Friday 17 May 2024

Japandroids

Post #1200 in our 12th year. I was admittedly dragging my feet trying to figure out what band to use to mark this milestone, because I didn't another gargantuan undertaking like The Replacements and Jimmy Eat World were. Down the line both bands I was considering will still get that treatment (Sleater-Kinney and the Descendents, for the two of you wondering), but as soon as this band popped into my head, I knew I had found the perfect gateway back to posting. Like I said earlier, this blog has been running for 12 years, which coincides with the same number of summers Celebration Rock has been the soundtrack to. With the May 24 weekend upon us (hola Canada), Japandroids season is in session.

Japandroids are two-piece rock/alternative/punk band from Vancouver, British Colubmia that formed in 2006. Since their inception, their sole two members have been guitarist/vocalist Brian King and drummer/vocalist David Prowse. They self-released two EP's in their earlier years (which were later compiled as No Singles) before self-producing their debut full-length, Post-Nothing. The band almost called it quits, but thanks to the online traction that their debut picked up, they ended up embarking on a world tour following its release. It's unsurprising that their sound caught on so quickly, as their energy is positively infectious. In brief summary, they lay a base of noisy garage rock with pounding drums and huge, Hüsker Dü-esque guitars that shimmer with reverb and high-end melodies, while droning open strings to fill in the bass end. While that covers their exterior, these songs at their core take influence from the blue-collar, bleeding heart, youthful exuberance, and personal storytelling of someone like Bruce Springsteen, which is what elevates these songs to become anthems of fist-pumping hot summer nights.

While I do love their debut (try listening to "Wet Hair" without smiling), it was their sophomore release that put them in the stratosphere. The aptly titled Celebration Rock is 8 cuts of giddy euphoria, from the crackle of fireworks and anything-is-possible introduction of "The Nights Of Wine And Roses" to the hesistantly assured closer of "Continous Thunder", I've always thought that this thing takes place over the span of that one night everyone wants to re-live forever. I'm not going into it too much, but if you're unfamiliar with this band, please start with this.

Following another huge tour in the wake of their massively successful sophomore album, the band were quiet for a few years until their date (and final to date) album, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life. This one features a lot more studio and production tinkering than anything they had done before, resulting in a cleaner sound compared to their off-the-floor-style recordings of their early years. I prefer the first two albums personally, though still think this is a solid addition to expand the Japandroids canon. During the tour for this album, they recorded their show at Toronto's Massey Hall, which was released back in 2020 as a live album, and unfortunately that's the last we've heard from them. As a quick note to go complete the discography breakdown, they recently a series of singles throughout their tenure, most being album tracks on the A-side and covers on the B-side, which choices shows their wide array of influence. The only non-album single cuts are "Heavenward Grand Prix" and "Art Czars", if you're just looking for their originals. In closing, this is music meant for blaring out the car speakers, windows down on a sunny day. Nothing but an open highway around you, and all the time in the world ahead of you. Enjoy.

1. The Boys Are Leaving Town
2. Young Hearts Spark Fire
3. Wet Hair
4. Rockers East Vancouver
5. Heart Sweats
6. Crazy/Forever
7. Sovereignty
8. I Quit Girls

1. Art Czars
2. Racer-X (Big Black cover)

1. Darkness On The Edge of Gastown
2. No Allegiance To The Queen
3. Sexual Aerosol
4. Lovers/Strangers
5. Lucifer's Symphony
6. Couture Suicide
7. Avant Sleepwalk
8. Coma Complacency
9. To Hell With Good Intentions (Mclusky cover)
10. Press Corps

1. Younger Us
2. Sex And Dying In High Society (X cover)

1. Heavenward Grand Prix
2. Shame (PJ Harvey cover)

1. The House That Heaven Built
2. Jack The Ripper (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds cover)

1. The Nights Of Wine And Roses
2. Fire's Highway
3. Evil's Sway
4. For The Love Of Ivy
5. Adrenaline Nightshift
6. Younger Us
7. The House That Heaven Built
8. Continuous Thunder

1. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
2. North East South West
3. True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will
4. I'm Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)
5. Arc Of Bar
6. Midnight To Morning
7. No Known Drink Or Drug
8. In A Body Like A Grave

1. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
2. Love --> Building On Fire (Talking Heads cover)

1. North East South West
2. Fire In The Western World (Dead Moon cover)

Massey Fucking Hall (2020)
1. Intro: Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
2. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
3. Fire's Highway
4. Heart Sweats
5. Arc Of Bar
6. Intro: Younger Us
7. Younger Us
8. North East South West
9. The Nights OF Wine And Roses
10. Intro: No Known Drink or Drug
11. No Known Drink or Drug
12. Continous Thunder
13. Young Hearts Spark Fire
14. Sovereignty
15. Intro: The House That Heaven Built
16. The House That Heaven Built

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Narrow Head


Narrow Head are a five-piece alternative rock band from Houston, Texas that formed in 2013. They've put out three full-lengths and a slew of other releases, with their most recent stuff all being put out by Run For Cover since joining their roster in 2020. Admittedly I have not done much of a deep dive on this band, even though they've been requested a ton and their latest LP, Moments Of Clarity gained a good amount of traction last year. The band's sound consists of big, heavy, shoegazy guitars and alt rock riffs juxtaposed against very melodic vocals. That's not a very good summation, but I'm sure a lot of you are more familiar with them than I am. If you're a fan of bands such as Superheaven, Daisyhead, or Modern Color and haven't heard them yet, I highly suggest you give them a try. Despite being new to them, everything I'm hearing is incredibly solid. Enjoy.

1. Glass
2. Nervous Habits

1. Far Removed
2. Make It Hurt
3. In Slow Time
4. Nervous Habits
5. Brain Dead

1. Hard To Swallow
2. Ash Anywhere
3. Emmadazey

2. Feels Like Sand
3. Ashtray
4. Cool In Motion
5. Stay
6. Nancy France
7. Paranoid Hands
8. Wallflower
9. It's Whatever To Me
10. Uncover
11. See You Around

1. Stuttering Stanley
2. Nodding Off
3. Snoozy

1. Satellite
2. Ash Anywhere

1. Yer Song
2. Ponderosa Sun Club
3. Stutterng Stnaley
4. Hard To Swallow
5. Crankcase
6. Nodding Off
7. Night Tryst
8. Emmadazey
9. Wastrel
10. Delano Door
11. Bulma
12. Evangeline Dream

1. T.W.I.N.

1. The Real
2. Moments Of Clarity
3. Sunday
4. Trepanation
5. Breakup Song
6. Fine Day
7. Caroline
8. The World
9. Gearhead
10. Flesh & Solitude
11. The Comedown
12. Soft To Touch

Thursday 22 February 2024

Flight Mode

Flight Mode are a three-piece emo band from Oslo, Norway that have been around since 2021. They've released a succession of three EP's, all with names derived from times and places. Out the gate this band hits a nostalgic tinge, which is bolstered by the wistful music they make. Clean guitars noodle over these mid-tempo tracks, with an intentional, quivering vocals delivered with palatable vocal deliveries. It's carrying the torch that bands like Death Cab For Cutie and The Appleseed Cast did in the early 2000's, with nods to the midwest emo sound of the late 90's. Recently their three EP's were compiled and released all together by Tiny Engines, which is the essential here as their discography to date has been flawless. Enjoy.

