Tag Archives: The Del Lords

Under The Radar: The Brandos

They weren’t under the radar in the 1980s…

But like many great bands, The Brandos are now and have been for some time. I can’t explain why so much quality music can’t grab the attention of large segments of the American public, but my suggestion would be that not getting airplay might have something to do with it. Sure, “Gettysburg” was an FM radio staple for a bit and even made some waves on eMpTV, but that was a quarter-century ago.

Video: “Gettysburg

Like other ex-pats, they realized that Europe could appreciate a great band, so rather than chase major labels like Columbia Records or Warner Brothers, these bands signed with Blue Rose and SPV and Line. Only fans would realize that they were still recording, touring, creating…others would figure them as one-hit wonders and close the books. Of course, that was before everyone had the technology to not only search them out, but to download and order music from halfway across the globe.

Video: “The Keeper” (unplugged)

Of course, I do have a disease. I’ve been scouting music since I was old enough to walk into a department store record department and flip through the singles and read any magazine I could get my hands on. Can’t tell you how many catalogues I set away for , nor how many checks I mailed to odd remote addresses. But today it’s as simple as bouncing an artist’s name off Google, MySpace and You Tube…but you have to make the effort to look for great music, it won’t be handed to you. Those who don’t miss out on bands like The Diamond Dogs and The Refreshments and the great Herman Brood.

And yes, they miss out on The Brandos.

On first listen I immediately loved singer David Kincaid’s slightly sandpapered vocals; they had the comfort and familiarity one would expect from hours of listening exposure. And when I finally heard The Brandos cover “Lodi” I realized why – there’s a lot of John Fogerty DNA in there. Like Fogerty, Kincaid sings with unbridled passion.

Video: “Walk On The Water

In 1994, Kincaid and longtime partner-in-crime Ernie Mendillo were on the road with two other New York legends, Scott Kempner and Frank Funaro, names any Dictators or Del Lords fans should know. Recording two shows in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the appropriately named In Exile Live was released. A brilliant cross-sampling of their recorded career, it featured rousing rock anthems, Irish folk tunes and a couple of pitch-perfect primal rock covers of The Sonics’ classics “Strychnine” and “Psycho” (a tip of the cap to Kincaid’s roots in the Seattle club scene).

Video: “Strychnine

I’ve been blasting this CD over the last couple of days and heartily recommend that anyone who hasn’t heard it drop what they’re doing and resolve this gap in their collection. If you’ve never heard The Brandos, you will be treated to one of the great unsung American bands. And if they did indeed drop under the radar for you after “Gettysburg“, well…you have a lot of catching up to do, most of it glorious. Excellent musicianship consistently goes hand in hand with premium songwriting.

Lots of MP3 samples at Haunted Field Music

Buy some Brandos albums on Amazon

The Brandos on MySpace

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Mixtape! This is Your Brain On Pop…

Way back in the day – June 1997 to be exact – I slapped this puppy on a C-90 and shared it with my tape swap group. Damned if it still doesn’t sound good now. A nice mix of old and new (new then, anyway), famous and obscure, sweet and bitter. Someday when I have both bandwidth and time I’ll load these on a special tab, but just YouTube or MySpace or Google your way around for now.

This Is Your Brain.

This Is Your Brain On POP!

Any Questions?

