Archive for March, 2014

The Northwest: Matchup #9 – Heart Vs. The Dead Kennedys

March 31, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

Rez sez: Has to be the Dead Kennedys.

The Dead Kennedys were titans. Giants. They were one of the first great American punk bands. You can name the Ramones, the Avengers, hell, even my guys the Dictators (how I managed not to squeeze them in is a testament to my good judgment), but they aren’t as legendary and important as the Dead Kennedys.


One: Alternative Tentacles. AT was founded by the DKs, most properly by Jello Biafra himself (we’ll come back to that guy in a minute), and midwifed countless great bands. Including putting out all the DKs material until recently. Not for several more years would other bands follow in their footsteps. Black Flag’s SST, Touch and Go, Homestead…all of them follow in the footsteps of Alternative Tentacles.

Two: Jello. Eric Boucher, originally from Colorado, now Jello BIafra, really is one of the first great American punk “rock…

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Matchup Six – The Southwest: The Eagles Vs. X

March 26, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

Thanks (in part) to classic rock radio, the Eagles catalog is ubiquitous. These LA juggernauts have easy-rocked their way to the stratosphere with lush harmonies, and simple country-boogie rock. No matter how much The Dude might hate them, their popularity can’t be denied: The songs are good, well performed, and they belong to a certain time called the 70’s, when sun-drenched, cocaine covered folk singers smoothed the rough edges of the dropout generation’s sounds.

Glenn Frey and Don Henley provided co-lead vocals, Frey on guitar and Henley on drums. Don Felder and Joe Walsh traded lead guitar, and Randy Meisner played the most unsung instrument of this band (in my humble opinion) – the bass.

They formed in 1971, and broke up six months into 1980. They gave us “Hotel California”, “Desperado”, and perhaps most famously, their take on the Jackson Browne-penned “Take It Easy”. These are instant crowd pleasers. The…

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Matchup Five-The Northwest-Journey Vs. Pearl Jam

March 25, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

Journey got in as a play in, and I can totally understand why. They are karaoke superstars. As someone who loves to go and sing over someone else’s music, Journey are an epic part of the evening. Someone will cue up “Don’t Stop Believing” and the party ratchets up to another level. Steve Perry is a genius vocalist. Genius. That high register that we’re all trying to reach as we are drinking our evening away.

Neil Schon is a great guitarist. One of those crystalline cocaine era perfectionists that were the vanguard against the three chord energy of punk. His talent and sound are undeniable, if a bit too rockist for my personal tastes.

If you grew up with AOR/MOR/Classic rock radio as the bedrock of your taste, Journey are an undeniable part of that. Much as I might hate to admit it! I can sing so many of their…

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The Southeast – Matchup 4: R.E.M. VS. The B-52’s

March 20, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

They crawled up from the south – Straight outta Athens, GA.

There’s something in the water down there in Athens; Our two contenders aren’t the sole imports from this college town. Just to name a few, Widespread Panic, Neutral Milk Hotel (who will show up in the tourney later), Matthew Sweet, Danger Mouse and Drive-By Truckers also hail from this burg.

I love the B-52’s. Everyone does. If you can’t shake your groove thang to “Love Shack” you have no business shaking anything. They were light years ahead of their time, and paved the way for the college rock to come with hits like “Planet Claire”, “Rock Lobster”, etc. The inimitable Fred Schneider throws his seemingly ambiguous and weird but no less potent sexuality all over by means of punctuated deadpan – he’s in on the joke, and one step ahead of you at all times. The lovely ladies, Kate…

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Matchup Number Three-The Northeast-The Pixies Vs. Sonic Youth

March 19, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

The first real blockbuster of the tournament right here.

Sonic Youth must move on, man!

Sonic Youth, who brought together guitar noise and punk rock together in the ashes of No Wave in NYC in the 80’s and 90s. Nirvana, another tourney heavyweight, signed to DGC because Sonic Youth were there. Sonic Youth never really kowtowed to commercial enterprise in the least. They made art rock chic again. And attractive too, although we don’t really count the sexy in voting, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Thurston and Kim were a couple and attractive.  Fact is, Sonic Youth were the forerunners of so many great noisy rock bands of the 90s and further, that of course they need to move on.

The Pixies.

I could just say “Kim Deal” and that would be satisfactory for me…but that’s not true.

The Pixies melded noisy feedback laden rock with pop hooks as well…

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Matchup Two: Buddy Holly And The Crickets VS. ZZ Top

March 19, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

It’s the battle of Texas.

Lots in common here; Blues based, radio friendly, hugely influential, etc.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets are far superior.

