For all you Steve Winwood fans, here's a link to a free download of his latest single "I'm Not Drowning" from his new cd Nine Lives.
Hopefully we'll be able to provide more of these in the future.
For all you Steve Winwood fans, here's a link to a free download of his latest single "I'm Not Drowning" from his new cd Nine Lives.
Hopefully we'll be able to provide more of these in the future.
Sometimes you discover a song in the most unlikeliest of places – a figure skating exhibition.
Such was the case for me when I heard “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. It was a #1 hit in the UK for Baz Luhrmann in 1999. Yes, you could cast a vote for it as one of WYEP’s Top 100 Songs of the 90s.
This lyric has quite a history. The Sunscreen Speech goes back to a 1997 column in a Chicago newspaper. A commencement address that never took place, but perhaps should have. The essay actually called "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" was written by Mary Schmich and was popularized in music by Baz Luhrmann. Mr. Luhrmann added the opening words to the song: "Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '99".
The song just recently re-entered the UK Singles Chart.
Lines like this continue to hold true today:
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
I would urge that when thinking of the best songs of the 90's for our current poll that you give a nod to the tragically under-appreciated songwriting talents of Brad Nowell and his group Sublime.
I'm not going to vote on this poll because I would simply be copying the tracklist of 40 oz. To Freedom, or that of Sublime.
I realize that for a thousand artists the 90's were a prolific period. You had your Smashing Pumpkins, your Pearl Jams, your Rage Against the Machines, your Faith No Mores, your REMs, your DMBs, your Black Crowes, your Nirvanas, your Ugly Kid Joes (haha no..... okay, maybe I loved them ), your Flaming Lips, your Portisheads, your Bob Dylans (Time out of Mind), your Eric Claptons ("Tears in Heaven" - hate on that song and we're no longer friends), your Princes (link not entirely related), your White Stripes, and so on all cranking out gems, but looking back, nothing is more "Nineties" to me than Sublime.
I'm sure it has something to do with turning fourteen and all of a sudden hearing a song about a hooker on the radio, but something about their self-titled disc jumped out and grabbed me. I didn't get into Sublime until after Brad Nowell (lead-singer/songwriter/guitarist) passed away from a heroin overdose. Their fame, in fact, skyrocketed with the posthumous release of Sublime just two months after the incident. Hearing "Wrong Way" and "What I Got" naturally led to their back-catalog, two albums that did not disappoint. Instead they opened up a world of other music to me. I grew up on classic rock - the Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. That's all I ever really wanted out of life: some girls, the hammer of the gods, and to not go batcrap crazy but still have my pudding.
From Sublime you get to the Grateful Dead, you get to Bad Brains, you get to Bob Marley. I cannot stress enough how mind-blowing that synthesis of influences was for me. That's like traveling in three different directions at once. And all of it couched in stories of the streets written with a keener eye and quicker rhyme than any of Nowell's contemporaries could offer. Brad Nowell was a musical genius. He infused his music with an all-pervading sprituality and generosity of insight. It's unfortunate that because of his band's skate-punk tendencies they don't get any respect. You have to look past the fact that he was, at times, a dirtball and a junkie to see that Bradley was a journalist and poet and Southern Californian prophet. A definite inspiration.
I would recommend that you give a listen to the following tracks before our poll ends:
Don't Push - 40 oz. to Freedom
Badfish - 40 oz. to Freedom
40 oz. to Freedom - 40 oz. to Freedom
Pool Shark - Robbin' Da Hood
Greatest Hits - Robbin' Da Hood
STP - Robbin' Da Hood
Boss D.J. - Robbin' Da Hood
What I Got - Sublime
April 29th, 1992 - Sublime
Under My Voodoo - Sublime
Santeria - Sublime
Pawnshop - Sublime
You will be glad that you did. You can't leave Sublime out of the 90's equation.
PS - I made a great Sublime mix cd if you're interested in going a little deeper into the band's catalog.
Surgeon General's Warning: There is some explicit language on all of Sublime's records.
Pavement had received alot of critical praise for their release "Slanted and Enchanted" in 1992. It's still a great release, but Pavement would become more focused and sharper with the sophomore release, "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain".
