Posts Tagged ‘Love & Rockets’

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Friends (Or a Reasonable [Electronic] Facsimile Thereof)

February 24, 2011

I first heard Gary Numan on a Beggars Banquet compilation (which also featured some brilliant tracks by Peter Murphy, Rollerskate Skinny and Tones on Tail). Well, I had probably heard Cars first via the radio, which at that point was still trotting out that lurching classic 15 years on from its heyday, myopically reducing Gary Numan to a single song.

And that’s really the problem with radio. Every band exists only as their hit, no matter how many other just as catchy tunes reside on their albums. For instance, the US knows Love & Rockets as So Alive.

At least if you lived in Britain, you had All in My Mind or their cover of Ball of Confusion added to that arbitrary list. Oh, and No New Tale to Tell, which was one of about three salvagable tracks from Earth-Sun-Moon, which many people still insist on calling “underrated.” I don’t know. To my ears, the “underrated” scores are right where they should be.

But we’re not here to discuss my lover for Love & Rockets or the poorly done tattoo of the band’s logo I have tattoed on my right arm.

The follow-up question to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Are Friends Electric? is vintage Numan, all icy synths, monotone vocals and a melodic hook as big as the dystopian outdoors. The huge synth line is twice as good as the one in Cars, if only half as popular.

Here’s the original in all its synthetic glory:

Now that you’ve gone to the source, here’s two different takes on the masterpiece:

Moloko – Are Friends Electric? (live).mp3

Moloko takes the first swing, opting for a rather straightforward rendition. The main twist is part-time singer Mark Brydon’s vocals, which out-deadpan Numan’s original, lending a bit of ironic distance to the cover. It turns out a bit like something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the more restrained portions of Fischerspooner’s discography.

Giresse – Mon Ami.mp3

Giresse heads off in a different direction, using the outsized synthline as the foundation for a dancefloor killing machine. The patented Numan riff gets distended, altered, pitched and otherwise electronically manhandled over the course of the pounding track, one which wouldn’t sound out of place in Mauro Picotto or Yves Deruyter‘s setlist.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation Vol. 19 – Capitalist Lion Tamer’s All-Time Favorites

October 18, 2009

For this very special edition of Heavy Rotation, I’ve decided to run down my top 5 all-time favorite bands. These are the bands that soundtracked my second childhood, which started as soon as I exited my first childhood/family home.

I was a little behind the times, musically speaking. My parents were very religious which meant that rock (denoted as “secular”) was forbidden and so any music I heard was piped in by a Walkman under my pillow. I did get to listen to Christian rock, which is… well, it’s just fucking terrible stuff. Hank Hill said it best (referring to Christian rockers): “You’re not making music better. You’re just making Christianity worse.”

Consequently, I stumbled onto my favorite bands often after they had already broken up. (Never mind the bittersweet feeling of having lived long enough to see many of them reform, but at the time it seemed a little unfair.)

First listened to the Pixies in 1993. Their last album was released in 1991. The Cure? 1992. Their last album? Well, they’ve had many “last” albums, but for all intents and purposes, Disintegration (1989) was their last great one. The JAMC? 1993. Their next album, Stoned and Dethroned, had me swear off any purchases of their future albums. Love & Rockets? 1993. At that point they were four years removed from the success of So Alive and on permanent hiatus. Skinny Puppy? 1993. Last Rights was one year old and the band had broken up following the heroin implosion that was their modus operandi.

So, of course, they’ve all gotten back together for albums or tours by this point, but during my belated teen angsting it just seemed that God (or somebody) hated me by taunting me with a finite supply of music from my favorite bands.

Previous, less special, versions here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

pixies

Pixies – No. 13 Baby
My favorite band ever with my favorite song ever, if my maths is right. First stumbled across them on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack with their song Wave of Mutilation (U.K. Surf). Rushed right out and bought Bossanova, which I discovered sounded nothing like that song, but also like nothing else I’d heard before (keep in mind, Nirvana hadn’t fully taken off yet).

