Gather up your cattle because it is time for the monthly roundup once more. Witness as the very knowledgeable and worldly Popdose Staff talks you through what they were listening to in June, attempt to redeem the honor of The Knack, ruminate on Bob Mould’s social skills, and somehow wind up rendering out like so much fatty bacon in the demonic frypan of the Kindie genre. Finally, we decide what is required to actually make children’s entertainment that doesn’t blow…
We promise you that somewhere in this conversation will be the mention of Dildo Corrigan and the Pumpkin Band.
Confused? Read on!
Michael Parr – I think much has been said of Julian Velard’s record, but it bears repeating: If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave is a fantastic record that deserves a wider audience.
Dave Lifton – Yep. I was just about to lead with that. I’ve been listening to that more than anything else this month.
Dan Wiencek – I love these threads — I immediately tab over to Rdio as soon as each new message comes in.
This month was road-trip month, with my wife and I driving from Oregon to Utah and back. That entailed revisits of some of my favorite albums of the year thus far, including Elbow’s The Take Off and Landing of Everything, War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream and Lake Street Dive’s Bad Self Portraits. The only new thing I’ve run across that’s poised to have staying power for me is First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold. I’m a sucker for female folk/country duos, evidently. “Waitress Song” is a particular fave.
Lifton – I liked First Aid Kit’s last album a lot. I haven’t been able to check out the new one yet.
Ann Logue – I’ve been listening to the new Chrissie Hynde, which is really good, and it has Neil Young on it. Are there two cooler people in rock than Chrissie Hynde and Neil Young? I don’t think so.
But other than that, not much has been striking me. The last two songs that I heard that I immediately needed to hear over and over again were “A Feather’s Not a Bird” by Rosanne Cash and “That’s My Kind of Night” by Luke Bryan – neither are exactly rock and roll, are they?
Rob Smith – I really dig the debut record from a band out of Oregon called Hook & Ladder. It’s solid Americana-type pickin’/fiddlin’/rockin’/etc., with a singer who at different points reminds me of Neko Case, Kelly Willis, and Syd Straw. On a couple songs, she reminds me of all three at once.
I’ve also just dipped into the new Mastodon record, Once More Round the Sun, and I imagine I will be listening to that a great deal more. It’s loud and progressive and will probably make me dangerous in traffic.
And the new David Gray sounds promising. I typically marinate in his stuff for a while, so it’ll take a few spins through to really get into it.
Dw Dunphy – I’ve been listening to Anathema’s Distant Satellites and preparing myself for what is bound to be the onslaught of Prince-related stuff owing to the anniversary of Purple Rain which, apparently, will not be reissued in time to coordinate with the anniversary of the release of Purple Rain? Is that the case?
Soundtrack-wise, I got the reissue of John Williams’ Jurassic Park soundtrack, which may be his last truly great scores. That’s not to knock later work, but that his second to last score to jump into the widest public consciousness on name recognition alone. The last is, of course, the Harry Potter theme.
I’m working on a “Songs That Kill” focusing on “My Sharona” so a lot of catching up has occurred with The Knack.
I got the Loud Lion CD early in the month. It is fun, and pretty much as you’d expect, but it is not as inspired as the L.E.O. project. For that, even though the songs were sideways transcripts of E.L.O. songs, they still felt like songs in their own right. The Loud Lion stuff wears their sources front-and-center. “Die Tuff” is “Love Bites.” “Lion Eyes” is “Photograph.” That kind of thing.
As “fake bands” go, it is entertaining, but it fails to stand on its own, outside of being a curiosity.
David Medsker – I had the same problems with Loud Lion. The tunes don’t stand on their own.
Parr – Purple Rain was released on June 25; the 30th anniversary release might come out in November.
Chris Holmes – Speaking of The Knack, I find I have less and less tolerance for ”My Sharona” as the years go by. Now take “Siamese Twins (The Monkey and Me).” That is a killer tune.
Lifton – The full-length guitar solo is still badass, though.
