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January 2024: Feature




I remember being at my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy’s house in 1982 and seeing the music video for Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio” on MTV. I was immediately hooked. Every time I got the chance to see the video, I was pretty darn elated. Then later that year, I saw them on Urgh! A Music War and heard “Back In Flesh.”

I really wanted to buy a 7” of “Mexican Radio” but never got around to it for some reason. While visiting my grandparents in Colorado Springs for Thanksgiving in 1983, I found a cassette copy of Call Of The West at a little record store off a nice little square near Colorado College. I wore that tape out.

Literally. I had to steal another copy a few years later from Tower Records at Christown because my first copy was squealing. I love every second of Call Of The West. There is not a song I skip past or am bummed when it comes on.

Very few lyricists tell a story as well as Stan Ridgway. I tried to interview him years ago when LA Weekly was letting me to a series of interviews with accomplished musicians from the LA scene. He politely declined but maybe one of these days he’ll say yes. I’d really like to pick his brain about how the lyrics come to him.

For years I would subtly try to get people to listen to the record. Usually, people get very distracted by “Mexican Radio,” which is a great song, but they tend to miss out on the other gems on the record. I’ve gotten less subtle lately about singing the praises of Call Of The West. Hence my post today.

Wall of Voodoo were really hitting tough subject matter from an interesting perspective. The lyrical content on the record is an attack on loneliness and derision and self-doubt. It’s about taking chances and failing but there is often a glimmer of hope, too. It is really hard to be so stark, yet so descriptive. I wonder if Ridgway has ever thought about writing a book? I bet it would be great.

Musically, I love how the band plays with the space in each song. There are little bits of keyboard and harmonica and odd percussion seemingly strewn throughout the compositions, but each part has its own perfect place. If you listen to “Look at Their Way,” for example, there are these small touches that just lift the song to a different level and soften the blow of some pretty disgusting imagery in the lyrics.

January 2024: Welcome




Another early cassette purchase I made was the 1982 INXS record, Shabooh Shoobah. I saw them open for Adam Ant on the “Friend or Foe” tour that happened around then and liked the band immediately. Even though I was a bit of a newbie when it came to concerts at that point, I remember thinking that Adam Ant was pretty ballsy to have such a great band open for him.

History, of course, has shown that INXS would go on to completely eclipse Ant’s career in terms of success, but at the time, I was a huge fan of Ant. Over those early 80s years, I played Shabooh Shoobah quite a bit. When I started dating, it was kind of a go to record (along with their next one, The Swing) if I had a chance to be alone with a young lady, too. Maybe this was because it was a little more acceptable to some of the gals I dated who weren’t super into punk and maybe it was because it’s just a great record.

When a record starts off with a track like “The One Thing,” you just know it is going to be good. For a long time, I thought this was INXS’ first record. I was wrong in thinking that, as there are two others that came out before this, but it was the first successful record of theirs in the states and probably the first one that could be found on cassette.

In retrospect, too, I think I picked up on the post-punk vibe of some of the songs, too. While INXS were adept at writing really good, poppy hooks, their songs often had a dark edge in the early days, too. I wonder if they were an influence on The Cult. I wish I had asked Ian Astbury about this when I spoke to him a few months ago. As I listen more closely, I definitely hear some similarities.

“Don’t Change” can still make the little hairs on the back of my necks stand at attention. It takes me back to being fourteen years old and feeling like I was never going to be confident enough to ask the pretty girls to dance. For whatever reason, I liked going to school dances even if they were somewhat torturous for me. I wanted the courage to say, “Hey, let’s dance,” but I never mustered it.

INXS had a lot going on, sonically. I wonder if that aspect helped me find a place for them in what was becoming a narrow, but cluttered hallway of bands that I really liked in those days. Even when I went through my most militant periods of thinking if music wasn’t punk rock then it wasn’t worth listening to, I always went back to those INXS records. Shabooh Shoobah is rich in extra percussion, saxophone jags, and keyboard riffs.

Sadly, May 13, 1983 was the only time I got to see them. I almost went a few other times when they would play, but never got around to it. My brain is playing tricks on me, at the moment, and maybe I did go see them one other time. Could have been 1986, but I don’t think so. Might have been outside for that one, though, at Mesa Amphitheater.

January 2024: Welcome




My buddy Matt got this for me back in 1989 or 1990. He had won a CD player at a work function and sold it to me for $20. Then for the next holiday or birthday, he got me Scumdogs of the Universe on CD.

At the time, I was only familiar with the name of the band. I don’t think I had heard much, if any, of their music, but was curious about them. A lot of people I knew seemed to be into them and I would see their t-shirts on the regular around town.

I was a little puzzled by the gift, to be honest, but Matt often steered me in good directions, at least musically, so I plopped it in the CD tray and pushed play. I got such a kick out of watching the little tray slide in when you pushed play. This was back in the day where CD players were still kinda new, so the little automations that we take for granted now seemed kind of nifty and neat.

It’s very possible I could be making this up, but I might have shot some hoops on my nerf basketball hoop while listening to the CD for the first time. I did that a lot back then. My little studio apartment on 7th Ave and Earll was kind a perfect for shooting nerf baskets. It was not uncommon for me to crank up some music and then fine tune my shot.

The first song on the record I really fell in love with was “Horror of Yig.” It’s kind of in the middle of the CD and I think it kicks off side B of the vinyl. It has bagpipes and as I shared with my buddy, Hoss, on social media today, I think it might be the best use of bagpipes ever.

Overall, the record is just heavy and fun. There are big, crunchy guitars throughout and the east coast hardcore vibe is swirling around in the background at all times. The lyrics are fucking great, too. Especially on the song, “Slaughterama.” That song cracked me up that first day listening to the CD and still does today. Dave Brockie (RIP) was a great lyricist, and his delivery was spot on throughout Scumdogs.

A few years later, during the early days of Hillbilly Devilspeak, we played a show at Hollywood Alley with a great band called Kepone. I didn’t realize until that night that Michael Bishop, the super cool and friendly bassist/singer of Kepone was also Beefcake the Mighty in Gwar. When my buddy, Jx, told me that, I was a little taken aback and didn’t know if I was cool enough to keep hanging out with him.

That was one of the first moments I remember kind of looking at one of the dudes in a band we opened for like, “Whoa!”

Over the years, I’ve continued to enjoy Scumdogs of the Universe. I don’t dust it off that often but it always puts a smile on my face and makes me want to play heavy music. I did end up seeing Gwar once at Electric Ballroom. I think it was already Electric Ballroom by then, but I guess it could have still been After the Gold Rush. Either way, it was a fun show, and they played a lot of Scumdogs at that show. I got a little pink juice on my shirt that night, too.

January 2024: Welcome




This record, for most of 1991, was my holy grail. I searched high and low for it on CD. Idiot that I was, I stopped by vinyl when CDs came out and I probably could have had this record on wax well before I finally found the CD if I had just not been a toad.

When I finally got around to realizing how good this record was in 1990, my girlfriend, Alexa, had the record and she made me a tape of it, if I remember correctly. She was the one, too, who invited me to go to the Mason Jar and see them, but I got them confused with Soundgarden and decided not to go. I was a toad that night, too.

Come to think of it, while she and I were a couple, I skipped many a good show. Toad, toad, toad.

Enough of that, though.

To put it simply, I think Bleach is the coolest thing Nirvana did. I love their other releases, but Bleach has a certain power, tone, and beautiful sloppiness that perfectly articulated what myself and so many others were yearning for from punk rock. It is a punk rock record.

When I first heard it, I was blown away. They were like Mudhoney, who was my first Seattle love, but heavier and meaner. Immediately Nirvana became a huge influence on how I looked at music. Over the course of the five years that I consciously shared the planet with Kurt Cobain, he showed me a way to go about making music that helped me see how I could do it, too.

“About A Girl” is kind of the moment on the record where you have a minute to absorb the bludgeoning of it’s predecessors (“Negative Creep” and “Blew”) but it is really only fleeting. You get too caught up in the poppy deliciousness that “About A Girl” delivers with perfect punk rock snottiness.

Then “School” happens. A one-two punch that always lands. I always thought he sang, “You’re on acid, again” during the part where he is repeating “You’re in high school again.” Maybe I really wanted it to be that way or maybe he did say. Either way, it is just about perfect.

There is no filler on Bleach. Every song is pure punctuation. Each one tells you exactly what it is and what you should do.

It is no accident there is a Hillbilly Devilspeak song with “Paper Cuts” in the title. I paid homage to Cobain and Nirvana several times in my lyrics for that band. We had a little song called “Courtney,” that wasn’t too flattering for her, but a helluva lot of fun to play.

The second side of the record is just punk rock. I dare you to listen to “Mr. Moustache” and not want to go into a circle pit and push people around. It’s the type of riff that anyone who likes to play loud, weird, punk music writes. Something to make the fingers go in a crazy pattern and get it down to the point where you can play it with precision. Sofa King Fun!

Eventually I did find the record on CD at Amoeba in San Francisco. I had searched the whole time I lived in Berkeley and finally got it around the time Nirvana opened for Dinosaur Jr. at the Warfield. It’s still in the collection today if a kid hasn’t absconded with it.

January 2024: Welcome




I didn’t appreciate this record until I lived at the Polka Dot Pad in 1988. I had heard the Ramones, of course, over the years and liked them a little bit. The thing was, though, I was a Sex Pistols fan and that meant that I had allegiance to only one of the big three OG first wave punks. I don’t include The Damned in that because The Damned grew to be a transcendent band for me.

It was the Polka Dot Pad, though, where I learned how fun this particular record is.

It’s their first and, in my opinion, their best record, too. This music still sounds new even though I have heard it a thousand times. It oozes, “Hey, look what we can do!”

Perhaps it was the copious amount of cheap beer we were drinking and it was kind of a time in my life where, if we would have been living on the streets of Brooklyn or the seedier parts of Manhattan, we would have fit right in. We were kinda scruffy in those days.

This is a fun, gritty record. I’m glad I got over my Sex Pistols bias and accepted the Ramones into my heart. There are some songs on their other records that I like, but if I could only play one of their records for the rest of my days, it would be this one.

It’s just so simple and pure. They created their mold on this one and even though they switched things up a bit over the years, the formula held true. If time travel were a thing, I would love to go back to 1976 and see them at CBGBs playing these songs live.

As I think about the record itself, this is the Ramones I need. They are at their most defiant here, as well as when they’re most interesting. I never really bought into their whole persona and such. Maybe I missed out, but I just didn’t get it. Even the cover is just kinda cool. I remember seeing it when I was first learning about what punk rockers were and thinking they looked like a gang that Barney Miller might have busted.

When they did the Escape From New York tour around 1990, I was not super impressed with them. I was way more into Tom Tom Club that night than the Ramones or Blondie. I did get to interview Marky Ramone in person about ten years ago. That was pretty cool. He didn’t play on this record, but he was playing with Voidoids at the time so that was close enough.

While I still love “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Beat On The Brat,” over the years, I’ve gravitated more to “53rd and 3rd” as my favorite track on this one. There is something about Dee Dee’s riff that showed they could do something a little more intricate than just blasting through the “1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4” songs.

January 2024: Welcome




Back in the early 90s, my friend Alex shared Solid Gold by Gang of Four with me. They were a band that I had heard about, of course, and even heard a few songs, but he was adamant that I should listen to them, so I did. It was a revelation.

One of my favorite things about this record is that the cover says “Fuck You” as well as any record cover I’ve ever seen. It’s so simple, not quite generic, and just is what it is. I don’t know why, but it has always struck me as a clever way of saying, along with “fuck you,” that this record is not what you’re going to expect.

