Saturday, December 30, 2006

Top Eleven Singles of 2006...

I am quite particular about singles. First off, I like both tracks to be exclusive. While major-labels believe in the formula “A-side from the album, b-side live/throwaway/demo” it just doesn’t work for me. As I’ve said before, the single is the quintessential format for pure songwriting. If you can’t do a single proper, don’t even think about doing a full-length. You can’t slide filler through a 7”, where you almost have to with an album.

So while there are some major label singles from this past year that were ballin’ (Raconteurs, Beck, Liars) I’m more easily won over by a nice indie effort. Parentheticals under each title detail how I obtained each record. Here goes…

  1. Black Lips “Oh Katrina” Rob’s House Records

(Bought 3 copies via Paypal)

Simply put, “Katrina” is the best song to never appear on a “Back From the Grave” compilation. This is one of our time’s greatest bands at their finest. Good luck, Vice.

  1. Sneaky Pinks “I Can’t Wait” Rubber Vomit Records

(Bought 2 copies at live show, traded original clear vinyl press of KK&BBQ Show LP for original foil sleeve)

When your intentions are but to have some fun, the results can be arresting. This is why the Ramones are genius and Rush is moronic. This may have come out in 2005, but I don’t really care. Original press with tinfoil cover will be highly sought-after by museum curators in three hundred years as the crowning achievement of Western culture. Bonus points to the SP’s for also releasing a limited-edition tour-only cassette-single. That’s the most hyphens I’ve ever used in a sentence.

  1. Benjamin Prosser and the Tap Collective “Killing Flaw” Fitzrovian Phongraphic

(Traded Muldoons “It’s Near the 25th” for this and David Viner 7” on Fitzro)

A mushy mound of Fall-like dung. Ben Swank is the new drummer in this band. It can only mean good things for everyone. Debut release from the premier UK singles label. You have been warned.

  1. Tyvek “Mary Ellen Claims” X! Recordings

(Promo copy from Heath of Tyvek)

A b-side that trumps the a-side is always a special thing. Especially when the B is something like “Honda” by Tyvek. Fronted by Kevin Boyer (formerly of Los Pinkos and Kevin Boyer and the Noise) this single seemingly dropped out of nowhere and laid waste to all who took listen. Skittish Wire-y guitars and loopiness with “Can you drive a Honda like I can drive a Honda?” easily my favorite lyrics of the year. Can’t even remember what “Mary Ellen Claims” sounds like.

  1. Kelley Stoltz “With My Face on the Floor” Art School Dropout

(2 copies from Kelley, one from the Art School Dropout who actually promised me 3 copies in exchange for 3 copies of Kelley’s Cass 7”)

It is an honest shame how many songs Stoltz has lying around. I know every songwriter has bits and pieces, here and there, but the problem with Kelley is that he’s truly yet to write a stinker. They all slay. So with this, an Aussie-released 7” limited to 300 copies, I just find myself bummed that a song like “Happiness” (complete with laughable lyric “When I first met you I was buying paint to screw up my place”) will not reach a wider audience. Hopefully he’ll wise-up and just toss the fucker on his next full-length for Sub Pop.

  1. Home Blitz “Live Outside” no label

(Bought via Paypal)

Wholesome teenaged warmth from the East Coast. Do they sing about holding hands? I don’t know, they might as well. Makes me wish I was 16-years-old again just so I could hang out with these guys.

  1. Tall Birds “Internalize” Sub Pop

(Promo copy from the label)

I know nothing about this band other than that their single made me stop what I was doing and pay attention. That happens far less than you’d like to think. Wait, now I’m finding out this is 3/4's of the Catheters. A mighty good sign. They’re my age. I like that. They tried to balance college and touring too. I don’t know how that worked out, but if the Tall Birds continue, everybody wins.

  1. Viva L’American Death Ray Music “Bombs” Shattered Records

(Bought via Paypal)

I had these songs on a CD-r and wore the grooves out. Their full-length may have also made my top album list if I actually had a copy. They keep getting better and it is beginning to get scary. As the late ‘80s television commercial wisely asked “Whatcha keepin’ tabs on?” I will answer succinctly the unrivaled brilliance of this band.

  1. Bassholes “Jack at Night” Solid Sex Lovie Doll

(Got this and all other latest SSLD singles in trade for Little Claw and Odd Clouds 12”s and Tranzistors 7”)

The Bassholes had never really grabbed my balls until this. Maybe it was finally adding that other guitar player that put them over the edge? I don’t know. “Jack at Night” might as well be a twenty-years too late reply to JLP’s “Jack on Fire” in that it gives off the same creepy feeling, albeit with Stonesy rollick tossed in for measure. Cover the Damned’s “New Rose” on the flip and disguise it. Well-played.

  1. Grande Cobra “Blood Libel” Hellsquad

(Got 2 promo copies…one from the band and one from the label)

Beguiling backing vox of “oooh oooh oooh oooh” buckles knees. The biggest surprise of the bunch as I was not expecting to like this. Shows me for having expectations. I played this single at least 5 times which may be the more than any of the other 7”s on here. I know 5 times doesn’t sound like much, but I hardly let myself get bogged down with repeating as there is still so much more I’ve yet to listen to. So yeah, 5 times is like, platinum and Billboard’s Hot 100 all rolled into one.

  1. Makeout Party “Wreckless Epic” Kapow Records

(Promo copy from the label)

Tremendous two-sider. Want to hear more from them. Would write more but I’m plum-tuckered out. Search the TUBL archives for my original write-up of this gem.

Would’ve put the Muldoons X-mas single on here, but one-sided singles hurt my brain. Just as much, I couldn’t rightfully put any of the 7”s I released on here, but the Fatals, Dan Sartain, Dirtbombs/Black Lips, Tranzistors and the Go all did righteous work on the Cass imprint if I do claim so myself. Don’t be a wuss, check ‘em all out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mick Collins' Favorite Dirtbombs Shows...

So Mick had a reply to my list. He said I could post it here. He didn't say I couldn't add my own comments. Mick's actual typing in bold, mine in plain.

