Thee Comic Column #149: Penny – Adventures in Coping

PennyIconHave you ever had one of those days? One of those weeks? Months? Well, about three Wednesdays ago I was having a day. My cat Tom had been stricken with an unexplained ailment that saw his rear legs cease to work properly (he’s since recovered). I’d spent the night before at the vet, where I’d received no real conclusive answers despite the $500 I spent, and ended up coming home and basically crying myself to sleep while holding my cat. It continued to the next day as I woke up at 4AM for work, exhausted both mentally and emotionally and was treated to especially brutal doses of LA traffic on the dreaded 405. The day elapsed in a sad daze, and as I drove home in that hellwater traffic I had an epiphany and said f*ck it: I’m stopping at the Comic Bug. It was #NCBD and I figured I had just enough cash left over from the vet to pick up the new issue of TMNT, as well as issues 2-4 of my new obsession We Can Never Go Home. And as always, the moment I walked through the door of my favorite shop in CA everyone working there and several of the regular customers made me feel fantastic as we sank into the rejuvenating confines of passionate discourse.

Endless Loop: Stars

humHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years?  Sure you have.  These are the songs that always make the cut.  The songs on repeat.  We all have them.  I have a ton.  Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Stars” by Hum

Some days I wish I was still as enthusiastic and starry eyed as I used to be.  I wish I hadn’t become so jaded with age.  I wish I still had that same feeling of exhilaration I experienced when I heard the guitar riff in the bridge to “Stars” by Hum for the first time.  Yeah.  That was good stuff.

The Joup Friday Album: Priests- Bodies and Control and Money and Power

 

Priests“I went to college, I got a job, but i still can’t figure out how to join the mob!”

The quote above is from the album closer of Priests debut record Bodies and Control Money and Power “And Breeding”. Everything about the sentence above is brash, funny and exciting all of which are perfect words to describe this record as a whole. Through Bodies and Control’s eight tracks, Priests take us through a sarcastic and pissed off sonic assault; the songs are fast, the playing a tad rudimentary, the lyrical content touching the basses of being confused with life, wanting to take on authority of any kind, hating the ideas of settling down and having children. Y’know the main qualities required for a really great punk rock record, and Priests take these qualities and uses them in a way that while being tried and true for it’s genre, feels like a breath of fresh air and revleatory too.

Basement Dwelling: Top 25 Albums Of 2015

A few days ago while combing through my record collection I started taking tabs of just how many records I have bought within this calendar year of 2015. As someone who makes an effort to buy at least one new record a week i didn’t find it too surprising that my count calculated to around 65. I say ‘around’ because odds are I forgot to count down an album or two or forgot a release came out this year; because I’m a man not a filing system. But out of this mass amount of 65 albums these were the records that I felt offered some of the best music to come out this year. Believe me when i say this list could have been much longer and It was painful to cut a lot of great releases as well as rank my favorites. But here it, is the cream of the musical crop. These are the records that have kept this music nerd most entertained and made my life feel most affirmed throughout 2015. Hopefully they did or will for you too.

Endless Loop: Seven

sunnydayrealestateHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Seven” by Sunny Day Real Estate

Thee Comic Column #148: We Can Never Go Home

wecannevergohomegreenphantomAbout three weeks ago I walked into The Comic Bug to pick up my pull list and peruse the shelves when Ben – one of the employees there that has a pretty good feel for the type of books I dig – sauntered up to me and slapped a copy of We Can Never Go Home #1 into my hands.

“Check this book out. Think you’ll dig it,” he said and walked stoically away. I looked at the art, the clip-art style image of a cassette on the inside front cover that said “1989” and had a feeling. It’s that feeling I get when expectation meets intuition. This was going to be a great book, I could literally just feel it.

The Joup Friday Album: The Libertines – Up the Bracket

2002Libertines600Rising above the Strokes and their imitators during the garage rock revival of the early aughts, the Libertines embraced the fuzz and scuzz of the garage, but overlaid it with a pretty tunefulness better suited to a campfire singalong than a garage jam session. “Up the bracket” is a British slang term that means a punch in the throat and it’s a fitting title, as this album strikes fast and hard, forcefully grabbing your attention.
The Libertines’ co-front men Pete Doherty and Carl Barat don’t fall into a typical lead and rhythm guitar confederation, instead their melodies intertwine and climb over and under each other, reminiscent of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine’s trade-offs in Television’s “See No Evil.” Likewise, the dueling vocals of Doherty and Barat wrestle and tumble over each other like a pair of puppies fighting over a toy, equal parts playful and combative. Barat is the croon and Doherty is the yelp. This interplay is in full effect on the opening track “Vertigo” in which the two harmonize like the Everly Brothers in the midst of a bender. Barat and Doherty get all the attention, but “Vertigo” demonstrates that there’s a talented rhythm section backing them up.
Doherty’s slurring delivery on “Horrorshow” and “The Boy Looked at Johnny” bring to mind another famously wasted front man, the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan. Many would happily write Doherty off as just another off-his-head wastrel, but the lyrics of a song like “A Time for Heroes” place him firmly in the junkie poet mold, and many a fan spent years expecting to shake their heads sadly at another talent tragically squandered in an OD.
Meanwhile, Barat’s talents are best demonstrated in the striptease swagger of “Boys in the Band,” a tribute to groupies or bar fights, or maybe bar fights with groupies? Barat also takes the lead on “I Get Along,” which along with “What a Waster” ends Up the Bracket with a double barreled bang that renews one’s faith in British punk and dares you not to pogo along.
Up the Bracket is a perfect example of one of those songwriting duos, like Strummer and Jones or Morrissey and Marr, whose combined talents are far greater than the sum of their parts. Nothing either Barat or Doherty has done since has matched up. And now that they’ve reunited, the pieces no longer fit back together quite right. Perhaps the angry young men have mellowed with age and lack the previous angst that fueled them. Maybe Up the Bracket was just lightning in a bottle – the rare kismet of the right people coming together at the right time to make a brilliant album.

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