I don't know what it was about ROGUE WAVE's debut album "OUT OF THE SHADOW" that made me such a pushover and an easy lay. It was like that record was genetically engineered to seep right into my skin. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece or a slice of genius (I don't throw that word around like a lot of music fans seem to do), but for some reason, it was right up my alley. I heard in those little fragments of pop bliss elements of Elliott Smith, The Beatles, The Kinks, and all kinds of other hints of my favorite artists.
October will see the release of Rogue Wave's first proper album. That debut was merely a set of demos, a home recording made by Zach Rogue as a sort of Help Wanted poster in his quest to assemble a band of like-minded musicians. He just happened to be lucky enough to have the sort of connections that could get that tape into the hands of folks at Sub Pop records, who re-released it with very little tinkering.
I've heard the new record, "DESCENDED LIKE VULTURES," and it's a stunning little follow-up that basically elaborates on all of the elements that made the first record so likeable. In a way, it's kind of like how the films "BOTTLE ROCKET" or "SLING BLADE" were based on previously made, shorter films. While there's probably a lot to love in those first drafts, the quality of the finished product is undeniable. I got to meet Zach Rogue after one of the band's shows as openers for A.C. NEWMAN, and I said only one thing to him - and to all the kids perusing the merch table - as I pointed to a vinyl copy of his debut: "That record is fucking GREAT. Thank you." His eyes got wide and he gave me as earnest a "Thank you" as I've ever received. If I get the chance to meet him again, I'll probably bury him under a fresh pile of profanity-laced accolades for the new album.
While you'll have to wait until 10/24 to hear the whole record, the band just released an EP for the first single, "10:1," this week. It features 3 tracks that didn't make it to the record, and is a bargain at around $4 or $5 (if you see it for more, you're probably getting ripped off).
"10:1" from DESCENDED LIKE VULTURES: (This track is hosted at the Sub Pop site.) This barnstormer may not have been my choice for the first single (I would have gone with the album opener, "Bird On a Wire"), but it's still one of the hottest songs on the record. Every instrument, including the drums and vocals, sounds explosive and fuzzy like they're running in the red. The opening couplet - if I understand the words correctly - puts a smile on my face: "Curious thoughts at the fotomat / Do you really think you're all that?"
"Love's Lost Guarantee" from DESCENDED LIKE VULTURES: Deciding which song to host from this record was a bitch. There was the aforementioned album opener. There's the gorgeous sadness of "California." There's the radio-ready anthem of "Publish My Love." But I had to go with the track that I thought had the coolest production. There are at least 4 guitars and three vocals before the drums come in, and I'm always a sucker for songs that make subtle variations on that whole quiet-to-loud verse/chorus aesthetic. I love how the song sounds like it's going to end at 3:36, and then it blasts back in with the euphoric "La-da-da-da-da" coda.
"Be Kind & Remind" from OUT OF THE SHADOW: When I referenced that whole Beatles influence earlier, it was this song that I really had in mind. After you listen to this, check out the Paul McCartney-penned "Black Bird". I love how Zach Rogue uses those electronic squiggles to recreate the sounds of the bird on this song. Cue these songs up in your player and have them play back-to-back. It's undeniable.
"Endless Shovel" from EXHUMED & REGROOMED: "E&R" was an iTunes EP (anyone know if it ever popped up in any other format?) that included the band's cover of U2's "Seconds," along with 5 songs from "OUT OF THE SHADOW" reworked and played live in the studio. "Endless Shovel" is one of the most drastically changed songs, its tempo slowed down to half speed and its pounding electric guitars swapped out for delicately picked acoustics. You can also get an MP3 of this over at Sup Pop (click link for song).
"Crush the Camera" from the 10:1 EP: My favorite b-side on the EP, "Crush the Camera" has such a strange beat that it sounds like the drummer is somehow playing backwards. That bassline is pretty crazy, too. Great lyric: "Hiding with the midnight mice / licking up the moonlight vice."
For more on ROGUE WAVE:
- Check 'em out at Sub Pop, one of the finest gat-damn indie labels on Earth.
- The band has a pretty kickass web site where 4 songs from their debut, along with a droning instrumental, are streaming.
- They have an upcoming tour with the FRUIT BATS, another Sub Pop band who kick ass in an indie-wimp-rock kind of way. Band page has MP3s.
