Sunday, April 28, 2013

Show #98 April 6, 2013

Yeeeee-haw!! This here show is dedicated to Amanda Ruth!

Amanda Ruth- Rank and File Rank and File
Cast A Long Shadow- The Monochrome Set The Independent Singles Collection
Backyard Guys- 20/20 20/20
Juke Box Sound- The Revillos Rev Up
Circle of Fools- The Rooks Encore Echoes
Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)- Rockpile Seconds Of Pleasure
Encyclopedi-Ite- Sammy Tales Of Great Neck Glory
Stately Homes- Capes Hello
^Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)- Lone Justice Lone Justice
First Glimmer- Paul Westerberg 14 Songs
Watching You- States Mondo Montage
Be True- The CRY! The CRY!
Dreambuilder- The Angels The Angels
Get It Right- David Myhr Soundshine
*Help There's A Fire- Jason and The Nashville Scorchers Fervor
*Short Train- Tex and The Horseheads Tex and The Horseheads
*Happy Boy- The Beat Farmers Tales Of The New West
*Oldest Fire In The World- Scruffy the Cat Let's Breed
*Steal You Away- Blood On The Saddle Poison Love
*I Saw The Light- Dash Rip Rock Dash Rip Rock
*Slept All Afternoon- Jr. Gone Wild Less Art, More Pop
*Jolene- Rubber Rodeo Jolene
Shake Me Up Tonight- The Dahlmanns All Dahled Up
I'm So Free- Lou Reed Transformer
Be On Top- Symptoms Be On Top/Anorexia Nervosa 7"
>Sound of the Rain- The Dils Made In Canada Double-7"
Alcoholiday- Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
Thru The Window- The Sports Don't Throw Stones 
Lonely Cowboy- The Boys To Hell With The Boys 
Like An Outlaw (For You)- Social Distortion L.A. Prison Bound 

^Power Pop Peak:  373 Billboard Hot 100 7/27/85

*SacroSet:  Cowpunk!

>Power Pop Prototype:  1980 

From 1994 to 2003, what I call my "child rearing years," there was very little club going or new music discovery happening in my life.  Emerging from this
Being an old punk is not
for me (no judgement)
cultural blackout I found myself at a crossroads.  As a 40 year old married father of two living in beautiful Sonoma, the new punk rock coming out at the time just didn't speak to me.   I couldn't see myself sitting at the stoplight, two kids in car seatsbehind me and "This Place Sucks" or "F**k Armageddon This Is Hell" blaring from the car stereo.  My Cousin Rich
had been into Alt Country for a while and he recommended a few groups to me, the best being Slobberbone from Denton, TX.  While I'm certainly no expert, I've listened to a fair amount of Alt-Country/Americana/No Depression music over the years and never heard anything as good as Slobberbone's Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today.

Jason Isbell (left) with Patterson Hood in
Drive By Truckers
Around the time I was getting into Slobberbone we bought a new Dell computer and one of the free songs it came with was "My Sweet Annette" by Drive By Truckers.  (Freaking me out a little, there were also songs from Slobberbone's new album Slippage and Americana legends The Flatlanders- how the hell did Dell know?!?)  Anyway, I bought the DBTs album Decoration Day and was hooked- another incredible record.  With Slobberbone and Drive By Truckers I once again had bands to follow- it felt good.  I was lucky enough to catch Slobberbone three or four times before their break up- they were one of the best live bands I've seen.  I'm also happy to say I saw Drive By Truckers three times while Jason Isbell was in the
Solo Jason
group- it was amazing to see him alongside Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley.  Three amazing songwriters in one group- you just knew it couldn't last, especially when Jason lost a bunch of weight and went from looking like a truck driver to looking like a honky tonk star.  Sure enough, he went solo in 2007.

One of the first things I noticed at Slobberbone and Drive By Truckers shows is that the majority of the audience was pretty much just like me- white guys in their mid 40's looking for some age appropriate rock and roll fun.  Though a few years younger than us, the same could probably be said of the bands themselves.  The power of punk rock courses through Slobberbone and Drive By Truckers' music but they've decided to embrace a timeless roots driven style that could appeal to listeners of all ages.  Their forbears in the mid-80's, the Cowpunk bands featured on tonight's ALL KINDSA GIRLS did the same thing- took punk energy and gave it some twang.  I picture a 1980 backstage conversation between the Kinman brothers (The Dils) and Alejandro Escovedo (The Nuns and a subsequent Americana legend) at some LA dive like The Masque where they talk about being fed up with punk rock and all the knuckleheads in the audience.
Rank and File
  Turns out they share a common love of Hank Williams and boom! Rank and File is born (performers of tonight's dedication "Amanda Ruth").  The Dils had already taken a tentative step in that direction with tonight's Power Pop Prototype "Sound Of The Rain" from their last record.

