Tags: Boat, Magic Marker
It’s hard to believe that Seattle’s BOAT have just released their fifth album. I can remember like yesterday when Songs That You Might Not Like came out. In the early days, they wrote songs about centipedes, lobsters and donkeys and had tons of confetti and giant bagels coming out of toasters at their shows. It was fun and a little bit silly. As the years have progressed and the band has evolved they have started to mature a little. Don’t let the “M” word scare you off because Boat still know how write a hook and they haven’t lost their odd sense of humor. Album number five, Pretending To Be Brave is a slightly more subtle affair. Well, the sense of humor is subtle, the hooks are still very big and grab you by the collar.
Life themes, life changes, growing older and wiser. God, it sounds so boring, but BOAT take it all on with their sense awe and wonder. They pull you into their obtuse and seemingly weird world and let you see it all swirling around you like you are at the center of the vortex making you realize that weird and obtuse is not just you, not just them, but everyone everyday.
Sharpshooters opens the album and is a heartfelt ode to companionship and approaching lifelong partnerships with optimism of persevering with your partner. The backing vocals courtesy of Shelly Short reinforce the theme of the song and it’s nice to hear a female voice on a BOAT album. There’s also a surprise guest appearance on The Big, the Bright from Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows which solidifies my hunch that BOAT are disciples of the seminal, unsung and unheralded Fellows. Interstellar Helen Keller may be my favorite song on the album, rivaling Forever In Armitron as my favorite BOAT song. it has more vocals from Short and some excellent guitar leads from Josh Goodman. Goodman has emerged as their secret weapon. His leads are amazing throughout the album and really put the exclamation mark on Cranes melodies.
BOAT have this ability to bring the everyday into their songs and make anthems out of them. They have been called twee, emo, and powerpop. We’re all aching to make sense of it all . Even the metal guy has a little bit of twee in him, though he probably would never admit it. BOAT are growing up and taking you with them.
You can buy BOAT’s new album Pretend to be Brave from Magic Marker.
If you are in Seattle, BOAT play the Columbia Theatre this Friday, March 29th.
stream: BOAT – Interstellar Helen Keller
stream: BOAT – Sharpshooters
Tags: Boat, Charles Leo Gebhardt IV, Craft Spells, Cute Lepers, Emuul, Gold Leaves, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Seapony, Webelos, Witch Gardens
I took a year off from doing a favorite Seattle records list due to lazyitis (sorry Seattle). Here’s my top ten records from my fair city for 2011 (sorry Seattle).
1. Seapony – Go With Me (Hardly Art)
Twee is alive and well in Seattle. Seapony kind of came out of nowhere late last year. They put their debut album out on local label Hardly Art, played countless shows around town and generally put the Northwest back on the map when it comes to indiepop.
2. Charles Leo Gebhardt IV – Begin Again (GGNZLA)
Leo Gebhardt plays guitar in a few Seattle bands, but it’s his solo stuff that really shines. Begin Again was his second release for the enigmatic Seattle label GGNZLA. Begin Again is full of rollicking and playful, Kinks inspired narratives.
mp3: Chapel of Roses
3. BOAT – Dress Like Your Idols (Magic Marker)
BOAT keep delivering hook laden albums sparked with humor and conviction. Like the Young Fresh Fellows before them, these industrious fellows create unforgettable pop right under the city’s collective noses. Dress Like You Idols contains some of the band’s best songs yet.
mp3: Forever in Armitron
4. Cute Lepers – Adveture Time (1-2-3-4 Go!)
Adventure Time is Cute Lepers’ third (and best) album. It’s full of glammy punk rock similar to the Rezillos. Songs full of high fructose corn syrup, actually, no they’re probably full of maple sugar, because they’re sweet and good for you. Hell, just eat them out of the box with a spoon.
5. Emuul – The Drawing of the Line (Digitalis)
This record kind of popped up on my radar from nowhere, or maybe it condensed from a passing cloud. Emuul is the latest moniker of Kyle Iman and The Drawing of the Line is hypnotic music that will put you in a dreamlike state. Don’t let that fool you, there are pop songs under the gauze of this instrumental electronica.
6. Webelos – Shadow Seasons (self-released)
Shadow Seasons sounds like it could have come out on Teen Beat back in the early 90′s. It’s a quirky little fellow with propulsive bass driven songs. Think Unrest, Eggs and the Monochrom Set.
mp3: If You Choose To Stay
7. Craft Spells – Idle Labor (Captured Tracks)
This record was made in a bedroom in Stockton, California, but by the time it came out Justin Vallesteros had relocated Craft Spells to Seattle. Idle Labor is heavily influenced by the romantic synthpop of the 80′s. Bouncy, longing pop songs that could make you forget what year it was.
mp3: After the Moment
8. Witch Gardens – Alice, Agatha, Branch, & Christ (self-released)
If ever there was a band meant to be on K records, Witch Gardens is it. This is pure ramshackle pop fun by a band seemingly making it up as they go. I love what they’ve come up with so far which is primarily this cassette.
mp3: Softball Chick
9. Gold Leaves – The Ornament (Hardly Art)
I loved Arthur & You’s In Camera. Sadly, that band seems to be no more, but Grant Olson of the duo returned as Gold Leaves this year and it kind of picks up where Arthur & Yu left off. The Ornament is rich and velvety bringing to mind the cinematic records of Lee Hazelwood.
mp3: The Ornament
10. Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground – Introducing (Suburban Home)
Even living in Seattle, you might not have heard about the second album from Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground. Maybe it was the odd choice of a title for album number two. Whatever the case, there was little pomp around its release especially compared to the first one, and I’ve yet to see it in a record store in town. Too bad, because it’s nearly as good as their debut and goes to the same tin pan alley, psychedelia, kaleidoscopic pop well.
mp3: Oh Lord, I Hate You California
Pony Time – Pony Time (Per Se) | Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop) | Night Beats -Night Beats (Trouble In Mind) | Erik Blood - Music From the Film Center of Gravity (Self-Released) | Consignment – New Low (GGNZLA) | Telekinesis – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge) | Green Pajamas – Green Pajama Country (Green Monkey)
Tags: Afternoon Naps, Art Museums, Basemint, Bleached, Boat, Dunes, Electricity In Our Homes, Monnone Alone, The Mantles, Trailer Trash Tracys
The 7-inch single has been around since 1949. That’s 62 years and counting! In my humble opinion the 7-inch single is still the essence, pinnacle and acme of pop perfection. Optimally, it’s one song, one side (Some try to squeeze on more). That’s no room for screwing up. You always hear that releasing a 7-inch is a money losing proposition, but that thankfully, doesn’t keep pop geeks from doing it. In honor of true blue pop geek vinyl junkies out there, here is the second installment of the annual Finest Kiss top 40 7-inch singles countdown.
