Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 503: Workingman's Dead

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Listen to the episode below or download directly.

Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- First show of the new year
- Workingman's Dead is the band's 4th studio album
- First of two releases in '70
- Recorded in nine days
- Stripped down sound, less psychedelic
- Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote the whole album
- Folk, country, Americana elements
- Rock was moving away from psychedelia, toward singer-songwriters and acoustic sounds
- Bookended by two of the band's biggest songs
- More of an emphasis on vocals like Crosby, Stills and Nash
- "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" as a torture device
- Phil: Prefer live Dead, but still break out the studio albums on occasion
- Warm sounding record
- "New Speedway Boogie" is about Altamont
- Recently covered by Courtney Barnett
- Hunter's solo releases are all over the place
- Jay: Only heard two songs before
- Fairly concise album; not much jamming
- Moved away from acid blues into a new direction
- "Easy Wind," sung by Pigpen, was the outlier
- Like the Entwistle song on a Who album
- "Casey Jones" evolved in an interesting way over the years
- Talking about cocaine
- Next up: American Beauty

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Stuck In Thee Garage #255: January 25, 2019

To sleep, perchance to dream...sometimes those dreams can get a little dicey. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played songs about nightmares in hour 2. Nightmares can take a lot of different forms, but suffice it to say you don't want to run into this dude.

The exceedingly sharp playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Pedro the Lion - Powerful Taboo/Phoenix
Swervedriver - Spiked Flower/Future Ruins
Mike Krol - What's the Rhythm/Power Chords
Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen/Remind Me Tomorrow
Fruit Bats - Getting in a Van Again/Single
Toro Y Moi - Ordinary Pleasure/Outer Peace
Suedehead - Small Town Hero/Constant Frantic Motion
The C.I.A. - Pleasure Seeker/The C.I.A.
The Flesh Eaters - The Green Manalishi/I Used to Be Pretty
Ian Sweet - Spit/Crush Crusher
Swearin' - Oil and Water/Fall Into the Sun
Daughters - The Lords Song/You Won't Get What You Want
Angelic Milk - Helluva Dr./Divine Biker Love
Teenage Moods - Bermuda Light/Turn It Up, Tune 'Em Out
Don Babylon - Lose Sometimes/Foul!
Antarctigo Vespucci - So Vivid!/Love in the Time of E-mail
Joyce Manor - Big Lie/Million Dollars to Kill Me

Hour 2: Nightmares
The Cure - Kyoto Song/The Head on the Door
Joy Division - Dead Souls/Still
Genesis - Carpet Crawlers/The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Fred Schneider - Bad Dream/Just Fred
Iggy Pop - Sister Midnight/The Idiot
David Bowie - Oh! You Pretty Things/Hunky Dory
Minutemen - Political Nightmare/3-Way Tie (For Last)
Spinal Tap - Rock 'N Roll Nightmare/Back From the Dead
Motorhead - Nightmare-The Dreamtime/1916
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Living Colour - Love Rears Its Ugly Head/Time's Up
The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)/The Electric Prunes
Eagles of Death Metal - Bad Dream Mama/Peace Love Death Metal
Cheap Trick - Dream Police/Dream Police

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Stuck In Thee Garage #254: January 18, 2019

New year, new milestones. As much as a quarter-century can seem far away and almost quaint, 1994 was an interesting year. I, for one, quite enjoyed it. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played songs from '94 in hour 2. These were among the many albums I was blasting away on CD and cassette all year.

There are 30 songs on this playlist; more writers than that worked on the Flintstones movie.

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Mike Krol - I Wonder/Power Chords
David Nance Group - Poison/Peaced and Slightly Pulverized
Daughters - Long Road No Turns/You Won't Get What You Want
Weakened Friends - Blue Again/Common Blah
Generationals - Beggars in the House of Plenty/State Dogs (Singles 2017-18)
TVAM - Psychic Data/Psychic Data
Mineral - Your Body is the World/Single
Telekinesis - Set a Course/Effluxion
Yo La Tengo - Shades of Blue/There's a Riot Going On
Suedehead - Can't Stop/Constant Frantic Motion
The Flesh Eaters - The Wedding Dice/I Used to Be Pretty
Doe - Heated/Grow Into It
The Glands - Sofa/Double Coda
Cloud Nothings - So Right So Clean/Last Building Burning
Mudhoney - Nerve Attack/Digital Garbage

