Kick Pick Number 21: Doug Mason - Gravy Nights Reviewed by Marian and Donnie
It is really rare nowadays to hear songs with characters. Too many songwriters are singing out of their diary or reeling off a successive series of analogies, metaphors, allusions, whatever. We remember as kids hearing about Maxwell and his silver hammer, Rocky Raccoon in a gunfight, Jumpin Jack Flash, a girl named Angie, or the Mighty Quinn. And at home, in Canada, Stompin’ Tom created too many characters to even name. That is also the most important thing that Doug Mason's Gravy Nights brings to Canadian music: a whole group of new characters. For instance, there is a song about this one guy who thinks that making poutine is going to impress a girl. I mean, talk about a dyed-in-the-wool Canadian. We must admit that we were disappointed to hear that Michael Jackson had left the cast of Trailer Park Boys, but this guy really doesn’t need that show. Now, he is Doug Mason and “dressed like it’s 1929”, he's recorded Gravy Nights, a Canadian album of definite cultural significance, and that’s what we’d like to review today. We are calling the CD East Coast indie rock with nostalgia coolness a la Catcher in the Rye: timeless and important.
Not many artists can recreate the magic that comes with adolescence, and so Doug Mason's album has to be classified as classic Canadiana that ranks with the best of them. You simply need to slide “Gravy Nights” in and you are back in the day with that “loud-talking idiot” friend whose voice rings into the air across the river or field, into the campfire or onto the dancefloor , making the moment strangely magical and annoying as in “Bloody Mike": “Hey, Bloody Mike can you tell me what to say? / 'cause I can’t find the words today...Maybe you and I can watch the churches burn / You can talk and talk and maybe I can take a turn".
Or how about that kinda scary, hardrcore girl that decides to give you the time of day? That’s “Caledonia Girl”: “She wore a shirt that said ‘Quiet Riot’, and I asked her if I could buy it. She said no, but that I could try it, and I tried it.” You need a songwriting gift to be able to create that moment of uber-understated teenage excitement.
Or remember the punk guy who was just a year or two older, passing home-made, mix tapes around the alternative circles? Michael Jackson writes about it perfectly, explaining,
If he had a radio show, he’d play every single song that no one else knows,
Other characters express their individuality with more than just music and talk. In “Big City Tight Pants” the main character not only has “the tightest pants in the whole damn country” but also stores loonies in the big hole of his streched out earlobe piercings. These lyrics perfectly sum up the hipster urbanites of 21st century Canada. We love the stoner sacrifice of borrowing money to go see slacker-gods, Pavement and especially love the way he spells his “band name without any vowles”, thinking, “ Might change my name to WLF WLF or MSN WLF”.
Then there’s the title track, nonchalantly evoking a vingette of nostalgia: "Gravy nights and Value Pizza days, I talk and talk and I’ve got nothing to say. So tell me when you get sick of me, Sometimes I get so sick of me." “Gravy Nights” is like slacker haiku set to Halifax indie guitar riffing.
So, if you are a fan of stuff like Sloan or Neil Young, then this CD is highly recommended. Listen to or buy it on bandcamp.com where you can also check out all of Doug Mason's other great releases.
