Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses

My little brother died in 1990. It was sudden and unexpected and fucked me up. I had to clear his apartment and had an old friend of his fly in to help with the process. During the week the two of us worked our way through my brother's shit, sorting that which should be kept from that which was destined for the dumpster, we played a lot of music. That friend had brought this disc with him and it ended up on repeat play as I finished off beer after beer (the friend was on the wagon leaving lots for me.)

This record has been praised over the years: "one of the greatest debuts ever," "a masterpiece combining pop and dance," blah, blah blah. Fuck all that. From the sound drenched beginning of the first track, I Wanna Be Adored, that evolves into a dark and disturbing cocksure pronouncement (it's not a plea,) this thing had me hooked. I raged, wept, and got distinctly fetal to this record. It seemed to fit my needs superbly.

I don't listen to it much anymore (maybe I should), but when I do it's a goddamned rib-spreader: exposing my heart, lungs, and assorted viscera to the elements of that wretched time.

nuff said.

Since the Stone Roses were the nominal leaders of Britain's "Madchester" scene — an indie rock phenomenon that fused guitar pop with drug-fueled rave and dance culture — it's rather ironic that their eponymous debut only hints at dance music. What made the Stone Roses important was how they welcomed dance and pop together, treating them as if they were the same beast. Equally important was the Roses' cool, detached arrogance, which was personified by Ian Brown's nonchalant vocals. Brown's effortless malevolence is brought to life with songs that equal both his sentiments and his voice — "I Wanna Be Adored," with its creeping bassline and waves of cool guitar hooks, doesn't demand adoration, it just expects it. Similarly, Brown can claim "I Am the Resurrection" and lie back, as if there were no room for debate. But the key to The Stone Roses is John Squire's layers of simple, exceedingly catchy hooks and how the rhythm section of Reni and Mani always imply dance rhythms without overtly going into the disco. On "She Bangs the Drums" and "Elephant Stone," the hooks wind into the rhythm inseparably — the '60s hooks and the rolling beats manage to convey the colorful, neo-psychedelic world of acid house. Squire's riffs are bright and catchy, recalling the British Invasion while suggesting the future with their phased, echoey effects. The Stone Roses was a two-fold revolution — it brought dance music to an audience that was previously obsessed with droning guitars, while it revived the concept of classic pop songwriting, and the repercussions of its achievement could be heard throughout the '90s, even if the Stone Roses could never achieve this level of achievement again.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Paul McCartney And Wings - Band On The Run

It's 1974. High in the Colorado Rockies I sit in a cabin with a bunch of hormonally challenged 13 year olds - a motley crew who all look like rejected casting finalists from Bless the Beasts and the Children. They have nicknames that include the likes of "Doc", "Silent", "Lupus", "Dopey", and our martyr, "Red", whose innocence will be shattered (and by extension, ours as well) five days into that fortnight - sacrificed on the altar of adult indifference and ass covering.

This is my first and only experience at summer camp. In between the archery, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, mountain climbing, and greased watermelon contests my cohorts and I - the "Bobcats" - spend our free time hanging with the girls who bunk in the "Silver Foxes" cabin (co-ed camps were the settings for more first kisses than anywhere else on Earth.) The entire experience is soundtracked by scratchy AM radios, and the hits that fuel the summer explode from this record. From Jet and Helen Wheels and the title track, to Let Me Roll It, and Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five (the last two seeping out late at night from the counselors' FM sets), this music sets the stage for the obnoxious ditherings of this, our early adolescence - that tipping point from childhood to hell.

I can't hear anything from this album now without being dragged back to that place - those moments. The songs carry with them the whiff of pine, the numbness of chilly mornings, and the sting of raw sunburns, but most importantly, they carry the distinct images of those cabin-mates, not one of whom I have seen in three and a half decades, but who are nonetheless as clear to me as if we lunched yesterday.

The record is easily slagged. Although a masterpiece of style, its substance is light as a feather. But who gives a shit? It's what it does that matters. This is exactly why we listen to music: because years later it can, as keenly as the scent of a first love's cherry lip gloss or the feel of Lake Granby's cool mud between the toes, ignite memories of who we were, what we did, and how much we lost.

