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Hey everybody. Sorry for the delay in posting. Five Tunes HQ got bogged down by the flu and various holiday/work related duties, but now we’re back. Today, it’s another “Best of 2009” list from another one of our favorites from last year, Ganglians.

While Woodsist has put out a myriad of great tunes—from the jangly soul pop of Fergus & Geronimo to the dreamy beach sounds of Real Estate—Ganglians are definitely one of the best on the label. The band’s fuzzy psych-pop is amazing. Very few people can toe the line between “catchy” and “weird” when it comes to psychedelia, and Ganglians does an amazing job of incorporating both elements into their songs. If you haven’t listened to Monster Head Room yet, get on it.

Ganglians – “Lost Words” (from Monster Head Room)

Here’s five from Ganglians’ Ryan Grubbs.

five tunes

1) Grass Widow – “Lulu’s Lips” (from Grass Widow)- “Some of the best girl group harmonies to come out in years. Very nice people, too, and a very concise, tight group of musicians.”

2) The Walker Brothers – “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” (single)- “Emptiness is a cloak you wear” Scott Walker croons before said cloak opens and dispells all the sadness with a chorus so heartbreakingly genuine and questionably hopeful that you’re reminded of every time you saw the light at the end of the tunnel.”

3) The Hospitals – “Scan the Floor for Food” – “The whole Hairdryer Peace album is one big razor edged nightmare of a dream (psychotic, paranoid, in a constant state of confusion, things flying at you from every angle) but when it all slows down to a simmering boil towards the end this song reminds you of all the good times you had getting there, thinking you’re insane all the way trying to hold on to what reality once was. We’re lucky enough to have Adam recording the next Ganglians 7″, he’s a true mastermind with tape machines and we couldn’t be more terrified.”

4) Twinkeyz – “Tonight Again” – “When I first heard this band not too long ago I couldn’t believe they weren’t an early influence of ours. They have all the same aesthetics; aliens, mystery, cartoons, space, outcasts; only 30 years earlier. Donnie Jupiter is now a comic book artist and animator after some really tragic events. And the kicker is they’re also from Sacramento! It may be too late but it’s time this band gets the attention it deserves.”

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5) John Maus – “Tenebrae” (from Love is Real) – “An epic, masonic masterpiece that manages to erect the massive hallowed halls of the intergalactic gods of space and time right in the mind’s eye. Best listened to barreling down a country road on a starry night clutching Aliester Crowley’s Book Of Lies.”

Ganglians – Lala | InsoundiTunes


The Spits

Hello again. We continue our best of 2009 series with punks The Spits for their record Vol. IV.

In 2009, garage punk was amazing. In a year with new releases by Jack O., the Black Lips, Jay Reatard and King Khan, my best of the year list was flooded by the genre. One of the best albums in the bunch was Vol. IV, a brilliant study in sloppy, incredible punk rock.

The Spits’ Vol. IV was easily one of the albums I returned to the most in 2009. The Seattle punks made a record that was integral to their sound: loud, fast, and dirty as hell. It’s probably the closest thing to the Ramones’ self-titled that 2009 got. My one complaint? I still haven’t found a copy of their cover of “Pain” from the punk episode of “C.H.I.P.S.”

The Spits – “Police” (from Vol. IV)

Here’s what the band said about their list: “So the Spits have been touring around the country in our RV a fair amount lately, and here are some of the songs that have been getting a lot of mileage.”

five tunes

1) The Oakridge Boys – “Elvira” (from Gold) – “‘Oom-bapa Oom-bapa Oom-bapa Mow Mow!’ Seriously. What else do ya need?”

2) Pretty much the entire Randy Newman catalog – “No one can talk-sing a song like the maestro. When we play Randy in the RV, there is no chit-chat. Everyone just sits and listens and looks out the window.”

3) Poison – “Talk Dirty to Me” (from Look What The Cat Dragged In) – “This one is the postshow backstage anthem. No other songs gets chicks  shrieking and throwing their underwear around the room like this one. Break out the wine coolers and let the good times roll! It worked when we were teens in Allegan, and it still works today.”

