Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Moment Bob Stinson Got The Boot From The 'Mats? Play Rare Live Cut From The Replacements Here

I'm sure The Replacements played Trenton's City Gardens more than once. And I can't track down the date of this recording -- the Soundcloud user left it a bit blank -- but there's a point where Paul Westerberg says something about being fired and it could very well be directed at the late to the stage and soon-to-be-sacked Bob Stinson.

Even if this is just another ramshackle gig for the 'Mats, it's still a great version of this classic from Let It Be

Another 10 Lessons From A Life Spent Listening To Music

This post is a follow-up to this one from last spring.

1. It was probably stupid of me to throw out that Dream Police CD insert autographed (in 1997) by all the members of the band except Bun E. Carlos.

2. There are better individual songs on Reckoning but R.E.M.'s Murmur is a better overall album.

3. Dead Can Dance get a free pass on being pretentious.

4. There are days when I think that "Lipstick" by the Buzzcocks is my favorite single of all time.

5. The best Christmas present I ever received was probably that cassette of Aztec Camera's High Land, Hard Rain in 1983.

6. That one famous 4 Non Blondes song can still make me want to pick up an axe and start swinging.

7. If I had a dollar for every big-haired sorority chick who came into the Record Co-Op asking for "that tape that has that 'big hands' song" on it", I could probably afford to hire the Violent Femmes to play my birthday party Jeff Spicoli-style.

8. I like 2 Creed singles. Sue me.

9. Between mid-1984 and early 1987 -- barely 2.5 years -- Husker Du cranked out 2 double LPs (Zen Aracde and Warehouse: Songs and Stories) and 3 other LPs (New Day Rising, Flip Your Wig, and Candy Apple Grey). They are all uniformly fantastic, life-affirming, transcendent, and essential.

10. Whenever Ira Kaplan unfurls a guitar solo on a slow(er) Yo La Tengo song I feel like a Deadhead listening to "Jerry" unwind on "Dark Star" or something.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving On Lamma Island, Hong Kong

I spent my first Thanksgiving in Hong Kong (in 2012) at Pizza Hut (!) in Causeway Bay. This year, the excellent Prime Bar and Grill on Lamma Island did "American" Thanksgiving.

(They owed it to us Yanks after they did a Canadian Thanksgiving back in October!)

It was awesome. The pumpkin pie was freshly made which was a nice suprirse after the typical pre-made pies people grab at the grocery stores in the U.S.

Since I spent two Christmas vacations here in 2009 and 2010 before I moved here in 2011, I don't really mind spending Christmas here. But, for some odd reason, Thanksgiving here makes me incredibly homesick.

So among the many thousands of things I'm thankful for, I am a little bit grateful and pleasantly surprised that I could have such a good U.S.-style Thanksgiving here.

(And they are doing it again this Sunday if you want to head out to Lamma Island for a Thanksgiving follow-up, the "leftovers" as it were!)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It Doesn't Get More META Than This: Wrap Your Old Fogey Heads Around This New Superchunk Video

Superchunk have made a video for a single named after a Dischord band -- (the subject of a recent split 7 inch release from Superchunk that itself was a nod to the Dischord label split release) -- and the video by these indie legends -- starring drummer Jon Wurster as an aging indie rock fan -- gently mocks the current indie scene.

The guys (and gal) in Superchunk are now as old as the people that would have yelled "Turn that shit down!" back in 1993 when "The First Part" roared out of indie kids' dorm-room speakers and POS car stereos.

(I referenced that song 'cause I think there's a bit in this video where an imagined mosh pit is a nod back to the pillow fights in the 1993 vid for that Foolish single.)

Decide for yourself and play the video below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spin Some Rocking Tunes From History Repeated (John Stabb of Government Issue) Before D.C. Gig At Smash!

Certified D.C. legend John Stabb (Government Issue, Emma Peel, etc.) is bringing his new band History Repeated to the famous Smash! Records in Adams Morgan.

(God knows I bought a lot of stickers and stuff at that place back when it was in Georgetown back in the 1980s!)

That gig is on December 8 and you can find more details here.

But, between now and then, why don't you spin some of these kickin' tunes from History Repeated? The band is John Stabb on vocals, Derrick Baranowsky on guitars and vocals, C.F. Best on bass, and Mike Diana on drums.

The tunes have kick and punch and -- of course -- are held together by Stabb's signature wail. The dude is a natural frontman, ain't he?

Here's a picture of Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Government Issue) and John Stabb rocking it out with G.I. at the Salad Days: The DC Punk Rock Revolution gig last Christmas.

In the meantime, follow History Repeated on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/historyrepeated

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Free Covers EP From Manchester's Wonderful Temple Songs (And Download Free B-Side Too!)

