Drive By-Truckers – Pizza Deliverance

ARTIST: Drive-By Truckers                220px-Pdeliv

TITLE:  Pizza Deliverance

YEAR RELEASED: 1999

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bulldozers and Dirt

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe at shows, but this wasn’t widely released until they hit it big.

LINEUP: Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Rob Malone, Matt Lane. Help from John Neff, Barry Sell, Earl Hicks, and Adam Howell.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After some turnover, the DBT’s second album shows Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley solidifying the sound and story idioms of the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s more rock here in this second effort by the Drive-By Truckers (“Nine Bullets”), but still the band is rooted in the traditional country music vibe using mandolins, banjos, and former member John Neff’s pedal steel guitar. The DBT’s Patterson Hoods; view of the South and the USA from the perspective of the south carries through this album.

Hood’s wry sense of humor is present in “Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)” and other cuts, and his story telling about small yet memorable events is put forward as well with “The Night GG Allin Came to Town”.

Still, this record could have used some editing and trimming. Again, the songs linger perhaps a bridge or verse too long, and that makes some lose interest as the album goes forward.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this album, the marathon DBT’s tours started across the country.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: An improvement as the band moves toward the well-known DBT sound.

 

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Metric – Live It Out

ARTIST: Metric                             220px-Live_it_Out_-_Cover

TITLE:  Live It Out

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #37 Heatseekers, #44 Independent

SINGLES: Poster of a Girl, Monster Hospital (#55 UK), Empty

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here

LINEUP: Emily Haines, James Shaw, Joshua Winstead, Joules Scott-Key

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Straddling new wave, indie rock, and alternative rock, the Canadian band’s second release utilizes the strengths of vocalist Emily Haines and producer / guitarist James Shaw.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Around this time, there was a movement of bands emulating some of the post-punk bands from the UK, and it may be tempting to throw Metric on that pile, but their mix has more to do with the US new wave crossed with grungy guitars than anything else.

Shaw and Haines, also part of Broken Social Scene, move Metric into a unique direction here, with the sound building on their earlier work with more synth work and colorful production. Haines vocals belie her sound. Even though she sings in a high range and can sound delicate, her vocals are powerful and carry a lot of the songs messages through.

This release got them notice outside of Canada, and grew their touring base past Ontario. It’s well worth multiple spins – it holds up.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Haines was born in India, but she grew up in Ontario.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, Germany, and France. 

GRADE: A-: Not really revivalism, but a mix of 80’s and 90’s sounds into something unique.

Blitzen Trapper – Blitzen Trapper

ARTIST: Blitzen Trapper           Blitzen_Trapper_(album)

TITLE:  Blitzen Trapper

YEAR RELEASED: 2003

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Eric Earley, Brian Adrian Koch, Michael Van Pelt, Drew Laughery, Marty Marquis.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a name change, Portland folkie-indie rocker amalgamation releases its first actual record you could find in stores.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out as Garmonbozia, the Portland quintet led by Eric Earley sold music at their shows until 2003, when they set up their own record company, changed their name, and released this debut record.

The songs here are a bit shambolic, ranging from harmonic pop rock songs, to a dirty sounding folk, and everything in between. Earley’s lyrics and song titles (the song titles!) are kind of all over the map, but somehow they blend in well with the overall song.

Blitzen Trapper’s secret weapon is Marty Marquis, a multi-instrumentalist who can contribute anything needed to fill in the sound and keep the listener on their toes. It’s not perfect, as it’s a bit ragged and doesn’t always flow well, but it’s a decent enough introduction to the band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The name of the band was based on Earley’s junior high girlfriend, who had a favorite reindeer (Blitzen) and kept a Trapper Keeper with her drawings of Santa and reindeer on it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, for record store day 

GRADE: B: Not always cohesive, but there’s some really good pieces and parts here.

OutKast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

ARTIST: OutKast

TITLE:  Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik 220px-Outkast-southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #20, #2 R&B

SINGLES: Player’s Ball (#37, #12 R&B, #1 Rap), Southerplayalistcadillacmuzik (#74, #41 R&B, #9 Rap), Git Up Git Out (#109, #59 R&B, #13 Rap)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ain’t No Thang

LINEUP: Andre 3000, Big Boi with Big Gipp, Sleepy Brown, Preston Crump, the Goodie Mob, Marq Jefferson, Craig Love, Mr DJ, Organized Noize, Peaches, T-Mo, Rico Wade, Colin Wolfe, Kenneth Write, Society of Soul, and more

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Southern Hip Hop goes national.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was all East Coast vs. West Coast until OutKast came out of Atlanta and hit the charts. Working around the LaFace Records orbit with TLC and Organized Noize production, OutKast’s debut album broke the dichotomoy of East vs. West.

There’s a mix between East and West, using funk and tongue twisting raps as well as hooks and melody. But there’s also unique sounds and style that later defined the Southern style. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s rhymes and flow are impressive, and the production, samples, and hooks are inventive and infectious.

Lost a bit in the mainstream (white) music press thanks to the East Coast vs. West Coast, OutKasts’ debut showed music a third hip-hop way, the Southern way.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Organized Noize’s production team hit it big with TLC’s debut album before tackling OutKast.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: Even the segues and skits make sense here. A strong hip-hop album, especially for a debut.

The Ruts – You’ve Gotta Get Out of It

ARTIST: The Ruts                         R-378405-1519852396-4830.jpeg

TITLE:  You’ve Gotta Get Out of It

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: In a Rut, Bablyon’s Burning (#7 UK), Something That I Said (#29 UK), Jah Wars, Staring at the Rude Boys (#22 UK), West One (Shine on Me) (#43 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Malcolm Owen, Paul Fox, John Jennings, Dave Ruffy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Compilation featuring singles and the first album from an exciting UK punk band snuffed out too early due to the untimely death of Malcolm Owen.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With their first single (“In a Rut”), the Ruts got noticed by John Peel and others in the industry, and with “Babylon’s Burning”, the UK took notice of the group that combined punk energy with some reggae flashes. 220px-Ruts_-_The_Crack_CD_album_cover

Malcolm Owen wasn’t the most tuneful singer, but his lyrical smarts, passion and energy carried the band far. The band has a lot of versatility, able to play reggae and dub along with standard punk rock, with bassist “Segs” Jennings doing yeoman’s work. It’s a shame that Owen struggled with addiction and health issues, and died of a heroin overdose soon after sessions were completed for their second batch of singles. Ironica220px-Ruts_-_Grin_And_Bear_It_album_coverlly, the b-side of their first single was “H-Eyes”, which Owen told of the effects of heroin use. (“H-Eyes gonna fuck your brain…”)

This compilation contains singles, and their entire first album The Crack, as well as the singles that were compiled in a second record soon after Owen’s death.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band carried on, in a different direction, as The Ruts DC (as in Da Capo –from the beginning)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There is a version with three additional B-sides. 

GRADE: A: Gone too early, the Ruts could have carried the punk / reggae crossover further into the 80’s.

Yuck – Glow and Behold

ARTIST: Yuck                   Glow_Behold

TITLE:  Glow and Behold

YEAR RELEASED: 2013

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Rebirth, Middle Sea, Lose My Breath

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not any

LINEUP: Max Bloom, Mariko Doi, Jonny Rogoff

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second record from the shoe-gaze revivalist disappoints thanks to a lineup change.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Second albums are tough. Second albums after one of the leaders of the band bugs out are tougher. Yuck lost leader Daniel Blumberg right before they prepped the songs for this album, and while Max Bloom and Mariko Doi do adequate jobs on vocals, the songs….well…

There’s not anything horrible about them, but instead of adding something new and fresh to the shoegaze sounds they grew up on, it seems they’re content just to mimic them. They weren’t as edgy, either, so they really did sound like more of a tribute than an energetic successor.

Some tracks, like “Lose My Breath” shine like the old days, but as the record moves on, it become blander and duller, taking the album down with it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Daniel Blumberg went to record his own solo material, which finally saw the light of day this year.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: The first half is decent. The second half puts me to sleep behind a wall of just-so distorted guitars. We don’t need that, really.

Blink 182 – Cheshire Cat

ARTIST: Blink 182                     220px-Blink-182_-_Cheshire_Cat_cover

TITLE:  Cheshire Cat

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #187 UK

SINGLES: M+M’s, Wasting Time

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you wrote the Blink 182 Wikipedia pages, yes.

LINEUP: Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, Scott Raynor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: San Diego punks embrace poppier motifs and run it into the ground.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Blink-182’s fan base in San Diego and related areas were large enough to get some demos released and distributed, and Cargo Records signed them. They wrote some newer tracks and reworked some and released this onto the public.

While this was a few years before they hit the mainstream big-time, the elements were all here. Punk sounds with poppy melodies, and in many cases, puerile and ‘humorous’ lyrics. At times, the tempo is a bit too fast to squeeze in all of the words without rushing over them. The tracks also, after a while, don’t sound unique at all – fast tempo, kinda spoken words about some injustice for teenagers or other, similar chords.