Once again, growing up in the 90's, I remember hearing it first when I saw the video. It was on MTV's "120 Minutes". The video featured the band going into a barber shop and one by one getting their haricut. Crazy things happen as each member steps up. One seems to turn into a gorilla as he sits down, while another starts drinking the blue liquid that the combs are stored in. Someone else sneezes out a kitten, and Stephen Malkmus, the leader of the band, has a crown put on him. It was goofy and fit the band perfectly. The song just makes me feel great every time I hear it to this day. It's just one of those songs that makes you smile.
Pavement put out three more full lengths, and Stephen Malkmus has had a successful solo and fantasy baseball career. It all started for me, though, with this song.
-Andy , Tuesday Evening Mix
The High Places button on my iPod is starting to fail from regular use. High Places are an electronic boy-girl duo from Brooklyn - I know that's fairly well-worn territory, but don't let that set you off. Mary Pearson and Rob Barber experiment with offbeat production techniques, blending layers of tape-saturated tribal glyphs into blankets of sparse, danceable sound. The lyrics are usually fairly innocuous -- apologies to endangered species, love letters to Martians, stories of how cars existed before humans found them.
Where can you hear more? I play High Places regularly on my show (every other Wednesday night / Thursday morning from midnight to 4 a.m.); Thrill Jockey just released a collection of their singles, called 03/07 - 09/07; and they're coming to town -- September 16 at Brillobox. Their full-length album is due out September 23.
Overnight Mix Host
I love the summer edition of the Olympic Games. Granted, it’s lost some of the luster of the Cold War days when you would root for the U.S. team to bury the Commies and curse those evil East German judges for bringing down the scores. Now, the only thing to root against is any event that includes the word “synchronized,” which apparently translates universally to “beer run.” We are indeed one world.
But here we are in Beijing, and the Cold War/Bamboo Curtain days are gone in the Olympics, particularly as it relates to the music blaring during the events. Watching the men’s beach volleyball competition I was struck by the snippets of music that played in the venues after each point. Very Western, to say the least. There was “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet; “Song No. 2” by Blur; “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones. It felt very American, almost like being at a Steelers game minus the annoying “Here We Go.”
It also got me to thinking (and to the alleged point of this post) of how much power the person choosing the music could have on the psyche of the competitors. Imagine the heckling possibilities of Elvis Costello’s “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes,” if after a spiker drills one in the net, he hears “I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused.” Or Beck’s “Loser.” Picture Madness’ Suggs shouting “One Step Beyond” to rattle a gymnast who doesn’t stick the dismount.
Music could also help with the healing process. Billy Bragg could sing, “We’re both going to have to accept that this might be as good as it gets” (from “Rule Nor Reason”). It could implore, thanks to Joe Jackson and “Look Sharp!” And it could remind sprinters of how hard they’ve trained to get to this competition, thanks to the Clash’s “Police on My Back” and its chorus of “been running Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.” And imagine the power of surf music or the soundtrack to those classic NFL Films videos (combined with the voice of John Facenda). World records would fall faster than ice melting on a hot Beijing sidewalk.
Even the more genteel events like the gymnastic floor exercises could get a boost with songs like James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” or Paul Weller’s “You Do Something to Me.” One thing is for certain, though. There isn’t a song on earth that could save any of the synchronized events…although Fear’s “More Beer” might be appropriate.
--Chris Fletcher, Friday Evening Mix Host
We just passed the 25th Anniversary of the release of 'This Year's Model' from Elvis Costello on August 5th and celebrated what would have been Andy Warhol's 80th birthday on Wednesday (August 6th) with some music tributes on-air.
There are quite a few Musical Milestones coming up in the next few months. Here are a few
Sept 7th 15th Anniversary of the release of John Hiatt's 'Perfectly Good Guitar'
Sept 11th 35th Anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's 'The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle'
Sept 25th 40th Anniversary of the release of 'Astral Weeks' by Van Morrison
November is a big month
Nov 3rd is the 30th Anniversary on the Jam's 'All Mod Cons'
Beck, R.E.M., and the Beatles also have some significant anniversaries that I'm sure we'll be touching on with on-air programming.
This is Edwin signing a CD & program for me after the show ....
The Edwin McCain Acoustic Trio is comprised of: Edwin McCain (vocals, guitar) and long time band members Larry Chaney (lead guitar) and Craig Shields (keys, sax).