21. Basemint – No Retro (K)
A huge sounding garage stomp from the depths of a damp Tacoma, Washington basemint, I mean basement. I bet the Sonics probably use to practice in the same depths.
mp3: Basemint – No Retro
22. Electricity In Our Homes – Aching, Breaking, Shaking For You (OGenesis)
Fractured and angular pop that is stripped down to the bone. Aching rattles you with its off kilter and quivering chorus like the singer has been hit in the gut and kicked in the head.
mp3: Electricity In Our Homes – Aching, Breaking, Shaking For You
23. Art Museums – S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G (dulc-i-tone)
The Art Museums broke up this year but left us with two great singles to remember them by. The song S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G has been hanging around the internet for over a year, but things always sound better when they spin at 45 RPM. This song should be on repeat while you wait in the return line, “It’s too late to change your mind, so be happy with what you find.” It would be at my store.
mp3: Art Museums – S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G
24. BOAT – (I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong (Magic Marker)
BOAT write hooks as big as King Kong. ‘Nuff said! They also know that the single version of a song should be slightly different than the album version. Here, you get a slightly longer King Kong sample. It’s the little things. You know?
mp3: BOAT - (I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong
25. Bleached – Searching Through the Past (Suicide Squeeze)
Bleached are sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin. Jennifer was in Mia Miko, but that doesn’t prepare you for the straight ahead pop that goes for jugular the way the Nerves did 40 years ago. It is very, very difficult to not get this one stuck in your head.
mp3: Bleached – Searching Through the Past
26. Monnone Alone – Pink Earings (Lost & Lonesome)
It was kind of surprising that the first Lucksmith to release a record after their breakup was bassist Mark Mannone. I figured it would Marty or Tali, but when you’re sitting on song like Pink Earings then you gotta go first. Sublimely understated pop that will make you grin.
mp3: Monnone Alone – Pink Earings
27. Afternoon Naps – Summer Gang (HHBTM)
This record get’s best sleeve of the year (The water folds out in 3D). They don’t make them like this anymore and I don’t just mean the sleeve. The Afternoon Naps may be from dreary Cleveland, but they make sunny pop that some might call twee. I just call it good.
mp3: Afternoon Naps – Summer Gang
28. The Mantles – Raspberry Thighs (SDZ)
The Mantles have yet surpassed their amazing song Lily Never Married, but Raspberry Thighs comes close. In fact it probably could be considered Lily’s kid sister of a song, and that is no slight.
mp3: The Mantles – Raspberry Thighs
29. Dunes – Tied Together (Teenage Teardrops)
Another Mika Miko related band, Dunes mine the gothic and ethereal vein of pop that Siouxsie and the Banshees are well known for. Tied Together paints wide swaths and is much, much bigger than the tiny 7-inch that it comes on.
mp3: Dunes – Tied Together
30. Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red (Domino)
This one is kind of a repeat as You Wish You Were Red was the B-side to the Trailer Trash Tracys’ first single Candy Girl which was #40 in the 2009 countdown. No matter, as this is an entirely re-recorded version of that song that keeps the eerie David Lynch parts but smooths out the edges to make it just right.
mp3: Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red
Tags: Boat, Magic Marker, Pickwick
BOAT, Pickwick, Concours D’elegance at the Tractor, Seattle | 25 March 2011
Some bands wear their influences on their sleeves, Seattle’s BOAT choose to put them on the cover of their record. Album number four, just released last week, Dress Like Your Idols contains D. Crane’s renditions of some of the band’s favorite records. Before you even hit play you know where they’re coming from, and that is a slightly odd corner of indie rock nestled up here in the upper left hand corner of the US. A place where a band like Boat can exist with a lack of light, an overabundance of diet coke and lots of pizza. That’s the fuel for the engine, what comes out are slightly idiosyncratic sometimes emotive songs that are immediately catchy and almost always containg big choruses If any band in Seattle could be called the direct descendants of the Young Fresh Fellows Boat are it. Like YFF, Boat nimbly walk the line of humor and emotion in their songs.
On record and live Boat come across as guys having a blast at what they are doing. Enthusiasm and a good time is the rule of the day. On record you can hear their enthusiasm and good nature, live you actually experience it. Friday’s show at the Tractor was their record release party, and a sold out one at that. I’ve been to a lot of Boat shows but I don’t ever remember one selling out. Late Friday afternoon when I heard that the Tractor had sold out, my first thought was: impossible. My second thought after confirming it was: Oh shit I don’t have a ticket. I headed down to the tractor hoping that there would be someone at the door who had an extra ticket. Hanging out in by the door hoping for an extra ticket was beginning to look fruitless when I spotted D. Crane of Boat. Soon thereafter some fortuitous Boat magic occurred, my friend Jonathon and I were temporaily members of a soul band and somehow transported inside the Tractor for the show.
The band had made a banner at the back of the stage that read BOAT: Poppy Slop All-Stars with a big picture of Ringo Starr in the middle of it. Starr along with Pollard, Smith, Reed, Vedder, Moore, Spenser Malkmus and Marsh are the patron saints and the band and Boat delivered a set to make them proud. The new record was on display front and center and as their writing gets better and better I wasn’t disappointed with the focus. They did step back a couple times, once for Greased Hariclip form their first album and another for I’m a Donkey for Your Love from their second. Crane dedicated the short and sweet L-O-V-E to his mom and they hit all of the highlights of the new record including Forever In Armitron, Classically Trained, King Kong and Landlocked. The last one they had to do without the Help of the Long Winters‘ John Roderick who guests on the recorded version. They did get some help from audience members inviting them up for another song.
This being their first ever sold out show, the band were kind of surprised and joke about how it must be because the Police were playing after. There were no cops but Pickwick who opened seem to have quite a following themselves with their Commitments brand of soul. Singer Galen Disston kind of looks like like a spectacled version Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter and a voice that is guaranteed to make women weak in the knees. The folk band turned soul have three singles out to date and the next time they play they probably won’t be opening.
With Dress Like Your Idols Boat continues their move towards higher fidelity that they began on Setting the Paces and the new record contains a batch of their best songs yet. You get the feeling that they are firmly in the lead (after previously setting the paces). It has elements of a concept album starting with Changing of the Guard, and continuing the theme of taking over for their old masters by the records sheer quality. They may not be eclipsing their idols in record sales, but their songs and live show are continuing on a trajectory that for me equals many of their idols.
mp3: BOAT – Forever in Armitron (order Dress Like Your Idols on vinyl or CD)
Set List: Kinda Scared of Love Affairs | Greasedip Hairclip | L-O-V-E | Forever In Armitron | Friends Since 1989 | Bite My Lips | The Name Tossers | (I’m A) Donkey for Your Love | Frank Black Says | We Want It! We Want It! | Classically Trained | Landlocked | Lately | Dress Like Your Idols | King Kong| Encore: Children of the Revolution (T. Rex)
Upcoming BOAT Tour Dates (Look out east coast and Chicago):
4/01 PILAM – PHILADELPHIA, PA
4/02 ROCK SHOP – BROOKLYN, NY
4/03 DANIEL ST. CLUB – MILFORD, CT
4/07 DOUBLE DOOR – CHICAGO, IL
4/09 MERCURY LOUNGE – NEW YORK, NY (Early show)
Tags: Boat, Magic Marker
I have Boat news and bad news. The BOAT news is the band have a new single out on Magic Marker, the bad news is that after landing in Federal Way, King Kong is in Seattle. He just busted down Denny, and has now climbed to the top the Space Needle. He’s plucked a Kenmore Air sea plane from the sky and is wreaking general havoc at the Seattle Center. Where’s Fay Wray? Why does Kong look like he’s bigger than the Space Needle? Which version of King Kong is this exactly? Obviously it’s a “B” movie version, Plan 9 from Outer Space style. I think I see a zipper under Kong’s arm.