My favorite group from tonight's SacroSet is Jason and The Scorchers, who would have blown 95% of the punk bands I've seen right off the stage.  I will never forget seeing Warner Hodges wailing on his guitar while spinning like a top-  the centrifugal force is floating the guitar two feet out in front of him and he's still hitting every note.  Man did that band
Jason and the Scorchers
rock.  Yet, there was always a thread of country music throughout. They may have dropped the "Nashville" from their name, likely at the request of some douche in EMI's marketing department, but certainly not from their sound.  In my opinion Jason and The Scorchers are the essential Cowpunk band.

Never having embraced the Holy Trinity of Alt Country (Uncle Tupelo with its offshoots Son Volt and Wilco) or most of the other heralded bands in the genre (Whiskeytown, Old 97's, Calixeco, etc.) I was at a bit of a loss when Slobberbone broke up and Jason Isbell left Drive By Truckers.  Thankfully I'd discovered Exploding Hearts, Pernice Brothers and Silver Sun by then so when the opportunity 
to do a radio show on KSVY came up I decided that Power Pop was the way to go.  Love songs about girls are timeless and never give me that "I'm too old for this sh*t" feeling I get when I hear new punk bands.  The audience at a Fountains of Wayne or Sloan show is more female than what I'd see at Alt County shows- a plus in my book- but age wise its about the same.  In fact, the logo for Power Pop central on the web,  Pop Geek Heaven, gleefully acknowledges the age of its target consumer:

(click to enlarge)
I appreciate the ageless appeal of Alt Country and Cowpunk but I can't imagine that I'll ever tire of a two minute fifty second pop song about a girl with one of those hooks that gets stuck in your head for days.

Click this link to stream the show, or to download, right click and "Save Link As:"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Show #97 March 23, 2013

Dedicated to Courtney and those who suffered through the February 8th nor'easter!

Courtney- Nerf Herder How To Meet Girls
California Man- Cheap Trick Heaven Tonight
Dream Lovers- The Slickee Boys Uh Oh… No Breaks!
I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again- The Leopards Shake Some Action Vol 7
Age- X-Ray Spex Germfree Adolescents
Alright Tonight- The Tories The Upside of Down
Poster Girl- Helmet Boy Helmet Boy
Look At The Girls- The Parts Look At The Girls 7"
^California- Phantom Planet California
(And) Don't Believe Your Eyes- Eddie And The Hot Rods Life On The Line
Sweet Sinsations- Lisa Mychols Sweet Sinsations
Backscratcher- Free Energy Love Sign
What Kind Of Kiss- Three Hour Tour 1969
Fighting My Way Back- Incredible Kidda Band Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
*California- Simpletones I Have A Date
*California- Low California
*California- Metro Station Metro Station
*California- Cherry Vanilla Venus D' Vinyl
*California- Lenny Kravitz Baptism
*California- The Adicts Smart Alex
*California- The Rentals First Demo
*California- The Casanovas All Night Long
Ash and Cinders- Summer Suns Greatest
Cellophane Girl- Radio Bandits Radio Bandits
Broken Hearts- The Misstakes National Pastime 
>California- Chuck Berry Rock It
Lover True- Tommy Hoehn Losing You to Sleep
Now I'm Spoken For- Yachts S.O.S Singles 1977-1981
What To Do- Future Dads 24 Winship
Billy's Third- The Undertones The Undertones
California- Quasi Featuring "Birds"

^Power Pop Peak:  #35 Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 12/26/02

*SacroSet:  California Songs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1979

Back in mid-February I was out in shorts and a t-shirt walking to work along the Fryer Creek bike path on a beautiful 70 degree morning, listening to music on my iPhone and admiring the birds in the creek (a blue heron and two egrets according to a birder I met on the path) when my sister Sarah e-mailed me the photo at the top of this post.  It is a cedar tree in her back yard that has already lost its top half due to wind and heavy snow.  I grew up on Massachusetts' South Shore so I know all about storms like the one they had on February 8th of this year.  Adding insult to injury, this nor'easter came only a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy; it was a 1-2 punch that left the entire region reeling.  I remember what that was like- nearly 35 years ago to the day, on February 7, 1978, my family and I lived through the superstorm that came to be known as The Blizzard of '78.  I'll never forget my father, mother, sister and I huddling around the gas oven in our kitchen to keep warm.  We were without power for several days and the gas oven was the only appliance in the house that was working.  I was a Boston Globe paperboy at the time and I'm proud to say that delivery service was only interrupted that first day- only because they didn't get the papers out to us.  At left is the front page that never was-  Tuesday February 7, 1978.  It may have taken 3 1/2 hours the next day, but with the help of my Dad and his four wheel drive Subaru, my customers got their papers.  I have a fond recollection of hearing him laugh hysterically as I trudged up to one house, sinking up to my mid-thigh in snow every other step (apparently my right leg weighs more than my left).  I sure earned my money that day.