1. Sixteen
2. Fossil Fuel
3. Animals
4. Go

1. Twentyfour
2. Blinks
3. Togerthness
4. Dö Yoü Rëmëmbër

1. Thirtysomething
2. Hyperventilate
3. Surprised At All
4. My Brothers & My Sister At The Funeral

1. Sixteen
2. Fossil Fuel
3. Animals
4. Go
5. Twentyfour
6. Blinks
7. Togerthness
8.  Dö Yoü Rëmëmbër
9. Thirtysomething
10. Hyperventilate
11. Surprised At All
12. My Brothers & My Sister At The Funeral

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Toru Okada


"Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating". Once again, we descend into the depths of despair once a year, same time same place, on February 14th. As everything becomes lonelier, we pick one band to invest our woes in, and this year is a solid one. If you want more sad orchestras, all previously installments are listed at the end.

Toru Okada were a six-piece screamo band from Austin, Texas that were active from 2003 to 2006. They put out a self-titled full-length, two splits and a few demos. These early demos are what compromised 8 Songs, a compilation initially released in 2004 before being re-released in 2019. It was followed by 10 Songs, which contained the same tracks plus the two cuts off the Olive Tree split. I prefer the former version, which to me is their definitive release, so that's what's included here.

The influences often cited along with this band are I Hate Myself, Portrait, The Khayembii Communiqué, and The Spirit Of Versailles, which are apt points of reference, though they truly do stand on their own. They bring in a healthy dose of melodrama to their melancholic, arpeggiated clean guitars, with quick dynamic shifts breaking into cathartic climaxes on the brink of breaking chaos. The dual vocalists provide a whole other dynamic layer, often layering upon each other and varying between scream, sung, and quite often spoken. Lyrically, more often than not they are suited for the introspective melancholy of days like today.

As a fun side note on an unfun day, their guitarist and main songwriter from 2003 to 2004 was Alejandro Rose-Garcia. He's also an actor, appearing in a few episodes of Friday Night Lights (he's the Swede, for those who have seen it). He's ever better known now as the immensely talented one-man band Shakey Graves, which you're undoubtedly familiar with if you've ever perused the "Popular" section of Audiotree's Youtube channel. Nothing ever works out, it only gets worse, don't enjoy as you'll be back here this time next year.

1. Toru Okadu - Our Great Cities
2. Die, Emperor, Die! - Dear Friend (Never Give Up)

1. ...So He Could Hear His Footsteps
2. Shadowless Nights
3. Saccharine Leaves
4. A Graveled Street
5. Ruined Tongues
6. Kiss Me Through The Computer Screen
7. Lights Out
8. Emonologue

1. Toru Okada - Long Questions
2. Toru Okada - The Second Floor
3. Olive Tree - The Bird's Song
4. Olive Tree - The Lone Islands

1. Shadowless Nights
2. Fields Burned Golden
3. Ruined Tongues
4. Saccharine Leaves
5. Kiss Me Through The Computer Screen
6. A Graveled Street
7. So He Could Hear His Footsteps
8. Our Great  Cities


Closure

Closure were a five-piece screamo/emo band from Rockville Center, New York that were active sometime in late 90's, most likely 1996-1997. Unsurprisingly, their output is very limited, consisting of one compilation track, a split (with the fantastic Breakwater), and a sole LP, their essential release. They masterfully use loud/quiet dynamics, with wiry and angular guitar leads cutting through hard-hitting chords and pounding rhythms, with a scathing vocal delivery. If you're into bands like Portraits Of Past or Four Hundred Years, this underrated gem will be of massive appeal to you. If you need any coercing, they were also they were tangentially related to Saetia back in the day, playing shows together and sharing a label (The Mountain C.I.A. put out both bands self-titled releases).  Enjoy.

