How to Mask Friends and Influence People: Reviewing My Friend’s Band

Clown-Mask-Card-8.5x8.5-FrontBefore you listen to this Jackie & the Treehorns album, before you share this review, tell me what your friend’s band sounds like.

They’re good, aren’t they? Your friend’s band? They’re always really good, not just because they’re your friends. I’ve always been a bit too fascinated with how we talk about music, why we attempt to write about music and put into words that which can’t and doesn’t need to be explained.

So the next question is how do we listen to and process our friend’s bands? What if it’s our brother, or our best friend, or just dudes we knew in college? And do we overvalue how “great” they are? Cuz let’s face it, some of your friend’s bands aren’t that great. But that’s awesome that you still talk them up.

When you hear your friend’s new demo (or soundcloud thingy or youtube “trailer” for their upcoming album), do you think about how your boy once rocked a C&C Music Factory cassingle in his car and now he’s got this super-serious Queens of the Stone Age hard rock vibe going? Our intimate knowledge of our friend’s life and known favorites and influences surely must taint our view of their music.

Wait, you can’t view music. This is how Jackie & the Treehorns trick you into using the word “taint” in their album review.

The point is, there is this indescribable difference in listening to your friend’s band versus the latest album from an actual famous rock star. For instance, I know Jack White is a minimalist rocker heavily steeped in and indebted to the blues. He’s a longtime champion of a truly “independent” business approach and has an extreme fondness for vintage, authentic recording gear and techniques. I know all of this because that is what he has presented to me on record and through interviews, etc. (And of course all of that is then remixed and regurgitated and re-imagined for me by all the people attempting to write about music.) I don’t actually know Jack White as a person, I didn’t hang out with him growing up in Detroit, I never worked with him as an upholsterer, and I’ve never been in any of his numerous bands or side projects.

But I’ve been in Jackie & the Treehorns. I was the original drummer, and also served as Jackie’s manager and confidant during such dizzying highs and lows of his career that there’s a documentary film about it. In fact, I’ve been in a few bands and side projects with my friend Steven Rubin, the guitarist, singer/songwriter, and mastermind producer behind Jackie & the Treehorns.

I know his influences. (I won’t name check them). I thought I knew his influences. Yes, I can hear some of them peaking out from behind the Clown Mask. And then there are new faces, or old faces with different masks on, and they’re singing too. I didn’t know he knew them. There are things about our friends that we don’t know.

Did you think your friend’s band would sound like this? What did you think they’d sound like? Do you feel guilty if, when your friend isn’t around, you tell people “They’re kinda like 311, but they totally don’t sound like them at all”? Are you a little ashamed that you’ve only made it out to see them ONCE, and you got there a little late, and honestly don’t even know what they sound like? You could always just mumble “sort of a Blues Traveler kinda thing” and hope the person either doesn’t get the reference or thinks it’s a good thing.

Have you ever lied to your friend? Or, more accurately, have you ever just not told the truth about how much you think they suck? Do you have a lot friends in bands? Are you reluctant to spread the good word about how great they are because the other friends you’re telling probably assume you’re only talking about your friend’s band just to let people know you’re the kinda cool person who knows people in bands?

So then what happens when your friend’s band makes a really great album? Your other friends are so tired of hearing about your friend’s band they might as well be called Cried Sheep. It’s not that they don’t care (yea, it’s cool, you know dudes in bands). It’s just that they’re probably never gonna take the 14 seconds to click the one or two links to instantly listen to the whole album for free. Seriously, read that last sentence again: they’re probably never gonna take the 14 seconds to click the one or two links to instantly listen to the whole album for free. Back in the day when no one would get off my lawn, we (the friends of yours who were in the bands) had to beg our friends (you) to purchase a hard copy compact disc of our band and then we inevitably just gave most of them away for free, in exchange for the promise or hope that you would tell all your friends about our band and then also get together with them and PLAY IT FOR THEM. Force them sit through My Friend’s Band’s CD. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that. We can do the here’s the link, go listen for free at the time and place of your choosing thing. But I will tell you this: my friend’s band’s album is really, really good. I’m not just saying that. And he didn’t email me bugging him to write something about it (full disclosure: yes he did). Fittingly, my favorite track is called “In No Condition to Explain.”