  1. Barcelona 2005 - "We walked with giants, that night..."

5/28/05 @ Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, SPA (#3 on my list)

  1. Groningen 2001, or was that 2002? The night we re-opened VERA Club – "Playing the Dutch national anthem is still the most gratifying applause I've ever gotten."

First off, this shows how bad Mick's memory is. The show was 4/3/98. I wasn’t even in the band yet. Band flew in for one show and flew home. Must’ve been fun.

  1. Berlin 2004

9/9/04 @ Mudd Club, Berlin, GER
Definitely an amazing show. Made my short-list of nominees and easily on-par with our Paris show of the same year. Mick busted two legs off my floor tom that night…not just the legs, but the actual screwed-into-wood metal mounts as well.

4. The festival in Belgium where we were the headline act (2005) - "It's not that we played all that great or anything, but we were the *headliners*!"

We didn't headline any festivals in Belgium in '05. Mick may be thinking of 6/18/05…the Eysines Goes Soul Festival in Eysines, France. We definitely headlined that night. Or maybe the Highway to the Hills Festival in Lessines, Belgium in 2004? But we definitely didn’t headline that…I think Tony Joe White and John Hammond both played that festival.

  1. (Tie) Those two nights we played the Bowery Ballroom with the Cobras

First night was 7/12/02 w/ Bantam Rooster and Ko and the Knockouts. Dirtbombs headlined and did it well. Second night was 7/13/02 w/ the Sights and the Buzzards. Was the last Buzzards show ever. They were great…I taped their set. Cobras headlined and it was not pretty. Had to go on after us and people started to walk out on them.

  1. The New York Harbour Cruise, 2005

#5 on my list. And it was just 6 months ago…this year, dingus.

7. The Italian festival (2004) where we carved up New Found Glory like cheap hams and sent 'em packing. "The audience that day learned the difference between Rock'n'Roll and New Found Glory. I don't toot my own horn that often, but we're better than they are and we *proved* it that day. And we can do it AGAIN."

9/5/04 @ Independent Days Festival, Bologna, Italy
Also on the bill were the Darkness, Velvet Revolver, Auf Der Mauer and the DKT/MC3. No idea why we went on AFTER New Found Glory, as our only shows in Italy before that were two gigs in small towns in 2002 in front of a total of 20 people. But yes, we did carve them and send them packing. ‘Twas glorious. I tossed my drums.

  1. The Troubadour, Los Angeles, 2001 or 2002 with all the screaming girls (you'll have to check the exact date; it was the last time we played there with Diamond, 'cause I was playing his Laney amp)

Diamond’s last LA show with us was actually 1/30/04. I don’t think it’s the show Mick is thinking of. Mick could be thinking 2/28/03 with the Von Bondies or 3/2/02 with the Go. I seem to remember the screaming girls at the ’02 show.

9. The first Ottawa Bluesfest performance, where we got those swank hotel rooms

On 7/13/03, we all got our own rooms at the Marriott. Partied with the Sights and watched “Saved by the Bell” in their room and ordered pizza. Nathaniel Mayer had a party in his room and we left the D-Bombs cooler there. Don’t really remember the show, but remember that the crowd had been waiting for a long time for us to come up to Ottawa, which has always been a great town for us.

10. The second Nashville show

With the Lost Sounds at the Exit/In on 3/4/04. Patrick Keeler’s first show in Pat Pantano’s spot…our first and only practice with Keeler was earlier that day. The Lost Sounds were badass and the place was packed. Believe it was a weekday. Surprisingly awesome.

Honourable Mentions go to:

That Toronto show where Jack (White) played drums on the encore

(7/16/04 and it wasn’t during the encore but during half of “I Can’t Stop Thinking About It”)

The Italian show by the pool where I was tanked on that guy's homemade wine

(6/2/05 @ Tijuana Rock Club, Treviso, Italy…entire band saw a shooting star that night and it was magical)

The Knitting Factory show where those Air Force guys rioted

(7/29/05 is also known as the show where Ko sliced open her hand and bled all over the damn stage and we had to play pretty much an entire show with any fuzz bass. But yeah, Mick remembers that as some Air Force dudes being pricks in a mosh pit. Whatever.)

A Toronto show before you were in the band where we were actually *terrible*, but my amp (that Silvertone of mine you're hoping I forget you have) sang like angels. I remember thinking "These are the sounds I always wanted to make! Yeah! I *ROCK*!!!" and looking out at people in the audience with their hands pressed over their ears.

(No idea of the date…maybe the show where there was only one drummer? And he's not getting that amp back)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top Ten Albums of the Year Bullshit...

So the Metro Times gets year-end top ten lists from its music writers. Much like their reviewing policy, I'm not allowed to pick artists I'm blood-related to or have put out records by. Even if the records I put out aren't even what I put on my list.

It really dampens my dog to be under such restrictions. You know, cause I've put out all the awesomest bands around.

So, barring any last minute pangs of enlightenment, this is the list that will run in the Metro Times, complete with shitticisms about each record.

1. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not Arctic Monkeys

England looked like shit until I heard this.

2. A Hundred Miles Off the Walkmen

Bassist and organist switch instruments…the album still destroys.

3. Show Your Bones Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Here’s my humerus, my tibia, my cochlea and my heart.

4. The Information Beck

“Cellphone’s Dead” makes me dance the robot. Must be seen to be believed.

5. Rather Ripped Sonic Youth

Jim O’Rourke’s exit is the best thing to happen since getting their guitars stolen.

6. Types of Wood Whirlwind Heat

Less spazzy, more jazzy. The boys have become men.

7. s/t Be Your Own Pet

Vinyl version of this album is a seven-disc 7” boxset. Genius.

8. Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys? Arctic Monkeys

The band so nice they make the list twice.

9. Under a Billion Suns Mudhoney

Remember grunge? Neither do they.

10. Wowee Zowee Sordid Sentinels Edition Pavement

While every year may bring a Pavement reissue, this is the only one you need.

and of course, everyone's favorite...

Worst Record of the Year:

The Greatest Cat Power

Genre slumming doesn’t behoove you, Chan. Stick to weepy indie rock.
(my original line here was actually "More like 'The Shittiest' by Shat Shower.")

