[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]
As a liberal leftist P.C. jag-off, I shouldn’t be into Circle Jerks, who wrote deliberately offensive songs. Lyrically, they’re weightless. But the songs just kick so much ass in such little time. It’s a primal thing.
Got-dammit CIV. I first became award of this punk-ish act through my college partner Eric, but didn’t bother picking anything up until their complete discography was reissued as Solid Bond. The first disc, featuring their album and some stray tracks, is amazing. CIV of course features Civ from Gorilla Biscuits, and Set Your Goals is a perfect continuation of that style of positive, propulsive songwriting (AND it features a reunion with GB guitarist Walter Schreifels, who went on to do Quicksand and Rival Schools). Set Your Goals is a classic. Follow-up Thirteen Day Getaway skewed towards radio-friendly pop rock, and it might as well be from another band. Goals felt like a letter to the scene; Getaway is impersonal and meaningless. Goals made me so happy today at work that I actually got pissed off about listening to Getaway afterwards for the sake of this project.
It’s a cliché, but Louis C.K. says what I’m thinking. His latest album, Hilarious, takes aim at the stupid, ungrateful shit Americans do, including our abuse of the English language. His set also packs in plenty of self-loathing and draws humor from his family life, which is something most comics can’t do well while remaining “edgy.” My girlfriend hates it when I say this, but I think C.K. sums up everything I’m going to feel about my children.
Most of my Clash collection is on vinyl, but, much like David Bowie, there are certain albums that I’ve had to double up on. London Calling is their best album overall – it’s the best compromise between punk, reggae, ska and rockabilly. I have the 25th anniversary deluxe edition, which comes with a documentary and a bonus disc dubbed “the Vanilla Tapes.” It’s a collection of demos from the London Calling period. I haven’t listened to it since I picked up the album, and I realized today how much I was missing out. Sure, some of the demos are merely lesser quality versions of songs (“Lost in a Supermarket,” “London Calling” with alternate lyrics), but hearing the group jam out ideas that would eventually became, say, “Guns of Brixton” is stunning/grooving. I picked up Combat Rock specifically so I could listen to “Straight to Hell” whenever I wanted, although “Overpowered by Funk” has strangely worked its way into my heart.
My CD collection is rounded out by Super Black Market Clash, a rarities comp that’s a must-have, and The Singles, which I picked up mere weeks after Joe Strummer died. It’s probably the least essential item in my possession, since I’ve since acquired most of the band’s output on vinyl, but it’s nice having “Tommy Gun” and “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” on tap. I’ve always preferred Strummer’s socio-political anthems and internal rhymes to Mick Jones’ pop tendencies, but listening to this much Clash all at once reminds me how well they worked as a pair. Yeah, “White Man” is one of the best anti-rock rock anthems of all time, but Jones’ backing vocals and lead guitar work sell the song just as much as Strummer’s lyrics about black music co-opted by white imposters.
Verdict: OVERPOWERED BY FUNK!!!
I’ve been on a big Cloak/Dagger kick lately, having recently picked up a couple of seven-inches. Listening to both of the band’s full-lengths today reminded me how much I love their raw brand of Stooges/Black Flag-ish punk. They’re not the most sophisticated songwriters ever, but their songs just rock so thoroughly.
The Cloud Room
The Cloud Room had a semi-hit long ago with “Hey Now Now,” whose video got some rotation on MTV2. The band plays a mainstream-sounding brand of indie rock, or perhaps an indie version of pop rock. Either way, “Hey Now Now” was the standout on their self-titled debut. Unfortunately, the rest of the album just doesn’t live up to that opening salvo, and while The Cloud Room is competent overall, it’s a record I ultimately think I can live without.
Maybe my girlfriend will like it.
Verdict: Give away?
Every so often, a technical hardcore act will grab me. My buddy Scott introduced me to Coalesce via their last album, Ox, and it remains my favorite of their releases. While their older work is brutal and shredding, Ox feels like a culmination of the band’s history, blending in elements of blues and metal for a broader palette. I blasted this stuff at work today and I think I freaked my boss out a little bit.
My fiancé’s family is from Canada. One time, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel in upstate New York for brunch. Her dad drove and, ever the practical man, he chose CB because it was exactly the midpoint between Blue Bell, Pa. and Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. There, I spied the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Music CatalogueTM. I can be somewhat of an impulsive shopper, so I decided not to pick up a greatest hits package from doo-wop/rockabilly group The Coasters, even though I decided in that moment that I needed to have “Charlie Brown” and “Yakety Yak” at my disposal at all times forever. On the drive back from Canada, we of course stopped at good ol’ CB again, and I plunked down $8 American.
The Coasters’ best song is secretly “Hongry.” It’s about being really, really hungry.
Remember when Coldplay was underrated? It happened, in America at least, around the time of their first album, Parachute. It was a decent enough soft rock record, but nothing to freak out over. Then A Rush of Blood to the Head came out and suddenly everyone had an opinion about Coldplay. They still wrote midtempo love songs that were thoroughly alright, but now everyone either A) loved them entirely or B) hated the everliving shite out of them. I enjoyed Coldplay’s music in high school, but I checked out after X&Y. I remember the exact moment I stopped caring too. Newsweek declared the new material to rock hard, and I though, “There’s no way that’s true.” Still, I clung to the early material, and it’s true, the band’s debut EP and first two albums have a couple of strong singles each. For a time, when I was cycling through punk and hardcore, Coldplay was my go-to band when I needed something quiet. Then I discovered Nick Drake, Jesu, My Bloody Valentine, and a slew of other bands that sound really good with the audio dial turned down to a whisper.
My cousin Mike said it best when he said, “Coldplay sucks… but ‘The Scientist’ is a great song.’
NEXT TIME: C is for... contemporary, adult and Chicago rappers.