Please don’t ask me what my friend’s band sounds like. Aren’t your friend’s bands true originals with a unique style that really doesn’t sound like anyone else? It’s almost impossible to know, but even if it wasn’t my friend’s band, I’d still think this was a great album.

Do you believe me? Will you check it out? Do you mind if I wear a clown mask?

Total Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, May 3, 2013

Occasional correspondent and BumsLogic contributor Darryl Walter went to the Stones concert in L.A. so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s his review:

“Who would spend that much money for a bunch of old aging rock stars?”

“They haven’t put out anything of value in decades.”

“Mick and Keith hate each other.”

I heard these and other comments about the 2013 Rolling Stones “50 & Counting” tour but when I found out that I would be in Los Angeles on business, I knew I wanted to see this show. After all, they are the undisputed “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. No other band, NO OTHER BAND, has been rocking out for half a century.

One of the things that make the Stones special is the riffs, Keith Richards has created some of the most notable riffs in music, it only takes a few seconds of hearing the first chords of “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction,” or “Brown Sugar” and you know what is coming.

Rolling Stones

Photo courtesy of Filth Mart, West Hollywood.

Before the concert started, the UCLA Bruins Marching Band performed “Satisfaction” while marching and grooving on the floor of the Staples Center. A video montage that contained clips and quotes from fans throughout the years preceded the Marching Bruins.

The show opened with “Get of My Cloud” and then the band tore into “The Last Time.” Mick thanked the Los Angeles crowd and acknowledged the backlash for the high-priced tickets by asking if it is really just Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and parts of Santa Monica that were at the show.

Mick and backup singer Lisa Fischer went to school on “Gimme Shelter,” followed by special guest Gwen Stefani coming out for a duet on “Wild Horses. Gwen probably should have stayed in Orange County rather than embarrass herself trying to follow the powerful vocal prowess that Lisa Fischer had just displayed on “Shelter.”

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It’s The Perps!

ThePerps

For the past dozen years or so I have been collaborating on numerous projects with various musicians, film makers, photographers, and writers. These projects have mostly taken recorded musical form while some ended up as full-fledged bands that many of you might already know about or have seen play live.

Recently I was sifting through my “digital archives” to discover that many of these recordings were never officially “released”. And by released I simply mean they were never made available for any of my friends and family to enjoy (or ignore). This is mostly due to the nature of my inability to ever feel that a creative project is “done”; that it can always be enhanced even further (anyone who mixes music can attest to this). Over time, your self-critiquing slowly subsides and eventually you are able to enjoy listening to your own music. Sorta.

That time, for me, has come in 2013.

I am extremely proud (as are many of my collaborators) to announce that I have created a project that I am calling: 12 FOR 13. At the beginning of each month throughout the year 2013 I will be releasing one of these projects online for free. It might be a full album or it might be a single song. It might be an actual movie or it might be a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t even exist.  It will cover most every band that I have played in from 2000 through today as well as other projects I have worked on over the years.

First up: The Perps 

The Perps are a duo made up of Bill Resh and myself. Bill and I played in a band together for 7 years in the 90’s called The Circle Six (he was the rapper, I was the guitar player). After that band broke up we started recording together in my studio between the years of 2000 – 2011 and produced close to 40 tracks. We have chosen what we feel are the strongest of those songs and presented them to you here. The best part: it’s 100% free. All you have to do is click, download, listen, and (hopefully) enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen:

A Music Confession

A few months ago Bums Logic’s own Todd Levinson Frank converted ownership of a wide collection of albums from various recording artists to me. My first confession: despite the fact that TLF had passed the music onto me months ago, it was only recently that I loaded the music on my iPod. While most people are quick to add new music to their libraries, for some reason it took me a few months to get around to it. On a side note, this is something that TLF knows about me all too well, as he once suggested a list of people to follow on twitter that I still have yet to ‘follow’ but I digress.

A waste of space.

I added this image in the hopes that you would read it and thus taking up at least five seconds of your time. Thanks for reading.

The list of artists in the collection that Todd provided is rather expansive and that stands as one of the reasons that I delayed the full addition to my music library. My point: if I were to add all of them at once, it is unlikely that any of the artists would be given the undivided attention that they deserve. Bands pour so much time and effort into their recordings and giving their work only a simple cursory listen is nearly equal to a slap in the face. Think about it. Suppose you spent time on a project of any particular discipline wouldn’t you be a bit put off if everyone simply provided it a perfunctory amount of their attention? I know I would.