Dunphy – That’s kind of the central theme of the upcoming post. If “My Sharona” was the only good thing they did, to the exclusion of everything else they did, perhaps I could see the discrimination…but it’s not. My favorite track is “Lucinda” and as a single I think “Good Girls Don’t” is incredibly strong. The follow-up But The Little Girls Understand, while not being as top-to-bottom great, is better than most are capable of. Even the perplexing Round Trip has “Another Lousy Day In Paradise.”
Being trapped not once but twice in a success like “My Sharona” is dispiriting enough. All the extra nonsense surrounding the Knuke The Knack campaign was just stupid.
Holmes – I was a little too young to be aware of all the Knack backlash at the time, but it seems pretty stupid in retrospect.
Logue – I am old enough to be a fan of The Knack and young enough not to have gotten the hatred. Both “Good Girls Don’t” and “My Sharona” are great singles.
Dunphy – A couple things: the punks didn’t like them because, well, they were punks. They didn’t like much of anything.
Pop fans threw a backlash because they saw similarities to the cover and title of Get The Knack to Meet The Beatles. Also, the natty 60s clothes. Also, the black & white and Capitol Records…(slams head on desk). Two decades later, the world gets Oasis. Cancer or cure?
Bruce Gary was a session drummer. Okay. But he was a mind-blowing session drummer. There’s nothing lazy about his fills. If you had a band and came across a drummer like that, you hire him.
In the end, there was a lot of jealousy for very immediate success, and outside forces did everything they could to justify why they felt that success was unwarranted.
Holmes – A textbook example of the music industry eating its own. If The Knack came out today and sold that many records, insiders would be kissing their asses left and right.
Rob Ross – Aside from the new things I’ve listened to for reviewing, I’ll take a liberty – one, Paul Weller’s More Modern Classics. A good singles compilation always makes life easier. Two, Glenn Tilbrook’s Happy Ending – low-voltage Squeeze. Third – well, since the show was announced at the 9:30 Club in D.C., naturally, Big Star, 3rd. And most of the Traffic and Led Zeppelin catalog.
Medsker – I’m going through David Gray’s new record for the first time, and the title track is killer.
Ross – Maybe a week or so ago, I re-visited both …But The Little Girls Understand and Round Trip. Yes, Doug Fieger’s lyrics were a bit clunky, but Round Trip deserved a better fate (I thought). “Baby Talks Dirty” still makes me laugh.
(singing) “…good girls don’t…but I do…”
Dure – I’m always a little nervous to hear new material from old, erratic favorites, and I’m doing a lot of that right now. I’ve added a couple of Bob Mould and Tori Amos tunes on Spotify, with Sarah McLachlan up next. Mould’s “I Don’t Know You Anymore” is a terrific start. A few of the Tori songs have popped up in rotation, and they’re not bad.
Smith – The new Mould is very good.
Parr – Indeed. That record has spun up in my headphones pretty frequently, as well. His last two records have really been wonderful.
Thierry CÁ´tÁ© – About The Knack, I know all about the misogyny of the lyrics, the overexposure, the perceived careerism, etc., but I can’t really bring myself to hate the music—I even have a very soft spot for their Anglocentric late 1990s comeback album Zoom (which sounded like the album the Kinks should’ve released during that decade).
Ross – As far as The Knack goes, the Knuke The Knack campaign WAS ridiculous. Especially when you can look at it over time – at the least, they were a real band who wrote their own material and performed live. Not like the absolute shit that’s thrown out there and sickeningly lapped up today. Not one of my favorite bands, but I’ll give them their due. And if they were so bad, how could so many people have bought “My Sharona” and “Good Girls Don’t” (and I think “Get The Knack” sold pretty well)? Oasis? No way, sis… Referencing your idols in your half-baked lyrics over the span of how many albums is pretty fucking tedious. Never mind that their albums sounded like sludge.
Those new Zeppelin deluxe packages are pretty wonderful. Having been a devotee of I for most of my musical life, for the first time, I have a great appreciation for III. A very warm and tight album – no doubt thanks to the predominance of Page’s acoustic meanderings. And “Out On The Tiles” will forever be the high point of that album (unless you count “Immigrant Song” being accompanied by Viking kittens rowing across a pond…).