So just thinking aloud here (please, don't worry). Do the Arctic Monkeys really deserve two spots on the list? I sincerely believe that their EP is as good, if not truly better than their full-length. And let's not even get into the single-only "Leave Before the Lights Come On". And a Pavement reissue? Come on Ben, you're being lazy. I really liked the Odd Clouds record, but I feel somewhat self-conscious about putting records I actually reviewed for the Metro Times on my Metro Times Top Ten List. Truth is, I usually only write about records I like. That doesn't give me much cred as a critic, but who the fuck cares as it keeps me happy.

So for the dedicated TUBL readers, here is my ACTUAL year-end top ten list, uncluttered with Orwellian editorial oversight.

1. Join Dan Sartain Dan Sartain
2. Below the Branches Kelley Stoltz
3. Broken Boy Soldiers the Raconteurs
4. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not/Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys? Arctic Monkeys
5. A Hundred Miles Off the Walkmen
6. Show Your Bones Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7. The Information Beck
8. Rather Ripped Sonic Youth
9. Types of Wood Whirlwind Heat
10. St. Elsewhere Gnarls Barkley

The first three albums on the list are all pretty interchangeable. Only reason I topped it with Sartain is probably because it was the last of the three to come out and it's the one I'm currently most into. Likewise, since the Raconteurs recordings had been festering since before "Get Behind Me Satan" and the live show is so blistering, it suffers slightly.
Also, in my own perfect world, I would be able to include both Arctic Monkeys records together. Why? Because that's how I roll. Everything else is the same except for ending the list with Gnarls. I figured all the other schlubs at MT will be gushing all over this record to give their lists some "flava". And rightfully so as it is impeccable. But all I can think of is checking out the top tens over at Terminal Boredom last year and bumming on how only 15 or so albums were listed between ten dudes (note: "15" and "ten" are arbitrary numbers placed into the sentence to illustrate a point. They are in no way meant to be accurate).
I choose not to choose Gnarls Barkley in hopes of variety. Plus, the fact that I can't actually include my actual favorite records of the year leaves the list with little meaning to me, so I might as well mess around with it, right? Like there's not enough white dudes with guitars on my list.
Let me know what y'all think.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'm Making This Up As I Go Along...

The Tremble HQ is in disarray as an Ikea Expedit shelving unit has found its way in here. I've never before seen the spines of some of these LP's...why didn't anyone tell me the spine for "Superfuzz Bigmuff" was so cool?

In case you're curious, here's how I organize my records.
7"s: Four categories.
1. White performers, pre-MC5 (mainly 60's garage and pop junk)
2. Soul/Funk
3. Post-MC5
4. Sub Pop 1988-1996 (all post-'96 Sub Pop singles are filed in the Post-MC5 section)

1. Hip-Hop/Disco 12" singles
2. Everything else
(there used to be a Sub Pop LP section, but they've been integrated into 'Everything Else' with the advent of the Expedit shelving)

These of course do not include the "To Listen To" boxes which are a totally mess. With the exception of "To Listen To" everything is alphabetized.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Favorite Dirtbombs Shows of All-Time...

1. 11/28/01 @ The Social, Nottingham, ENG
This was the day after we did our live-to-air Peel session. We ate at a Wimpy Burger at some rest stop and everyone in the band got the worst case of the shits they’d ever had. The scene of us in the upstairs bathroom at the Social was hilarious…at least three of us were in there with our asses making comically unimaginable noises. And we were all laughing our heads off. The place was sold out (had to be because of the Peel session as none of the other shows on the tour were full) and slightly uncomfortable. The kind of gig where it takes you 5 minutes to walk through the crowd because it’s so tight.

And we were just on. There’s no other way to describe it. Mick mentioned something about it being the first crowd that hadn’t expected to see Gories Mach II. Towards the end of the set (or maybe even during an encore) I was completely overcome. I climbed on top of whatever speaker or amplifier was next to me, it being about 6-feet-tall, and just jumped onto my drums. I started tossing pieces of the kit left and right. I had been released. This was what I was meant to do. The happenings this night would dictate how I wanted to perform in the Dirtbombs. I wanted to go off. The tour manager, Jean-Luc, would fix everything I broke or maimed that night with no repercussions. I left with a girl I would never see or hear from again to go dancing at a disco. She hadn’t even seen the show. Spent 4 pounds of band money to buy myself a doner kebab. It rained.

2. 5/12/02 @ Bogen 13, Zurich, SWT

This day was actually one of the worst days in Dirtbombs history. The lead-up to the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland was pure living hell. As the second-longest tunnel in the world, there was a terrible accident in October 2001 that left eleven dead. The decision to let a few vehicles in at a time has proven to prevent future travesties, but has created interminable delays. I guess it was the end of a holiday weekend too and everyone was driving the direction we were going. Anydung, the whole thing had us move 7km in 4 hours. Not cool.
So once we were finally through the tunnel, we thought all was well. If only. Our brilliant driver Seetz (the biggest Dwarves fan in the world, if that shouldn’t have tipped us off) managed to not just get us lost. That would’ve been fine, as he did it every day and we’d become accustomed to it. No, Seetz would drive approximately 60km PAST Zurich, convinced that he was going the right way. There was a stop, I shit you not, at the top of a steep-as-shit mountain. He walked out to ask for directions and all the band could do was revel in his incompetence.
We eventually get to the club, load in through the rain and play almost immediately. While there weren’t a ton of people there, EVERYONE there was into it full-tilt. I busted my stool from doing a heavy hit-both-cymbals-and-slam-your-ass-back-down-on-the-stool move that some wise soul before me invented. I had to lean back with pressure to keep the thing together the rest of the night. After the set, Mick ran offstage and was nowhere to be found. Tom Potter started kicking a door because the crowd was going NUTZ for an encore. The white guys in the band decided “fuck it” and went onstage without Mick. We started with a half-azzed version of Bantam Rooster’s “Tom Skinner” and then shamelessly went into “Louie, Louie”. Them Swizz acted like they’d never heard rock and roll before that as “Louie” made them all lose their shit. It was like shooting water in a barrel. Ended with my first-ever bassdrum headstand, falling and landing on my back. I had wanted to do a headstand for the longest time but before this night, I never had a reason. My back was covered in welts for the rest of the tour. I loved it.