I can imagine that many of you are thinking, ‘Wow, that is some confession. I hope you feel better after alleviating such a huge burden.’ Well as I stated earlier, that was my first confession.  You see there is more.

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My Next Arena

Die hard fans of Bums Logic know that I am awesome.

I have already stunned the world with my kick ass graphic design skills.  Avid fans have proven that my video stardom is nearly unparalleled with more than 20 views of my astounding display of  badassery.

Many fans have to be wondering, what’s next?  In what other ways can the amazing JrWorthy42 amaze with his seemingly boundless talents?

One that note, I present to you what is sure to be a hit in clubs, bars and bodegas across the globe – my very first pop sensation, ‘It Burns’.

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Happy Birthday Uncle Bruce!

Bruce Springsteen is my uncle. Well, not real direct uncle like a sibling of one of my parents. Just a cousin that we all call “Uncle.” Or maybe my mom just used to joke about inviting “Uncle Bruce” to my birthday parties because she knew I had a possibly unhealthy obsession with Bruce Springsteen.

Being a Bruce fan is an odd place sometimes. A lot of my closest friends and band mates weren’t/aren’t Bruce fans. (I’m sure most of them, especially my cohorts here at Bums Logic, are rolling their eyes realizing it was only a matter of time before Todd used this space to idolize his Boss once again.) As popular and worldwide famous and critically acclaimed as Springsteen might be, there’s a certain uncoolness about being a Bruce fanatic. And I guess that fits the narrative of Young Bruce feeling alienated and alone and discovering through Elvis and the Beatles that rock’n’roll could not only save you, but it was your only hope.

I was turned on to Bruce Springsteen and his mighty E Street Band in the early 80’s by my sister’s college boyfriend. He had vinyl bootlegs of the legendary Winterland show as well as the one from the Agora in Cleveland, both from the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour in 1978. I taped them from his albums to my hand-labeled cassettes and was on my way.

Soon after, Born in the U.S.A. was released and “my guy” was suddenly the biggest rock star on the planet. I saw him at the Capitol Centre in Largo, MD, the month I turned 14. Perhaps that vulnerable age mixed with the power of those legendary live shows and I was doomed (blessed?) to be cemented for life as a Bruce Fan, I don’t know. But I still feel like that night I found out that there really was a circus to run away with. I’d be reminded again, by everyone from the Grateful Dead to The Roots and by Springsteen 11 more times over the years.

So Uncle Bruce turns 62 today. Which makes it seem like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Stones must be in their 80s. Love him, hate him, or respect him with indifference, but may everyone be lucky enough to still have his energy when they reach that age. Or at least be saved by rock’n’roll.

Music and Sports: They’re More Similar Than You Think

The same? Sorta. Maybe.? Not really.

Dennis Rodman was the “rock star” of the NBA during his playing days. His flamboyant lifestyle, tattoos, extravagance, and eccentricity being the most obvious reasons why. That, and his aggressive defensive style made him stick out of an otherwise dull crowd of players.  Which added another line to his resume: Rebel. And we all know that rock and roll and rebellion have been tied together since the days of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Sports have had their fair share of “rebels,” from Ty Cobb to Muhammad Ali to Andre Agassi to Mark Cuban to Brian Wilson, and everyone in between. To be a rebel in sports is to stand out from the rest of the athletes you compete against, either through personality, politics, or for sheer  entertainment value. To be a rebel in music is…expected.

If you have ever played any form of organized sports–whether it be Little League baseball, soccer, high school track, or volleyball–then you fundamentally understand the concept of a team. If you have ever played in band then you too should understand that concept. Both require all of its parts to be in sync for there to be any real success.

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Jason Isbell Hits Home

Sometimes records come along and they just creep in and grow on you. But even the ones that grow on you can still be familiar upon first meeting, like that person you meet who you just connect with on some level like you knew them before, or whatever it is that some folks refer to as a good vibe. Or like a creaky floor that’s just always sounded that way and for some reason it’s a subconscious comfort of sorts.

Jason IsbellAnd then in walks Jason Isbell’s latest album Here We Rest. It’s instantly likeable and the kind of record that sounds as good on Sunday morning as it did on Saturday night. It’s dense with real life, not unlike a film. There’s a perfect mix of heartbreak and promise; of love and pain, of dreams and regrets.