By the time this one came out in 1981, post-punk was definitely a thing and no one did it better than Gang of Four. “Why Theory,” for example, which is the third track, has those great double lead vocals that made Gang of Four sound so subversive at times. There is something about the interplay between Jon King and whoever sang/talked the response vocals that always makes me happy. I’ve assumed it was Andy Gill, but I can’t say for sure.

I love Entertainment, too, but Solid Gold is my go-to Gang Of Four. Alex shared both records with me and I ate them up, but by the time I got to “Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time,” I was hooked. Dave Allen’s robotic disco bassline on that song just rules.

Come to think of it, it’s Allen’s bass lines that really make this record for me. Even on the songs that aren’t super exciting (“A Hole In The Wallet,” for example), the bass lines are fucking great. It’s easy to see how his work influenced bands like Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, and later, Bloc Party.

In 2015, I got to interview Andy Gill for a New Times piece. While we were talking about the show, he mentioned that he was worried about the turnout and if there were any good locals they could add. Long story short, we got to open for them at the Crescent Ballroom and it was a lot of fun. Full bucket list for us and we got to hang with Gill for a good while after the show. He was a super cool guy and I’m sorry he’s not alive anymore to play his beautiful, scorching guitar.

If you would have told me that I would one day get to have a nice long chat with Gill and play a show with Gang of Four back when Alex turned me on to Solid Good, I probably would have told you that you were smoking crack. Funny how life works out.

January 2024: Welcome
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I was at Zia Records on a Friday in 1991 or 1992. I got paid on Fridays and they were having a big sale on Sub Pop material. I bought a bunch of stuff and one of the things I bought was Smoke’em if You Got’em by Reverend Horton Heat.

I can’t remember if I heard them before buying the CD or if I just had heard of them. I think I had heard them, but who cares. The thing is, I bought Smoke’em if You Got’em and I fucking loved it. It was during that year that Terry Ciarlino and I first met and started the music project that would eventually become Hillbilly Devilspeak.

Terry was from Dallas and knew the guys in Reverend Horton Heat through the scene there. He had some good stories about seeing early versions of the band and what kind of dudes they were (and probably still are). Those talks only cemented my love for the band.

“Bullet” is such a great first track. I was a bit taken aback, at first, by the record starting off with an instrumental, but as I think about it now, it is perfect. These dudes just attack that song and when “I’m Mad” kicks in, you’re ready for the assault on your senses that the Reverend provides in heaps.

There is also a great sense of humor about this record. Smoke’em if You Got’em has some hilarious moments. The first of which is “Big Dwarf Rodeo.”I couldn’t get the song out of my head one day about a decade or so ago when I was at Walmart on 15th Ave and Bethany. There was a bunch of tiny cowboys in the store that day and I learned that there is a big (I use the term loosely) dwarf contingent in the rodeo world.

The mixture of punk rock, the Bakersfield sound, and swing on this record is also pretty damn sublime. “Bad Reputation” starts off with the niftiest little Don Rich-style riff. If you’re not familiar with Don Rich’s work as a member of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, then you should check it out. As good as Buck Owens could be on the guitar, Don Rich was better. I’m guessing there are a few Buck and the Buckaroos records in the Rev’s collection.

“Psychobilly Freakout” is probably my favorite track on the record, though. It was one of those songs that just hit all the right buttons back in the early 90s. I couldn’t wait to see the band play live and I got my wish not too long after I got the record. They played a place on 20th Street and Highland called The Palladium and just tore the roof off the place. I was in my early 20s and for a few years had thought that my days in the “pit” were probably over, but they inspired me to get in the fray for the first time in a while that night.

This won’t be the only one of Reverend Horton Heat’s records I will discuss this year.

January 2024: Welcome
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Brian and I were on a trip to California in 1989 when I scored my copy of Machine Gun Etiquette by The Damned on vinyl. I had loved The Damned since Bill introduced me to them in 1985. I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to the band, but it was love at first sight.

Machine Gun Etiquette was a bit of a tough one to find in those days. I had been searching for my own copy for a while, but if I found it, it was either too pricey or I didn’t have any money at all. Luckily, I did have a cassette of it that someone had dubbed me…probably Bill or Markus. I fell in love with the songs on Machine Gun Etiquette, though, and I had to have it.

“Melody Lee” is one of the two songs that really just grabbed me by the balls on this record. It could be the rolling piano intro before Captain Sensible’s huge guitar sound takes over or it could just be the ferocity of how Dave Vanian jumps on the lyrics and won’t let go. It is always a treat when they play this song live.

In fact, a somewhat recent treat was seeing The Damned play Machine Gun Etiquette in it’s entirety at Punk Rock Bowling a few years ago. I spent much of that hour with a giddy smile on my face. I had to pee at one point and was so bummed to be out of direct earshot for the minute or so it took to drain the vein.

The other song that really grabbed me in the 80s was “These Hands.” I just love the opening line, “These are the hands of a demented circus clown/Outside I’m laughing but inside I’m really wearing a frown.” It’s a demented song about killing a loved one by strangulation but it just resonated with me. Was I homicidal in those days? No, but the song made feel creepy in a really satisfying way.

Of course, “Smash It Up” is a great way to finish the record. Part 1 and 2 of the song will always remind me of being in Celebrity Theater up on stage with the band. They started playing “Smash It Up” after everyone got off the stage and that was it. The powers that be got real nervous and it’s a good thing they did.

From start to finish, Machine Gun Etiquette is just pure pleasure. It was the only record that Algy Ward played on as a member of the band, but his bass lines were great. “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” will always be a fave because of his work. I also can’t forget “Anti-Pope.” That is another scorcher that made me want to break things as a teenager.

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the band’s terrific musicianship, too. Like yesterday’s record, this won’t be the only Damned record I write about this year. I’ll probably write about five more, to be honest. It’s one of the reasons I love them as much as any other band.

January 2024: Welcome
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Today’s record is a fairly new one for me. I’ve been aware of The The for some time now, but mostly by name and the association with Johnny Marr of The Smiths. Several months ago, “This Is the Day” was on an 80s mix that Spotify curated for me and it just struck me as a wonderful song.

For most of October and November I made a point of playing the song pretty regularly in the morning as my students are filing in for the day. I’ve even noticed a few of them bopping their heads a little to it. “This Is the Day” is just a few minutes of happiness and feeling good.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good, groovy song like this. I’m guessing that they probably played it very once in a while at Tommy’s back in the day and I’m sure that friends of mine were fans, too. It takes me back to a time when so much music was new to me and exciting.

A few weeks ago, though, I began to dig deeper and finally listened to Soul Mining, the album that “This Is the Day” was released on in September of 1983. When I wrapped my brain around that fact, it twisted my melon, man (If you get that reference, I love you). It twisted hard because it made me realize I could have been enjoying the whole thing for the last forty years. 4-0.

Oh, well. You can’t cry over spilled music. What I’ve come to learn is that Soul Mining is really good and there is a lot more The The for me to discover outside of the stuff with Johnny Marr on it. Main The’er, Matt Johnson, is a heck of a songwriter. I love the way he puts music together.

It doesn’t sound the same, but there is something about The The that reminds me of another great pop-song writing one-man (sort of) band, World Party. I wonder if Matt Johnson and Karl Wallinger have ever considered collaborating. It might bring about the apocalypse or it might be amazing.

Anyway, Soul Mining is a lot more than “This Is the Day,” although I am still inclined to think it’s the best song on it. Johnson is really great about adding in a bunch of cool sound layers and the accordion on “This Is the Day” is pretty darn sublime. It makes me think of the film, Local Hero, which is a favorite of mine. Both came out in 1983, too.

One of the coolest things about the record is that each of the seven songs has a life of its own. There is a really cool post-punk meets the best things about early 80s new wave going on here. I guess it makes sense as many of the true greats of the early 80s new wave scene got their start as post-punk acts.

I’d love to know if Johnson was a fan of Thompson Twins. I love the bass line for “Uncertain Smile” but a good chunk of it is super close to the bass line of “If You Were Here.” That song came out about six months before Soul Mining, so who knows? “Uncertain Smile” has a fantastic part where Jools Holland (something I learned yesterday) does the piano and it just slays.

Solid record. I will definitely be listening more.

January 2024: Welcome
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I hadn’t really planned on going this direction today, but since I decided to steal from Jane’s Addiction for the title of today’s blog, talking about is the thing to do.

When I first heard Jane’s Addiction, I didn’t really care for them. My old roommate and friend, Andy/Drew, had some early Jane’s on a cassette tape and he played it for us in the spring of 1988. My first impression was that they sounded like the Three O’Clock on heroin. If you are not familiar with the Three O’Clock, just stay tuned. I will get to them soon enough.

By the end of 1988, though, Jane’s was quickly one of my favorite bands. Between the time I first heard them and the release of in 1990, I think they played Phoenix a few times and cemented themselves as a band to not only watch and listen to, but also a band that you could really feel. They seemed to be playing music for me and my friends and that was pretty darn special.

The record starts off like gangbusters. “Stop!” kicks you in the teeth and then “No One’s Leaving” follows suit right into “Ain’t No Right” and as a listener, I was like “Holy shit!” Then the wheels come off for “Obvious.” Pretty quickly, I started skipping the song when the CD was on. I just don’t care for it at all. It was foreshadowing for how the wheels would come off the band completely after .

Even after thirty plus years, I still just don’t jive with the song. The only redeeming quality in “Obvious” for me is the bass work by Eric Avery. He’s still one of my favorite bass players. He never over plays and the combination of he and Stephen Perkins is about as good as it gets in heavy alternative music.

“Been Caught Stealing” is a pretty fun song, but there is something about it that always made me think that maybe there was a record company person saying, “hey…got anything that sounds like the Chili Peppers?” floating around in the mix somewhere. I don’t skip the song and I have definitely bobbed my head to it plenty over the years, but it doesn’t compare to previously released material by the band. It’s slick, commercial rock and roll.

It might seem like I’m kinda hating on this record, so I will be clear and say that I don’t hate it. It’s way better than anything Guns-N-Roses ever did, if that makes sense. I just prefer or the live record from 1987.

“Three Days” always kind of felt like the band was trying to re-capture the earlier magic, too. It’s a fine song and one that I enjoy, especially the breakdown that happens just past the midway point, but it was starting to be clear to me back in 1990 that Jane’s might never reach the heights of those first two releases again. Sadly, history has proven me to be right. There aren’t too many 10:48 long songs in rock and roll that keep my attention for the whole time and this is one that I really want to get to the good parts.

Speaking of song length, the last four tracks (when you include “Three Days”) takes about a half hour to get through. That’s some bloated rock and again, I feel like I am dumping all over . Maybe I don’t like it as much as I thought I did.

I never really dug “Classic Girl,” which closes out the album. “Then She Did” is kinda pretty and I like it, but it also drags on way too long. Stephen Perkins absolutely owns that song. As I reflect on it more, I think there was something about the layers of effects on Perry Farrell’s voice on this record that just was a little annoying to me, too. I mean, I love effected vocals, but Farrell is one rock star that I always got the “don’t hang with this guy” vibe from.

The only song I haven’t mentioned yet is “Of Course.” This is another one I quickly started skipping over when I would listen to . The song is kind of like “slapping yourself in the face.”

It’s still way better than G-n-R, though.

Get in Touch
January 2024: Welcome
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Some of you in my age range might remember the resurgence (maybe that’s not the right word…could have been an emergence, really) of the Grateful Dead in the late 80s. I knew a good handful of people from the punk scene who got really into them back in those days. I was curious, so I took the leap and bought a copy of Aoxomoxoa on CD.

