Category Archives: Album Review

Album Review: Vivian Girls – “Share the Joy”

I’m a little embarrassed on this one; a solid month after seeing them live with the Black Lips and buying their latest, Share the Joy, I was actually back and forth on this one. I had no real idea how to feel about it. And to be honest, I still don’t. But after listening to it for so many times, it’s time to get to writing. A month has gone by, and I think it’s time to discuss this album.

Share the Joy, as the third album of a band composed of members who get more press for being parts of other bands more than they are this one, is not necessarily the kind of blended response that other ‘super groups’ may get. It’s not like pointing out why certain parts of the Dead Weather sound like the other bands that a given member is in, and why those parts contributing to the whole make it better. No, not the case here.

Instead, Vivian Girls have had a mixed reception since their impressive 2008 self-titled debut, and have had plenty of time in three short years to grow their sound. Instead, the only real change from the dream/noise-pop that their new drummer, Fiona Campbell plays with restraint that their previous two drummers disregarded. So ambient feed back and warm jangly guitars and vocals that have the intention of being meek and quiet in light of all that noise are the order of the day around here.

The full Joy Sharing Happens after the jump.

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Review: Smith Westerns “Dye it Blond”

After a first album of rambunctious energy and glam-punk orchestration  originated by Marc Bolan and modernized by the likes of the Strokes, and oozed a lo-fi quality that practically ensured round-the-clock play in your local record emporium, the Smith Westerns returned with a follow up of similar, but decidedly cleaner, songs. Get-in, get-out, get-laid is still the order of the day, but on the follow up to their self-titled debut, Dye it Blonde is the sound of a band that knows they put out one hell of a demo, and this one is for real. No more bullshitting around, these are the good takes that people are going to want to hear. And for better or for worse (more the former) it works to their advantage.

After the jump: sexy glam rock action! And a review!

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“Quadrophenia”: Another Spin, and A Retrospective.

I am an unabashed Anglophile. I firmly believe that rock and roll, though an American art form, had it’s best years when the Brits were dominating the output. If this site’s own logo is not an indication enough, I believe I cover mostly events, culture, and items relating to the British end of rock and roll more than I do the American side. That may be a fact, or that may just be conjecture, I’m not sure, and I haven’t checked yet because I’m a busy man. But I think it’s a fair thing to guess.

But like the blues scale and the work of Jimi Hendrix, the unalienable fact that between the two sides of the pond there  a shared interest in teenage angst and rebellion, and quest for self-definition in the middle of having a good time. Rock and roll does that in general, but perhaps here in America, the movie “American Graffiti” performs that function best as a sort of mixed-media combination of the best damn soundtrack ever compiled and one hell of a great ‘vignette’-style movie.

For the Brits, however, there’s Quadrophenia.

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Catching Up to 2010: Electric Comic Book Looks Back.

There’s no real reason to be snippy about how pointless it is to look back on an entire year’s worth of music and say what’s best and what was crap. There is reasonable suspicion, however, when three of the nation’s most trusted music criticism sources unanimously agree that the best album of the year is also the one most recently released. It was also the one most hyped to a point of being inescapable, just by the man’s sheer public persona. A well-oiled PR machine trumps talent, I suppose.

But could it also be that the great majority of the music, by and large, has been absolutely forgettable? Every list this year looks the same — and while that may not be a huge shocker to some, there is usually some major discrepancy among different publications. So take that with a grain of salt: the year’s best album is the one made by the guy who’s constantly hyping himself and keeping himself present in the public’s consciousness. Shocker? No. Just really disappointing.

<i>Electric Comic Book</i>; recently voted 'Best!'

But this is Electric Comic Book, damn it. We’re not here to debate the merits of music other than true-blue, red-blooded rock and roll, or even debase those other genres simply because it’s mainstream. That’s for the above linked critics to take care of when they’re feeling bad about themselves to do.

