Music Notes July 2016

July 30, 2016 at 6:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Ah, July. Only a month of good summer listens left.

1 Bob Dylan – Fallen Angels

No, no, no. I don’t get it. Dylan’s early work is untouchable. Some of the greatest American music of the twentieth century. And now, I keep reading reviews of Dylan’s stuff about how brilliant he continues to be, but I don’t get it. At all. He can’t sing any more, and his maudlin renditions of schmaltzy  standards are just embarrassing. Disagree if you like, but at this point I wonder if Dylan did die in that motorcycle crash.

2 Julie Ruin – Run Fast

Haven’t heard the new record yet, but the Julie Ruin’s first Run Fast is engaging. Punky, but not hardcore, Kathleen Hanna’s wail emerging above the noise. Instantly enjoyable.

3. Alan Vega

Several decades ago, I was in Records on Wheels on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines. I’d gone to buy the Lords of the New Church album, but while I was there, the cover of Suicide’s first record caught my eye. Even if the band weren’t called Suicide, the blood smeared cover is hard to ignore. It’s not an easy listen (“Frankie Teardrop” is harrowing), but the minimalist electronics of “Ghost Rider” and “Rocket USA” are intense. And then there’s something like “Cheree,” which is just beautiful. The second Suicide LP is different, and so were all of Vega’s solo records. His passing last week marks the end of an era, and of a true innovator.

4. Bauhaus – Swing the Heartache- The BBC Sessions

Never a big Bauhaus fan. They were a band I heard on the radio, rather than one I put down my money for. Still, this is a pretty good collection of the BBC stuff. Most of the hits are here (except “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”), and there are some nice covers (“Night Time,” “Telegram Sam,” “Third Uncle” and a stun volume version of “Ziggy Stardust’). All sound a little different to the originals. Probably not the best place to start your Bauhaus collection, but not the worst either.

5  Bonnie Prince Billy –Wolfroy Goes to Town

Hillbilly folk, sadness and religion, and Angel Olsen too. It’s not fundamentally different to many other Will Oldham records, but that’s a good thing isn’t it?

6 Adam and the Ants – Dirk Wears White Sox

Adam and the Ants were the last punk band. Everyone else signed, and sold out. Not Adam. He inspired a cult following of “Ant People.” So after the disappointment of “Young Parisians” people were hoping for something special. And the results are…mixed. Some great moments to be sure (the original “Car Trouble,” “Catholic Day” and “Cleopatra”), but the production is flat and overall the songs sound like works-in-progress. The CD adds a half-dozen tracks which are frankly superior to the rest of the album,  so that’s worth something. And then a year later, Adam lost his band, jettisoned the S & M fetishes and decided he wanted to be a pirate pop star. The rest is history.

7 Tubeway Army –Replicas

Oh, I bought a copy of “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” when it was released, but I wouldn’t say I was a fan of Tubeway Army. Like many, I thought that Gary Numan was a not as talented copy of John Foxx’s Ultravox. Numan bitterly denied this, arguing why not claim he was ripping off Bowie (to which he confessed, but then so was Foxx).  So, it’s a bit of a surprise listening to the second Tubeway Army record three decades later, and seeing how good it is. Sure Numan can’t really sing, but the split between punk and electronica is pretty interesting. Still like “Down in the Park.”

8 Husker Du – Warehouse Songs and Stories

I think I saw the band on this tour. What was it they were called “the Beatles of hardcore.” I don’t really like those early records (nor hardcore really), but this blend of that sensibility along with a pop undercurrent is supremely listenable.

9 Palma Violets – “Best Friend”

Sometimes a band should just break-up after that one song. I love the rest of the first album 180, but he first single is just so special; I went to see them based on hearing it. I don’t think the band will ever top it.

10 Michael Bradley- Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone

I have not read this book yet, but I can’t help but plug it. A memoir from the bass player for one of Northern Ireland’s greatest pop-punk bands is good enough for me.

One month of summer left.


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