The Wreck of The Peter Stuyvesent February 7, 1978
Several famous images from the Blizzard of '78 are emblazoned in my memory:  cars snowed in up to their roofs on Rte. 128, waves even bigger than the one in the opening of Hawaii 5-0 slamming into houses in Scituate, students skiing in Harvard Yard.  Yet, the one I remember most is the listing, half submerged wreckage of the Peter Stuvysent in Boston Harbor.  The ship served as a banquet hall for Anthony's Pier 4, one of Boston's best known restaurants.  It looms large in my memory because my Cousin Debbie had her wedding reception there in 1970 or so.  It was the first wedding I had ever attended and I thought it was the most glamorous thing I had ever seen.  A big party on a fancy boat- what six year old wouldn't be blown away by that?  Needless to say, it was shocking to see the Peter Stuvysent looking like it had been torpedoed by a German U-Boat.
Shirtsleeves mean we're at Defcon 1!
It was also unsettling to see our governor, Michael Dukakis, in newspaper photos without a suit on.  Turns out he was at radio station WHDH in Boston when the storm hit and it became his command center where he mobilized the National Guard to help clean up after the storm.  Something about seeing him in a sweater really underscored the seriousness of the situation to me.  Huddling in front of the kitchen stove for warmth was one thing- it was kind of like camping really- but Dukakis in the sweater just screamed "we are all screwed!!"

This past February it took five days for the power to be restored at my mom's house in Duxbury. 
Walking In A (Deadly) Winter Wonderland! 
The view from Sarah's Porch
Luckily my sister in Kingston, the next town over, got through the storm without an outage and Mum was able to stay with her.  Many people weren't as fortunate; they say 405,000 people in eastern Massachusetts were without power for at least three days.  Those nor'easters are brutal and it seems like there is a least one every year.  In this context, it always makes me smile when on visits back east people will say "I could never live in California with all the __________!" (insert:  earthquakes, wildfires, floods, killer bees, Mexicans, etc.)  This brings me to the subject of this week's episode of ALL KINDSA GIRLS.  So, bike path, shorts, beautiful February day and boom!  Sarah e-mails these pictures of the pretty, yet frozen deadly hellscape that is eastern Massachusetts and I think "Thank God I live in California!"  Apparantly a lot of people feel the same way because I found ten songs called "California" and I didn't even have to look that hard.  I send tonight's dedication song out to all Courtney's everywhere but Nerf Herder are talking specifically about Courtney Love, the once hot mess who many would say is now more "mess" than "hot."

Courtney among the Dead
I think a Courtney Love dedication is perfect for a show about California.  She and I are not related of course though when my son Jack dated a girl named Courtney his freshman year we teased him that if they got married his wife would be "Courtney Love," which was a horrible thought considering the state the real Courtney Love was in at the time (see the 2005 Pamela Anderson roast on Comedy Central if you don't know what I'm talking about).  Anyway, the famous Courtney Love was born Courtney Harrison in San Francisco.  For a short time her dad managed the Grateful Dead which is how, at age five, she ended up on the back cover of the band's 1969 album Aoxomoxoa.  After her parents divorced, her mom split for New Zealand and her dad lost custody after allegedly giving young Courtney LSD.  It's pretty much a straight line from there- foster homes to juvenile halls to stripping.  It's a sad, sordid story yet in the midst of all of it she managed to travel the world, learn to play guitar and form the band Hole who in my opinion released one of the best albums of the grunge era, 1993's Live Through This.    It's criminal that songs from this record aren't on the radio alongside grunge standards by Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana.  Courtney Love has pissed off a lot of people in the industry though so it's understandable.  There are even haters who say Love's husband Kurt Cobain masterminded the Live Through This album but I don't buy it.

