.  These guys clearly listened to a lot of mid/late-80s SST records like Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth.  I love the energy in the singer's voice.  I can't wait to see what these guys do with a full-length.  The song posted below is my favorite from the release.  There's a slight Superchunk hookiness to it as well.


This band is ridiculous.  Look and dress like NY/NJ versions of Lenny and Squiggy.  They sound exactly like The Ramones or The Stooges, depending on the song.  Oh, and a majority of their songs are about pizza.  I honestly thought I was only going to listen to this once in my entire life and I find myself longing for it every day.  It's so damn catchy.  They even blatantly rip off hooks with no pretense and I still don't care.  Check out their "I Want You" 7" as well, it may even be better.  Here's one of their Stooges songs:

5) ADD/C - "Busy Days" LP

There's an interesting story behind me and this band. 

Also, this band is so punk rock that I couldn't even find any videos of them.  There's samples of their music on their Myspace page (linked on their name above.) 

4) Ex Humans - Self-titled LP

Hot damn, I love garage rock!  If I didn't have a Ford Focus, this would surely result in about 100 speeding tickets.  Sure, stuff like this isn't reinventing the wheel or anything, but neither is pizza.  And I sure love pizza every time.  (See pick #6).  Every one of these songs is a ripper and gets my blood pumping.  The perfect morning music.  Who needs coffee?  Just blast this.  

3) MUTOID MEN - "Mutoid Void" LP

whoas" and they have a Moog keyboard that pipes in whenever it damn well feels like it.  Oh and the bass player was in JAWBREAKER.  See what I mean?  This is a dark horse favorite of 2010. 

2) WHITE LUNG - "It's The Evil" LP

These guys take the energy of 80's punk like The Dead Kennedys and mix it with the complexity and innovation of 90's Dischord Records.  I can't say enough about this album.  I am a sucker for girl vocals that, for lack of a better term, have balls.  White Lung has that in spades.  AND they have a music video!  That's very impressive after sifting through this list of bands with Lastfm accounts for webpages.

1) MASSHYSTERI - Self-titled LP

And from Sweden, my #1 favorite punk album of 2010:  Masshysteri's self-titled album.  This is actually their second LP.  The first was a little less poppy and more hardcore (and still highly recommended).  Some people didn't like the change but I'm all for it.  I love the post-punk vibe.  Really, what does it for me is the infectiously melodic guitar leads that remind me of early Cure records on speed.  All their lyrics are in Swede-talk and have crazy umlauts and other things I can't type on this computer.  Like I said, they've gone more melodic since their first, but it's not watered down.  I'm a sucker for hooks and this one is chock-full of them.  Can't recommend it enough.

So those are my favorite punk albums of 2010.  I used many resources throughout the year to keep up with the new music, like Maximum RocknRoll, Icoulddietomorrow and Styrofoam Drone (although they lean more toward indie rock.)  Stay tuned for my favorite indie rock albums of 2010 next.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For Those About To Mock

ADD/C and their line of fan.

I recently got into a fight on Facebook with an AC/DC tribute band.

This is how I spend my time these days.  It's not one of my prouder moments.   

Let me break it down for you just in case you don't know the difference between a cover band and a tribute band:  A cover band plays cover songs from various musicians.  A tribute band plays covers of one specific band and dresses up like them.  Regularly.  It's like Halloween every day with these guys.  It's just like seeing the real band but without all that annoying talent or originality or fans.

So here's how it went down.  The AC/DC tribute band in question is called ADD/C.  Get it?  But see, I'm a fan of a punk band who is also named ADD/C.  They write their own music and dress up like themselves.  What a concept!  So I looked for them on Facebook and found them.  Or so I thought.  I clicked "like" and then realized that these clowns were dressed up like Bon Scott and Angus Young.  So I wrote on their wall "Oh, you're not ADD/C the punk band.  You're a tribute band.  Meh."  It was a little rude, but I can be a bit of a dick sometimes and I wanted just a sliver of my disappointment to shine through.

Here's how they responded, along with the ensuing exchange: 

ADD/C:  Any tiny amount of education in a person would let them figure out that this is a TRIBUTE band called ADD/C!!!  Does this punk band have a website and professional style recordings?  No.  WE DO!  And if you don't like our music, you can get lost! 

ME:  Well, it's a good thing for all of us that you're a tribute band and don't HAVE any of your own music, huh?  So blow me.

ADD/C:  The only blowing will be of your head off!

(Note: I could not make that line up.  100% real.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't proper English.  Such Neanderthalian beauty!  See, I can butcher the language too.)

ADD/C: (continuing) We travel more in a month than you have in your whole life!  We've played Vegas!  Have you played Vegas?  We played VEGAS!

ME:  Who'd you open for in Vegas, Midget KISS?

At this point my wife walks by the computer and goes "Who're you talking to?" and I blurted out "NO ONE!"

It's funny how quickly shame and realization can set in.  And yet still it doesn't sink in deep enough that I'm not plotting more revenge.  I need to start an 80's tribute band that combines a metal band and a disease and blow these schmucks out of the water.  I'm thinking Guns 'N Restless Leg Syndrome or Damn Yellow Fever (I get to be The Noog!) or Motley Cryptorchidism.  (Cryptorchidism means you have an "undescended testicle".  METAL!)    

In the meantime, please check out the real band "ADD/C" from Chattanooga, TN.  They play catchy, fast, kickass punk rock and their brand new album "Busy Days" is on heavy rotation at my place.  

And you know what?  Just because I used their picture and maybe you're bored...check out the AC/DC tribute band as well.