I was familiar with some of their stuff. How could you not be if you liked to smoke weed and drop acid. I’d heard stories, of course, and had been a little fascinated by the stories I heard about the Dead shows in the 70s that some of my mom’s friends told while I was in earshot as a kid.

The cover of Aoxomoxoa was what prompted me to buy that particular disc. It is just about as psychedelic as you can get which was a good thing for me at the time in 1989. I took it home to my apartment on 7th Ave and Earll and when “St. Stephen” started coming out of my speakers, I was instantly hooked. To this day, I still love that song.

It was different, too, from just about everything I was listening to at the time, but also not. The songs are well-crafted and interesting and subversive. These are all qualities of music that I typically adore, so it was not a huge stretch for me to begin a slightly closeted Dead fandom. Luckily, as I mentioned, a lot of people I knew and loved were also beginning to appreciate the Dead.

One thing about Aoxomoxoa is that I wouldn’t recommend it as a for someone who wants to get to know the music of the Grateful Dead. I think the off-beat quirkiness of this record might be lost on a newbie. I also don’t know if the LSD these days is any good and this is a full-on acid record. Not long after I got this CD, I came home late one night after tripping with my friends and put it on and just blissed out.

I remember laying on my water bed in the dark listening to Aoxomoxoa feeling like I had made a wonderful life choice in picking it up. “Doin’ That Rag” made me smile, for sure, that night. I’ve been kind of partial to that one ever since, as well. It has a quality, like much of the record, that reminds in a good way of a combination of the Beatles and bluegrass music.

Aoxomoxoa was my Grateful Dead gateway drug. It opened the door for attending live shows and then grabbing a copy of Reckoning shortly after my first live experience. I’ve got a few more now, too. Seeing the band live was always a bit of a crapshoot. Out of the eight shows I saw, four were really good, two were okay, and two were pretty bad.

I guess that’s still batting over .500.

I like all of Aoxomoxoa. The album does have some different moods. While “St. Stephen” is jubilant and joyous, “Mountains of the Moon” is bit more contemplative. I like the latter quite a bit, but when “China Cat Sunflower” kicks in, it’s almost like another wave of psychedelia washing over the soul. Listening to “China Cat Sunflower” on headphones is rad. The way the album is mixed, you have a nifty guitar in each ear. At 3:40, it’s almost ready for the radio.

“What’s Become of the Baby” is just the Dead being the Dead. Admittedly, it kind of harshed my mellow on that first trippy listening back in 1989, but I lived to tell this tale. “Cosmic Charlie” finishes up the disc in Deadhead fashion. Smiles can get back on the faces and spinning and twirling can commence. Plant a flower and call it a day.

Tune in, friends. Drop it if you got it.

January 2024: Welcome
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Part of me really wanted to be a mod when I was younger. Then I realized that I am a mod. I’m also a punk and a dad and a teacher and a…you get the picture. I wanted to dress the part, though, and even had a few nice things in my clothing collection including some boss black and white pointy shoes. They were even called “Jam” shoes.

One of the sharper decisions I made back then was to pick up Purple Hearts’ when I was a junior in high school. At the time, I hadn’t decided I loved the Who the way I grew to love them in my 20s and 30s. I mean, I the Who, but I wasn’t telling people they were my favorite band.

(That honor would have gone to either PIL, The Damned, The Cult, or the Cro-Mags depending on the day. Mostly PIL, but that’s for another day.)

I bring up the Who because I hear so much of what I love about the Who in Purple Hearts. There was a brashness conveyed in this live record that really spoke to me. It said, “These guys are having a fuckton of fun. They also kick ass.”

In those days, I had a Magnavox stereo that one of my parents had gotten me at some point. It had a couple little speakers and the cassette player, tuner, and turntable made up a small console. It made punk rock records sound great.

It also made sound great.

My taste when it comes to sound is a bit more educated and slightly more discerning now, but I still like the way this record sounds. Would it drive a few people I know crazy with it’s mid-80s fuzzy hiss, probably, but they’re just delicate. I kid, of course.

Some records should sound a little rough. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, because it does sound great. I’m listening to it as I type this, and I keep getting sidetracked by the riffs. “Beat That,” for example, has a really great, really big guitar part that probably influenced bands like Oasis a little bit.

Mod music might not do it for everyone, but this record is worth a listen. The riffs, as mentioned, are excellent and the lyrics are even better. That could be another place where my brain connects Purple Hearts with the Who. I’m guessing those Purple Hearts guys listened to a lot of Who.

Back in the day, I really loved the cover of “Gloria” on this record. It kicks off side B. I’m a sucker for a cover of “Gloria” (and the original). It’s just one of those great songs. I’ve never been in the right situation to pull it off and I’m not sure I would even want to try.

They must have made a good amount of these because you can get it on discogs for less than $50 (including shipping from Europe). is a lot of fun. From “Gloria” the band goes into a fun and seemingly sincere cover of the theme. The audience starts chanting “Scooby!” as “Gloria” fades out.

When the band gets back into their originals on the B side, its quality slips a little until you get to the end. The very Who-ish “Extraordinary Sensations” is a tad sloppy for a bar or two, but it works. I liked “Jimmy” a lot in the 80s. Now I would just rather listen to the Jam, but even then, it’s a good song…just very Jam-my.

“Plane Crash” and “Millions Like Us” are great songs, though. If the record reflects the actual flow of the set, they crushed it.

Try . See if you can collide with it.

(I think going with “Try” and not “Give” was the right way to end this.)

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January 2024: Welcome




About three years ago, I stumbled across the song, “Buttered Popcorn” by The Supremes. I was looking to include as much music in my classroom by women and people of color because my classroom was not made up of old, white dudes. The song latched onto my consciousness and has never let go.

Meet the Supremes came out almost sixty-two years ago. It was their first record and introduced the world to Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Barbara Martin. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson’s hands are all over this record, too, but I could care less about them. Over the last few years, I have kept coming back to the record because every few months of so, these words pop into my head:

“My baby likes buttered popcorn, uh huh, buttered popcorn, uh huh, buttered popcorn.”

It’s the fourth track on the record, but I’ve stopped skipping the other tracks as of late. Something about this record reminds me of some of the films I love that are set in the early 1960s like Animal House, That Thing You Do, and The Wanderers. Those movies make me nostalgic for a time I didn’t get to experience and this record just oozes that time period.

(It occurs to me that two of the films I mentioned feature Karen Allen. Side note: I had the hugest crush on her as a kid. Huge. As I got older and learned to appreciate a finely turned performance, I realized that one of the things I love about her the most is that she is extremely talented and never mailed it in once while working on a movie.)

The thing about “Buttered Popcorn” in the context of the whole record is how it really kind of kicks the record off as more than just something to play in the background while making out in a dimly lit basement (nod to Wanderers). The whole mood of the record shifts as the gals in The Supremes get a little bawdy. Listen to the words and see if you agree.

In reading a little about the record, it was interesting to find out that none of the songs on here were ever big hits for the band. It seems like “Buttered Popcorn” or “You Bring Back Memories” would have been more well received. I guess it was still the early 60s, though. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for these ladies just yet.

My knowledge of the early Motown stuff is really lacking, though. As I type this, I feel like I am trying to justify my love of it to my teenage self who would not have been caught dead listening to The Supremes. The internal argument is firing on all cylinders right now. One part of me is screaming, “You don’t like this stuff!” while my adult brain is like, “Hell yes I do!” It’s a battle.

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January 2024: Welcome
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One of the things I often do is look for bands coming through town that would make an interesting interview. Three or four years ago, I saw that Ex Hex was coming through town. I was going through a period where I was really keen on bands either fronted by women, or in the case of Ex Hex, entirely female.

This had nothing to do with sex. While I can find just about any talented person attractive from the standpoint of wanting to talk with them or discover how they do what they do, my fascination with ladies who rock came more from being privileged enough to be on the sidelines and seeing female-led bands really coming into their own and saying, “This is not a boy’s club.”

I interviewed Mary Timony from Ex Hex (also from Helium and Wild Flag) for their show at Rebel Lounge and we had a really fun conversation. As I was prepping for the interview, I listened to their record, It’s Real, a lot. One of the things I really like about this record is how the vibe just kind of oozes 70s power pop.

The riffs have that start/stop/repeat kind of thing that Cheap Trick made accessible for everyone from The Cars to the The Knack. “Good Times” is a perfect example of this. It is crisp and easy to bop your head to while you are driving, writing, or just sitting there chilling out. As it gives way to “Want It To Be True,” which is a very power-pop ballad-y, wistful, and pleading song, the record doesn’t lose any steam.

Live, the band did not disappoint. I had hoped Rhondi would join me for the show, but she wasn’t feeling it, so I went on my own. Luckily, there were other friends there to hang out with and I even got to introduce Mary T. to my friend, Dana, who was on the verge of a tiny fan-girl moment. It felt good to be able to do that. My affinity for these songs was only strengthened by seeing the band rock through them with aplomb.

“Rainbow Shiner” and “Diamond Drive” became other favorites. There is a bridge-ish part in the latter where Timony plays this cool ascending riff that just has the perfect “You need to feel good right now” vibe and then the band ties it up with a neat little ribbon-like turnaround. Nifty use of the ol’ digits, for sure.

If I am painting the impression that this is a super happy record, don’t get me wrong. It’s got some darkness, too. Betsy Wright (bass and vocals) and Mary Timony blend their voices really well and honestly, there are songs where I’m not sure which one is singing lead, but both are exceptional at conveying the weight of what they want to say in their inflection.

Each has a little of that, “I’m cool. You can hang out, but just know, I’m cooler than you are,” in their vocal styling. The attitude really works on It’s Real. While there is a tinge of heartbreak in some of the songs, the vocal style really helps to make the songs more about empowering oneself to move forward rather than whining about being bummed and wallowing in post-breakup self-pity.

“Cosmic Cave” is a cool nod to The Go-Go’s and east coast angst complete with “Ooh-ooh-ooh” backups and sweet harmonies. The song stands out a bit in the back end of the record, too, because it pushes the pace way more than the three or four songs that precede it. Timony rips it up all throughout the record, but I really like her guitar work on “Cosmic Cave” a lot.

If any of what I have said about this one resonates, you should really check out this record. The band is on tour again, but sadly, they are not coming to Phoenix.

January 2024: Welcome




I could blame the inclusion of this record in this list on my recent re-falling in love with Northern Exposure, but that’s not the case at all. Los Lobos does seem like a band that would have been played in the background of the show, but I got hipped to this record while creating a playlist for an event at Club Placebo. Kiko by Los Lobos is just a great record, though. 

There is an off-beat nature to this record that I love. It’s almost genre-defying, in a way, as it is not a reflection of exactly what was popular in 1992 (at least in my head), but it has all the elements of the time, too.  The songs are well-crafted and one of the great things about Los Lobos is they have a wonderful sense of when a song should end. 

What I mean by that is there is not a song on Kiko that overstays it’s welcome. There are rockin’ numbers and ones that are a bit slower in pace (even psychedelic, at times), that burn perfectly slowly. If it were possible for a song to amble, there are a few on the record that do just that. “Angels with Dirty Faces” is a perfect example of this auditory phenomenon.

Another fabulous thing about this record is that I can play it for my students. It’s great background music for our breakfast time. It’s interesting enough to get a few ten-year-olds going and it keeps me tapping my toes, too. “That Train Don’t Stop Here” is a cool little number with a slippery drum beat that swings nicely and a groovy organ riff. 