4) Grand Funk Railroad – “We’re An American Band” (from We’re An American Band) – “‘We’re coming to your town, we’re gonna party down…’ Sound like someone you know?”

5) James Brown – “I Feel Good” (from I Feel Good And Other Hits, Live!) – “This is just a great sing-along when you’re hanging with your bros. When you actually feel good and you wanna get your funk on after, say, having a great meal at Hooters…this is the tune you wanna hear.”

The Spits – Lala | Insound

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds

And we’re back! For the next few posts, we’re going to look at some of the artists who released some of our favorite music of this year. First up, we’ve got a list from Kid Congo.

The fact that 2009 brought us a new Kid Congo record was a blessing. The man was a member of The Cramps, The Gun Club and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but Dracula Boots is definitely one of my favorite Kid Congo endeavors. The record is a joy from start to finish. I love that Kid doesn’t rely on screaming or even crooning. He’s speaking, and he does it in this cool, seductive way that makes you want to follow him wherever he happens to be walking, like Roger Moore or something.

Dracula Boots by Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds is amazing. It’s garage punk, it’s a little funky (like in his cover of “Funky Fly” by Bo Diddley), it’s spooky, it’s goofy. Think if Count Dracula starting narrating his tale of finding a peanut, or if a drunk, lo-fi, twisting Vincent Price starting hanging with Wooden Shjips. Really excellent stuff.

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds – “Rare As The Yeti” (from Dracula Boots)

Thanks, Kid, for Dracula Boots. Here’s his list.

five tunes

1) The Strange Boys – “Be Brave” (from Strange Boys and Girls Club) – “This is going to be the new single from my fave raves of 2009. I loved the Strange Girls and Boys Club LP, and their live performances really twisted my wig this year. Youngsters wise beyond their years, they know something about music that looks into the past and jumps into the beyond.”

2) Spiritualized – “You Lie You Cheat” (from Songs in A&E) – “As a big fan of Jason Pierce, I have not stopped loving this song since I saw them open their 2009 concert in Washington DC with it late last year. Beautiful, aggressive, mournful, spiteful, sexy, mind-bending and uplifting. All the best things in one song!”

3) Mott The Hoople – “Roll Away The Stone” (from Hoople) – “The recent reunion of  Mott the Hop reminded me to go thru my collection and relive my youth in Satin trousers and platform wedgies on the Sunset Strip. A great education of cool songwriting, wry humor and Dylanisms galore was on offer to this teenager. Thank the lord I listened! I must say..Absolutly Fabulous!”

4) Intoxica radio show – (Although this is not a song, it is my favorite radio show with  demented DJ Howie Pyro on luxuriamusic.com.) – “This  show is what has been one of the main  driving forces behind all my recent songs and keeps me grounded in the absurd in the sometimes too normal day to day. Howie finds not only the most obscure and trashy ’50s and ’60s soul, rock ‘n’ roll, surf, rockabilly, and psychedelic punk junk that actually get made into a coherent altered state, he has such a vastness in his weirdo collection that a new theme every week is no problem. What, Me Worry?”

5) The Cramps – “Drug Train” (from Bad Music For Bad People) – “The late great Lux Interior’s passing had me reeling for weeks and once I put on this song it brought me back to earth with huge smile on my face. ‘You Put one foot up, you put another foot up……you put ANOTHER foot up, and you’re on board the Drug Train….’ We wish him well on the Mystery Plane.”

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds – Insound | Lala | Permanent

Christmas Island

And here we are for our second and final installment of rock ‘n’ roll Christmas time. Today, we’ve got a list from Christmas Island that’s chock full of Christmas tunes.