Hour 2: 1994
Pavement - Silence Kit/Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Frank Black - Ole Mulholland/Teenager of the Year
Superchunk - The First Part/Foolish
Sloan - People of the Sky/Twice Removed
Dambuilders - Smell/Encendedor
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Sweat/Orange
Bad Religion - Incomplete/Stranger Than Fiction
Helmet - Milquetoast/Betty
Rollins Band - Wrong Man/Weight
Beastie Boys - Sure Shot/Ill Communication
R.E.M. - I Don't Sleep, I Dream/Monster
Jeff Buckley - Mojo Pin/Grace
Soundgarden - Fresh Tendrils/Superunknown
King's X - Human Behavior/Dogman
Dinosaur Jr. - Grab It/Without a Sound

Friday, January 11, 2019

Stuck In Thee Garage #253: January 11, 2019

Waiting is the worst. In our high-speed society, nobody likes to wait for anything. We're so impatient that you probably can't for me to get to the point of this post. So here it is: Today on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played songs about waiting in hour 2. There you go, the wait is over.

This playlist won't give you any guff, man:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Bob Mould - What Do You Want Me to Do/Sunshine Rock
Sleigh Bells - It's Just Us Now/Jessica Rabbit
Art Brut - Hooray/Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Talking Straight/Hope Downs
Yo La Tengo - For You Too/There's a Riot Going On
Jeff Tweedy - Some Birds/WARM
Exit Group - The Butcher/Adverse Habitat
Royal Trux - Get Used to This (feat. Kool Keith)/Single
Janelle Monae -  Make Me Feel/Dirty Computer
The Flesh Eaters - Cinderella/I Used to Be Pretty
Ex Hex - Cosmic Cave/It's Real
The C.I.A. - Fear/The C.I.A.
Forth Wanderers - Company/Forth Wanderers
Ought - Desire/Room Inside the World
Girlpool - Hire/What Chaos is Imaginary
Snail Mail - Heat Wave/Lush
Fucked Up - Living in a Simulation/Dose Your Dreams

Hour 2: Waiting
Matthew Sweet - I've Been Waiting/Girlfriend
Ben Folds - Annie Waits/Rockin' the Suburbs
Van Halen - I'll Wait/1984
Rancid - Life Won't Wait/Life Won't Wait
Sebadoh - Willing to Wait/Harmacy
Benjamin Booker - Always Waiting/Benjamin Booker
Swirlies - Wait Forever/Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
Flaming Lips - Waitin' on a Superman/The Soft Bulletin
Living Colour - Memories Can't Wait/Vivid
Thin Lizzy - Waiting on an Alibi/Black Rose: A Rock Legend
METZ - Wait in Line/II
Metallica - The Wait/Garage Inc.
The Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait/Pleased to Meet Me
Paul Westerberg - Waiting for Somebody/Singles soundtrack
Pretenders - The Wait/The Pretenders

Monday, January 07, 2019

What a Time to Be Alive: My Favorite Albums of 2018

Editor's note: Check out my podcast discussion with Jay Breitling about our favorite music of the year on CompCon (here's parts 1, 2 and 3). 
Life can be challenging. No matter what your political bent or ideology, music can be a way out. Things can seem pretty awful, but there always seems to be plenty of great music to keep you going. This year was no exception.

15. Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens
John "Speedo" Reis and Rick Froberg have been cranking out top-notch post-punk rock for more than a quarter century through some seriously hot acts: Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Obits, Night Marchers and the Hot Snakes. After a 14-year hiatus, Hot Snakes returned with a new album that hit all the right marks: Turbo-charged riffs, urgent vocals, high-intensity delivery. It's a welcome return for a vital rock act. (Recommended: "I Need a Doctor," "Six Wave Hold-Down," "Death Doula")


14. The Breeders - All Nerve
Another classic '90s act returned with a strong album in 2018, its first in 10 years. Kim Deal reunited the "Last Splash"-era configuration of the band: sister Kelley on guitar, Josephine Wiggs on bass and Jim McPherson on drums. Indeed, it was the first album by that version of the Breeders since Last Splash in '94. While not as hooky as its predecessor, All Nerve is full of gems worthy of the Breeders canon, from catchy riff-rock to moody explorations to drawn-out, slow-burns. Live, they sound better than ever. All Nerve is a testament to the continuing genius of Kim Deal. (Recommended: "Wait in the Car," "Spacewoman," "Walking With a Killer")

13. Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace
Buffalo Tom has been performing infrequently over the last two decades as its three members have primarily moved out of the music business and into the so-called real world, working regular jobs and raising families. But luckily, every so often the band reunites to record an album and play a few shows. On its first album since 2011, BT continues to deliver rock-solid gems. Singer-guitarist Bill Janovitz remains the driving force behind the band, but bassist Chris Colbourn steps up with some quality songs of his own, but also with excellent backing vocals on Janovitz's songs. Quiet and Peace proves that you can be part-time men of rock and still masters of your craft. (Recommended: "All Be Gone," "Roman Cars," "Lonely, Fast and Deep")