Taken from 1989’s Doolittle album, this song features two odd features:

1. It runs nearly 4 minutes long when most of their catalog barely clears the 2.5 minute mark
2. It fades out over an extended (for them) wordless groove.

It’s about strange women and tattoos. More importantly, as you’ll find in the chorus, it’s about tattoo placement.

And then there’s this:
I want brown eyes la loma

You can take that shit to the bank.

I had this shirt and I wore it all the fucking time.

I had this shirt and I wore it all the fucking time.

Recommended listening: Well, you really can’t go wrong with any of the Pixies albums, but considering that their last two (Bossanova, Trompe Le Monde) tended to reflect Black Francis’ alien fetish, your best bet is to pick up Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Both are loaded with darkness and dynamic shifts as well as the occasional profanity.

 

Cure5

The Cure – All Cats Are Grey
Lumped in with the goth scene for no apparent reason, the Cure spent the greater part of a decade releasing some of the finest albums on the planet (1979-1989). This comes from 1981’s Faith, which is a joyride all the way through, following up on the synth additions of Seventeen Seconds and working as a prelude for the suicidal nihilism of 1984’s Pornography.

“Haunting” does the job to describe this track, as does “funereal,” but don’t let that scare you away. Eerie and atmospheric, the way the Cure was always meant to be.

Recommended listening: I can wholeheartedly recommend any album up to (and including) 1989’s Disintegration (my personal favorite). After that, things tend to get a bit spotty as Robert Smith seemed to be more focused on possible mainstream breakthroughs/possible full band breakups.

 

love and rockets

Love & Rockets – Haunted (When the Minutes Drag)
The best thing that ever happened to Bauhaus, Love & Rockets saw three of the founding members form their own psych-pop monster while still retaining their original haircuts.

Best known for their inescapable So Alive single, L&R released several albums that covered ground from goth-pop to Beatles-esque psychedelia to underground electronica. This track comes from their debut album Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. Originally two separate tracks written by Daniel Ash and David J, respectively, Haunted… is nowhere near the soundclash it should be. Instead it’s an aching song of desire and near-obsession that morphs into a kiss-off/dedication to the unnamed object all packed into the ambiguous but pointed phrase: “And this is for when you feel nothing.”

I have this logo tattooed on my arm, done by perhaps the worst tattooist in the Greater Midwest. So, no, I won't be showing it off.

I have this logo tattooed on my arm, done by perhaps the worst tattooist in the Greater Midwest. So, no, I won't be showing it off.

Recommended listening: Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, Express and Sweet F.A. are the strongest. The rest of their albums all have something to recommend but until you’ve decided that this is the band for you, you might find their genre-hopping to be a bit frustrating and definitely uneven.

 

the-jesus-and-mary-chain-1

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Who Do You Love
Another soundtrack band. Heard them on the Encino Man soundtrack of all places with an awesomely fucked up love song called Why’d You Want Me. Tracked down their debut album first and fell head over heels for the sustained feedback, dark lyrics and towering hair.

This is by no means my favorite track by the Scottish brothers (that would be Upside Down which is 2:34 of someone shoving a cheap guitar through an amplifier) but it was the best I could find on the youtubes.

A truly wicked deconstruction of the song popularized by George Thorogood. Slowed down to half-speed, alternately drawled and howled and punctuated by the siren call of feedback.

Recommended listening: Their first four albums, with Psychocandy and Darklands being the standouts. As they went on, they got more satisfied with their very competent drum machine and tended to dial back the feedback. Beware of Stoned and Dethroned, which ditches their sound completely and much of their lyrical bite. Also worth buying: their first two b-sides collections (Barbed Wire Kisses and The Sound of Speed) which include some of the finest music never to grace a proper album.

 

skinnypuppy_1

Skinny Puppy – Icebreaker
Here’s the point where most of you will say, “Those are all pretty well-known altrock touchstones and etc., but where’s the ringer?”

Skinny Puppy, Canada’s foremost noise terrorists. Fronted by Nivek Ogre, Skinny Puppy laid the groundwork for industrial dancefloors with their sonic nightmares. Of course, this ground was somewhat paved already by the likes of Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, but Skinny Puppy took the ball and ran with it.