Instead, what we’re gonna do is go back. We’re going to take a look at some of the records we missed over the year, and judge them as if they all came out yesterday. There is no list here; only harsh scrutiny at the things that really matter to you and me. What are those things? Well. . . B.P. Fallon answers, the things we believe in.

I believe in Elvis Presley. I believe in Jerry Lee. I believe in Dr. Winston. I believe in you and me.

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Album Review: The Greenhornes – “****”.

Since slimming down to the core trio of Craig Fox (guitar/vocals), Patrick Keeler (drums) and Jack Lawrence (bass/vocals), the Greenhornes have experienced a long hiatus since 2002’s Dual Mono. In that time, and much like the effect its had for the White Stripes and Brendan Benson respectively, Keeler and Lawrence’s experiences with the Raconteurs seems to have influenced their sound most of all upon returning to their original project. That’s not to say that the Greenhornes’ sound owes a great deal to Brendan Benson and Jack White (and that’s a subject for a later debate), but like the other members of the Raconteurs, there’s something a little more adventurous about their work now post-“Consolers of the Lonely.”

After the jump: the full review of “****”.

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Woozy Viper return

"Rock and Roll" is now available. It looks like this.

It’s a damn shame that Woozy Viper do not (supposedly) perform live. After their first album was released to absolute mystery last year, the Meseke Brothers had the ear of several bloggers, including myself. I mean, I found out about the album from a business card stacked up at the Standard, a convenience store in Brooklyn. Plain white with the Woozy Viper website on the back, and the horror-movie style blood-drip font logo on the front. So it makes me wonder how they’ve managed to get the attention of bloggers in, say, Istanbul, let alone California or anyone else in America, for that matter. That’s perhaps one half testament to the speed of information these days, and the other the reality being that these guys are just that fucking good.

And they are! They are!

So imagine my joy when I get an e-mail giving me a heads-up that there’s new Woozy Viper material out there, once again, for free and available for download.

After the jump, a full review of Woozy Viper’s latest, Rock and Roll.

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Record Store Day: The Aftermath.

I usually look into my wallet, and stand outside the record stores and say “just one, on sale.” Then a day like Saturday comes along, and next thing you know, you’re in the hole a thousand, covered in shrink wrap, and waking up somewhere between G and M in the Jazz section.

So here’s what I got — after the jump (and all from the Sound Fix, by the way).

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Album Review: Woozy Viper’s self-released, eponymous, mysterious album.

The Brothers Meseke make up Woozy Viper.

Finding a rare album by a long-lost gem of a band would fill any rock aficionado’s dark little heart with the kind of joy and mirth only reserved for a sunny day. Finding a band that you know you’re going to wind up saying “I knew them when. . .” may be even better, though heartbreaking. Then,  there’s of course, just finding your favorite new live act, who blows their minds, eyes, and ears of anyone within fifty feet of a small stage in Brooklyn (namely, at the Union Pool or Don Pedro’s).

Woozy Viper is none of these. At all.

Woozy Viper is composed of two Kansas expatriate brothers who’ve relocated in Brooklyn. Other than their names, Luke and Mitch Meseke, or that Mitch is an illustrator who makes his love of rock and roll into beautiful masterworks, nothing is known. Their MySpace shows their album over (the image above), and provides a link to their website where you can download their entire album for free. They have no shows planned, it’s unknown if these guys ever played a show, and yet, they are still creating a buzz among the serious rock and roll blogs. The album was supposedly posted sometime in December, and I’ve only found their business card at the Brooklyn standard two weeks ago during that miserable snowstorm — the card is just their “Munsters”-influenced logo and the URL to their website. Who knows which brother plays what, but if I can make a guess: they both play acoustic guitars, and Luke is gently tapping at the skins, and for all I know, they use a Boss BR-532 digital 4-tracker to record, resulting in the clean-yet-lo-fi aesthetic of the album. This is music for people who get wrapped up in the legends of recluses like J.D. Salinger and Jendek.

Enough about the fucking story! How’s the album itself? In short: It’s pretty damned good.

