In an episode of the popular sitcom Family Guy, Peter Griffin meets a genie who grants him three wishes, and one of his wishes is to have his own theme music wherever he goes -- what a great idea, especially now that it's so easy to carry your music with you.
I woke up rather early the other morning, and almost immediately after opening my eyes I started hearing the often-imitated crooning of Elvis Presley echoing through my skull. That’s not entirely a surprise—I was flying to Las Vegas that day, so the fact that a song by the King popped into my head did seem somehow appropriate. I suppose that a selection from Tom Jones or Dean Martin would probably have fit just as well, but for whatever reason for me that day it was Elvis—and his music was stuck in my head all morning.
”…A little less conversation / A little more action please…”
If you miss Stereolab and Mr. Bungle—and I think we all do—then you owe it to yourself to give a listen to “Disco Dog”, from Belgian threesome Joy as a Toy. The specters of those progressive pop geniuses loom over all three-and-a-half glorious minutes, from the angular start-stop rhythms, to the brassy freak-outs in the middle, to the vibraphones throughout which sound straight off Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup.
“Disco Dog” is the first track off the band’s debut album Valparaiso, out right now on Cheap Satanism Records. Stream the whole album for free here.
P.S. What the hell is a “disco dog” anyway? The lyrics—alternately sung and barked, naturally—don’t shed much light on this mystery. Neither does a Google search, even if it does reveal the term as an inexplicably popular brand name.
After more than three decades, Bad Religion still continues to impress fans both new and old.
Bad Religion—the so-called “Grandfathers” of the Southern California punk rock scene—recently released a preview track from their upcoming album The Dissent of Man. The song, titled “The Devil un Stitches”, is available for streaming via Epitaph Records’ website or right here.
Over the course of their 30-year career, Bad Religion has released 14 studio albums and have influenced generations of bored suburban teenagers with their infectious blend of high-tempo punk rock overlaid with intelligent lyrics sung with the band’s trademark “oozin’ ahhs” vocals. Moreso than any of their peers or their followers, Bad Religion makes songs that one cannot help but sing along to, regardless of whether it’s about politics, religion, science, or just life in general. And, since guitarist and co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz’s return on 2002’s The Process of Belief the band has defied critics and even time itself, continuing to get better and better as the years go on.
Most musicians want to grow, evolve, and experiment over the courses of their careers—as well they should. However, as fans we tend to remember the instances where that experimentation has (in our humble opinions) gone wrong more often than the times when it has gone right. On the other hand, we’ll also criticize other artists who produce record after record with the same overall sound and feel, saying that they’re stuck in a rut or not being creative. Bad Religion is a band who has received criticism from both points-of-view—too much experimentation on 1982’s Into The Unknown and not enough experimentation on everything else.
However, as the old saying goes ”…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”. While the band doesn’t stray from their tried-and-true sound or the theme of their music, they do it today with as much energy and spirit as they always have, and still manage to create something that sounds current and relevant using the same tools that they did 30 years ago. If “The Devil in Stitches” is any indication, we’re in for another great album with The Dissent of Man.
Power-pop favorites Ultimate Fakebook release their first full-length album since their seven-year hiatus. Daydream Radio is Smiling Static is a collection of lost recordings from 2000-2003, and to make their comeback known, their tracks are being offered for free via www.ufbrocks.com.
UFB fans rejoice! They are reemerging with the sounds of early Elvis Costello and combining the rowdy spirit of the Replacements, so whether it’s your first listen or rekindling you prior obsession, Daydream Radio is a perfect introduction to Ultimate Fakebook; 16 originals, one cover (Guided By Voices ‘Echoes Myron)—a rollicking, giddy salute to making music on your own terms.
The Suburbs is available online as a warm-up before live Madison Square Garden concert on YouTube August 5th
NPR’s Exclusive First Listen has opened up the gates for a preview of the highly anticipated third release from Canada’s indie sensation Arcade Fire, released August 3rd. Between that and the opportunity to see the band play live at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, August 5th on their Youtube channel (10 pm EST/7 pm PST), fans have an opportunity to weigh in on the new offering for themselves.
The Suburbs opens with the title track meandering along with images of kids running through yards. It’s a glimpse into frontman Win Butler’s childhood near Houston, Texas, as appropriately enough the band is his vision – with his brother Will and wife Reginé Chassagne beside him to round out a solid group of seven, plus additional musicians as needed. Things pick up by the second track, “Ready to Start” which along with “Empty Room” could be the instant classic “Keep the Car Running” was for their last CD, Neon Bible. The other tracks present a cohesive whole with Win Butler’s distinctive voice riding the instrumental wave behind him, never overpowering and always in synch with the rest of the band. Some surprises include the hard rollicking sound of “Month of May” and the brazen synths of “The Sprawl II”. Mellower moments are presented during the stripped down “Wasted Hours” and the lovely symphonic end piece, “The Suburbs (continued)”.
If I could pick any time and place to see Arcade Fire it would have been during their early days when they played New York City’s Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, that shrine to early modern dance. The vast space of Madison Square Garden holds little appeal but sitting in front of a computer screen, I’ll gladly submit to the vision of director Terry Gilliam. It’s online community at its best.