The Nerves – “When You Find Out” How can you go wrong when you have not one, not two, but THREE great songwriters in the band? Well, that’s probably two too many…
Ginger – “Feel Like Falling Down” Always a Molson’s Ale in the fridge, always a Canadian pop band on my tapes. Can’t recommend the whole CD but this song is sweet.
Joan Jett – “Indian Giver” Yes, your eyes are working fine. Little Ms. Riot Grrrl does a nice job on this 1910 Fruitgum Company classic.
The Shazam – “Blew It” From Copper Records, the label that brought us the Badfinger tribute, comes this Cheap Trick/Who/Badfinger sounding band produced by Brad Jones, whose influence is strong here (that’s a GOOD thing).
The Clouds – “Aquamarine” An Australian band who I only heard of because they opened up for TPOH – spotty record but this track is killer.
The Guess Who – “Don’t You Want Me” Burton Cummings is a guilty pleasure of mine. This is the second version of this song, from “Road Food”. They could really rock live.
John Hiatt – “Doll Hospital” The greatest living American songwriter. His older stuff is classic; if all you know is “Bring The Family” you are missing a TON of great stuff.
The Chills – “The Male Monster From The Id” Martin Phillips and company – this one’s for all the girls. Another spotty record with some great songs.
Candy Butchers – “Til You Die” More Mikey! No knock on Adam Schlesinger of FOW, but Mike Viola deserves some props for his vocals in the movie THAT THING YOU DO. Buy this EP before its gone.
Blue Cartoon – “Parachute” Lee, who’s one of my SON OF TAPE TREE swap partners, is far too modest to tell you that he writes great pop songs. So I will – this stands up with the best of 1997.
Michael Shelley – “Going To L.A.” East Coast Beach Boys with great lyrics and a borrowed T-Rex riff. Mike’s HALF EMPTY is one of the best records of 1997.
Sylvain Sylvain – “Teenage News” Ex-N.Y.Doll had a much poppier side than the band ever did. Two great records and gone – I wish he were still making music.
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – “Dream Kid” Great, great pop rock band, probably known best for “Sailing”. This version of the band featured future Attractiion Bruce Thomas on bass.
Stella Luna – “Nervous Man” A plug for Bruce Brodeen’s NOT LAME label and sampler. Jamie Hoover produced this new band’s track; can’t wait to hear the whole record!
Sparks – “Here Comes Bob” Besides being a vastly underrated band, Sparks had a great sense of humor. In this song, Bob has a strange way of making friends…
 
Redd Kross – “Pretty Please Me” I wanted to put “Mess Around” on this tape, but “Pretty Please Me” started off with more of a bang! Cannot believe this band isn’t all over the radio!
Semisonic – “Brand New Baby” One of the best of 1996, from the ashes of Trip Shakespeare. Semisonic’s debut CD was wall to wall great songs and was criminally ignored.
Richard X. Heyman – “Everything The Same” Permanent Press Records will release CORNERSTONE, Richard’s first new record in five years. He plays all the instruments on this song and is a pop god.
The Del Lords – “Stay With Me” In a better world, Scott Kempner and Andy Shernoff would be revered songwriters. This Dictators classic re-interpreted by Scott’s next great band, whose catalogue deserves better. Rhino? Ryko? Hello??
The Pursuit Of Happiness – “Pressing Lips” Speaking of great songwriters….Moe Berg writes ’em, the great band kicks them into gear, and those killer harmony vocals seal the deal
The Faces – “You’re So Rude” We lost Ronnie Lane this month. Although overshadowed first by Steve Marriot and later by Rod Stewart, “Plonk” was the backbone of the Faces, Small and otherwise.
Firesign Theatre – “Porgie Tirebiter” I’ve been slipping in a few non-musical interludes on this tape, but since this is a theme song, I might as well ‘fess up. If you haven’t heard “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers”, you haven’t lived.
Rick Derringer – “Something Warm” From “Hang On Sloopy” forward, Rick always had a knack for pop, even if he didn’t have the voice to match. Still, GUITARS AND WOMEN was a first rate album. He’s back to the blues now, though.
Godley & Creme – “Big Bang” Dedicated to the Jellyfish Listgroup – what should we call this, 5CC? For a laugh, play the Blues Brothers’ version of “Hey Bartender” at the same time.
Cheap Trick – “Oh Candy” From the first of two self-titled albums, a nice, bouncy cheerful pop song about suicide. You won’t be comin’ around no more….
Pat Godwin – “Amish My Ass” For every guy who ever got turned down with a bullshit excuse, Pat sticks it right back up her ass in one minute and twelve seconds.
Eric Carmen – “Hey Deanie” Maybe he lost his way off the path, maybe he is label-less because he is a problem guy. But forget the BS – it’s amazing how many different times Eric captured the innocence of summer love in a song.
Kyle Vincent – “Wake Me Up (When The World’s Worth Waking Up For” Am I the only person who thinks Kyle and Eric Carmen sound alike? This perfect single should be blasting out of every car radio right now! Why isn’t it??
Sparks – “Batteries Not Included” Part two of the Sparks humor brigade. Followed up on the record by a song called “Whippings And Apologies” which I’ll probably toss on another tape someday…
Mick Ronson – “Sweet Dreamer” (edit) Speaking of losses, I miss Ronno. He made Bowie and Hunter better, brought out a great side of Morrissey, and had an appreciation for classic American music like Patsy Cline. 

