Popdose Music Roundtable: March 2014

Written by Music, Popdose Roundtable

It’s the Popdose Music Roundtable for March 2014 — wherein the staff gabs about any music, new or old, that has been moving us over the past month….

Chris Stamey

It’s time once again for the Popdose Music Roundtable, wherein the staff gabs about any music, new or old, that has been moving us over the past month….

Jeff Giles – My favorite record of the last couple of weeks is Julian Velard’s upcoming New York City concept album, If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave. Like I told him, it sounds like the back cover of Billy Joel’s The Stranger.

Chris Holmes – I probably won’t get around to writing a full review, but the latest effort from the New Mastersounds, Therapy, gets this white boy’s rump shaking like nobody’s business.

Robert Ross – Being that I had to – for the sake of my own sanity – reintroduce myself to being a musician again just threw down for some new toys – a Fender Jaguar, etc.  So since I’ve gone in that direction, I’ve been under the spell of Chris Stamey non-stop for the last two weeks or so – his last three pieces:  the album with Peter Holsapple, Here and Now; the last dB’s album, Falling Off The Sky and his last solo album, Lovesick Blues.  Three absolutely magnificent works that have my creative juices flowing again.

David Medsker – “Under the Pressure” from the War on Drugs has gotten near-nonstop play since I discovered it. I’m also quite liking the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack.

Michael Parr – I’d be remiss if I didn’t soundly plug the new Drive-By Truckers record, English Oceans. Friend of the site (and occasional contributor) Judd Marcello said it best when he said, “They just keep getting better.” The lead-off cut, “Shit Shots Count,” may be a Exile-era Stones throwback, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get the juices pumping.

Ross – Of course, with a lot of the conversations that have flowed between the good peoples of Popdose, I’ve also been revisiting a lot of my teen catalog – The Teardrop Explodes, The Jam, XTC and all that other wonderful late ’70’s/early ’80’s fare – in the process, removing a lot of the hardcore punk that was on my iTunes – and getting into some new things as well:  Little Chief, which I love and Noah Gundersen – that would be a great live bill.  Pure Americana.  I fucking love that.

Thierry Côté – I think The War On Drugs’ album is pretty good, but I’m a bit surprised at all the critical acclaim that it has been getting. It’s good, but I didn’t realize that 30 years had been long enough for everyone to start pining for a new version of Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast.

Jon Cummings – Robert, I can’t tell if you are listening to those most recent Stamey albums because you’re just catching up with him, rather than being introduced to him, but if the latter is the case, those records should only serve as a beginning point. As terrific as “Here and Now” is, the first Holsapple/Stamey duo album, “Mavericks,” is a stone-cold classic – maybe my favorite pop album of the 1990s (no fooling!). My favorite of Stamey’s solo albums is “It’s Alright” from 1987 – just thinking about some of the stuff on that records gets me all tingly with jangle-pop glee.

Jack Feerick – This month I have listened to approximately eight bazillion remixes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome,’ which is a perfect song and impossible to ruin, although BOY have a lot of people given it their best shot.

Medsker – I like the 13-minute Brothers in Rhythm mix, myself.

Ross – Jon – no on both points.  Been a fan since I first heard “Bad Reputation” in ’81.  I’m listening to him since we use a lot of the same instruments; I love the stuff he does (and Peter is an enormous influence on me) and I needed to not listen to Big Star every single day…  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  There’s nothing by Mr. Stamey I don’t have but these last three have been a joyful triumvirate.  They’re wonderfully warm records.  And certainly, Falling Off The Sky is a lot of fun, too.  I listened a lot of It’s A Wonderful Life a few years ago and it made me feel a bit claustrophobic.  I saw the Chris Stamey Group a few times before and after It’s Alright came out.  Can’t listen to it anymore – Faye Hunter was in the “Cara Lee” video and it’s still very difficult for me to watch or listen to anything she was involved in.

Medsker – Scratch that – it’s almost 15 minutes long.