3. 5/28/05 @ Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, SPA
Our only show in Spain that year, we drove straight there from Colechester, England so we could see the Stooges play the night before us. Our hotel was a lavishly absurd beachfront deal. Walking distance from the festival grounds. We actually got a soundcheck (super-rare for a huge festival like this). We went onstage immediately after Dogs Die in Hot Cars. They were shit. The Dirtbombs were so precisely in-sync on this night that it felt unfair. Zero time between songs…just an assault of one jam after another. Tossed the floor tom to the house kit super high into the air and caught it before we ended. Quite possibly the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of…easily 2000 people, maybe more. Walked off the stage that night confident that we could not have played any better. Mick actually came up to each band member individually and thanked us for how great we played. The Futureheads played after us and just looked like asshats. I don’t think we have or will ever play better than that night. Later I met Thurston Moore, stood next to Lydia Lunch and watched Gang of Four cremate a mass of slackjawed Spaniards.

4. 10/30/03 @ 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN

The Go proved mighty contenders as first band of three. But the Sights were messing it up for everybody, really ready to steal the show. Eddie had been gig-bagged before the show (fed drinks by the Go, hoping to sabotage his performance) and it backfired as he was as electrifying as he’d ever be. Soledad Brothers were opening for Spiritualized upstairs at 1st Ave and it was cool checking out both those bands too. So after the Sights lay waste to the crowd, we’re expected to follow. As I walk upstairs to get behind the drums I see Jason Spaceman just perched in a corner. All I could say was “You did the best Stooges cover ever with ‘Little Doll.’” He replied something like “We just got rid of the complicated part.” I don’t know if I was using lighter drum sticks or what, but I remember a feeling of “Holyshitweareplayingsogodamnedfast” during “Start the Party”. I think Diamond puked right before we went onstage. Or maybe it was Pantano? We matched the Sights and maybe even topped them, definitely feeling the pressure they’d put on us. Slammed my snare drum on my hi-hat stand to a loud “THWAMP” and somehow busted the head on my rack tom too. I jumped up and swung from some rigging and had a good time. I carefully locked my legs around a post so I wouldn’t fall, but when time came to get down, I couldn’t move my foot. I pulled and tugged as hard as I could, but no budge. Understand that I’m holding myself up with my arms right now, the man who has not done a pull up since he was wearing gym shorts freshman year. I could feel my arms really begin to ache and was kinda scared I was either going to have to rip my boot off and run around on the rest of the tour without shoes or that my arms would give way, I’d let go and break my ankle. The rest of the band finished their demolition and I was still hanging there…with one last burst of all my energy I swung towards my snared foot and managed to unzip my boot and free my foot. The boot plopped to the floor and hopped across the broken glass minefield unscathed. Next morning I awoke with the worst back pain I have ever had in my life. I had earned it.

5. 7/30/06 Rocks Off Boat Cruise on the Temptress, New York, NY
It’s not everyday you get to play close to 40 songs on a boat as it trolls around the Hudson. The boat is not sold-out, but comfortably full. We’re the only band playing. First set was all originals, played as the sun goes down. Take a blow as we circle around Liberty Island with delightfully unobstructed view up the lady’s nostrils. Second set all covers…ends with me with a drum on my head screaming the words to Sonic Youth’s “Flower”. Here’s

6. 7/18/04 @ Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa, CAN

For two reasons. #1, this photo:

Excerpt from tour diary for this show reads simply…
“the end was quite destructive, me using the hi-hat stand like a pitching wedge and just golfing the fuck out of things. excitingly”
#2, after I got off stage, I laid down on a table and Patrick Keeler jumped on top of me and said “That was fucking awesome!”

7. 8/31/04 @ Maroquinerie, Paris, FRA

The club really felt like it was oversold in a scary way. First notes to “Start the Party” and it’s just a wave of bodies lunging towards the stage. I sang the Stooges “Dirt” for the encore and I will never be able to create Iggy’s determined conquistidor finger-point a la Cincinnati Pop Festival like I did that night. Took cover photos for “If You Don’t Already Have a Look…” before the show. Matching track jackets stolen the next night.

8. 8/20/04 @ Pukkelpop Festival, BEL

The biggest stage we ever played on and I took advantage of it. Finished 10 minutes early so came back for an encore which is totally frowned upon at these big festivals. Completely obliterated my drumset. Excerpt from tour diary tellingly says “I did a headstand on my bass drum, stood on it, then started tossing shit like it was salad.” I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Took my bass drum and while facing stage left, threw it blindly behind me towards stage right. Distance traveled…I’d say twenty feet. I do the same with my rack tom, but that flies a bit further and might even roll a bit. The snare drum shifted its shape from circular to egg-like after I launched it. Afterwards a guy came up to me and said “Great show, I grabbed one of your sticks.” I politely reclaimed said stick as I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make it the entire trip. A few minutes later I’m introduced to the stick stealer. He’s none other than Mark Lanegan.

9. 4/28/01 Rust Belt Revolt @ Mohwak Place, Buffalo, NY

What a sloppy, drunken, fun mess this was. The Mistreaters and Clone Defects played that same night and Buffalo was definitely ground-zero for garage rock all-stars that weekend. Only time we’ve ever played “High Octane Salvation” live and it sounded terrible. A pair of bunny ears got passed and worn by just about everyone in the club that night. Of all the “garage festivals” we’ve played (Cavestomp, Horizontal Action Blackout, Athens Ohio Blackoutfest, Gutterfest, Las Vegas Shakedown) and all the non-garage ones too, this one simply felt the most communal and the most exciting. Like everyone was striving for some common goal of obscene mass drunkenness. Everyone except me, as I was still 18-years-old at this point. First and only time I ever slept in a Dirtbombs van that wasn’t moving. Potter and Diamond were sleeping in it too. Good times.