The sound of Isbell and his fine band, the 400 Unit, is also perfectly mixed. There’s a clarity and separation that allows each guitar and organ part to seep out without calling too much attention to itself. The different sounds used (acoustic and electric guitars, fiddles, slide guitar, pianos and organs) are tasteful and always right on, and there’s “layers” without having 17 overdubs of extra guitars needlessly doubling parts.

Isbell’s coffee-stained vocal delivery is warm and sweet; a southern drawl meets blue-eyed soul that he honed when first winning us over as a member of the Drive-By Truckers. On some of DBT’s finest albums, Isbell’s songs (especially “Outfit,” “Decoration Day,” “Danko/Manuel,” “Goddamn Lonely Love”) were among the highlights, if not the centerpieces. No surprise that his first two solo albums were solid (but overlooked) gems. And this latest one is proving to be his finest, rewarding repeated listens with subtle nuances. Certain lyric lines just hit you, sometimes for their meaning and other times for Isbell’s phrasing; or both, when he turns a phrase like “No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about.”

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The Year Rock Dies

If your age is 28 or older and you are reading this then you are probably not a rock star.

So you are obviously not dead.

I am going to be the umpteenth person to write about this subject: The Long List of Musicians Who Die At The Age of 27. I do so because there was a time when I thought to myself: “If you ever ‘make it’ in music then you will die at the age of 27.”

Janis Joplin

It was because of the Hendrix/Joplin/Morrison triage that I actually thought like this, like it was somehow an honor, or a rite of passage into rock legend status. You should die a young, usually substance abuse related, death.

At the age of 27 of course.

Then came along ol Kurt and his suicide which brought a more modern member to the list. It had been a while since any rock star that famous had died the 27 death. Almost 20 years later Amy Winehouse joins the group. What each have in common is obvious, but it does make you wonder if these artists were thinking something similar themselves? Like, man, I gotta take advantage of everything all of the time. Full indulgence. Because it’s either expected from me, available, part of the lifestyle, or a serious issue I have to deal with in the public eye. I’m not saying this isn’t pressure that 98% of musicians trying to make it wouldn’t want to have. It’s like a baseball fan saying how much they would love an athletes lifestyle, to get paid that much for just playing a game.

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“Getting” Bon Iver

The new Bon Iver record just doesn’t sound like anything else. Nowadays it seems that’s the last frontier: unique originality. There’s only so many notes. You’re not going to think of anything that Miles Davis or Leonard Bernstein didn’t already come up with. Everything else is Beatlesque or ripping off the Stones (who were rip-off artists).

So while it used to be good enough to just sound like something that was already considered great and successful, at some point being completely new and “indescribable” was the new benchmark. It wasn’t enough to combine genres, the best artists could defy them.

It probably started with invention of hip-hop and rap music in the late 70’s and it’s subsequent explosion in the 80’s. Sure, they literally and physically combined genres, but it didn’t sound like anything else ever. Later, Radiohead came along. Their earliest work was guitar-drums driven, but they morphed into something from the future. Something indescribable. You might make the case that more recent critics darlings My Morning Jacket have that “dude you just gotta hear ’em” factor that would put them in this category.

Interestingly, both Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James have something else in common: they like to do a lot of their work in falsetto, their high vocals often serving as either an attraction for fans or a deal-breaker for the listeners that just don’t like it.
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The Curious Case of Thomas Earl Petty

He’s made at least one quality album in five different decades. He’s a rock star despite his turned-the-corner-and-got-smacked-with-a-frying-pan looks. He’s had his house burned down by arsonists and toured with Bob Dylan. He’s played Live Aid, Bonnaroo, and the Super Bowl. He’s fought with record companies and been the subject of a 4-hr documentary. When he was 10, he met Elvis. He’s on the shortlist of Greatest Video Hitmakers of the 80s, but he’s also a Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer who really does seem like he’d be cool to have a beer with.

He’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a guitar strap. He’s Tom Petty.

Seriously, does anyone hate this guy? Sure, some might not love all his music. Some might be a bit turned off by his Dylanesque whine, or maybe they find “Free Fallin’” a bit annoying and overplayed. But does anyone hate Tom Petty? I don’t think so.