Kick Pick Number 20: Marq DeSouza-And All His Boyish Charms Reviewed by Donnie
2008 was a great year for music. Lots of quality releases from alternative acts. Marq DeSouza's latest CD "And All His Boyish Charms" will probably be the one of the great LPs for 2008. I have to admit that I had the privilege of listening to the demo tracks Marq produced before our 2007/2008 sabbatical. During the last year, I listened to those demos @#$$ing a lot. Really good performances, and there was even talk from Marq about just releasing the demos as is. I was supportive of the idea especially since Marq has left over tracks from his first solo LP that are probably the best tracks he has ever recorded. My view was this: he couldn't go wrong releasing the new demos and the best unreleased tracks from the previous sessions. But instead, Marq chose to start recording the new songs with a new engineer/recording partner/co-producer. To that end, I was a little reluctant to hear the finished tracks, fearing that they would lose some of the intimacy. I also really wanted Marq to release the rejected tracks. So the poor CD was in for a serious critiquing from the beginning. Off the bat, I thought it was definitely superior to Marq's solo LP. Since most of my favourite tracks were left off that release, it wasn't surprising. Second, the new album has an even superior lead-off single than "Prey Becomes Predator" from the last LP, which is the jaw-dropping, envy- inducing super-production "Who's Better Than Us?". Third, it has Marq's best ever ballads, "Lighter than a Feather" and "Renewal Part 1". I usually don't go for ballads or soft songs (the Beatles excluded...remember that great collection "Love Songs"...wow that was great stuff...), but "Lighter" and "Renewal" are as enjoyable as anything he has ever released. The only thing that was disappointing about the CD was Marq dipping his toe into the rockabilly/alt-country pond. I know that rock and roll needed to re-find itself for about ten years there, but now I'm glad that scene is over and would have preferred Marq to stick to his hard rock and 60's influences. So in my not so humble opinion, Bar for the Broken Hearted is kind of a miss on the record. If the song was an AAA Alberta Beef baseball sirloin, the demo is perfectly seasoned and cooked rare, the recorded track too salty and overdone. Only one strikeout for every ten at bats is pretty awesome for a regular hitter, but its just what I've come to expect every season from Marq DeSouza.
Kick Pick Number 19: The Highballs Montezuma's Revenge Reviewed by Marian
The Highballs Montezuma's Revenge hasn't left our CD player in a week. Actually, we took it out momentarily to slip in some Sly and the Family Stone . I mention this only because the two bands are so similar in spirit and coolness. Quintessential Party Bands! Of course, The Highballs are a Mexican party band -- at least as Mexican as a bunch of guys from Vancouver can get. They've got their brass section, guitar, bass, drums, banjo, and funny little hats (are they called pezes?) -- a full-on Mexican wall of sound accented with broken Spanish banter, sung in perfect rock and roll rhythm. Those of you that have seen The Highballs live know what I mean, but to really get the wit and grandiose hilarity of the lyrics, you've got to buy the album. Some of my favourite moments on the disc are Guaco's Cheech-like comments (especially in "Grasshopper"), the desperation in Puerco's voice in "Monkey" (as he tries to get rid of the monkey), the rap in "Lavas Las Dientes", and the myriad of groovy melodies that jump out of each instrument all over the place. Man, these guys are good. When you buy Montezuma's Revenge by "los hombres jovennes que no es testicularos tienen mas bajado", you are bringing the whole party home. Simply, slip the disc into your player, and prop the cover up on your mantle. You too can have a fiesta in your living room!
Kick Pick Number 18: The Champions – The Gentlemen Reviewed by
Kick Pick Number 17: Cooterfinger - Three Chords and a Grudge
by Marian and Donnie
Kick Pick Number 16: James Richard Oliver - Rocket to Nashville
/ Cooterfinger - Smells Like Rock 'N' Roll by Donnie and Marian
Kick Pick Number 15: Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles - Live on MuchMusic by Marian
I Could Have Been Chancellor but I’ve Got Gord Downie on my Mind
I just watched Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles on MuchMusic’s Canada Day "Intimate and Interactive" Special, and I gotta say, “Hallelujah! ‘There IS a breath of air tonight!’” I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic about the idea of watching this program Donnie had taped, but was I in for a surprise! Right from the get-go, it becomes obvious this show is going to be something special. The band starts in with this melodic, chanty, hip-hop vocal hook that is completely original and hypnotically catchy. But it doesn’t let up; I’m edge-of-my-seat mesmerized the whole show. Downie and the band take risks with songwriting and performance -- risks that might sound cacophonic or unpolished to an industry, mass-market kind of an ear, but to a music lover's ear these sounds are like living art; they are so inventive and inspiring.