Ok, I’ll cut the monkey talk. The new BOAT single is called (I’ll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong and is available on glorious red, black, and white 7-inch vinyl. It’s obviously their “A” list material and is a taster from their upcoming fourth album Dress Like Your Idols. You can order up the single now from Magic Marker and put a reminder in your smart phone to buy the album on March 22nd.
Tags: Boat, Close Lobsters, Jigsaw, Math and Physics Club
Seattleites have been blessed with quite a lot of good record stores, and most of them thankfully are still in business. Our luck in having so many outlets in the city to spend money on records may be tenuous at best, but as they say carpe diem. That is exactly what Chris Mac has done by starting up a new record store / mail order. The store is called Jigsaw Records, and is due to open it’s doors here in Seattle this Saturday. As I said, Seattle has more than its fair share of record stores, but up to now it did not have one that focuses on indiepop. Jigsaw promises to do just that. The store will sell records from small to tiny labels from around the globe, and it promises to be all things “indiepop, power pop, indie rock, lo-fi pop, twee, and pretty much any other kind of fun pop music that we fancy”. So, if you’re looking for a pop record from Europa, Peru, the Philippines, or Swaziland, Jigsaw is the new place to stop on your treasure hunt . Not sure if there are any indiepop bands in Swaziland, but if there are I bet you’ll be able to pick up their 7″ single at Jigsaw.
The store opens this Saturday morning at 11am, with the grand opening festivities starting 7pm that night with Math & Physics Club making their return (has it really been two years since they last played) and D. Crane from BOAT playing. The store is located in Ballard in the upstairs part of Resolution Audio and Video at 5459 Leary Ave NW, probably right next to Dissonant Plane another record store in the same space that specializes in drone, noise and death metal. So while you’re filling up on sugar coated pop, you can also get your allowance of death metal all in the same stop. Talk about convenience.
mp3: Close Lobsters – In Spite of These Times (from Foxheads Stalk This Land)
If you’re interested to read more about the state of Seattle record stores, the Stranger interviews a handful of the city’s proprietors for an article in this week’s issue. One of the questions they ask the group is would you open a record store now? The article doesn’t talk about Jigsaw, but it would have been interesting to get the perspective someone doing just that.
Tags: Boat, Charles Leo Gebhardt IV, Dutchess & the Duke, Erik Blood, Intelligence, Naomi Punk, Nightgowns, Tea Cozies, The Purrs, Visqueen
Something that has never happened in my life happened this year. I have never lived anywhere where I can honestly say that my top three favorite records of the year came out of the city in which I reside. It’s been an honor, and a delight to live in Seattle this year because I have had the opportunity to see the Intelligence, BOAT and Erik Blood more times than I can count. Usually, if you’re lucky you might get one chance to see your favorite band come through your town for a gig. I have had that opportunity time after time and have tried to take advantage as many times as possible. Every one of those shows was blast, and as good, if not better than their respective records.
There were so many good records that were put out by bands from the Pacific Northwest that it really was an embarrassment of riches. It was tough narrowing this list down to ten, and any of the the honorable mentions at the end of the list were likely on this list at some point during the year. So thanks Seattle and thanks to all these records for making this year pretty darn amazing.
1. Intelligence – Fake Surfers (In the Red)
Smart guy Lars Finberg must be a tortured soul. He can write as good a song as anybody else, but he likes to sabotage his creations with strangeness. Listening to an Intelligence record, you immediately realize all is not right, and that is exactly what makes this band and this album so great. The record is packed with weird sounds, weird songs and inside jokes. That’s probably not a good way to describe my favorite record of the year, but you’ve got to work a little to enjoy it. The Intelligence don’t make records for people who like the obvious. Fake Surfers has just enough of the obvious to draw you in, but it was the strangeness of it that kept me in. A good example of this is the song Warm Tranfers, which sounds like a drunk Dean Martin singing while tied down a couple leagues somewhere in Lake Union. Besides releasing Fake Surfers, this year we got two albums from the Intelligence. I know dyed in the wool lo-fi purists preferred the other album Crepuscule Avec Pacman, which was essentially Finberg by himself at his claustrophobic best, but I thought the wider, more spacious and thought out Fake Surfers was a huge leap forward for the band.
2. BOAT – Setting the Paces (Magic Marker)
Of BOAT’s three albums Setting the Paces is the funnest. It’s like super-sized BOAT containing the same ingredients of the first two records, but just more of it. Add in better songs and better production and you’ve got busting out of their underachiever cocoon. They’re still singing about seemingly strange things like Giant Centipedes, tractor beams, drinking diet cola and sleeping in pajamas that are too small, but the songs and production are so much improved that the record just pops out of your stereo. The choruses are so big and undeniable, I’ve found myself in the car by myself belting them out. Setting the Paces is BOAT, no longer content with the underachiever moniker, laying all out, going for it, and totally succeeding.
3. Erik Blood – The Way We Live (Self-released)
This was nearly my number one for last year, but since it was not officially released until this year I sat on it. The Way We Live definitely has staying power, it has been in constant rotation around here all year and nothing on it has gotten old. Erik Blood was in the Turn-Ons who seem to be on an indefinite hiatus. He always contributed a song or two to each Turn-Ons album, but nothing that really prepared me for this tour de force. Blood is obviously is a fan of a lot of the shoegaze bands that were all the rage in the early 90′s, but he seems to effortlessly add a touch of soul to his songs that put them on some other plane. The final song on the record does something I have never heard before, combining shoegaze with soul into to something that sounds so natural and right. It’s an amazing song and leaves me with shivers up my spine every time I hear it. When was the last time a record did that to you?