Sure, Christmas Island may be a reference to the actual island instead of the time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus and await the coming of Santa Claus/sweet sweet gifts, but come on! It’s the holiday, and we at Five Tunes HQ don’t aren’t just listening to Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s beautiful collaboration. We’re listening to some thoughtful and addictive garage rock from In The Red and Captured Tracks. On this sacred day, the San Diego trio is the perfect antidote to your parents blasting Celine Dion’s Christmas album.

Christmas Island – “Bed Island” (from Blackout Summer)

Merry Christmas, everybody. Here’s a Christmas list from Christmas Island.

five tunes

1) Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (from A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector) – “I first heard this song in the movie Gremlins, one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies. In my opinion, this is the definitive Christmas song. Phil Spector’s production is perfectly suited for holiday music. I like the bittersweet nature of the lyrics; innocent and knowing, sad and joyous.” – Brian

2) Alex Chilton – “Jesus Christ” (from Bach’s Bottom) – “A lovely song. I consider myself an atheist, but goddamn if I don’t appreciate the sentiment behind this tune. I prefer this to the version on Big Star’s Third/Sisters Lovers because it sounds rawer and more rockin’. Plus, you’ve got to love the hammy, Beatlesque affectations on Chilton’s vocals.” – Brian

3) Culturcide – “Depressed Christmas” (from the Santa Claus was My Lover 7”) – “Lucy opted not to pick a song because she’s not particularly fond of Christmas so I picked this one out for her. It was a toss-up between this and Fear’s ‘Fuck Christmas’ for a good anti-Christmas song but I like this one better because the singer’s mope-y delivery reminds me of comedian Steven Wright.” – Brian

4) The Fall – “Jingle Bell Rock” (from The Complete Peel Sessions: 1978-2004) – “Mark E. Smithmas!” – Brian

5) Run-DMC – “Christmas in Hollis” (from Greatest Hits) – “I’ve loved this song since I was a kid. Catchy and inviting, universal and personal all at once, sharing their experience and ours. I always get a kick out of hearing this in department stores during the holidays. Super positive and still kinda tough in that Run-DMC way. It’s the only holiday song I get stuck in my head and look forward to hearing again and again.” – Craig

Christmas Island – Lala | Insound

The Snow Angels

At last, ladies and gentleman, it’s rock ‘n’ roll Christmas time. Yes, we’re going to talk great 2009 music in these last days of December, but here comes one of two Christmas lists we’ve got lined up. Santa, pay attention. Here’s one from Chicago. (List two on Christmas day).

Yes, The Snow Angels may be from the North Pole, but during their rest-of-the-year jobs, the Angels are in a few awesome bands: Johnny And The Limelites, Mannequin Men, Vee Dee, and Automatic Stinging Machines. And together? They play some great rock ‘n’ roll for the holiday season. You want holiday cheer and you’re sick of having Vince Guaraldi Trio and A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector? Although you’re severely misguided because both of those albums are brilliant, definitely turn to Seasonal Help by The Snow Angels.

The Snow Angels – “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (from Seasonal Help)

If you want some holiday cheer tonight (Dec. 19), hit The Hideout for The Snow Angels’ Yuletide rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza. And now, a Christmas list from the red ‘n’ green badasses themselves.

five tunes

1) Run DMC – “Christmas in Hollis” (single) – “This song reminds me of ‘Argyle’ – the limo driver from the movie Die Hard. Also, after 20 years, the beats are still fresh.”- Felix Navidad

2) Becky Lee Beck – “I Want a Beatle for Christmas” (single) – “What more could I ask for? Becky would be happy with any of the Fab Four but pleads ‘Santa if you bringo my boy Ringo, I’ll be so happy I could SCREAM!’ Exactly.” – Don December XXV

3) Elvis Presley – “Mama Liked the Roses” (from From Elvis In Memphis B-Sides) – “I just love when Elvis speaks. Elvis Speaks! Another highlight is the line ‘she grow’d them in the yaaard.’ This is why he is my King.” – Kris Mass

