Fuel “Sunburn”


(31 March 1998, 550, Epic)

A recent swimming trip with my daughter left me thinking about this album. I have the title all over my back! But it’s a good album to be thinking of. This is one that has survived numerous trips to the used record store to be sold. They never made an offer, but I liked it too much to send it to the Goodwill. So it’s remained in my collection.

It’s not the greatest album I own, but it’s far from the worst. It’s easy to lump Fuel in with all the other post-Grunge groups of the late nineties who only saw 15 minutes of fame, but Fuel has stuck with me through the years. Probably because my Mom loves them so much. But it could be that there’s some great songwriting here too.

“Shimmer” and “Sunburn” are both great tunes and obvious for singles. Both are the kind of semi-ballads that I can imagine listening to while dealing with a breakup.

What makes the album unique are the strange sounds that come in places like the into of “Bittersweet.” I have no idea what chord that is. The rest of the song is a great stereotypical hard rocker, but then it breaks to a really weird atmospheric guitar sound. There’s a great sense of balance there.

I’ve always loved “Jesus or a Gun.” It’ like American Psycho; there’s a message hidden in there. I have no idea what that message is, but I know it’s there.

Looking back on the singles it’s weird that these guys didn’t hit it big for another two years, but even the other tracks have some great stuff. I suppose a lot of it may come off as derivative though. A lot of other bands were doing stuff like this at the time. “It’s Come to This” makes me think of the Smashing Pumpkins for the experimental, atmospheric guitar tones. “Song For You” reminds me of Candlebox with the single-note intro. Not that Fuel was trying to ape these groups, it’s just a hazard of sharing a genre.

There are some other great hard rockers in there too. Opener “Untitled” is a great attention getter. “Ozone” is another that makes my ears perk up.

While some groups seemed to just jump aboard the grunge bandwagon as a way to fame, Sunburn scorches with authenticity. It’s not so much grungy as it is a solidly written album that just happened to be released when that was the sound you got.

You’d obviously be forgiven in 2018 for writing these guys off and not paying any attention, but you’d be missing out.

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Happy Independence Day


 

Disclaimer: While this song has a nice inclusive message of how America is a melting pot of peoples from all around the world, right now might not be a good time to come to America.

Happy Birthday Prince


I never meant to do a “Happy Birthday” series, but that seems to be what’s happening. It’s working out OK so far. It’s nice to do something light every now and again.

I was going to tag Prince onto the Marky Mark post, but that seemed more than a little disrespectful. It’s a lot harder to decide which song to choose to celebrate his accomplishments. He’s like the exact opposite of Marky Mark.

So, I’m not going to just choose one.

 

I hope you’re all as sexually confused as I am after watching that last one…

What’s your favorite Prince song? Can you even choose?

Happy Birthday Mark Wahlberg


I’m loving this left-handed people calendar. It gives me the chance to do horrible posts like this.

I know what you’re thinking, Mark Wahlberg isn’t a musician. Well, to prove you right here’s the video for his 1991 hit single with the Funky Bunch “Good Vibrations”:

 

Thor: Ragnarok


Welcome to the slaughter, what are you going to do?

I enjoyed the most recent release of the Thor franchise: Ragnarok. It had action. It had comedy. It had the Incredible Hulk. It had a little bit of stuff that confused me. (like Idris Elba’s character. Who the fuck was he? He looked like Dreadmon from the Ninja Turtles.) For the most part, it was an enjoyable escape from reality for two hours.

But this isn’t a review of Thor: Ragnarok. I don’t do movie reviews (very often). I do music reviews. And something about the music in Thor: Ragnarok really pissed me off!

Not the score. I’m sure the score was fine. I barely noticed it so it couldn’t have been that bad. What pissed me off was that the only rock song used in the film was “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. What the fuck, producers? Did you not see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? That song was already used in a movie this decade. Is there some new law stating that any movie about/set in/referencing the mythology of Scandinavia NEEDS to have that fucking Zeppelin song in it?