4. Charles Leo Gebhardt IV – Unfaithful (GGNZLA)
Charles Leo Gebhardt plays in the Unnatural Helpers, Idle Times and probably a few other bands I don’t know about. He also has a solo gig and Unfaithful was the first fruits of that endeavor. It’s only five songs but every one of them is so good that he makes an impression in a very short amount of time. Unfaithful is pretty straightforward minimalist, low key guitar pop, but the songs have an antique feel to them in a similar vein of Girls that will make you swear you’ve heard them somewhere before.
mp3: King of the Mountain
5. Tea Cozies – Hot Probs (So Hard)
The Tea Cozies are a Seattle band with UK pop sensibilities. The pop charms of Kenickie, Sleeper and Elastica are not lost on this lot. Hot Probs comes smoking out the gate with songs that will have you checking to see where the heck this record was made. Oh, Erik Blood is producing. Heard of him. For a name that is so cute sounding, the Tea Cozies have attitude in spades and the songs to back it up. These ladies (and one guy) rock!
mp3: Like Luca Brasi
6. Visqueen – Message to Garcia (Local 638)
Speaking of Girls that rock, Rachel Flotard is pretty much synonymous with the term. She has had her band Visqueen boxed away in bubble wrap for the last few years while she took care of her ailing father. The bubble wrap is off and Visqueen are back with an album that doesn’t take it’s foot off the accelerator. Even the songs with violin, cello and horns rock like nobody’s business. Back in the 70′s girls screamed for Robin Zander and Cheap Trick. Here in Seattle in the 00′s boys are screaming for Rachel Flotard and Visqueen, or at least they should be.
mp3: Hand Me Down
7. Nightgowns – Sing Something (Self-released)
The Nightgowns who were formerly known as the Elephants sound like they could be on Morr, the German label known for dreamy, electronic pop that you can kind of dance too. Sing Something is chock full of songs that have buzzing, humming, blipping and squelching synthesizers over top of them. More importantly it contains some excellent pop songs done in damp, grey, melodramatic, maudlin fashion. Sing Something will keep you on your toes throughout with it’s slightly sad and slightly punchy songs.
8. Purrs – Amused Confused and More Bad News (Self-released)
I like to think of the Purr’s as Seattle’s resident spaced-out cowboys. Their songs sound part gunslinger blues and part spacey guitar jams. The twin effects-laden guitar attack topped off with Jima’s cool disaffected voice make everything the Purrs do sound drop dead cool. Amused Confused and More Bad News was less immediate than their previous outings, revealing it’s charms only after repeated listens, but in the end it was just as worthy.
mp3: Fear of Flying
9. Dutchess & the Duke – Sunset/Sunrise (Hardly Art)
This record was kind of like the Purrs record for me. It wasn’t as immediate as their first album, but after repeated listens the onion started to peel. Where She’s the Dutchess took a punk attitude to 60′s folk and re-formed it into something familiar yet foreign, Sunset/Sunrise continues along that trajectory, but delves deeper, embracing it without irony. The songs are slower, but no less engaging, they just take a little longer to get to know. Many bands are mining the 60′s motherload for inspiration, or just plane ripping it off, but the Dutchess and the Duke have taken that same inspiration, run with it, and turned it into something uniquely their own.
10. Naomi Punk – S/T (Self-Released)
Mysterious band, mysterious record. Full of Oh Sees style riffs, but slowed down which gives them a slightly euphoric feel. This is truly blissed out cave stomp rock and roll. Back in the 60′s every Pacific Northwest garage band that was worth its salt did a version of Louie Louie. I would love to hear Naomi Punk’s version. It would likely be slowed way down, like listening to a 45 at 33 rpm. The vocals would be buried so low in the song that you would barely be able to make out the melody and it would sound so huge that it would make your eardrums burst.
Other Seattle/PNW records that got a lot of my attention this year:
Black Whales – Origins | Desolation Wilderness – New Universe | Eat Skull – Wild and Inside | Grand Archives – Keep In Mind Frankenstein | Green Pajamas – Poison In The Russian Room | Hotels – Where Hearts Go Broke | Intelligence – Crepuscule Avec Pacman | Karl Blau – Zebra | Ragedy Anns – ST | Say Hi – Oohs & Aahs | Scraps – ST | Sea Navy – Memory Matches | Spits – IV | Young Fresh Fellows – I Think This Is
Tags: A Frames, Aislers Set, American Analog Set, Animals That Swim, Blumfeld, Boat, Broadcast, Cornelius, Electrelane, Gentleman Jesse, Go-betweens, Goldfrapp, Graham Coxon, hollAnd, Human Television, Intelligence, It's Jo and Danny, Katerine, Kelley Stoltz, Moose, Pants Yell!, Pelle Carlberg, Radio Dept., Rough Bunnies, The Fall, The Tyde, Tom Vek
I was going to do a list of my favorite records of the 00′s, but as I was getting my list together I started to realize it was kind of boring. Really, how many music blogs do you need to tell you the same thing? That’s when I began thinking about the records that came out over last 10 years that I thought were criminally ignored, or just didn’t seem to get a fair shake. So what I’ve got for you is a list of my most underrated albums of the decade. Every one of these records shoulda been a hit, but because the world is a cruel, cruel place they never were.
Putting this list together was a lot of fun, because it allowed me to make amends for some records that I missed the year they came out. There is not a year that goes by that I don’t discover my favorite album from the previous year in March of the next year. And so it goes….you’ll find a lot albums on this list that never made one of my year end lists from the past ten years. I can assure you though, that everyone of these would make my top 100 albums of the aughts. I just thought focusing on the underdogs would be a little more interesting than seeing some list with the same records as every other list out there. Hope that I have half-succeeded. Oh, and yeah, I know that the decade is officially over at the end of 2010, but I start counting at zero.
It’s Jo and Danny – Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy (2000: Double Snazzy)
This was one of those buys where I was in a record store flipping through CD’s and saw a cover that caught my eye. I remember opening it up and seeing that Dan Treacy of Television Personalities had written the liner notes and thinking, that it’s got to be good. Unheard, I bought this at some overpriced record shop in Paris (I’m so cosmopolitan) and it soon thereafter became my favorite record for months on end. It’s got elements of Mazzy Star and shoegaze, but seems to carve out it’s own space making it kind of unclassifiable and kinda special. They would put out three more albums in the decade, but none came as close to perfection as Lank Haired Girl. To this day, I have no idea which one is Jo and which one is Danny.
The Fall – The Unutterable (2000: Eagle)
It’s just like Mark E Smith to come back from near disaster with an amazing album. After being arrested for assault of his then girlfriend Julia Nagel in New York and having his long time band quit on him Smith returned with an entire new band and the Unutterable. He’d done it before, releasing Extricate after Brix left him, so there is some sort of precedence. It’s amazing how the Fall can still sound vital some 30 years into it, but they do, and this is example number one for the aughts (see also Heads Roll and Country on the Click).
Moose – High Ball Me (2000: Le Grand Magistery)
Moose never officially broke up, so I still hold out hope. High Ball Me was their fourth and last album. All three previous records were criminally ignored, so why should this one be any different. The perennial underdogs, Moose made such great albums to the delight of those lucky enough to hear them. High Ball Me is no different except that this one got released not only in the UK but in the US, a first for the band. There was no slide in quality on High Ball Me. Incorporating Nilson, Buckly, Hazlewood and House of Love into an intricate wall of sound that Phil Spector would envy. It’s downright lush!