4) Wham! – “Last Christmas” (from Music From The Edge Of Heaven) – “I guess I’ve been feeling very nastalgic lately.  the Noth-Pole in the 80’s was such a blast. Everyone was getting high on that Possumhaw Holly. Gretzky was killin it in Edmonton. And I was dating ‘Betty Lou Who’ at the time. Boy oh boy, the things she could do with a candy cane. Lemme tell ya. We had some good times.  But I loved her and she didn’t love me. Oh well. Wham still rules!” – Rey N. Deere

5) Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody” (single) – “Mama, weer all krazee for this holiday jam that makes all the good little girls ho ho horny!” – Santa Cos

Snow Angels – Lala

Mannequin Men

It’s the end of the year, and that means that it’s time to look at some of our favorite albums of this year. In traditional Five Tunes fashion, we’re finishing out 2009 by featuring lists from artists who released some of our favorite music of the year. Today, it’s Lose Your Illusion, Too by Chicago’s amazing Mannequin Men.

This city has a handful of great garage and indie rock bands, but it’s hard to pin Mannequin Men as anything other than rock ‘n’ roll. They chug through the kind of good-feelings rock ‘n’ roll that makes you fondly remember long-gone ideals — old friends, temporary crushes, road trips. The boys utilize Lose Your Illusion, Too to belt out an urgent question: “Do you want a massage?” Like Tim by The Replacements, it’s an unexpected outlet of happy, carefree, possibly drunken rock music (with an amazing use of Internet abbreviations).

Mannequin Men – “Hobby Girl” (from the upcoming Hozac single)

Tonight (Dec. 18), Mannequin Men will be at the Empty Bottle with the great White Mystery. If you haven’t listened to this band’s catalog, get to it. Here’s five from K. Richard.

five tunes

1) Kevin Ayers – “Lunatic’s Lament” (from Shooting At The Moon) – “This is the one thing that solves arguments in the van. Everyone can listen to him endlessly, it sounds good when you’re baked, and it’s versatile enough to suit multiple/varied circumstances.  This is more of a ‘on your way to the show after the show’ kinda tune, but he’s got some ‘please get off the 5 and find a hotel right this second’ kinda tunes too.”

2) Moondog – “Bird’s Lament” (from Sax Pax for a Sax) – “I sort of imagine a simply animated, black and white, 1920s mouse doing a shoulder-heavy dance to this as he walks towards a giant wheel of cheese sitting in the middle of a courtroom with a really strange ominous jury watching him, hoping he steps into a trap. I’m dead serious. What an incredible song by a true outsider.”

3) Jake Thackray – “On Again, On Again!” (from Lah Di Dah) – “I’m new to the Thackray game after continued pressure from my pal Joe, and our guitarist Ethan. He matches Brel in delivery, his lyrics trump Loudon, and the guy can play guitar. This one is funny because it’s about how this girl looks great but WILL NOT SHUT UP. I love the way his phrasing messes with the tempo. He’s a pretty clever guy.”

4) The Clash – “Version City” (from Sandanista!)- “One of the most musical records ever, and easily one of my favorite albums ever.”

5) Stranger Waves – “When I Sleep” (demo)- “No secret that we love these guys. Everyone will compare them to Smith Westerns since they’re young and from Chicago, but there’s an honesty and a humble quality the others are missing that these guys have in spades. You can see the incredible songs that they are about to write following them around the room, it’s tremendous.”

Mannequin Men – Insound | iTunes | Lala

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Chicago has a lot of amazing bands — White Mystery, Smith Westerns, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir — but with all these incredible garage and indie bands, it’s easy to forget that Chicago is also home of jazz, the blues, gospel and soul music, and JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound are easily one of the best soul bands in town. And since Five Tunes’ HQ is in Uptown, Chicago, we’ve got some pride to have our neighborhood’s moniker tacked onto the name of an amazing soul band.

The beat, guitar stabs, and lyrical themes are steeped in that rock-tinged funk of Sly Stone and James Brown. Hell, “Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn” might as well be the new “Chocolate City.” But Brooks’ voice is amazing. Hearing him sing with the band is like when Jerry Wexler had Don Covay record “Sookie Sookie” with Booker T. & The MG’s at Stax.