Gord Downie has always been considered a master of words, but a master of songs? Yes, it is true: he’s brilliant. It is always a challenge for a songwriter to match words to melody and rhythm. I feel the musical hook should provide the thematic spark for the song, the impetus. Trying to wrap clumsy words around the melodic feel is always a challenge. Gord Downie does this with ease. I just love his explanation, “You get the melody, and you can hum it, and then you can hum it, and you can hum it, and hum it and hum it – at least that’s my new strategy – and then you get lyrics that really fit that melody, and be painstaking and really wait for them and all that.” This is how it’s done! Songs sometimes need painstaking crafting. Music and lyrics are like puzzle pieces, that have to be jiggled around a lot before they’ll fit properly. Downie has become a master of this. The Country of Miracles wriggle their way nicely into this songsmith's puzzle too: experimenting with multiple vocals, horn sections, sound effects, instrument swapping, and Gord Downie on lead guitar!?!? They are making the art of music so much better. They are stretching the boundaries, and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it.
But Downie takes the whole act of songwriting to yet another level. I can hardly believe it, but he not only matches meaning to melody, but he also adds the visual componet: the video. Yes, that dinosaur of a medium that relies on sex and Attention Deficit Disorder is somehow wrangled into something magical. Downie’s videos, “The Chancellor” (Coke Machine Glow 2001) and “Pascal’s Submarine” (Battle of the Nudes 2003) are breathtaking. The visuals actually move with the rhythms and melodies in the song. In “The Chancellor”, Downie glides over a lake with his arm draped around the neck of his ride: the gigantic plastic swan. It sounds cheesy, I know, but I’ve never seen anything so graceful or beautiful. Cottonwood floats around in the sky above the water, and camera movements are slow and precise. Then there’s “Pascal’s Submarine”. The song’s narrative comes to life under the skillful direction of Trailer Park Boys’ Mike Clattenburg. Donnie says I’m obsessed with this guy, and I don’t disagree. “Pascal’s Submarine” has Clattenburg’s trademark heart and style. The energy, movement, drama, colour, symmetry, excitement, emotion … Videos simply don’t get any better than this. Songs don’t get better than this. It’s almost exhilarating to find Canadian art with such raw integrity.
I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by this
“solo” endeavour – I was. First of all, it’s not really a solo deal. The
Country of Miracles add an indespensibly cool indie vibe to Downie’s pretty
rhythms and melodies. Secondly, Gord Downie is evolving the craft of songwriting.
Finally, there’s nothing contrived about Gord Downie and the Country of
Miracles – there’s just an overwhelming sincerity that makes you:
Yep, it just doesn’t get any better than this...
Kick Pick Number 14: The Psychic Cowboy - Under the Influence by Donnie
Most people wouldn't know good music if it came up and slapped them in the face. Nickelback always was and always shall be one of the crappiest bands to ever come out of Vancouver. The Be Good Tanyas are another example of the truly shitty-ass lame music that Vancouver represents. But it doesn't have to be that way. Artists like The Psychic Cowboy are proof that it shouldn't be that way. When I first heard Under the Influence I was blown away by not only the songwriting, the producing, the musicianship, the honest singing, etc...but it was the humour that really made my jaw drop. These are some of the funniest songs I've ever heard. Songs like "Tinkles the Incontinent Clown", "Drunk Love", and "Queen of the Rodeo" make you howl with laughter. A songwriter who can do that is truly a genius in my mind. It's not even the slightest stretch that some of these songs could have been on The Beach Boys' Smile, The Beatles' White Album or The Velvet Underground's Loaded. I was quite green with envy when I heard them. I thought: "Now, how come I can't write songs that witty?" Not only that, but the second track on the album,"Trailer Park Heaven", has earned the honor of being inducted into my Hundred Plays Club.That means I listened to the song over a hundred times in the first two days I had it. I once heard Carnie Wilson say that her dad would listen to "Be My Baby" by Phil Spector and the Ronettes sometimes 250 times a day, as if it was outrageous. That's not outrageous, really great music just makes you want to hear it over and over again. That's the kind of music the Psychic Cowboy makes. If you are in Vancouver, you can check out the Psychic Cowboy, with his other band LOTUS, at the Cottage Bistro every Wednesday night. You can pick up a copy of Under the Influence there for twelve bucks, and you can even get him to sign it! I did! For more information be sure to check out his website: www.psychiccowboy.com
Kick Pick Number 13: Reproducible Trailer Park Boys
Party Invitation by Marian
“FUCK COMMUNITY COLLEGE.