The lyrics wreck a few songs for me – they definitely sound ‘bro’ and firmly rooted in freshman high school boys’ mentality. I exiled a lot of those.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Wikipedia sites for the Blink-182 albums and demos are larger and more detailed than almost every other album Wiki site, and the prose is definitely more fawning over the band, especially for a record that has a lot of puerile throwaways.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Oh, sure, there are some decent pop-punk songs, but man there are some ‘funny’ lyrics that should make anyone over 15 squirm. Plus, the songs all begin to sound alike.

 

Ra Ra Riot – Ra Ra Riot (EP)

ARTIST: Ra Ra Riot                                  220px-RaRaRiot-RaRaRiotEP

TITLE:  Ra Ra Riot

YEAR RELEASED: 2007

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: This was an EP

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Four of the tracks were on their debut album, in different versions.

LINEUP: Milo Bonacci, Wesley Miles, Alexandra Lawn, John Pike, Rebecca Zeller, Mathieu Santos

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A baroque-pop band’s debut EP gains them a record deal.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With a cellist and a violinist, Ra Ra Riot had a unique sound and were polished enough from the beginning to play important gigs at the CMJ and opening for notable alternative acts less than a year after forming.

They recorded this EP soon after their CMJ appearance, and it showed that the embryonic band had a baroque feel and a sense of balance where the strings weren’t overpowering the music, but were a great enhancement.

The issue is that some of the songs are looser and a little raw at times and the listener may tune out after a bit, especially on their longer ones. But it was a good debut and got them signed, and they continued good work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Tragedy struck the band in the summer of 2007, right before the EP was released, as drummer John Pike drowned in a lake,

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B+: A good start, and the EP format for a young band like this helps the band refine its sound and see what works and what doesn’t.

The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One

ARTIST: The Kinks                                                    The_kinks_lola_versus_powerman_album (1)

TITLE:  Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #35

SINGLES: Lola (#9 US, #2 UK), Apeman (#45 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Rats

LINEUP: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory, John Dalton, John Gosling

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Kinks have a commercial comeback on the backs of a single that somehow got airplay due to the subject matter.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ray Davies and the Kinks had released some great albums in the late 60’s, but they lacked hit singles and their career was on the rocks until “Lola”, a single with the most unlikely subject, got them back on the charts.

The album that accompanied the single was a scathing look at the music business from a weary survivor. Davies blasts publishers, the music union, and the media circus around the pop world. After the group is chewed up and spit out, and the song writers got their measly cut, Davies and the Kinks think about nostalgia and a better life while they’re in the grip of the powerful men of the business.

Yet even though the commercial hopes of the band were revived, some of the songs either belabor the point, or are more about making the point than creating an actual song that propels the narrative. At the high points, this is an album worthy of the Kinks albums released from 1966-1969, and skipping a few tracks is OK.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The issue with the BBC wasn’t the transgender lover in “Lola”, but the fact they used a brand name (“Coca Cola”) in the song. That’s why some versions have “Cherry Cola” instead.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A few B-sides and instrumental tracks. 

GRADE: B+: It’s probably a must buy for how the single fits into the story, but it’s got some tracks that are more narrative devices than songs.

Steinski – What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective

ARTIST: Steinski

TITLE:  What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective steinski

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Payoff Mix

LINEUP: Steve Stein (Steinski), Doug DiFranco (Double Dee)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the greatest mixers and samplers in hip-hop has his collection of sample collages and mixes.compiled in one place.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting with a contest entry for Tommy Boy Records (“Lesson 1 – The Payoff Mix”), and continuing through the 90’s and 00’s, Steve “Steinski” Stein (along with his early partner Doug “Double Dee” DiFranco) was the mix and sample master of early hip-hop.

Their first three lessons took the community by storm, even if they were basically uncleared samples, and after the sampling controversy the releases of these Lessons were very hard to find. Steinski kept going, though, creating mixes and mashups that were just as clever as the original mixes, and inspiring so many DJs and producers on what turntables, a record collection, and a studio could go.

The technical wizardry is impressive, and the mixes have a natural flow. For anyone wondering about hip-hop mix and remix culture, here’s one of the pioneers that needs to be checked out. rough mix

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The track that got them their start (“Lesson 1 – The Payoff Mix”) was based around “Play That Beat, Mr. DJ” by G.L.O.B.E and Whiz Kid.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A-: It can be overwhelming, but it’s so stunning and groundbreaking.