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Indie Rock Music Punk

Underground Rockers Vol.2

I came across this interesting 1992 compilation album while searching for Suicide Alley by Manic Street Preachers, as research for a piece I’m writing about Lo-Fi music. Not only does this compilation include Suicide Alley, but it also includes the B-side, Tennessee (I Get Low). This was later rerecorded for their debut album proper, Generation Terrorists, but this lower fidelity version was just what I was looking for for my Lo-Fi piece.

The original sleeve for Suicide Alley/Tennessee (I Get Low), 1988. Not at all inspired by the first Clash LP. image courtesy of Discogs.

Underground Rockers Vol.2 contains two songs each from several bands: H.D.Q., Senseless Things, The Abs, The Price, Manic Street Preachers, Identity and Suspect Device. It’s pretty much a punk album. It ranges from shout along ’70’s style, ’80’s hardcore and even ’90’s pop punk. I had personally never heard many of these bands before but I enjoyed the album and thought it deserved some publicity. It is an excellent time capsule for the British punk scene in the early ’90’s.

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Thurston Moore – Various Pandemic Bandcamp Releases

Since the start of the lockdown, Sonic Youth guitarist & singer Thurston Moore has been steadily releasing unreleased archive material on his Bandcamp page. Since Moore has been kind enough to publish the lyrics to each track, and because he’s one of my favourite lyricists, I’ll reprint them here.

It started on 23rd March with TELEGRAPH which was written while touring with his former band Chelsea Light Moving in 2014. This track was originally performed on KEXP-FM under the title The Exstasie but later remixed in London.

Here’s where the mantra begins 
Where the wildfires reach for the wind 
Blue days break for yr pleasure 
And the gold rays color yr skin 
Here’s where we make our commotion 
Where the amplifiers all cry 
Raise yr guitar to sky devotion 
Let the high priests sing out the night 
And where do all the evil crazies go 
The drunken dripping demons down below 
This is where the messages rise above 
Shooting stars and candles lit for love 
Here’s where we fall into light dreams 
Where the flowers sweetly incite bees 
Yr guitar is a honey suck angel 
Drumsticks play in the free breeze 
And why do all the oceans erupt 
And all the mountains crumble to dust 
Destruction with no hope and no prayer 
Telegraph yr soul into the clear 

Next came a track called SUNDAY STAGE on 29th March. This was recorded circa-2013 by Chelsea Light Moving.

Sunday stage 
The ripped up page 
We’ll stay up late 
Til sunday babe 

Hush Arbors 
The dripping slurs 
The crushing verbs 
The smashing thirst 

NO GO, released on 4th April is a straightforward punk thrasher. Another Chelsea Light Moving recording from 2013.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL 
STAY WHERE YOU ARE 
SAY WHAT YOU WILL 
STAY WHERE YOU ARE 
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO 
NO GO 
NO GO 
NO GO 
NO GO 

INSTANT TRANSCENDENT CONJECTURE followed on 15th April. This was recorded by TMG (Thurston Moore Group) in 2016 during sessions for their Rock n Roll Consciousness album. According to Moore, it is a “cryptic suggestion into the realization of the poem as a springing into nature.”

WILD CRY STREAKING HEART REACTION 
ELEKTRO SOUL MAGNETIC ATTRACTION 

SOUNDING ROOM TELEVISON 
FREEDOM FLOWERS LIVE EXPLOSION 

INSTANT TRANSCENDENT CONJECTURE 
FEROCIOUS COHERENT REFLECTOR 

WILD CRY STREAKING HEART REACTION 
ELEKTRO SOUL MAGNETIC ATTRACTION 
REALIZATION COMPELLED TO RAPTURE 
COMPELLS A POEM TO IT’S CAPTURE 

MAY DAZE, released on 1st May is another Thurston Moore group recording. In the words of Thurston it is “a soundtrack for our usa sisters + brothers to register as voters today, if you still need to – we can change the world – free all political prisoners – insurrection for common decency – rock n roll consciousness – more to come”.

You must be on some kind of revolution kick 
Modernity is on the line and says you’re making them sick 
Wars and borders, prisons and swords we don’t understand how 
Let’s already overthrow overthrowing now 

I’m not the type of guy 
Who wants to change the world 
She’s not the type of guy 
He’s a new century girl 

Transparency especially in your soldier’s dress 
Screw policy if you’re in prison then we’re the one’s under arrest 
Star children have taken over they’re broadcasting peace 
Time and space have no place for a sister who needs to be free 

I’m not the type of guy 
Who wants to change the world 
She’s not the type of guy 
He’s just a new century girl 

You took me by surprise 
When you dared me to 
Glitter everything with change 
And i’ll break the rules with you

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Indie Rock Music

Rosie Tucker – Arrow (Jeffrey Lewis Cover)

Singer/songwriter Rosie Tucker’s new single is a cover version of the Jeffrey Lewis track Arrow, from his 2003 album It’s The Ones Who’ve Cracked That The Light Shines Through.