Reproducible invitation brought to you by www.kickintheeyemusic.com
Kick Pick Number 11: Boney M. Christmas Show by Donnie
Kick Pick Number 12: George and Marguerite - Over the Years/Just Another Day by Donnie
It's great being in an indie band. You get exposed to so many acts that
you'd normally never hear of. Case in point: George and Marguerite. Based
in Copake, NY, the duo transcends the term "indie artist" -- "classic
artist" is more like it. Having come into possession of two recently released
LPs, I am convinced these two should be huge mega-stars. If you are fan
of the Eagles, Crosby,Stills&Nash, or any great 70s country, you will
know what I mean. Every song is full of hooks, perfect instrumentation,
and, of course, awesome singing. It's a shame there isn't more appreciation
for the truly good music being produced out there. If there was, everybody
would have already heard of George and Marguerite. The first album I listened
to, Over the Years, had a really strong country-rock flavour. The
lead guitar work has bite, and makes the track really rock along. Some
of the standout numbers include "Just A Running", "This Time", "Made for
Each Other", and "This Ain't Your Home No More". The latter song is so
good we are thinking of learning it and adding it to our live set. The
second LP, Over the Years, reveals a softer side of the group,
and exposes their folk influences. The first track on the album, "Just
Another Day", could easily be mistaken for a classic Crosby,Stills&Nash
single. The second track, "She's Got a Cold, Cold Heart", is also superb,
but I could go on forever about this song or that. The point is: people
are missing out on some really great music because of certain industry
practices. Don't be one of those people. Check out George and Marguerite
Kick Pick Number 11: Better Off Dead -- Girl With A Job! by Marian
Donnie's sister put it best when she called to let us know how much she liked the CD we'd lent her: "I've listened to it every day -- ten times a day -- since you've given it to me... and everytime I hear "Sleepin' on the Sofa", I have to rewind it and play it twice". Better of Dead's CD, Girl With A Job, just gets better with each listen. VD King (guitar and voice), Don Kenny (guitar), Tim Cassidy (harp), Arthur Zo (upright bass), and Bob Masucci (drums) play a kind of blues drenched swing music that oozes coolness and wit. I, for one, think it's cool to start with swing rhtythms, classic blues riffs and structures, and then flawlessly blend-in original melodic and rhythmic hooks, unique sectional movements, and witty, well-syncopated vocals. I remember saying at their NXNE show in Toronto, "Wow! This kinda sounds like "Hot Rod Lincoln", or "Bo Diddley" or .... But wait -- they'll make it their own." Sure enough, "She got a Voodoo doll...", and Better Off Dead are swinging to their own beat -- and so's the crowd! Favourite tracks? I couldn't say. Really! Seventeen tightly structured masterpieces -- way too many to list. I will tell ya this though: After listening to "BBQ", I'll be puttin' away my classic (and I mean classic: Otis Redding, James Brown, Fats Domino... ) BBQ Blues compilation, I'll be sliding on Better Off Dead, and I'll be heading to the nearest dollar store for some "funky bibs".