The only track with any kind of fire to it is the opener, the surf-blues fusion of “Look Out!” wherein the opening line is the ballsy “I got graveyard dirt in my mouth,” in a moan reminiscent of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. The rest of the eleven tracks reflect their name perfectly: woozy, boozy, swaying acoustic-based garage blues, with some of the finest lyrics that sting. These are guys who take their rock and roll to heart, and know that deep down it’s supposed to be goofy and fun with allusions abound. “Come Over” sounds like a slowed down version of the Rolling Stones’ “Down Home Girl” (complete with the sliding guitar fill), but with each verse starting “Japanese violin player,” you can’t help but think of something Rivers Cuomo wrote a few years ago. The longest track “The Switchblade Swing” is a six-minute folk-jam, wherein Mitch (or Luke?) sing lyrics about hipsters looking like Polaroid pictures, and ask who they’re trying to be, before moving on to a scat singing before admitting that stuff’s not popular anymore. Or, take “King Kong,” which includes a line mentioning the big ape’s ah, . . . intentions not coming to fruition, to put it gently. All of it fun, very simple, and catchy at points. However, at the album’s center, however, is the fast-paced and silly “Speaking in Tongues,” where between decrying the death of the ghost of rock and roll, the singer stumbles over the line ‘Lookin’ out my window, waitin’ for the devil to come / Ohh watch-out-now-ohh-watch-out-now!” It certainly makes the case.

Grade: B-. It’s a short, twelve-song collection of cool acoustic-based blues tunes that are shrouded in ridiculous mystery. Put that aside, and it’s a loving addition to the realm of great garage bands: here for a moment, gone the next, only to thrive in the energy and excitement of rock and roll. Yet, it could benefit from more up-tempo numbers like “Look Out!”, and if it were maybe even a little dirtier aesthetically, to go with the subdued percussion in the background. All in all, watch their sites closely, as I feel big things are going to come their way if they ever want to make a go at it and play live.

You can download the entire album for free (and donate if you wish via PayPal — they say the money will go toward pressing records!) at their website.

Album Review: The Monks – “Black Monk Time.”

While plenty of bands of the mid 60’s would be making noise at teen dances and local clubs all around America and playing their own brand of primitive, messy rock n’roll, very few would reach legitimate rawness of The Monks and their first and only release, Black Monk Time. Their short time together is nothing short of legend, and this incredible re-release by Light in the Attic (the German division of Polydor released the original LP) cements them as one of the all-time greats for not only their aggressive sound, but for having such high fidelity for a band of ragtags like these (seriously: as good as Rhino or Sundazed can clean up a record, they will still have a few flaws to them, and that’s great — the Monks were above the standard rent-by-the-hour local studio).

This re-issue includes the original twelve-song LP as well as four singles recorded in the years following the initial release Black Monk Time, all in pristine condition. Kicking off with an introduction to the band and their ethos is “Monk Time,” wherein lead singer Gary Burger dismisses the army, the Vietnam war, and even their own harsh and aggressive sound. Whether it’s a cowardly act to their home country or a testament to the rogue rebellion of rock and roll is up for debate (the Monks consisted of American G.I’s stationed in Germany) but it is an explosive start to the record. The audible pummeling doesn’t stop through the second track, “Shut Up,” where Burger laments the world, to which his fellow Monks comfort him with a powerful “SHUT UP, DON’T CRY!” chorus. Their original single, “Complication” sits at its center, and perfectly reflects their insistence on shout-along lyrics and stomping rhythms. The band’s reactionary chorus to Burger’s soulful wailing — which often recalls the Sonics’ Gerry Roslie — is infectious, and I dare you not to chime in on “People go / (COMPLICATION!) / TO THEIR DEATHS FOR YOU!”  And though never serious about their music, the moments where the band allows themselves to be even sillier, such as on “Drunken Maria,” are all fun, quick runs to show off what little instrumental prowess the band had.