“We were having a really hard time arranging it because it’s an unusually structured song,” Tucker told American Songwriter . “It’s just kind of a deluge of words and then it ends.” The first half of the cover follows the original fairly faithfully, with Tucker’s trancelike vocals floating over a sea of effect pedal guitar noise and subdued cymbals. This psychedelic guitar soundscape is courtesy of Tucker’s guitarist, Jess Kallen’s pedalboard. It’s the second half of the song, however when the bass and drumming begin, that Arrow really starts to differ from Lewis version. It morphs from an anti-folk anthem into a more straight forward indie rocker, albeit while retaining the psychedelic feel. Tucker practically screams the lyrics in places, giving it a raw edge which I imagine makes live performances of this particularly exciting. This is in stark contrast to Lewis’ original, which consists exclusively of fingerpicked acoustic guitar, voice and tape hiss. It has a much more subdued feel.

As well as the single, available from all good streaming services and digital music distributors, Tucker has put together a lyric video for Arrow. The video consists of footage of their native Los Angeles which they has taken whilst walking around during the quarantine. I particularly like the glitch-art aesthetic.

For those unfamiliar with Lewis, here is the original:

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Kurt Cobain, starstruck with heroes

Starstruck Kurt Cobain standing with Eugene Kelly (Vaselines) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub). Both bands are well known to have been among Kurt’s favourites. Nirvana even covered Vaselines tunes Mollys Lips, Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam and Son of a Gun. Photo by Stephen Sweet.

As a bonus, because I feel bad sharing a single picture and little other content here’s some music by the men in the photograph.

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Happy Birthday Kim Gordon

Happy birthday to the indie rock megastar that is Kim Althea Gordon. Best known as the bass player in legendary indie rock innovators Sonic Youth, she also has a long career as a visual artist.

After Sonic Youth, Gordon formed the band Body/Head in 2012, a noise guitar project which released an album and toured the US. In 2015 she published her memoir, Girl in a Band, which received critical acclaim and sold well.

She returned in 2019 with her first proper solo album, No Home Record. An experimental collection of exploratory electronic music with influences as diverse as hip hop, no wave and noise rock. This album too received critical acclaim.

Today we wish Kim a happy birthday.

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Shameless Self Promotion: Nauseous Skies & Downstreamers

Time for a little Shameless self promotion. Jason Jarratt, singer, guitarist and primary songwriter in my band Nauseous Skies has unearthed a 2018 home recording we made of our song Without You. Without You has never been recorded in a studio so Jason decided to upload it to Soundcloud as a gift for those in isolation. It is a darkly psychedelic dream pop song with a strong ‘80’s influence. We were thinking of bands like The Cure and Psychedelic Furs when we were writing and rehearsing it.

As well as Without You, Jason and I also began a more electronic based side project called Downstreamers. This consisted of guitar, voice and electronics. We finished one track, Shine On in 2019 but didn’t get around to releasing it. We uploaded it to Soundcloud yesterday. This isn’t dissimilar to our main band but has more emphasis on synth sounds and uses exclusively programmed drums.

Hope you enjoy these tunes. They make me wonder how many other bands are sitting on unreleased material which would be well received right now while we’re social distancing/isolating.

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No Age – War Dance/Feeler/Turned to String

No Age make me feel like I’ve travelled to a parallel universe. Like the guy who travelled to a universe where the Beatles never broke up and stole a tape of a Beatles album that was released after they broke up in our universe (details) The universe No Age inhabit is one in which, instead of Thurston Moore being obsessed with the Ramones, the Ramones are obsessed with Thurston Moore. Actually, the Beatles comparison isn’t entirely unwarranted either.

No Age, who describe their sound as Dream Punk, play lovely simple punk pop music very much in the vein of the Ramones or the Beatles. Straightforward power chords chugging over precise and powerful drumming. Simple, effective melodies. The secret ingredient is the wall of sound the guitars create with the help of a plethora of effects, which give their music a Shoegaze or Dreampop like quality, and a collection of noisy and exciting synth modules. 

War Dance is a wall of lo-fi noise built around a simple guitar riff and a bleeping synth loop. The vocals have a shouted, Mark E Smith-like quality, at least partially due to the cheapness (or simulated cheapness) of the vocal mic. It reminds me of the legendary Iggy Pop vocal for The Passenger, famously recorded through a guitar amp.

Feeler is the catchiest pop song of the three. Heavily degraded distorted sounds, which could be either synth or heavily processed guitar give way to a hummable, melodic line which is embedded deep in the noise. The vocals, while simile, are more melodic and less shouty than War Dance. The chorus is incredibly catchy, revolving around a simple power chord pattern and lyrics about “my astral plane”. 

The power pop feel continues on Turned to String. This probably sounds more like Ramones than the other two songs and the production is cleaner and less noisy. It still sounds very lo-fi but relies less on the swirling walls of guitar noise for its power. Chugging powerchords, simple melodies and straightforward drums. It’s a particularly pleasing arrangement and it suits the song well.

These three songs leave me excitedly looking forward to the new album Goons Be Gone when it releases in June.

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