Monday, October 31, 2011

Stone Temple Pilots - Purple


Interstate Love Song
Big Empty

This disc still includes some shitty second-hand grunge, but it's hard to dislike STP's quality singles. The DeLeo brothers (guitarist and bassist) are responsible for most of the writing, as is the case with the two really fantastic tracks here, their first single "Big Empty" and third one, "Interstate Love Song". When "Big Empty" came out as a single promoting STP's upcoming record as well as The Crow soundtrack, a cult classic, it marked a strong shift towards pop rock for the Nirvana/Pearl Jam copycats; the jazzy bass line, 7th chords and acoustic slide guitar giving the group some much needed uniqueness.

A few months later came perhaps one of the most recognizable singles of the 90's, "Interstate Love Song". Encompassing classic Americana, Pop and only a slight tinge of Grunge, it's STP’s most timeless track, and whereas “Plush” is a guilty pleasure of mine forever trapped in the 90’s, “Interstate Love Song” will forever be a classic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stone Temple Pilots - Core



I remember a trip to the Keys with my parents and a big group of our friends. We all stayed in the same hotel, and during the evenings our folks would go out and get hammered while us kids were left to fend off boredom in the hotel rooms, with the eldest member acting as babysitter. All of us were sitting on the floor around the TV making fun of each other while intermittently checking in on MTV, waiting for our favorite music videos to play.


“Plush” was manufactured rock’n’roll - built off trends and plagiarisms and insincerities - but it didn’t matter to this twelve year old. The hooks were on point and the video contained all the supercool imagery one kid could ask for. It was the summer of 1993 and the apex of grunge; the genre had me hook, line and sinker. My dad took a quick break from the drink a day or so later and took me to the record store, probably in hopes of a new record momentarily stopping my whining. But soon even I realized the rest of Core sucked; it would not see the Discman many times thereafter. “Plush” however would easily sit near the top of a list of my favorite guilty pleasures to this day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Stooges - Fun House


Down on the Streets

Punk rock’s foundations are agreed to have begun sometime in the late 1950’s. But in my mind the first band to embody punk rock as we now know it is The Stooges. And it all starts with Iggy. Here on Fun House he screams, squeals, barks, claps, burps, cajoles, and sings as abrasively as he can for thirty minutes, trying his damnedest to replicate the energy from his legendary stage persona. And what a stage persona. A man willing to do anything to rile the audience, he would roll in glass, throw up on stage, dance like a lunatic, and his most lasting antic, stage dive into the audience, being the first to attempt what is now a concert past time.

As much as I like punk rock though, The Stooges are a group I appreciate more than I rotate regularly. Fun House is solid but I think punk rock works best in compact doses. The repetitive melodies are effective and outstanding on the shorter songs here (“Down on the Street”, “Loose”) but wear out their welcome on anything +5 minutes (“Dirt”, “1970”, “Fun House”). Still, I love to hear the roots of the genre. Everyone from the Wire to Fugazi to Nirvana to NOFX owes to the music of the The Stooges. And just as Iggy created his persona out of his idols (Jim Morrison in particular), countless others would study and follow in Iggy’s steps. Shit, Ozzy should be sending him regular royalty checks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Strikeforce Diablo - S/T EP


All Four, Pussies

More great hardcore from Gainesville. When will the hard stuff be hip enough to listen to again? Until then no one’s going to pursue it seriously. Age has made us soft. But no matter, while we wait for the music industry to grow a pair we’ve got four tracks and ten minutes worth of pure, power-chord driven, crash symbol pounding, say it aloud with me; “SCREAMO”. Now scream for joy as I post a free download link for the EP.

Download Free EP (Download winrar or unrar (Mac) if you don’t have an uncompressor)

I promise you this shit will rock your socks off, even those thick wool ones you’ve got ready for the winter. Twelve years after its release and this is still my go to record when I need that extra shot of adrenaline right to my veins. Seriously, queue this up on your headphones and take a stroll around town: NO ONE WILL FUCK WITH YOU.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Strokes - Angles


Taken For a Fool
Life is Simple in the Moonlight

First Impressions of Earth was a spectacular letdown, but because the first two Strokes records are so great I'll continue to give them chances. Most of us were amped for the first single we would hear in five years, and in some ways it shares commonalities with our favorite Strokes songs; the distorted vocals are back, the chorus is great and Fab is drumming with the same purpose he always has. But, where at one point the intricate weaving of duel guitars was the group's strength, they've developed a habit of trying to fit too many ideas into 3-minute pop tracks. The riffs throughout the intro and verse for "Under Cover of Darkness" are so exaggerated they undermine the overall quality of what could be a great song.

