Showing posts from September, 2012

Cough Syrup Daydream -- Green Day's Uno!

In issues of the old "Lookout Records! catalog," Larry Livermore, or some earnest shitworker, referred to Pot Valiant's eponymous EP as "what your cough syrup daydreams sound like." With an awful cold, while fighting through my own cough syrup haze, I listened to the new Green Day album for the umpteenth time, wondering just how far the boys from Rodeo had come from their early days on the aforementioned (and sadly gone) pop punk label.

Green Day's new record, Uno!, is much better than expected. Gone is much of the rock star posturing and  topical songwriting that plagued or strengthened their last two rock operas: 2004's American Idiot and 2009's 21st Century Breakdown. Nor is there an overarching conceptual theme, except perhaps an attempt to write fun songs in the tradition of their Lookout! records. Yet, if you are looking for the ubiquitous return to form record, you may need to imbibe in similar large amounts of cough syrup. Perhaps a robotrip…

Camping Vignette

Every year I go camping when the leaves are changing colors. There is a certain mystique involved in packing up the car, making sure I have my tent and all necessary gear. I double check my list for all the "important" necessities: good craft beer, bottles of whiskey, a radio for tunes (if the campsite has electricity), swimming trunks for that balmy fall day, a fully stocked mp3 player (you never know when you might want to hear some powerviolence or garage rock -- not to mention obscure Texas psychedelia), fireworks, books of various kinds (including a handy volume on building shelters out of gathered twigs), just to name a few.

I always meet a small tight-knit group of old friends at the campsite. We will stay up most of the night around the campfire bullshitting, but we will at least entertain the idea of doing more than staring at the fire.Our goal is to find a campground somewhere within comparative driving distance of each of our respective homes, so no one has to d…

The Summer Outdoors

"When you travel south on County Road W, the type of highway that everyone drives like they're racing, you will come around a sharp bend. A sign on the right will announce another resort, but the staunch gray, brick building on the left tells another story. There might be locals in these woods. But, alas, it’s just another hunting shack. If you turn right here and head down Flemings Rapids road, you will reach a bridge. There is good walleye and bass fishing here. Kids wander these woods in the summer looking for the perfect fishing hole. As you look upriver, you will see a roller dam that was built years ago, thick with seaweed when the river is low, barely visible if the river is high." 

Yes, I'm Writing about Lagwagon and NUFAN, and You're Still Singing Along!

Listening to new records is sometimes a thankless job. For everything that rewards repeat listens, there is tons of dross to sift through. Yet every once in awhile, there are records that stick with you. Sometimes they are ignored after first listen; they sit on the shelf for years until you revisit them, blaming yourself for not finding their merits on early listens. Yet certain phrases stick in our ears for years. I remember the lyrics from records on cue, sometimes even after ten years.

As I write, I am listening to the Joey Cape / Tony Sly split, Acoustic, Volume Two. I was a big fan of Sly's No Use for a Name in high school. They were one of those bands that spoke volumes to my teenage self. Songs dealing with alienation and frustration, poppy punk or melodicore bands attracted many of us, pulling us into more "authentic" punk lifestyles. While seemingly candy-coated, these bands had enough authenticity for small town rebels and freethinkers. It was only later that m…

Seasonal Shifts

That time of year is creeping up again. The leaves are starting to change, the wasps are buzzing by windows, and the temperature has yet to drop. Indian summer lays heavy upon us. Like a veil, it keeps our minds on the summer, even as preparations for fall are made. As the days become shorter and the nights become longer, I change my attitude towards music. Often a complete genre shift is necessary. I begin listening to fall records, which tend to be not so different from my rainy day ones -- the tempos slow, the lyrics tend to be more poetic, if not more suggestive. They recall going back to school, good cups of hot cocoa in darkened kitchens, stretching out in the cool grass, bonfires ablaze; these images help us transition to Winter, when we are so often stuck in the house. Whereas Winter, especially January through March, finds me listening to heavier music, fall is perfect for slow and brooding jams. Literate lyrics and story-tellers mark the change of seasons.

Autumnal records …