After her Golden Globe nominated turn in the 1996 film The People vs. Larry  Flynt it seemed like
Woody Harrelson & Courtney Love
Courtney Love had turned a corner but since then not so much.  That is why I think she is the ideal dedicatee for this ALL KINDSA GIRLS episode about California- Courtney Love's successes and failures play out on a very public stage but provided she can get her demons under control with considerable talent and resources (all that Nirvana widow money) her best work may still be yet to come.  Just like the great state of California

I do miss my family and no doubt it is freaking expensive to live in The Golden State.  And yes, we have our share of earthquakes, wildfires and floods (I was joking earlier about the killer bees and the Mexicans were here first so I have no problem with them).  Yet,  have you seen Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur or even Sonoma?  Well I have and I can only hope that all of you feel as blessed to live where you are as I do to live here in California.

Download this week's show below- right click and "save link as"- if they stop just pause and unpause and you should be good to go:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Show #96 March 9, 2013

This one's for Polly!

Polly- Sneakers Ear Cartoons
I Hope Things Will Turn Around- Chixdiggit! Safeways Here We Come
Complex World- Young Adults Complex World
I Believe- The Volcanos The Volcanos
Four Dollar Date- The Take The Take 7"
Missing You- Green Day ¡TrĂ©!
Foreign Girls- Tours Language School 7"
Prove It- The Cute Lepers Can't Stand Modern Music
^Timothy- The Buoys Timothy
Savage- The Nuns The Nuns
How Can We Go On?- Bill Lloyd Nashpop: A Nashville Pop Compilation
Gravity- Soul Asylum Delayed Reaction
Not My Girl Anymore- The Bats How Pop Can You Get 
Lonely Enough To Lie- Best Kissers In The World Yellow Brick Roadkill 
*Larry- The Scientists The Scientists 
*Geno- Dexys Midnight Runners Searching For The Young Soul Rebels 
*Eric- Radio Stars Songs For Swinging Lovers 
*Trevor- Senseless Things Postcard C.V. 
Northern Lights- Allo Darlin' Northern Lights Single
Even The Girls Don't Know- Slyk Slyk Records Single
Married To Me- The Ravers I Was A Teenage Rock and Roller
Endless Weekend- The Golden Horde The Golden Horde 
Talk To Me- Myracle Brah Life On Planet Eartsnop 
Send Me Something Real- The dB's Falling Off The Sky 
>Jesus- The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground
Will You Be Mine- The Blend Anytime Delight
Movin In- The Doits This Is Rocket Science 
Are You Gonna Move It For Me- The Donnas Turn 21 
What I Got- International Q International Q 45
Honest Boy- Dred Scott Believe You All E.P.
Jimmy Jazz- The Clash London Calling 

^Power Pop Peak:  #17 Billboard Hot 100 1/2/71

*SacroSet:  All Kindsa Guys

>Power Pop Prototype:  1969

I have always loved coming of age stories.  As a child I was drawn to TV shows and movies about kids facing the challenges of growing up, from Will and Penny on Lost In Space to Jody Foster in Freaky Friday to Jan and Peter on The Brady Bunch.  Not much has changed; when you take a look at my Top 5's from last year you'll see the film The Perks of Being A Wallflower, DVD's Pariah, Chronicle and Tomboy as well as books The Fault In Our Stars and Ready Player One.   In fact coming of age stories invariably show up on every Top 5 List going back to my first in 1999. Maybe I suffer from a form of arrested development (a great TV show but not what I'm talking about here).  Ultimately who knows why we love what we love.  And who cares?  The act of loving something and sharing it with other people is the important part.

Among my TV favorites are several shows from the 60's (Ultraman, Get Smart, Underdog, The Banana Splits, Wild Wild West) and 70's (Kung Fu, Baretta, Soap, SCTV, SNL).  Even in the 80's and 90's when my life got more interesting I'd still manage to make time for Hill Street Blues, Seinfeld, The Simpsons or Twin Peaks.  And television in the last ten years has been pretty amazing with The Wire, Lost, Arrested Development, Deadwood, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Justified, Louie, Game of Thrones.... the list goes on and on.  Even so, of all the great television I have seen in my life, my all-time favorite show is one that ran on NBC for only twelve episodes in the 1999-2000 season.  The show is called Freaks and Geeks and, of course, it is a coming of age story.

I'll never forget the night I came home from band rehearsal and found my wife sitting on the couch crying in front of the TV.  I figured she had just seen another of those sappy ATandT or Kodak commercials, but Jaime proceeded to tell me about a show that could have been taken from a diary of her high school years in Plymouth, MI.  I watched the following week's episode of Freaks and Geeks and every one after that, taping each on the VCR.  I was hooked.  The show was cancelled in March, with NBC blowing out the last three episodes on one night in July and that was it. 