Lest any of you think I've posted about Temples more lately than Temple Songs, here's an update on the activities of my favorite new Manchester band.

In October they released a single via London's RIP Records.

(A single that I blogged about nearly a year ago I might add!)

Play and download the B-Side "She's Away" below!

And, through that same arrangement with RIP Records, the lads in Temple Songs have made available a free 6-song "covers" EP...covers of some pretty obscure stuff, I might add -- I think the only one I knew in its original version was "The Lesson" from Mayo Thompson.

Follow Temple Songs on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/templesongs

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fun And Bands (With Video) At Lamma Fun Day 2013

The Bollands

Follow The Bollands on their official website:
http://www.thebollands.com/

The Sleeves

Follow The Sleeves on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/the.sleeves

That's the awesome Ivy Fernie of Dark Himaya who joined The Sleeves for "Mirror" (short excerpt below).

The David Bowie Knives

Follow The David Bowie Knives on their Bandcamp page.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mesmerise: Play Brand New Temples Song Here

Along with Childhood, this is the new band that I'm most eagerly following. And also like Childhood, every cut I've heard from Temples so far has been a wickedly good single.

The latest example in this string of pieces of pop perfection: the new "Mesmerise" and you can play it below.

With hints of the Moody Blues at their best, and a nod in the direction of stuff like early Primal Scream or Super Furry Animals, it's a soaring and beautiful cut.

For now, follow Temples on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/templesofficial

New EP From Pulco (ex-Derrero) Is Out Now (Plus Play New Working Track)

Yes, Ash Cooke is back again as Pulco. The one-time Derrero mastermind has released the lovely APES EP.

A sort of stripped-down affair, the song titles were concocted by the also awesome musician Adam Leonard who also prodded Ash to record with just an acoustic guitar.

Opener "Maybe You Just Vibrate" reminds us of Ash Cooke's way with a tune. Sounding a bit like a slowed down Derrero number, the cut insinuates itself immediately. It's a warm tune that I hate to call folk-y; maybe new acoustic? I don't know the name of this genre but I like it a lot.

After the first of two spoken word cuts, Pulco unveils "Double Denim" with its Kinks-isms and hints of -- gasp -- Noel Gallagher (at least for me in spots).

Later the gentle "Kudos Credos" unfurls and works its magic.

Closer "Spectrum Russians" is just beautiful. With chord changes and harmonies that made me think of Nick Lowe for some odd reason, the tune is a nod in the direction of the moments when a post-Beatles McCartney would sometimes crank out something as affecting as "Too Many People" or another largely stripped-down number.

Really, it's a beautiful cut and I'd love to hear Ash Cooke do this one with electric instruments behind him.

Now, in other Pulco news, he's released a working track that echoes early early Fall or Beefheart cuts. Something tells me he's been listening to Trout Mask Replica. It's the near-abrasive "Fan Heater" and you can play it below.

In the meantime, find Ash Cooke and Pulco at:
http://pulcomusic.com/

Or at:
http://pethaugarw.tumblr.com/

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Play New Withered Hand Track (With Pam Berry Of Black Tambourine and Glo-Worm) Here!

It's not that I like to name-drop as much as it is that I'm wildly nostalgic for another era.

I don't think she ever said more than two words to me at the time but Pam Berry came into the Record Co-Op quite a bit in the very late 1980s with Archie Moore. This would have been about a year or so before Black Tambourine and Velocity Girl formed.

And in 1989 or thereabouts when the Record Co-Op liquidated our vinyl stock a year before we closed down, I vividly remember Archie and Pam -- and Slumberland's Mike Schulman and all the other WMUC folks -- absolutely pillaging our bins. I had already given up on vinyl for CDs but I can remember scanning what those folks brought to the counter and going "Uh huh. Oh yeah. Good choice!" to that crew as I rang up their stacks of records.

Which is a long and personal way of introducing the most assuredly awesome "Black Tambourine" by Withered Hand with Pam Berry on guest vocals.

(Nearly a quarter of a century later and Pam is on a tribute record to herself!)

The track from Withered Hand is a delightful affair, equal parts Comet Gain and June Brides (maybe)? Play it here and then head on over to Slumberland Records for more details.

Withered Hand's Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/witheredhand

Withered Hand's website:
http://witheredhand.com/

Slumberland Records:
http://www.slumberlandrecords.com/

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Play Brand New Sophie Ellis-Bextor Single Here!

It's been more than two years since I last posted about the singer who gave this blog it's name!?!

How is that possible?

Well, her last full-length album, Make A Scene, dropped in June 2011 so...yeah it's been a while since we caught up with Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Word has it that she's been working with Ed Harcourt. Not sure if he wrote this ballad but it sure sounds like some of his stuff.

This is "Young Blood" and it's the first single from her upcoming album, Wanderlust, due out in January 2014.

Play the official audio here and the demo below.

More details on Sophie's adventures at:
SophieEllisBextor.net

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Rose Elinor Dougall EP Drops On Monday - Play Poison Ivy Here!

Back in 2010, I was one of her biggest fans in the blog-o-sphere because of her sublime debut album, Without Why.

And now I'm here to remind folks that her new EP, Future Vanishes, will be out tomorrow (November 18, 2013).

In fact, you can pre-order it here.

From the near Stereolab-isms of "Sink Back In To The Blue" to the future-looking title track, Future Vanishes marks another milestone in Rose's post-Pipette life. It's self-assured and it builds on the sounds of her first album.

"Strange Warnings" uses both folk and jazz elements to enchant a listener but the standout track in terms of melody is clearly "Poison Ivy". With its keyboard that recalls a less surging version of "Start/Stop/Synchro", the tune uses Rose's warm vocals to great effect. The chorus is instantly memorable and the melody sounds like something off of Rose's first album.

Follow Rose Elinor Dougall on her Facebook page.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Outstanding Superchunk News: Free 1996 Live Album Up On Soundcloud Via Merge Records!

What an awesome and thoroughly rocking surprise!

To celebrate their return to Australia for the first time in 17 years, Superchunk and Merge Records have released another live Clambake album. It was recorded in 1996 and you can play the whole thing on Soundcloud -- and it's download-able too!

And Mac dedicates "Driveway to Driveway" to New Zealand's The 3Ds!

(Maybe the Flying Nun label legends were on that 1996 Superchunk tour Down Under?)

Follow Superchunk on their website:
www.Superchunk.com

And get more details about this release and their current tour via Merge Records.

Friday, November 15, 2013

D.C.'s Black Checker Drop New EP - Listening Party On Friday - Play New Track Here!

I get a lot of stuff via email and usually don't open most things. I've too busy (tired) here in Hong Kong to spend too much time on the blog anymore. So when I do it's got to be for something I really want to highlight.

And D.C.'s Black Checker are certainly worth highlighting. These boys rock!

A prior opening act for Dot Dash, Black Checker are creating a similar sort of postpunk racket. Their PR name-drops Ted Leo, Husker Du, and The Replacements but I'll throw out another name: Chisel. Maybe D.C.'s Chisel went in more of a mod direction but the comparison is apt otherwise.

The 6 songs on Black Checker's new Fast EP are blasts of power-pop with nods to Green Day and that one Marvelous 3 record that was so good...the one with the hits.

I really dig stuff like this.

"Never Doesn't Mean Someday" is pure Candy Apple Grey-era Husker Du but with a twist: it's like Grant Hart taking over on a Bob Mould-penned riff-fest. It's a scorcher.

"Blick Bladger" and "A New Way" bring in a subtle ska influence but keep things rocking. These tunes are punchy, catchy, and shots of pure pop adrenaline.

"Can't Let Go" is a bit harder but it's still hummable. This is the cut that made me think of bands like Butch Walker's Marvelous 3. The bridge of the tune brings back another hint of Grant Hart's Husker Du songs. Really, this is the sort of thing I wish I could hear on Top 40 radio when I'm driving down the highway.

"Man Enough", like a few of these tunes, has a hint of Green Day. I suppose I should add that that hint is the "Geek Stink Breath"-Green Day and not the "Wake Me Up When September Ends"-Green Day.

"Bagel Girl" made me think of Joe Jackson, of all things. If somehow Joe Jackson had stuck to his new wave roots...and maybe taken over vocal duties for The Buzzcocks, that is. It's a punchy little tune that's near damn impossible to dislodge from your head once you've heard it. That bridge is like early XTC or something. It's really an awesome mix of a lot of influences, all good.

Follow Black Checker on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/blackcheckerband

And go to the listening party on Friday if you can.

Stream New Dog Bite Track, Then Pre-Order New Album

Well by the time it drops in late January 2014 it will have been nearly a year since the sublime debut album from Atlanta's Dog Bite (a.k.a., Phil Jones, sometime member of Washed Out).

I've heard the new record -- legally, I should add! -- and it's fantastic. If the first record had Phil wrapping his head around Cocteau Twins-ish soundscapes, this one has him trying his hand at making something equivalent to an American Pale Saints record.

That's not a great way to describe this sort of music but I don't have a lot of other ways to write about these tunes with words. They are things of beauty.

Not for nothing is this one called "Dream Feast", like something off a Mick Karn album.

Play it here and then pre-order the new record, Tranquilizers, out January 20, 2014 on Carpark Records.

Follow Dog Bite on his Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/dogusbitus

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Play Style Council Cover From Manics' James Dean Bradfield And Mr. Paul Weller Here!

I stumbled across this one Soundcloud and can find few details on this recording. It's a live cover of The Style Council's "You're The Best Thing" by James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers and Paul Weller of The Style Council, The Jam, and....Paul Weller.

It's mostly JDB on this one; I suppose that's the Modfather himself on the acoustic there.

I think it's from a 2004 Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concert in the United Kingdom.

Dig it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Play (And Download) Rare Spring Hill Fair-Era Demo From The Go-Betweens: Unkind and Unwise

I'm not going to take the credit for this one. I searched for a demo of this song and found it on the excellent Did Not Chart blog.

But the song is so good that I had to share this subtly different version of "Unkind & Unwise" from Spring Hill Fair.

There are days where McLennan and Forster seem like my generation's Lennon and McCartney.

Or at least our Difford and Tilbrook.

All kidding aside, I love The Go-Betweens more than I could possibly express in words.

So just enjoy this.

(Click "share" and then you'll see the MP3 link.)

Bloggers (Sometimes) Have More Insights Than Journalists: Case In Point

I haven't been a good blogger about my Hong Kong experience. I wrote far more insightful and poignant posts ages before I ever moved here.

So my point today might seem hypocritical but I'm gonna make it.

Insight needs to be just that: Something that the writer can provide -- an angle, a hook -- that few others can.

That said, this AFP post about Asia so infuriated me that I felt compelled to write something.

Read the article. It won't take you long.

Here's what I learned: the author felt an adrenaline rush as he covered the 2011 tsunami in Japan. He paused to remember that people were dying and he had a friend in Japan. And, oh yeah, Asia has Formula One racing now!

Really? That's it? I could have written something more insightful and I've never been to Japan.

What about life in Hong Kong? What about what life is like as an editor in Hong Kong? What about what makes life in Hong Kong different than in Japan? What about how those big stories impacted the populations in this part of the world? What was the guy on the street -- to use a cliched device -- saying and feeling during those big, big stories?

At no point in that article did the AFP writer express an insight that could not have been learned in NYC or Chicago. The very experience he describes -- his big 5 overtime hours at the desk on the day of the tsunami -- could have happened to any newspaper guy or gal at the international desk in the Big Apple, or Washington, D.C., or London.

(And I may sound sarcastic but when I was there, most people at Jane's worked a lot longer than 5 extra hours on big news days.)

I'm not going to pretend to have any great insights into Asia. It's too early. I've only been here for about two years and the experience has been stranger, sadder, funnier, and more complex than anything I can write right now.

When I say my "Farewell to Asia", I'll have more to say than this guy.

And I don't even work for a big name like AFP.

If this place doesn't change you in some profound way, you were already dead inside when you got off the plane on this side of the world.

And if you weren't dead inside then, then after two years here you very well might feel something withering inside, like some root of a great tree that showed the effects of a rot inside the seed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Play Rare Demo From Close Lobsters Here

At some point in late 1987, as I was breaking the stranglehold that 4AD-type stuff had on my listening habits -- that stranglehold having freed me from my earlier U2 thrall -- I bought a bunch of cassettes based on reviews in the late Option magazine.

One of those tapes was Foxheads Stalk This Land from Close Lobsters. The band didn't put out a lot of material back then -- 2 full-lengths and some EPs -- but they ranked up there with the best of the new guitar bands of that era.

"From This Day On" is from the 1988 What Is There To Smile About EP which was colled on the excellent Forever Until Victory compilation a few years ago.

Play this bit of jangle-pop history below.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Play Misfits Cover From Superchunk Here (Plus 'Nother New Acoustic Tune)

Halloween 1997. The "new" 9:30 Club in D.C. -- when it was still appropriate to call it that after the "old" one had just closed down in late (?) 1995 -- Superchunk plays a Halloween show and hits the stage dressed in Misfits make-up and starts to roar through..."Where Eagles Dare", maybe?

Yes, it was a helluva show and one of many Superchunk gigs I saw in D.C. at the 9:30 or at Black Cat.

So here is a cover of another Misfits jam from the 'Chunk along with an acoustic version of "Breaking Down" from the excellent I Hate Music -- the tune here is almost totally different. What was near-punk and typical Superchunk on record is now sad, mournful, and yearning -- a plaintive Neil Young-ish number now.

Please do visit www.superchunk.com for details on the band's activities.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween On Lamma Island (Better Late Than Never)

Moving to Lamma Island was one of the best decisions I ever made after moving to Hong Kong. Ever since I first visited Lamma Island in late 2009, I've wanted to live here and be one of those Lamma-ites...or whatever we call ourselves.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and a cool night to be on Lamma as the kids (mostly expat ones) are usually out-and-about in costumes. My wife and I had a Halloween-themed dinner at the excellent Prime Bar and Grill as well.