The Purrs: Tearing Down Paisley Garden

RIYL: The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Velvet Underground, The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Purrs Tearing Down Paisly GardenThere’s much to be said for a band like the Purrs, with ten years together and six solid releases under its belt. They might not be household names, but they’ve never compromised their music to raise their profile. This is where the music comes out ahead, and Tearing Down Paisley Garden is yet another winner.

At seven songs, Paisley is not quite an EP, though had it been released in 1972, it still might have been considered a full-length album. And then, looking at the makeup of the songs themselves, Paisley could even be called an “odds and ends” kind of collection. “Only Dreaming” and “I Move Around” are covers of songs by ’80s goth rockers Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and the late Nancy Sinatra collaborator Lee Hazlewood, respectively. And “Just a Little More” and “It Could Be So Wonderful” are new recordings of old songs, which explains the oddly out of time reference to “the president” in the former.

In spite of what could easily have been a set-up for a major bomb, Paisley plays like a strikingly cohesive collection, exhibiting all the Purrs trademarks – Jason Milne’s cutting lead guitar lines, Jima’s lackadaisically cool detachment and sarcastic wit, and that reverb-laden, psychedelic shoegazey sound married to seasoned pop songcraft. If there’s anything different about the Purrs this time around, it’s a subtle but noticeable uptick in their mood compared to last year’s excellent Amused, Confused and More Bad News that comes through even in a downer like “I’m Slipping” – which in this case keeps a song about sexual transgressions against a friend from devolving into a pity party. And in the case of the disc’s closing tune, “Always Something In My Way,” the title ends up coming across less as a complaint and more as a celebration of the challenges that would crush a lesser person. Clearly, these Seattle stalwarts are having more fun than ever, which is exactly how a good rock record should sound. (self released 2010)

The Purrs MySpace page

Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #8 “The Way We Get By”

This is the first track on my Quintessential Songs playlist that doesn’t have its own wiki page or a songfacts page. Sigh.

Luckily, I interviewed Britt Daniel a while back and he had this to say about the track:

That one came really fast and it was another one of those that was sort of like, “I’ll just throw down and idea. It probably isn’t going to work.” But once I sang that chorus the first time and got it on tape, I kind of knew it was going to be a good one.

According to, this is easily the most played song in the Spoon catalog and it’s certainly one of the catchiest. In that interview, Daniel said it was one of the most “immediate” of the band’s songs. This Kill the Moonlight track put the band on my radar, and was prelude to the brilliance on display on their next album, Gimme Fiction.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.

ESDMusic wishes you and yours a happy holi-holi-ho and a holi-holi-hey holiday weekend

And if the title didn’t instantly tell you what song we’ve included, you clearly weren’t listening to music in the summer of 1987. Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #7 “Last Nite”

“Last Nite” was the Strokes’ biggest hit of the ’00s, as it hit #5 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and put the band on the map nationwide.

Does the opening riff seem familiar? From the song’s wiki page:

The guitar riff that begins the song is similar to the intro of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “American Girl”. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Tom Petty said “The Strokes took ‘American Girl’ [for their song "Last Nite"], and I saw an interview with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, ‘OK, good for you.’ It doesn’t bother me.”

That’s pretty cool.

From the song’s Songfacts page:

British music magazine NME placed Is This It in first place in their list of the albums of the decade. Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas said of the award: “It’s totally crazy! I don’t know what that means. Does it mean it’s a good musical decade or a bad musical decade? I don’t know, I’m such a bad judge of my own stuff. But I thought it was great when I heard. Recording the album was fun, it was stressing, it was exciting. I think if I was to know then that I’d be having this conversation now I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m restraining myself now, I don’t want to get carried away, but I’m pretty damn psyched with myself. Mental high five!”

It’s funny that this was not the first single released off of Is This It, but I guess “Hard to Explain” is pretty damn catchy too.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.