Broadcast - The Noise Made By People (2000: Warp)
Before Broadcast became a laptop band, they were actually a real band and The Noise Made By People was the culmination of their autumnal space-age pop. It had an icy cold and unfeeling demeanor like Nico, but there was a glow to it like the Mamas and the Papas and a fiery intensity like Jefferson Airplane. You get the picture, it has a definite 60′s feel to it, but it has it without sounding too derivative. I remember seeing them at the Knitting Factory in LA for their tour to promote the album, and Broadcast as a full band in a live setting so greatly surpassed what they had put down on tape. Trish Keenan’s voice, the retro light show, the noise created by the keyboards, but mostly the guitars filled the room with a hazy shade of winter. Take note chillwave/laptop groups, you need a band, otherwise it’s just watching a guy clicking a mouse.
Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain (2000: Mute)
Some of the sounds on Goldfrapp’s debut album are otherworldly. It’s all strings and computers, but it sounds like it came from outer space. Outer space circa circa 1960, something akin to Peter Thomas’s soundtrack to Raumpatrouille. Alisson Goldfrapp looks like she could have been a Bond girl and has a voice to match. Before making Felt Mountain with Will Gregory, she had appeared on albums by Tricky and Orbital, so this record and its cinematic trip hop didn’t come out of nowhere, but the yodeling kind of did.
The Aislers Set – The Last Match (2000: Slumberland)
You know what I do with this album? I probably shouldn’t say this, but I only listen to the Amy Linton songs. No offense to Wyatt Cusak (he sings 3 of the 14 songs on the album), but I’m a sucker for that girl group sound augmented with a big wall of guitars and that is what Linton specializes in. The Aislers Set are kind of the Rosetta Stone of Slumberland, the linchpin of the label that links the seminal Black Tambourine to the current crop of bands like Lichtenstein, Brilliant Colors, Grass Widow, and Frankie Rose. If there was a song that came out in the year 2000 that is better than the lead off track The Way To Market Station, I have yet to hear it.
Animals That Swim – Happiness From a Distant Star (2001: Snowstorm)
Admittedly Happiness from a Distant Star is not the best Animals that Swim album, that honor would got to I was the King, I Really Was the King, but Animals that Swim are so good that their third best album (they only made three) is better than anything someone like Sufijan Stevens could ever, ever come up with in his wildest dreams. Singer Hank Stars is like the UK version of Silver Jews’ Dave Berman. He paints vivid pictures of the down on their luck and downtrodden characters and does it with such an eye for melody and melancholy that you find yourself swept up in stories about Uncle Mackie, aliens and letter writing.
The American Analog Set - Know By Heart (2001: Tigersyle)
Up until Know By Heart, American Analog Set were background music to me, but with this record they seemed to grow some teeth and develop a pulse. It’s still mellow, but there is a welcome tension to their songs. The band create a hypnotic swirling sound that is so crisp and clean you could eat off of it. Although the playing is at the forefront (the drumming is lovely), front guy Andrew Kenny comes to bat with some really strong pop songs. The Postman is pretty unforgettable and Aaron & Maria is the poppiest thing that AmAnSet have ever laid to tape.
The Tyde – Once (2001: Orange Sky)
Back in 2001 I wrote that the Tyde answer the question: What if Felt were from Southern California? Darren Rademaker is an obvious fan that Birmingham, UK band, but you can also tell he knows his local history, showing an appreciation of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. When this record came out in 2001 I was living down in San Diego, the perfect place to hear it. Once was meant for the beach, surfing, getting good and high and eating at Swami’s Natural Food Cafe on a sunny Encinitas day.
Cornelius - Point (2002: Matador)
Japanese pop alchemist Cornelius is a master of precision and layering on texture after texture onto the frame of a pop song. A song might start with a water drop, become a trickling stream and end up a waterfall. Each part taken by itself seems so basic and simple, but as they layer upon one another the complexity in it all becomes apparent. Cornelius has this uncanny ability to create these engineering marvels and still make them sound vibrant, catchy and exiting. If you ever have the chance to see him live jump at it, you will not regret it. A true master builder at work.
Radio Dept. - Lesser Matters (2003: Shelflife/Labrador)
Lesser Matters has not lost a spec of goodness since I first heard it back in 2003. I never get tired of Johan Duncanson’s sleepy singing over top of the band’s over-modulated drums and feedback tinged guitars. I hesitate to call it Swedish shoegaze, but they do seem to worship at the alter of the Mary Chain, albeit with synthesizers and cheap drum machines. Later on in the decade Sophia Copula would put their music into movies and they would become somewhat more well known, but the band still seem to be a secret.
A Frames – 2 (2003: S-S Records)
Any one of the A-Frames records could be on this list. The Seattle goth-punks birthed three albums in the early aughts and every single one of them was worthy. Their paranoid, doom-laden, angular take on punk rock comes off as it was made in A Brave New World. Everything is sterile, there is no emotion, and the skies are gray with nuclear fall-0ut. Their second album, intuitively titled 2 has just enough pop juxtaposed with dread to make it a winner. The band would go on to sign with Sub Pop for their third album, before drummer Lars Finberg would leave to concentrate on his other band the Intelligence. The A Frames are what so-Cal punks DI would have been if they lived in the Pacific Northwest deprived of sun, surf and girls. Feel the angst!
Graham Coxon – Happiness in Magazines (2004: EMI)
Blur. Bleh. Blah. Kind of sums up my opinion of Blur as their career progressed. I just kind of lost interest. Blur guitarist Graham Coxon always seemed like he was the conflicted member of the group, not really embracing their super-stardom, keeping his foot in the lo-fi with his solo albums. After he left the band, his records moved away from the feedback drenched jams to became a lot more structured and pop focused and Happiness in Magazines is easily his best record. He drafted Blur producer Stephen Street to twiddle the knobs and he showed up with his grade A songs. There’s the straightforward pop of Spectacular and Freakin Out, but he delves into the blues on Girl Done Gone and is downright funny on Bottom Bunk. I think with Happiness In Magazines Coxon reaches a level of comfortable with who he is and it shows.
Katerine - Robots Après Tout (2005: Rosebud/Barclay)
When this came out, I called it a freak-show in a jewel case. I stand by those words, but I mean them in the best possible way. Just by glancing at the cover you might get the idea that this is not your normal album. Yeah, Katerine is French, so maybe it was cool to walk around in pink silk turtlenecks and women’s underwear back in 2005 somewhere in France, but I kind of doubt it. Philippe Katerine’s records seemed to be getting stranger and stranger and this is the wacked out amazing culmination. I think I like the really over the top songs the best. The club-y strangeness of Borderline, the disco of 100% VIP and the funky Cornelius-like Qu’Est-Ce Qu’Il A Dit ? No matter what shade of strangeness you gravitate to, you will undoubtedly find it on this record and probably end up dancing to it.
