Good evening friends. Tonight, I’ll be honest and say that, in place of actually listening to any of my new finds, I went back and listened to some old favorites. I felt it was necessary to re-hash the past whilst putting together this new incarnation of the blog. Enjoy!
My first step was listening to one of my favorite bar bands, Lifter Puller. For those of you who are not with it enough to know, Lifter Puller was what Craig Finn and Tad Kubler (who are pictured in the back of the photo above) were doing while they were getting in all that crazy shit Finn sings about now that they have a more well-known gig, otherwise known as the fucking Hold Steady. As the first track on Half Dead & Dynamite proves, Craig Finn was strung out as all get out at the time. You can hear it in the way he bellows “I deserve a little fuck-up every once in awhile!” in “To Live and Die in LBI”. There’s a definite slur in everything he sings on the album, and how he somehow manages to inject credibility into lines like “Did you fucking fall asleep on the futon? I can’t believe you were crashed out watching some movies” in “I Like The Lights”. But the one thing Lifter Puller always had going for them was the folklore that spans each of their records, from the girl in “To Live and Die…” disappearing with the Eyepatch Guy, and everybody getting nice with Nightclub Dwight in “Candy’s Room”. With as drunk as Finn was at the time, his story telling abilities were always sharp as a tack, and this songwriting ability bled onto The Hold Steady’s second album, Separation Sunday, an album that is nothing if it isn’t Finn merely reciting the events of people that you know full well exist and did get screwed by religion and soccer players in the camps on the banks of the Mississippi River. All in all, Lifter Puller will forever be in the shadows of The Hold Steady now that they’ve gotten the fame that they always deserved, but for my money, Finn was at his druggy best back in the Twin Cities.
Ratings: Half Dead & Dynamite: 5
Fiestas + Fiascos: 3.5
Liars have always occupied a special, secret place in my heart as one of my favorite noise rock bands. Since I first heard it over a year ago, Drum’s Not Dead has been my high-concept and pulsing anthem in album form, and it has never ceased to amaze me with each listen. But while Drum’s Not Dead was Liars at their most experimental, it holds true that They Were Wrong, So We Drowned is Liars at their most… poppy. They Were Wrong is (barring the band’s self-titled release from 2007) Liars at their most accessible, and it shows in “There’s Always Room on the Broom,” with frontman Angus Andrews singing about making sandwiches and taking them to Brocken Cliff on broom, to say nothing of the impossibly catchy chorus of Andrews squealing “You’ll learn it from the wolves and he’ll make it with a cat, and they wanna understand, so they kill it!!” Even in the noisy sections of the album, it rings of a passion for making music to jump around to, even if it’s thick as cement with distortion and drum beats. By all accounts, genius.
A month ago, I bought a new pair of Skullcandy ear buds. On Friday, for no reason whatsoever, they decided to completely and totally stop working. I had no idea why. But then I realized why: I was listening to “Words”, the first song from Low‘s debut album, I Could Live In Hope. They didn’t die; they committed suicide.
Low started their lives as the original purveyors of the genre that would one day be called Slowcore, and the word fits perfectly into the debut. On later releases, especially 2001’s Things We Lost in the Fire, the slow rumble disappeared, sometimes completely, but I Could Live in Hope is, to my ears, the most depressing album of the last century. “Three inches above the floor/Man in the box wants to burn my soul/and I’m tired./”Is that the truth?” he says, the pain is easy/Too many words/And I can hear ’em”, sings frontman Alan Sparhawk, singing from another world of snow and static. Low has always been a fitting name for the band, who regularly turn down their instruments during live performances, where people listen from the floor, but here was where the band were at their lowest, if you will pardon the pun. Pages and pages of criticism and analysis of the combination of Alan Sparhawk’s otherworldly drone and drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker’s cooing voice could be written here, but one must settle for saying that you simply must listen to the album, at least once, to understand. If, for some reason, you have yet to listen to it, I urge you to go out and download it, or buy it, or steal it, or something. But just listen.