What makes the record so unique is that this is the sound of five guys who’ve come together to form a band and have fun with it. There’s no blues noodling, there’s no direct influence to draw from, and there’s no cover songs to give us a break from the gutteral wails, fuzzed-out bass, and the rhythmic scraping of a banjo in place of a rhythm guitar. That’s the key word here: rhythm. It’s very clear that a lot of these guys don’t have much instruction in their instruments — especially the messy, raw organ playing by Larry Clark. Only the bonus tracks at the end of the disc contain any sense of pop songcraft, and suggest that if these guys were to become successful in America (highly unlikely due to their risqué image of being a band dressed as Monks complete with rope ties and tonsures), who knows where they could have gone. Yet, it’s these same last tracks that are so markedly different from the original LP that it is a blessing that these particular songs did not catch on. Yes, they are more musically interesting and accessable, but they tone down the attitude of the band to a point of feeling neutered. Though “I Can’t Get Over You” is a forgettable piece of pop, it still holds up better compared to the A-side, “Cuckoo,” which is stupid to a point of annoyance. Similarly, “Love Can Tame the Wild” is an attempt at capturing the sense of psychedelia, but it is obvious that the band is not completely into this new direction for a band that knows their sound is best when they are at their most aggressive.

GRADE: B. The original LP is excellent, and there’s no doubt about that, but including some of their later singles, while a fine addition for a short record, are so different that they feel misplaced. In terms of packaging, it comes in a cardboard sleeve, and even the CD version includes a small paper sleeve for the disc, giving it the feel of an LP. However, the liner notes (written by Kevin Howes) are incomplete, as they only tell half the story. For the other half, you have to buy the companion disc, The Early Years 1964-1965, which I do not think I can justify as the CDs are $15.99 each, and $26.99 for the LP. A little absurd. Still, Howes’ notes are an excellent biographical sketch of the band, and goes right up to their reunions in the early part of the 2000’s, and it includes some excellent photos of the band. The liner notes also include a few quotes from a few famous Monks fans, including Jack White, Iggy Pop, Colin Greenwood, Jay Reatard, and Lenny Kaye (among others), which are interesting in witnessing the scope of the band’s influence, but seem a little desperate to further sell the band. Regardless of the fairly generous bonuses and extras, Black Monk Time stands in a class by itself, and a must-have for any group of kids who ever wanted to just pick up and play.

Clockwise from L to R: Gary Burger (vox), Dave Day (guitar), Roger Johnston (drums), Eddie Shaw (bass), and Larry Clark (organ).

Who’s Missing?: A Few Glaring Omissions from Decade and Year-End Lists.


The usual double-size issues of music magazines usually means the interminable year-end reviews and reflections on albums past.  And though it does not seem like it, there’s a new decade afoot, and we’ve seen a lot of decade-bests as well that seem equally unnecessary.

What’s frustrating with a lot of these lists, in both new and old media and beyond personal tastes, is realizing the hypocrisy of the critics, and just how forgetful they are of what they deemed ‘best album this year’ in years past. And though this blog tends to focus on classic and garage rock music, which started this decade off with a sonic boom of true rock and roll power, a lot of what perhaps WOULD have been included in Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, and others of their ilk is sorely missing.

This is not my own best-of list, but rather, a few albums I’m surprised was not included among the best-ofs out there.

Album from One of the ‘Other’ Bands of the Retro Rock Explosion.

In about 2002, Guitar World magazine took it upon themselves to list the most-essential, must-have albums for every guitarist, and divided the decisions by genre. Included was the Garage Rock genre, which surely, probably would have been cobbled along the Punk genre, if not for the so-called ‘Retro Rock’ explosion in 2001. Included on this list were the then-obvious choices: White Stripes’ “White Blood Cells;” The Strokes’ “This Is It;” and the Hives’ “Veni Vedi Vicious.” Had they waited, they would find their third album “Tyrannosaurus Hives” to be the bands’ absolute best. While none of the songs have any of the immediate might and muscle from the likes of “Hate to Say I Told You So,” or “Main Offender,” “Tyrannosaurus Hives” feels like a more complete album, in that it shows a band taking the time to craft their spontaneous sound. They are, without a doubt, the most explosive, tightest sounding band on record of the past 10 years, and the fact that this album was damn near forgotten by so many is a crime. And for those of you who remember the Hives’ break-neck 2002 VMA performance, the Hives are Law.