1. Closure - Servant To Silence
2. Closure - The Children's Crusade
3. Breakwater - Eleven

4. The Trial

1. K.M.
2. Sebastian
3. Silhouetted
4. Inferno
5. Time Off
6. Untitled

Monday 29 January 2024

Shellac


Here's the delayed post that was meant to close out 2023. This is one of one of the most consistent and influential acts in underground rock, with a legacy that often feels understated. Of course it's none other than the one and only Shellac. They came together in 1992, with members all already established in their native Chicago scene. This included vocalist/guitarist Steve Albini, who previously helmed the foundational post-hardcore/noise rock outfit Big Black. He's also widely known for his production work with the likes of Nirvana, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, The Jesus Lizard, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and so many more. Shellac also consists of bassist/vocalist Bob Weston, formerly of Volcano Suns and a noteworthy producer in his own right, working with the likes of June of 44, Sebadoh and Archers of Loaf. Finally, to complete the single unit known as Shellac is drummer/vocalist Todd Trainer, who was previously in Breaking Circus and Rifle Sport.

Moving on from their individual résumés, their collective body of work starts in 1993 with a series of 7"'s released in quick succession, which culminated in a fully-realized sound by the time their landmark debut LP dropped in late 1994. At Action Park is the perfect introduction to a sound that is distinctly theirs. They eschew any semblance of traditional song structure, opting to lock into these hypnotic and dissonant yet dynamic grooves, with metallic string clangs and pulsating rhythms. Through each subsequent release always displayed a gradual evolution, their M.O. has always been to turn traditional rock sounds on their heads. Their output has also been very consistent, with five studio releases under their belt over a 20-year period, all via Touch And Go Records. If you have yet to give them a proper listen, now is the time. Enjoy.


1. The Guy Who Invented Fire
2. Rambler Song
3. Billiard Player Song

1. Doris
2. Wingwalker

1. The Admiral
2. XVI

1. My Black Ass
2. Pull The Cup
3. The Admiral
4. Crow
5. Song Of The Minerals
6. A Minute
7. The Idea Of North
8. Dog And Pony Show
9. Boche's Dick
10. Il Porno Star

1. The Guy Who Invented Fire
2. Ramvler Song
3. The Admiral
4. My Black Ass
5. Song Of The Minerals
6. Billiard Player Song
7. Dog And Pony Show
8. Il Porno Star
9. Doris
10. Wingwalker
11. Boche's Dick
12. Crow

1. Billardspielerlied
2. Mantel

1. Shellac - '95 Jailbreak
2. Big'n - T.N.T.
3. Brise-Glace - Angus Dei Aus Licht
4. U.S. Maple - Sin City

1. Shellac - The Rambler Song
2. Mule - Beauteous

1. Movement 1
2. Movement 2
3. Movement 3
4. Movement 4
5. Movement 5
6. Movement 6

1. Didn't We Deserve A Look At You The Way You Really Are
2. This Is A Picture
3. Disgrace
4. Mouhtpiece
5. Canada
6. Rush Job
7. House Full Of Garbage
8. Copper

1. Prayer To God
2. Squirrel Song
3. Mama Gina
4. Qrj
5. Ghosts
6. Song Against Itself
7. Canaveral
8. New Number Order
9. Shoe Song
10. Watch Song

1. Shellac - Agostino
2. Caesar - The Safeword

1. The End Of Radio
2. Steady As She Goes
3. Be Prepared
4. Elephant
5. Genuine Lulabelle
6. Kittypants
7. Protocal
8. Paco
9. Spoke

1. Dude Incredible
2. Compliant
3. You Came In Me
4. Riding Bikes
5. All The Surveyors
6. The People's Microphone
7. Gary
8. Mayor/Surveyor
9. Surveyor

1. Spoke
2. Canada
3. Crow
4. Disgrace
5. Ghosts
6. The End Of Radio
7. Canda
8. Paco
9. Steady As She Goes
10. Billiard Player Song
11. Dog And Pony Show
12. Il Porno Star

Note: Contains two Peel sessions, tracks 1-4 recorded in 1994 and tracks 5-12 recorded in 2004

1. WSOD
2. Girl From Outside
3. Chick New Wave
4. Tattoos
5. Wednesday
6. Scrappers
7. Days Are Dogs
8. How I Wrote How I Wrote Elastic Man (cock & bull)
9. Scabby The Rat
10. I Don't Fear Hell