Greenville, South Carolina’s Edwin McCain came to Greensburg to play his blend of folk, rock and soul for a small, but enthusiastic crowd. In the intimate theater setting, for 90-minutes Mr. McCain told stories and even played some requests. After years with long hair, the 38-year old has cut his hair, donating the locks to charity.
Edwin shined vocally when he held the long notes, which the audience graciously acknowledged each time with applause. With 10 albums to his credit, Edwin ironically could not remember all the lyrics to “Write Me A Song”. Edwin is a wonderful story teller, often adding humor to the history behind a lyric.
It was a relatively laid-back and mellow show, for this artist who made his independent recording debut back in 1991. Edwin of course sang a few of his more memorable hits like “I Could Not Ask For More” and “I’ll Be”. Highlights also included “Gramercy Park Hotel”, “Ghosts of Jackson Square”, “White Crosses”, “Let It Slide” and a very touching song he wrote about being adopted and never having the chance to meet his birth mother “Letter to My Mother”.
For the encore, Edwin did the tune “Let Them In” (Prayer to St. Peter) which was a WW II era poem that John Gorka set to music.
Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Christopher Laughrey opened the show with a 40 minute set of original and Irish tunes.
P.S. Apparently Edwin had a good time in Greensburg - his comments can be found under the On The Bus section of his website (http://www.edwin.com/onthebus.html)
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Good Night, States represents all the best qualities of Pittsburgh. They are innovative but humble, intelligent and hardworking, ambitious and independent. And also like the city of Pittsburgh, the rest of the world has yet to recognize all that they to offer. Recently though, with their debut album Short Films on Self-Control and a string of local shows, they’ve been making the turn from underground secret to source of local pride.
(left to right: Trevor, Megan, Steve, Dan and Joe)
Their music rings in your head for days after listening; it is aggressively melodic and includes influences of Glam, Americana, Rock and Pop. Even the melancholy songs somehow manage to shine.
The band certainly shown bright while opening this past WYEP Summer Music Festival in Schenley Park. I recently broke bread with the local contingent (Singer/Guitarist Steve Gretz and Guitarist Joe Tanner live in New Jersey) and discussed their Internet Singles Series, the reception of their work as a “Pittsburgh” band, and plans for the near future that may or may not include an accordion.
-Dave, host of WYEP Afterhours: Monday
WYEP: Megan said this is your “study hall.” What do you guys usually do during study hall? It seems like a fun idea.
Megan: [laughs] When it’s going well, we’re all working on our various spheres of influence. Trevor is our web guy, and Dan books and I do press and PR. The idea is that we forget to do things unless we keep each other accountable. Every Wednesday night, we do it together.
WYEP: Speaking of the website – the inspiration obviously came from a keyboard, but was there a light bulb moment where you figured it out?
Trevor: That was kind of the keyboard that was the centerpiece for Short Films on Self Control, so we were trying to brainstorm ideas on what the website would look like –
Megan: - I drew it out in the middle of our – I do a lot of doodling when I’m supposed to be paying attention – I doodled it out in a musical staff in one of our books. But then I think we didn’t remember for a long time, and then all of a sudden Tim [who helped set up the website] was like ‘We can do that! I can wing it!’
WYEP: I think it works, and it’s totally in keeping with the sound of the band too.
Dan: It’s where the sound’s coming from.
WYEP: And it’s also where the sound’s going with the Internet Singles Series. What was the idea behind that?
Dan: We were brainstorming about anything we could do that was slightly different than what we had done before. The regular 'creating of a crowd out of nothing' by booking shows in a town where you don’t know anybody, and you don’t know bands, and you don’t know venues, and making a record and trying to sell it at that place – just a grassroots thing – hasn’t seemed to be our way yet. And maybe it will some day, but it seemed like we were in need of newer music because Short Films was released only this January [ed. note - official release date: December 11, 2007), and we recorded it last March, meaning that we were recording it throughout . It’s new music to the public but it’s very old to us. You always have to have the ball rolling, so we wanted to figure out a way to make new music but at the same time not have to do the standard ‘Let’s save up some money, let’s go to a studio. It’s going to take probably nine or twelve months before this is released.’
Trevor: In addition to all that, in all our talking about the band, we wanted music to be the primary thing, not image or not –
Megan: - Or merch! [laughs]
Trevor: We aren’t very good at marketing ourselves, image-wise, so I really think that the music is the primary thing that people will latch onto. So we are trying to build a listenership through the website – to use that as a vehicle to get music to people.