Album by One of the More Successful ‘Retro Rock’ Bands.


The White Stripes, (and to a greater extent, for better or worse Jack White himself), has left an indelible mark on this decade, but unfortunately, many critics focus on their mainstream break-through “White Blood Cells,” and it’s immediate follow-up “Elephant.” I do have some bias here, as with every release “White Blood Cells” falls further down my list in terms of preferred White Stripes albums, but I cannot deny the near perfection of “Elephant.” However, “De Stijl,” their second album released in 2000, remains to be my favorite as their most raw, honest record to date. But what marks all of their albums as great is how different a character they each have. “Get Behind Me Satan” is reflective in its acoustic-based composition, but marked by strange sound effect experimentation. “De Stijl,” recorded in Jack White’s living room, bounces from country to punk to blues and marks some of their most sincere songwriting. And “Icky Thump,” much like “De Stijl,” is a collection with variety, but shows the guitarists’ muscle that wasn’t seen until “Ball and a Biscuit” in the middle of “Elephant.” And with how often they released these albums this decade, it feels as though we’ve always had the White Stripes, and are just as vital to the rock and roll lexicon as the Rolling Stones.


Best Album By a Band that, Nobody Remembers That They Know, But They Really Did, Really.

I believe Spin magazine in particular called Autolux a band to watch before promptly forgetting about them. Their first album, “Future Perfect,” was released in 2004 to little fanfare. However, it is an album perfect for it’s time: melancholy, but trippy. It’s an album perfect for a rainy day or a late night, but that doesn’t matter much so much as the general psychedelic leanings of their compositions, which were refreshingly present while also reminiscent of bands like Sonic Youth and the earlier incarnation of Smashing Pumpkins: swirling guitars, layered on noise, and lyrics about hating your friends (so I’m guessing, really). Unfortunately, it’s Autolux’s only album, thought late in 2008 or so, they released a single on their website for whatever it is that’s coming next.*

*(The latest on the band comes from a MySpace post dated Dec. 6th, wherein they’re only waiting for a label to properly represent them, and market their follow up with a little more effort than “Future Perfect.” Who could blame them, though? It’s a fantastic album that was swept under the rug, and deserves much love, thus my placement on this list. Otherwise, there’s always self-publishing, which at this point, would not be very fruitful for the band at this point).

Best Album By a Classic Rock Band.


In the era of the reunion, very few bands (let alone television shows!) were able to pull off a meaningful, successful regrouping. Pink Floyd tried to keep it together for the “Live 8” show, only to die a very cruel ironic death (yes, Roger Waters — you can play ‘Money’ at a fundraising event — that’s cool!). And who’s to say Journey or Foreigner, or the Pretty Things, or AC/DC, or the Rolling Stones, or the Who, ever really went away? None of them did, really, but when one of these bands released an album, it was a major event. And in my opinion, the Who did it best.

Unlike the Rolling Stones who tried in vain to update their sound for the 80’s and the 90’s before finally embracing the retro-rock cool of the Aughts (and finally, FINALLY, just released a god damn Rolling Stones album!), the Who’s “Endless Wire” shows a band knowing it’s limits in terms of expectations, but also wearing their age as a badge of well-earned rock maturity. While it’s not classic Who material (for the obvious reason being the lack of Keith Moon and John Entwhistle), it is still an excellent release that plays as well as “Quadrophenia” and “The Who By Numbers.”

Honorable Mentions:

The Whigs – “Mission Control.”

Wallpaper – “On the Chewing Gum Ground”

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.”

The Dirtbombs – “We Have You Surrounded”

The Detroit Cobras – “Tied and True.”

The Love Me Nots – “Upsidedown Insideout.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – “Magic.”