A few weeks after hearing that first single, but before the release of Angles, the Strokes performed on Saturday Night Live. They opened with a performance of the single they had been pushing for the past month, but the highlight was their closer. Always saving the best for last, the Strokes played the album's last track, “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” It's one of their most unique song since Is This It. A ballad by Strokes standards, the melody flows naturally, and the restrained solo by Valensi hearkens to the discipline they harnessed in their prime. It surprises me in the least it’s one of two Casablancas solo compositions on Angles.

So there was hope again.

Unfortunately, after countless times streaming Angles upon its release, nothing matched the quality of “Life is Simple in the Moonlight.” One of the few highlights is “Taken For a Fool,” the closest thing you’ll find to Is This It or Room on Fire. The Tom Petty influenced “Two Kinds of Happiness” is surprisingly enjoyable but loses focus during its course. And for the few solid songs there are equal duds. “You’re So Right” follows the awful “Juicebox” approach to mechanical rock’n’roll, “Games” is something between a New Order and Madonna mash-up, with awful execution, and then there’s “Metabolism”, some sort of waltzy-gothy-indie concoction. The rest fall into comfortable mediocrity

The Strokes have gathered a lot of great ideas for an EP’s worth of material, but when stretched unnaturally over ten songs, Angles is disjointed, lacking a clear trajectory. By choosing "Under Cover of Darkness" as the album's first single The Strokes can't say they didn't prepare us adequately.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Strokes - Room on Fire


Most of Them

Room on Fire is the perfect follow-up record to Is This It as far as I’m concerned. Why fix something that ain’t broke? Fuck all that noise about evolving and maturing -- the second time around should simply be about the continuation of writing great songs. And we get another collection of brilliant guitar-rock here; some of the riffs are even more intricate than anything on Is This It. A perfect example is the album’s second single, “Reptilia,” and The Strokes highlight as much with long camera shots on the fret work by both Albert Hammond, Jr. and Nick Valensi in the music video.

A few of my favorite Strokes songs are here. “12:51" is where were first introduced to the keyboard-effect Valensi implements throughout Room on Fire. One of my favorite traits about Casablancas as a lyricist is the humor and sarcasm he often includes in his songs, but he might even be fooling himself when he sings “Never needed anybody / Never needed nobody” on “Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” even if the bright two-chord progression suggests happiness. “Automatic Stop” features Hammond, Jr. pitching into the songwriting process for the first time. And as with Is This It The Strokes save the best for last in “I Can’t Win,” a simple little track about accepting failure.

Mila Kunis and Eva Mendes either trying to get their careers off the ground or fans of good music. Or both.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Strokes - Is This It


All of Them

In 2001 my record collection was running on fumes. Most of that great music I had collected from the 90’s had been destroyed or stolen. All that was left was a tattered lot of punk and emo records, most of which were perpetuating my frequent foul moods. The mainstream landscape, being inundated by shitty “bling”-rap, bubblegum pop and agro hard-rock, was even worse. MTV was dying, the radio had been dead for years -- my one true hobby was becoming warily dull.

But then, in one of MTV’s last redeeming moments, a buzzworthy video unlike anything they had played in over a decade was aired. The quintet, ragged and dirty and appearing on a stage resembling classic bandstands or Ed Sullivan shows, seem a bit aloof, a bit distracted, some might even say a bit lifeless. But they looked cool as shit. And once Julian Casablancas begins with his distorted voice and nonchalant cadence, you realized rock’n’roll hadn’t been this danceable in decades. Nodding your head as Albert Hammond, Jr. throws us back with a great solo and Casblancas comes in with one last chorus -- “Last Nite” was a reminder music is supposed to be fun. In songs like “The Modern Age” and “Someday” Casablancas tells tales of heartbreak similarly to most of the sappy shit I was listening to, but he does it with sincerity instead of superficial earnestness, attitude instead of whiny self-pity. Perhaps The Strokes' strongest trait, the guitar interplay between Hammond, Jr. and Nick Valensi isn't necessarily masterful, but it's incredibly melodic and expertly written, my favorites of which can be heard on “Soma” and “Take It or Leave It.”

A whole new realm of music opened for me with the release of Is This It. I rediscovered a lot of great 70’s rock they had borrowed from. It turned out music didn’t need constant drum beats, hard rock breakdowns, or electronic blips and beats after all. Although, as Chavez stated in his Albert Hammond, Jr. solo post, The Strokes aren’t one of the most original bands, they completely reinvigorated the sound they pay homage to. I hadn't had that much fun listening to a record since being a teenager. I think most everyone felt the same way, and perhaps it wasn’t pretentious himpsterism that set The Strokes and indie revivalism in New York City in motion, but a conjuring of excitement for good music again.

Easily one of the best records of the past twenty years.

(Guided by Voices appearance in this video for extra hip points)