WYEP: You guys do have a really high quantity and quality of electronic interaction with your audience through weblogs, photo albums, Internet Singles Series, Youtube videos. Do you think that’s what you kind of have to do now as a band, or did you grow up knowing you wanted to know more about bands and you saw these things as really good resources [for your fans]?
Trevor: I think the thing that people really grab onto is when they feel they can be a part of something, and that was one of the goals of having a blog-style website and lots of things for people to interact with.
Megan: I guess the more you can know about people you don’t actually know, the more interesting they are. In that sense, I think we are all nerds to the extent that we pore over the websites of bands that we really like.
WYEP: You’ve played out of town – do you get a reaction from other bands when they hear you’re from Pittsburgh?
Trevor: I would say it depends where you are. In Philadelphia, we definitely got the strongest negative reaction – not from bands but from people at the show.
Dan: I think it’s just sentiment. It’s ‘Philly vs. Pittsburgh’ and I think that’s all it is.
Trevor: Yeah, and everyone assumes we’re like huge Steelers fans. That’s the universal thing, I’d say.
Dan: I think at least on the blogs Megan has gotten us written up in recently, people have exclaimed, if [the blogger is] from Pittsburgh, ‘I can’t believe this band is from Pittsburgh!’ And if the [the blogger is] not from Pittsburgh, they’re saying ‘I can’t believe this band is from Pittsburgh!’ So, good no matter which way you slice it. I think people are usually more intrigued by the New Jersey-Pittsburgh difference – ‘Why is it like that? How do you pull it off? You guys are crazy!’ I think that usually illicits some sort of reaction.
Steve was the impetus for moving out [to New Jersey], but all along he’s always chosen to say that we’re from Pittsburgh, and I don’t really know why. To make it seem like we’re not this crazy two-headed beast I guess, telling people we’re from fourteen different locations? And it sounds weird but in the long run of being in a band, the more I realize that lots of other bands don’t live in the same city. Lots of them.
WYEP: The Walkmen, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah –
Dan: - Yeah, Matt Pond PA live all over the East Coast. And of course, insanely huge bands on insanely huge record labels certainly don’t need to all be in the same city. The Damnwells, at one point, were all in Brooklyn and the one guy moved out to L.A. and they continued to be a band. I guess if you find a way to do it you find a way to do it.
WYEP: Going back to what you were saying about the reaction people have – both from Pittsburgh and not Pittsburgh – of being amazed that you guys are from Pittsburgh, do you think it’s a nurturing town for young bands?
Dan: Whew, that’s a question we’ve always wrestled with. I certainly have a ton of people who say to me: ‘You need to be in Austin’ or Nashville or L.A. or New York City. We always ask ourselves that question and we all ask other people we think have an opinion about that, but really, nobody has a good answer.
Trevor: We’ve fallen in with a fairly nurturing bunch of people, in the past year and a half or so.
Trevor: The circle of bands we run in right now is pretty supportive of each other. Even beyond bands, there’s a group of people that sort of surround those bands that is very supportive. It’s very good to be around each other.
WYEP: What are those bands for you? Lohio –
Trevor: Lohio, Briar Fox, Cindy [Howes], Blindsider -
Megan: - Triggers.
Trevor: Yeah. I think there’s a bunch of us that have sort of been around for five years or so, and we sort of know each other.
Megan: I think having a home base is kind of important, but even because [Steve and Joe] live in New Jersey, we have kind of a home base and a half. Steve grew up there – that’s why he’s there now – and he’ll pull from all his family and friends. We can have a sort of small, guaranteed crowd there, and a slightly larger crowd here. I think we’re just hoping that at some point, it will all just congeal.
Trevor: It’s been really interesting to try to transition over from a “friend” fan base to a “people who just like music” fan base. I would say that – and I don’t mean this as any kind of slight to our friends – our friends aren’t the music-lover types. They come out to see us because they’re friends with us.
WYEP: Because you’re you.
Trevor: Yeah, and trying to build the music-lover fan base is a long process.
WYEP: Do you think there’s anything that would make the city better for younger bands?
Trevor: I think the venues, I would say –
Megan: - A mid-sized venue.
Trevor: - Yeah, it’s weird. Club Café is a pretty good size for us.
