[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]
Lo-fi twee/goth band that did Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s sound like 20 years before they formed. The songs are on the shoegazey end, but without My Bloody Valentine’s textures. Black Tambourine ends up as background music for me. I can’t drive to their complete discography, but it sounds positively amazing at 3:30 a.m.
Another Savannah, Ga. sludge metal band. Black Tusk isn’t as good as Baroness, but man can they still kick ass. The group recently came into its own as a band. Taste the Sin, released last year, is my favorite metal record of 2010. Black Tusk is a fine, scrappy trio, and their songs are just so much more dedicated to kicking ass all the time. They don’t do ambience, which I love and respect. Here’s hoping they continue to grow and find a fanbase. It’s almost criminal how few people listen to them.
Blank & Jones featuring Robert Smith
Blank & Jones are a European techno duo… I think they’re German or some shit. Anyway, they remixed The Cure’s “A Forest” for the fuck of it, and Robert Smith decided to re-record his vocals and appear in a video for them. On the one hand, B&J do a good job with the song. On the other hand, it’s fucking “Forest.” That bassline is got-damn undeniable. Which might be why Smith so clearly doesn’t give a shit about the DJs on the bonus DVD. They try interviewing him and it’s… well, it’s awkwardly, deliciously goth. I bought this EP because I love The Cure, not because I love techno. The only reason I didn’t file it under “C” is because of the bonus tracks. And because then I’d have to listen to this after spinning Bloodflowers, and there is no way I am putting up with that.
Verdict: Keep… it’s an incredibad curio.
Electronic side project from AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Pudget. Fantastically over the top and sexual as only Davey can be. Some of the slower tracks lack punch, but overall Cex Cells is an awesome dance floor raver. I can’t listen to this album too many times in a row, but it’s a great occasional erotic listen. And I mean, c’mon… who doesn’t love a good song about butt-fucking (“Between Breaths (an XX perspective)?”
All-female hardcore/punk band from Japan. I picked up a promo of their thrashy Detonator record from my college radio station. It was so much more aggressive and brutal than anything else I was listening to at the time. I’ve kept up with Bleach since then, and while subsequent records have skewed more towards punk, and even dance-punk, they’re still a really fun band. Too bad they keep having to change their name outside of Japan due to copyright issues.
Did you know Blind Melon had other songs besides “No Rain?” Yeah, that song is the bee’s knees, but their greatest hits package Tones of Home delivers plenty more jams. It’s very white guy faux-fun in places, but it’s interesting listening to the band’s evolution, as they started crafting Led Zeppelin-style stompers and sensitive Juliana Hatfield-ish singer/songwriter songs. AND they covered “Three is a Magic Number” for a Schoolhouse Rocks compilation that went on to serve as the theme song to Tunez on GTW Channel-48, serving the Burlington and Delaware areas. Man, I miss having a dependable UHF station…
In high school, your opinion on Blink-182 said a lot about what kind of punk you were. You couldn’t just be indifferent about them; you had to love or hate them. Either way, you had to know all of their lyrics, which wasn’t hard considering my teens synched up with the band’s heyday. Looking back, it seems silly of me to have ever hated them, although the music they were putting out at the time really was kind of terrible. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket used to strike me as a sellout album for tweens. Now it just sounds boring. But Dude Ranch holds up as a solid pop-punk record, and ones Mark Hoppus sings lead on rule – the triple hit combo of “Apple Shampoo,” “Emo,” and “Josie” is killer. Eventually the band started listening to the Cure a lot, so much so that they included Robert Smith on their self-titled (sorry… “untitled”) final record, and it’s all the better for it. The songs are a little bit moodier, a lot less dependent on dick ‘n’ fart jokes. Hoppus explored that sound further with the underrated +44.
Two final notes: Tom DeLonge is a wiener, and it’s stupid that his songs always ended up being the bigger singles (“What’s My Age Again?,” “First Date”). Second, I own a bluegrass tribute to Blink from a band called Honey Wagon, and it is hysterical. I will never sell that shit.
Verdict: Keep… with some editing. Don’t tell 16-year-old me.
Bloc Party fired strong out of the gate, but quickly ran out of ideas. Which is a shame; Silent Alarm is one of the best albums of the previous decade. It’s a catchy post-punk rocker crammed with hooks, romance, and nervous energy. Then the members got it into their heads that they needed to change everything about the band. Follow-up A Weekend in the City is cynical, and ham-fistedly so. The lyrics clumsily take aim at youth culture while the music minimizes the influence of drummer Matt Tong, who’s actually the best performer in the group. Intimacy is the big, dumb, loud finale – the songs don’t hit me on an emotional level like “This Modern Love” or “Banquets,” but they’re catchy and rocking. The album even has a few cute/quiet numbers, like “Biko” and “Signs.” It’s not great, but it’s a decent swan song (I refuse to acknowledge final single “One More Chance,” a piano-laden throwback club song that’s just embarrassing). Frontman Kele Okereke recently dropped a solo album, but I’m not buying. Bloc Party was great for a while and I have some fond memories, but the dream is over.
Verdict: Keep most of it. Weekend in the City is too douchebaggy to hold on to, and I’ve opted to sell off some of my singles. I cherish B-sides like “Always New Depths,” but those remix singles can go.
Blondie was a little bit more palatable than the other original ’70s punk bands, perhaps because they transitioned into a broader sound the quickest. Sure, Talking Heads incorporated funk and world music, but Blondie could play punk (“One Way or Another”), disco (“Heart of Glass”), new wave (“Dreaming”), reggae (“Tide is High”), and even rap (“Rapture”). Yet their singles are remarkably cohesive. For all her sex symbol status, frontwoman Debbie Harry had the pipes to back up her appeal.
The Blood Brothers
Improbably, The Blood Brothers spent a few years as a choice group for pretentious hipsters. They dabbled in electronic and surreal lyrics, so I can see why the indie set dug them. Me, I thought they were a good hardcore band with crappy words. But that’s part of the fun. On earlier efforts like This Adultery is Ripe and Burn, Piano Island, Burn, they combined blistering discordance with nonsense lines like “What scarecrows think / will turn your eyeballs pink” and “Like a chorus of boiling lobsters / Ya gotta rescue me!” In a way, they were kind of like a midpoint between At the Drive-In and Mars Volta. I like Piano Island’s aggression quite a bit, but Crimes, my introduction to the band, remains my favorite. The record filters in some interesting funk touches, to great success on “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck.” The group petered out by their last album, Young Machetes, but there’s no shame in that.
Blur is the definitive Britpop band for me. It’s partially because they had the best run of albums. It’s also because, like most Britpop bands, they were obvious about honoring/ripping off their heroes, and Blur had a lot of heroes. They loved The Kinks (“Park Life”), Ride (“She’s So High,” “This is a Low”), The Beatles (“Tender”), and the United States of America (“Song 2”). Granted, I still prefer the first two Oasis albums, but Blur wrote some damn fine songs.
Bonde Do Rolê
Insane metal/funk/baile/rap hybrid band from Brazil. I can only handle small doses of this strange party music. It’s kind of grating, but also weird and fun and goofy. Their closest contemporary would be M.I.A. circa Arular, when she worked with trashy, low tech beats.
NEXT TIME: B is for... New Jersey bands, bands named after other bands, and Bouncing fucking Souls.