- A rogue - or freak - wave is a spontaneous ocean surface wave that can sink even medium-large ships. They weren't proven to exist until 1995, when scientists started to discover that the oceans of the world can create 100 foot waves in the middle of the sea - sometimes not even in a storm - with some regularity. Nutty.
Things were looking a little rocky there for Spoon in the late 1990s. While they've always been a great band, mixing the noisy punk of influences like THE PIXIES and WIRE with an obvious love for barroom ready arena rock like THE ROLLING STONES, they stumbled into a bit of record label trouble that has seen them jump between at least 4 labels over the course of 5 albums (their last 3 released on Merge Records, finally giving the band a bit of stability and support).
Back in 1996, Spoon recorded its debut album, "TELEPHONO," for Matador Records after attracting the label's attention through a self-released 7" single called "NEFARIOUS." Matador tested the new band out with a few of its own 7" records prior to it's debut full-length. "Telephono" was released to a minor bit of fanfare, and the buzz about this Texas trio began to spread. Later that year saw the release of the "SOFT EFFECTS" EP, and soon major labels began their inevitable scouting.
The A&R man who eventually caught the band's attention was a man who worked for Elektra Records named Ron Lafitte. He gave the band a big smiling handshake and a list of promises that a major label could only provide... big tours, great distribution and a ton of money for promoting the band's second record.
If you happen to remember hearing a huge crashing THUD around 1997, that was the sound of Spoon's "A SERIES OF SNEAKS" flopping on arrival. The budget for promotion that was promised? Nowhere to be found. Ron Lafitte was fired after four months and soon the label turned its back on the band. Their major label experience lasted as long as most junior high relationships. Pissed, the band snuck over to Saddle Creek records to release a 2-song single mocking Mr. Lafitte on the hilariously titled "The Agony of Lafitte" and "Lafitte Don't Fail Me Now." Britt Daniel nails the guy with lyrics like, "It's like I knew two of you, man / The one before and after we shook hands," while telling him he's no better than label head Sylvia Rhone.
And the worst part of it all? Almost all of that music is out of print now. You can't order "Telephono" from the web without paying at least 50 to 100 dollars for it. I just sold my copy for $40, and that guy got it at a steal. I've heard rumblings that Merge may re-release the CD in the next year (they recently released a new version of "A Series of Sneaks," featuring the Saddle Creek songs as bonus tracks). As for the "Soft Effects" EP or anything else? Your guess is as good as mine.
If you find yourself in a used CD store in the next couple of months, and you happen to see a copy of "Telephono," pick it up. Burn yourself a copy. And then immediately head to the Internet and sell that son of a bitch off.
For now, here are a few tracks from the aforementioned releases. Happy hunting.
"Don't Buy the Realistic"
"Mountain to Sound"
"I Could See the Dude"
THE AGONY OF LAFITTE
"Agony of Lafitte"
"Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now"
For more on SPOON:
- An old Austin Chronicle article where Britt Daniel discusses the agony of Lafitte.
- Spoon's official site
- Download demos of "I Summon You" and "Sister Jack".
- Listen to the band play on KCRW.
Christ, I have to post more. A week has already blown by and my second night with Mike at the Goofy Foot has come and gone. (By the way, I don't want anyone to think DJ Kicks is what I've named myself... it's just the name of a series of compilation CDs put out by DJs across the globe. Mike and I have not reached any level of lameness where we think what we're doing needs a name. When that day does come, we will probably have to go with DJ Two Irish Honkeys Sitting Way Too Closely in a Tiny Booth.)
It was nice to see more people out last night, and I have to apologize to any friends in the house who may have only seen me for a few passing seconds. Guests are always welcome in the booth, so feel free to peek in next time.
Anyway, here's my half of last night's setlist, along with a few downloadable tracks for your enjoyment.
THE GOOFY FOOT - 08.12.2005
ANALOG Vs. DIGITAL (digital setlist only)
1. "Say That" by LATYRX: I'm pretty sure the producer on this track is DJ SHADOW, making an already exceptional piece of work from co-rappers Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker that much better. This track, along with the Mos Def track played a few minutes later, made one of my cranky acquaintances remark, "Are you going to be staying with the crunk thing all night?" If you think this is crunk, you, sir, are an ignorant asshole.