Buddy Holly was 22 when he got on a plane with The Big Bopper and Richie Valens. In the three years prior to that, he literally changed the face and expectations of rock n’ roll. John Lennon saw an awkward, nerdy kid sporting glasses and said “He made it okay to wear glasses.” A huge statement – you can actually be yourself and STILL be a rockstar. He wrote his own songs. That just wasn’t the standard at the time. Mick Jagger – an excellent writer himself said: “You could learn from Buddy Holly how to write songs, the way he put them together. He was a beautiful writer.” He was, and when you listen to his songs now, you can hear everything that came after 1956…

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Matchup One-Northwest-Soundgarden Vs. The Replacements.

March 17, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

This is the first matchup, so let me run through how this is going to work.

Each morning at 11:00 am, there will be a new post with two bands. There will be a paragraph or so on each. There will also be a youtube playlist with five songs for each band (honestly, if we can’t come up with five songs for a band, do they belong in the field?), and a poll for you to vote on. Voting will close at midnight on Friday of each week. Sunday, there will be a post with the winners. Savvy? Let’s go.

Soundgarden are the superior band. 

Soundgarden were the Led Zeppelin of the late 80s/early 90s. The blueprint is there. Best vocalist in the scene. Great riff playing guitarist in Kim Thayil. Great rhythm section, although Jonesy probably is a better multi-instrumentalist. Matt Cameron was acknowledged as one of the best…

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Perhaps You Will Have Heard of Us From the Trail of Dead?

March 12, 2014

I’m going to use a very dirty word right now. Well, dirty phrase.


Now, As some of you may know, I have regular fatwas against certain bands or forms of music. The Darkness, Rush, 95% of Nashville country.. my rage and righteous condemnations lead to the noted plea issued by the media “Don’t Hurt ‘Em, Gerber!”

Never heard it? NO? Ok.

Well, Prog-Rock has been on my fatwa list for sometime. I’ve made exclusions.. Peter Gabriel=era Genesis for example, some King Crimson, but for the most part, Prog’s self indulgent noodling make bad jazz look like an exercise in perfect minimalist excellence.

Let me add another word less dirty to me some.. disco.

Now for many, disco was the ultimate nadir or pop music. I know I loved it, then was heavily counter programmed against it by my sister. Who made me listen to WNEW and WPLJ to wash the Villiage People away. Now,we can see recognize Disco’s rock and hip-aspects, celebrate it as a step forward of getting LGBT inluences out into American Music.

We see that disco as the ONLY form of music was bad, but now that it has been digested or ripened, it can be a part of a good, nutritious music breakfast.

And we can shake our asses when the Wonder Woman theme plays. Because you just should. It’s good for the soul.

So what the hell does this have to do with … And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead? (Hence forth called the Trail of the Dead.)

Because like discos need to go away and come back post rehab, prog as it was in the 70’s needed to go the fuck away. And while it was gone, it could be digested, and influence upcoming artists who could do it right.

And ironically enough, two of them are Texas bands formed in the ’90’s. Explosions In The Sky.. and of course, Trail of The Dead. Trail of the Dead formed in Austin, Texas in 1993, and have been basically doing whatever the hell they want since. I’ve mostly heard of them more than heard them.. I mean, the name alone kicks ass. And the one album I somehow have… is good. A mix of instrumental and lyrical tunes, which you can most certainly rock out too.

Having heard them.. and re-listened too this one cd a couple of times, while they don’t set my world on fire, this is a really rocking band I’m glad shows up in Peter Berg movies and should be explored by anyone seeking to rock out with their prog out.

In a good way.

Artist: … And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
Album: Tao of Dead
Year: 2011
Date Listened in Tour: 7/17/08
Rating: ***
Best Songs: Fall of The Empire

Credits- Some facts about the band from the Wikipedia page-…And_You_Will_Know_Us_by_the_Trail_of_Dead

The Grand Tour Drinking Game

March 12, 2014

(. Since I’ve been keeping the flames.. of fandom… alive as a poster/troll at  American Bands- Who are the best?’ … among other blogs I hope you will follow, I’ve decided to resume the blogging part of the Grand Tour over here. I’ll be updating at as well. To get you familiar, I’ve decided re-posting a toast is the way to go.)

