Have you scavenged through the folk vault recently? Dusty but thrilling. These compilation records are a real jam for those admirers of alternative country from the late eighties. The albums were released separately and a few years later combined in CD form. (Note: Volume 3 was also released but not in the WOBC vault) The musicians featured were rising alt country stars in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield has cultivated the sound of a few notable country music stars, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard for example. The city is even noted for a ‘Bakersfield sound’ which originated in honky-tonk bars in the 50s. Take a listen.
This is an album that I completely forgot existed until it magically appeared on my new ipod. The knowledge that I did not listen to it at all for several years pushes me into a deep despair and feeling of loss that can only be rectified by listening to this album.
Unlike many pop-punk albums, “All Killer, No Filler” doesn’t try to be anything but itself. It’s not hardcore, and doesn’t pretend to be. None of the members have any sort of real life experience to write about, and it shows in the lyrics. The album was clearly fun to write (“Pain for Pleasure” was allegedly written in several minutes on the toilet) and fun to record, and because of this, is fun to listen to as well. Everything, from the joking (I hope) introduction to the unnecessary and disjointed ending track, to the continually self-depreciating lyrics contributes to a cacophony of nostalgic experiences and pure enjoyment.
Listen to “All Killer” again, and pay particular attention to “Fat Lip”, recounting the feelings of intense identification and teenage rebellion that you felt listening to the song when it first came out, even though you were like 11 years old, and the furthest you would actually go in begin rebellious was maybe not spending as long as you should have on your math homework that you were doing a couple of days early just in case. Also ignore that fact that Whatshisface, the lead singer, married Avril Lavigne. That shit’s just embarrassing.
All Killer, No Filler
01. Introduction to Destruction
02. Nothing on My Back
03. Never Wake Up
04. Fat Lip
07. In Too Deep
09. Handle This
10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
11. All She’s Got
12. Heart Attack
13. Pain For Pleasure
Rummaging through the Pop Vinyl Vaults at WOBC, I came across a nondescript cardboard-brown record that donned artwork limited to two banana-like people walking hand-in-hand. On the back of the record, in scrawled hand writing, it reads static into the one you are singing, a ghostly message that I can only presume to be the title of the album. The elusive production all comes from a band called Ghostcloud, a New York City based quartet whose media representation is limited to a purevolume account on which they have zero friends and one fan.
Ghostcloud remains a mystery.
Yet, the music itself is familiar. It uncannily sounds like a band called TKSH from my high school, a surprisingly sophisticated, but understated attempt at angsty folk/punk. So naturally, Ghostcloud makes me nostalgic. It makes me think of sweet New Jersey, angst, and my own adolescent dream in becoming the teendream rock-chick of my generation. Static into the one you are singing is by no means a perfect album. Ghostcloud sporadically makes mistakes while playing the guitar, and volumes are horribly mixed, yet I can’t stop listening. The music is earnest and draws me in. All the tracks are unnamed, but I genuinely like the one that goes like “doo doo doo.” I kid. Seriously, the best track is on the record’s B-Side, a 5ive minute acoustic guitar of repetition and vague vocals. I urge you to take a step into the WOBC vaults and explore. There is so much music to be found. And next time you’re in the “G” section, check out Ghostcloud.
Pride is 41 minutes of loneliness. It’s like listening to Skinny Love on codeine. Slow, quiet and unsettling in every way. Interludes of noodling guitars underscore Phosphorescent’s multi-layered vocal harmonies to create a sound unlike anything that I’ve ever heard, and when the melodies come in, they’re slow and reserved. Phosphorescent is the working moniker for Matthew Houck, a singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia. His fourth album, Pride, evokes feelings of solidarity through this contrast of slow, driving melodies and subtle interludes of drones and hisses. The beauty of the album is that it cannot be pigeonholed into the genres that it swings between, folk and ambient, because it captures both so perfectly. The record is hopeful in its tone, engaging with its pop melodies and unnerving with its ambience, to create a unique sound that makes even the toughest traveler nostalgic of their home.