Rough Bunnies – Rough Bunnies Saved My Life (2005: Self-released)
Frida and Anna are the Rough Bunnies. They’ve also been The Flame and Inside Riot, but Rough Bunnies is their favorite band. They’re kind of Riot Grrl, they’re kind of Moldy Peaches, but mostly they’re Swedish punks releasing cd-r’s. The songs are immediate and the Bunnies greatest concern seems to be to get it on tape before they forget it. So everything has a ramshackle, but endearing feel to it. The Bunnies are prolific as they are obscure, popping out CD-r’s like, umm rabbits. They nearly signed to Alan McGee’s Poptones and Fine Arts Showcase did an entire album of Rough Bunnies covers. Where do you start? Rough Bunnies Saved My Life might be their best album, and if you like it there’s a treasure trove waiting for you.
Human Television – Look At Who You’re Talking To (2005: Gigantic Music)
Ahh, the jangling 80′s. You know the saying, they don’t make ‘em like they use to. Human Television take it to heart and conjure the ghosts of the Rain Parade, Dumptruck, the Feelies and Let’s Active. They write melancholy sounding songs punctuated by bright chiming and jangling guitars. It’s a tried and true juxtaposition, and Human Television do it so well that they are excused for not bringing something new to the table. Each and every one of these songs will make you shake your head in wonder at how good it is. How good? To paraphrase the album: sunshine on your face, room spinning round your head good.
The Go-Betweens – Oceans Apart (2005: Yep Roc)
2000 marked the release of the first Go-Between album in 12 years, Friends of Rachel Worth, and 2005 marked the release of this, the final Go-Betweens album because of Grant McClennan’s sudden death in 2006. On Oceans Apart, McClennan was ever-present with his classic wistful pop songs as always. He always seemed to be able to reel off perfect pop without even trying and Boundary Rider and Finding You are among his best. But, on Oceans Apart it was Robert Forster that put this record on the map as my favorite Go-Betweens album. His frantic opener Here Comes a City, historical reminiscing rampage of Darlinghurst Nights and beautiful Lavender put this Go-Betweens album in the hallowed company of 16 Lovers Lane.
Tom Vek – We Have Sound (2005: Go-Beat)
I can’t help but think that if this album was released two or three years later it would have been much bigger. Of course I’m usually wrong about things like this, but singles like Nothing But Green Lights and A Little Word In Your Ear mine similar veins as what James Murphy gets called a genius for. Vek was in his early 20′s when he made We Have Sound, writing and playing everything. It was such a stellar debut, and the future looked so bright the guy was wearing shades. That was 2005, oh Tom where have you disappeared to?
Blumfeld – Verbotene Fruchte (2006: Sony/BMG)
The number one album of 2006, well at least here at the Finest Kiss. Obviously the band were nonplussed about the dubious honor, deciding to break up in early 2007. Verboten Fruchte is probably the German band’s most fleshed out record with lots of keyboards and even strings and horns. Like Love circa Forever Changes they’ve thrown off their garage rock roots and blossomed into a more nuanced and textured way of doing things. All of that fancy stuff can’t mask the garage rock origins of the band, it just shows their restlessness, and wanting to stretching out and trying new things. If you’re like me, this record will have you reaching for your German-English dictionary, so you know what exactly you’re singing along to.
Kelley Stoltz - Below the Branches (2006: Sub Pop)
There is one group of people who I know loves this record. Advertisers and marketing dickies have latched onto Below the Branches and won’t let go. You can’t turn on the TV these days without hearing a song from it. Kelley Stoltz can sell other people’s products with his music, but has trouble selling his own records. Below the Branches is chock full of classic pop, one listen and you’ll want to start a marketing company.
Holland – The Paris Hilton Mujahideen (2006: Teenbeat)
Almost coming off like a Guided By Voices record with short songs that are so catchy you can’t believe he only made them a minute and a half long. Shards of guitar crash down on echo-y bass and keyboards as one man band Trevor Kampman croons with an icy disconnectedness. The production is so clear, yet the songs are so jarring and choppy that they literally reach out and grab and shake you. Kampan is jaded, and down about the state of the world. Paris Hilton Mujahideen is good illustration of the world back in 2006. Not much has changed.
BOAT - Songs That You Might Not Like (2006: Magic Marker)
Seattle bands that love power pop and have a sense of humor, may sound like an oxymoron, but BOAT picked up the torch that was passed to them from a rich lineage that includes the Young Fresh Fellows, The President of the United States of America, Harvey Danger and even Mudhoney. Songs That You Might Not Like wasted no time in firing salvo after salvo of funny, sad, heart-on-the-sleeve power pop. How could you not like a bunch of guys that drink too much soda, cruise in minivans, destroy noise rock bands, get called reptile boy, have ninjas sitting on their couch at home, and use skeleton keys? This was their first record, and they would only get better.
Pants Yell! – Alison Statton (2007: Soft Abuse)
At first I was perplexed by Pants Yell! naming their record after the Young Marble Giants singer and not sounding anything like them. Then I thought, I named my blog after a Boo Radleys song and never write about that song or the band. I won’t deny it, Pants Yell! are twee, but it’s twee with melancholy and attitude. They actually sound equal parts Housemartins and Lucksmiths. Singer Andrew Churchman has an instantly memorable voice and this record equals any album from either of those two previously mentioned bands. The only problem with Alison Statton is getting passed the first song More Purple, it’s so damn good you’ll find yourself hitting rewind and never get to the rest of it.
Pelle Carlberg - In a Nutshell (2007: Labrador)
Pelle Carlberg is a clever fellow. He’s got nothing but bad luck, a wonky wheel on his shopping cart, a crap career as a pop singer, and a broken clock. Carlberg got an ace up his sleeve though, his ability to make his mundane life seem so interesting. He’s funny, self-deprecating, has a better command of English than most native speakers, and has a pocket full of pop songs that will make your ears prick up. In a Nutshell was his second solo album after his band Edson broke up and it’s the one where he put all the pieces together to come up with something that people like Morrissey and Billy Bragg have long since stopped making.
mp3: Pelle Carlberg – Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls
mp3: Pelle Carlberg – I Love You, You Imbecile
Electrelane – No Shouts No Calls (2007: Too Pure)
One of the great disappointments of 2007 for me was Electrelane. After making what I would argue is their best album they went and quit. No Shouts No Calls was the Brighton, England band at their most melodic and immediate. The production is raw with the drums nice and in your face, they way Albini made the Wedding Present sound on Seamonsters. The songs contain elements of twee-pop and Kraut-rock combining to form melody driven grooves. They can be gentle and understated like on Cut and Run or lay it all out on songs like Tram 21 and To The East. I hold on to the hope that they really meant it when they said that they were going on indefinite hiatus, and not really actually quitting.
Intelligence – Deuteronomy (2007: In the Red)
Up until Deuteronomy the Intelligence were decidedly lo-fi, but in 2007 the band’s mastermind Lars Finberg decided to turn up the bass and make a record that didn’t sound like the treble button was stuck at 11. There are elements of darkness that his former band the A Frames excelled in, but the genius of Deuternomy is it’s skewed take on pop that he would later take to another level on this year’s Fake Surfers. Intelligence records are like trip into the head of Finberg, and his world is a weird, wild, funny place place. Weird like the Residents, wacked like Brainiac but catchy as Devo.