“Kiko at the Lavendar Moon” is the standout, though. It’s the one that sucked me in last year (or the year before…they all run together). There is an otherworldly nature to it provided by some nifty accordion work that gets all twisted up with some equally nifty keyboard work. The two instruments weave a cozy little nest for the rest of the song to thrive in. I just love it. 

I want to drive across the desert under a full moon and listen to “Kiko and the Lavender Moon” for the whole journey. Just the one song on repeat. Perhaps this is a special kind of psychosis, but it seems right. Prepare my padded, lavender cell please.

At sixteen tracks, there really is something for just about everyone on the record. You have some more traditional Mexican sounds here and there and some great Tex-Mex rockers, too. “Reva’s House,” for example, is one of these great rockers. I keep coming back to the drumming, too. Just perfect and in the pocket. 

“When the Circus Comes” has some of best lyrics on the record, too. “The day I burn the whole place down is when the circus comes to town,” is one of the best lines on the record. I love how thoughtful this record is and was intrigued to learn this is the sixth record Los Lobos did. It has a much fresher feel, and I would have guessed it was earlier in their catalog. 

When I get to the tenth track, “Short Side of Nothing,” I am reminded of my old friend, Lawrence Zubia. I miss that guy. Something about this song just makes me think of him and makes me wish I could hear him sing it. I know he would have done a great job with it. 

January 2024: Welcome




My old friend Buzz and I used to listen to this record while talking about girls, drugs, and skateboarding. Markus was probably in on some of those convos, too, if I am being accurate, but Subhumans have always reminded me of Buzz. Probably because I traded him the Exploited’s record for in 1986.

I was already a Dead Kennedy’s aficionado by the time I discovered Subhumans, but there was something about that really reminded me of their kindred spirits from San Francisco. Political punk became a thing for me for a while, but I always come back to DK and Subhumans as the bands that did it the best for me. (As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for Crass has evolved, too, but not to the point where I am with the aforementioned bands)

Dick Lucas has got to be one of the best punk rock lyricists of all-time. As great as the riffs are on , the lyrics are what makes this record. “Minority” makes Black Flag’s “White Minority” seem a bit amateurish when I compare the two songs together and while “White Minority” gives way to “No Values” on the Jealous Again EP, Subhumans one upped Black Flag again by having “Minority” go right into “Mickey Mouse Is Dead.”

Holy hell did “Mickey Mouse Is Dead” change my life for a while. When I first heard it, I thought it was about the greatest song ever. It rattled around in my brain for weeks as I tried to navigate what it meant to be sixteen-years old. The album just kind of explodes at this point and you better just hold on for dear life.

“What does it matter? There’s nothing I can do” is such a great line. “Nothing I Can Do” is a song that I’ve tried to sing along with for almost forty years, but I still don’t understand everything Lucas sings. I should probably mention here, as well, that the rest of the band is more than proficient at their instruments.

You have to love that Subhumans have been the same four dudes for almost the entire life of the band. This was Grant Jackson’s last record with the band on bass, but he gave way to the dude (Phil Bryant) who has been there ever since.

If “Mickey Mouse Is Dead” wasn’t enough of a revelation to my teenage life, “Subvert City” was equally pugnacious and angst affirming. Just try not to get riled up when Lucas sings, “And it all went quiet in the city and the wind blew down the road/Someone cried out ‘subvert’ and the people all went cold.” The lyrics are over forty years old, but they perfectly explain what is happening in America right now.

While the record doesn’t have a relly standout track after “Subvert City” other than the brilliant “No,” that doesn’t mean it isn’t super solid punk rock on the rest of side two. There is some really great guitar work by Bruce Treasure on songs like “New Age” and the bassline on “No” was probably hugely influential on how I play bass on a lot of early Hillbilly songs.

“No, I don’t believe in Jesus Christ. My mother died of cancer when I was five. No, I don’t believe in religion I was forced to go to church, I wasn’t told why.” As a devout PIL fan, these lyrics resonated with me, too. I have to believe Lucas was at least slightly inspired by John Lydon’s “Religion” from the first PIL record when he wrote the lyrics for “No.”

This won’t be the only Subhumans’ record I write about this year. Not by a long shot.

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January 2024: Welcome




Somebody I knew, maybe Jeff, had a copy of Let Them Eat Jellybeans, the Alternative Tentacles comp from the early 80s that just rules. The first song on it is “Ha Ha Ha” by Flipper. I really liked that song, so I bought myself a copy of Generic Flipper somewhere around 1989, I’m guessing.

I wasn’t disappointed by any stretch of the imagination. It was, and is, a paean to all things made to irk people. I have to believe that Flipper exists out of the desire of the original members to piss people off. You only need to listen to “Life is Cheap” to see what I mean. It’s the second track on the record and it just grinds away.

And grinds away.

And then grinds away some more. It’s not quite four minutes long, but it seems much longer. Soon after I bought the record, I remember putting it on at my apartment and my friend, Josh, came over to visit. We were sitting there at the small bar that separated the kitchen from my living room/bedroom (it was a studio) and somewhere during either “Life is Cheap” or “Shed No Tears” he looked at me with the, “What the fuck is this?” look.

From that point, I became much more of a closet Flipper fan. I didn’t try to play it for people because most either didn’t get it or didn’t like it or both.

I kick myself sometimes for not going to see them in 1991 in Berkeley. They played a few times while I lived there. There was one time when they were playing Berkeley Square and I was in the car (the one that the owner of Roxy Food Mart let me use to do deliveries) outside, but I didn’t go in. My friends had told me that it was a bad scene in there and that Flipper shows were full of junkies, so I decided to save the $10 or so I had in my pocket to eat with the next day.


If people can make it far enough, Generic Flipper really takes off after “Shed No Tears.” The fifth track (and, by the way, I do own this on both CD and vinyl), “(I Saw You) Shine” is a favorite of mine. I like how the snaky little bassline that starts it just floats on and on and on. The song is over eight minutes long of basically the same thing. You can say that seeds were planted in my head with this one.

After “(I Saw You) Shine” comes “Way Of The World” which is another slow, grinding masterpiece. Perhaps people need to look at Flipper the same way they look at marathons. If you really want to run for 26.2 miles, you have to have determination, grit, and stamina. It’s the same for making through one side of a Flipper record, let alone the whole thing.

“Way Of The World” is another fun little bass line. It’s too bad that Will Shatter died. He would have probably continued to crank out nimble bass lines that go on and on for a long time. Heroin is a bitch, though. If you would have asked me back in 1989, I would have probably picked this one for my favorite Flipper song but some days it would have been the one that comes right after it, which is “Life.”

I love the line in “Life” that says “Life is the only thing worth living for.” I have come back to it a lot in my life. It pops up when things are tough to remind me that being alive is a good thing. Not that suicidal ideations are much of a presence in my head, but more that you just have to wrap your arms around yourself sometimes and pull yourself through whatever you are going through at the moment. It’s a simple thought and probably was just a lark for the Flipper peeps, but I dig it.

I’ve always wondered if “Nothing” was a little homage to Richard Hell. There has to be some connection there. In fact, “Living For The Depression” also has a bit of a New York/No Wave kind of thing going on, too. I’d have to believe there was some New York envy going on for some San Francisco boys and girls.

“Sex Bomb” closes out the record. It’s a glorious little bit of fun with all kinds of noise happening in there. Flipper did a thing back in 1981. I’m glad they did.

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January 2024: Welcome



I was eight years old when came out in the theaters. I don’t remember where or when I saw it, exactly, and I remember not fully understanding it, but I liked the music and the dancing. I was a reluctant John Travolta fan, even then, but the guy could really move.

My dad had an 8-track player in his car. He also had an 8-track recorder, so he would make mix tapes for us to listen to as we drove around or went on road trips. Some of my favorite music in those days came from the soundtrack to film. It was an American phenomenon.

For me, there were some tracks on the album that just got me going. The disco takes on classical music, especially, were right up my alley when I was eight. I still don’t mind listening to them today, either, but I don’t know if I would plop down and listen to the soundtrack like I did back in 1978.

“Night on Disco Mountain” and “A Fifth of Beethoven” were probably my two favorite tracks, although I do like the “Calypso Breakdown” by Ralph McDonald a lot, too. It just has a great groove. David Shire’s “Night on Disco Mountain” has a little nod to the Jaws theme in it, but maybe John Williams stole that bit from Mussorgsky (who wrote “Night on Bald Mountain” in the mid-1800s).

As an 8-year-old, what could be better? I’ve played these tracks for students over the years, too, to show how classical music made it’s way into the mainstream with this film and soundtrack. Walter Murphy made a little name for himself with “A Fifth of Beethoven” and let me tell you, second graders really love that song when you play it after a symphony playing the same riff.

There are other fun tracks on this record. I can’t listen to “Boogie Shoes” (KC and the Sunshine Band) without thinking of the movie, “Boogie Nights” for some reason, but it’s still a very fun song. As much as disco music was maligned by a lot of people I respect and admire, there was some funky grooves to be found in the genre. There is a part of me that would probably take a time machine ride to Studio 54 if that was an option so I could see all this in person.

I have to admit, too, that I have a soft spot for The Trammps “Disco Inferno.” Probably because it has a killer bassline. The Bee Gees contributions on here were never my favorites, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably choose to listen to “More Than A Woman,” but even that is pretty sappy. Perhaps eight-year-old me would disagree and tell you The Bee Gees were amazing, but I was just about to fall in love with The Knack.

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January 2024: Welcome
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Thanks to the awesome Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast, I got acquainted with Bobbie Gentry’s music and story. I had known her name since I was little because she was one of the original owners of the Phoenix Suns, but I was unaware of what an interesting career she had. She’s not dead or anything, but she’s stayed out of the spotlight for quite some time now.

The first record of hers I found at a local shop was The Delta Sweete. It’s so good. Good enough, I suppose, for Mercury Rev to re-record the record in 2019 with a bunch of really talented singers. I don’t to listen to that version just yet, though. I don’t want my brain to get tainted.

“Okolona River Bottom Band” is a favorite of mine to spin while DJ-ing. It’s just funky and weird and great. Gentry’s voice is so unique and straddles the line between country, pop, rock, and super sexy that you can kind of get lost in her songs. She’s a fantastic lyricist, too, and paints a vivid picture with her words, but she also wrote most of the music on this one, too.

I have both versions of this record, actually, because it was released as Tobacco Road, too, with a couple of changes to the track order and listing. I like the Delta Sweete version a bit better because it has the Mose Allison song, “Parchman Farm” on it. It’s another funky number that is, like all of them, fairly genre-defying.

One of the things that really made me curious about Bobbie Gentry after listening to Tyler Mahan Coe talk about her on the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast was how she had this big hit with “Ode To Billie Joe” and was going to be the “next big thing” in country music, but then came out and did the records she wanted to do.

There is some very beautiful moments on The Delta Sweete, but also some straight up late 60s psychedelic weirdness, especially with how the songs are mixed. Listen on headphones and dig all the crazy things added to the mix. If anything, it’s just super interesting from that standpoint, even if you’re not really digging the songs.

I feel like Bobbie Gentry and Harry Nilsson were listening to some of the same stuff in those days. There is some crossover in sounds. There are parts of “Mornin’ Glory,” for example, that are very reminiscent of “Everybody’s Talkin’.” The Delta Sweete predates “Everybody’s Talkin’” by about a year, so maybe Nilsson was influenced by Gentry? Can’t ask either one. Nilsson is dead and Gentry has been living in seclusion for over 40 years.

The version of “Tobacco Road” on this one is pretty darn great, too. Like everything else she did, it’s funky and quite a bit more wistful than some of the other versions I’ve heard. (Side note: I’d still like to get my hands on Death In A Dress by Nova Boys which has a stellar version of “Tobacco Road.” I wonder if those guys were listening to Bobbie Gentry?”

