by Tom Hallett
Greetings, ’Dial-heads, the curious,and those of you desperately seeking an extra piece of newspaper for the bottom of your birdcage. I’m comin’ at ya live again this week from Alaska: not a whole lotta news, just settlin’ in for the ol’ summer tourist season (we call ‘em “Pukers” up here—take ‘em for a ride out on the choppy waters of Kachemak Bay and you’ll find out why right quick) and preparing to take on some extra seasonal work.
That’s right, lil’ ol’ me, “Mr. Black Leather jacket, Neil Young T-shirt, an’ ripped blue jeans, two vodka OJs in hand and a smoke in his gob” is gonna be selling home-crafted lawn and garden art to help support his insane, nasty bad habits!! Whoo hoo! This should set me right up for a career down the line on some public TV Home & Garden program. I can see it now: “First you need to choose seeds that will bear excellent yield—I find the best come from either Amsterdam or B.C.—you may have your own preferences ... blah, blah, blah ...” Well, you get the point. In the meantime, I thought I’d take a minute and shoot off a list of five albums I’m damn glad I have up here with me in the Land Of The Midnight Sun and why, so here we go ....
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Rock music should be gross: that’s
the fun of it. It gets up and drops its trousers.”—
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Far, Far Away” —
The New Vintage
Track Listing: New Way Of Walking/ History/Between The Parties/
War On Brains/ Can’t Wait/ Everything’s Broken/ Fix-It Man/(Gonna
Be) The Ones/ Did He Ever/ Times Ahead
Personnel: “Baby” Grant Johnson: vocals, guitars/
Mike Nicolai: guitar, mandolin, vocals/ Tony Zaccardi: bass/ Ben Hayter: drums/
Rich Mattson: bass, various percussion & stringed instruments.
If there were such a thing as a genuine Twin Cities supergroup (no, I’m
not forgetting Golden Smog, but those guys don’t need any extra PR from
me at this point), it would be a band like this. The
New Vintage lay down a sweet combo of catchy pop-rock, jangly power-chordage,
and heartfelt Americana with all the vim, vigor and va-va-voom of each member’s
respective outfits. Grant Johnson brings his endless musical knowledge, wildly
impressive command of different musical genres, and knack for knocking out a
to-die-for pop hook on board; Tony Zaccardi (Kruddler, YES!!) hammers down on
them bad-ass bass riffs when called upon, but also thrums and throbs his way
through a love song like he’s strokin’ the softest skinned lover
he’s ever laid hands upon; Nicolai provides the happy middle ground here,
plus throws in just the right amount of carefree pop genius; Hayter slams down
a bottom end like nobody else, and Rich Mattson—well, do I really need
to brag about anything Rich fucking Mattson does? The man’s our own Gene
Goddamn Clark, fer Chrissakes. The New Vintage is like a night spent in a fave
Twin Cities hangout as four or five of my favorite acts bombard the room with
all the honest, true, in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall Minnesota wamma-jamma
that I miss more and more each day. Thanks, guys—this record kicks ass
and I play it at least once a day all the way through. Killer! Check out GarageDor.com
for more info.
The “Elizabethtown Soundtrack". OK, so there’s only
really three songs on here that I find myself playing over and over and over
again, but they’re three really good fookin’ songs, so I hadda share
‘em with ya’ll. First of all, let me say that the movie isn’t
much more than an exercise in screenplay jackin’ off, especially for someone
with the talent Cameron Crowe has displayed in the past. It has a few ripe moments,
but for the most part it’s a real clunker. However, I’ve been starting
each and every morning with a song from that soundtrack for about six months
now. It’s called “Same In Any Language” by a band called 1
Nine. Awesome, awesome song about the inescapable universality of your average
modern cool Joe/Jane. Mellow, easy groove, sweet acoustic guitars, sad, bouncy
snares, and mind-blowing lyrics like “I copped a gram from Dapper Sam/
Just a four-letter man in another jam, oh yeah ... it’s the same, in any
language/ A brother is a brother/ If there’s one thing I know, it’s
the same in any language/ Wherever you go ...” Also of note on this lil’
gem is a solo Lindsey Buckingham track called “Shut Us Down” that
proves he needs neither Fleetwood nor Mac to continue to blow minds and raise
up a goosebump or ten—totally killer stuff. For shits an’ giggles,
check out the classic Elton John cut “My Father’s Gun,” and
remind yourself that there’s always been a lot more to El than just those
tired radio cuts you hear endlessly in elevators and restaurants. BUY THIS SOUNDTRACK!!
Screw the movie.
3) John Ewing—Augustine: I reviewed this album
a few weeks back, so for details just hit “Archives” and check out
my official take on it. But take my word for it, from the first track (The title
cut) to the centerpiece (“Monday Soon,” a song that hits home for
me in more ways than one, but especially the line: “Got to get from March
‘til June/ Not any old heartbreak will do/ The only thing shinin’
is the swing set glare/ If you count my eye, that makes two ...”) right
through to the final cut (The absolutely heartrending “Half A Day,”
an old Ewing fave of mine that’s finally found its proper place on an
album—fave line: “Half a day with you baby/ Means more than a life
of strange old maybes/ Shootin’ through our veins this pain ain’t
lazy/ I know you understand, I think I understand/ Now the speed is pickin’
up ... now all I need is half a day.” Sublime, unforgettable, and positively
The Foo Fighters—In Your Honor: This album is jam-packed
with killer cuts, and Dave Grohl is still, hands down, one of the most talented,
honest, humorous and kickass singer/songwriter/drummers out there working today.
But the song “Best Of You” has to be his pièce de résistance.
PLAY THIS SONG LOUD AT LEAST FIVE TIMES A DAY!! Guaranteed to heal ye, brothas
an’ sistas ...
5) Drive-By Truckers—A Blessing And A Curse: I’m
not gonna give too much away about this album yet, as I’m fixin’
to review it in a few days here, but I will say you haven’t lived ‘til
you’ve heard “Daylight” cranked up to 11 on your boat stereo
as you cruise on a sweet wave into the Homer, Alaska, small craft harbor. Please,
Patterson Hood—bring the gang to Alaska and let us treat you right!! I’ve
already started a small informal fan club for the DBT’s here and you are
WANTED!! “Brass knuckles an’ birds on a tire,” indeed. Yowza!!
That’s it for me this week, Outsiders. Do yourselves a favor and buy the
albums mentioned above, and if you can afford it, make a sojourn up here to
Southeastern Alaska this summer—me an’ my new-found rock ’n’
roll buddies will show ya the times of your lives!! ‘Til we meet again—make
yer own damn news!!
If you have local music news/gigs/events/CDs you’d like to see
mentioned in this column, or you’d just like to compare fresh halibut
bait, send replies to: Tmygunn777@peoplepc.com.