This track comes from Bites, an album that sounded like nothing else in 1983. Full of twisted electronics coughing up damaged chords and distortion, all swirling around Nivek’s bark and several menacing samples.

Recommended listening: Other than their album The Process, everything else is runs the gamut from good-outstanding (although I am unfamiliar with their reformed output). I’m partial to Bites, Remission, Back & Forth Series 1, Too Dark Park and Last Rights. Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate and Rabies can be put on the back burner until the other albums have been given a good rinse.

Here’s a taste of their understated live work:

All tunes in one nostalgic zip file of way-backness.
Heavy Rotation Vol. 19 (link will open in a new window)

-CLT

[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com. Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]
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Fancy Plans… Guide to Rock and Roll Vol. 5 (Nothing Exceeds Like Excess)

June 11, 2009

As long as the horse remains dead, we at Fancy Plans… will continue to beat it. If, at any point, the horse is revived, we will swiftly re-kill it and commence beating it immediately. So without further ado, the latest installment of the apparently neverending Fancy Plans… Guide to Rock and Roll.

Previous versions can be found here:
The Original
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
Vol. 4

Early version of Alice in Chains, featuring Sinead O'Connor

Early version of Alice in Chains, featuring Woody Harrelson

Alice in Chains
Also-rans during the Pacific Northwest’s “me-too” onslaught, Alice in Chains funneled Layne Staley’s love for all things Led Zeppelin and/or heroin-related into a monotonous blend of po’-faced confessions and overweight riffage.

Staley’s introspective lyrics dealt with his own personal demons: horse, smack and heroin. The band’s song titles tended to reflect that. Some choice selections are:

  • Me and Julio Shooting Up Down by the Schoolyard
  • Man in a Heart-Shaped Box
  • Rainy Day Junkies #12 and #35
  • Tourniquet of Smackhound’s Desire
  • Brother, Can You Spare a Bindle?
  • Smack’s a Good Man, Brother
  • Train in Vein
  • God Help Me, I Loves Me Some Horse
  • My Apologies for Throwing Up in Your Closet
Bryan Ferry poses with members of Grand Funk Railroad and a balding elf

Bryan Ferry poses with members of Grand Funk Railroad and a balding elf

Roxy Music
The brainchild of Bryan Ferry, the man who would be lounge king, Roxy Music was always classing up the joint with their avant-garde music, artful crooning, wicked smart lyrics and nekkid women album covers.

Their breakthrough came in 1982 with Avalon, Ferry’s tribute to the world’s foremost purveyor of strategic board games. In fact, the band’s love of Axis & Allies frequently found them engaged in marathon sessions, which would often force them to hit the stage late and still dressed in Nazi garb. Onstage banter often contained cryptic quotes, such as “Eno, you fool. You played right into my hands,” and “Berlin will never fall!” The refusal of Ferry to recognize British air superiority was the main factor in Eno’s decision to leave the band.

Bryan Ferry soldiered on with Roxy Music and a fairly prolific solo career, continually thrusting his success into the faces of his former classmates, who teased him mercilessly about his last name. Each album cover was successively nuder, as if to point out the massive amount of trim Ferry was getting, despite his last name, “pansy ass” singing and “gay” wardrobe.

One of the many Aphex Twin side projects: The Illegitimate Offspring of Richard D. James

One of the many Aphex Twin side projects: The Illegitimate Offspring of Richard D. James

Aphex Twin
One can hardly begin to discuss the extremely prolific output of expert knob-twiddler Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) without recounting some of his alter egos and side projects: AFX, Caustic Window, Richard “Humpty” Vission, Sine Wave, Men Without Hats, Mike and Rich, White Cell Count, Didgeridoo, Gak, Polygon Window, The Most Exalted Potentate of Love, Philip Glass, Calx, Unlistenable Twaddle, Narwhal Extractor, walloFsoUnd, Power Pill, Alice Deejay, Dixie-Narco, Q-Chastic, Richard D. James: Medicine Woman, I Makes Me Own Instruments, Harold & Kumar Go to Cornwall, etc. Which scarcely leaves time to discuss anything else.