Listen to a few tracks and buy a copy of Girl With A Job! at CD Baby, or just go right to the Better Off Dead website: http://www.betteroffdead.com
Kick Pick Number 10: Trailer Park Boys (Sundays 9:00pm PST Showtime Ch.39) by Marian
As soon as someone makes an "I love trailer park boys" shirt, I'll be the first in line to buy one. This show equals my all-time fav: Get A Life, and it's Canadian! The show revolves around the denizens of a Canadian trailer-park. There's Julian: the de facto leader, who always gets the boys out of a sticky situation. Note his sober disposition and constant companion: the tumbler glass of rum and coke. There's Ricky who curses the fact that he's stupid and therefore too stupid to do anything about it. He's always mixing words up and screwing up, and he knows it. It sadly hilarious to see him beat himself up all the time. Ricky is not all-stupid, though. He can outsmart cops without batting an eye, and he has good taste: he listens to blues music, buys the "expensive kind" of chicken fingers, and treats his date to a romantic meal: "sweeten power chicken things". Then there's Bubbles. The early shows focussed mostly on Ricky and Julian, but Bubbles is quickly becoming the centre of attention. He is definately a cult favourite. Bubbles is a nerdy guy with thick bottle cap glasses. On first glance, you may think Bubbles is "crazy", but it doesn't take long to realise that Bubbles is "the sharpest guy in the park". He doesn't have any ememies, he'll party down with the best of them, and he's extremely loyal. He'll do anything for the only family he's got: Ricky and Julian. The boys are the best of friends, so they fight and fuck around all the time. No matter how serious the situation, though, no matter how intense the fights, by show's end, the boys realise that they're always there for one another. Ricky, the big loveable dope that he is, ends nearly every show giving a round of hugs and exclaiming "I love you guys" with tears in his eyes. For viewers, endings provide sweet, sentimental relief from the pain of laughing too hard for too long. I end every show, just like Ricky, saying "I love you guys" with tears (of laughter) in my eyes.
PS: The Canadian trailer park accents'll drive you crazy! (In a good way.)
Kick Pick Number 9: Solarbaby - Another Sidewalk's Bloody Dream by Donnie
More great stuff from Marq DeSouza and his gang. The album has at least three possible singles on it and a 10 minute plus epic. The best cut is the lead off track "Born Again and Buried Alive." A superb song with a glam rock (i.e. T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, Ronson-era Bowie, not that eighties metal crap) production. Not only does it have some amazing time changes but Marq's guitar work is exceptional. Other standout tracks include the first single "Benzedream", "I am Tragedy", and "Just can't Keep from Crying". The last song on the album is "Keep your Gunpowder Dry." Coming in at over ten minutes, this track tells the story of some whacked out Freemen living out their own "last stand at the Alamo". Marq's story telling abilities really shine on this cut. The overall level of the production on this LP is top notch. The liner notes credit John Shepp with Marq DeSouza as the producers. I think the work Mr. Shepp has done with Gob and Matthew Good is the worst crap imaginable; so, I'm going to have to give Marq most of the credit. The album cover also deserves special mention. Going through all the items pictured on the insert is like trying to decipher a Van Eyke painting. I know there's symbolism there, and its fun to figure it out. Marq has gone for a more consistent musical theme on Another Sidewalk's Bloody Dream as opposed to his very diverse Temporary Redemption (see review below). There is a bitterness to the lyrics, and a harsher tone in the music. This doesn't mean it's hard rock. The Rolling Stones comparisons the album is getting are apt. The differences between Temporary Redemption and Another Sidewalk's Bloody Dream are similar to the differences found between the Beatles and the Stones. In the mid-Sixties, a music critic wrote that when the Rolling Stones came into the room it was like somebody had just flipped open a switchblade. Listening to Another Sidewalk's Bloody Dream is Marq flipping open a switchblade on your CD player.
You can order a copy through Marq's website: www.marqdesouza.comwww.marqdesouza.com
Kick Pick Number 7: Marq DeSouza - Temporary Redemption
P.S. From Marian:
Kick Pick Number 6: Blood on the Saddle CITR 101.9 FM Cable ( Sundays 3pm-5pm ) by Marian
Whenever I'm not at a Sunday jam, I'm listening to this kickass country radio program. Listening to Blood on the Saddle is better than stuffing my CD player with my own old country CDs and hitting random. The host, Jeff, plays everything I want to hear, and he makes great recommendations! Now, I can't simply buy every ol'CD I want willy-nilly, I have to stagger my purchases, but the next two on my list are albums he's suggested: Lefty Frizzell Sings the Songs of Jimmie Rodgers and Merle Haggard Roots Vol.1. Since I don't have these albums yet, I decided to call in a request from the Lefty CD. Jeff was thrilled, he said Lefty was his favourite, and played two tracks. He followed these two songs with two off the Merle CD. I hadn't asked for these, it just seems that Jeff has an acute sense for what music lovers -- as opposed to what music consumers -- want to hear. Then he played Stompin' Tom's "Big Joe Mufferaw". Did you know that the American lumberjack legend, Paul Bunyan, is based off our Canadian home boy, Big Joe, or as the French call him Bon Jean? Get it? Bon Jean / Bun-yan. Anyway, Stompin Tom makes a good case for this in his book Stompin' Tom and the Connors Tone . Next up: Stompin Tom's "Gumboot Cloggeroo." Did I hear host Jeff say that this is one of his favourite Stompin Tom songs? Wow! This guy's right on! We've been covering that track for a couple of years now. Jeff proceeded to play Buck Owens, John Prine, Nancy Griffith, and local Linda McCray among many others. Jeff claims the show hosts the best of old and new country, but it's the old country that gets me dancing for most of his show. (Dancing, literally. Really, old country ROCKS!) What put the icing on the cake for me, though, was the last track. It's the very same song Kick in the Eye is learning at this moment -- in fact, I'd written my notes for this review on the lyric sheet. The song? "If you've Got the Money, I've Got the Time". The great thing is - you don't need money to make time for this program. Check it out every Sunday from 3pm to 5pm on CITR101.9 FM.