As the record comes to a close, there is one song that I have tried to get into but just can’t and it’s “Jessye’ Lisabeth.” I don’t know what it is about the song, but it just doesn’t do it for me like the other songs. “Refractions,” though, and “Louisiana Man” are great. The latter is a Doug Kershaw cover and it has a slippy, fun beat that reminds me of what I like best about Gentry. She’s playful and sultry at the same time.

“Courtyard” completes The Delta Sweete. It is a tender one that takes me back to listening to the radio in the 70s as a kid. It is soft in all the right ways and brings on the nostalgic feelings I like to wrap myself up in from time to time. It reminds me of a time when there were still lots of orchards and vacant lots in Phoenix. It’s not what the song is about, but it makes me feel that way.

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January 2024: Welcome
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My memory is a bit hazy as to exactly when I became aware of Happy Mondays. I know it wasn’t long afterwards, that I picked up Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches on CD. It must’ve been 1990 because that was when the record came out and it was also when I saw the band live in Hollywood with Black Dot and Zack when they opened for the Pixies at the Palladium.

Zack and I flew out and met Dot in LA. She was housesitting for the parents of a friend, so we hung out for a few days, went to the show, and also hit Magic Mountain. It was a lot of fun. It was also the last time I ever did cocaine, but that is another story all together.

I have a soft spot for music with total groove and that’s exactly what you will find if you drop the needle on Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches. I’ve picked up the vinyl because spinning Happy Mondays while DJing is a sure way to get people grooving. I feel like Robyn Hitchcock at the moment as I’ve used the words groove and grooving in this paragraph.

“Step On” was probably the first song I heard by Happy Mondays, but I totally love “Kinky Afro,” which kicks off the record. “Yippie, Yippie, Yai, Yai, Yay/I had to crucify some brother today,” is such a great line. The whole song just sets the tone for Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches. It is clear these guys liked their substances and it’s a great record to get high to and dance.

When I saw them live, I was initially confused by Bez, their hype man/dancing fool. It didn’t take long, though, to give in to my inhibitions and just start dancing right along with him. They were just so hip and laid back and cool. It bummed me out they way they were depicted in 24 Hour Party People (the film about Factory Records and the Manchester scene), but apparently, they weren’t the most together people off stage.

That matters not, though. The second song, “God’s Cop” has a little bit of swanky rock guitar over a hypnotic bass line and slinky beat. Shaun Ryder, the irascible vocalist, just writes killer lyrics, and “God’s Cop” is a great example. I love how the bridge of the song is reminiscent of early 80s British new wave and then we get right back to, you guessed it, the groove.

Over the years I’ve grown so familiar with Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches. There was a time when I wanted to turn everyone onto it in the early 90s. If given the chance, I’m sure I played it for just about anyone who would listen. I listened to it a lot and it’s still a go to record for me when I need to relax. It’s kind of like taking a puff of some really mellow sativa and hopping on an innertube on a river of mellow gold.

There isn’t one bad song on the record. Even “Grandbag’s Funeral” is super cool even though it is kind of a mess. It’s probably one of the cooler guitar riffs on Pills ‘n’ Thrills. I am reminded, too, as I think about it, that I went about 25 or so years calling this record by the wrong name. I always referred to it as “Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches.” Close, I suppose.

The laid back, rock steady beat of “Loose Fit” is a perfect lead in to the sublime “Dennis And Lois.” I think I will always love “Step On” the most, but this sneaky one is awesome. It’s probably the interplay of the bass and keyboard. I can’t imagine ever getting to the point where I don’t want to hear it.

“Bob’s Yer Uncle” is another fantastic song. Whoever determined the song order really hit it out of the park for the middle of the record. This is supposed to be a sexy romp, but it is just a full-on groove (again, sheesh) where Shaun Ryder’s vocals are oozing a little sleaziness and Paul Ryder’s bass stands out again.

Recently I learned that “Step On” is a song by John Kongos. You might recognize the name as his sons have had some success as the band, Kongos. I didn’t know that back in the day, but I’ve always loved the line, “You’re twisting my melon man, you know talk so good, you’re twisting my melon, man.” I have to believe that was something Shaun Ryder added…and after looking it up, I don’t see those lines from John Kongos original lyrics.

The last two songs, “Holiday” and “Harmony” are the type of songs that make me want to learn a bunch of Paul Ryder’s bass lines. Sadly, Paul Ryder is not with us anymore. He died summer before last in 2022. I can’t imagine Happy Mondays going on without him, but I did read that they played a gig after he died. I feel for whoever played the bass for that one. Paul Ryder was very, very good.

In the end, though, the record just stops cold. All the sudden, silence. I love that.

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January 2024: Welcome
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When KZZP started playing “Destroyer” by The Kinks, I was instantly hooked. I enjoyed their classics as a young’un, of course, but there was something about “Destroyer” that just grabbed me. I had to have the record, so I got myself (or was gifted) the cassette.

I listened to Give the People What They Want a lot. I remember bringing it up to a few of my more musically knowledgeable friends who dismissed it pretty often as second- or third-class Kinks. I didn’t really understand that until a few years later, but I didn’t care. There are some pretty great moments on it, even if it is a wildly inconsistent record.

As I listen to it now, I hear a band that was trying to kind of latch on to punk rock. This is pretty ironic because you could say that between them and The Who, they had done quite a bit to inspire punk and metal. I’ve always felt like The Kinks had a huge hand in punk eventually happening between the fearless lyrics and stellar guitar tones.

Having said that, this is also a raw rock and roll record and one that wants to be a bit arty, too. Give the People What They Want is all over the place. The first two tracks are pretty rockin’, especially the title track, but then “Killer’s Eyes” happens and even a young me was like, “What the fuck is this?” Now I know it was just The Kinks mixing things up and doing their best to be a little edgy. I can’t say, in all honesty, they pulled it off on this song, though.

“Predictable” is another song that I can kind of live without these days. It just seems kind of tired and if it were a cat, it would just lay on the back of the couch and occasionally yawn. “Add It Up” is a fun one, though. It has a bit of a new wave-y kind of vibe in the front and then goes into that good Dave Davies guitar tone. It’s peppy and fun and I like it. The chorus is infectious, too, which never hurts.

The Kinks did DJ’s like me a great favor by having “Destroyer” be the first song on the B side. I still love it so much. I remember when I first met my buddy (and sometime contributor to ErgMis) Steve and found out that his band at that time, Victims of Progress (VOP!) covered “Destroyer.” It was all I needed to know about Steve. I was an instant fan and stoked to have a new friend. He was even kind enough to show me the riff on guitar, so it was one of the first I could kind of play.

I love how Ray Davies gives a nod to one of The Kinks big hits, “Lola,” in the song. I thought that was so cool when I was 12 and still love it. The lyrics in total are fucking great. Super punk rock and angry and dismissive of the world in general. Even back in 1981, Davies knew the mainstream view on mental health was total fuckery.

“Yo-Yo” follows “Destroyer” and because of that, I grew to be fond of it. It’s a simple tune meant to feature Ray Davies lamenting the banality of life, but it revs up nicely about halfway through. Again, is there a better guitar tone in rock music than Dave Davies’ stuff? It would be hard to argue against it.

There is something about “Back to Front” that entertains me a lot even though it is not the greatest song in the world. It’s a rocker, for sure, but it is also one of those songs that, at the time, they probably didn’t expect people to dig it. Maybe because it has a little metal/punk crossover kind of thing going on, especially with the chant-y vocals. As I think of it now and listen more closely, I kind of want to cover it. It could make a good Hillbilly song.

The most grossly ridiculous song on the record is definitely “Art Lover.” I remember thinking it was so serious and adult when I was kid and now it just makes me a little cringy. “Come to Daddy, ah, come to daddy” has got to be one of the most repulsive lines in any Kinks’ song. Basically, Ray Davies is singing about drawing pictures of little girls. He kind of tries to make it sound not so pedo-ish at one point in the lyrics, implying that maybe he was a dad who lost a daughter, but I’m guessing it’s just a gross song about an adult sexualizing a child.

“A Little Bit of Abuse” is a more straightforward attempt to say that abuse is bad. Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders sings back up on this one. It’s a C- minus effort, too, on behalf of the band to make up for the shit they dropped one song previously with “Art Lover.” It’s no wonder you can consistently pick up pretty clean copies of Give the People What They Want on vinyl for relatively cheap.

The last song on the record does come with a bit of redemption. Would “Better Things” make a Kinks top 20 or 30 songs list, probably not, but it would get some consideration. Solidly pop and a little melancholy, “Better Things” helps to wash away some of the schmaltz and yuckiness of the previous two songs, although it’s not the best guitar lead Dave Davies ever did.

I’ve got a couple of copies of this record in my collection. I forgot, I think, that I already had it on vinyl when I bought the second one. I spin “Destroyer” sometimes when I DJ. I might have to give “Back to Front” a spin soon, too.

January 2024: Welcome



I’ve had a soft spot for “Rhapsody In Blue” for, at very least, the last 20 years or so. George Gershwin’s greatest feat and maybe the greatest American song in history, “Rhapsody In Blue” is a musical triumph. It evokes a plethora of feelings and takes me places inside my brain I will forever appreciate.

I learned to really appreciate the piece after taking an overview of American music class at ASU in the mid-90s. It was a great class in a huge auditorium in the music section of campus. I could just kick myself for not taking more music classes while I was working on my Bachelors. As a humanities major, I could have probably made music my primary focus, but I thought I was going to teach high school and someday write the great American novel, be a rock star, or become a journalist.

At around seventeen minutes long, “Rhapsody In Blue” is a commitment. I wonder how many hours of my life have now been spent with this soundtrack in the background. The first copy I had of it was on CD. I bought a $3 CD at Walmart in one of their bins. I still have it, somewhere. It features a symphony orchestra from somewhere in Eastern Europe doing the song.

It’s actually a pretty good CD, but for today’s purposes, I want to discuss the version on the soundtrack to Woody Allen’s “Manhattan.” Think what you want about Woody Allen, but the guy always did a sublime job of putting music, and interesting arrangements of classic tunes, in his movies. The guy has a musical brain.

Gary Graffman’s work on Gershwin (two G.G.’s) is pretty spectacular and has become something of a staple. If you’ve been paying attention to popular culture at all in the last fifty years, you’ve probably heard at least a snippet of this performance. Graffman recorded a bunch of records in his career and, according to the interwebs, will turn 96 later this year. Due to an injury, he stopped playing piano in 1979. It would be really interesting to talk with him about forty plus years without being able to do something he really loves has been.

But I digress…

I picked up a copy of the “Manhattan” soundtrack for a few bucks at either Zia or the Record Room three or four years ago. The entire soundtrack is Gershwin songs, so it is lush and large. It sweeps you off your feet a bit with Gershwin’s signature sentimentality. There really was no other composer quite like him.

Side one is all “Rhapsody In Blue.” I don’t know about you, but the song takes me all over the place emotionally. It makes me long for times and places I would never have experienced without the imagery of a good book or great movie. Gershwin captured the manic ideation of urban struggle while also making the music pastoral and pure.

The rest of the performances are, like Graffman’s, top notch. “Someone to Watch Over Me” is also terrific, as is its predecessor on side two, “Land of The Gay Caballero.” If I played it for my students and told them the name, they would giggle hysterically, and I’d have to remind them for a week that using the word “Gay” in my classroom better be in a positive way.

One of my favorite parts of the B side is the brevity of some Gershwin classics. They are short and sweet and just as you are ready to be lulled into a blanket-like security, the next song comes along, and the pace of the record really moves. You might even find yourself charmed by the tiptoeing of the strings in “Do, Do, Do.”