12. Kurt Vile - Bottle It In
Kurt Vile does his own thing, man. He just likes to play chill, meandering psych-rock jams with lyrics about getting older, parking in Philly and other everyday stuff. There's a certain ramshackle appeal to Vile's music, where it kind of rolls along and goes wherever it goes. You wonder what he'd do if he structured his songs a little more, but nevertheless he always produces enjoyable results. Whenever you wonder what the point of a particular song is, Vile's excellent guitar work swoops in to distract you. You do you, Kurt. (Recommended: "Loading Zones," "Bassackwards," "One Trick Ponies")

11. Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin/Joy (with White Fence)/Fudge Sandwich
Nobody can ever accuse Ty Segall of being lazy. The SF-based garage guitar god has spent much of the last decade releasing a countless stream of recordings in various configurations, while managing to keep the quality at a high level. It seemed like Segall was taking more time with his work for a while, with only two albums released from 2015-2017, but he was back to his prolific ways in 2018. In January, he released the double album Freedom's Goblin with the same backing band he used on 2017's self-titled record. It's a sprawling, 75-minute magnum opus that encompasses a lot of different types of songs: unabashed rippers, disco covers, skronky post-punk, Beatles-y love songs. And it's terrific. But Segall wasn't done: he teamed up with White Fence (aka Tim Presley) to release Joy, a fine album of psychedelic Syd Barrett-Kinks-T. Rex weirdness that takes listeners on a trippy ride. It's a fun acoustic/electric romp. In October, Segall released Fudge Sandwich, a covers album that features interesting takes on a wide range of songs, including Funkadelic's "Hit It and Quit It," John Lennon's "Isolation" and Neil Young's "The Loner." He doesn't recreate so much as reinvent the songs, whether that means blistering solos, electronic exploration or plaintive wailing. Most covers albums are hit or miss, but Fudge Sandwich is an essential listen. (Recommended: "She," "Body Behavior," "The Loner")

10. Bodega - Endless Scroll  
Released on What's Your Rupture?, Bodega shares some characteristics with their labelmates Parquet Courts: a bouncy post-punk sound and a sardonic view of consumer and pop culture. Singer-songwriters Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio trade vocals throughout this energetic collection, which combines danceable rhythms with its punk snarl. It all makes for an entertaining whirl of a record, one which deserves repeated listens. (Recommended: "How Did This Happen?", "Jack in Titanic," "I Am Not a Cinephile")

9. Ovlov - Tru
I guess I'm a fan of prolific indie rock geniuses. Like Ty Segall and Bob Pollard, Steve Hartlett generates a lot of output in various forms. Over the last decade, Hartlett has split up and reformed Ovlov several times, depending on what felt right at the time. The first Ovlov album in five years features more of the band's trademark '90s Dino Jr.-inspired noise rock, infused with a wash of shoegaze guitars. Ovlov's sound is more fully realized than on its previous, more lo-fi, effort Am. Hopefully Ovlov will continue on as a rock unit, because they're terrific. (Recommended: "Tru Punk," "Half Way Fine," "Spright")

8. Jeff Rosenstock - POST-
In this splintered era where rock's profile has diminished and the signal-to-noise ratio is totally out of whack, Jeff Rosenstock has become one of the most important voices of his generation. On his third solo album in the last four years, Rosenstock has used his knack for writing catchy pop-punk anthems to voice his frustration with getting older, failed relationships and the crumbling music industry. But this album deals primarily with the aftermath of the 2016 election, starting right off the bat with the 7-minute "USA" and its refrain of "We're tired and bored," which leads into the shouted chorus of "Et tu, USA!" It kinda sounds like "FU, USA," which would also make sense in context. But while songs like "Powerlessness," "All This Useless Energy" and "Let Them In" could be construed as defeatist, they're both defiant and catchy as hell. With every release, Rosenstock establishes himself as an artist with true staying power. (Recommended: "USA," ""All This Useless Energy," "Melba")

