Monday, October 31, 2011

Jam of the day, and an upcoming concert: "I Need More" of The Cynics at the 31st Street Pub

Artist: The Cynics
Album: Spinning Wheel Motel
Song: "I Need More"
Released: June 20, 2011
Label: Get Hip Recordings

I'll cut to the chase: The Cynics rock. They've been cranking out album after album chock full of garage rock/pop tunes for years and years, and they never disappoint. Lots of bands try to mimic that 60s psych pop sound, with jangly guitars and driving percussion and alternately sweet/punky vocals, but … man, The Cynics embody that sound. They're not mimics, they're the real fucking deal. They released Spinning Wheel Motel just this past summer, and it's a great record, swirling in some punk ("I See More") and blues ("Zombie Walk") and folk ("Bells and Trains") wherever they see fit. (The LP itself has great packaging, too, with an actual spinning wheel on the front cover to reveal the tracklist. Clever!) The first track, "I Need More" is an wild, energetic ride, and the video below is just a perfect match for this tune.

The Cynics / "I Need More" / Spinning Wheel Motel [Get Hip, 2011]

The Cynics are coming to the 31st Street Pub this Saturday, November 5, and you owe it to yourself to get out and see them, especially if you haven't before. They actually don't play shows in Pittsburgh all that frequently, unfortunately (despite being one of our city's best bands), so you gotta take advantage when you can. (Their last show there was incredible; check out my review and some live video footage.) They're on tour with a new Toronto band, Pow Wows, whose originally-self-produced debut LP, Nightmare Soda, is being reissued on vinyl via Get Hip, as well. This band should fit in perfectly at this show, churning out some heavy guitar jams and 60s pop grooves. (Check out a video for their track "Seeing Black" below.) Detroit's The Sights will join the party with some funky garage rock tunes. This will be a fun one, that's for sure. Doors @ 9 pm, only $10. Check out a tour promo video here, too, and here's a Facebook event. And hey, see yinz there.

Pow Wows / "Seeing Black" / Nightmare Soda [Get Hip, 2011]

The Cynics: Facebook / Twitter /
Pow Wows: Facebook / Myspace
The Sights on the web: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Song Remains the Same-ish: The Apples In Stereo vs. Big Eyes

[This is a "series" that lets me point out when two songs sound really similar or something about one song reminds me strongly of another one, or something like that. Its frequency obviously depends on me finding these similarities, so who knows when it will happen again.]

Artist: The Apples In Stereo / Big Eyes
Song: "She's Telling Lies" / "Now That You Aren't Mine"
Album: Velocity of Sound / Hard Life
Label: Elephant 6 / Don Giovanni
Released: October 8, 2002 / August 23, 2011

This same-ish similarity snuck up on me. I've been listening to a lot of The Apples In Stereo lately because I went and saw The Olivia Tremor Control a few weeks ago and it was fucking amazing. I sat front and center, it was an awesome theatre, the band sounded great, they played for a long time, and I was incredibly lucky and went backstage to interview Will Cullen Hart after the show, also chatting briefly with Bill Doss and John Fernandes in the process. But that's really beside the point; I just wanted to mention it :-) Since then, I've had a renewed interest in all that is Elephant 6 and have been listening to a lot of albums from Beulah, of Montreal, OTC, NMH, and so on. I renewed my devotion for Robert Schneider and The Apples and, particularly, my affinity for Velocity of Sound, their emo-punk album. It is surprisingly good. Seriously.

Earlier tonight, I was listening to a new LP, from a newish band named Big Eyes, entitled Hard Life. I was enjoying the pop-punk ride, with quick and catchy guitar-heavy numbers, but then I got to track 10: "Now That You Aren't Mine". The opening guitar line reminded me of something … I couldn't quite place it just yet, so I played the first minute of the song again. I listened to the first verse and noted how it matched the guitar melody in pitch. Then I played it again. And once more. And then it hit me. This melody is almost exactly the same as the beginning of a random bonus track tune from Velocity of Sound! Playing the two songs back to back now, I recognize that the connection is a little stretched—the tempos are different, the guitar scuzz layers are different, the intro/ending of the melodies are different—but hey, this series isn't about finding identical songs, right? It's just about pointing out similarities, and I believe I've found two songs whose guitar riffs sound remarkably similar. (It's a little odd that the song titles are slant rhymes, too, isn't it?) What's weirder to me is that I was able to recall this Apples In Stereo tune just from this random guitar riff, considering it's a non-standard-issue bonus track. Luckily, I've listened to this album four or five times over the last three weeks, and that I was pointed to this Big Eyes album earlier today via a message board I frequently read. Huzzah, serendipitous coincidences!

So, see for yourself! Do they sound alike? Am I making shit up? Tell me! (Seriously, tell me …)

The Apples In Stereo / "She's Telling Lies (Bryce's Mix)" / Velocity of Sound [Elephant 6, 2002]

Big Eyes / "Now That You're Not Mine" / Hard Life [Don Giovanni, 2011]


By the by, this Big Eyes LP is awesome pop-punk. Check it aht. Also The Apples In Stereo are one of my fave bands of all time. VoS is good, Her Wallpaper Reverie is great, and Fun Trick Noisemaker is a fucking masterpiece.

Big Eyes on the web: Blog / Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter
Buy Hard Life: Don Giovanni Records / Insound / Amazon / iTunes / eMusic

The Apples In Stereo on the web: Website / Facebook / Twitter
Buy Velocity of Sound: Amazon / iTunes / eMusic

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cover jam of the day, and a vinyl find at Jerry's Records: "Come On Down To My Boat"

Artist: Every Mother's Son / Meeting of Important People / The Rare Breed
Song: "Come On Down To My Boat"

Like many other vinyl fans in Pittsburgh, I trekked to Jerry's Records this past weekend after hearing he was planning to give away 33,000 records in boxes of LPs and 45s. (Why 33,000? He just likes the number, although I think 33,333 would have made more sense.) He's done giveaways like this before, and I've lucked into some good stuff (check out my "vinyl find" series for some of those). I was already needing to stop by the store and pick up some auction wins anyway (super clean copies of Fresh Cream and Bob Dylan and, as Jerry noted upon pickup, not quantity but definitely quality), so I looked around to see if anything caught my eye. While walking through the "rock" area, one album was sitting at the front of the "miscellaneous E" section and it grabbed my attention: the album Every Mothers' Son by the band Every Mother's Son (note the subtle apostrophic difference). The name was familiar, and in case I couldn't remember, a sticker on the album cover notes the inclusion of "Come On Down To My Boat". Aha! This song was covered by my fave local band, Meeting Of Important People, on last year's Quit Music EP! I don't think I knew for a couple of months after the release that it was even a cover song, but I learned the band's name at some point and it stuck in my head until now.

Based on the cover photo, this is a band of preppy dudes who write bubblegum pop songs, and some web research supports this hypothesis. Wikipedia notes the band's signing to MGM in 1967 was "supposedly because management saw the band's clean-cut image as an antidote to the hippie influx". Haha. But it's strange that the back cover of this album has silly band member bios, and one says "Lary can out-drink the toughest guy on the block" and Christopher is clearly reading an issue of Playboy in his photo. Maybe it's funny because Lary is chugging milk from the carton with a straw, and Christopher is grimacing at the magazine? I dunno. It's also strange that the song is really called "Come On Down To My Boat" yet the back of the album lists it as "Come And Take A Ride In My Boat". The album copy I grabbed is a little scratchy, but it just adds to the nostalgic feel, and the tunes are pretty solid for what they are: sweet and simple pop. ("For Brandy" is a particularly lovely little ditty.)

Enough chit-chat, here are two versions of this pretty and fun tune: Every Mother's Son's 1967 original version first (recorded live for some TV spot, in this particular video; here's a link to the album version), and then Meeting Of Important People's garage pop take on it 43 years later!


"Old garage song about a completely harmless man and his boat."

Hey now, hold on there! I just learned that Every Mother's Son aren't even the original recorders of this song! The Rare Breed (later known as The Ohio Express) hold that title, releasing a version entitled "Come And Take A Ride In My Boat" (aha, whence the confusion mentioned above) in 1966, but it never hit the charts. Somehow, Every Mother's Son's version did. There ya have it, folks, the fickleness of the listening public …


Meeting of Important People on the web: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp