Tag Archives: punk

T.G.I.F. – Ten For Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone would have turned sixty yesterday.

That’s inconceivable. It’s also hard to believe that so many older bands – who easily endured as much drugs and demonic activity as their younger followers – are still out there banging away when three of the founding Ramones are gone.

But time has taught us what only the die-hard fans knew at the time – The Ramones were one of the greatest American rock bands to ever take the stage. Initially classified as punk, they were really more of a hard, loud pop band who got in, banged out a few chords and got out without wasting your time. You not only could sing along with all the songs, you could play them. But there was magic in their direct simplicity, and Johnny Ramone was a very underrated rhythm guitar player.

Hard to believe that last month marked ten years since we lost him. Ten years! I feel like I’ve been in a coma; time shouldn’t move that fast.

But even though The Ramones are gone, their legacy lives on through their recorded work and the many bands who continue to carry the flag. Sure, there are the obvious ones, everyone from The Sex Pistols to Green Day.

But in honor of Joey – a fellow Queens guy – here are Ten For Joey Ramone…ten lesser known bands who took heed when American music was restructured back in 1974. Turn it up – gabba gabba hey!

(01) – Teenage Bottlerocket

(02) – The Huntingtons

(03) – The Methadones

(04) – The Leftovers

(05) – The Lillingtons

(06) – Screeching Weasel

(07) – The Riverdales

(08) – The Vindictives

(09) – The Queers

(10) – Teen Idols

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T.G.I.F. – Ten More Bridesmaids

You’ve seen the Top Ten for 2010, and the full list is still being whipped into shape, but there’s no harm tipping the cap to ten more albums that didn’t make the top of the list but were great purchases during the year. Some finished high on other lists – including one that straddled the top on many of them – while others can claim a handful of people like me in their fan club.

Huge followings don’t affect my barometer, nor does a lack of a visible fanbase make me think less of the artist. I like what I like; there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasures are for cowards.

So here, in no particular order, are Ten More Bridesmaids to check out. Hopefully a few of these are already spinning repeatedly at your place too.

01) Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young ManSome say they went commercial with their tenth album; I say they have one of their most irresistible collections of songs in years. Why are they not huge in the US?

02) Paul Collins – King of Power Pop. Maybe a slew of living room concerts inspired him to revisit his more energetic power pop side, and revisit his Beat days. The Flamin’ Groovies and Box Tops covers are icing on the pop cake.

03) Dwight Twilley – Green Blimp. The Man of A Thousand Comebacks makes yet another one, but Green Blimp is very much a return to form. You can almost hear him ripping himself off on these tracks, but in-house sampling is fine when it’s this good.

04) The Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelions. Greg Cartwright from Reigning Sound collaborating with Coco Hames of The Ettes, and I would have bounced it higher if Greg sang everything. Great guests including Dave Amels and Dan Auerbach, and the songs are stellar – of course.

05) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs. I like this album quite a bit, but not with the overwhelming fawning that it is getting across the board; I suspect it will finish atop this year’s Village Voice Poll (nah, they’ll cop out for Kanye West…). More of a consistent album than usual and it is growing on me.

06) Jason and the Scorchers – Halcyon Times. Dare I say it? The Scorchers are back. New rhythm section, but Jason Ringenberg sounds young and refreshed, and Warner Hodges is once again a guitar slinger to be bowed down to. Your move, Del Lords!.

07) Stereophonics – Keep Calm And Carry On. Another band that inexplicably doesn’t find success in America, and I’m dumfounded. Kelly Jones and crew just keep getting better and better; maybe one day we’ll catch up with the rest of the globe?

08) Locksley – Be In Love. Maybe it’s the reputation as a band for teens? Their second album is a big leap forward, stuffed with energetic, bouncy, dance-worthy pop songs and great vocals. Remember – no guilty pleasures!

09) Marah – Life Is A Problem. The sound of a band falling apart and being glued back together at the same time. Organic, loopy, rough, heartfelt, strange and exciting, it’s by turns depressing and magical; listening to it is like eavesdropping. I see light at the end of this tunnel.

10) Pernice Brothers – Goodbye Killer. Really, have these guys ever made anything less than a compelling album? Joe Pernice has to be one of the most under-appreciated songwriters around; here his gems echo everything from 60’s singles to late 20th century indie angst. Meant to be listened to cover to cover.