Kick Pick Number 5: American Movie - Special Edition DVD by Marian
This is a heart-warmingly, hilarious documentation of an indie filmmaker's trials and tribulations. As an impoverished, struggling artist myself, I can completely relate to main character Mark Borchardt's plight, and am thoroughly inspired by his indomnible spirit. During the film, Mark tries to fulfil his dream and create a full length film called Northwestern. Ultimately, he fails and has to save face by making the thirty minute gem: Coven. This special addition DVD allows viewers to watch the atmospheric, black and white Coven. This is a treat. The shots are very artsy and eerie. It's nice to see a Mark Borchardt project come to fruition. People, including Mark, should be aware that Mark's inability to complete his American Dream is by no fault of his own. Okay, he drinks a bit, but this is not the problem. The problem is lack of do-re-mi. Woody Guthrie sang about it in the forties and it holds true today; if you don't have it, "you better stay right where you are". It's so hard to do anything -- especially anything artistic -- without money. Indie artists need their products and promotion to be a full frontal assault. How do you do this with little money? Mark Borchardt and Kick in the Eye continue to struggle with this dilemma. We will not, however, heed Woody's advice and stay where we are. We know we've got the goods, so we will never give up. We will continue to create real art and try to turn others on to it. Thank you Mark for your "never say die" attitude. Thank you filmmakers Chris Smith and Sarah Price for making this movie. Thank you Mark's friends and family for being so committed, helpful, adorable, and entertaining. Viewers cannot help but love Mark's mom, his uncle Bill, and his druggie-rehab, musician friend Mike Shank. In conclusion, splurge on this special addition DVD. Features like the director and cast commentary, and the deleted scenes -- especially the Burger King monologue -- are alone worth the price of admission.
Kick Pick Number 4: Sloan - Pretty Together by Donnie
I'm going to cut to the quick of it. Sloan's Pretty Together is pretty awful. There's only a few good things to say about the LP so I'll get that over with first. Sloan are staying with that mid sixties rock sound and that just suits me fine. They are one of only a handful of artists that can and do recreate that sound authentically, so I'm happy they're not straying too far. Other good things hmmm uhhhh....well, there are two good tracks: the single "If it Feels Good Do It" and, a song that would have fit fine on either Smeared or Twice Removed, "It's in Your Eyes". The only good tracks seem to be mainly Patrick Pentland's songs which was the case with Between the Bridges. This is where I have to get into the negative. I have no idea where Chris Murphy lost his song writing talent but it's gone, long gone. On Navy Blues his star shone bright but its just faded to nothing. If the only one of them that can write songs anymore is Patrick, then why are those other goofs contributing all that crap? Doesn't anyone they know tell them how badly their songs suck? I could never understand why bands force fans to pay for filler. Cover someone else's material for chrissakes. I'd be way happier paying for an LP with a few good originals and some kick ass covers. Sloan's other crime is to write these terrible rip offs of other artists. Not only are the songs bad, but they all sounds like someone else. "Are you Giving me Back my Love?" reminds me of Split Enz and "The Life of A Working Girl" is Morrisey if I've ever heard it. There are cheesy sections all over the place where you can say you've heard that somewhere before. After Between the Bridges I wasn't sure if I was going to ever buy a collection of new Sloan material again. Pretty Together is the nail in the coffin for me. Alan McGee, ex-Creation label mogul, said that he was going to be handling the European release of Pretty Together because he was impressed with what he had heard of the LP. No wonder Creation went belly-up. This album's gonna flop. Final judgement? This album is NOT RECOMMENDED.