Feerick – It’s hard to top the 14-minute album version, which justifies its length by throwing new sounds and riffs at you every 15 seconds.

Nick LoweDave Lifton – I went on a 2013 folk-rock harmony binge yesterday. I started off with the Milk Carton Kids and then went on to the Lone Bellow. Today is Nick Lowe’s birthday, so I’m going to be listening to him deep deep, into the night.

And yes, I apologize for Wardlawing there.

Ross – Nick The Knife’s natal anniversary is today?  I’ll listen to The Abominable Showman on the way home.  Or Jesus Of Cool.

Lifton – Yeah, he’s 65.

Justin Vellucci – I’m listening to Slint’s “Spiderland,” in anticipation of its boxed-set re-release in a few weeks.

Ross – Of course, I neglected to mention that while we were driving Saturday morning, we did have our Big Star/Paul McCartney singalong.  But what do you expect – me not to do that?  In the car?  On a Saturday on the Belt Parkway?

Dan Wiencek – New stuff I’ve been digging: Elbow, Metronomy (“Love Letters” was my jam for several days straight), Sarah Dooley, and I’ll second the hat-tip to the new Drive-By Truckers. Otherwise I’ve been brushing up on ’80s Bob Dylan in anticipation of that new tribute disk, and spent several pleasant days immersed in a Big Star/Cheap Trick-filled sensory deprivation tank.

Ross – I like that.  A Big Star/Cheap Trick sensory deprivation tank.  I’ll try that with a modicum of Todd Rundgren, Badfinger and E.L.O for good measure.  Tip of the hat to you, sir!

Keith Creighton – Having just adopted kids, there’s been a lot less time to listen to anything intense. We’ve had the new album by the Presidents of the United States of America, Kudos to You, on near constant rotation in the minivan (with or without the kids). It is a really fun album, and good to mix in with POTUS’s Chris Ballew’s Caspar Babypants’ Baby Beatles record.

I’ve also had Cherry Red Records’ Rachel Sweet reissue B-A-B-Y: The Complete Stiff Recordings 1978-1980 on heavy play. Takes me back to that pre-Britney era when teen pop stars had edge and didn’t need to stage blow Robin Thicke to get press.

And for some reason, Paul McCartney’s Tug of War has gotten more than 2-dozen spins this month.

And Doom Abuse, the new album by the Faint, is sitting on my desk demanding to be played very loud and very often. Perhaps I’ll listen to that to mourn GWAR since GWAR is a bit too intense for my blood.

Ross – Tug Of War is one of my favorites of his – “The Pound Is Sinking”…  classic.

Dw. Dunphy – Been an angry month for me as I look back on it. Devin Townsend’s “Deconstruction,” Sepultura’s “Roots” (or, “Oots, bruddy oots”) and the meanest of them all, Gerry Rafferty.

Ross – By referring to Rafferty, someone is bound to lose an ear?  That’s some hardcore shit, yo.

I should say – I worked with Sepultura years ago – nicest bunch of kids (that’s what they were when Roadrunner had them back in the early ’90’s).  Got all excited when they saw things like That Petrol Emotion or Killing Joke or The Psychedelic Furs around my desk.

Wiencek – I might add a little Shoes to the mix and see how that goes down.

Ross – Hamer guitars and bright shiny hooks – the glories of Power Pop are a thing of majesty.

Which goes back to why I’ve been listening so much to Chris Stamey lately – he’s a master of hooks and textures.