Without recounting his entire career, the broad strokes of it are a case study in… in… I’m not sure what. Petty and his career are just so unique for someone who comes off so ordinary. The first sentence of his bio on allmusic.com mentions that he was “shoehorned into the punk/new wave movement” of the late 1970s, but would anyone confuse Petty with the Sex Pistols or Talking Heads? He often shares sentences (and fans) with Bruce Springsteen, but even this Springsteen fanatic must admit that it’s Petty who exudes the regular-guy cool that Bruce has (ironically) tried so hard to personify.

His turn as the Mad Hatter in the infamous video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” is one of the indelible images of MTV’s heyday, inexplicably tying him to the likes of Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the more-usual suspects who brought some artistry to the commercial art of video making.

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G. Love Gets an Assist from the Avett Brothers

On his solid new album Fixin to Die, it sounds like G. Love has traded in his cold beverages for hot ones and wisely let the Avett Brothers mix up the special sauce.

Still best known for kicking out the hip-hop-styled blues and folksy party jams with his backing band Special Sauce, G. Love has made a great new record with the considerable aid of the Avetts rootsy live-sounding production and their able talents as multi-instrumentalists.

Among many standout tracks, “Milk and Sugar,” a love letter to coffee (and sweet women), serves as a subtle hot bookend to his early-career minor hit “Cold Beverages.” Alongside the usual suspects (covers of blues material by Willie McTell and Bukka White), there are also a couple of eyebrow raisers such as takes on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Lou Reed’s “Pale Blue Eyes.” And yet somehow it works, as odd as it may seem. Continue reading →

Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots

The Drive-By Truckers excellent new album Go-Go Boots is just the latest chapter in the story of a truly great American rock’n’roll band. Even aside from their significant catalog, Go-Go Boots stands on its own as a testament to the melting pot of Americana, where blue-eyed soul and driving rock tunes chug along next to murder ballads and porch-front ditties.

For the most part, the two faces on either side of the DBT’s coin are primary singer/songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, one with a high raspy voice and the other a smooth baritone. Such is the duality of the Truckers thing. As hard as they rock in the live setting (and many times on record as well), they are usually at their best on those quiet or mid-tempo moments that just sound better when you turn them up loud. While most songs follow some variation of a verse-chorus, verse-chorus-bridge pattern, these guys write songs more like man-wife, betrayal-murder-trial. Or sometimes sex-booze-rock-roll.

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A Love Letter to The Low End Theory

Time: Back in the Day
Place: Boulevard of Linden

Assessing great works of art, or trying to use words to convey the depths of our admiration of said works, is a futile pursuit. It’s not quite silly, as there’s good reason to spread the word about an album, painting, movie, or book that others might love. But it’s damn near impossible.

One of the great artistic landmarks of late-20th century popular music, and specifically the world of hip-hop, is A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 masterpiece The Low End Theory.

The problem with where I take this essay from here relates to my previous assertion that it’s such a difficult task. It would be easier to lock you in a room or a car and just put The Low End Theory on repeat. More effective would be a time machine to transport us back to the house parties of the early-to-mid 90’s, where it seemed everyone had this album and everyone knew at least most of the words. Another angle might be to quote the legions of previous writers and musicians who have noted its brilliance and the influence that this Tribe album had on the world of rap music.

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Radio Killed Zeppelin: Top 10 Songs That Remain the Same

Today we mourn the death of a great band, Led Zeppelin, at the hands of big bad Classic Rock Radio. Sure, you could look at a couple tracks on the following list like “eh, that’s not overplayed; I wish my station would play that one.” And that illustrates the point. The fact that we can all think of more than 10 Led Zeppelin songs that are so overplayed says something about classic rock radio.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Black Dog
  3. Communication Breakdown
  4. Whole Lotta Love
  5. Immigrant Song
  6. Rock’n’Roll
  7. Fool in the Rain
  8. D’yer Mak’er
  9. All My Love
  10. Dancing Days and Heartbreaker (tie)
  11. Kashmir*

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Top 10 Best 3-Consecutive Album Runs

I think the title is clear enough: these are the 10 best 3-consecutive album runs. The only general guidelines were: no live albums, no ep’s, no greatest hits/collections, and of course they had to be 3 in a row by the same artist. here’s the list, in no particular order:

1. Bob Dylan
Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. If you don’t automatically nod your head in knowing concurrence with the greatness of these three releases, stop wasting time on the computer and go buy these CD’s. And to think that 40 years later he posted Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times. A solid run that late in a career, but not great enough to make this list.

