Friday, December 26, 2014
Every now and then some self-styled expert proclaims that rock and roll is dead, or on life support, and the question becomes "who is going to save rock and roll?" To be clear, I don't subscribe to such gloom and doom notions and I don't suspect that regular readers of this blog subscribe to it either. But to play along, if rock needed saving, what current group would you point to to revitalize the broad genre of rock? I would guess you all have a thought, and because you are interested enough in pop music to be reading, I'll assume that your candidate is worthy and well considered. However, in case you need a back up, or are willing to allow me to propose an alternative, take a listen to Parquet Courts and their June LP Sunbathing Animal. Following on their well received Light Up Gold, this album continues the lads' adventure in noisy rock, with a few quieter interludes. The album was released in June, and for some now forgotten reason I didn't listen to it. I recently pulled it out and was thoroughly impressed. For my ears there are clear similarities to both The Rolling Stones (when The Rolling Stones were The Rolling Stones rather than The Rolling Stones Touring Machine, Inc.) and The Clash. Repeated listens gave me suggestions of Pavement, and maybe a bit of The Clean, The Kinks, and The Fall. Good company, for sure, but also damn fine music.
There is volume, guitar noise, an aggressive rhythm section, and unapologetic vocals. Of course there are ragged edges, but this is rock and roll. And building on that statement, this isn't music that pretends to invent something. It takes what it likes from its predecessors and interprets it. No bells and whistles, and our experience is better for it.
The three tracks below provide a taste of the breadth of the listening experience, from the punk fury of the title track to the shambling folk rock of "Instant Disassembly" to The Clean-like "Pretty Machines".
Sunbathing Animal is out on Mom + Pop Music / What's Your Rupture. If you like rock and roll, this is top ten stuff folks; don't sleep on it.
Parquet Courts are based in Brooklyn, and its members are Andrew Savage (lead vocals, guitar), who formerly was one-half of Denton, Texas' Fergus & Geronimo, Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Max Savage (drums).
Mom + Pop Music
What's Your Rupture? records
We've saved the best for our last week here at Rolling Stones Friday.
I'll never forget the first time I heard "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". I was 8 years old and at a large family gathering at my grandparents' house, amidst my Italian-American aunts, uncles and cousins packing the small house. My cousin Raymond, the coolest guy I knew (then and still today!) called me into the dining room where he had a small radio. "You heard this new song by the Rolling Stones? Well you need to. Put away that "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" stuff, this is rock and roll." Raymond was only 11 or 12 at the time but he knew how important this was.
It was the summer of 1965, and the radio was dominated by some great pop singles like The Beatles' "I Feel Fine", The Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda", Petula Clark's "Downtown" and "My Girl" by the Temptations. The British Invasion was in full swing with lightweight bands having hits like Herman's Hermits' "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and Freddie and the Dreamers "I'm Telling You Know".
The Rolling Stones had gone into RCA Studios in Los Angeles for one day on May 12, 1965 and come out with a new single, one of their first original compositions, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". The single was rushed into release less than a month later on June 6.
To this day, it snarls and sounds threatening and downright nasty. Keith Richard's guitar riff is one of the most distinctive and memorable in rock history. There's no point in debating whether it is the single greatest rock and roll song of all time, but it's on anybody's short list, certainly up there with whatever classic song you name - "Like a Rolling Stone", "Hey Jude", "London Calling", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Jailhouse Rock", "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag".
The expression of frustration is a core element of a great deal of rock'n'roll. But seldom is it captured as succinctly as here - the girls who didn't want him, the barrage of marketing coming at him, the oppression from all sides. And the generational divide is captured in the bad grammar of the chorus: "I can't get no!"
The song is a sort of stake in the ground in 1965, a precursor of a youth revolution that would metastasize a couple years later around sexual freedom and a full-throttled rejection of the Western military-industrial complex. All this youthful frustration captured in perhaps the most famous guitar riff in history and the increasingly urgent delivery of the simple line: "I can't get no satisfaction!"
A lip synched television version from 1965:
A remarkably good live proto-punk version from a 1965 concert:
A big and current version from the 2013 Glastonbury festival, with Mick Taylor, a horn section and more, proving that even nearly 40 years later the song still has power and relevance:
Thanks for reading this feature this year. And a special shout out to Frank Fahey who supported this enthusiastically, posted Rolling Stones Friday at his Facebook page every week, and suggested songs I might highlight.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
"Rolling On" from Sydney's Eleanor Dunlop is stripped back garage rock with some surf accents. An album is planned for 2015, and if it is anything like this, we'll be very happy.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
One of the great little labels in Australia is Milk! Records, founded by Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher. Overcome with the holiday spirit, the label is offering a six song sampler of music from the label's artists for 'name your price'. The set includes songs from both label bosses, as well as "Book of Love" from Fraser Gorman. Tracks from East Brunswick All Girls Choir, The Finks, and Royston Vasie complete the sampler. Find some new favorite bands for an unbeatable price.
Milk Records' webpage
Monday, December 22, 2014
One of my favorite albums of 2014 is Dreaming Tracks from Belfast's Sea Pinks (our review here). For a limited time, the band and CF Records is making the album available for 'name your price', so I suggest that you hum your favorite holiday song and click your way over to the Bandcamp page.