Archive for January, 2013

Mixtape365 10

Hanging Tree
Green River
Sub Pop 200

As much attention as Pearl Jam has gotten, few know that it all began in the late 1980’s with Green River. When Green River split… their members going off to form Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone (which would serve to give birth to Pearl Jam after the death of vocalist Andrew Wood)… it marked an end to some of the most energetic and surly rock Seattle ever produced. Equal parts Punk, Funk, old school Metal, with a healthy dash of fuck-you, Green River DEFINED what would end up becoming known as “grunge”, and in many ways the songs contained on their two released albums have never been surpassed. Hanging Tree is, in my not-even-close-to-humble opinion, the best song they ever recorded, and it’s only available on the SubPop 200 compilation disc. It’s well worth the search (as it’s not available for digital download). Go now, rock the fuck out.

19

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – 9

OK, so I had a complete computer failure, which screwed everything up for 3-4 days while I got the system repaired, which threw a wrench in the daily upload aspect of this. I’ll be uploading multiple entries over the next few days until I’m “caught up”

9
Lift
Brad
Interiors

Brad is one of the Seattle “side bands” that Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard formed with Jeremy Toback, Regan Hagar, and Shawn Smith. On their debut album, Shame, they proved to have a lot more barroom groove, soul and funk than the masses tend to associate with their off-the-cuff summary of what the “Seattle sound” is about. The blue-eyed soul of Buttercup and the popping bass funk of 20th Century never really made as big a splash as Gossard’s other band, but in many ways, both Shame and the sophomore release Interiors, proved to be much more satisfying albums. On Lift, both musically and lyrically, the band captures the mercurial magic of teenage ski trips in the Northwest Interior… everything from the icy bite of cold air in the lungs as you careen downhill, to the furtive sneaking of booze outside of the chaperones view, to the loud and reckless cacophony of teenagers packed into a school bus as they vibrate with anticipation of arrival. It creates, with each note and lyric, in crystalline perfection the magic of those moments, where you felt alive… the troubles of the world behind you, speed and cold and liquor-infused cocoa making you think anything was possible in the future that lay ahead.

16

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – 8

Bad
U2
The Unforgettable Fire

During the “bleak years”… the period from 87-89 where my mental state was so bad that I wondered multiple times daily if my life was over before it had begun… this song was part of the ongoing soundtrack. Ironically, a song about battling despair and the fathomless hollow of addiction was one of the few things that gave me strength. I’d be in my room, tears cutting hot trails down my cheeks, as I sang in a sobbing wail along with Bono “I’m wide awake… I’m not sleeping”. It became a mantra to myself. A truth you don’t believe, but say repeatedly. Hoping that one day… hoping it won’t be too late… hoping that the words would become truth. For almost a decade after that, I couldn’t listen to this song. Just the opening notes would summon up those feelings… that mental state. An audio mnemonic device that would threaten to send me spiraling down. Now, years later, the song is a marker. A stone over the grave of what was… and what almost happened. I appreciate it, and wish I’d had the wisdom and knowledge then that time has given over the years that would follow.

Mixtape 365 – 7

#7

SONG: 21st Century Schizoid Man

ARTIST: Robert Fripp & Maynard James Keenan

I stumbled upon this track completely by accident while driving one day from LA to Orange County. A friend, knowing my love of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer, had made me a “Maynard Rarities” CD to listen to. The disc included tracks like “Ass Kicking Fat Kid” and a demo of Tool with Rage Against the Machine, along with live versions of Stranglehold and some of the tracks off of the 90s-era “Replicants” disc. The real shocker for me was 21st Century Schizoid Man, MJK’s collab with King Crimson guitarist and head-fucker Robert Fripp. The Guitar and synth roar in bombastic and theatrical, oversized and overwhelming, followed by Maynard’s chopped and compression-treated vocals that sound almost like a rally. (What kind of rally… you’re not quite sure, even after multiple listens) It’s a truly epic and powerful song, and one that I usually listen to before heading into meetings or interviews or other situations where I need to get my adrenaline pumping beyond its normal caffeinated levels.