Goddamn, but Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy is another reawakening for me. That American re-master/permutation (long boring story of the name and track configuration) is such a masterpiece – from “Paper Sun” (which I loved as a teen) to “Hole In My Shoe” (which were the two singles) to the “proper” album’s tracks. Dear Mr. Fantasy, indeed.
Something else – indeed, the new Bob Mould record is much better than Silver Age – I know that was coming right off the Copper Blue revisited tour, but it seemed like he was copying himself in a not interesting way. Beauty And Ruin has much more width to it and more songs that live with you after listening to it a few times. I have tickets to see him in September – I’m sure it will be a good show; he always brings his “A” game on stage. He was terrific in ’09 at Joe’s Pub doing half acoustic, half electric, no drums and Jason Narducy supplying bass, some acoustic guitar and vocals (the night Life And Times was released, which I actually love).
Lifton – I haven’t had the chance to listen to the new album yet, but I saw Mould the other day and it was incredible. I hadn’t seen a full band Mould show since he decided to do Husker Du songs, so getting “Something I Learned Today” and “Flip Your Wig” sent me flying. And Jon Wurster on drums is such an upgrade over Malcolm Travis (although, to be fair, I think Mould probably put Travis in a harness on the Sugar records).
Ross — Dave, have you read Mould’s autobio? Aside from the fact that it’s “difficult”, your assessment is completely correct. He kept a very tight leash on Malcolm – as he did with David Barbe, as well. And his treatment of Mr. Travis in the ending of Sugar was not what I call particularly reasonable.
Wurster’s a blast. As much as I dislike videos, he makes Mould’s watchable.
Lifton – Yeah, I did read Mould’s book. I kind of have mixed feelings about it.
Ross – The U.K. editions of the Sugar re-issues are far superior to the Merge versions. And finally, File Under: Easy Listening sounds the way it should have from the get-go. “Gift” is a motherfucker and should have always leaped out at you and grabbed you by the throat – I’m not a drummer but the minute Malcolm’s drums kick in, they should have exploded – much in the way Copper Blue sounded – and they didn’t… NOW they do and it’s a joy to listen to that album next to Copper Blue, which to me, is one of the best-produced/sounding albums I’ve ever heard. I confess I’ve tried for years to approximate some of that production in my own stuff. And having the B-sides that really should have been album tracks on FU: EL makes it complete.
Dure – I was glad Mould owned up to his mistreatment of Travis. Thought he was a little less kind to other people.
Ross – Did anyone see Every Everything, the Gorman Bechard film about Grant Hart? I thought Grant had the best word/last word on Bob.
Dunphy – I did not. What was his take?
Ross – He kept it VERY simple. As far as the Huskers went, he loved that band and was proud of all they’d done (with a very sly shot at Dildo Corrigan from “the Pumpkin band”). And his take on Mould: “I love him. Best guitar player in the world.”
‘Nuff said – I think the world of Mr. Hart.
Michael Fortes – June for me was all about Hickey Fest, so naturally I’ve been taking in a lot of music from many of the artists who played that festival in its second year: Chris Cohen, B. Hamilton, Dave Mihaly and the Shimmering Leaves Ensemble, DRMS, The Blank Tapes, Sandy’s, Michael Musika, and of course my own band Sugar Candy Mountain.
The new record by The Range Of Light Wilderness is playing now, and it’s much different from their live shows. But I like it a lot. Man, those harmonies! I could listen to them all day long.
I’m also playing in another band called DaMaDa so I’ve been absorbing a lot of their music lately too, which is a blend of jazz, rock, funk and Chinese folk music. We cover some tunes by The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Weather Report and Frank Zappa, so I’ve been listening to a lot of those artists too.
Finally, I know Jeff Giles and Matt Wardlaw will take issue with this, but I am loving the new Chicago record. To my ears, it’s the best thing they’ve done since the Stone of Sisyphus, and I’m really enjoying the arrangements and the overall vibe of positivity that’s threaded throughout it. This is the kind of record I’ve wanted to hear them make for a very long time, and I’m glad they finally summoned the courage to do it. They only got halfway there with XXX but with this one, they went all out and made music to please themselves. This is what they should have been doing all along.