7. Sloan - 12
The 12th studio album from Canadian power-pop stalwarts Sloan is as reliably excellent as you could hope for. After the double-album extravagance of 2014's Commonwealth (on which each of the band's singer-songwriters contributed a side), this release sees each member getting three songs that highlight their strengths but also more collaboration with the others. In recent years, the band has followed a release schedule of new album/reissue/new album/reissue, touring behind each, and it has kept the new material fresh while also giving fans a chance to revisit classics from Sloan's early days. Bassist Chris Murphy turns in  melodic instant classics, guitarist Patrick Pentland provides the power with amped-up riff rockers, guitarist Jay Ferguson presents perfectly constructed '70s pop confections and drummer Andrew Scott delivers muscular but vulnerable rock gems. Sloan is so consistently good that they've been overlooked their entire career, which is now into its 28th year. But rock music doesn't get much better than this. (Recommended: "Spin Our Wheels," "The Day Will Be Mine," "Year Zero," "The Lion's Share")

6. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!
Here's a band that has been regularly producing excellent albums since emerging on the indie scene in 2011. Wide Awake! is the band's fifth official release, but prolific quartet has also released 2014's Content Nausea as Parkay Quarts and a collaborative album with Italian producer Daniele Luppi in 2017 called Milano. Main songwriter A. Savage draws on '80s American punk influences including the Big Boys and the Minutemen, while there are also danceable and funk elements inspired by the likes of Parliament Funkadelic. Like Jeff Rosenstock's POST-, Parquet Courts vents frustration on the new album, with songs commenting on white privilege, environmental concerns, violence and political awareness. Produced by Danger Mouse, the album explores weighty issues with dance music and punk and comes up with a winning combination. (Recommended: "Total Football," "Violence," "Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience")

5. Albert Hammond Jr. - Francis Trouble
I have to admit, I kind of lost track of Albert Hammond Jr. for a while. I liked the Strokes when they emerged as Rock's Great Saviors in 2001, but they were never able to follow up their great debut to match expectations. Meanwhile after going through some serious drug problems, Hammond was able to recover and embark on a solo career in 2006. Now on his fourth album, Hammond has put together a collection of terrific riff-laden rockers that surpass anything his main band has done in years. The title references the lost twin who died in a miscarriage when Hammond was born. Francis Trouble is a self-assured romp through a variety of styles: power pop, hard rock, surf, all of it catchy as hell. Who needs a new Strokes album when you can have great music like this on a regular basis? (Recommended: "Far Away Truths," "Muted Beatings," "Tea For Two")

4. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
Courtney Barnett has had a quick rise to the top of the indie rock heap over the last five years or so. On her 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, her laid-back but revved-up guitar work powered wordy treatises about vegetarianism and social anxiety. Her second full-length (not counting 2017's Lotta Sea Lice, a collaboration with Kurt Vile) is more introspective but by no means less powerful than its predecessor. This record has more snarl and bite, as Barnett tackles self-esteem and relationship issues with an underlying anger than wasn't there on previous efforts. She pushes back against the Nirvana comparisons made after the last record, taking her sound in a new direction. It's bold and it sets her up to do more great things in the future. (Recommended: "Need a Little Time," "Nameless, Faceless," "Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence")


3. IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance
IDLES was new to me in 2018, but they blew up in their native U.K. in 2017 with their debut Brutalism. The first song off their latest release, "Colossus," starts slow and then grabs you by the throat. It's a rager that's a fitting introduction to an album that features frontman Joe Talbot bellowing about toxic masculinity, homophobia, Brexit, addiction. There's a definite Fall influence in the clashing guitars, as well as hints of Future of the Left's sardonic take on U.K. politics. The record takes a different turn on "June," which is about losing a child to a miscarriage, and the band even throws in a Solomon Burke cover ("Cry to Me"). All in all, this is an exhilarating ride that focuses on positivity amid all the clatter. (Recommended: "Colossus," "Never Fight a Man With a Perm," "Television")

2. Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams
It was a four-year gap between albums from Toronto's Fucked Up, but it was well worth the wait.  After a fairly straight-ahead hardcore album on 2014's Glass Boys, the band returned with an 80-minute beast of a concept album that returns to the title character of its 2011 classic David Comes to Life. Beyond that, the concept itself is kind of hard to follow, and musically, the album is all over the place but it doesn't matter. This is a band stretching out like it never has before. Frontman/shouter Damian Abraham is still a force here, but it's guitarist/mad scientist Mike Haliechuk who's running the show on Dose Your Dreams. Abraham willingly stepped back from the band during the creation of the record, busy with multiple podcasts and TV ventures, and Haliechuk took the ball and really ran with it. Abraham's guttural roar remains the band's trademark, but he's aided by a plethora of guest vocalists including guitarist Ben Cook and drummer Jonah Falco, Dinosaur Jr. mainman J. Mascis and singers Mary Margaret O'Hara and Lido Pimienta. Stylistically, Fucked Up careens from punk blasts to psychedelia to industrial to electronic dance music. It's a big mess, but it all works and it's never not interesting. (Recommended: "Raise Your Voice, Joyce," "Mechanical Bull," "Normal People")