Me, Myself, and iPod 5/26/10: Legendary Scottish band, ahoy!

esd ipod

The Trashcan Sinatras – People
I love the Trashcan Sinatras. I’m not sure when they went from the Trash Can Sinatras to the Trashcan Sinatras, but oh well, but I’m guessing someone at SPINart fucked it up when putting the artwork for Weightlifting together. Anyway, they’re a fabulous bunch of guys, and God love them for sticking with it after all these years of relative obscurity. This is the first single from their new album In the Music, and it’s another smoove slice of literate jangle pop. If you like this, you should know that the rest of the album is even better.

Kathryn Calder – Slip Away
The newest member of the New Pornographers (she’s lead singer Carl Newman’s niece, and she joined during the sessions for Twin Cinema), Calder is picking a curious time to release a solo album, since she’s tied up with touring with the New Porns for the summer. But one listen to this track from the album Are You My Mother?, due out in August, shows that perhaps Carl and Dan should bring her to the writing table, because I’ll take this over anything on the last New Pornographers album any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Donn T – Look At
Two words: Female Kenna. If that doesn’t immediate ring a couple bells, then I have one word for you: Kenna.

See Green – I Can Change
Well, that didn’t take long. Courtenay Green, who’s fast becoming a regular in these parts, covered “I Can Change” from LCD Soundsystem’s new album This Is Happening. Man, is James Murphy the new Neil Young, where his songs sound infinitely better when covered by other people?

La Roux – Bulletproof (Hyper Crush remix)
Armed with a bass line that will set off car alarms, this mix of La Roux’s “Bulletproof” is totally ADD madness, but it’s cool. And I still haven’t grown tired of that Macintosh voice program.

Clubfeet – Teenage Suicide
If you’re anything like me, you saw that title and immediately sang the words ‘Don’t do it’ in your head, since that was the name of the hit song the DJ played in the movie “Heathers.” Well sure enough, immediately after the breathy male lead sings “Teenage suicide,” two girls shout, “Don’t do it!” Bonus points for reading my mind.

Shadow Shadow – Is This Tempest in the Shape of a Bell
Gotta give some love to the guitar pop set. Man, this would have been huge in 1975.

The Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards

RIYL: The Raconteurs, The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age

The Dead Weather’s second album picks up where 2009′s debut left off and keeps going, which means another tasty platter of dirty, hard-hitting grungy blues rock. You can’t really call it low-fi, because it sounds too good to be low-fi. Drummer/guitarist/producer Jack White does this better than anyone, taking that sludgy blues sound and tweaking everything just right to make it sound vibrant. The man is a true master in this regard. The sound is somewhat similar to his work with the Raconteurs, but not quite as melodic and hooky. But there are some monster grooves here and vocalist Alison Mosshart is akin to a dark angel, laying down a vengeful wrath from seemingly beyond.

“Hustle and Cuss” features Mosshart in prime form. Like most of the album, her vocals almost sound like they were recorded in the bottom of a well, but it lends an otherworldly vibe. White rides the cymbal and there’s great sonic spacing here, which makes every note hit deep. “The Difference Between Us” is another winner, with Mosshart dazzling over the dark and foreboding groove. The blend of psychedelic organ and trippy guitar effects throughout the album is truly unique, with White as a mad scientist of the blues.

“I’m Mad” starts off kind of static, but explodes midway through with some fat riffage and great vocal accents from Mosshart. Lead single “Die by the Drop” mines a similar formula but features a duet between Mosshart and White. It’s probably not going to be a hit, but it’s got a compellingly heavy sound. This kind of sonic mayhem continues throughout the album, to the point that it’s sometimes hard to tell where one song stops and another begins. In this sense, the songwriting could be a little sharper. But that dark, grungy blues sound is so tantalizing.

“I Can Hear You” slows things down a little, with Mosshart as a bluesy mistress intent on collecting the object of her desire. She captivates on “Gasoline,” which features a wicked guitar solo, some huge synth work and cool drum rolls. “No Horse” is more of the dirgy blues, but with White riding the cymbal for a great beat over another fat groove and more dynamic vocals from Mosshart. “Looking at the Invisible Man” is another highlight, with a huge groove, dynamic riffs and another duet between White and Mosshart.

