Category Archives: Garage for Beginners

Review: King Khan and the Shrines – “Idle No More”

King Khan’s first new full album in six years with the Shrines (though, they also put out an EP in between) is called Idle No More, and it could not be more perfect of a title. It’s self-referential not only for the band’s extended hiatus, but reflects the band’s own penchant for wearing its influences and sources on their sleeves as prophets of high-octane, few-frills rock n’ roll. While it’s difficult to eschew that absurd tendency to recall other bands in trying to define how a given song sounds like X¬†(along the lines of something stupid like, “It’s the Rascals showing up, covered in sweat after a marathon of drugs and playing a set with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins down in Muscle Shoals!”), it becomes difficult when the Shrines are so obvious in where they cull their tunes. Any band that plays with less self-assured confidence would come off as hacky, self-important, self-appointed saviors of rock and roll. The difference is: King Khan and the Shrines just may be those saviors of rock and roll by their prowess first, their historical acumen second.

After the Jump: King Khan and the Shrines kick it old school, as they are wont to do

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Why We Rank: An Introspective

Fig. 1: Some Kind of Point I’m Trying to Make.

Let’s forget about what a year-end review means in terms of best-ofs, or how records reflect the zeitgeist of a generation, a time, a country, a political movement, etc.. And beyond favorite songs that you can think of off the top of your head. Let’s forget about all of that.

If you seriously sit down and think about the songs that have influenced your taste in music more than above all else, I think you will find that the songs within the top ten will be more revealing than you think. Lately, I’ve been thinking less about the songs that I like because I instantly feel good upon hearing their opening riffs or notes, or about the songs I turn to when I feel blue, or the songs when I need to get a party started. Instead, I’ve been thinking about songs I legitimately respect, and love at the same time.

These are the songs that do so much at once for us personally. Not talking about firsts here — I don’t care about songs by artists that were the first to use a counterpoint guitar solo — a distinction, I’m going to assume, was Frank Zappa’s anyway, but I’m too busy/lazy to check. And I’m certainly not talking about personal firsts. I could give a damn about the song you heard upon your first kiss, or the first song you turned to when you learned that mom got custody and it just pissed you off, blah, blah, blah. Doesn’t matter. But I’m not necessarily talking about the songs that, in any mood, you include in a list or play over and over.

I’m talking about the songs that make you respect music as an artform, but also derive a degree of pleasure from. That simultaneous quality of being, above all else, good and capable of bringing happiness to the sedated masses. But also the quality of being a well-crafted, obviously labored-over piece of artwork on behalf of both the principal songwriter and the performer(s) who bring it to life.

Without going into a terrible amount of detail, I believe I have a personal three. But before I post my own three, I want to hear from the fans out there: What are the three most influential pieces of music in your life that are not only good and fun to listen/dance to, but also make you really think about music as an art piece? Post your answers here, as well as your reasoning behind each choice. Hell, go into extreme detail, and list why it ranks above all others.

Not saying the following is numero uno, but it belongs in my top three.

CBGB Festival: Couldn’t Make it So Here’s Some Rare Television.

No, I couldn’t make it to the CBGB Festival this year for the very same reason that I only went to three shows at Northside this year. For a first time out, CBGB has proven to be quite the wonderfully curated event, and I hope in the coming years it becomes something that even the certain other blogs/networks/show news posting sites can grow to love.

Well, to make it up to y’all: here’s some choice cuts from a widely circulated Television bootleg, “A Season in Hell” — cleverly titled reference to Rimbaud and the fact that Richard Hell was their bassist at the time of these recordings. If you’re interested in the full deal, leave a comment and I’ll let you know what’s up.

After the Jump: Television: Then with 50% MORE Richard Hell!

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New Feature: B-Side History: The Alternate History of a Band.

The B-Side. In the scope of rock history, and depending upon who you ask, it’s either merely a filler to occupy the backside of a superior A-side, or track that complements and augments how great a single is as an entity to itself. And in the rare case of, say, the Beatles, a B-side can be just as popular and defining for a band as “Strawberry Fields Forever” backed with the B-side (and equally popular radio hit) “Penny Lane.” But what is most frustrating about the B-side is that A) acknowledging that the B-side even exists to most casual listeners is that the very phrase has been relegated to the crossword puzzles of the world, and B) these songs represent a kind of effort in songwriting that is equitable, and yet, oftentimes, overlooked and forgotten thanks to overwhelming popularity of an A-side that, more likely than not, far more catchy to a general audience.