Works like Ipecac

Works like Ipecac

Blind Melon
Less a band than major label backwash from the mid-90’s “alt.rock” signing sprees, (“Hell, we signed Toad the Wet Sprocket and Better Than Ezra! Why the fuck not!”) Blind Melon swiftly hoisted their own petard with a jangly single and an omnipresent video featuring what appears to be a Special Olympics costume contest.

Lead “singer” Shannon Hoon milked his “tortured hippie” schtick until his career came to a sudden halt due to the untimely cocaine overdose of the “Bee Girl.” With Blind Melon rudderless (and talentless), the remaining members filed for Chapter 11 cultural bankruptcy, opening a primo “alternative” slot which the major labels swiftly filled with Blowfish.

Bryan Adams attempts to "one-up" Richard Gere

Bryan Adams attempts to "one-up" Richard Gere

Bryan Adams
Born in the summer of ’69 in Anytown, USA during a 4th of July parade, at the corner of Main Street and Cliche, Bryan Adams grew up to be a platinum-selling artist despite no one ever admitting to being a fan of his.

As he tirelessly strives to out-bland late-model Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls, Adams may face his biggest challenge in Aerosmith’s soundtrack-ready power balladry.

Bryan Adams: the anti-Velvet Underground: despite record sales in the millions has never inspired anyone, anywhere to start a band.

The band success allowed them to finance the Bauhaus School of Relentless Affectation

The band's success allowed them to finance the Bauhaus School of Relentless Affectation

Bauhaus
Of all the art school rejects who have started bands, Bauhaus was by far the artiest. (Unless you count the Artful Dodger, purveyor of British 2-step. We won’t because 2-step is a combination of R&B and drum n’ bass, two awful tastes that taste awful together.)

Known everywhere as “the only goth band ever,” Bauhaus trafficked in dark lyrics and minor chords. Their lead singer, Peter Murphy, possessed the most overwrought and over-enunciated English accent to ever grace vinyl, a title he held until a young Al Jourgensen put Chicago on the map with his New Romantic synthpop group, Ministry.

So arty were they, in fact, that Peter Murphy dissolved the group simply because the band name wasn’t “arty” enough, forming Dali’s Car with Mick Karn in 1984. The other members of the band went their separate ways, taking on various odd jobs such as Lead Singer in Tones on Tail (Daniel Ash), Interchangeable Member of the Jazz Butcher (David J) and Drummer in Tones on Tail (Kevin Haskins).

The other 3, as I will affectionately call them right now, went on to form Love & Rockets, the greatest psychedelic pop band to ever boldy snatch their name from a published work without having to append a “UK” to their U.S. releases. (See also: Chameleons UK, Charlatans UK, Chemical Brothers UK (Dust Brothers US), Carter USM UK, British Sea Power UK.)

The key elements of the Cocteau Twins - Fraser's ethereal, dreamlike vocals; unfortunate hairdos

The key elements of the Cocteau Twins - Fraser's ethereal, dreamlike vocals; unfortunate hairdos

Cocteau Twins
Another 4AD band, following This Mortal Coil’s blueprint for medium success. The Twins hew closely to the atmospheric dreampop of their labelmates, but have created a distinctly unique sound of their own, perhaps mainly due to Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals.

Critics have found it hard to describe their sound accurately. “Ethereal” gets tossed around. A lot. “Dreamlike” gets trotted out. But to truly pinpoint this band’s sound, one would have to create entirely new metaphors and comparisons, like:

  • “What gauzy purple sounds like…”
  • “Like Nick Lowe, only female and balding…”
  • “Like Kate Bush fronting Chapterhouse, with the guitars set to ‘pillow.'”
  • “Like This Mortal Coil, only less coiled and more mortal. With a chick sort of singing…”

Note to fans keeping score at home: the Cocteau Twins are not actually twins, like the Thompsons, Aphexes and Toxics.

-CLT