10. 12/3/04 @ Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

We were borrowing the Sights van and opening for the Hives. Had no delusions that the crowd would like us, but just thought it be fun to play with those guys. If we didn’t steal the show we came as damn close as possible without doing so. The excitement for me stemmed from the fact that we had completely won over this crowd who was clearly not there to see us. I think I did an inspired floor tom toss-and-catch before I left the stage. As I turned my back, the sound of the crowd became overwhelming. They were going apeshit. And we were the fucking openers!

After I break down my gear Mick comes up and tells me that someone told him they’d just seen a green van getting towed. Damn. Columbus has some overachieving parking enforcement and they don’t give a fuck. I stood outside totally clueless as how to get this van back, surely hampered by the fact that none of us owned it. And as if out of nowhere, a girl appeared and asked if our van had been towed. She said she worked for an apartment company and had a tow code. She called the tow company and recited the code without even being asked. I know I still have her business card somewhere and I still owe her. Managed to pull a minor coup by getting the van back even though the car was not even registered in my name, a technicality that tow yard operators are not to ignore lightly. We had the van back within a half-hour and before Pantano had even noticed that it was gone.
Somedays, everything’s just on your side.

1. All sweaty and lucid after the fateful Nottingham show.
2. The Sights on fire.
3. The best photo of myself I've ever seen.
4. Oh sweet track jackets, why has thou forsaken me?
5. This is actually the day after our gig at Pukkelpop, but it's us at Pukkelpop nonetheless.
6. Christreater feeds Tom Potter while Matt Williams does his best Pat Pantano wearing bunny ears imitation.
7. A poster.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Singles Column Volume Six...

“Man on the Ground”
HoZac Records

I’m not against it. French punks gone synthy with Big Black’s drum machine. “Couples” off their debut 12” is still the pinnacle of their output. Best taken in small doses as it can get shrill after awhile. Or maybe that’s just this lo-fi recorded at home single? Best instrumentation is on “Our Little Waltz” but the lyrics are utter self-referential garbage about trying to write lyrics. Wait, something about “the emptiness of the song and the chords” You’ve got to be kidding me. The nihilists in “The Big Lebowski” would like this stuff. Step up your game froggies.

“Growing Pains”
Art School Dropout

Breathy double female vocals on “Tourist Attraction” smack you in the face like Polly Harvey fronting a more-tilted line-up of Beat Happening. “Royal Jerx” is noisy no-wave that’d make DNA proud. Damn, lots of fakers try to claim it, but Kiosk owns it. “Ratt Boy/Breaking Them In” slides with Karen O scree and geetar cannon blasts. Not a stinker to be found here. Highly adored.

HoZac Records

Title track is about Manson. Alright I guess, a line like “let’s kill the piggies” sounds so blasé that you wonder if it’s tongue in cheek or if they don’t even know. I got scared for a second on “Witch Cookie”…there’s a confusing effect on the vocals and wearing headphones it feels like sound coming from beyond the ear pieces…as if someone’s calling your name. I literally pulled off my headphones looking for that phantom voice calling me. All the tones on this record are quite pleasing…fuzz guitar, warm organ, collected voices, deep fetal bass…and the songs ain’t half-bad either. A good start. I think they’re Spanish.

Thomas Function
“Vanity Lights”
DNH Records

My copy of this single has a slight edge-warp, easily my biggest pet peeve. “Vanity Lights” sounds like second-rate Strokes sound-a-like. “I Kept You (in a Pill Bottle)” feels more like the Ponys, which could just mean it sounds like a simplified Television. Amateur at best, these songs go nowhere and can’t even inspire me to write a clever bad review.

The Geeks
“Too Fat Pig”
S-S Records

Aimless free jazz. You know why they call it free jazz? Cause no one would pay for it. Archival release of songs from late ‘70s/early ‘80s. Cannot get into it, but appreciate the effort.

Die! Die! Die!
“Ashtray! Ashtray!”
Zap System

I like it. “Ashtray” is a rumbly number. Songs where the bass just hangs on the same note for an eternity always do it for me. “Shyness Will Get You Nowhere” has too much counting for my taste. But seriously, enough of the exclamation points already! Please! See! It gets annoying very quickly!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Recent eBay Losses and My Sorry Explanations as to Why...

Killer garage ONE WAY STREETS Jack The Ripper VG
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$676.66 $105.00 9 Dec-12
Six Organs of Admittance 7" Ben Chasny acid folk drone
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$45.44 $22.78 9 Dec-05
Six Organs of Admittance LP Ben Chasny acid folk drone
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$112.16 $55.55 24 Dec-03
Magik Markers in the east cd Imvated
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$16.50 $13.53 4 Nov-29
Thee HEADCOATS A-Z Of Your Heart 7" Billy Childish
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$8.50 $7.77 7 Nov-26's Ah-So &" on Giant Claw promo copy
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AA RECORDS Lathe 7" DVD Wolf Eyes Dead Machines Lot
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$64.91 $55.55 12 Nov-24
HEADCOATEES Swallow Pride 7" Billy Childish HEADCOATS
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GBP 5.50 GBP 3.33 7 Nov-23
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The One Way Streets was VG and I thought it'd go cheap enough to buy as a Xmas gift.

I already have the "Octavio Paz", "Nightly Trembling" and the Charalambides Six Organs stuff on vinyl and am trying to fill up on the rest. The 7"s get me really excited.

Never feel compelled enough to compete on limited Magik Markers stuff because I just as soon assume it probably sounds like shit.

There are three more Headcoats singles I need before I have them all. Until then, I am haunted by the specter of William Hamper releasing another one and telling nobody.

Still have a few holes in my's 7" collection, but only occasionally remember to look for them on eBay. Even when I do, I still never win the auction.

I would love to own just one super-rare Wolf Eyes piece. Hell, I may even listen to it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Loudesssst Show I Ever Heard....

Certainly seeing the Foo Fighters at the State Theater in 1996 was loud. My ears rang for hours afterward. But the volume was never overpowering.

The most ear-shreddingly boss blitzkrieg I ever witnessed found me unprepared. A handful of friends made off to a party at John Olson’s house. I’d never been there before or since, but I remember liking it.