Any questions?

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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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T.G.I.F. – Ten 2010 Bridesmaids

Putting together a “best of” list is hard for me, because there’s so much out there to enjoy every year and many albums appeal to me in different ways. Lists are subjective, of course (despite what Rolling Stone may insist) and try as I might I can’t put six pounds of stuff into a five pound bag. So while I consider the Top Ten an honor, the near misses – Bridesmaids, as I’ve been calling them – are no slouches either.

To beat the tired drum again, anyone who is claiming that there is no great music being made simply isn’t trying hard enough to find it. I’m out there beating the bushes constantly and I can’t keep up with it; certainly even a cursory attempt to widen one’s horizons would be richly rewarded (there’s a bunch of links at right for starters). And as always I welcome the emails from readers that start “have you heard…” as they often open new doors for me as well.

So this week, in no particular order, let me present Ten 2010 Bridesmaids – albums that didn’t make the Top Ten but weren’t far off. When I post the full “best of” lists in January these will certainly be there, so give a listen and be rewarded! (Amazon links included – many on sale right now!)

And on this TGIF Friday I’m especially thankful.

01) Peter Wolf – Midnight Souveniers…Like fine wine, Wolf just gets better and better with age. A far cry from his kinetic J. Geils frontman image, Pete has quietly entered the small plateau of artists perpetuating organic, honest music for the ages. A musical archivist flexing his talents.

02) Smash Palace – 7…If the cover art’s nod to Revolver doesn’t tip you off, let me. Smash Palace is in the upper tier of powerpop bands with traces of Cheap Trick, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Badfinger in its mix but a fresh and original sound. Solid songwriting, incredible vocals, songs that are pure ear candy. Radio’s loss; your gain.

03) Paul Thorn – Pimps and Preachers…”If I could be a tear/rolling down your cheek/and died on your lips/my life would be complete”. Holy shit. I’m new to Thorn’s world, but this is a gritty brew of John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, Bob Seger and Alejandro Escovedo. I am on board now.

04) The Master Plan – Maximum Respect…You were so sure that you didn’t get a record from The Del Lords, The Fleshtones or The Dictators in 2010. Well, you were wrong! The collaborative side project is back for a second album and as you might expect, it kicks ass! If “BBQ” doesn’t get you hopping, you are a zombie.

05) Teenage Fanclub – Shadows…Back after a five-year break and sounding like it was a day. Fannies know what to expect, for the uninitiated, think a sophisticated pop blend of XTC, Big Star and some classic California sunny pop (Beach Boys, CSN). A little subdued for some, I prefer to call it atmospheric.

06) New Pornographers – Together…The phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” sets the bar very high when talking about this collaborative unit, but damned if I don’t find every one of their albums irresistible. Any band that can make whistling as cool as a snapping snare drum is okay by me.

07) Graham Parker – Imaginary Television…Another guy who just defies the calendar and continues to pump out great songs; he’s a better singer, songwriter and guitar player now than in his popular prime. Also be sure to pick up his live set with The Figgs.

08) Deadstring Brothers – Sao Paulo…Imagine the Gram Parsons / Keith Richards sessions in the Stones’ golden era were invaded by Ronnie Wood from The Faces. Wine flowed. Tape rolled. Absolute gospel – rock – country blues bliss.

09) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever…Just missed…I thought the personnel change would impair their urgency and their passion but they are as good as ever. The first five songs are absolutely perfect and the album would be worth it if it ended there.