2. "Cloud Nine" by MARVIN GAYE
3. "Ghetto Rock" by MOS DEF
4. "Crying in the Chapel" by unknown artist
5. "Scissor Man" by XTC
6. "Friction" by TELEVISION
7. "Get Your Snack On" by AMON TOBIN
8. "Juice Crew Law" by MC SHAN
9. "Seventy Two Nations" by DADAWAH: Mike introduced me to this song a few hours before we headed to the bar. Not only is this track - which clocks in at over 10 minutes - a great way to sneak in a bathroom break and a little socializing, but it's soulful and funky as hell. This song rang in the midnight hour. You can segue into any number of things from here. We went with the Can song we'd played last week.
10. "Vitamin C" by CAN
11. "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" by PUBLIC ENEMY: Call THIS crunk, bitch. I met Chuck D once, and it will always be a highlight of my meaningless little existence.
12. "Feelin Alright" by THE OHIO PLAYERS
13. "Antmusic" by ADAM AND THE ANTS: I make no apologies for my love of early Adam Ant. This shit would be a hit right now if Franz Ferdinand or The Futureheads released it. I think Mike followed this with some GANG OF FOUR.
14. "Feelin" by THE LA'S
15. "Something to Say" by THE ACTION
16. "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son" by WOLF PARADE: I'm sure I'm not the first blogger to mention it, but these guys might just blow the fuck up in the next few months when their debut is released. They sound like MODEST MOUSE mixed with THE ARCADE FIRE. Who would've thought that those sounds would become popular?
17. "Yeah Yeah" by BLACKROCK
18. "California Dreaming" by JOSE FELICIANO
As if it weren't already enough that my friend Mike campaigned heavily for me to get a job at the record store he helps manage in downtown Omaha, he has also allowed me to horn in on his weekly DJ set at a bar in town called The Goofy Foot. We had our first joint set on Friday night, mixing his vinyl picks with tracks off of my iPod and computer.
I think we were both a little worried how it might work at first. We knew the basic plan was for him to play a record and then I would follow with a track from my collection that I thought fit the theme or idea he was going with. Our plan, at least for this night, was to start with some kind of ambient dance music, segue that into some reggae and old soul, and then come in with the classic rock and funk in hour two.
It actually went quite well, and we're planning on doing it again this Friday. I'm posting my half of the setlist, along with a handful of tracks, here this afternoon for your perusal. Regular readers of this site will recognize quite a few songs, since I've posted them here in the past. It sucks that I have no digital record of the stuff Mike was playing, because he was dropping some sick stuff, including a crazy Sonic Youth instrumental, some Charles Mingus, the Four Tops, and a classic Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd track.
THE GOOFY FOOT - 08.05.2005
ANALOG Vs. DIGITAL (digital setlist only)
1. "Crazy Disco Party" by WAGON CHRIST: One of my contributions to the trippy ambient portion of the set. If you dig this song, you should check out the whole album, "Tally Ho!" Wagon Christ is a guy named Luke Vibert, who has also released a number of discs under his own name.
2. "Vitamin C" by CAN
3. "Psychedelic Woman" by HONNY AND THE BEES BAND: One of the cool things about the analog vs. digital format is that I can steal music from Mike's CD bag in between tracks. This one was one of his suggestions. If Mike had thrown this one on from his half of the decks, I probably would have followed it with Mos Def's "Ghetto Rock."
4. "Crying in the Chapel" - mash-up of Elvis Presley and the Wailers by unknown artist
5. "Soul Rebel" by THE GLADIATORS
6. "Inside Straight" by CANNONBALL ADDERLY
7. "Express Yourself" by CHARLES WRIGHT AND THE WATTS 103rd ST. RHYTHM BAND
8. "The First Cut is the Deepest" by THE KOOBAS
9. "How Does it Feel to Feel (US version)" by THE CREATION (see post below for track)
10. "Evil" by HOWLIN' WOLF
11. "Big Brother Beat" by DE LA SOUL: Speaking of Mos Def, this track from De La's "Stakes is High" album is one of his earliest appearances. Straight butter hits. At this point in the set, it was pretty much a funky dance party. Mike and I had to turn down an offer to dance from two pretty but inebriated young ladies, one of whom wound up dancing on a table for two songs.
12. "The Clapping Song" by SHIRLEY ELLIS
13. "Make it Real (Ride On)" by BETTY ADAMS
14. "We're Having a Party" by SAM COOKE (live version from the Harlem Square Club album)
15. "Absolute Beginners" by THE JAM: It was either this or "Start!", and I didn't have "Start!" on my computer. This was actually going to be the closer for the night, but I couldn't resist and threw on one more track...