Cummings – I’ve been leading a double life this month, because my car has a USB input that allows me to play MP3s through the stereo while circumventing iTunes or any other device. So I loaded a flash drive with music from the last year or two that I hadn’t listened to very much, and have spent the last month playing that incessantly while loading another flash drive with about 300 of my favorite albums. (It’s a process, because most of those albums were on my hard drive in M4a (or, worse, the dreaded M4p) format, which the car doesn’t recognize. Of the newer stuff, I keep cycling back to Chvrches’ “The Bones of What You Believe,” which reminds me of my favorite failed band of the late ’80s, Grace Pool; Waxahatchee’s “Cerulean Salt,” which really slays me for some reason; and the “Inside Llewyn Davis” soundtrack, which I adore even though I hated the movie. I’ve been driving my son crazy with repeated plays of the old Dave Van Ronk song “Green, Green Rocky Road,” with its nonsense lyrics, and “Please Mr. Kennedy,” which allows me to feed my Adam Driver fetish.

Creighton – Bill Pritchard has a new album out, A Trip to the Coast. His Three Months, Three Weeks and Two Days record is one of my favorite discs of the late 80s. Since he was on Nettwerk and often sang in French, I always considered him the Quebec Morrissey — turns out, he’s an English lad. Who knew? Lovely album though.

Dunphy – Robert: Yeah, Max and Igor are very talented individuals although they can be scary as all get out. My brother had those early Roadracer tapes back in, what the kids say, the day. I have to be be in a very specific frame of mind to break out that kind of metal. Last week I was.

As for Rafferty, we had a conversation about him a few weeks back and I just fell right in with those old albums. Even the albums I’d consider weaker efforts have at least two songs that adhere to you and will not leave you. He was one of those talents that you look on, recognize just how undervalued he was in the States, and shake your head disapprovingly.

Dan: There’s always room for Shoes.

Ross – On my way home from work and listening to Nuggets.  It doesn’t get any better’n this, kiddiwinks…

Cummings – Has any comp ever been abused and exploited to the extent “Nuggets” has? I have three or four permutations/sequels/”Children”/etc., none of which holds a candle to the original.

Ross – Yeah, the sequels pretty much irritated me.  Hence, I stick with that glorious 4 CD set, since they pretty much got it right (I have a few questions about why this-or-that track didn’t make it) and when I need a pick-me-up, it’s my go-to.

I will buy a Teardrop guitar so I can be justified in doing a live version of “Psychotic Reaction” (4th favorite song in the history of mankind).

Rob Smith – I really dig the new Lydia Loveless record, Somewhere Else.  She has sort of a punky/twangy thing going, with lots of energy and melody, and she’s handy with a well-placed epithet or four.  And she covers Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know” quite well.  AND she has a song called “Chris Isaak,” that’s not about Chris Isaak, but a guy who she used to date who looked like Chris Isaak. I don’t suppose it ended well with the guy, but it’s my favorite song on the album thus far.

I’ve also heard pieces of a Bob Dylan covers record that features only songs he recorded in the Eighties.  It’s called Bob Dylan in the 80s Volume 1. I approve of this concept.  I really like Built to Spill’s version of “Jokerman” and Craig Finn’s take on “Sweetheart Like You.”  Craig Finn, I believe, was born to sing “Sweetheart Like You.”  If “Sweetheart Like You” were sung in the third person by a guy on his fifth bourbon who’s leaning a little too heavily on the bar, it could be a Hold Steady song.  As it is, it’s sung in the first person by a guy on his fifth bourbon who’s leaning a little too heavily on the bar.

Speaking of Craig Finn, I’m five or six songs into the new Hold Steady record, Teeth Dreams, and I am very happy.  More on that next month.

Parr – On a completely different note, the debut record by ††† is brilliant. Chino Moreno (Deftones, Team Sleep, Palms) has always alluded to his affinity for new wave / electronic music and this record brings that to the forefront. Half the tunes were previously available on their two EPs, but the joining of those songs with new material really gels the vision. I’m willing to bet that Medsker would dig this record.

Ross – And here I am on a Love binge – especially “Forever Changes”.  But some of those other songs – “A Message To Pretty”, “Stephanie Knows Who” and of course – especially “7 & 7 Is”.  Jesus.  The monster power of that band makes me shudder.

Medsker – The Deftones did a nice cover of The Chauffeur a while back, so this doesn’t surprise me.