 As you may or may not know, the Grand Tour is the multi-year long, alpha/chronological play through or my music collection- estimated to be about 3500 titles, mostly physical CD with a growing number of digital albums as well.
Who needs retirement money?
Anywhoo… the Grand Tour is also a much neglected blog, and a running thread on my Twitter feed. And like any great entertainment endeavor, it’s needs one thing.
A drinking game. 
This game is not limited to my GrandTour. It can and should be used for your own tour of your music collection. And to make clear: if you for medical, legal, or personal reasons do not drink alcohol, beverages of your choice may be substituted. Also know when to say when. Drink and play music responsibly.
Just BUY music irresponsibly. There are starving artists and A&R people out there. SAVE THEM!!!
This game can be played while listening to your collection or blog. THE FULL LEADED BOOZEY VERSION CAN NOT BE PLAYED WHILE DRIVING OR PILOTING. If you are playing while on public transit, you may have a problem. If you are playing while your chauffeur is driving you… dude, pay him or her better.
If you are playing the game while your parents are driving you… you may have a problem.
I’m not judging. I just care.
Eponymous–  Drink.
If an album is named after the band or artist, that’s certainly cause to drink. Use ‘eponymous’ in your own writing.. it makes you feel like a real big deal music critic.
Plus, if you are playing R.E.M.’s ‘Eponymous,’ drink twice to Michael Stipe, the clever bastard.
Live  Album– Drink. If actually better than the studio albums,  drink twice. If worse, chug.
Live Albums exist to fulfill a) contractual obligations, b) the artistic ego or c) the desire of fans to experience live performance without paying the full god damn price. TICKETS ARE EXPENSIVE!
They also vary wildly in quality. Some catch a band playing with all the energy and fervor the Producer tried to kill. Some catch a band showing why they should stick to studio work.
Special Edition/Remaster- Drink. Another way artists and companies cash in on old material and b-sides. I mean re-introduce their material to new listeners with new technologies
Multiple Discs– 1 drink per additional album or cd. If it’s a download that doesn’t have ‘discs’ or ‘parts’ then drink for every full hour after the first hour. It doesn’t matter if the additional disc is more of the album,b-sides, other content.
 Cover Songs– 1 drink. Now,if you are listening to a covers album, or a “Standards” or “Tribute” album, just chug. We are enabling you. Not trying to kill you.
Artist Re-Recording Their Own Material – Drink. This is increasingly common as artists can’t get their original recordings back, but still want to make money off music the FUCKING MAN OWNS!
The fucking man ,man.
Soundtracks/OST/ Original Score-  Drink. If this is a score or OST from a movie, play or tv show, drink.
If it has one or more volumes, drink per each full volume.
Some movies need multiple soundtrack discs to cover the full score and selected songs. Sometimes a movie ‘inspires’ new songs. Even songs that have been out decades before the movie. Most often, this is about cash on the brand name. For example, did “Hackers” or “Dazed and Confused” need 2 cd’s? Did Mortal Kombat need 3-5? No.
Did I buy them and not regret it? Yes.
If it’s an Alan Silvestri Soundtrack- CHUG. Alan Silvestri frigging rules OST’s and Scores for Films.  Check out the job he did on the Sylster Stallone  ‘ Judge Dredd’ sound track if you don’t believe me.
Side Projects/ Spin Offs– Drink.
Pop Music is full of side projects and spin offs… Green Day has had at least 1500, as of last count. Side Projects are when the band stays together- for example, Mick Jagger having a solo album while the Stones tours are all the only thing they have going for them. Spin offs are when the bands breaks up into smaller bits- like Blink-182 becoming +44 (really good) and Angels And Airwaves (kill me, now.)
If the Side Project/Spin off is better, drink once. If it is worse, drink twice. And if it is Angel and Airwaves, for GODSAKE STOP LISTENING AND PUT ON BLINK! And chug,
To forget.
Second Generation Artist/Band– Drink.
If this is either a band made up of children of a previous act or star- (Neneh and Eagle Eye Cherry, for example) or a band whose children are now playing in it (Led Zeppelin) Drink. Or think Ziggie Marley or Julian Lennon or Sean Lennon.
UPDATED RULE: If they are notably worse than the parent: another sip. If they are ok, nod the head in respect. If they are better, chug.
For example, with this rule, after drinking for Julian Lennon, I will nod the head. I mean, no one can be John Lennon, but Julian gave a solid go, faced the demons, and is a pretty damn good guy, from all reports.
Prefab/ Reality Show- Drink. If this is a band or artist who were either put together by management, or are the products of a reality  show.
Drink twice if they are actually good. If you are listening to the Monkees, and feel shame… chug. You really need to relax. THE MONKEES ROCKED!
Foreign Language– If you are listening to a group and have no idea what they are saying, drink.If you’ve researched lyrics that don’t come with the album, drink twice. If you have researched Sigur Ros lyrics, slowly sip in a blissful state.
If you have researched Rammstein lyircs, CHUG YOU DIRTY ANHAGER! CHUG! CHUG!!!!!!

This isn’t a complete set of rules, but a good starting point. Now go forth, listen and sip deeply.

The Final Region-The Northeast

March 3, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

The Final Region is ready for your perusal.

Without further ado:

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The White Stripes

Mission of Burma



Black Keys


Sonic Youth

The Bad Brains

Talking Heads

The Velvet Underground (and Nico)


The Strokes

The Cars

Bon Jovi

The Stooges

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