I found a photocopied mail-order record catalog with descriptions about Crash Coffin and Straight Eight that piqued my interest. Someone spun Machine’s “There But For the Grace of God” on the turntable and Matt Smith was going off about how he’d always thought the Gories had written that song.

There was a rumble in the basement that few people chose to check out. Feeling adventurous, I walked down the few dark steps to a typical suburban Detroit basement. Dudes (as no single word completely encompasses what this band was other than that) were playing laconic jams.

I could not have been in that basement more than five minutes total. But at one distinct moment, without any warning, the volume went from basement loud to unbearably painful. Slowly, every one of the 15 or so people gathered in that basement pursed their fingers over both ears. It was a like an unplanned game of Simon Says.

The amazing thing was that there was nothing visibly facilitating this newfound volume thrust…it’s not like they’d just turned on another amplifier or stomped a pedal or something. In my mind, it was the sheer romantic willpower and resolve of the band that pushed the cacophony over the edge.

I made my way upstairs very soon after heading down. Word was the cops were at the door, stoners suddenly willed to speed in putting out joints and possibly even bong-tokes. I’m sure I was just nervous being in the room. We left soon thereafter.

It took me years to find out that the band in the basement was Black Dice. Even heard Patti Schmidt mention the Olson basement gig once on her radio show Brave New Waves. But I’ve also been told that Black Dice sounds nothing like that anymore. I like that. A moment, shared by strangers, lost and forgotten by some, but held onto eternally for others.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Top Ten Modern Detroit Garage Rock Rarities...

Some might say I’m an expert on current Detroit garage music history. One of those people who would say that is me. I’ve spent far too much time dedicated to the smallest droppings from the collective anuses of the “bands” from this fecund city, why not put my nerd-dom to good use? My criterion is pretty much just something that has artwork, thereby eliminating test-pressings (like the unreleased Hentchmen 7” on Icon) and plain demos (probably every band around) and most live tapes. I also wanted to pick stuff that doesn’t turn up too much, so while yes, the White Stripes “Top Special” is super-rare, it has appeared on eBay about a billion times, thus losing a lot of the collector allure, at least to me. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am or how the list is biased towards records I actually own or just how awesome I really am. I would love some more interaction on here.

  1. the White Stripes Lafayette Blues hand-painted sleeve

Sometimes called “the Rent-Payer” and you all know the story…15 sleeves hand-painted by Jack White and Dave Buick for the record release party as the proper printed sleeves were not yet ready. I ran the merch table that night. The initial plan was to sell them in the order they were numbered. But no one wanted to buy the first one (or was it be the first one?) and Dave/Jack eventually just told me to let people pick which one they wanted.

At $6 each they just barely sold out…only one person came up to ask about them after they’d sold out. For such a rarity, it’s appeared on eBay quite a few times. After thoroughly convincing Tom Potter that he bought his copy (and that Jack hadn’t given it to him) he put his on eBay with an opening bid of $999. No takers. He eventually sold it for $800 and used the money to buy stage clothes for the Detroit City Council. Another 3 copies have been sold on eBay, usually in the $2700 range.

  1. the Wildbunch An Evening With the Many Moods of The Wildbunch’s Greatest Hits . . .Tonight! 8-track

No idea how many copies of this monster were made, but you can be sure it was barely any. Cory Martin, former ‘bunch drummer under the stickname “M” once offered to make me a copy if I only provided him with a blank 8-track. No idea why I didn’t go out right then and find
one. I’ve never seen one for sale.

3. Soledad Brothers “Master Supertone” cassette

Never available for sale,these hand-dubbed babies were given away t0 whoever. Of the three copies I’ve listened to, there seems to be some variation in track selection, mixes and artwork. I have a copy from Ben Swank that is actually a Johnny Walker cassette (back when Johnny Walker was Johnny Wirick with Doug Walker on drums) that is equally as rare. The only copy of that with artwork I’ve ever seen stolen from Tom Potter’s van sometime in the early 2000’s.

  1. the Come-Ons untitled cassettes

I believe there are three different untitled Come-Ons cassettes. My favorite (and the one pictured below) was recorded while Pat and
Deanne still lived in Pittsburgh. Included are covers of the MC5’s “Tonight” and the Stooges “Dirt” that are phenomenal. I’ve repeatedly asked permission to release them on a 7” for Cass and Deanne perennially shoots me down. I might just do 100 lathe-cut copies and never tell her. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. I’ve only ever seen two copies of this one and they were both at Mick Collins’ place. I made him give me one.

  1. Clone Defects “Scissors Chop” limited sleeve

Picking a limited Clone Defects sleeve for this list is like trying to pick a tabloid starlet you want to shoot…just so many to choose from. With the sleeves for the “Lizard Boy” EP delayed, lots of those singles were decorated with personalized artwork (some wrapped in used guitar strings, colored with crayon, spray-painted, one with a used fork) not to mention the blue variant on the actual sleeve, the original intended sleeve before the pink sleeve proved to look better. What we have here is an initial run of 15 copies of the Clone Defects sleeve for “Scissors Chop”. While the front-cover art stayed the same, the back (above) is completely different. Not seen too often, Dave Buick actually found and bought one this year at the 4th Street Fair.

  1. Various Artists “Bankstock II” CD

I only know about this because of its mention on the Grunnen Rocks website. Once I got into all these bands, I realized I’d NEVER seen this CD anywhere. As he would so many other times, Dave Buick came to the rescue. He had two copies. I made him give me one. The Demolition Doll Rods do inspired takes on “I Wanna O.D.” and “Real Cool Time” and the classic Detroit Cobras line-up does “Shout Bamalama” (unlisted on the tracklist) and “Maria Christina” complete with harmonica solo. The highlight though is the live songs from Blacktop, supposedly not recorded on the same weekend as the rest of the other bands. With the only other Blacktop live recording available being an underwater recording from a Costa Mesa gig, these songs serve as a needed reminder of how great this band was. It’s also nice hearing these songs with Mick’s full voice, as the album was recorded while he had laryngitis. “I Think It’s Gonna Rain” and “Planet Earth (Goddam!)” are arguably the best songs the band ever did and these versions only further that claim. “44 Blues” is tits. Someone should bootleg this.