Megan: It’s hard because if you’re a little larger than the Brillobox but you can’t pack Mr. Small’s, what do you do? I feel like there are enough incredible old buildings around town that surely someone wants sweep in and renovate something and make a mid-sized room.
WYEP: You recently played two shows at Club Café – you played an acoustic set and an electric set and you played an acoustic set opening for Men Women and Children. Obviously that’s a different experience for the listener. Does knowing you have those acoustic sets to play change how you write or prepare songs at all?
Megan: It’s a lot of preparation.
Trevor: I don’t know if we always end up changing parts - sometimes we do – but it definitely takes a lot of effort for us. I don’t just play acoustic bass and Dan plays with brushes and everyone else plays acoustic guitar. We definitely add some – I would say - interesting instruments into it. Like Megan playing accordion this time around; Megan had some synths onstage at the Club Café stage. I’ve played two-octave synth bass for acoustic shows before - quiet, not acoustic. The “Quiet” Show. That’s what it is.
Dan: The alternative set.
Trevor: Right, and I think that since we’re only together on the weekends, there’s a lot of effort that goes into the arrangement and rehearsal. We know the electric songs cold, so we don’t have to rehearse those as much. The effort that goes into acoustic shows is significantly larger.
Dan: We need to stop!
Megan: Yeah, they’re hard.
WYEP: Did you play accordion growing up?
Megan: No… [laughs]
WYEP: I was hoping there were pictures of you –
Megan: Oh that’d be awesome! There’s a photo of me, probably three or four years old with pigtails playing my dad’s trumpet. I’ll have to see if my parents have it.
The accordion was fun for that show, but one song in particular was not well suited to it. But it’s really fun to experiment with different instruments. From things that Steve has said, I think we may be pulling more instruments and more sounds into future songs, into either the next album or an EP or something.
WYEP: Are you working on a second album?
Dan: The plan, at this moment, is we’re taking two months off from the Internet Singles Series releases.
WYEP: Did you record those songs yourselves?
Dan: Yes, Steve engineered them all.
WYEP: Did you play those songs out before you recorded them? Or is the recording process also the songwriting and arranging process?
Dan: They’re being written as they’re being released. We didn’t start any of those songs until the one before it was finished.
Trevor: I find, in general, for my own personal “band” life, it’s so much more helpful to have a recorded version of the song because it just solidifies everything. You’re not goofing around playing different stuff during a live set. You know what you’re playing and it’s much easier to settle into that than try to figure out whether you like this part or don’t like this part.
Megan: I kind of forgot that other bands do it the other way – that they fit into their songs as they’re playing live and then record them.
Trevor: I think that lends itself to a different type of album though. Songs that are written that way are less coherent as a whole. Songs that gelled in a live situation could tend to be more disparate across an album.
But, going back, we’re taking two months off and then in October, November, December we’re releasing internet singles again and then in 2009 we’ll be writing a new album.
WYEP: I look forward to hearing that, and I look forward to seeing you guys at Third Thursday in October. Do you guys have anything up your sleeves? Any pyro? Go-go dancers?
Megan: I hope so… [laughs]
Trevor: I think that was supposed to be a secret. [Dan and Megan laugh]
WYEP: Oh did I blow your cover?
Trevor: We’ll have to come up with a bigger and better idea.
Dan: Dancers holding the pyrotechnics?!?!!
It's usually a very good sign when a concert starts on time.
Acts from Jamaica, the UK and the USA made a tour stop in a steamy shed in Philly. A reggae legend, up-and-coming British singer-songwriter and long time American favorite singer-songwriter combined for a night of great music in the City of Brotherly Love.
Toots & the Maytals hold the current record of number one hit songs in Jamaica, with a total of 31. They took the stage promptly at 7 pm. A 4-piece band with 2-female back-up singers, including Toots’ daughter. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert was dressed in a black and white leather outfit. They played about 35 minutes. Lights behind the stage illuminated the group at first in red, yellow and green and throughout the performance they changed colors. Toots encouraged those in the crowd, still filing into the venue, to participate on almost every song. At 63, you can tell Toots still loves performing reggae music from his home island and was pleased that Sheryl Crow invited them on tour. The energetic set included: “Take Me Home Country Roads” (yes the John Denver song) and “54-46 That’s My Number”.