The overall rating on the songs might be only worth three stars, but the album has five-star sound and energy, so that’s four stars overall. (Third Man Records/Warner Brothers2010)

The Dead Weather MySpace page

Stone Temple Pilots: Stone Temple Pilots

RIYL: Pearl Jam, Incubus, Silversun Pickups

The new album from Stone Temple Pilots represents a rare throwback in more ways than one. The album’s vibrant sound is a bit of a flashback in how it recalls the early ’90s heyday of grunge. But the fact that it’s a major label release with full publicity push from Atlantic Records is another throwback – such releases are increasingly rare these days, with more and more bands opting for the indie route. But STP came out of the 20th century’s last significant musical revolution, so it seems fitting somehow.

The album definitively reasserts the band’s status as one of the best in rock. It mixes up hard rock with hooky melodic power-pop and a sonic majesty that should please any longtime fan, while also winning new ones. It’s the band’s most diverse collection of tunes yet, demonstrating an unwillingness to play it safe. Lead singles “Between the Lines” and “Take a Load Off” mine that classic STP sound – hard rock with a groove that makes you wanna move. Dean DeLeo is one of the best guitarists of his generation, while brother Robert on bass and Eric Kretz on drums make one of the tightest rhythm sections around. Scott Weiland’s distinctive vocals catalyze the tunes in a way that he could only do in hit-and-miss fashion with Velvet Revolver.


“Huckleberry Crumble” stirs things up a bit with a swaggering ’70s groove that recalls classic Aerosmith, and some melty wah-wah from Dean DeLeo. “Dare if You Dare” and “Cinnamon” bring in a heavy ’60s influence, with a swirl of psychedelia and Beatle-esque melody mixed into a modern rock stew for a couple of tasty sonic treats. The bright and uplifting sound of “Cinnamon” is a hit single in waiting, but the song still brings more rock flair than most of what you’ll hear on pop radio.

Another highlight is “Hazy Daze,” which opens with with one of the DeLeo brothers’ best grooves, power trio riff rock at its finest. Robert’s dynamic bass line makes the groove really stand out and Weiland’s vocals surf effortlessly on top for an instant STP classic. Then there’s “First Kiss on Mars,” a melodic gem with a laid back vibe and Bowie-esque vocal. The song highlights the unique range of both Weiland’s voice and the band’s overall sonic character, both of which make STP far more than just another hard rock band. “Maver” is another unique tune, with an R&B vibe that shows a band willing to stretch out and not rest on its laurels. “Bagman” is another great rocker, with a fat groove and a restrained but tasty guitar solo, while “Peacoat” digs into some funky, bluesy riffage and features a guitar solo that sizzles. “Fast As I Can” is an appropriately titled up-tempo flyer with a down and dirty vibe that recalls Guns ‘n’ Roses, and a deliciously twangy solo from Dean.

Critics have long slammed the band for being derivative of the grunge peers that preceded them (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains), and some still do. A friend used to kid me that the band should be called Stone Pearl Garden. But the fact that STP blew up on the heels of those bands’ success doesn’t diminish the fact that this was and is a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll band. If they weren’t, legends like the Doors’ Robbie Krieger wouldn’t be sitting in with them (as he did for a smoking “Roadhouse Blues” at SXSW.) This album is a triumphant comeback for STP and almost surely one of the top 10 rock albums of 2010. If Weiland can stay clean, it should herald a new peak era for the band. (Atlantic 2010)

Stone Temple Pilots MySpace page

Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #6 “Mr. Brightside”

The heavily promoted “When We Were Young” actually hit #1 on Billboard’s alternative chart, but “Mr. Brightside” climbed to #10 on the Hot 100, which is an impressive feat these days for a rock song.

Here are a couple of interesting facts from the song’s wiki page:

The song was named “Song of the Decade” by UK radio stations Absolute Radio and XFM, and in April 2010 revealed that it was the most listened to track since the launch of the online music service, with over 7.66 million plays scrobbled

Not only do the Killers own the most-played song on, but probably have the lyric of the ’00s as well, in another song (“All These Things I’ve Done”) — I’ve got soul / but I’m not a soldier.