  1. Rocket 455 “Bum Ticker” w/ rocket launcher 7”

At this point, still never seen by me. Its existence has only been relayed to me by late night campfire light by one Dion Fischer. He describes a party at Jeff Meier’s house after a Rocket 455 show in which the band was handing out copies of its first single with actual functioning missile launchers in the sleeve. The launchers were purchased from Zakoor Novelty on Woodward in Detroit. The artwork (above) is from the actual packaging of the launcher and was also re-appropriated for the single sleeve. Fischer estimates only 10-15 of these were around. I’m too lazy to ask anyone else. Sadly, Fischer’s missile was destroyed by a vengeful cousin.

  1. the Dirtbombs “Earthquake Heart” w/ silk-screened b-side

I wasn’t going to put two Dirtbombs releases on here, so it was very hard to choose. I could’ve just as easily picked the Solid Sex Lovie Doll single as it was limited to 300 copies with three different sleeve designs (one in an edition of 87). Or the “Pray for Pills” initial 100 hand-numbered and rubber-stamped copies from two days after we recorded the songs. I guess when it comes to sheer numbers, there are only 80 of these “Earthquake Heart” singles with an image of Mick silk-screened on the b-side by the wonderful Henrietta Harrison of Auckland, NZ. The single was pressed up mainly for a show on April 4th, 2004 at the King’s Arms in Auckland. I think most of the silk-screened copies were distributed at that show, but a handful snuck out into orders for overseas distributors.

  1. Muldoons “Red and Black” with hand-drawn labels

I wasn’t going to put two Cass releases on the list. I could’ve just as easily picked the Tin Knocker single as it was never commercially available, or the Buff Medways single that was pressed and never came out or even the Muldoons X-mas single or even the Upholsterers single. But in terms of sheer numbers, the first 50 copies of the Muldoons single still win. With Hunt and Shane working overtime, they drew squiggles and hang-men and other creative blurps for all 50 of these. Sold only at their first live show on October 2nd, 2005 as surprise unlisted guests opening for the White Stripes at the Masonic Temple. There is also a slight variation on the sleeve art between this edition and the proper one. At only one-year old this sucker has already commanded $120 on eBay. Who knows what one on blue vinyl would go for?

  1. Slumber Party “3” LP with stencil spray-painted covers

Another one I have never seen. Limited to 30 copies before the stencil wore out and the Young Soul Rebels crew just caved in and printed up proper LP jackets.

Close but no cigars:

Demolition Doll Rods self-released 7”

Detroit City Council full-length CD

the Go “Supercuts” LP

Gore Gore Girls demo CD

Cyril Lords original photocopied 7” sleeve

Hentchmen “Teenage Letter” picture sleeve

Soledad Brothers gray vinyl Italy 7”

Von Bondies blue vinyl D-Wrecked-Hit 7”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Favorite Albums of 1996 and What I Think of Them Now...

For some reason I thought I needed to chronicle my favorite albums of the year in 1996. I really have no idea what spurred this…I was 14-years-old and hadn’t even started writing for the school paper and wouldn’t for at least another year. I’m sure the idea of actually even having my own opinion was quite new to me.

As a build up to my own year-end lists for 2006, we’ll take a dive into what was the mind of a terribly (find the portrait of the listmaker as a young artist) short-haired freshman at Notre Dame Harper Woods High School. I played soccer (one of only three freshman on the JV team) took keyboarding class and had my locker covered with pictures of Nirvana (probably…I can’t remember specifically).

  1. Nirvana “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah”

The first and only record I ever bought at a midnight sale. My dad stayed up watching Monday Night Football and through some kink in the cosmos I convinced him to drive me to Dearborn Music to buy this record. It’s really hard for me to believe that ever happened. Anyway, the record is pretty dullsville nowadays. I’ve heard far more interesting stuff on live Nirvana bootlegs. But it was still exciting to hear the live version of “Aneurysm” played all the time on 89x radio.

  1. That Dog “Totally Crushed Out”

I still love this record like a mother would her firstborn. “Totally Crushed Out” is easily one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s a record that seems to perfectly capture what being a teenager truly is like. I’m truly thankful they opened for the Foo Fighters live and completely regret not seeing them open for Blur.

  1. Rage Against the Machine “Evil Empire”

I still dig it. Sure, I don’t play “Evil Empire” that often, but this is still the band at their peak. Live they were the closest thing to a riot as I’ve ever seen. Meaty middle of the album has lyrics I still think are brilliant:

“Revolver” – “hey revolver, don’t mothers make good fathers?”

“Tire Me” – “I wanna be Jackie Onassis, I wanna wear a pair of dark sunglasses”

“Down Rodeo” – “Fuck the G ride, I want the machines that are makin’ them”

Amidst a flurry of letter writing to the likes of the Foo Fighters, Super Stinky Puffs and any other band I could find an address for, Rage Against the Machine is, to this day, the only one to send anything back. I got a copy of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” on 7” and two copies of “No Shelter” on 7” for absolutely no charge. Sub Pop (while not actually a band) did send me two Eric’s Trip pins, some Supersuckers guitar picks and a handful of rocketship “Powered by Sub Pop” stickers. Maybe some Fastbacks matches too. I will never not like Rage Against the Machine.

  1. Melvins “Stag”

I think I just liked this because it was a Melvins record and I had seen them live. As far as Melvins albums, I’d still rank it somewhere near the top. The smell of the CD booklet, along with Nirvana’s “Unplugged in New York” can still bring a wave of memories o’er me.

  1. Soundgarden “Down on the Upside”

Again, I think I liked this because I’d seen them live. “Pretty Noose” and “Blow Up the Outside World” still rock. But I haven’t listened to this one probably since 1996. And the rest of the songs on the record…besides “Burden in My Hand” I couldn’t even remotely guess what they sound like. Oh well.

