28 May 2008

"Dead Beat Strategy"

I have to write about Gauge. This band, early Braid, and Cap’n Jazz make we wish that I had grown up in Chicago instead of stupid old Jupiter, Florida. Gauge is the centerpiece band in a number of various and awesome side projects and other bands. Find these things and you will be happy: Radio Flyer, Traluma, Sweater Weather, Haymarket Riot, Rollo Tomasi, Red Villain, Euphone, Heroic Doses, and The Sky Corvair. Anyway, Gauge’s 1995 album, Fire Tongue Burning Stomach, is absolutely essential for everyone. Whenever I put this album on, I get stuck on one quintessential Gauge track that I’m helpless against.

The song in question is “Dead Beat Strategy”. As soon as this song starts, I’m confused. Then the vocals, streamlined and raspy, start rolling in. If I could just stop the guitars from entering my pores for a second, I could probably analyze them better. They’re like shades being drawn when something really good is about to happen. The drummer is in total control the whole time, knowing when to hold back and when to cut loose. And that’s where the brilliance of this song lies; in its ability to hold back until the last 20 seconds. Jump directly to 3:10 and witness the chorus which is delivered once and only once and fuck me, it’s over.

Grab the song

More about Gauge

A Myspace page

22 May 2008

'Cold Rockin' Au Graten'

Richard Missile and Nafa Missile of The Missiles

What can be said about The Missiles that hasn’t already been written in the anals of history?

This duo from the backwoods of East Virginia began as the Missiles Brothers Musical Cliche' and started playing church socials and forcibly playing random talent shows of the various elementary schools in the area. It was after one of their subsequent arrests that they were discovered by a big time Hollywood producer who immediately booked them for the Sunday evening variety show, Hey Hey, We’re The Missiles!:

The show was a huge success and they won many, many accolades and developed a huge fan base. They started experimenting with other styles of music, eventually settling on a hybrid of Enuff Znuff, Saigon Kick, and Creamsicle, the all-star children’s choir consisting of singers with Asperger’s syndrome. The result was the timeless album, Lipstick Panda Squared:

Becoming disillusioned with their fame, the boys spent the next few years living quietly in a small town in Beirut working as Mexican chefs. This was the core inspiration behind their seminal work, the edgy and sweet The Missiles Is Duder:

The world had thought they had heard the last of The Missiles but a new track appeared showing a new direction. The track is a raw live mix of Cold Rockin’ Au Graten and this gem is like a stream of bat’s piss—it shines out golden when all around is dark (thank you, MPFC).

Get it, love it, eat it, vomit it, eat it again, digest it, and get another one.


The Missiles - Cold Rockin' Au Graten

20 May 2008

'The Seventh Stranger'

First, watch this:

The year was 1989 and Kid-N-Play were in full swing. These were my heroes, the mighty Duran Duran who had been close to my heart since I was about 11, and here 8 years later on how the fashionable had become fashion victims. They had survived the loss of two core members (drummer Roger Taylor, who went on to live a farm life, and guitarist Andy Taylor, who went on to be a 'rocker'), but at what cost? Though they would re-emerge 3 years later to regain some past glory several years later they would become completely Taylor-less with the departure of John Taylor (none of them are related, by the way). And a some years after that all five would be back together and charting once more, but this was the end of the Eighties. This is where the pinups, the icons, the plastic gods had settled. On the whole, the Big Thing album wasn't bad and had some pretty spectacular moments (though by just listening to the singles you couldn't tell). But the Golden Years were over. This was the dubiously named Big Thing tour.

And, with my luck the way it is, this would be the only era I'd get to see them perform live for 19 years.

The show was great--fuck, it was Duran Duran. These were the not-so-young men I had spent ages 11 to 17 trying to dress like, wear my hair like, play music like, sound like, smell like, dance like, eat like. I had the wide brimmed Stetsons that John favoured. I had the black and white suit similar to Simon's in the video for The Reflex. I used Colgate and Vidal Sassoon like Nick. Since I went to private school I had to keep my hair short so I would take a picture of Roger Taylor with me as a guide for the barber. And I would jump around with my string-less Rexina Strat-knockoff trying to time the strumming with the jumping like Andy did. I learned to play bass and drums to their cassettes. Hell, I even had a blond streak in my hair until 2001 because of them.

Our friend Tracy bought two tickets for us to see Duran Duran on the Red Carpet Massacre tour two nights ago in Orlando. While forever in debt to her kindness, at first my heart wasn't really in going to the show. Over the past few years I have given Tracy every piece of Duran Duran memorabilia that I owned, from the 1982 calendar to posters to tour programs to books, videos, and the import 12" singles that I had saved my allowance for and went to Bullfrog Records and ordered. She is a much more dedicated fan with an entire room dedicated to the band. I should have been ecstatic, but even once inside the arena I wasn't feeling the excitement I should. There was a distinct scent of Rogaine and estrogen well past it's sell-by date. Then the lights went down and they hit the stage. It only took a song or two for me to feel like I was that early teenager once again. Maybe it was that Roger was with them again, maybe it was that they are just that damn good still, but they seemed to be more animated than they had been nearly two decades before. I was most impressed that at 50 years old Simon's voice has held up beautifully, almost indistinguishable from his younger years--it was amazing. They played for over two solid hours. I was sold once again and regret even thinking that I wasn't into seeing the show. How wrong I was--I needed this. Thank you so much, Tracy. They are still my icons.

Hungry Like The Wolf
Orlando, FL - 18 May 2008

Red Carpet Massacre/Nite Runner
Orlando, FL - 18 May 2008

I am a born again Duranie.

For your consideration, my song selection is The Seventh Stranger, the closing track from the 1983 album Seven And The Ragged Tiger. [Miriam Lopez bought me this album for my 14th birthday and I won the 8th grade talent show singing this song (I was in it twice, the first time playing the drums to Big Country's In A Big Country).] A staple slow dance at all our junior dances, it's the closing track of the album and signifies the last time the band was truly unified. The next album was a live album with one new track (Wild Boys) and after that the band wouldn't be a quintet again until the next century. This ballad was the end of an era, of some type of innocence. It's beautiful and sad. And fitting.

Keep the faith,


Duran Duran - The Seventh Stranger