And do you know another soul band that does a cover of a Wilco song?

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – “Get It Together” (new single)

The Uptown Sound will be headlining “A Very Soulful X-Mas Revue” this Saturday (Dec. 12) at the Double Door. All proceeds go to Second City’s Letters to Santa program (which you may have heard about recently). Listen to soul music, help some children. Here’s five from JC.

five tunes

1) Amy Winehouse – “Take The Box (Headquarters Mix)” (from The Other Side of Amy Winehouse)- “I love this lady’s voice — the tone and timbre aside, her runs are not only perfect, but they seem even more so because they’re inventive. She hits notes in a run that for a split second don’t seem to work and then resolves them beautifully. This tune has a really vibe-y early-mid-’90s R&B feel and great lyrics.”

2) TNT Boys – “Musica Del Alma” (from Sex Symbols) – “I caught this on the radio the other day and loved how these guys cribbed on Archie Bell’s ‘Tighen Up.’ It’s a refreshing take on a song that, for me, has gotten a little worn.”

3) Anita Baker – “Love You To The Letter” (from Compositions) – “I love the jazz-soul and Anita is one of the best at it. Most of her best work sounds a bit dated now (early ’80s synth-driven jazz’n’b) but I love it still. This is a slower, more traditional jazz ballad.”

4) Gorillaz – “Dirty Harry (Schtung Chinese New Year Remix)” (from D-Sides) – “I just dig this song (this remix in particular) because it helps my work day to move along. It’s cool, engaging and isn’t too distracting for the amount of go it provides.”

5) The Apples In Stereo – “Go” (from Discovery of a World Inside the Moone) – “A favorite from way back. I stole this cd from my college’s radio station when I was dj-ing as a freshman. This song is the perfect accompaniment to some film’s nitrous montage. What first caught me about this song is that the intro disarms you with a sort of mindless, happy, dork-rock feel and as the verse hits the track hops to this funky breaks territory, without sacrificing the joy of the previous section to the cool of the breakbeat or the suddenly far-groovier bassline.”

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Insound | iTunes | Lala

Home Blitz

The book Please Kill Me documents the Ramones’ first trip to England. Bands greeted them with a “tougher-than-thou” poise, thinking that the Ramones were in a real-life gang. Of course, they were just a bunch of dudes from New York and New Jersey who played loud, fast, simple rock ‘n’ roll, but the leather jackets, album art and stage presence gave it an entirely different feeling to the people overseas.

Home Blitz give off the exact same feeling. You don’t want to fuck with Daniel DiMaggio and his crew of DIY Jersey punks (from what I hear, the possibly temporary 15-year-old drummer is even quite the badass).

However, just like you can hear the Ramones’ roots in surf music, you can hear Home Blitz roots in more melodic rock ‘n’ roll, like Big Star, especially on the new album Out of Phase. That’s not to say that the new record loses the sloshy, home recorded feeling of their first album. It just occasionally surprises with Alex Chilton’s sophistication after a slack-jawed punk attack.

Home Blitz – “Don’t Talk To Me” (from Out of Phase)

Here’s five from DiMaggio.

five tunes

1) Christian Death – “Spiritual Cramp” (from Only Theatre of Pain) – “A wonderful song from their first album Only Theatre Of Pain. One reason I like this band is that it’s hard to figure out from the voice if singer Rozz Williams is a guy or a girl (pretty sure he’s a guy but I don’t like to think about it). This song has great lyrics like ‘walking on water in a sea of incest/I’ve got the image of Jesus embedded in my chest/I can’t leave home without my bullet-proof vest.'”