  1. Various “Songs in the Key of X”

The Foo Fighters’ cover of Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park” was glued into the DiscMan with dinky six-inch tall speakers next to my freshman year of high school bed. Filter’s “Hey Bro” and Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” were worth getting excited over too (this disc would be my intro to Nick Cave). Looking back though, the coolest thing about this CD is this secret little trick hidden in it. The back cover has a warning that says “This compact disc does not fully conform with Phillips’ “Red Book” specifications, in that the “pre-gap” may not play on all CD players.” The thing is, once track 1 starts playing, if you manually rewind the song on your CD player, you discover "Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum (Dread the Passage of Jesus, For He Will Not Return)" by Nick Cave and the Dirty Three, and a version of The X-Files theme by the Dirty Three. (information easily stolen from Wikipedia, where you can blame someone else if your info is wrong). Apparently Blur’s “Think Tank” album and They Might Be Giants’ “Factory Showroom” also use this hiding method. Good for them.

  1. Presidents of the United States of America “II”

Ok, now this one feels a bit embarrassing. I believe it came out on President’s Day (or was it Election Day? they were oh-so wink-wink). I managed to catch these guys live on way too many television shows…SNL, Mad TV, Letterman and even their special MTV performance live in front of Mount Rushmore. Man…I was 14, I should’ve been masturbating more. Or just doing anything more productive than memorizing these schlubs’ performance schedule. This is the only album on the list I do not currently own. I haven’t owned this in probably 8 years. I remember liking the song “Mach 5” but have to refer to to remember “Volcano” or any other titles. And I guess one of the dudes from PUSA is claiming the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl” rips-off its melody from “Tiki God” off this album. I will be willing to say in a court of law that I never played the disc for Jack White and that I doubt any one else he knows/knew ever owned it. I will also be willing to say in a court of law that the two-string basitar and three-string guitbass is still a pretty sweet idea.

  1. Smashing Pumpkins “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”

Has everyone else in the world said this would’ve been behooved as a single album? Can I join that club? I sold this one years back but somehow bought (?) another copy. I probably only ever listened to disc 2 twice and one of those times I’m certain I fell asleep. As much as I may dislike Billy Corgan, I will never not like “Tonight, Tonight” as it is a perfect example of how to use a string section in rock music. “Jellybelly” and a few others could easily fit on the “Gish” album which I do truly love. Jimmy Chamberlin gets no respect as a demon on the drums. As I listen to this now, I do feel a bit nostalgic. Aw…memories. Fuck ‘em. The artwork I still appreciate, maybe even more so now.

  1. Mudhoney “Superfuzz Bigmuff + Early Singles”

So I had this internal clause that I would include great records that may not have been released in 1996, but that I had only first heard that year. There is no way you can be a teenaged American male and not think this collection is divine. Believe me, I’ve tried. Just accept it.

  1. the Stooges “s/t”

My uncle Jack had lent my older brother his LP copy of this album along with the Flat Duo Jets “I’ll Have a Merry Christmas Without You” single in hopes of inspiring him (my brother was playing upright bass at the time…I’m not sure if that had anything to do with his selection of lending material). Anyway, my brother pretty much ignored whatever was on the records. When uncle Jack stopped by to pick them back up, he seemed astounded “You’ve never heard the Stooges?” What was I supposed to say? I was thirteen. I remember him dropping the needle on “1969” and probably “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. A few months later my first true jam session would be in the attic on Ferdinand with Jack on guitar and me on drums for “1969”. Not much later I would buy this on CD and my life has never quite been the same.

Now as I look back, I guess it would also make sense to figure out what records from 1996 I would now put in my top ten.

The obvious omission is Beck’s “Odelay”. I think I was a little too into the “rock” to quite understand what Beck was doing back then.

At the same time, I can’t figure out why I left Nada Surf’s “High/Low” off my list. I actually bought that record at the time and played the shit out of it. Yeah, “Popular” was a funny little novelty, but I could not get enough of the punk wonder “Sleep”. Saw them on MTV’s “120 Minutes” and when they said they would always jam out on the second Stooges album I was excited, if only because I too knew who the Stooges were.

While I still have never owned a copy, Sloan’s “One Chord to Another” was inescapable at the time. Listening to Canadian 89x radio meant 10% (or is it 30%) of the playlist has to be Canadian artists. “The Good in Every One” always kinda fooled me into thinking I was hearing something from the ‘60s. It’s still just as good this day and a definitive document of 90’s rock and roll.

“A Small Circle of Friends: A Germs Tribute” is one of only a handful of tribute records I’ve listened to more than once. From the Melvins blustery twist on “Lexicon Devil” to that dog’s comedic restructure of “We Must Bleed” to sound exactly like their own song “Old Timer” and the Monkeywrench’s sloppy endless take on “Shutdown” it has everything I was into at the time. Add Hole (as the Holez) doing “Circle One” with actual Germ Pat Smear guesting and Flea (Red Hot Dildo Peppers) with an inspired hippie bongo trip-out on “Media Blitz” and I’m hard pressed to come up with a tribute record that holds up more than this. Necessary.

Lastly, 1996 was justified by my eventual discovery of Weezer’s “Pinkerton”. I’ll quickly admit that I didn’t get into this record until after the fact (sometime in 2000/2001) but can clearly remember riding around in the passenger seat of Frank Heinrich’s whateverthefuckpieceofshit he drove listening to Weezer non-stop. He was a dorky senior who inexplicably didn’t think it was verboten to hang out with a freshman. He loved “El-Scorcho”, the only single off the record with a curious fast food drive-thru video that was quickly forgotten by MTV. My favorite has become “Tired of Sex” a self-deprecating self-affront on lead singer groupie-dom that it’s a little depressing. But not before one of the catchiest basslines in recent memory grabs your head, shakes it, spits Jell-O down your throat and bites your shins.

“Pinkerton” would quickly be ignored and only years later achieve its current modern forgotten classic status. A lot of people my age went through the exact same experience of rediscovering Weezer years after they’d passed it off as lame. In a weird way, that’s also the reasoning behind digging up this list and blabbing about it here. It’s an interesting window into my old self. Slightly embarrassing, wholly therapeutic and all in a form of self-honesty that I adore.