10) Nick Curran – Reform School Girl…I wasn’t a follower of Curran but damned if he isn’t channeling Little Richard, Phil Spector, Fats Domino, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Sonics on this album. This is a party whittled down and stuffed in a jewel case; besides – how can you not buy an album with a title like this one?

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Roots Rockers

Last night I saw two great sets from the pride of Festus, Missouri – The Bottle Rockets. Great albums and an even better band live, and it’s nights like that which make me thankful that there are still some great bands making the rounds these days playing Great American Music.

Of course, radio isn’t exactly following suit…roots rock, Americana and good old country soul rock’n’roll doesn’t market to the tweens. That’s the target audience with the most disposable income, the highest sheep mentality and the most easily swayed loyalty. And since no one is trying to cultivate careers anymore, it’s all about the quick hit and the cash grab, because tomorrow is someone else’s marketing bonanza.

Well, there are great bands out there plugging in and rocking out, and despite the ambivalence of the media, they’ve managed to carve out a career and a loyal audience. It’s not likely that they’ll play the Enormodome anytime soon, but who wants to watch a band through binoculars, anyway? Give me the honest sweat and pulse of a great club show any day.

The Bottle Rockets are such a band – they play with passion and heart and write songs about real people and real lives. They’ll plug in and blast off just as hard for fifty people as they will for fifteen hundred or fifteen thousand. So in their honor, here are ten artists that your neighbor might not know the name of, but their mission was to carry the torch for Great American Rock’n’Roll.

All deserve to be household names, and in my world, they are.

01) The Bottle Rockets: “I’ll Be Comin’ Around

02) Jason and the Scorchers: “White Lies

03) Webb Wilder: “Tough It Out

04) The Del Lords: “Burning In The Flame Of Love

05) Terry Anderson: “You Know Me

06) Dan Baird: “I Love You Period

07) The Jayhawks: “Save It For a Rainy Day

08) Lucero: “She’s Just That Kinda Girl

09) Drive-By Truckers: “This Fucking Job

10) The Beat Farmers: “Hollywood Hills

Of course, it’s just ten songs, not the canon. From Credence to The Replacements, from Walk The West to The Bo Deans, from The Blasters to The Gaslight Anthem, there’s a wealth of timeless music beyond that radio dial. Enjoy these ten, and go find yourself some more.

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New Album! Deadbeat Poets


If I hadn’t already been familiar with how good The Deadbeat Poets are, I’m not certain that kicking off an album with a song title like “Elvin Dabney, Professional Thief” would have hooked me. Not that “The Postmodern Razor Wire Showdown” would have drawn me in either. So don’t let that dissuade you, either – Circus Town is another great release on the heels of Notes From The Underground.

I often think of different artists when I listen to their music, but not in a copycat way. Hell, my first exposure to them still knocks my socks off; “The Truth About Flying Saucers” sounds like Warren Zevon fronting The Del Lords after three rounds of Red Bull. (Full version on their MySpace page – link at bottom)

 “People These Days” takes The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and flips it on its head; “At Least It Worked Out For You” is fiery and rambunctious, like The Wildhearts or vintage Stiff Records acts. “The Staircase Stomp” might recall The Jam or The Motors. There’s a wealth of sharp hooks and snappy choruses – this is meant to be played loud and sung along to.

Of course, with band members having tenures in bands as widespread as Blue Ash and Stiv Bators, one would expect a myriad of influences to creep in. “Sunglass City” sounds like a song The Beatles might have covered during their Cavern Club era, or perhaps an obscure Kinks b-side. Jangly twelve-string guitars add a Byrdsian essence to “I Thought I Knew You”, which (like “Madras Man”) could pass as easily as a late 70’s Searchers cut as it could a contemporary country-pop tune.

It rocks, it swings, and it’s funny, and hitting the replay button is a no-brainer. Sure, it starts out like gangbusters and eases to a slower finish, but so does my car and my metabolism. And if that’s the only nit you have to pick, I have two words for you: shuffle play.

One of my favorites of 2010 so far. Go get it!

The Deadbeat Poets on MySpace

Pop Detective Records site

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