As I think about the fantastic work of Milt Hinton (bass) on “Mine,” it occurs to me that twenty years ago, I would have been slow, probably, to proclaim the virtues of a record like this one. Manhattan is a great record, even if the movie has become a little cringe inducing based on changes in societal perception and Allen marrying his former stepdaughter.

Back to Hinton, though, for a second. His bass line is so freaking good on “Mine.” Nimble is an understatement. He and Eric Cohen (Drums) and Dick Hyman (stop giggling, piano) really swing on this one. Hyman used to play with Benny Goodman, too, so he’s got some skills, and Cohen did a record with Liza Minnelli once.

“Sweet and Low Down” is also pretty darn delightful. At the time of this writing, I’ve been watching a lot of Northern Exposure and one of the characters, “Maurice” (played by Barry Corbin), is quite fond of show tunes, so “Sweet and Low Down” is striking all the right chords.

Again, outside of what you might say or think about Woody Allen, this record is superbly curated, and you can probably find it for less than $5 at one of the local shops. Perfect music for a rainy (or sunny) day.

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January 2024: Welcome
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One of the really good things that comes from playing music with a variety of people is how much cool stuff you get turned onto by your fellow musicians. Many of the records I will write about this year were shared with me by people who I have shared stages at one point or another. This Apparatus Must Be Earthed by Shallow North Dakota is one such record.

In the later 90s, Shane from Hillbilly either gave me this record or played it for me and I went (probably to Eastside Records) and bought it. Heavy and serious and fun in all the right places. This music really moves.

Shallow North Dakota are a Canadian band (I like a lot of them Canada bands) and sadly, did not get to see them live. The drummer/singer died a couple years ago of cancer, so that ship has sailed across the rainbow bridge. It would have been rad to get to see this crop of songs live.

Admittedly, this is the only record of theirs I have. It scratches a certain itch so perfectly that I’ve always been reluctant to get anything else by them. That’s probably just me being dumb, but I do stupid shit like that when it comes to artists all the time. If they have one record that I really adore, I will shun unknown parts of their discography to avoid being disappointed or, I guess, having their sound tainted in my ears.

This Apparatus Must Be Earthed is a grinder. It will grind you down and put you into submission. The pace never lets up from top to bottom, although the title track gives you a tiny break in the pummeling with five minutes of the most laidback yet bombastic noise. It’s like one of those pudding cups with double flavors. The anticipation for the next bite is huge. What will come next?

“The Lubber” is what comes next and the song is a scorcher for about 15 seconds and then it gives you another dose of laidback bombastica before kicking back in with even more attitude. It’s like agitate, rinse, agitate, rinse, and repeat.

If you are looking to a go to song on this one, it’s probably track two, “Greenhorn,” but “Speed King” gives it a run for its money. The furious riffage in “Speed King” is something that all fans of the heavy, noisy type music should check out. It will give you a chub.

While Shallow North Dakota will probably be forgotten by a few more people each year, it’s good to know that there will be fans of this type of thing who get hipped to a record like This Apparatus Must Be Earthed here and there from time to time. It will be new to them and maybe it will even inspire some dudes or dudettes to crank up their amps and attitudes and make a ruckus of their own. “Old Type Writer,” for example, makes a good template for how to fuse punk rock, heavy sludge, and a healthy release of anger. Turn it up!

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January 2024: Welcome
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The early 90s were a wild time to be a devoted music fan. Maybe every era was a wild time to be musically inclined, but at least for my lifetime, the early 90s molded me into the musician, and probably person, I am. It was crazy at times.

I don’t remember who hipped me to the Cows. It was probably one of the dudes at Eastside Records, Geoff, maybe, but I was in from the get-go. They were noisy and weird and when I first saw them live, holy shit. I think the first time I saw them was at Boston’s on McClintock and Hammerhead was on the bill, too, with Fork. I’m pretty sure that was the lineup.

Hammerhead rocked our faces off, as did Fork, but then the Cows came out and all hell broke loose. I remember standing there with Michael eagerly awaiting the spectacle that had been promised by friends who had seen them before. Shannon, the Cows singer, pulled a prosthetic foot out of the fly of his pants and started fondling it. We were smitten kittens.

This had to be around the time that Sexy Pee Story came out. It might have even been the tour for this record, but I could be wrong. It matters not, though. I can picture that fake foot coming out and remember Michael and I going, “What the fuck?” I was into it.

The first side of Sexy Pee Story is pretty darn good. Songs like “Shitbird” and “Doing the Obvious” are pretty good examples of what the Cows could do. I remember listening to it on the way up to Colorado Springs in December of 1993 and just digging it until I got to what would be side two if it had been vinyl.

I especially like the pace and guitar work on “Ch” which is the fourth song. It’s a pretty straight forward rocker, well, if the Cows played straightforward rockers. The bass is so good on the record, too. Kevin Rutmanis is one of my all-time favorite bass players. We played with him and his wife back in September in San Pedro. They are called Lord and Lady Kevin, and they are a sight and sound to behold, but that’s another story.

“39 Lashes” is also really good, but after that and the title track, the record starts to lose me a bit. After I got more into the band and heard a few of their other records, Sexy Pee Story kind of took a backseat for me. I remember thinking that the second half of the record felt very Nirvana/Grunge influenced to me, almost as if someone said, “Hey dudes! That Nirvana band is huge. Do you have any songs like that?”

Even thirty years later, I still feel like the Cows kind of mailed in the last four or five songs. I don’t think I would go out of my way to listen to Sexy Pee Story anymore, though I still love the band a lot and owe them a debt of gratitude and an apology.

We opened for them at the Mason Jar in 1996, I think, or 1997 and I stupidly said, “We are the greatest band you will ever see” during our set. I was joking, but no one seemed to take it that way. After the gig was over, I was talking to Shannon, the singer, and he was being cool, but he called me out on that. I deserved it.

Out of the last four songs, I would give “Mrs. Cancelled” a spin, probably, and that’s it. Even that one is not one I would really recommend to any new fans. It’s super Nirvana-ish, as is “You Owe Me” and “Sugar Torch.” I wonder if they were doing that on purpose? Give’em a listen and tell me you don’t hear some Cobain in there.

Not their best effort, but still way better than Guns ‘N’ Roses. It did inspire me, though, to be better at making noise. The Cows were one of the craziest live bands of their time.

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January 2024: Welcome




A few days ago, I commented on a post by Stan Ridgway on Twitter (yep, I still call it that) and he liked what I said. It made me a little giddy. I just love the guy, even though he turned me down for an interview years ago when I was doing a series of interviews for LA Weekly. Maybe I should try again.

When I found out he had formed Drywall with his wife, Pietra Wexstun, I immediately went to the record store and bought the CD. I was not disappointed at all. is a great record. Even if you have never heard of Wall of Voodoo, you might like it a lot, and if you fall into that category, it will help you enjoy the Stan Ridgway version of Wall of Voodoo even more.

Ridgway’s known for his great lyrics, but other than the drums, he and Wexstun play all the instruments on . Sonically, the album is very reminiscent of the Wall of Voodoo stuff to me, but it’s also nuanced and the fourteen years or so between and shows a lot of growth and maturity. Let’s get into the songs…

“Back Towards Diamond Bar” is a killer opener. Short, sweet, to the point…there is no meandering around here. It’s also the shortest song on the CD (it never came out on vinyl). The music just takes off from here and never lets up.

“Police Call” is snakey and full of fuzzy brilliance. It could have easily been on (which I will probably reference a lot here). I would have loved to see this performed live back in the day. Sadly, I’ve never seen Stan perform live. For one reason or another, I’ve never been able to make it to any of his shows in town. Wexstun’s keyboards are fantastic on “Police Call.”

“New Blue Mercedes” foreshadows our current political climate so well. The lyrics here are so good. “Blessed with no ambition, she was tired of selling sex there on the telephone” is a great line but when Ridgway says, “We are taking back America,” it makes me prick up my ears. In this case, though, Ridgway is talking about the little guy taking the country back and saying how the rich people deserve it.

“Bel Air Blues” is another great song with a cool chorus about the Menendez Brothers. Ridgway is a consummate story teller and while a lot of people might not get the reference today, the way he weaves in the French nursery song/melody, “Frere Jacques” into the song is brilliant. The guitar work here is really cool, as well.

Drywall cranks up the noise for “Hell In A Handbasket.” There is a bit of Jackofficers-style squiggly effects and a heavy beat. When “Highway Song” kicks in, the cool, yet slightly raunchy vamp is just about perfect. I like how Ridgway goes to highly effected vocals for the middle songs on the CD. It gives it a nice warmth. Of course, though, I love some effected vox.

For several months after getting this CD, it didn’t leave the player in my red Nissan pickup. I would do that a lot. Just listen to a CD over and over while driving around. I was going to ASU and working at Courtesy Chevrolet, so I had a lot of time to listen to music. This one took me a good long while to take it out and throw in something else.

We used to call Hillbilly Trent “Mr. Smith” so his involvement in our weirdness wouldn’t be reflected back on his parents. The song “Mr. Smith” is pretty sweet. Another great story by Ridgway. “I’ve been walking up this street all night long and I’m tired of looking for a place to piss.” Another great line.

“Time Wave Zero” and “Old Bent Coin” are also noisy as hell, but both are on the slower side of midtempo jams. I kind of think of these as the smoke break before the big finish. If was a fireworks show, these two tracks are kind of the calm before the finale where the pace slows a bit, but it’s still beautiful.

As a fan of Ridgway, I’ve long appreciated his special ability for creating titles for his songs. “My Exclusive Sex Club” is one of his best song titles. The intro guitar riff just oozes sleaze and comes in and out during the song. “Have you seen this before?” he asks during the song a few times. No, Stan, I have not, but I like it. “There is a man upstairs, he’s hanging from a hook. The lady with tattoos looks like a coloring book.”Good stuff.

“Triangle Head” shuffles along thanks to Ivan Knight’s drum tracks. One could easily forget this song if it wasn’t so darn interesting sounding. Knight provides such a cool, yet simple beat. It just keeps the song going and going until “Big American Problem” closes things out.

Drywall’s has a ton of flavor and different moods to it. “Big American Problem” kind of encompasses it all in one final (and 7 minutes long) jam. Ridgway is rarely subtle with his social or political commentary, but he certainly does not hold back on this one. Like “New Blue Mercedes,” Ridgway takes a few chunks out of the hypocrisy of the rich on “Big American Problem.”

There are only two Drywall releases, but if you have to choose just one, let it be If you don’t like it, I’ll take your copy off your hands. Never hurts to have two copies of a great record.

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January 2024: Welcome
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Very few records have changed my life the way Fugazi by Fugazi has. In May of 1989, my buddy Paul asked if Religious Skid wanted to open for Fugazi at a place called Time Out of Mind. The venue was a warehouse down by Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport and we jumped at the chance. Fugazi had become part of our world that year and everyone I knew was very excited about the band.

I’ve written about the show in the blog before, but it was a pivotal moment for me. Here was a band that everyone I knew thought was cool as shit and we got to play with them. Better yet, the band ended up hanging out with us for much of the show and happily signed the aforementioned EP for me afterwards. I still have it. I might be buried with it.

Fugazi is pretty much a perfect record. When the full-length came out later in 1989, I bought it on CD right away and listened to it all the time. The songs just sunk themselves into my consciousness and having had a short connection with the band, I felt like I was supporting my friends by being a fan. I never missed a chance to see Fugazi live.