Keith Creighton – In terms of new music, I was surprised how much I disliked the new Robyn/Royksopp EP considering how much I love them both. The lyrics are boring, the grooves aren’t too original and the sax bits that fall like hamster turds across that 9-minute opening track sound like someone warming up, waiting for the session to begin.
I bought the new Lily Allen deluxe edition of Sheezus — the bonus disc is the only essential part of that affair. I’m going to tack on the 8 demos she just released, her unofficial World Cup song, and the stellar “Hard Out Here” single to form a better version of the album called “Meesus”.
Fans of Echobelly, the Primitives and Tracey Ullman should check out a charming new EP by Emergency Tiara. New single, “When I Fall in Love” is adorable in an Audrey Hepburn goes window shopping montage kind of way.
CÁ´tÁ© – As for what I have been listening to, I may be repeating myself but I am still getting a lot out of Roisin Murphy’s recent Italian-language EP. It’s probably not as accessible as her past work, and some people won’t be able to get over the Italian-language lyrics, but I think a cover like “Ancora Tu” is absolutely perfect.
Since I was covering Toronto’s North by Northeast music festival (for another publication….shhhh!), I have been doing a lot of catching up to prep for some of the shows and finally got around to listening to Courtney Barnett’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. I know I’m late to the party (she was on Fallon this spring), but that A Sea… has been in heavy rotation for the last couple of weeks and her set was one of my highlights of the festival. The music is very good (alternating between freewheeling rock’n’rolland drony West Coast psychedelia, with a touch of the Velvet Underground), but her rambling, stream-of-consciousness storytelling is what makes the EP compilation such a pleasure to return to again and again. Check out “Avant Gardener” or “History Eraser” (featuring a Triffids namedrop!) for good examples of what makes her so great.
Ross – After the evening I had last night and the morning I had today, I think R.E.M.’s Up would be a good ferry-ride home album. “The Apologist” keeps ringing in my ear especially my mind is thinking in very wry terms…
Holmes – For anyone inclined toward the metal side of things, Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) has a new album out called Inferno. I have a pretty low tolerance for guitar instrumental albums, as they tend to be tuneless wank-fests, but this is actually pretty good. More exciting than the last few Megadeth albums anyway.
Jeff Giles – Of course, we can’t mention Marty Friedman without including a link to Matt’s excellent interview: https://popdose.com/marty-friedman-interview-2014/
Ross – Well, since I’m getting ready to go on vacation to Georgia, R.E.M. aside, I started working my way though some of my old vinyl last night – The Method Actors (a precursor for The White Stripes with their 2-man slam), Oh-OK, who had a real sweetness about them – pre-Matthew Sweet joining them and of course the almighty Pylon. Something about their quirkiness that I still love and makes me feel like an icky teen again…
Dure – Where’s Dreams So Real? Love Tractor? Guadalcanal Diary?
Ross – I can only listen to so much in one night! Tonight is Love Tractor, OBVIOUSLY Guadalcanal Diary (and nobody give me shit about loving 2 x 4 as much as I do) – I have tapes of the Kilkenny Cats, Mercyland, etc.
Let’s not forget, I’m not just going to Athens… So I may indulge in a little Allman Bros. as well since Capricorn Records was out of Macon…
Dure – If you’re swinging by Watkinsville, don’t forget Magnapop.
Ross – I would. I love Hot Boxing. Saw them open for Sugar in ’94 – they were (in a word) pretty fucking amazing.
Lifton – Somewhere I should still have the setlist from when I saw them open up for Sugar. They came out with an album in 2009 that was pretty good, too.
Ross – Dave, where did you see them? They were here, in New York, at Roseland – I think Magnapop was up first, then Velocity Girl and then the almighty Sugar, roaring in with “Gift”.
Lifton – It was at Hammerjack’s in Baltimore. No Velocity Girl, though. Surprising given the location.
Holmes – Velocity Girl played a show at the college I attended in Vermont.
That’s my cool story, bro.
Dure – Dreams So Real, oddly enough, may be the only Athens band I’ve seen IN ATHENS to this day. Yes, I grew up there, but I was lame. (And also 17 when I left for college.)
I saw Dreams So Real again on the quad at Duke.