Gentleman Jesse – Gentleman Jesse (2008: Douchemaster)
Jesse Smith’s likely heros include Nick Lowe, Paul Collins, Elvis Costello and Paul Weller. These names certainly command respect, but the style of power pop that they are so well known for is decidedly out of style these days, and the likely reason that this album got no traction when it came out last year. That’s the only reason I can think of because back in the old days when a record like this came out, it was blasting out of dorm rooms and cars everywhere. Nowadays it’s all about headphone music and records that need to be heard blasting at full volume into the open air suffer.
It’s not really a review, but if you head on over to my Flickr page there are some photos from last night’s BOAT record release show at Neumos with longer than normal captions. Think of it as the new style review. In case you can’t be arsed to click over, just know it was a blast: giant cardboard art, shakers, confetti, Jeff Fell masks and songs from one of the best bands in Seattle. ‘Nuff said.
Tags: Boat, Magic Marker
BOAT who are poised to release their third album Setting the Paces this week are like one of those new and improved products: Now better sounding and with more pop hooks! Not that the old version was inferior by any stretch of the imagination, and not to worry long-time fans, Boat is still Boat. The animal imagery, falsetto choruses, and sincere yet over the top delivery is all still there, only now it sounds so much better. Setting the Paces is like a rush of sugar to the head. The band is now officially a four piece with the addition of J. Long on drums. Long who also works at Two Sticks Studio in Seattle produced the new record and the results are immediate and winning.
When I contacted their fictitious manager H. Fozzleberry about interviewing the band, D. Crane responded graciously accepting my request and suggested we meet face to face. So we sat down in a big red booth at Piecora’s on Capitol Hill, where the band are obviously regulars and the diet coke flows freely. I wanted to find out about the new record so I stole the modus operandi of Lars Finberg and his interviews over at Terminal Boredom and started by going through the new album song by song to get a better idea of the approach the band took in recording their new record. Thanks to D. Crane and J. Long who sat in the booth, ate pizza, drank diet coke, and talked all things Boat.
The official Boat record release party for Setting the Paces is this Thursday (22 October) at Neumo’s. It promises to be quite the production (we talk about it below). They also have a second release gig scheduled for Portland at the Woods on 5 November and some rare east coast dates coming up. Check their MySpace for details.
Friends Since 1989
J Long: One of the first songs done I’d say, for the record. But what do the lyrics allude to?
D. Crane: It’s kind of a secret. It’s about one of the guys in the band, but they don’t know. Josh and I always battle back and forth. We always get in these epic battles.
J: Because they’re brothers in law.
D: Yeah we’re brothers in law. So the song’s kinda about him and battling with him. But we’ve been friends for long time. It’s deep.
J: My favorite Boat song, and a favorite to play at shows for the past year, but it was the last one that got finished for the recording because we had tried it early on in the process and then we ended up re-recording it with all of us, me Mark and Dave playing it together at the studio. Actually, what was really fun during the last piece of recording Dave was doing, he still had to do the middle Lately vocal things and I had I had you do it like a million times. It was funny because my wife was over when we were doing it and she was like, “Wow he really goes for it when he does the vocal takes.” It was really funny going back and listening to some of the vocal tracks solo. They were so hammy but so authentic too.
Toby: That’s kinda like Boat in a nutshell: Hammy but authentic.
D: I’ll take it.
J: that was the one that I really, really liked and people liked at shows. We’d been playing it over a year and half. It was just finally getting to the point that it lived up to the greatness in my head or something, or the greatness of the shows maybe.
D: Yeah, because when it was demo it sounded like a UB40 song. I was singing it like lately, lately kinda weird chorus.
J: Not Rasta.
D: Kinda slightly English white guy reggae.
J: With some bad reverb.
D: Yeah, so it was questionable. Strange that it made it.
Tough Talking the Tulips
D: They all have a bunch of different starting points but…
J: I want to know about the lyric. The line about blocking out the sound, cover your ears maybe you can block out the sound?
D: I think some of them are kind of strung together with the other lyrics, but it’s mostly about um (laughing). These are all about you guys and myself. I guess. But this one again is about uncomfortable dude stuff, a lady leaving town on a guy, heavy stuff.
Waiter arrives with our slices bringing Dave an extra slice on the house. I think they come here a lot.
T: Is this your Wedding Present song?
D: I was not aware that the Wedding Present had song called Interstate 5
J: I remember Chris in my old band had a big I-5 shirt.
T: Gedge was living here when he did Take Fountain.
D: I’d never heard it, and I still haven’t. I would like to. I actually kind of frustrated now, because I wanted to call it something different.
J: The song?
D: Yeah, I wanted to call it Beat Me, Break Me. It would have had a single cover drawing or painting of this guy smoking. It was going to be like he took on this kind of tough oath, but It never really happened.
J: The beat me break me, bound and gag me kind of reminds me of Seal. There was some song on a soundtrack, like Batman Forever?
D: That’s Kiss from a Rose, right? I know that song and If We’re ever gonna survive. Those are the only two Seal Songs I know. Plus he’s married to the lady on Top Model…or Project Runway.
We start off on a tangent about Seal, Project Runway and Heidi Clume and Tyra Banks, whether or not my wife watches Project Runway and the importance of having the rock and roll encyclopedia in the bathroom.
100 Calorie Man
J: My favorite one to record. One of the times I was working (Jackson works at Two Sticks Studio recording studio) we really couldn’t dive into the vocal track, but I had enough time to try something else. Dave always does these interludes that were used pretty heavily on Let’s Drag Our Feet and somewhat on Songs that You Might Not Like, a little bit. So 100 Calorie Man was one that he had had a demo version of. It was cool because, I think Dave turned on the organ, cranked up the beat, and then played to the beat with the guitar amp. It was just very live. That was the song I got to actually do something. I made the little loopy, backwards-y thing, but I think the really cool thing about it is that it’s one little nugget. We finished it in a day, and it’s really satisfying.
D: I think you finished it in a half an hour.
J: It came together quick.
D: I’m not gonna say what it’s about.
J: No, no let’s hear
D: So much of my day is repetitive; waking up at the same time; going through the same routine. So I got on this thing of having the same routine every morning. Instead of breakfast I started eating these 100 calorie snacks. It’s the lamest conception of a song ever. It’s kind of like, getting ready in the bathroom, it would be dark. It’s the horrible time in the morning when you realize you’re just at the beginning of that routine and you still have 90 percent of the routine to go through. You get to that point, you know. I do like my job, but at 3:00 it’s the best time when you’re done.
We Want It! We Want It!
D: I was going to have a band with my wife. She plays the drums. I don’t remember why I was going to have a band with her. It was kind of a period of inactivity maybe?
J: I think maybe it was I was just being too slow.