The bassline that starts the record in “Waiting Room” is one of my all-time favorite bass lines. We covered it in Bourbon Witch and it is very fun to play. The song just kills and, at least for me, I can’t not pay attention to it when I hear it.

I think one of my favorite things about Fugazi, too, is that here is this guy, Ian Mackaye, who had been the lead singer in the legendary Minor Threat, was also this incredibly inventive guitar player. He did a lot with a little and made these incredible riffs that were built on mostly minimalistic ideas. Obviously, it helps that his bandmates, Guy Picciotto (vocals and guitar occasionally), Brendan Canty (drums), and Joe Lally (bass) are all incredibly talented.

“Bulldog Front” allows the listener to get to know how the band feels when Picciotto takes over on lead vocals. He has such a cool style of delivering his fantastic lyrics. The interplay between he and Mackaye is just a master class on how to do a double lead vocal band.

After Religious Skid was done, I was band-less for a while. At one point, my buddy Shelton and I tried to get something going where we were going to share lead vocal duties like Fugazi. It never got off the ground, although we did have a few fun practices and it was maybe the first time I ever played bass with a drummer and guitar player. Fugazi was (and is) so inspiring to me.

I keep getting distracted by the record as I sit here and type. The little build up in “Bad Mouth” before the vocals come in is just so choice. When Mackaye sings, “You can’t be what you were so you better start being just what you are” is so powerful. I love the continued message of Fugazi songs that you should “do it now” which is what Ian wrote on the record sleeve by where he printed his name.

To have been a fly on the wall when Fugazi was initially putting these songs would have been a joy to experience. I dare you to listen to “Give Me The Cure” and imagine what it would have been like to see and hear them put the song together. It’s just so big and lush and powerful. I would have loved to have seen the smiles on their faces as they realized what they had done. The recording is just perfect.

“Suggestion” is another song that has just stuck with me for the last 35 years. It was very inspiring to me during the years I worked is rape prevention education. I have wanted to write similar songs and have tried on a couple of occasions, but I have never been able to get close to the power of Fugazi. The one possible exception to this is a Father Figures song called “Total Fakery.” I dubbed it this because it has a super Fugazi-ish vibe and riff.

Like several of the other records I have touched on this month, this will not be the only Fugazi release I write about this year.

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January 2024: Welcome
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On October 18, 1988, I was celebrating my 19th birthday. I was living on 28th Street and Clarendon in an apartment with my friends, Jeff, Michael, and Brian. It was quite the party apartment. Many things happened there, some bad, but mostly good (not quite so clean) fun. Little did I know that Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation was born that day, too.

It was a few months later when I first heard the recording. Initially, I enjoyed the huge bummer of it all. I never found Sonic Youth’s early music to be particularly uplifting, but it was noisy and good and, like I said, a huge bummer. When I got my first CD player about six months after its release, Daydream Nation was one of the first, probably, ten CDs I bought.

It’s a really lovely record, even in all its bummer-ness. In those days, I was really fond of LSD. This record was one that altered the landscape of many psychedelic experiences and allowed me to funnel my energy inwardly. There were lots of occasions where I would come home from tripping with the crew, and I would put this on and just sort of lay on my water bed and let the tenor of the record flow through and around me.

On vinyl, Daydream Nation, is a double record. There are only three or four songs on each side and each side is pretty darn epic. I think, though, it flows better on CD. The whole enchilada without having to get up and turn it over or get a new slab of wax. “Teen Age Riot” is such a good song. When they played it in San Francisco in 1991 when they opened for Neil Young & Crazyhorse at the Cow Palace, it was nothing short of epic. I always loved seeing them play songs of Daydream Nation live. In my opinion, it’s their best record.

“Teen Age Riot” moves, for sure, but like many of Sonic Youth’s better songs, there is also such a beautifl undercurrent. Thurston Moore is kind of a master at beautiful noise. His melodies are often just so damn good. The whole band was able to put together such great songs. “Silver Rocket” has edge and angst and serves as a nice bridge between “Teen Age Riot” and Kim Gordon’s “The Sprawl.”

I remember thinking about “The Sprawl” upon my first time with the record. It oozes (and the lyrics even say) “Fuck you.” When she sings, “Come on down to the store, you can buy some more, more, more, more” it echoed the thoughts in my own head about blatant consumerism. Of course, I know a bit more about Gordon now after reading her book and understand where she was coming from a bit better, but still, “The Sprawl” is a great song. She talk/sings her way through while Lee Ranaldo and Moore alternate between blasts of effects laden noise and intricate riffage while Steve Shelley propels the band forward and forward and forward.

As “The Sprawl” fades into noisy nothingness, “Cross the Breeze” begins and continues the Gordon section of the first half of the recording. These are two pretty long numbers. In fact, three of the first six songs on Daydream Nation are over seven minutes long. The riffs in “Cross the Breeze” and the subsequent, “Eric’s Trip” have been really influential to me. I’ve copied them more than a few times in my own way. Gordon’s lyrics are full of yearning and fire on “Cross the Breeze.”

There is nothing subtle about “Eric’s Trip,” though. This one is Ranaldo’s time to shine and shine he does. Probably my favorite track on the whole record, “Eric’s Trip” is the type of song that makes me wish I wrote it. If I could write a song half as good as this one, I’d die a happy man.

“She thinks she’s a goddess/She says she can talk to the spirits/I wonder if she can talk to herself/If She can bear to hear it.” Brilliant.

I learned at some point that the song was based on a speech from an Andy Warhol film, but I’ve never bothered to seek it out. I doubt I will, but who knows. Maybe one day…

“Total Trash” is a fun riff and kind of poppy for an early Sonic Youth song at first. They torque it eight ways from Sunday, though, before it gives up the ghost. “Hey Joni,” though, is a bit more remarkable. This is another Ranaldo song and I’m kind of partial to his songs on this record. Mike Watt, yes, that Mike Watt, is featured on “Providence.” He leaves some messages for Thurston Moore on his answering machine. It’s fun to realize that even then, Sonic Youth knew that Mike Watt was the coolest.

“Candle” is another great song. This is the song that, when on hallucinogens, you could kind of gain a little foothold on reality for at least the first minute or so. It has a calming influence before the storm begins again. There was a night in the early 90s when Michael, Brian, and I were tripping balls in the condominium that Alexa and I shared on 19th Avenue in those days. While we were listening to Daydream Nation, a transformer attached to a power pole across the street blew up. We couldn’t do anything else but watch it burn.

And giggle.

The words “Holy shit” were definitely uttered as we avoided stepping on Jessie’s dog shit in the small backyard. I also think we might have pondered on whether our collective energy caused the explosion.

If it would have started raining during “Rain King” you might have had to visit me in a loony bin, but it did not. This is probably the heaviest song on the record. It’s noisy and mean and I like it a lot.

“Kissability” is another gem. For some reason, it reminds me of a song that would have been played in an old west saloon if they had the technology to create in the 1870s. There is a quality to the guitar sounds that mimic a slightly out of tune piano.

Daydream Nation ends with “Trilogy.” These are three songs by Gordon and Moore that tie the record up with a neat little bow. “The Wonder” is kind of a flashback to the energy of the first few songs on the disc/record. It has a manic feel and you just want to tap your toes to it. “Hyperstation” continues the same type of feel. By the time you reached this point in the record, you were ready for something mellow, but it wasn’t going to happen. It’s almost as if Sonic Youth knew how I was using this record in those days. “Hyperstation” is lots of messy squiggles and attitude.

“Eliminator Jr” is the shortest and last song of the “Trilogy.” There is a celebratory notion happening here. I wonder if it was the last song they recorded during the sessions that spawned Daydream Nation?

The best thing about Daydream Nation, though, is that it is still as great today as it was back then. I don’t think I’ll ever drop acid and listen to it, but at my age, I don’t need the acid. I just need the tunes.

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January 2024: Welcome




When I fell for the Butthole Surfers, I fell hard.

I was aware of them for several years before I really listened. How could you not be aware of that name? It just screams, “What the fuck?” Although, as I type this, I am realizing that I was a little jaded towards them because here in Phoenix, we had Mighty Sphincter and I loved Mighty Sphinter.

What is it with me and the nether region?

Anyway, my buddy, Jeff, had Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac on cassette and we listened to it a lot in 1988. I probably started bumming him out in the Polka Dot Pad days because once the Surfers got a hold of me, that was that. I was hooked.

My relationship with the Butthole Surfers is an intricate one. As much as I want to delve further into those early years, especially as I think about how my obsession grew, that is not the story I want to tell today. I’ll save the story of Psychic…Powerless… for another day.

The place to dive in is actually the Widowermaker! EP from 1989. I choose this one because it was the first new stuff that I got to purchase as it came out. I’m not counting the Double Live record. That was new, of course, and will probably get its own story eventually but Widowermaker is just such a fun little record.

(and maybe, after writing about a double album yesterday, I wanted something shorter for a Sunday)

My buddy, Bob, used to work at Zia on 7th Avenue. I’ve talked about this before in the blog. He would come to my apartment and trade me Zia trade slips for weed. It was a very good arrangement for both of us. I probably used one, or money I got from my time in the Mary Jane pyramid scheme, to buy this vinyl. I have it on CD, too, of course because that was how I rolled when it came to the Surfers.

This is fitting because on the version I have, the first song you hear is “Bong Song.” I’m certain I read the song title, loaded one up, and dropped the needle on the record. That was back in the day when I owned such a thing. It had what looked like that newfangled blue cat litter in the base. When I decided to go completely sober in 1992, I smashed it.

Anyhow, “Bong Song” is possibly the most appropriate title ever given to a song. Clever lads, those Butthole Surfers. It’s really a great compilation of everything that makes the Butthole Surfers great in one song, even if it isn’t their best song. It’s just a perfect example of what they did. Paul Leary does this crazy guitar riff that is the musical equivalent of taking a big bite of a really sour lemon before the song really takes off around the 1:40 mark. It saddens me that it has less plays on Spotify than every Taylor Swift song by about 3 million.

It's not just Leary, though, who shines on “Bong Song.” Gibby Haynes’ vocals are quintessential “Gibby” and King Coffey and Jeff Pinkus hold down the rhythm fantastically. It is praiseworthy and worth a listen, but it’s not even my favorite song on the EP.

“1401/The Colored FBI Guy” (same song, two different names depending on what version you bought) is my favorite. Maybe because Pinkus plays this cool, snaky bass line that just seems to defy logic. It is so fucking good. Next time I see him, I have to remember to give him a high five and tell him as such. I also have always loved the songs by the Surfers where Gibby kind of sings and there is not really a need for any of the effects.

“Booze, Tobacco, Dope, Pussy, Cars” is another fun one. There is some fun with a drum machine on here that drives the song in a way that makes you think of being hopped up on drugs and booze, smoking a butt, driving fast towards a spectacular hook up. Another aptly named song. The Surfers were really great at using all the toys in the studio to make essential tracks, that’s for sure.

Lastly, “Helicopter” is another typical Surfer song. It’s noisy and grating and rhythmically satisfying. It’s another blast of fun Gibby-tronics, too. It twists and turns, lyrically, before finding its way to a repeated chorus(?) of “Don’t touch me there” and words like, “Doctor man” and “Preacher man” sprinkled about like marshmallows in Butthole Charms. What’s not to like?

Widowermaker! never disappoints.

January 2024: Welcome
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Back in the days when I was working for Casa and travelling around from school to school each week, I would often have down time in whatever neighborhood I was working in. One week, I was way out in east Mesa, almost to Apache Junction. There was nothing around the school and I had a two-hour break between classes, so I found the local Walmart one day and spent some time digging through the cheap CD bin.