Kick Pick Number 3: Cake - Motorcade of Generosity by Marian
I realise that Comfort Eagle is the new Cake CD and maybe you were expecting a review of that album – which I was going to do – but as I am listening to the first Cake CD, Motorcade of Generosity, I am thinking that it is so great, I just have to review it. We have recently finished mixing our EP, and I have production on my mind, so I can’t help but admire the genius of the production on this album. Each and every song contains so many catchy segments; and yet, each good part occupies its own space in the mix, coming to the forefront at just the right time. Every song has distinct and country-tinged lead guitar work and a riffy, rock and roll rhythm. Listen to that infectiously snaky percussion as it wraps itself around a solid drum and bass section. Then, there’s the trumpet. I haven’t heard such catchy and well-integrated rock and roll trumpet since Sly and the Family Stone. The vocals are very cool: good, colloquial syncopation, and sexy, trademark yells – a sign of real rock and roll! Finally, the lyrics are witty, funny, and poetic. There are so many good tracks its impossible to pick a favourite one or two or even three! “I Bombed Korea”, “Mr. Mastadon Farm”, “You Part the Waters”, “Pentagram”, “Jesus Wrote a Blank Check”, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Lifestyle” … I love them all, and you will too! Check it out.
Kick Pick Number 2: Ramones - Rocket to Russia by Donnie
Recently released as a remastered special edition, Rocket to Russia remains not only a classic LP but is still one of the most influential albums of all time. Generations of young indie bands carry its mark. In the 1980s while America lapped up leftover disco schlop, young cool British bands were taking what they had learned from the Ramones and continued on in the garage rock tradition of the 1960's. The resulting wave of British rock bands were met with the same indifference the Ramones had suffered just a few years before but nevertheless great rock and roll music was made. The fact that corporate radio was unwilling to participate didn't stop hundreds and thousands of young kids from buying imported records and forming punk and indie bands across the nation. For these kids these were real songs, this was rock and roll music. Maybe it was the overly distored guitar sounds, or the "sounds like a basement demo" recording , or Joey's unique unintelligible mumble, whatever it was, America turned its back on Rocket to Russia. Tracks like "Cretin Hop" or "Rockaway Beach" are still great at a party and "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" remains an awesome pop single regardless of its chart position. Start to finish its 35 minutes of straight-up great rock and roll music and an essential part of any music collection. Take advantage of this newly remasted edition. It comes with 5 bonus tracks including the original single mix of "Sheena" (complete with Phil Spector sleigh bells!!) and extensive liner notes. Why take a chance on so much crap when there's a gem waiting at your local CD store just waiting to blow your socks off?
Kick Pick Number 1: Kid Rock - American Badass by Donnie
Rock/rap fusion has struck again. Kid Rock has got a huge hit, America has another fist-pounding arena anthem, and the Undertaker has new entrance music. So maybe you don't normally dig Kid's juvenile ramblings and maybe endless Metallica loops aren't your thing either. But the slick production works like a charm. The track oozes fun and if Kid Rock has got a little too much attitude for you, remember it's all tongue-in-cheek. Kid and his crew employ most of the usual hip-hop tricks, serving up generous samples of rock classics, and proving their master of all things old and new. The CD/LP that the single's taken from is called The History of Rock and during Kid's slick syncopated rapping he drops mention of his most influential bands: Lynyrd Skynryd, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, The Clash...Hey...The Clash...weren't they called the only rock and roll band that really mattered? Yeah, that's right, they were. So Kid proves he knows his stuff. Did he take his lessons seriously? Check it out, you can hear he did.