1. Superchunk - What a Time to Be Alive
Protest music isn't what it used to be. We can blame that on an apathetic populace, a struggling music industry or the fact that so much music is released nowadays that it's hard to get the word out to more than a niche audience. Whatever the case, Superchunk isn't having it. On the band's 11th album, the legendary punk act has lost none of the fire that's fueled its 30-year career. Written in direct response to the 2016 presidential election, What a Time to Be Alive finds Mac McCaughan and compadres raging against the dying of our democracy. The title track aptly sums up the band's anger: "The scum, the shame, the fucking lies/Oh what a time to be alive." Sounding like a band half its age, Superchunk races through the album like it hasn't since its '90s heyday. But its anger is converted into exciting catharsis, aided by guest vocals from Katie Crutchfield, Stephin Merritt, David Bazan, Sabrina Ellis and Skylar Gudasz. Protest never sounded so good. (Recommended: "What a Time to Be Alive," "Break the Glass," "Reagan Youth")

Honorable mention: Tony Molina - Kill the Lights; Slaves - Acts of Joy and Fear; Thin Lips - Chosen Family; Laura Jane Grace - Bought to Rot; Stove - 's Favorite Friend; Elvis Costello and the Imposters - Look Now; Antarctigo Vespucci - Love in the Time of E-mail; Exit Group - Adverse Habitat; Swearin' - Fall Into the Sun; Joyce Manor - Million Dollars to Kill Me; Oh Sees - Smote Reverser; Lucero - Among the Ghosts; Arthur Buck - s/t; Jim James - Uniform Distortion; Neko Case - Hell-On; Speedy Ortiz - Twerp Verse; Screaming Females - All at Once; La Luz - Floating Features; Poptone - s/t; Beach House - 7; Painted Doll - s/t; Shopping - The Official Body; Moaning - s/t; Judas Priest - Firepower; Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs; Camp Cope - How to Socialise & Make Friends; Dream Wife - s/t; Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog; Preoccupations - New Material; The Rock*a*Teens - Sixth House

Friday, January 04, 2019

Stuck In Thee Garage #252: January 4, 2019

There's a staggering amount of music released every year, and 2018 was no exception. Fortunately, there's still a lot of good stuff being produced. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played two more hours of my favorite music of the year. It's a great variety of the rock, but it's over in a snap.

The all-powerful playlist:

Artist - Song/Album
IDLES - Colossus/Joy as an Act of Resistance
Slaves - Chokehold/Acts of Fear and Love
Jim James - Just a Fool/Uniform Distortion
Courtney Barnett - Nameless, Faceless/Tell Me How You Really Feel
Hop Along - Somewhere a Judge/Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Neko Case - Hell-On/Hell-On
Jeff Tweedy - I Know What It's Like/WARM
Tony Molina - Look Inside Your Mind/Losin' Touch / Kill the Lights
Ty Segall - Class War/Fudge Sandwich
Savak - Silhouettes/Beg Your Pardon
Rick Rude - Firewater/Verb for Dreaming
Lifted Bells - Wheel of Fortunates/Minor Tantrums
Stove - Stiff Bones/'s Favorite Friend
Ovlov - Half Way Fine/TRU
Bodega - How Did This Happen?!/Endless Scroll
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Refute/Sparkle Hard
Frankie Cosmos - Jesse/Vessel
Soft Science - Undone/Maps
Red Baraat - Sound the People/Sound the People
Mourn - Doing It Right/Sorpresa Familia
Billy & Dolly - Setting Sun/Five Suns
Dilly Dally - I Feel Free/Heaven
Fucked Up - Raise Your Voice Joyce/Dose Your Dreams
Nine Inch Nails - God Break Down the Door/Bad Witch
Cloud Nothings - Leave Him Now/Last Building Burning
Smokescreens - Used to Yesterday/Used to Yesterday
Thin Lips - A Song for Those That Miss You All the Time/Chosen Family
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me/Future Me Hates Me
Oh Sees - Abysmal Urn/Smote Reverser
Antarctigo Vespucci - The Price is Right Theme Song/Love in the Time of E-mail
E - Down She Goes/Negative Work
Kurt Vile - Loading Zones/Bottle It In
J Mascis - See You at the Movies/Elastic Days
Low - Rome (Always in the Dark)/Double Negative