2) The Sidewinders – “Got You Down” (from Sidewinders) – “The Sidewinders were an early vehicle for Paley Bro Andy who would go on to make far more tepid records in the later ’70s, produce Brian Wilson, and do other dumb stuff. This song, from their self titled sole album, is unremittingly straight ahead street rock, like normal dudes trying to play Loaded. Totally great ultimate regular-guy sidewalk music. The lyrics to this song hit home for me in a kind of uncomfortable way but I’m still real into it.”

3) Game Theory – White Blues (from Blaze Of Glory) – “The punkest song (not saying much) from the greatest band ever, Game Theory. I listened to this song a bunch of times a day for a while.  So intense. From their first and by far rarest LP Blaze Of Glory, which showcases some of the most atrocious mixing in the history of records and it totally doesn’t matter.”

4) Sublime – “STP” (from Robbin’ The Hood) – “Sublime are one of my favorite bands and the biggest dirtbags to ever get famous (check out the Stories, Tales, Lies & Exaggerations documentary on YouTube). This amazing song is about living in a meth pad and comes to us from their difficult second album Robbin’ The Hood.”

5) Lady Gaga – “Just Dance” (from The Fame)“Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s adlibs during the first two bars of this song make me happier than anything in a really long time, and the first two verses are almost as great, before the whole thing flames out hard with a third verse of sub-Flo-Rida guido sing-rapping from Colby O’Donis. It’s also cool that some of the stuff LG sings in this song, both in the chorus and in the doubletracked staggered talking part at the end, is straight up gibberish, as borne out by the included lyric booklet. Her album The Fame has a bunch of great songs, especially ‘Summer Boy,’ a ‘Dancing Queen’-esque disco rocker with complicated chords (I watched some youtube vids of Colby O’Donis and it turns out that he isn’t actually a guido, but is instead a polite Hispanic boy).”

Home Blitz – Insound | iTunes | Midheaven

The King Khan & BBQ Show

And here we are, list #100. We seriously can’t think of a better band to ring it in with than one of our favorite bands of the year/decade/ever.

The King Khan & BBQ Show are a gift from the psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll heavens. King Khan is our Little Richard and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Mark Sultan (BBQ) is our Del Shannon and Reg Presley. They’re both punk as shit and can still croon and clap like The Crystals.

And their new album Invisible Girl? Incredible. There’s the finger snapping “all in good fun-turned-massacre” song “Spin The Bottle,” there’s the hilarious and barn stompin’ “Animal Party,” and of course, there’s “Tastebuds,” a catchy song about having the ability to taste by using…ahem…sexual organs. It’s one of our favorite albums of the year. Easily.

The King Khan & BBQ Show – “Invisible Girl” (from Invisible Girl)

Tonight, (Dec. 2), The King Khan & BBQ Show will be at the Logan Square Auditorium. If you haven’t bought Invisible Girl yet, get out there and do so. Happy 100, everybody. Here’s a list from King Khan & BBQ.

five tunes

1) Queen & David Bowie – “Under Pressure” (single) – “We started opening our shows with this song recently … it is truly an amazing song … behind the moustache is gold and rabbit teeth.”

2) The Falcons – “Oh Baby” – “The vocals make our spines tingle absolutely essential R&B … take heed Kanye!!!!!”

3) Arkansas Dave – “Arkansas Dave” – “A tale of the demise of Arkansas Dave by the hands of Arkansas Dave sung by Arkansas Dave … you do the math!”

(Ed. note: Couldn’t find “Arkansas Dave” by Arkansas Dave, so instead, here are two other songs involving “Arkansas Dave.” First, “Arkansas Dave” by George Strait, and second, an amateur Machinima video of “The Ballad of Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh” by Pat Green. Enjoy!)

4) Nobunny“Chuck Berry Holiday” (from Love Visions) – “Our fuzzy brother from Oakland strikes again … you can hear the pee pee in his pants … and I don’t mean Chuck!”

5) Bloodshot Bill – “Lickin’ the Bowl” (from Full Blast) – “Our brother from Montreal sings a song about our favorite past time…”

The King Khan & BBQ Show – Insound | Permanent | Lala