James Blunt’s 4-piece band looked very Beatles-esque in black suits, white shirts and skinny ties. Even their hair needed to be trimmed. I’ve only seen James Blunt a few times on TV, in videos and on DVD. I expected a mild mannered singer-songwriter who would share his songs in a simple intimate manner. Instead, James came running out, wearing a grey suit with a short-sleeved white shirt underneath, guitar in hand, doing an up-tempo number. The 11 song set was high energy for almost 60-minutes. Touring seems to have helped build-up his confidence. James, at 34, has passion for his music. His face revealing a lot of emotion. Going on before the headliner you sometimes have to win the crowd over. James did that and more. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, during one song he actually ran into the audience to almost the top of the venue and came bounding back to the stage. Of course James did his biggest hit “You’re Beautiful”, with only 2 studio albums to date, he made the most of his catalog of music. At the end of his set, James, along with his band, were on stage facing the crowd which was on their feet applauding. With a camera in hand, James asked us to wave our arms in the air, and took photos of us, perhaps a way for him to remember the evening. That endeared me even more to this English singer-songwriter. While not as well known here across the pond, a few people probably discovered him this evening. I hope we will be hearing and seeing more of James Blunt in the future.
It was actually hard for me to imagine that Sheryl Crow could continue the energy James Blunt created from the stage. Sheryl has a tight, well rehearsed 6-piece band and 2-female back-up singers. She also has a lot of hits to draw from and many years of experience to draw upon. The 46 year-old was dressed in blue jeans with an orange and green trimmed sleeveless cowboy shirt, and cowboy boots. The humidity in the air didn’t seem to bother her, she still looked fresh throughout the 1-1/2 hours on stage. Sheryl weaved her numerous hits with politics, personal reflections / beliefs and even the Summer Olympics while videos and lights were helping to create the different moods. You can visit Sheryl’s tour diary on her website for a set list (http://www.sherylcrow.com/tour/tourdiary.aspx). In general, the song selections favored her latest release “Detours”. From which I think the stand out was “Gasoline”. For the encore, Toots came out to join Sheryl on the Stevie Wonder song “Higher Ground”.
All in all a hot evening of music with three great performances!
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
"Losing My Religion" is simply a great song. I haven't always thought so. I've liked R.E.M. since I was a kid, but I heard this song so much when it came out I couldn't listen to it for a long time. Also, to be honest, people talk about how great the video is, but I could do without it. R.E.M. has had lots of great videos, but in my book, this is not one of them. I would take the video for "Everybody Hurts" or "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" anyday over this one.
Anyway, I purposely didn't listen to this song for quite some time. About 6 or 7 years ago, I was listening to the release it is from, "Out Of Time", and I was going to skip over it but decided to give it a go. Oh, how wrong I had been. I could appreciate it now that there was some distance and time from when it came out. It's one of the best songs R.E.M. has ever written. Easily.
-Andy, Tuesday Evening Mix
From my perspective, one of the best things about meeting new people has always been learning about new music. Growing up, my friends and I always had the common bond of music. We all loved it. Therefore, when I would be introduced to new people through friends, sooner or later that person would usually introduce me to an artist or band I had never heard of. I can pinpoint certain music with certain friends. With Justin, it was Modest Mouse.
I had met Justin in high school. I had noticed Clint, another friend, and Justin making comments for a few weeks about a band named Modest Mouse. It usually involved Clint making jokes about them being awful, and Justin defending them. Apparently, there was a line in one of their songs that mentioned something like, "God Damn / I hope I can pass high school". Clint thought this was awful, and to be honest when saying it out loud without heairng the song it does seem pretty bad. Also, there was supposedly another song about cockroachs that was bad, too.
A bunch of us were at a BBQ one day, when Justin mentioned he had to pick someone up to bring over. I said I would go along for the ride. Well, as Justin and I hopped in his car that day we began talking. He made some sort of comment involving this band Modest Mouse. I said, "Who or what is this Modest Mouse thing? You guys keep talking about it." Justin replied, "You haven't heard the Mouse?! Oh wow, you gotta hear it. This... this is good." Now please realize, looking back Justin was probably talking this up in hopes he could get me to agree with him about their quality, and therefore, have someone to back him when Clint made jokes. However, at the time I wasn't thinking about this. I was just intrigued. So then Justin put on a mix tape he had in the car, and found a Modest Mouse song on it. It was called "Doing The Cockroach".