Freaks and Geeks is centered around Lindsay Weir and her friends (the "freaks") as well as her brother Sam and his friends (the "geeks").  Set in fictional Detroit suburb Chippewa, MI in 1980, the series has one of the best opening switcheroos in history.  While cheesy canned music plays in the background the camera pans across the football field at William McKinley High School and up into the bleachers.  There we pause on a football player and cheerleader, both beautiful and blonde, professing their undying chaste love for each other, before the camera indifferently moves on, panning down below the bleachers as the opening riff of Van Halen's "Running With The Devil" blares out of the screen.  We then meet the "freaks" who are being stalked by a girl in her dad's green Korean war coat.  We later learn that this girl, straight A student Linsday Weir, is a former Mathlete going through an existential crisis after witnessing the death of her grandmother- hence the army jacket and interest in the "freaks." The camera then moves on to Sam Weir with his friends Neil and Bill.  The three are goofily running through their favorite Bill Murray comedy bits from SNL and Caddyshack only to be rudely interrupted by a bully and his toadies who start threatening Sam.  Lindsay rescues her brother, shaming him in the process, and after Sam snaps at her while skulking away she turns and says "Man! I hate high school."  Then the show opens with the driving guitar and drums of Joan Jett's anthem "Bad Reputation."

When creator Paul Feig establishes then promptly abandons the telegenic yet banal football player and cheerleader on the bleachers he is telling us that Freaks and Geeks is not going to be like Dawson's Creek and virtually every other high school show we've seen.  Sam's humiliation in front of his friends sends the message that neither is it a That '70s Show style nostalgia comedy.  Freaks and Geeks isn't glamorous; some cast members are overweight or have bad skin and more than a few have greasy hair.  The show also isn't fashionable; one of the first things I noticed is that in the winter the cast wear the same coats everyday (which is certainly realistic, though today imagine a network exec lamenting that it "doesn't move product").  The biggest difference between Freaks and Geeks and other shows about young people is that it doesn't shy away from or overly dramatize the pain of adolescence.  Furthermore, the parents on the show are not the typical broad stroke caricatures we usually see on TV.  All Feig's characters, young and old, are fully realized which is what makes the show so great.  The Freaks and Geeks episode "The Garage Door" is perhaps my favorite episode of any show ever:


It is pretty amazing how many big stars came out Freaks and Geeks:
From left:  Seth Rogen, Busy Phillips (Cougar Town), Samm Levine, Jason Segal, John Francis Daly (Bones),
Linda Cardellini (ER), Martin Starr (Party Down), James Franco
And don't forget the behind the scenes people:
  • Creator Paul Feig, a Mt. Clemens, MI native, has directed a ton of TV shows as well as the film Bridesmaids 
  • Writer Mike White created the show Enlightened and wrote School of Rock  
  • Co-Executive Producer Judd Apatow has changed film and television comedy forever, making in my opinion the funniest film of the last ten years The 40 Year Old Virgin
Finally, lets not forget Freaks and Geeks "extras" including Ben Foster, Shia LaBeouf, Leslie Mann, Ben Stiller Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones.  Along with this great cast, music has a major role on the show, from that first "Runnin' With The Devil" riff in the pilot, every episode includes original recordings by groups like Kiss, Cheap Trick, Styx, Ted Nugent, Rush, The Who and in the memorable episode "Noshing And Moshing," Black Flag and X.  It adds up to over 120 songs over the course of the series, making music the single biggest item in the Freaks and Geeks budget and a major obstacle to its release in syndication and on DVD.  Some reruns airing on Fox Family had songs taken out and replaced with generic music but thankfully Paul Feig held out on a DVD release until he found the company Shout Factory! that would release the series with all its music intact.

So why did NBC cancel Freaks and Geeks after only 12 of its 18 episodes aired?  Some might say it's because "people are idiots, and that goes double for network television executives." I prefer to take a more nuanced view.  I think young people ignored Freaks and Geeks because it had neither the slick aspirational sexiness of shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and One Tree Hill nor the lighter silliness of Boy Meets World and Saved By The Bell.  (Granted, during sweeps all of these shows would trot out their "very special episodes" about drugs, teen pregnancy, etc.  but none come close to the everyday reality of Freaks and Geeks.)  As for adults, I imagine they ignored the show partly due to a lack of teen sex appeal but mostly because Freaks and Geeks clearly illustrates the pain and awkwardness that most of us experienced in adolescence and who wants to watch that?  Well, I do and it has been a pleasure sharing the show with my kids over the last few months.  My rule is that we only watch an episode when all four of us are present.  It's been great seeing the show through my children's eyes and since there are only 18 episodes my goal is to savor every one.

Here are the links to download this week's show (right click and "Save Target As")
Hour 1
Hour 2