Ross – Here’s my cool story: The Bangles (Faulty Records), R.E.M., The English Beat (both I.R.S.), add Stray Cats (for two shows) and headliners – Squeeze: Nassau Colisseum, November ’82.
The A’s (Philadelphia), U2 (insufferable) and The Teardrop Explodes: The Palladium, May ’81.
Dure – Better than the Fresh Beat Band.
Also reminds me of the weird Laurie Berkner crush I had when my kids were still watching Noggin or Nick Jr. or whichever channel played music videos between shows.
Walsh – Funny. Giles still has a crush on Laurie Berkner.
Giles – I will pay someone to shoot you, Walsh.
Lifton – Cover my round-trip train fare to Milwaukee and you have a deal.
Dure – The Fresh Beat Band had some decent songs back when they had the original Marina, a former soap star who always had a sly look as if she were about to wink to all the dads out there.
For older kids — I’m really sick of all the “buy our combat-game toys” shows, but I don’t think I grew up with anything with the quality of Phineas and Ferb, which I could watch all day.
Holmes – Oh lord, every time I see one of those insipid Laurie Berkner songs on Nick Jr. my nuts crawl up into my abdomen.
I can deal with the Fresh Beat Band, and the songs they do in Bubble Guppies are legitimately good pop tunes.
Ross – Forgive my naÁ¯vetÁ© but who are The Fresh Beat Band and what are Bubble Guppies?
Giles – Stop asking, Rob. Beyond this place lie monsters.
Holmes – Have no fear my friend. Power pop is alive and well, and being sung by computer animated mer-people…
Ross – Ah – a kids’ show. Explains a lot. Got none of those.
Lifton – I have never been so happy not to have kids (that I am aware of and/or acknowledge).
Holmes – The rest of the world shares that sentiment with you.
Ross – Dave – same here (and I wouldn’t acknowledge mine if I did, if I were aware, since they would already be bastards). Praise Yahweh.
But if I did, I’d teach them that it begins with The Beatles.
Walsh – Berkner is tolerable in very, very small doses.
Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo) does the music for Doc McStuffins on Disney Jr and Parry Gripp from Nerf Herder just started collecting Disney checks too.
Parr – Berkner is insufferable, stop trying to convince the world otherwise.
Ross – Shit. And I thought I was sorta safe here. Yesterday I was pimpin’ old skool style and now this…
Parr – I have never been so happy to not have cable.
Walsh – I get emails promoting this guy at least 2x a week.
Ross – Ew. That was douche-y.
The problem with kids television is lack of wabbit, duck, Fudd, big, loud chicken, cat with speech impediment and so on. No Rubble or Joe Rockhead – no Beau Brummelstones or Ann Margrock. This is all bullshit now. There is no soul in kids television.
Holmes – The Flintstones was originally a show aimed for adults that aired in prime time. Hell, they were sponsored by Winston cigarettes.
Ross – Hell yeah! I grew up watching The Flintstones. They had a moral compass. They slept in separate beds. They dug the rock and roll. The Rubbles adopted a kid and fought in court to get him. Family fucking values!
Holmes – Not to mention dropping copious amounts of stone age acid.
Ross – FUCK. How could I forget The Great Gazoo? They even embraced other cultures, like little green spacemen (never mind the Flintstone/Boy Scout jamboree thing).
Harvey fuckin’ Korman ruled.
Logue – Some channel is showing Rocky & Bullwinkle at 10:00 every night. It makes me happy. And it’s aged better than you might think.
Ross – Now THIS GUY was my hero, growing up…
Our generations were the lucky ones – I’m tellin’ ya – no other generation will ever get it when they hear “Cucaracha” sung with a Romanian accent and know automatically it was a black duck doing his best Danny Kaye imitation.
Wiencek – And Warner Brothers cartoons were theatrical shorts made to appeal to adults at least as much as children.
Apparently the secret to making great kids’ TV is not to make “kids’ TV” at all.
Ross – Of course, not forgetting, WB cartoons (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies) were great anti-Fuhrer propaganda machines as well!
Creighton – Here’s a photo – from my vinyl wall.
Ross – YES!