Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sublime - 40oz. to Freedom

★★★★★ Tracks:
5446 That’s My Number
Let’s Go Get Stoned

As I stood there in the hallway, my Dixie cup full of beer freshly tapped and poured from the keg out back, I watched another twenty-something take at least a serving’s worth of beer through a funnel. “Badfish” began playing on Pandora and the room around me began to shift out of focus, as memories pushed themselves to the forefront. A friend's parents away for a weekend vacation leaving us teenagers alone for a few days; where the one of us that lost the rock-paper-scissors contest would have to go into the supermarket with our fake IDs and put the deposit down for a keg; where we would promptly invite our friends over and they would invite their friends over and they would invite their friends over; bong rips by the pool, keg-stands in the kitchen, all bathrooms occupied by porcelain-hugging fuck-ups, and then someone inevitably yelling from out front “5-0!”

“Ain’t got not time to get old
Lord knows I’m weak
Won’t somebody get me off of this reef”

“Hey...hey...hey! ...The keg is tapped."

I’m transported back to the hallway I was standing in. People are starting to pass out. The keg’s tapped. The party’s over.

"White Castle?" he continues.

I’m thirty now, not that invincible seventeen year old I used to be. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s just not quite the same. Neither is Sublime. Every now and then though, when the setting’s just right, “Badfish” sounds like one of the best fucking songs to have ever passed through those speakers.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunny Day Real Estate - The Rising Tide

Well, Jeremy Enigk’s conversion to Chirstianity was no secret during the making of LP2, and based upon the cover for The Rising Tide his transformation to half-man/half-angel is well underway. Enigk's vocals even sound forcefully angelic. Hopefully he's found peace of mind, but the new SDRE sound is too holy for my tastes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunny Day Real Estate - The Pink Album

★★★★★ Tracks:
Theo B
Red Elephant

LP2, The Pink Album, Self Titled, whatever the fuck you want to call it is the SDRE album I still come back to often. I know Diary is better written and more unique, in fact LP2 just sounds like a continuation or a B-sides to that album. But some of the tunes here are catchier than most of Diary. It's also not quite as lengthy as its predecessor, which often wears out its welcome with a 53 minute run time.

“Theo B” has a nice guitar jingle with an up-tempo rhythm that drops into the signature SDRE distorted-octave chorus. “Red Elephant” sounds like something U2 might have come up with if they rocked a little harder. “5/4” is named after its tempo, a highly difficult time signature to write a pop song in, but SDRE is up to the task. Perhaps my favorite track to ever be produced by the group is “8,” which was cut originally for a 7” but beefed up and put on LP2. It takes a while to start, with Jeremy Enigk singing quietly to a slow strummed guitar, but blows up into soaring octaves and a great swing beat before settling into those great palm muted power chords I can never get enough of.

The band was in heavy conflict during the recording of LP2 and would disband soon afterwards. Rumor has it the band was fed up with Enigk’s born-again Christianity and his increasing artistic dominance over the band’s direction. They would never match the quality of these two records when they made their comeback a few years later.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary

★★★★★ Tracks:
In Circles

My grandfather passed away while I was in my junior year of high school. My family drove up from Florida to attend the funeral, but not before I picked up a bag of shwag for the few boring, dreary nights I’d be spending at Nana’s house. On one of the rare chances my dad and I were able to peel away from the family, we did one of the few things we naturally enjoyed together, which was taking trips to the record store. It was on this trip that I bought two completely dissimilar records, Sublime’s 40 oz. to Freedom and Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. At night when everyone would go to sleep, I’d head out to my grandmother’s huge yard, smoke a bowl, come back in and put my headphones on as loud as I could take. I didn’t know my grandfather all that well but it was still a somber moment, and Diary fit the mood perfectly.

When I got back to FL I played Sunny Day more and more. At the time, when most of what I was listening to was punk and rap, Sunny Day’s instrumentation made me think about lead guitar in a different way. Not that it had never been done before, but Sunny Day’s left and right split of both guitars allows for constant leads and intricate weaving of tone. The quiet/loud/quiet dynamic of the 90’s is further built upon as well. William Goldsmith, bored by the frequent monotony of rock/pop percussion, attacks the drums with a barrage of constant snare hits and performs fills and rolls at any moment’s notice. Not to be outdone by the drumming and dueling guitars, the bass is highly technical, and, with the guitars dueling leads, often carries the melody exclusively.

Diary isn’t on regular rotation like it once was. It’s tone, mostly dreary and slow in tempo, make it a record for a specific mood, or maybe it just always reminds me of when I bought it. It’s a highly influential record though, and phenomenally performed. The two stand-outs tracks here are some of the strongest rock cuts to come out of the 90’s. Diary’s opener, “Seven,” is the hardest and most upbeat of the lot, where the drum attack of the intro and transitions from verse to chorus are its highlight (the song is cut short due to MTV’s wishes of bands sticking as closely to a 3:00 run time as possible, the full track clocks in at 4:45).

The best track however resides near the end of the collection, “48” attempts to take the quiet/loud/quiet approach to new extremes, with a serene, almost classical sounding melody during the verse giving way to blaring, distorted octaves as Jeremy Enigk screams at the top of his lungs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

★★★★★ Tracks:

Surf rock made a big comeback a few years ago, weaving its way into the indie arena, with California up-and-comers (Girls, Best Coast, Wavves) wanting to incorporate the sounds of the most renowned of California groups. Surfer Blood hails from the East Coast in Florida, where there’s more humid rain than ocean breeze and the waves aren’t all that great, but they wanted in on the beach party too. Astro Coast didn’t take much time to warm up to initially. “Floating Vibes” and “Swim” are the catchiest of tunes, mixing early 2000s indie rock (The Shins, The Strokes) with their surf influences. “Harmonix” is a personal favorite, its name coming from the harmonic sound one can make by just barely placing a finger on a string above a fret, and it’s those harmonic notes the song is built off of.

The bad news is I completely forgot about this record weeks after hearing it. It doesnt have much staying power, and I've now grown bored by a lot of the songs I liked initially. I’ll keep a couple of the stand-outs and most likely scrap the rest. But unfortunately for my home state, looks like California wins again.