16. "Yeah Yeah" by BLACKROCK: This should open or close every DJ set on Earth. I think I got this from some amazing blog almost a year ago, and I still find myself throwing it on a few times a week. I love this track because it combines every element from what we were trying to incorporate into our set, including soul, r&b, psychedelic rock and more.
If you're reading this and you happen to live in the Omaha area, you should come down to the Goofy Foot this Friday night. Look for the two geeks sweating it out in the DJ booth in back. Oh, and please: no requests.
Like a lot of people my age, the first I'd ever heard of THE CREATION was in Wes Anderson's film, "Rushmore." And I'm guessing a lot of those people had the same thought I had when we first heard those crunchy opening chords and echoey vocals: "What WHO album is this song on?"
The song was actually The Creation's "Making Time," and it was an incredibly minor hit (#49 on the British charts, #5 in Germany) 1966. The Who sound isn't much of an accident, as the song was produced by the Who's producer at the time, Shel Talmy. The story goes that guitarist Eddie Phillips (the guy who plays that crazy implosive guitar solo on "Making Time") was even asked by Pete Townshend to be the band's second guitarist.
Most bands of the era that had a hit that great got recognized for it, but for some reason, The Creation's masterpiece never lit a fire under the ass of the world's record buyers. The fact that the band was constantly swapping out members didn't help matters any. It certainly doesn't help me write a succinct and informative blog entry without babbling on for paragraphs about who played what on which song. We just don't have the time.
Contrary to the career path of The Who, The Creation started out as a psychedelic rock band and then evolved into a soul/R&B band. That may explain the similarly contrary nature of their record sales. A group in England named the Blue Jacks hired a new lead singer (Kenny Pickett) and guitarist (the aforementioned Phillips) and became the Mark Four. After a few failed singles, the rhythm guitarist and bassit (John Dalton, who would go on to replace Pete Quaife in THE KINKS) left. The band worked on an image change, and The Creation were born.
After a few more singles, Pickett quit and was replaced by Kim Gardner, who had been playing bass for a UK group called THE BIRDS (not to be confused with the North American BYRDS). The Birds were a pretty bad ass little outfit on their own, and featured future FACES and ROLLING STONES guitarist Ron Wood (who would also play for THE CREATION in the tail end of their career). Check out the sweetness: "Say Those Magic Words"
Anyway, with this new version of the The Creation, they took a stylstic step backwards from psych-rock and issued the soulful, "If I Stay Too Long." This is definitely one of my favorite Creation songs, and a damn fine inclusion on any mixed tape you may be clumsily assembling for that girl you love from afar. As a single, "If I Stay" flopped, although the band were still big enough in Germany to warrant the release of a odds and sods collection of songs called "WE ARE THE PAINTERMEN." The band would never actually record a proper LP.
A few more singles performed middlingly, which lead to the exit of both Phillips and Gardner, leaving the band without a guitarist or a singer. Polydor records kept the band's name alive by releasing seperate singles in the UK and the United States for the druggy rocker, "How Does it Feel to Feel?" The UK version (click HERE to listen) is the cleaner sounding of the two, while the US version (click HERE) is surprisingly fuzzier and more drugged-out. The greatest differences can be found on the guitar solos.
Pickett, the band's original lead singer (are we all confused yet?) would eventually reform The Creation with Gardner and Jones. This was the version of the band that featured Ron Wood on guitar for a brief while, before dissolving again. Pickett would eventually reform the band in the 1990s and enjoyed a few years of touring before dying from a heart attack in 1996. The posthumously released Creation compilation, "OUR MUSIC IS RED, WITH PURPLE FLASHES" is one of the few places to go to hear more from this great but largely forgotten band.
For more on The Creation:
- Learn more about the band at Making Time. For those readers in Philly, Making Time is also the name of a monthly/quarterly party for all the mod-rockers, goths and hip-hoppers in town (the party takes place on 3 levels of a building), and a hell of a good time.
- The Creation at Ready Steady Go
- Buy "Our Music is Red, With Purple Flashes"
Look, before I even begin, you should probably just read the Allmusic.com profile on DAVID HOLMES before you go on.