Per the Songfacts page:

Killers guitarist Dave Keuning wrote this about lead signer Brandon Flowers’ ex-girlfriend who cheated on him. Flowers recalled to Q magazine March 2009 how he discovered her with another man at the Crown and Anchor pub in his hometown of Las Vegas: “I was asleep and I knew something was wrong. I have these instincts. I went to the Crown and Anchor and my girlfriend was there with another guy.” Flowers added that the song was “born” at the Crown and Anchor.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.

Carole King and James Taylor: Live at the Troubadour

RIYL: Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash

Like a charity softball game that trots out a pair of aging power hitters for a leisurely stroll around the bases between innings, Live at the Troubadour presents a couple of Hall of Famers revisiting past glories one more goddamn time, sharing a warm nostalgia bath with an audience glad for nothing more than evidence that their heroes – and, by extension, the audience members themselves – are still alive. If you could put this CD/DVD package on one of those old-fashioned sailor’s maps of the world, it’d fall under the heading “beyond this place lie geezers.”

That’s the cynical point of view about a project like this, anyway. And it’s easy to be cynical about Live at the Troubadour — both James Taylor and Carole King have released live CDs and/or DVDs in the last few years, and Taylor has been dog-paddling through a happy period of creative loafing since releasing October Road way back in 2002. Who needs to hear another version of “You’ve Got a Friend,” “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” or, God help us, “Sweet Baby James”? No one, probably, and if you skip the DVD part of the program and head straight to the audio portion of this live set, no one will blame you for falling asleep halfway through. As Taylor quips before breaking out “You’ve Got a Friend,” he’s been performing this song every night for most of his life; everything here has been done, and done, and done again. And better, too – King’s vocals remain as warm and honey-coated as ever, but you can hear the first signs of fraying in her upper register. As a live album, Live at the Troubadour is hardly definitive.

But its real appeal doesn’t lie on the CD. Playing one’s hits in an intimate acoustic setting has become part of the creative death spiral of the heritage rock act, but to watch Taylor and King return to their old haunt is to remember not only why “unplugged” became a fad in the first place, but to be struck all over again by the sheer quality of both performers’ early work. You can still hear the sound of barrel-scraping if that’s what you’re listening for, but there’s something undeniably appealing about watching two old friends rifle through their songbooks’ back pages, and you can tell that Taylor and King aren’t just doing it for the applause — they’re doing it for themselves, and for each other. Die hard fans will be thrilled with Live at the Troubadour, and if it’s something less than essential for the rest of us, it’s hard to quibble with songcraft this elegantly (and joyously) displayed. (Hear Music 2010)

James Taylor MySpace page

Truth & Salvage Company: Truth & Salvage Company

RIYL: Black Crowes, Georgia Satellites, Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here / With our heads full of reefer and our bellies full of beer,” begins Truth & Salvage Company’s excellent debut album, but this six-piece outfit has more on its mind than the munchies; in fact, this sinewy 12-track collection wastes no time in getting down to the business of delivering a dirty boot to your rock-starved ass, and keeps it there for a solid 46 minutes and 12 seconds. Laced with Wurlitzer and Hammond organ, shot through with loud guitars and punchy drums, and recorded by guys with tons of hair and names like Walker and Smitty, Truth & Salvage Company proves you can still make a damn fine record with nothing more than a few chords and a healthy stack of amps.

As a songwriting unit, the band doesn’t really offer anything you haven’t already heard from the Loud ‘N Shaggy section of your record collection – it’s clear they’re no strangers to the Allmans/Skynyrd/Faces axis – but their rock swagger feels more like a real attitude, not a pose, and even if there are already a million songs about hard-livin’ dudes on the road and the slutty-yet-totally-respectable babes who love them, these guys cover the territory so well (and with so many plaintive, drawl-tinged harmonies) that it’s hard to question their logic. Why did bands stop making records like this, anyway? Can these guys maybe do something about all that Godsmack and Drowning Pool on the radio?

Anyone who loves rock & roll knows the road is littered with the corpses of bands with tattoo-ready logos and song titles like “Pure Mountain Angel,” and with a debut as hard to top as Truth & Salvage Company, odds are high that these guys will join that list sooner than later. In the meantime, though, this sure is fun to crank at full volume. (Megaforce 2010)

Truth & Salvage Company MySpace page

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