But consider what happens when an audience forgets about the B-side, and an artist takes advantage of such a generalization. And in an instance of optimism, they release a song that is far more intimate, more true to the artists’ perspective, and less a show of their power and ability to conceptualize and edit their way to an A-side. And while some A-sides and singles can be as random and confusing as any other song ever released (consider David Lowery’s blog on Camper Van Beethoven’s wild success on “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” hosted on his ‘300 Songs’ blog that, unfortunately, is currently ‘unpublished’ for some reason or another), it doesn’t change the quality that most B-sides tend to have being something far more intense and personal and devoid of the qualities that make A-sides hits.

These are the songs that matter more to the superfans out there. The collectors, the geeks, the freaks, and off-beats. These are the songs that we search for, hopelessly, on every bar jukebox, sometimes successful and sometimes in futility (if you want to know a place where you can hear “Pinball Wizard” backed with “Dogs,” and you happen to be in Ithaca, NY, e-mail me), sometimes to incredible success. And even though I plan for this feature to stray to simply highlight forgotten singles in general, I stand by this promise: every band has a secret history, and it’s my mission to shine a light upon it as worthy of your regular musical diet.

With that in mind, let’s kick this off with a double shot of the White Stripes, and take a listen to an intense love song and a an angry split sider on pinball: “Red Bowling Ball Ruth” and “Hand Springs.”

After the jump: exactly what I said we were going to talk about.

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Spotify Playlists to Practice Your Moves To

Spotify became available in the states not too long ago, and apparently, they’re shutting the doors on the free ride some time soon. Either way, if you have the program, there are two playlists I HIGHLY recommend if you want to get a good dance party going — I have not listening to much else in the past few days. Both come courtesy of the folks from the Mod Culture site — a great source for all your Mod needs.

The first is called “Uptight!” from a DJ named Marc McNulty — it’s not too deep, but most of the stuff on here is chock full of Northern Soul classics, a good sampling of legit Mod bands of the day (plus the Jam), and great pop-jazz to get you a-steppin’ in your living room. Check it out here.

The other list comes courtesy of a DJ named David Jackson called “Blowin’ Up My Mind” — it’s much shorter, but it has some nice choice cuts of some lesser known Motown-style girl groups. Definitely worth a listen if you’re looking to expand your girl group horizons. Blow Up your Mind over here.

If you got any playlists you think are worth sharing, let us know! Post in the comments!

Find of the Day: Original Version of “Wild Thing” by Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones

What we have here is the original version of “Wild Thing” — the song made famous by the Troggs in 1966 — by a band called Jordan Christopher and the Wild Ones. It predates the famous (and after listening, much cooler) Troggs record by about six months, being released in November of 1965.

Enjoy the video above, but be sure to actually go to the YouTube page to check out a really cool comment left by a gent claiming to be the keyboard player for the Wild Ones!

King Khan Releases New EP for Free.

I was originally going to post about the new Black Keys single that came out today, “Lonely Boy,” but I figure: we haven’t heard from King Khan in an even longer time, so this is more important.

Working with the Scion A/V series, this is King Khan’s first release since 2009’s Invisible Girl, with BBQ Show. Click on the link here for the nine-song EP, The King Khan Experience, and enjoy the kind of psychedelic punk that only King Khan can provide. Yeah, you have to sign up with the Scion people, so expect some obnoxious e-mails coming your way from that whole thing, but seriously, this is worth it.

(alright, fine: here’s the link to watch the video to Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” Sheesh. Cry babies).

My First Garage Song.

As I’ve been writing up a few essays and thoughts for the blog, it has occurred to me that I do not post enough actual material on garage rock. This has always been a labor of love for ALL rock and roll, in all of its good forms, but at the heart, it’s always been about garage rock. So, to amend this great disparity, I would like to share the song that made me love garage rock in the first place.

More 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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Shindig! Magazine’s New Title.

Shindig! Magazine -- Sept.-Oct. 2010, issue 18.

When you’re disconnected from the internet and not able to read the Electric Comic Book (which, in this day and age, should be never), may I recommend a title from across the pond called Shindig!. They’ve only existed for a short while (their latest pictured above, September-October 2010 issue is the 18th), and here in the states, it can be pretty pricey (the exchange from ¬£4.95 turns into $10.00 in the U.S.).

However, I’d like to bring this magazine to your attention not just because they get to be a little more comprehensive with more unknowns, could-have-beens, and the occasional never-was bands, but in this particular issue they’ve added a second title packaged to the magazine called Happening! that covers new music, scenes, fashions, etc.. and it proves itself well worth the read. Plus, they’ve started offering a free zip-file of 21 tracks of songs with each issue, which you can check out here.

And in particular, this issue has a feature on the Remains, who are just about the greatest band from the early Beatles era still making a go of it today (who isn’t the Sonics, that is).

You can find it in most independent record stores, and a few choice book stores.