Pride is an album for The Soul-searching Traveler. The person who embarks on journeys to far away lands and returns immersed in new knowledge. The traveler will find solace in the strength of Houck’s vocals and lyrics and a rhythm to travel to in the thumbing bass drum. “Wolves,” arguably the best track on the album, is the perfect example. The song opens with soft, nylon strings strumming a simple melody, until Houck enters with a youthful voice asking for protection from the wolves from his mother. “Mama there’s wolves in the house / Mama, they wont let me out. / Mama, they’re mating at night / Mama, they wont make nice.” As the lone traveler bounces from city to city, from hostel to homestay, the cry for domestic protection is the traveller can relate to. Then, the home-sickness sets in. Read More →
You know Shel Silverstein, right, RIGHT? Uncle Shelby, the man who wrote “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “The Giving Tree,” “A Light in the Attic,” etc. etc. etc. AKA Children’s Story-tellter, cartoonist, performer, beat-poet, a sort of everything-talented-kinda-guy.
What you might not know is that Silverstein was a counter-cultural icon who was popular for his bawdy, sexual, drug-infused, profane, obscene, subversive and surreal performances (also wrote for Playboy. Make of that what you will). He made one studio album, the classic FREAKIN’ AT THE FREAKERS BALL (1969), which is far from being a children’s story-telling album or heart-warming poetry reading. No, Freakers Ball is one giant middle-finger to contemporary society. It’s an absurd cry in the face of respectability in which he sings about dangerously kinky sex, pornographic girls-next-door, giving heroin to your significant other (and how it’s kinda a drag), fascist pigs, sadomasochistic drag balls, double-endowed men, group sex songs, spoken-word diatribes (including the rather benign sounding Sarah Cynthia Sylivia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out) and other oddities that are still fresh. Some highlights include Liberated Lady 1999, Polly in a Porny, Stacy Brown got Two, and the rather surreal The Man that Got No Sign, a great, poignant beat poem which, amidst the album’s madcap antics, resonates.
It helps that Silverstein is a great singer, with a voice that is equal parts warbling, gravelly, smoky, and hilarious. The atmosphere is festive, anarchic, and free-form, with a healthy does of juvenile humor and potty jokes to make you feel extra dirty at the end of the day. At times you feel like you’re at some sort of late-after-hours nightclub filled with all your good friends, talking about art, politics, sex, and all that jazz in the most facetious way possible. Put on this record with a good sound system: you can almost smell thee weed emanating from the speakers.
Mostly remembered for his production on Neil Young’s albums in the late 60s, Jack Nitzsche’s varied musical talents served him well in the 70s where he rose to prominence as a film composer, which include works as varied as The Exorcist, Performance, An Officer and a Gentleman, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He initially began his career as conductor and arranger for Phil Spector, eventually having musical encounters with the Wrecking Crew, The Rolling Stones, and even Doris Day. However, Nitzsche’s musical arrangements and production skills with Neil Young were so impressive that he was given the chance to compose original orchestral music. St. Giles Cripplegate is the result.
Alice In Chains was one of the great bands of the 1990s. Being a lead act in Seattle’s music scene, Alice In Chains released three albums and three EPs within the span of five years. Their music made an immense contribution to not only grunge, but rock music in general. They’ve influenced numerous bands, including already established Metallica. The harmony between lead singer Layne Staley and guitarist and backing vocalist, Jerry Cantrell was the most important asset of Alice In Chains. Their contrasts brought a compelling listen to their audiences. As Alice In Chains are mostly known for their heavy metal sound that was present in all three of their studio albums, the band, however, wanted to experiment with a softer sound, which ultimately led to the creation of their respective alter ego EPs, Sap and Jar of Flies. The band went into the studio in 1991 to record demos for their next album. However, the songs they recorded ended up being five acoustic songs. According to drummer, Sean Kinney, he had a dream about creating an EP called Sap. The band decided to leave the recordings as they were and release the short collection of songs as an extended play, Sap. Released in 1992, Sap was intended to experiment with a new sound, regardless the risk of losing fans of the band. Sap was successful and was certified gold. The EP had great acknowledgement in the light of the newly formed genre of grunge and Nirvana’s release of Nevermind in 1991. In 1994, another version of the song “Got Me Wrong” was featured on Kevin Smith’s film, Clerks. This brought more attention to the songs and the EP.