DMCA takedown removed link

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interview with Eric Haugesag of Playhouse

This brief interview was first posted May 7, 2008 on a now-defunct blog. At that time I contacted Peter Jesperson of Twin/Tone Records. He put me in touch with Eric Haugesag, who had been a member of the band Playhouse. Their one EP on TwinTone, "Gazebo Princess," was released in 1987. I am reposting that interview here now, because I still really like this record, and it's still not on iTunes. You can download a file ripped from vinyl at the link above.

Subject: Playhouse.Well I have been called a

Then Stefan became a rich successful lawyer and moved to England. Much of the energy came from trying to play harder than each other. I started another Minneapolis band called Small Engine City where I felt more prolific and less worried about achievement but there was a sadness watching fellow musicians of the time slowly dissolve in liquor. We would rehearse and write one day and the next day was like square one. So, now I live in Brooklyn and play for my 3 year old who prefers Dan Zanes, oh well.


FR: Hi Eric, Thanks so much for contacting me. First, I have to ask -- did your original email get truncated in some fashion, lose a paragraph in transit, or did you fully intend to have a dangling subject header and open in mid-story? Either way it's fine, just wondering exactly what you have been called and by who, and what happened to the band before "then Stefan became a rich successful lawyer..."

EH: oleesmokes...No. I just don't write as much as some people. 'Your Flesh' Fanzeen did call me a "right dick" once, but that was on behalf of Chris [Nygaard, Playhouse bassist].

FR: I bemoan the non-availability of Gazebo Princess. Will it ever see the light of day again? Digitally?

EH: Keep in touch with Paul Stark [Twin/Tone cofounder]. 
He saw the future of imusic long before most knew what the internet was. I think he has a few more years worth of copyright on the gazbo prinkus. I wrote to him not long ago and he said he was having the record remastered to be at itunes soon. This is good news because the vinyl pressings we got weren't very good compared to the master

FR: The Twin/Tone band page instructs me to "just wait" for more Playhouse. What happened?

EH: The Twin Tone bio was crap written by a giggly young woman that did not know what we played. I thought at the time "Who is going to read this anyway" Twenty years shit.
FR: Hah! The Net springs eternal! So, how did you get Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum to record the album?

Dave went to high school with us and we were neighbors in Minneapolis.

FR: Where did you record the album?

Salmagundi, in Northfield, MN.

TB: Do you have any anecdotes that you recall related to the recording?

During one of our sessions there, Dave and I went to a bar for some take out. The lid for my french fries had a message for Dave- "Pull my trigger, Dave. It's what I live for." I was not going to touch those fries.

FR: Err, by which you mean that you had no intention of going down the path of major label embarrassment, rural airport gigs, and Wynona Ryder? No, wait. I take that back. Question withdrawn. God Bless Dave Pirner. Agreed, creepy fan fries can be very unhealthy. Apropos of nothing, I have to say that "My Eyes" is one of my current faves off the record. Were there any outtakes or songs left off Gazebo Princess?

Yes, there were outakes. And I wrote 'My Eyes' 2 days before we recorded it.

FR: You mentioned that the drummer Stefan Sarles is now a lawyer living in England. Any word from the bass player?

EH: Chris is hard to get a hold of. He likes it that way.

FR: Did you guys ever tour?

EH: Stefan did not want to tour but we played the midwest -- "Duluth to Madison" [pedantic editor's note: this is a reference to a line from the Replacements song "Treatment Bound"] -- and some Chicago. [ouch, looks like we missed them!]
FR: Was anything else ever recorded by Playhouse?

EH: We were about to head back to the studio when Stefan said he had no time.

FR: Double Ouch. You mentioned that you were in another band after Playhouse called Small Engine City. Did they record at all?

 Small E C did a 45. Kinda cool. We got a lot of college play. I have an ADAT tape that I would like to convert but I can't get my hands on a deck.FR: Did the ritual wanton self-destruction of the rockscene leave such a bad taste in your mouth that it turned you off rocknroll for good?