From the moment it started, I liked it. It starts slowly with singer Issac Brock stating, "I was in heaven / I was in hell / Believe in neither / But fear 'em as well". On the word "fear" the drums kick in. As it builds the song chugs at an increasingly faster pace till Brock announces, "We're Doin The Cockroach, Yeah!!!". From there forward the song is pure rock n' roll. It's raw and primal. By the time the song ended, I was on board. Justin didn't have to sell it to me.
To this day, I have no idea how to "Do The Cockroach". I'm not even sure if it is suppose to be a dance of some kind. It's a great song, however. It's a sound that only a band as young and naive as they were could probably make. The trio had formed when they were teenagers, and when the song was released I don't think anyone was more than 21 or 22. They're clearly not doubting themselves or thinking too much about it. They're just going for it.
They have become a different band in recent years. I still enjoy it for the most part, but it's different. Issac Brock has learned how to craft a song. He's explored other areas and branched out. Early tunes, like "Doin The Cockroach", might not work on a more recent Modest Mouse record. That's okay, and probably good for him. I still love the cockroach, though.
Oh by the way, I believe within a year or so Clint had agreed that they were pretty good. Justin didn't need my help.
-Andy, Tuesday Evening Mix
Right now, we are asking listeners to tell us their list of the Best Songs of The 90's. As I have been putting together mine, I have noticed that it's pretty fun for me. Most of my listening habits were formed in that decade. It's a nice topic for my first entry in this blog.
I remember it pretty well actually. The actual details are hazy, but the feeling is very vivid in my mind. I came home from school one day in late 1991. I was 11 years old and usually I came home to an empty house for the first hour or two. My brother had band practice, and both parents worked, so I would grab some snacks and turn on the TV. I was watching MTV and this video came on with dreary colors and a janitor mopping a gym floor. Within seconds the song had really kicked in, and I became confused. "Why is this guys hair so greasy? He knew he had to shoot a video for his band, and he didn't wash his hair? Man, that bass player is REALLY tall." Even in the confusion I remember it was exciting. Axl didn't write stuff like this. It was obvious that this music was 100 times more dangerous and free than anything else on MTV. Yes, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video was the game changer for me. It's an obvious choice, but it's pretty amazing to think that thousands of other people had a very similar experience with that video. Also, looking back now, the janitor and cheerleaders with Anarchy symbols on their chests isn't nearly as weird as those Guns N' Roses videos. They made no sense at all. Axl gets married, and then at the reception it starts raining so people start diving over cakes. In the process the bride is killed?!? I also seem to remember another video where he swims with dolphins? THAT'S weird stuff.
In interviews, Kurt Cobain, and also Eddie Vedder, would constantly mention their influences and peers. I know that they both were uncomfortable with the amount of fame that so quickly was thrust on them, so it almost seemed like they mentioned these names so they could push some of this attention off on people they felt truely deserved it. Names like The Ramones, Velvet Underground, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, and Mudhoney would come up. I took these bands they would mention and researched them. This was not long ago, but the internet was still not a factor yet. I would go to the record store and look for cd's that were put out by the same record labels as other bands. Sub Pop, SST, Touch and Go, 4AD, and so forth. I can really say that most of my musically tastes to this day can somehow be linked back to those interviews.
Over the next week or so I'll write about a few of my favorites from that decade. Feel free to comment or name some of your favorites, too.
-Andy, Tuesday Evening Mix
I’m a child of the 70s. I grew up listening to AM Radio.
In case you haven’t noticed, I absolutely love singer-songwriters. Especially MALE singer-songwriters. There are a few female singer-songwriters, like Sheryl Crow, who you will find in my CD collection, but mainly it’s a lot of very talented guys.
Please don’t hold it against me that I’m a “fanilow”. Back in March 1977 I watched the “1st Barry Manilow Special” on TV and I’ve never been the same since. I can’t help it. Barry Manilow’s music continues to move me over 30 years later. I still think of him as a singer-songwriter. His best work, to date, in my humble opinion is 2001’s “Here at the Mayflower”. Barry was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
In my formative years during the 70s decade I listened to people like John Denver, James Taylor, Billy Joel and Elton John. I also liked the music of the Bee Gees and the Eagles. I was probably too young to realize that many of these artists wrote the songs they sang. I just knew I liked what I heard. For me, their music still stands the test of time to this very day. I really miss John Denver. I think if John were still alive today, he would have a lot to say to us and I hope we would be listening to him.
Later in the 70s and into the 80s it was performers like Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Daryl Hall and John Oates and Michael McDonald who caught my ear.
Fast forward to the 90s and I found Marc Cohn, Edwin McCain and Shawn Mullins.
In the new century I discovered John Mayer and James Blunt. They and many others like them are still coming onto the music scene with their unique song-writing abilities.
Thanks to WYEP I’ve found some new (to me) singer-songwriters, like James McMurtry and John Hiatt.
I realize my taste in music and singer-songwriters leans toward Adult Contemporary. But think about it, most of these acts are still around after 20 to 30+ years in the business. They are actively recording, selling albums and placing albums on the charts. They’re touring and filling up venues. People apparently still want to hear their music and see them perform. Perhaps it’s like comfort food for the ears.
I’m happy to say that the singer-songwriter music genre is alive and doing very well. It seems like almost every artist we play on WYEP is a singer-songwriter. I’m in awe of the talent that’s out there. I hope to continue to discover new artists and expand my CD collection.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
It was perhaps the album that most influenced my musical tastes, the one that opened up a whole new world—new wave, pub rock, power pop and old-school punk. And it’s all on one soundtrack from an obscure movie that I doubt anyone—including myself—has ever seen.
The movie is That Summer, a 1979 British flick starring Ray Winstone and Tony London (who? Exactly). But the real star is the music. Take a listen with me.
Track one: “Sex & Drugs and Rock & Roll” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. Distinctively British but with a very accessible rhythm section—already I knew something was up.
Track two: “Spanish Stroll” by Mink Deville. The ultimate expression of cool.
Track three: “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” by Elvis Costello. Literate rock and the best backing band in rock history.
Track four: “She’s So Modern” by The Boomtown Rats. Sir Bob may be best known for trying to save the world and for “I Don’t Like Mondays,” but for me, this is the Rats’ finest moment.
Track five: “New Life” by Zones. I’ve never heard another song by this band. But who needs to? It’s the perfect power pop song, filled with just the right amount of teenage angst.
Track six: “Another Girl, Another Planet” by The Only Ones. The ultimate one-hit wonder band. My favorite line: “Space travel’s in my blood and there ain’t nothing I can do about it. Long journeys wear me out, but I can’t live without it.” Only later did I learn the song was an ode to heroin.
Track seven: “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric. One of my top 10 favorite songs ever. Great lyrics and an understated vocal performance. And he went on to marry Amy Rigby. The song also appears in another soundtrack, “Stranger Than Fiction.”
Track eight: “Because the Night” by The Patti Smith Group. I was never a huge Patti Smith fan, but this is one of the rare moments when someone out-Bruces Bruce.
Track one: “Kicks” by The Boomtown Rats. You know it’s a good album when this is the weakest song.
Track two: “Rockaway Beach” by The Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey. Who needs more than three chords? Sparse but perfect.
Track three: “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones. Influential DJ John Peel calls this his favorite track of all time. It’s hard to argue with that assessment. Plus, who can dislike a band whose lead singer is named Feargal Sharkey? It’s one of rock’s great names and one of the best riffs of the punk era.
Track four: “Do Anything You Wanna Do” by Eddie & The Hot Rods. Great pub rock and a song that would be my personal anthem for my twenties. “Tired of doing day jobs with no thanks for what I do, I know I must be something, now I’m gonna find out who.”
Track five: “What a Waste” by Ian Drury and the Blockheads. More evidence that the cockney rebel was a great songwriter—even if he’s not a great singer.
Track six: “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass” by Nick Lowe. I knew “Cruel to Be Kind” was a great song, but this track made me investigate the Jesus of Cool in greater depth. I never regretted that decision.
Track seven: “Watching the Detectives” By Elvis Costello. Hands-down my favorite Elvis song. Elements of reggae combined with one of the great writers of the rock/punk era. Again, The Attractions shine.
Track eight: “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell & The Voidoids. The song that introduced me to American punk. Richard Hell was a poet, who unfortunately never got attention from the mainstream. But then again, would he have been as cool had he reached a larger audience?
Taken together, the songs on this album paint a rich tapestry of late ‘70s/early ‘80s music. For me, it opened up possibilities and was the origin of many a mix tape—and Friday evening mixes. Maybe one day I’ll even see the movie.