Friday, December 6, 2013
Rocker, Recording Engineer Jason Loewenstein is one of my musical/life idols. He writes awesome, twisted, weird pop songs and plays in bands such as Sebadoh, Fiery Furnaces, and Circle of Buzzards, but my favorite thing he's done was his first solo record At Sixes and Sevens, which came out on Sub Pop, way back in 2002! It's one of my all time favorite modern indie rock albums. If you find a copy, you should buy it.
He's a pot-bellied pig owner (as you can see above), and occasionally writes songs about it (Emmit Pig). He also apparently now makes slingshots? He was the one responsible for the strange halves of those classic 90s Sebadoh albums. I saw him perform an intense solo set (with drummer and bassist) at a tiny record store in Greensboro, NC when I was in college. He was/is primarily a bassist, but has remarkable creative ability with a 6 string guitar as well. In fact, I'm pretty sure he plays all of the instruments on his solo stuff. In addition to all of this, he's a really great recording engineer, I always love the way his home-recorded stuff sounds. Also, the new Sebadoh record, Defend Yourself is really great, and his songs in particular stand out to me. But I'm rambling.
Enjoy this weird, awesome collection of surprisingly hi-fi home-recorded freebies, demos, outtakes and live cuts. Some of it is just him fucking around (Winged Eel), but there's some real gems here (But Yr. Gone - nice slow burner, Contribution - the riff is classic Loewenstein, etc.)
Check out more from Jake here: jakerock.com.
Monday, December 2, 2013
The older I get, the more I value the craft of good songwriting. I thoroughly appreciate a band's ability to boil a song down to the hook ("Don't bore us, get to the chorus"). I'm a sucker for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; I grew up on their hits, which were always playing on the radio during long summer car rides down to the coast, so I associate their songs with that certain period in my life. As a guitar player, hearing Mike Campbell's infectious, beautifully played guitar lines now just astounds me. When I was a kid I don't think I even realized there was a separate guitar player per se, but just felt that certain feeling. He's all about TONE man ... and playing TASTEFULLY, serving the song. Found this great live concert on Youtube in full, and thought I'd share. I never get sick of the Heartbreakers.
Friday, November 15, 2013
It's always comforting to find a band that challenges your expectations for what music can accomplish. It's especially rewarding to find a band like that in a new town you've just moved to. I had that experience when I stumbled across the Richmond, VA band Warren Hixson.
At first glance the scene in RVA appeared somewhat spread out and a bit bleak, compared to what I was used to. Upon further examination, it's just a bigger, more varied scene than what I'm used to. Warren Hixson is a perfect example of the weird brilliance that can come from this area; they're not a nice sounding band, at least not all the time. They can come across as pretty harsh, such as on the thrashing classic garage stomper I wanna take you home (complete with distorted tape delay), and at other times they sound sweet as honey, and as tender as a raw steak (Let me in). With that bleakness comes a realness, and luckily it's all wrapped in unrelentingly catchy hooks. It's like Devo met Suicide in an abandoned barn at the end of the Fall, and decided to have a hoedown with the Cramps ... and then Karl Blau stopped by to sing. It's like Surf Rock for pond dwellers or something (highway surf).
Warren Hixson will try anything it seems (dub, country, indie rock, surf rock, 60s pop, angular no-wave), and yet there's a cohesiveness that runs through their self-released/self-recorded albums. I love this band - it's a fun ride, like a home made haunted house. You should buy their stuff now; they're the real deal.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
There has been much talk on the internet (mostly through their Facebook page) of a new Swearing at Motorists album. It's been 7 years since the Motorist's last proper full length, 2006's excellent Last Night Becomes This Morning, and I for one am extremely anxious to get my hands on a copy of whatever singer Dave Doughman is working on these days. In the meantime, enjoy this live video of Dave and drummer playing their dedication to the German sports club, Sankt Pauli.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
I just finished reading Richard Hell's autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. It was a delightful, and sometimes disturbing recount of Hell's life as one of the accidental pioneers of "punk"; you have him to thank for the spiky hair, torn clothes and safety pins thing, which Malcom McLaren stole and imported to England and repackaged for the Sex Pistols.
Hell was essentially a self-styled ego-driven "poet" and private eye of the NY CBGB's art and music scene of the mid 70s. In 1980 he made a film with Ulli Lommel alongside the beautiful, vapid french actress Carole Bouquet. At this point he was a full blown junkie, annoying his band whom he'd become bored with, and was experimenting with the idea of acting. He wasn't very happy with the way this film turned out, but it does include some great live performances of the band performing at the top of their game. It's a good showcase of one of my favorite oddball lead guitarists - the brilliant Robert Quine, who I think successfully expressed Hell's nervous, jittery, over-sexed, adolescent, poetic style effectively through his Fender Stratocaster (no easy task).
Friday, June 21, 2013
This is a great documentary about Paul Westerberg's late solo career, following him around on his tour to promote Stereo/Mono. There's some intimate interviews and some clips of him recording new material in his basement for the album Come Feel Me Tremble. I really like his solo albums (mostly these 3). They could have been really bad, and I think most people were expecting them to be, but I think due to their rushed, immediate quality, they have a certain authenticity that a slicker studio album might lack. And then there's the genius songwriting. If I had to pick a mid-life music career, I'd want it to be like Paul's.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Beck Hansen is one of my all time favorite artists...and Mellow Gold is one of my all time favorite records. I remember going to buy used CDs with my dad on Sundays, and coming across a used copy that I later found out was a K-Mart edited version (F**kin With My Head). My dad liked the song Beercan...That record was one of the main things that made me want to start a band. It was so fucked up and so great, with its lo-fi, humorous, catchy magic....and yet somehow still had commercial appeal. I always felt like he was fucking with people, and that I was somehow in on it too.
Tirelessly unique, hilarious, inventive and talented, Mr. Hansen is one of the few survivors of the Alternative 90s (along with Radiohead...and...am I missing anyone?) still making decent, vital music. Say what you want about his religious views, when he was making records like Mellow Gold and One Foot In The Grave, he had it goin' on. I wore that K-Mart CD out man, and I STILL have it!