09

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – 6

#6

SONG: Prayers For Rain

BAND: The Cure

ALBUM: Disintegration

 

While most people associate the early 90’s incarnation of the Cure with Pictures of You & Lovesong, it’s the other songs off of Disintegration that became an integral part of my bleak & black-mooded life during the years immediately following it’s release.  Lyrically, Robert Smith perfectly captures the late-teen/early-20s state of absolutely being engulfed by your feelings when a relationship goes bad, or when it hasn’t “gone bad” (Read: ended) but desperately needs to.  That was Prayers for Rain in a nutshell for me. A supplication offered up in the hopes of divine intervention… genuflecting before silent Gods in the hope of some kind of end to the current state of things. The grinding Bass and keyboard is crosscut with the raindrop notes of guitar and the whipping wind of the string section, keeping the clouds pouring out bitter tears of remorse until the last five notes which tentatively climb upward, as if sunlight… or maybe the first rays of hope… are breaking through at last.

 

 

08

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – Day 5

#5

SONG: On the Road Again

BAND: Andy Prieboy

ALBUM: Upon My Wicked Son

 

I had bought this album after seeing the video for “Tomorrow Wendy” on 120 Minutes on MTV. As much as I liked the song that inspired the purchase, it was the first track… a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “On the Road Again” that immediately captured my attention. At the time I was unaware that it was a cover song (a discovery that lead to small degree of shock when I heard the original) but the growl and combination of melancholy and menace, wrapping up with the soaring howl of the female gospel singer crying “Lord have mercy, upon my wicked son” struck a deep chord with me at an almost cellular level.  At the time, I was truly feeling like a manboy without a home… having left LA the first time in shambles, having hidden out at my mother’s house, only to make multiple ventures back to LA and the bay area, a drive to Taos and the American Southwest, trips to Seattle, finally landing at WSU in Pullman… all in an effort to find some kind of direction that wouldn’t be self-destructive.  The album is Out of Print, and hard to find, but well worth the search.

 

07

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – Day 4

#4

SONG: How We Operate

BAND: Gomez

ALBUM: How We Operate

 

For two years, when Howard Stern first made the move from “regular” radio to Sirius, I had a subscription and portable player to the Satellite Network.  I was surprised to find that the music channels I’d been so dismissive of… (“Who the hell is going to pay for radio stations of music”)… ended up grabbing as much of my attention as the Howard Stern show did.

One night, driving home late from work, the plaintive plucked mandolin lines of the intro to “How We Operate” came over the car speakers. I was enthralled… excited to discover this band I had never heard of.

Later that week, I bought the CD, and played it when I was dropping the kids off at school in the morning. It quickly became the requested “soundtrack” for the drive to (or from) school, with all three daughters singing along with the song.

Those memories, of their little-kid voices singing along with such happy abandon, come back to me instantly every time I listen to the song… the memories more poignant now as they enter High School.

 

 

06

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – Day 3

#3

SONG: Scorpios

BAND: Adam & the Ants

ALBUM: Prince Charming

 

From 3rd grade until 8th grade I had a pen-pal in England (who later move to New Zeland) named Wayne.

The whole concept of having a pen pal seems like such a weird and foreign concept nowadays, with the internet making it possible to connect with anyone worldwide with such little effort, but back in those days (being the late 70’s-early 80’s) it was seen as something really unique and different to have someone that was not a family member in a different country that you communicated with.

As we got older, we took to sending each other “letters on tape”, where we’d record one side with us talking, telling the details of our days, experiences at school, etc.  On the other side of the cassette, we’d usually include a couple of songs from bands that we were listening to at the time. I sent Wayne songs from Styx, and Kiss, and Rush.

He sent me Adam & the Ants.

