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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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”