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New Album! Ginger

Well, almost new. This will have to hold you until the new studio album from the new band (Ginger, Michael Monroe and others) produced by Jack Douglas hits the streets this year.

Ten is a sampler of sorts, featuring a few songs from a few solo albums with the obligatory new cuts to make it required purchasing for the completest (assuming you’re not thieving the damned thing, that is.)

The lead singer of The Wildhearts has always been interesting to me, for he’s all over the board musically. Some tracks sound like Metallica, all heavy thunder and woofer bleating. Others are delicate, hook-laden pop numbers, reggae tunes or straight-ahead glam rockers with catchy verses and a memorable chorus. Beatle sounds, glam, garage rock, power pop…all in a blender. When he and The Wildhearts are on, they remind me of  a cross between The Del Lords and Jason and The Scorchers…

Video: The Wildhearts – “The Revolution Will Be Televised

I first came across him in one of my favorite bands, The Quireboys, from which he was fired. Turns out the move was better for them as well as him, as The Wildhearts have had major success (although not so much here in the States). But equally fascinating are his multitude of side projects, including Silver Ginger 5, Brides of Destruction and Clam Abuse. Although he discounts his own singing ability, his acoustic shows prove that he’s adept whether playing a coffeehouse or Wembley.

Video: Ginger –  “Yeah Yeah Yeah

If you’re a Ginger guy you’re probably already all over this; if not 10 might be a good place to indoctrinate yourself. Personally I’d advise you to take a flyer on Valor de Corazon, Yoni or Market Harbor, but then again I like all his albums with the exception of Clam Abuse. I find that album almost as appealing as the band name.

Listen to clips at Amazon

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #3

You’ve heard the phrase actions speak louder than words? Well, before I say any more I implore you to watch this video clip and tell me it isn’t the most ass-shaking, head-knocking rock and roll track of 2010…

Video: “High Horse

The Jim Jones Revue can lay claim to being the fiercest rock’n’roll band on tha planet right now, and while that might not prove absolute, I guarantee you  they’d be in the final rounds. Slam some Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis down your throat and follow it with a chaser of Ziggy-era David Bowie and The Stooges and you’re only scratching the surface.

Video: “Shoot First

The band exploded (probably literally) on the English scene in 2008 and issued a hastily recorded self-titled album; last year a compilation of singles and b-sides called Here To Save Your Soul followed. Jones (formerly of Thee Hypnotics) fronts a powerhouse band featuring guitarist Rupert Orton, bassist Gavin Jay,  drummer Nick Jones and keyboard player Elliot Mortimer. Everyone is great – obviously – but it’s piano man Mortimer whose raucous boogie-woogie attack gives the band its hybrid punk/rockabilly energy. It’s scary how good this band has gotten in less than two years; I cannot wait to see them live.

Video: Live at the Dirty Water Club

Burning Your House Down is not only one of 2010’s most aptly named albums, it’s one of the loudest records you will ever own.

And it is absolutely one of the best.

Melt your ears at Amazon

Jim Jones website

Jim Jones Revue on MySpace

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New Album! Jet Black Berries

When I moved from Syracuse to Rochester in the early 80s, I still made several trips back down the Thruway to catch some of the great bands toiling away in that urban wasteland. In retrospect, I’m sure a lot of towns had their own burgeoning scene that was being ignored while A&R people tripped all over each other to mine places like Athens and Seattle.

And like many cities, there were shitty cover bands pulling big crowds while the true artists creating their own path struggled to fill the other clubs. At least some of those underappreciated artists broke out and made careers; the cover bands either faded away or are still playing Journey and Van Halen covers for gas money on weekends.

In Rochester, it wasn’t much different, and the coolest band haunting the boards was New Math. Their dark, swirling mix of psychedelia and punk sprang from influences like the Velvet Underground (whose didn’t?) and they issued a couple of singles and shared bills and tours with some of the hippest bands of the era. But after struggling through a few years, they changed their sound, renamed themselves the Jet Black Berries and in 1984 wound up getting signed by Enigma Records and releasing three albums. Breaking up in 1988, the core of the band continued on through regional projects; original lead singer Kevin Patrick ironically became an A&R man.

The current lineup features drummer Roy Stein, bassist Gary Trainer, guitarist Chris Yockel, singer Johnny Cummings and keyboardist Mark Schwartz. Pulled together for a reunion in 2008, they floored the audience – and themselves – and decided to give it another whirl. Now a new album, their first in twenty-two years, is available: Postmodern Ghosts.