 No regrets. I loved it all.

FR: Any other unheralded or forgotten bands from back in the day that you'd care to recommend?

From the same era I recommend ArcwelderCows and TVBCriflesport and on and on...

FR: These days do you ever get the itch to record or play again in a rock-format combo? i.e., can I look forward to an unplugged version of Corner the Market on youtube any time soon?

There is some great talent here in NYC but I have to hustle to make enough money.

FR: Mr. Internets tells me that you work in the film industry nowadays. Is that glamorous?

I work in film production on technocranes but I don't update IMDB. Yes, I have worked with big name stars, including the Stones, but at the end of a long day, it's just a job.

FR: Well, again, let me just say, it's been great to hear from you. Thank you so much for contacting me, and thanks most of all for the truly wonderful record.

EH: I am glad you like the record. I am always honored when fellow musicians are fans.

Trouser Press: "Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner co-produced Gazebo Princess, this uncommon Minneapolis trio's rawboned mini-album debut. Skittish, disorienting syncopation supports guitarist Eric Haugesag's distorted power'n'jazz chords and throaty vocals in a punk-folk-jazz hybrid that derives equally from Killing Joke, the Minutemen and Love. Melodic but no less challenging than the flintier tracks that surround them, "My Eyes" and "Rule No. 1" are standouts that indicate the extent of Playhouse's potential." -- Ira Robbins

Twin/Tone bio:  

The Band:

Eric Haugesag (How' guh sog) sings, plays the guitar, writes all the songs. He's 25, but looks 12, except for a world-weariness that's somehow crept into his eyes. He comes from a very musical family; he learned to play bass before he could even pick it up. The first song he wrote included lyrics like "Your wife is gaudy/And her doggy's naughty". He ties his showlaces different from anyone else in the world.

Chris Nygaard (Nye' guard) plays bass. He's 22, but he too looks younger. He began playing bass right out of high school. This is his first band He met Eric when he went to school with his brother. Chris thinks Playhouse should be Rock Gods by now. They will be.

Stefan (Ste' fan) Sarles is the drummer. He's 23. He also looks younger than that, but not too much because he's so tall. He's known Eric since nursery school, although they weren't friends unitl later. He was in bands in Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to college. Now he 's in law school.

The Band's Sound:

Stefan's arms whirl all over the place, creating maniacally paced drum rhythms. Chris' melodic bass lines keep right up with the pace, whiel Eric's guitar creates a noisy, frenzied overlay that never lets up. the resultant sound is alternately furious and delicate; songs ebb and flow, bounce, rage, and float. Jittery garage pop that's funk-tinged and even sllightly psychedelic. No joke tunes for this band, thier songs are about things like the atrophied state of the music scene, nuclear holocaust, and how people treat each other, and sung in Eric's hoarse vocals. Eric listened to a lot of jazz while growing up, but he's more influenced by the structure and logic of it than the sound. He's influenced by everthing he hears, even bad bands, because they inspire him to be better than them.

The Band's History (according to The Label):

The band formed in December of 1985, although Eric and Stefan had jammed together years before that. In April, 1986 they played their first gig, on Stefan's birthday, at Club Degenerate in the Seventh Street Entry. They were asked back right away, and the next month they opened two shows for the Meat Puppets. That fall they saved their pennies and recorded an 8-track demo tape with Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum producing. Pirner also co-produced the debut EP, with the band's soundman Terry Karkanen. This is Pirner's first crack at producing.

The Band's History (according to The Band):

"In order to have a biography you must first have a past. Playhouse has no past, we're as innocent as a little puppy. Just Wait."

Twin/Tone Bio 4/87

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

V; - Don't Let the Bastards [1980]

Boston artpunk!
'Don't Let the Bastards' and 'Wardrobes in Hell'  are two great artpunk songs with female vocals experimental dubbish warped punk.  They are still active  WEBSITE

Friday, April 13, 2012

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