2. Rolling Stones
Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street. Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante, E Street guitarist, and underground garage rock DJ extraordinaire) once said, “Beggars Banquet to Exile on Main Street make up the greatest run of albums in history—all done in three and a half years.” Sorry Little Steven, we only have room for three on this list.

3. The Beatles
Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or: Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, and the white album. Or: Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver… or… you get the idea.

4. Jimi Hendrix
Are You Experienced?, Axis Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. Wow. Three amazing albums that each stand on their own as bonafide “desert island classics” on their own. Not bad considering this was almost his whole studio output during his lifetime. Incredible considering this was done within about two years.

5. Neil Young
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest. Once again, with an artist this good you could pick a different three. I picked these.

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Rick Rubin’s Resume

Actually, Rick Rubin’s Resume would be a cool name for a band, assuming he didn’t sue you. Anyway, wow. He not only has produced influential debuts from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J to Run DMC to Public Enemy, but in the process proved that rock and rap could co-exist. He’s pretty much responsible for Johnny Cash’s late-career comeback and produced the flourish of albums at the end of Cash’s life. He produced a mid-career masterpiece for Tom Petty, almost all of the Slayer albums, and I think every Chili Peppers record since and starting with the classic Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He’s done solo/acoustic records for Neil Diamond and Jakob Dylan, alt-rock stuff like Slipknot, and produced the album that contains “Baby Got Back.” Most recently he got the unfocused and feuding Metallica to stop putting out crap and make a classic-sounding Metallica album and then produced a great rootsy folksy ditty for indie favorites the Avett Brothers. That kind of variety is what makes him incredible. He’s done everything at every end of every spectrum and everywhere in between and most of it is great. Sometimes all within the same year.

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Sonic Youth – Simon Werner A Disparu

The mere mention of the band Sonic Youth conjures images of the ultimate alt.rock pioneers; among the most respected bands in all of rock, the noise-rock veterans are critics’ darlings on one side and the ultimate indie-cool band for at least two generations of music fans on the other. But once the buzzwords are stripped away, they are a group of musicians who make engaging and unique sounds and their new soundtrack album Simon Werner a Disparu is yet another stunning example.

Last year, Sonic Youth gathered at their studio to view working footage of French director Fabrice Gobert’s new film about the mysterious disappearance of teenagers in an early-90’s Paris suburb. Over the next few weeks, they recording music eventually edited to fit the various scenes. But for this album, instead of just releasing the music clips from the film, the band returned to the original tapes and re-organized the assortment of musical sections for this new release on their own Sonic Youth Records label, sometimes combining multiple tracks, other times extending parts into new ventures entirely.

However they did it, Simon Werner a Disparu works as a fine instrumental Sonic Youth album. While the arrangements and vocal sections of their recent more-traditional album work is occasionally missed (life is always better with more moans, whispers, and screams from Kim Gordon), the tracks here are still engaging and at times hypnotic and transformative. That said, it never gets too weird or noisy, especially considering this is Sonic Youth. It’s mostly on the mellow side, but far from catatonic; it stays interesting without getting too frantic.

At times pulsing with steady grooves, and yet dreamlike and drifting in and around other spots, this is the sound of electric guitars screeching and crashing with drums beating like hearts in that mysterious place between sleep and consciousness. Maybe they ain’t that young anymore, but thankfully they are still thundering down the road less travelled, and they are still sonic.

Top 10 Best County Albums Ever

Keep in mind, these are just the ones that I love the best. NOT a list of the Most Important/Influential or what have you. Just my favorites. Some might be considered classic country, folk, alt.country, country-rock… doesn’t matter. I promise these are all great records. In no particular order, but numbered anyway. Ah screw it, I’ll give ya 11:

1.Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac
2.Gram Parsons – G.P./Grievous Angel
3.Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
4.Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose
5.Johnny Cash – The Legend of Johnny Cash
6.Ryan Adams & the Cardinals Jacksonville City Nights
7.Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World
8.Old 97’s – Too Far To Care
9.Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline
10.Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day
11.Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead