Steal This Song: Morningwood, “Best of Me”

Truth be told, I’m a bit shocked that the music press is rather indifferent to New York glam rockers Morningwood. I know they’re not the best band New York’s given the world, but their blend of punchy guitars, perky beats and that force of nature named Chantal Claret at the microphone strike some primal chord in me. Maybe it’s a reminder what what rock bands used to sound like, before they worried about whether they were cool enough, or if they were attracting the “right” fans. What a joke, really. Do you think Cheap Trick ever gave a fuck who was listening to their records, as long as people were buying them? Hell, no.

That’s why people refer to the music business these days as junior high school with money. Sadly, the same peer pressure rules apply to the people who write about bands. They want to be seen as cool, too (probably more so than the musicians they write about), so once a band has the perception of not being hip, the writers tend to fall in line. Case in point: a very well-known blogger told me at Lollapalooza in 2007 that they were surprised at how much they liked Silverchair’s performance, yet they the band down in their column. Oh, the price some pay for hipster credibility.

But not me. I gave that ghost up years ago, and I can’t tell you how much easier things are since I did. Of course, this might make bands reluctant to receive my stamp of approval, since it comes with a giant asterisk – Shit! He’s uncool! Wait, unless it’s cool to not care about being cool. Damn, this is hard – but I’m not high enough on the food chain yet for that to matter. Anyway…

Personally, I’ll take a band like Morningwood and a song like “Best of Me” over the more popular Paramore any day of the week. It’s brief (just a hair over three minutes), it’s catchy, it’s confident without bragging, and best of all, it’s all major keys, so there’s no unnecessary melodrama. It reminds me of Pat Benatar in her ass-kicking days (i.e. before she started her family). And you can have it for free. Dig in. And as an appetizer, here’s the video, which contains a nice callback to the band’s hilarious clip for “Sugarbaby,” which is one of my singles of the year.

To download Morningwood’s Best of Me, click here


Morningwood: Diamonds & Studs

RIYL: Pat Benatar, Garbage, Paramore

The manner in which success has eluded New York’s Morningwood (previously a quartet, now a duo) is frankly surprising. Their songs are armed to the teeth with punchy guitar riffs, and singer Chantal Claret is an absolute belter, a larger than life personality with an oversized libido to match. (Think Pat Benatar, only this time you actually have a shot at getting her in bed.) After a one-album stay with Capitol, Morningwood has elected to go the self-released route with their sophomore effort Diamonds & Studs (though MTV is assisting with the distribution), and unlike most self-made affairs, this album sounds damn good. Indeed, it’s a modern-day production with an old-school mix job, lacking the overcompression that makes most contemporary albums sound like complete and utter shit. Much like the band’s debut, a few songs stand head and shoulders above the others, namely “Sugarbaby,” which out-Paramore’s Paramore. “How You Know It’s Love,” which jumps from shuffle beat to four-on-the-floor rocker in the chorus, playfully cribs from the band’s “Nth Degree,” and the drum-heavy “That’s My Tune” has ‘club smash’ written all over it.

Strangely, as pleasant as the album sounds while it’s playing, much of it leaves no footprint once it’s gone. Case in point: “Three’s a Crowd.” Fabulous while you’re listening to it, but an hour later, it’s hard to remember how it goes. Morningwood is still putting the pieces together, but there are far worse bands that are out-selling them. Pity. (Morningwood Inc. 2009)

Morningwood MySpace page
Click to buy Diamonds & Studs from Amazon


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