Over the years, I’ve found quite a few gems in there, but during this particular week, I stumbled on a Rhino Records’ release of Chicago IX – Chicago’s Greatest Hits for $3. I just happened to have $3 on me and I’ve always thought “25 or 6 to 4” would make a great cover song, so I snatched it up. I remember going out to my truck and throwing it in the CD player while I looked at the Superstition Mountains up close.

“25 or 6 to 4” is the first track, so I knew I would, at very least, enjoy the hell out of that one. I still had an hour or more to kill, so I started driving towards the mountains. I think I was on University, maybe or one of the east/west roads that run toward the Superstitions. It was kind of an overcast day and the Superstitions looked amazing. I just kept driving, listening to the music and really diving into the musicianship.

Those first iterations of Chicago were filled with some heavy players. I don’t know much about the band, to be honest, but they could just play. In the last ten years, I’ve seen at least one documentary on the band and now know they had some weird chemistry issues and such, but they could really rock in a totally easy listening kind of way.

Chicago IX goes right into “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” after “25 or 6 to 4” and it kept me driving along, getting farther and farther from the school. I figured I could almost make it to the river and back, so I headed that way. The words to “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” got into my brain and I just sort of got into it.

I had no plans on liking any of the other songs on the record. Obviously, I’d heard this one before. I grew up in the 70s. It was a popular song, I guess, but I had never paid any attention. Sure, some of the horn stuff grated on me a bit, but over the years, I’ve gotten quite fond of it, especially the part where there is some spoken word underneath in the mix. I wonder if the guys in Gang of Four stole that stuff for their own weaving of singing and talking.

Admittedly, I have to be in the mood for “Color My World,” but recent discussions of adding flute to the Living Room Collective have made me see the song in a new light. “Just You and Me” is an easy listening classic and reminds me of riding around in my mom’s car when I was a little guy. I can see how she would have liked this song, but my memory could be fabricating that whole thing.

These are both good songs to drive around the desert to, though. When “Saturday In The Park” kicks in, you’re in (to borrow a term from the classic Dan Ackroyd/Eddie Murphy/Jamie Lee Curtis movie Trading Places) “a stone, cold groove.” It’s just a delightful song about spending a great day doing fun things. Kind of the spiritual, albeit sunny, cousin of “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed. Weird that both of those songs came out in the same year.

It was about this point where I got to one of the first places you can see the river and I sat and looked at it for a bit. I listened to “Feeling Stronger Every Day” and thought about not going back to the school I was speaking at, but that would have been dumb. I loved the work I got to do for schools back in those days and “Feeling Stronger Every Day” is almost impossible to not get jazzed up by. I wonder what a punk rock version would sound like.

I was certainly in a good mood by the time I got back to work. I think it was a few weeks before I took it out of my CD player (some of you might see a pattern here).I’m a creature of habit and can eat the same food for days on end without getting bummed. It’s the same with music. If something is agreeing with me, I can listen to it for a long time. Nowadays, though, it’s a lot easier to listen to a wider variety of stuff. There is no CD to take out.

Maybe I’m just exceptionally lazy.

“Make Me Smile” is a good song, too. The interplay of Chicago’s horn section is just so great. Why can’t newer ska bands take a cue from this? I might be able to get more excited about them. “Wishing You Were Here” is another one that just grabs my heart strings if it hits me at the right moment. It’s a really pretty ballad and this is coming from a guy who is not a fan of ballads, but I have to admit that I’ve skipped it a bunch of times, too. Sometimes you don’t want to hear that stuff.

I skip “Call on Me” most of the time. Just don’t care about it. Usually, I blow right by (I’ve Been” Searchin’ so Long,” as well. It’s a bit of a moaner, as in “moaning wimp” song. This is where Chicago totally loses me and I realize that for me, the good Chicago music came when they were probably still smoking a shit ton of weed and hadn’t found cocaine yet.

“Beginnings” is a good jam, though, and a mid-to-up-tempo number to end on. I really like it, to be honest. It just grooves along and has those catchy “Whoa-ohs.” Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner-easy listener. It’s not as bad or scary as you might think.

January 2024: Welcome
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At some point in 1996 or 1997, my buddy, Jason, went to the movies with my mom, Joe, and I after work one day. The memory of the film itself is a bit hazy. What I remember most about that day is Jason and I talking after the movie and he told me, “The next huge band is going to be this band called Modest Mouse.”

Those might not have been his exact words. Jason is much more eloquent than that, but I have always respected his musical taste, so I jotted down a big mental note for the next time I was at the record store. I picked up two CDs by the band, and , which had just come out.

As per usual, I unwrapped and popped it into my CD player in the truck. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really like it. I kept listening, though, and it started to grow on me.

As I think back now, it was Isaac Brock’s voice that rubbed me the wrong way right off the bat. I liked the mellow riff of “Dramamine,” the albums opening salvo, but I just couldn’t see how this was going to be the next “Big” band. I remember telling Jason as much and he urged me to stick with it, so I did.

Unlike other records I have written about so far, Modest Mouse did not hang out in my CD player for very long the first around. I had an even harder time getting into off the bat, so I circled back to . It took me seeing the band live to really decide that I liked them.

The way the songs were presented on stage allowed them to open up for me in a similar way that letting a nice bottle of wine breathe for a bit before you take a sip will open up the flavor. When I popped This Is a Long Drive in the CD player again, I had a different experience.

For one thing, at the time, I was playing in Hillbilly Devilspeak and we weren’t getting the type of reaction I had hoped for the band. We had some success and a small, loyal crowd, but I was watching my friends, like Jason, who were in these great indie rock bands getting all the love. The wisdom of hindsight lets me see things a lot more clearly now, of course, but I was still a relatively new musician in those days and super competitive. I wanted all the shows and all the love.

I was a little bitter about “indie rock” for a while and a band in that genre really had to blow me away for me to give them a lot of my attention. I wanted my music to be heavy and weird and full of anger or angst or both. My first impression of Modest Mouse was they were, well, mousey. Almost as if I could reach out with my hand and crush them if I wanted to do so.

“Custom Concern” was probably the first song that really grabbed me off Something about the line where he sings about having to “go to work and getting a job” or something like that. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but it struck me. There is also this really cool, climbing riff that sounds like it has a cello in the background. I’m pretty sure I’m right about that. I also kind of love how the song just abruptly ends.

In a way, “Custom Concern” is a kind of the song where the album starts propelling itself towards something better and maybe even a little darker. “Might” is a quickie, but “Lounge” has such a jangly, disjointed riff. A little bit math rock, a little indie, like a quantum universe version of Donnie and Marie where country and rock and roll don’t exist.

“Lounge” also really evolves as the song unwinds. It gets really spacy, which I’ve always liked, and that cello comes back, too. The guitars on “Beach Side Property” change the mood a little again for another sprawling song. Brock seems so completely uninterested in the world when he sings this one. He’s just sort of shouting for the sake of shouting early on, but it works. Like its predecessor, though, it devolves into a contemplative middle before bringing back the angst.

Not a fan of “Ionizes & Atomizes.“ Skip it unless you absolutely love Modest Mouse. It’s a bit of filler on this record. “Head South” and “Dog Paddle” are also wastes of time.

I do like “Novocain Stain” though. It’s probably one of the strongest songs on the second half of the record. “Tundra/Desert” is pretty choice, too. I love the guitar tone on this one. It reminds me a bit of Archers of Loaf’s guitar tone. The energy, too, is reminiscent of Archers, as well. The song, like most Modest Mouse songs, has many moods.

A few years earlier, I got really into three bands that my buddy, Geoff, turned me onto: Fly Ashtray, Truman’s Water, and Uncle Wiggly. I feel like “Tundra/Desert” has nods to all three of those bands in one song.

The rest of the record, and this may sound like a bit of a copout, kind of just keeps repeating the same formula. I want to write something interesting and different about songs like “Exit Does Not Exist” or “Space Travel is Boring,” but there is not much new to say. I do love the title of “Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset.” I’ve become such a sunset junkie after seeing the ones from the deck in Maine that I find it even funnier now than in the late 90s.

That’s actually a pretty great song, to tell the truth. A bit of a palate cleanser in how it starts, but like Modest Mouse is wont to do, it meanders all over the place. I sound like I’m bagging on them, but I’m not. Modest Mouse meanders. A lot of people love that.

I am very thankful for friends like Jason, though, who make an effort to share good music with their peeps. It makes the world a better place and it’s a really easy thing to do. If you find something cool, share it. Others might like it, too.

January 2024: Welcome
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I bought by Circle Jerks at Zia for $2 in 1985 or 86. I had $2, and at that point, I don’t think I had any of their other records on vinyl yet. I had been a fan since being exposed to the soundtrack a few years earlier. It’s funny when I think back to those days. I missed out on so many opportunities to begin my “punk” life before I actually did, but what can you do. There is no crying over spilled opportunity.

People bag on . I get it. It’s not the best record by the Jerks. It got shredded in comparison to their earlier efforts and rightfully so, but it is a charming record that will grow on you if you just give it a listen. That’s exactly what I did.

A good $2 score of a used record at Zia was a great thing in those days. I was stoked on it and took it home and threw it on my little piece of shit Magnavox stereo and turned it up. The first time I saw the band live, they were on the tour, so that probably helped. I saw them a bunch in those mid-80s days and the best songs from the record were in heavy rotation in their sets.

I’m also a huge fan of Keith Morris and Zander Schloss. I’ve been lucky enough to interview Keith a few times now and Zander and I had a great three-hour chat for a LA Weekly piece I did on him. This was Zander Schloss’ first full-length with band, so I am partial to it for that reason, too.

“Making the Bombs” is a really good song. It’s more metal/rock than punk when it comes to the riffs, but Morris makes everything hardcore when he steps up to the mic. I remember seeing them play this at the Mason Jar around the time I got the record and thoroughly enjoying it.

“When I hear the lunchtime whistle, I don’t go out to eat. I’d rather stick around and polish a couple of cruise missiles.” – “Making the Bombs” ending line. So choice.

In fact, the middle of the record is strong. I love “Mrs. Jones,” too, because of the lyrics. I’ve had a soft spot for the old Jack Lemmon movie, Good Neighbor Sam, since I was a kid, so when I heard this one, I hoped he used “Good neighbor Sam” in the lyrics because of it. I should ask him next time I talk to Keith.

“Dude” is just kind of a song, but it’s not terrible and the energy is great. Also, I saw them play this one live a few times. Like “American Heavy Metal Weekend,” “Dude” is just a punch in the gut of the stereotypical dumb jock punk that was happening at the time in Southern California. I think these songs were a way for Morris to just a big “Fuck you” to stuff he found comical. Plus, I think Keith was drinking an awful lot in those days.

Either way, though, these are fun songs. If you are a Circle Jerks fan, you can’t help but like a song like “I,I & I.” I remember this one and “Killing for Jesus” being especially great live. Hetson’s riffage is not nearly as fat as it would be if they re-recorded it now, but that’s also part of ’s charm. The band may have cut a few things here and there to save a few bucks in the studio, but it still sounds good enough for punk rock.

“15 Minutes” is my favorite track on the record because of Zander’s bass line. I play it a lot when I’m warming up before a show or practice. The lyrics are not exactly acceptable for this day and age. Keith and I talked about this a couple years ago when the Jerks were coming through town for the first leg of their reunion/401K tour. He kind of chuckled when I brought that up and basically let me down easy when I said I hoped they would still play it.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Wonderful. Hopefully there are no more broken hearts for “Snake.”

Wonderful is a charming record, though, even with all its flaws. Give it a spin and remember:

“It must be something in the air.”

January 2024: Welcome
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