D: No, no there were a couple months where we didn’t do much last winter and I was trying to force her into doing a band and we made this song. I had this sucky guitar because I get all these crappy guitars. So I played those chords and we made this song, and then I ended up liking it so much that I stole it for Boat. Then she didn’t want to have a band anymore because she felt like the second best.
J: She’s still pissed about us stealing it.
D: Yeah, she’s still pissed.
T: So you guys had a name for the band?
D: It was going to be called Genuine Diamonds. We almost played a show, but we had to cancel it.
The Name Tossers
J: that was one of the last demos we put together. I kind of latched onto it a lot because I thought it sounded very Motown. I was looking for ways to have that sort of vibe on the song. so I think we just tried to throughout the whole process of recording it, we tried to make it sound like not necessarily Motown, but kind of 50′s-esque. That was one we actually played together. Mark’s guitar part with the little whammy bar, I don’t think he had done that before.
D: It sounded like Interstate 8, Modest Mouse guitar part. It was awesome!
T: It sounds like the hit single to me.
D: It was weird, Kurt at Magic Marker, I think he didn’t like that one.
T: It’s got kind of a sound to it that isn’t typical of [what you expect to hear on] Magic Marker.
D: I think he kind of feels that way about the whole album, but he likes it. That’s pretty fun. We just started playing that.
Jeff Fell Dream (Grow Into Your Scene)
D: I can’t believe we’re getting away with the parenthesis
J: That was another interlude.
D: Yeah, It was just thrown together real quick. It’s the first draft lyric, first draft everything. Not that it was a toss-off; we liked it kind of as it was. It was one of those ones, like why try to make it something bigger? Just have it be that. We played with Jeff Fell from Tullycraft for about six months a couple years ago because we didn’t have a drummer, before Jackson joined the band. He just helped us out. He’s the nicest guy. The Tullycraft people are all nice, but he was the most genuine. If I had a big brother, I’d want it to be him. He was just super awesome and we never did anything to thank him. He didn’t really want to join the band necessarily, but we just kind of said goodbye and really didn’t hang out after that and we feel bad. So it’s supposed to be a tribute to him in some way. I don’t even think he’s aware that it exists.
Prince of Tacoma
T: Lyrically this song reminds me of Clogged Castle (from the first record).
D: It’s kind of the same…my dad.
J: Who is the Prince of Tacoma?
T: That’s a good question. I should have asked that.
J: I have a journalism background.
D: Did you take journalism? I didn’t know that.
J: Yeah, that was my major.
D: Yeah, I guess I am [the Prince of Tacoma]. I want my friends to move there.
God Save the Man, Who Isn’t All That Super
T: This is the audience participation song.
D: Yeah, it’s got the shaker part. That was all his (Jackson’s) idea.
J: It was?
D: It was kind of like Last Cans of Paint. It was very much straight strum. Then we played it as a band and thought how we could make it more interesting. So you came up with the idea of some kind of drop out, but it was going to start with the drop out, and then you had this idea to have the second verse be the drop out and have this big shaker participation part.
J: It’s got the faux Who part. What song was it, Genius that had the faux Live at Leeds version?
D: They played stuff, not badly, but a lot rocky-er than the recording.
J: I can’t think of the words to this one.
D: Really? It’s a pretty memorable song.
J: No, it is, but we haven’t played it in a while.
D: It was supposed to be a big rock song with the shaker part. I’m big into whenever we can get the shakers going. It’s really cool the way you recorded it because you did one shaker and then that shaker would stay and then there would be another shaker, and then I think there’s a third, and then a fourth would pop in. From a recording sense it was pretty phenomenal.
J: Thank you.
(do the) Magic Centipede
D: It’s a Pearl Jam reference
T: So it’s not a dance?
D: It was going to be. It was going to be like the Locomotion. Very seriously that was the idea. It was gonna be like the Locomotion. I guess that’s where the “do the” comes from. But then we both were really into Pearl Jam growing up, so it reminds me of Do the Evolution where Eddie Vedder pretends he’s a character singing it. I thought it was their most awesome song because of that. It seemed kind of silly and over the top and so I kind of wanted that song to be over the top too.
J: It sort of compares with Name Tossers because it’s hammy and sounds kind of 50′s. At least that’s what I’d like to think.
D: Like the Rodney Dangerfield ooohs and stuff in Back to School. It really is hammy. You’re right, there’s a ham element, but it’s natural. We shouldn’t be getting away with it. I’m not sure how much longer we will.
J: Our orchestral piece. Z. Duffy thought that it was a diss on Chicago, and I told him I thought it was about you going to work out.
D: I always thing that every album needs some variety of sounds. I don’t know if we achieve that always, but still not everything’s fast or not everything’s loud. That was supposed to be kind of a mellow song. The other thing I think of is that I made it when I use to go to the gym a lot the last couple years. I would just run on the tread mill for a half hour, do the chest press, do maybe 25 sit ups and leave. It’s not the most intense. It’s like the married guy’s work out. We (referring to his wife) both do about the same and then we go somewhere and eat a bunch of food. So I had this Shakey Hands t-shirt that I love and I would always wear it to work out. I would check myself out in the mirror, I didn’t necessarily mean to, but it would just have this little sweat. You could see the shadow of the sweat. Whenever I’m at the gym, I think about is that song.
J: It took eight hours to mix. We did a lot of shaping after the fact with that one. It started as song that Dave and this guy Ricky who plays with us, he’s from Portland.
D: I stayed at his house in Portland and we made up a song together, and that was it. He does the high pitched harmonies.
J: it would be fun to do a mix of that where it’s just Ricky’s overdubs. There’s toy piano, and gloc. They’re independent. They don’t work [separately], but together they’re totally twinkling back and forth
D: He’s got a weird basement full of funky little instruments
T: Is he in a band?
D: He’s was in this band the Galactic Heroes on Magic Marker. I think he longs to be in a band again so we always invite him to play with us. He’s a band nerd guy where he can transpose anything, sing these harmonies.
T: He’s like a utility guy.
D: Yeah, definitely a utility guy. We can just tell him to learn these songs and he totally does. He just shows up!
J: That one had been around a long time. I always thought it’s a great chorus, but where does it go? We’d get to the chorus within 10 seconds. We had to expand it and make it big in the right places
D: I think the ending is almost, I wouldn’t say bad rock, but it just kind of continues
J: Well it’s got J. Goodman’s guitar.
D: So Josh in the band can play the guitar like none of us can, so we kind of let him just pour it all on at the end of the album. In the past I’d always go let’s end with a quiet song, but this time it seemed like let’s go with a crazy ass song. I think it might be my favorite song on the album.
J: That one got the full cocktail, a whole slew of shakers and tambourines.
D: Yeah and it kind of sincerely references China! It’s kinda got corny motivational lyrics.
D: Yeah, it’s corny, but it was intentionally a motivational kind of lyric, maybe not for a generation, but for 30 year olds everywhere. (Laughing) That’s totally not it.
J: A sort of a “you can do it”?
D: Plain as it can be. You can do it song.