[myPod is a biweekly attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod. This installment comes a week early, as Picasso Blue is gonna be on vacation for the first half of August.]
During my senior year of college, I interned with City Paper in Philadelphia for a semester. Most of my writing consisted of brief event summaries, but every so often I got to write something more creatively satisfying. I was also privy to a huge stack of promo CDs that Nate Adams (Science Club/ex-The Percentages) would raid weekly. Most of it was crap, but every so often I’d dig up a treasure like Avail or Envy. At the time, I didn’t quite appreciate Envy’s Abyssal, as I had drifted away from harder music at that point. I started getting into metal after college, though, which led me to the Japanese post-hardcore group’s splits with Thursday and Jesu. Envy bested them both. By 2010’s Recitation, I was hooked on the group’s epic, album-length quiet/loud tension and passion. While I’m unsure about checking out the group’s pre-Abyssal work – they’ve been together almost 20 years – I still love what I’ve heard so far.
In high school, Epoxies’ retro-leaning punk/new wave revival floored me. Plus, they came recommended by Mitch Clem himself. That said, I just realized I haven’t listened to this band in about five years.
One day, The Ergs! will be acknowledged as one of the greatest pop-punk bands of all time, and I’m going to lead the campaign to get them there. While my introduction to the band came via the Ben Kweller and 3 Guys, 12 Eyes EPs, it was Dorkrockcorkrod that solidified my fandom. This band burst with catchy tunes about break-ups and failure. While they only released two proper full-lengths (Dork and Upstairs/Downstairs), their output goes way beyond that, as the rarities collection Hindsigh is 20/20, My Friend attests. And it’s not just me; my fiancée is a fan as well, and she doesn’t even really like pop-punk.
Part of what made The Ergs! great was their musical prowess. The trio obviously had musical interests beyond pop-punk, and their love of jazz and country informed their songwriting. The Ergs! dabbled with different sounds while still maintaining an ooey, gooey pop-punk center. They also played some sweet covers; check out their interpretations of Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Jealousy” and Nirvana’s “Blew” sometime.
I was lucky enough to catch The Ergs! live twice, and both times I raided their merch table for new tunes. Considering their steadily building post-humus discography, I’m still scrambling. Go listen to “Introducing Morrissey” right now.
While their brief existence only yielded a single EP, Error was something of a super group, featuring Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails), Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion), and Guy Picioto (Dillinger Escape Plan). The result was an industrial band somewhere between NIN and Prodigy. For a while in high school, this was the weirdest album in my collection, but I haven’t put this on in a long, long time.
Even in Blackouts
I know the last couple bands discussed are getting sold off simply because I don’t listen to them anymore, and while that’s also true for Even in Blackouts, I’ve decided to hold on to Myths & Imaginary Magicians. This project has forced me to rediscover this acoustic pop-punk act featuring Jughead from Screeching Weasel. The record is just super catchy, and they do great covers of SW and Operation Ivy. Also, I just learned they put out a bunch of albums after Myths, so I might check those out.
Ian MacKaye pretty much gets carte blanche with me, but I, like a lot of MacKaye fans, pretended to like The Evens more than I really did back when they were in full force. The acoustic duo of MacKaye and Amy Farina has some neat tunes, but their tunes kind of blur together after a while. RIYL Nick Drake and Ani DiFranco, but bring back Fugazi, please.
For a while, Everclear chronicled the ups and downs of suburban sprawl (decaying neighborhoods, drugs, divorces) in an alt-rock style that bordered on pop-punk. Then they ran out of stuff to say and settled for cloying covers (“Brown Eyed Girl,” “The Boys are Back in Town”) and vacuous “things used to be better” slights (“Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” “AM Radio”). The band certainly wrote some great tunes, but their song selection is maddeningly uneven to the point that I just don’t know why I own it. There’s some truly great stuff on here (“Strawberry,” “Heroin Girl”) but the majority is overproduced radio rock schlock.
The Extra Lens/The Extra Glenns
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS ARE AMAZING. GO BUY ALL OF THEIR ALBUMS RIGHT NOW. AFTER THAT GO BUY BOTH ALBUMS FROM THE EXTRA LENS. THEY USED TO BE CALLED THE EXTRA GLENNS BUT NOW THEY’RE NOT.
Martial Arts Weekend and Undercard are both pretty good. Not up to TMG’s level, but you get to hear John Darnielle spin some more tales about failure and sex. Highlight: The jazzy piano tune “Memories” from MAW, which boasts the honest come-on “Will you let me see / Your naked body?” for a chorus. Righteous.
NEXT TIME: F is for... far out pop tunes, fast punk bands, and fuggin' Fugazi.