Monday, June 27, 2011

Edwyn Collins on Daytrotter

And in case you missed it, Daytrotter hosted a session with Edwyn Collins last week. It's not only worth downloading, what with his live acoustic versions of Orange Juice's "Falling and Laughing" and 1994's "A Girl Like You," actually quite good done this way, without the spacey, pseudo-David Bowie quality of the original, but Daytrotter's posted a write-up on him that's really fucking heartbreaking. Their description of his appearance, after a double cerebral hemorrhage that took place six years ago and unfortunately shows in his slurring voice, and in his lyrics for "Losing Sleep," is rather crushing. But they give him the credit he's worth, and in return he gives them a great session. Go snag it!

Download the whole thing here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!

Pierce near the end of his life.

Well, lordy. It's just about what would be Jeffrey Lee Pierce's 53rd birthday, and, as with any brilliant songwriter/bandleader, he's already snuffed it. So, fifteen years after his death, I'm going to celebrate him by posting some of my favorite Gun Club songs from their best records.

The unfortunate thing is that by the time Pierce died, I was only 11 going on 12, and too busy with Bush and Nada Surf to find out that the Gun Club had existed. So, they were an early adulthood discovery. But my first time hearing Fire of Love was a thrill - god, it was exciting to find such a record in existence. Even as an adult, where nothing is forbidden and all the things that seem exciting in childhood become anticlimactic, Fire of Love is a record that, on both first listen and most recent listen, makes me feel like I'm sneaking a listen to something that no one else knows about. It's like the most thrilling secret I could struggle to keep to myself. And when I listen to it in the privacy of home, and share it with no one, I feel like the coolest fucking person on the planet. It's just that good. And it holds up so incredibly well, thirty years in.

The only thing better than discovering Fire of Love, in fact, and this altogether genre of cowpunk that I'd never before placed in a genre, was discovering that 1982's follow-up, Miami, was even better. More cohesive, more mature both musically and a bit lyrically (and, I suppose, the lack of that forbidden "n" word found on Fire of Love, which would be absolutely banned today, made me more comfortable listening to Miami). Not to mention that great version of CCR's "Run Through the Jungle," the only occasion on which I've found success in liking a CCR song. And beyond this record, to find 1987's Mother Juno, and discover that Pierce and his rotating lineup could not only throw down country and blues with an untouchable punk spirit, but that they could also offer a song as unexpectedly lush and delicate as "The Breaking Hands."

The Gun Club became a favorite as soon as I heard them, and they'll probably stay in my top five for a good number of years. I'd be an idiot to idealize Pierce, because the truth of the matter is that he drank himself into a coma and died at 37, and he spent his childhood in places like Montebello and Granada Hills, which aren't exactly glamorous much. But he reminds me of the spirit I recall Los Angeles having in the '80s, something it's lost since, and his music was nothing short of brilliant. So, I'm going to call it a night and say, "Happy Birthday, and thanks for giving me that rare something to get excited about."

If you don't own Fire of Love, Miami, or Mother Juno, you ought to. Go buy them. Fire of Love comes out on vinyl July 5. And for superfans, Early Warning has great versions of their stuff, including a marvelous acoustic version of "Promise Me."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Range Rats!

Hi, all. Been meaning to post a bit about this find for a few months now - lord knows there's more where that came from - and am pleased to have a few spare minutes to spend on it. Having been a fan of Dead Moon for a few years, and Pierced Arrows since catching them on Valentine's Day 2008 with Black Lips (oh, lordy, what a nice time for a hyperlink), it was a treat to discover another project by Fred and Toody Cole, a one-off called Range Rats that appeared to last only for one album's worth of material, and which preceded Dead Moon.

Recorded in 1986, the Range Rats' only record is a low-budget home recording by the couple out of Clackamas, in that vague genre of cowpunk that doesn't seem to get made much anymore (see: Gun Club, Lone Justice, Blood on the Saddle). In fact, it's ridiculously simple: Fred, Toody, and a drum machine. And given such, the record gets a bit repetitive in its faux-nostalgic formula for the old west. It's unlikely that they could have kept this formula up for long, so it's quite lucky that Dead Moon formed shortly after the experiment. But its faux nostalgia found a natural jumping point in Fred's previous band, the Western Front, and it's got some hokey but fun chugga-chugga-choo-choo-style novelty to boast.

Fred Cole's turning 63 later this year, which pegs him at around 38 for the Range Rats recording; while most musicians hit their highest worth in their earliest years and are sorting out day jobs by the time their late 30s roll around, Cole hadn't even begun his time in the bands that would find him at his best known, not to mention that he hadn't yet recorded his best work. This Range Rats record is likely a novelty find strictly for fans of Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows (as might be the case with other, earlier bands of his, like the Lollipop Shoppe), but it's a cheery little adventure that fills a half hour nicely.

For some additional Fred/Toody Cole action:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sweet lord, miracles done gone happened!

Could it be true? The Gris Gris, playing live with King Khan?!

7/11/11 - Empty Bottle (Chicago, IL)
7/15/11 - The Echo (Los Angeles, CA)
7/23/11 - Oakland Metro (Oakland, CA)