Yeah, there’s some reanimation – “They Walk Among You”, “Ominous”, “American Survival”, “Pipes of Pan”…so what? Neither New Math nor the Jet Black Berries were household names; those of us familiar with the earlier versions will enjoy the songs as much as new listeners. Apparently the first single, “God With a Gun”, is already making waves despite the lack of a cohesive corporate promotion.

More proof that sometimes good stuff just resonates.

Jet Black Berries on MySpace

Listen to samples of Postmodern Ghosts.

New Math’s Wake The Dead.

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Sex Pistol Radio

Never Mind the Bollocks, here’s Jonesy’s Jukebox!

Steve Jones, Sex Pistols guitarist, launches a new radio show on the legendary KROQ this Sunday, October 10th, and terrestrial radio just got cooler. One of my big gripes with radio today is tightly formatted playlists and national programming at the expense of regional breakouts.

There was a time when radio jocks really had to know their music, and their love of it bled through the radio speakers. Over time that seemed to die, giving way to morning zoo shows and formulaic he/she pairings; the real rock lovers were either banished to night and weekend slots or settled for weekly themed shows…or left the dial altogether.

Radio has had its share of rockers-turned jocks over the years; probably the most successful has been Little Steven with his Underground Garage empire. And while some have imploded rather quickly (David Lee Roth) others have proven to be quite entertaining. Nights With Alice Cooper showed that while Vince isn’t golfing, he’s got a wealth of anecdotes and great taste in music. And who would have imagined that Bob Dylan would not only sit down at a microphone, but prove to be so subtly hilarious?

Of course with the podcast explosion, all this might go the way of the dinosaur. But as long as rock dinosaurs roam the earth, we need someone on the other side of the dial who is in it for the right reasons. I have no doubt that Steve Jones will play some raucous, ass-kicking rock and roll, but the thing that excites me the most is the open call for bands to submit music directly to the show for airplay consideration. Jonesy’s Jukebox will feature an irreverent mix of new music from iconic artists, developing talent, and eclectic cuts from his personal music collection.

“Sunday nights on KROQ has historically been the home to groundbreaking programming beginning with the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer over 30 years ago. In fact, Rodney was one of the first DJ’s in America to play the Sex Pistols” said Kevin Weatherly,Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS RADIO and Program Director for 106.7 KROQ FM. “Steve is punk rock royalty and a proven tastemaker. I’m thrilled that Jonesy’s Jukebox can now be heardalongside KROQ Locals Only, Loveline and Rodney on the Roq.”

To submit music to be considered for inclusion on Jonesy’s Jukebox, please send band CD/Bio to:

Steve Jones
c/o Jonesy’s Jukebox
PO Box 790
Hollywood, CA 90027

God Save The Queen!

 

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Under The Radar: The Prisoners

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Meaning I may not hear your album right away, but if it’s good, someday I’ll eventually get tipped to it. I stumbled backwards into The Prisoners after being knocked out by Graham Day and the Gaolers and retracing the steps. Always a fan of the Mod sound and the garage-pop-punk from the Medway scene, I’m a bit surprised that I missed this the first time around. But better late than never – I’ve scooped up all their stuff over the past couple of years.

The band formed around 1980 and drew heavily from the usual pop psych influences like The Small Faces and The Pretty Things, although having The (Thee) Milkshakes as virtual neighbors didn’t hurt either. The Jam might have become far more popular, but if you think Paul Weller was the shit, you should listen to A Taste Of Pink immediately. If the opener “Better In Black” doesn’t grab you in three seconds flat, call the doctor.

The Prisoners boast a tight punchy sound shaped primarily by Day’s ringing guitars and the great organ playing of James Taylor, who channeled a synth through a loudspeaker to create unique Casio/Farfisa sounds as well as pumping out classic Hammond riffs. Allan Crockford on bass and Johnny Symons on drums held down the bottom with manic energy.

Video: “Hide and Seek

As with all good things, it didn’t last – four albums later, the band was done by 1986. But in its wake, among other projects, The Solarflares (with Day and Crockford) carried the torch and now Graham Day is back with more. Fans of The White Stripes and the Underground Garage playlist as well as devotees of the original influences will find much to like here; their 80s music is as exciting as anything being released today.

The Prisoners at MySpace

The Prisoners discography at Ace Records

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