The short version is this: Holmes was born in Belfast, the youngest of 10 children. He began DJing at the age of 15, filling his setlists with soul, punk rock, Brit rock and more. Once techno started to hit overseas in the late '80s, he began incorporating more elements of electronica and dance music, along with dialogue snippets and found sounds. He released a couple of good solo albums and then began to get work in Hollywood -- primarily through director Stephen Soderberg -- producing a number of movie soundtracks ("OCEANS 11" and "OCEANS 12," and the superb soundtrack to "OUT OF SIGHT").
The movie soundtracks weren't just good background music. They worked like mix tapes, with obscure R&B and rock songs peppered by Holmes' own funky tunes. Check out:
"$160 Million Chinese Man" and "Boobytrapping" from OCEAN'S 11.
"7/9/24 The Day Of" from OCEAN'S 12.
Holmes' most impressive gift, though, is his ear for those obscure nuggets that would appear on his soundtracks. From big name acts like the Isley Brothers and Elvis Presley to the more underground sounds of The Propellerheads or Sixto Rodriguez, you can always find a surprise or three creeping around on one of his records or in the background of a movie scene if he's involved.
One of my favorite Holmes' albums is "COME GET IT, I GOT IT," a sort of DJ mix where he swirled together his own music and some crate-digging finds for a seamless hour of soulful, acid rocking, head trippy goodness. It's the kind of CD you could play from start to finish at a party and never have to worry about ruining the vibe in the room. What's even better is that Holmes also released on vinyl the unmixed versions of the songs from other artists used on the record.
Tonight's tracks come from a vinyl-to-digital transfer of that double LP set, sent to me by some wonderful bastard who had bought the CD version of "COME GET IT" and later discovered the uncut tracks in his local record store. (I eventually did the same, though in the bargain bin at the Virgin Records on Michigan Avenue in Chicago... $9 well spent.)
"Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" by THE STAPLE SINGERS: For anyone who scoffs at the notion of a family creating a great band (of course, this all depends on your opinion of The Cowsills), I give you Pops Staples, his son Pervis, and his daughters Cleotha and lead vocalist Mavis. "Why" was a protest song that became a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King. I'm not sure where this bluesy, amplified version comes from. The original is more subtle and almost hushed, while this one comes in with horns blaring and never lets up.
(Side note: Bob Dylan evidently dated Mavis on and off for some time, and even shouted to Pops Staples at the Newport Folk Festival, "Pops, I want to marry Mavis!" Pops laughed and replied, "What you tellin' me for? Tell Mavis!")
"Make it Real (Ride On)" by BETTY ADAMS: Oh good God. If you want to hear one of the coolest, most thuderous breaks in a soul song, just fast-forward this song to about the 2:08 point, where Adams blares, "Somebody told me lightning don't strike the same place twice / Uh-huh / That could be true, but somehow it don't somehow seem right." And then the drum crashes at 2:24! Straight MACKING, Betty. I don't know a damn thing about you, but you just drove a truck over me.
"Country Girl" by THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW: Listen to this song and tell me when you heard those vocals you thought, "Oh, this guy must be Greek." John Veliotes changed his name as a teenager and never looked back, immersing himself in black culture and acting as a drummer, bandleader, promoter, talent scout and more. The man had 10 number one R&B songs in 1949! Motherfucker discovered Etta James and Jackie Wilson! And on the side, he made some swinging, sexy shit like "Country Girl." I love that part right before the fade-out, where he sings along with the guitar line, "You can take foxes out of the country -- BUT! -- you can't take the country out of foxes."
Johnny also produced one other great thing: his son, SHUGGIE OTIS, a fantastic blues and soul man in his own right. Get thee to a store and find the recently (okay 4 years ago) released reissue of his "INSPIRATION INFORMATION" album. Here, enjoy the title track.
"Sugarman" by SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Anyone out there have Sixto's work(s) on any format whatsoever? This is some hard-to-find shit, and I've been looking for a while now. A creepier ode to a drug dealer I cannot name.
For more on tonight's post:
. Furious.com calls David Holmes the "Iggy Pop of the decks" because he "just doesn't give a fuck."
- Get your own copy of "Come Get It, I Got It". Good luck, there's only one left!
- The David Holmes BBC profile
- Who is Sixto Rodriguez? From, supposedly, his official site.
- The official Johnny Otis home page. - Steve Earle's rarely updated blog
- A brief bio of Mavis Staples, including a reference to that Newport Folk Festival/Dylan bit, and her recollections of it.