He assumed, because they were so big over in the UK, that I HAD to have heard of them.  However, being the small, redneck town that it was, I had no idea who the hell he was talking about, and then came three songs from the Prince Charming album. Scorpios, Stand & Deliver, and Prince Charming.

I was baffled. I was confused as hell. But oh dear god, I was hooked.  The horn and guitar blare of Scorpios felt like a rock version of the Martin Denny records my parents had.  The lyrics had a different kind of “rebellion” than I was familiar with in the rock I was used to… “Be pretty and young and fearless, like the Scorpion”… hinted at danger and pride, and an awareness of being part of something bigger.  I had to special order a copy of Prince Charming from the local record store, and I had only had it for a week when I placed another order for Kings of the Wild Frontier. I was hooked, and really Adam & the Ants… and later Adam Ant… was my first exposure to “alt rock”. Before I knew of the Sex Pistols, or Duran Duran, or the Cure, or Bauhaus, etc.  My look during “the metal years” was equal parts Metal & Adam Ant’s “Dandy Highwayman”.

I am sure it is just a coincidence… nothing more… that my lovely wife of over 16 years is a Scorpio.

 

05

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – Day 2

#2

SONG: The Sentinel

BAND: Judas Priest

ALBUM: Defenders of the Faith

In the days before CD players, much less portable MP3s, there were these things called Walkmans. They played cassettes. Tapes. Some that you’d purchase, some that you’d record from Vinyl LPs. Some that friends would record for you off their vinyl LPs.  It was proto-file-sharing, and every single kid I knew did it.  You recorded albums for your friends. They did likewise. Eventually the tape would either break from overplaying, or you’d want to listen to the songs with better quality, and you’d plunk down the $5.50 for the record.  This was how I became exposed to the metal that consumed my life and emotional heart in the early-to-mid 80s.  Before leaving for Southern California for the first time… the summer after my Sophomore Year in High School… on a family vacation with my Mom and my Sister, my friend Mike Knopes gave me a Maxell 90 Cassette with Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith on one side, and Dio’s Last in Line on the other. Driving south through the badlands and scrub-brush of central Washington and Oregon… dry dead weeds… towering cliffs with perfect geometric columns of basalt… my imagination went into overdrive when Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel” came on the headphones. Sitting in the backseat, watching the desolation roll by, I could easily imagine the world that the song described… a land both future and past where the core nature of humanity has been the price paid for a war that would give no satisfaction… even to the victor. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Judas Priest songs.

 

 

 

04

01 2013

Mixtape 365 – Day 1

This is the beginning of a writing exercise that (unless I fuck it up) will be done every day for 2013 (and a couple of days into 2014).  Each day I’ll post another “track” in the 365 Mix Tape, and a brief entry on what significance the track has for me… maybe where I heard it first, maybe what feelings it summons, maybe what people I associate with it… bits and bobs and thoughts & ramblings. One a day. Each day inspired by a different song.

Here we go…

#1

SONG: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

BAND: The Arcade Fire

I can’t remember the exact time I first heard the Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” album, although it had to be somewhere around 2005-2006, as I associate it with people talking about it on Warren Ellis’ Engine forum, and I remember my co-worker, and longtime friend Ross Worthley and I going over to Second Spin in Costa Mesa to buy some CDs (which means it was at the early stage of digital media consumption).  I put the CD in during the drive home from work that night. It had to have been late, as the streets were deserted. No commuter traffic along Red Hill in Irvine.  “Tunnels” played on the car stereo, and the plaintive vocals combined with the storytelling in the lyrics immediately conjured up images of Douglas Coupland’s book “Girlfriend in a Coma”.  It’s an association that springs immediately to mind every time I listen to the song… kids in their late teens in a world without parents or “society”. Trying to make sense of their roles, trying to define what they do. Trying to remember the past, trying to forget. Trying to come to terms with an undefined future at the same time they run from it.

 

03

01 2013