Friday, March 25, 2011

Deer Tick - War Elephant

I originally found out who Deer Tick was before this ever got pressed onto vinyl. I tried to order it, but it was one of those "gotta get it from the label" kind of things and it was only available on CD, so I decided to wait. I'm really glad I did, because in the mean time, the cover changed from a drawing of an armored elephant into a picture of girls in bikini's with guns! I think there's some guys on the cover too, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, neato vinyl fact: This is a three sided record! That's right, side four is just a cool picture, so don't try to play it. They don't make the drugs required to enjoy that kind of side anymore, so just stick to the first three and use the fourth side to show off pictures of your turntable on nerdy audiophile blogs.

Anyway, the music on the album is by a guy named John McCauley. He does almost everything by himself and I think that may kind of lend to this album being really well thought out and consistent from beginning to end. He doesn't have to argue with his bass player's wife about adding that turd of a song the bass player was scared to share with the band (for good reason) to the album. John knows what he wants this record to be and that's what it is, no more and no less.

What War Elephant is, is a smart, kinda sad, but mostly optimistic, mid fi Rock album. I love the sound of these tracks. They're just clean enough to make you feel like you aren't wasting your money on a real stereo (instead of a shitty iPod), but they're just dirty and gritty enough to back up McCauley's weary-beyond-his-years voice, and leave you very satisfied. There's plenty of acoustic guitars, violins and nice, meaty bass guitar to make any rocker happy. Although that happiness may be short lived, because McCauley's lyrics can be pretty sad, but he never seems entirely defeated. His love songs hold out some hope, but I think he's at the very least an agnostic when he's singing about God, so he doesn't seem to have many answers in that direction. Which is kind of refreshing because so many people these days seem to think God is on their side, and that's why they have bigger guns and more money than everyone else.

I don't know why radio stations don't play Deer Tick. I think this fits in great with Classic Rock like Neil Young or Bob Dylan. To me, everything that makes a great album is here. There's smart lyrics, greasy guitars, a feeling that this music was never new, it just always was, and it always will be. I can't imagine anyone that owns this album not still listening to it in 25 years.

It's got girls in bikini's with guns on the cover, too. Did I mention that?

Brownsville Station - A Night on the Town

Maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, but I can really get behind a band like Brownsville Station. Not just because Cub Koda used to write a column in Goldmine called The Vinyl Junkie, but because he so obviously loved writing about the kind of music he loved to play. Brownsville Station was from Detroit, and they seemed influenced by Teenage Movies, Girls and just the thought of a good time. I think this was their second album, and it's pressed on a decent slab o' wax and sounds pretty good (it was recorded at Cleveland Recording). There's plenty of Midwestern, Detroit crunch in the guitars and Michael Lutz handles the vocals with authority.

You really can't ask a record that's been owned by at least two people before me to be any more awesome than A Night on the Town (Previous owners David Coy and D. Hustava both put their names inside the jacket and STILL managed to not own this anymore). This is chock full of guitar solo's, boogie and professing their love for Rock N' Roll. I was thinking of comparing this to Rod Stewart's A Night on the Town (because I'm sure this was Rod's influence), but it's pretty obvious that Rod missed the whole point of what a night on the town should really be all about, and Brownsville Station knows that it means letting it all hang out, kicking out jams if you got 'em and having fun.

I really love the total lack of pretension and self consciousness on this album. They don't care if Jonah's Here to Stay sounds like it should have come out in 1968 instead of 1972, or that it sounds like a Three Dog Night outtake because it's good. They get it back and make it their own, and prove that they aren't just a boogie band. They're the real deal and they deserved every second of fame and every penny Smokin' in the Boys Room finally netted them. Mr. Robert and Leavin' Here bring plenty of Rock attitude and guitars to the party, and while Brownsville Station doesn't reinvent anything here, they don't need to. They're too busy making sure their fans are having fun dancing and partying.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Flamin' Groovies - Teenage Head

When I was in high school, no one I knew had any idea who these guys were. For some reason, the first album of theirs I ever found was Bucketful of Brains, which makes most shitty bootlegs sound pretty okay. So I had a real hard time getting anyone to listen through the distortion, crowd noise and indifferent pressing to see how cool this band was. Eventually I found this, and I've pretty much claimed it to be The Best Album You Don't Have ever since. Sure, you may have it, and if you do, I'd have to guess you agree with me in regards to everyone else.

Simply put, this album is as good as gritty, bluesy rock ever gets. I don't know why it never got any airplay. You want great guitar playing? It's here. Cyril Jordan sounds like everything a top flight rock band in 1971 should have had to me. He plays great acoustic blues, and rocks and electric hard. What's not to like? Toss in Roy Loney's over-the-top vocals and I think you've really got something special. City Lights is hilarious, and Loney's dream of seeing the Empire State building because that's where King Kong climbed up is perfect. The title track is what every mother didn't want to hear their kid listening to in 1971 (or 1980, either). I think you should go buy it. Right now.