That’s total bullshit. There are more than enough bands that could provide songs for fight scenes that are actually from Scandinavia. I’m betting a few of them even worship Thor. Or Loki or Odin or whoever black metal band people worship. You don’t have to keep using that same song from an English band about Vikings or wizards or fucking trees talking to each other. For fuck’s sake, the only thing Scandinavia is known for is socialism and black metal.

But if you’d like to use the music from some American (well, American/Israeli or American/Canadian) bands I can think of a few good choices.

1.) Kiss has a song called “God of Thunder.” I’m not a huge Kiss fan so I can’t pick this track out of a lineup, but with all the focus on how Thor is the god of thunder in this flick you’d think that track would have made an appearance.

Then again, maybe they used that in the first movie. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at some point during that one so maybe I missed it. Did it play during the credits like Black Sabbath did in the first Iron Man? Or it could have been used in the second film. There was a second film, right? I didn’t even bother to watch that one. Who can keep up with all these things?

B.) How about the song I got stuck in my head every time I saw that damn poster. It comes from the album Ragnarok by the greatest band ever to come to Earth from another galaxy. Yes, I’m talking about GWAR’s “Ragnarok.” That would have been perfect for some battle scenes. It might not be my favorite track of theirs, but it’s definitely top five.

Anything is better than that fucking “Immigrant Song.”

Bastards.

I’m Glad Trump Isn’t Making America Great Again


I’ve gone on record saying I’m not a fan of Donald Trump. Still, there is one part of American Culture I expected him to make great again: Music. I keep waiting for hardcore punk bands to pop up like they did in the eighties when Cowboy Reagan was in charge. I don’t think any of us would be hearing much about bands like Black Flag, DOA, GWAR or Reagan Youth without the moral majority being in charge and giving the youth of the day something to rally against.

Maybe they’re all still just working on their record contracts.

The good thing is that I still have time to catch up on some great music I’ve missed over the past 35 years. After seeing the Dead Kennedys a few weeks ago and not recognizing an embarrassing number of songs I decided to make a trip to the record store. I think I did pretty well for myself. Five purchases for under $50.

Of course, I was predominantly looking for DK stuff. I have Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. I had In God We Trust, Inc. but it’s been lost to the ages so I wanted to fill in some gaps.

I managed to get Frankenchrist on vinyl for $20. That was the highest price for anything on this trip, but I think it was worth it. I justified it by wondering how much I would have paid if it had Giger’s Penis Landscape insert. (But now that I think about it, how odd it is that I would pay more to get a poster of that particular painting?) I also bought Plastic Surgery Disasters/In God We Trust, Inc. on CD. Now my collection is only missing Bedtime for Democracy.

They also had the 25th anniversary of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables featuring a 55-minute documentary. I found that really tempting for but passed on it for now. Hopefully, it’s still there when I make it back. Does anyone have a copy of this? Is it any good? Is it worth the $16?

The benefit of going to a brick and mortar store instead of Amazon is I was able to browse and see what else wanted me to pick it off the shelf. I didn’t have to look very far to find the Dead Milkmen’s Eat Your Paisley. At $8 and with tracks like “Where the Tarantula Lives,” “The Thing That Only Eats Hippies” and “Beach Party Vietnam” it was a no-brainer.

I also grabbed The Lords of the New Church’s self-titled album. I first heard of these guys after reading 1537’s review. After checking out a few tracks on Spotify I immediately added them to my Amazon wishlist. This is a great album. It has a gothic, new wave feel to it. Not new wave as in ‘we’re adults now,’ but new wave as in ‘I wonder if this album influenced Pretty Hate Machine.’

My last purchase was Machines of Loving Grace’s self-titled debut. This was on the $1 rack and since they contributed one of the best tunes to The Crow Soundtrack I figured it would be worth taking a chance on. Jokes on me. There’s a reason I never heard anything from these guys other than “Golgatha Temple Blues.” I’m sure I’ll take it down again eventually, but I don’t imagine it will get much airplay before I try to sell it back.

I also came across a Scott Stapp CD I thought about buying. I have a few coworkers that keep singing “One” whenever they pass by and I thought it would make a good gag gift. In the end, I decided $1 is too much money to spend on a Scott Stapp CD no matter the reason.

 

Dead Kennedys @ The Agora


5 May 2018

The Agora Theatre; Cleveland, OH

Stalker, The Snakes, Gay Black Republican, T.S.O.L., Dead Kennedys

I gave a serious pooh-pooh the first time I heard that Dead Kennedys were coming to town. Without Jello? Who gives a fuck? Then I remember how awesome East Bay Ray’s guitar work is. And I remembered Klaus Flouride has the coolest stage name ever. And I want to say something about D.H. Peligro, but who really cares about drummers?

So I plopped down my cash and bought a ticket. I can’t say that I regret it.

The show opened with local act Stalker. At first it sounded horrible, but I think that had more to do with PA problems. Every guitarist on the stage that night looked over at the sound booth and shouted obscenities. The sound guy was not having a good night. I enjoyed their sloppy, high energy punk. It’s neat to see a band where nearly everyone takes a turn on lead vocals and I appreciated the use of full chords on the bass guitar. It’s a sound that doesn’t get used enough and when done right it sounds huge and awesome.

The Snakes were another local act. They had a lot more metal in their sound, but I still enjoyed their fast punk tunes. I wasn’t extremely impressed and nearly wrote them off as a band with a hot blonde singer. When she announced they were going to play a cover I wondered if it would be Blondie or the Runaways, but they surprised me by doing my all-time favorite Ramones tune “Pet Cemetary” and won me over. Like my companion pointed out, they were a lot more put together than the first act. I didn’t disagree with him; I just noted that was the reason I enjoyed Stalker more.

It’s hard not to get excited about a band called Gay Black Republican. They played some great high energy rock without distortion but with a lot of catchy hooks. Sometimes I wonder why bands are on bills together (see Frank Ierno and The Descendents), but these guys fit right in with T.S.O.L. and DK. I’m guessing it didn’t hurt their chances that they let the headliners use their drum set.

I’m not sure why T.S.O.L. never achieved the same levels of popularity other first-wave punkers did. They play good tunes and feature interesting guitar work. They put on a good show with the singer doing a little bit of standup between songs. I guess their downfall might be a lack of good singalong choruses. The only tune I recognized was “Code Blue,” and while it is a humorous ode to necrophilia there really isn’t a great hook.

Dead Kennedys put on the show I expected. It sucked that I don’t know more of their songs, but I enjoyed the ones I didn’t recognize as much as “Looking Forward to Death,” “Kill the Poor,” “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “Holiday in Cambodia.” Jello’s absence wasn’t felt too strongly as Skip Greer proved to be an entertaining and animated frontman. He did stand-up and political jokes to introduce songs and cheated a little by holding the mic in the crowd and letting us sing the choruses. I meant to stay out of this pit as I’m getting a little old, but at a certain point I said ‘Fuck It’ and slammed into old, sweaty people. Then I found my way to the front and stood in awe of Ray’s guitar work.

 

The strange thing was how the crowd got smaller as the night wore on. I guess a lot of Dead Kennedys’ fans have earlier bedtimes than they did in the early eighties, but I still thought everyone would stay around for the encore. It was a great set and I’m glad to have added this band to the list of live acts I’ve seen.

If this show comes to your town I would highly recommend getting out and seeing them. How many other chances will you have to mosh to “Viva Las Vega”?

 

The Wisdom of Rock 2


I used to really enjoy deep and meaningful lyrics. I’m not sure what changed. Did I mature? It’s more likely that I did the opposite. What do you call that? Immatured? Yeah, I think that’s it.

I’ve immatured to the point where I tend to prefer songs about sniffing glue and smoking banana peels to anything the Eagles have done. But every now and again I still come across a lyric, and even without any marijuana in my system I think to myself, “Wow man, that’s deep.”

So let’s celebrate some of the wisdom that somehow manages to seep through the crack and drip down on us, even though we don’t listen to jazz.


“Life is the most precious thing you can lose”

Pennywise “Bro Hymn”

 

“With every mistake, we must surely be learning”

The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

 

“The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,

shorter of breath and one day closer to death”

Pink Floyd “Time”