By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
You might even say it’s been a long time coming.
One final word on the Sex Pistols. With the Internet, VH1, Mojo, Spin, the endless books and such, you sure as shit don’t need a hip older brother anymore to know about these geezers. In fact, at this point, 26 years after the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, you’re more likely to have a hip father. The Cuts’ Andy Jordan laughs, “My dad played me the Sex Pistols when I was like 13 or 14.” Perhaps that’s the new initiation rite into adulthood for budding musicians in the 21st century: having your pop introduce you to the wonders of “God Save the Queen.”
Kings of Leon and Jet perform at the Troubadour on Wednesday, September 24.
Where does a sound come from, and why this sound here, and why this sound now? In the last three years, Monday-morning quarterbacks have been marking off electroclash and garage-rock and new New Wave and other post-punk blurblings as predictable nostalgist retreads of lost sounds, which means that most young, past-influenced bands have been met with skepticism at best and complete dismissal at worst. But go back and listen to the White Stripes’ De Stijland tell me this wasn’t a band worth listening to in December 2000, long before the general public pricked up its ears and took notice. Most of the artists listed below have received nothing near the radio rotation and column inches they’ve deserved — here’s a guide to what you may have been missing:
Oh Me Oh My . . .
Black Babies UKEP (both Young God)
These two CDs are derived from the home recordings this fuzzled elf from the darkish woodlands passed to ex–Swans leader Michael Gira. Beautiful finger-picking, mixed-metaphor lyrics about sensory organs, flora/fauna and just-recovered memories, sung in a distinctive Marc Bolan/Tiny Tim voice. The album has more songs, but the EP seems more perfectly formed and paced. (Note: Banhart covered both Fred Neill andJohnny Thunders at his recent Spaceland gig.)
The Black Keys
The Big Come Up(Alive!)
Patrick Carney makes the music swing with a bare minimum of actual percussion. Dan Auerbach is that rare kind of singer whose dusty, gruff voice sounds much older than he is. His guitar work is already accomplished, effortlessly combining the drive and simplicity of T-Model Ford with the into-the-dark extrapolations of Junior Kimbrough. The Big Come Uphas garage-punk aggression, stuttered blooz and straight-up rock & roll, and can cover both the Beatles’ “She Said She Said” and the Stooges’ “No Fun” with credibility to burn. Thickfreaknessis even heavier, harder, more dynamic, more spacious.
Skeleton KeyEP (both Deltasonic/Columbia)
Energetic, electrified baroque-folk psychedelic music hall given formal song structure. Some Pogues, some Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, sure, but mostly a whole lotta late-’60s arty stuff of varying obscurity. A new album (not yet released in America) is apparently significantly moodier.
2 Over Ten(Birdman)
Bay Area quintet who sound like some never-released ’70s KTEL-does-Nuggets compilation: Andy Jordan yelps ’n’ gulps like a less angst-ridden Richard Hell (or a less precious Tom Verlaine); the high-melodic songs are stuffed with lavender keyboards and Raspberries harmonies and chiming guitars and shuffling, danceable upbeats.
The Kingdom of Heaven Must Be Taken by Storm(Tiger Style)
One dude, going for the full-on acoustic guitar and Starsailor/Greetings From L.A.–era Tim Buckley vocal sound, wailing away till you either give in or flee in horror. Test-listen before you buy.
Get Born(both Elektra)
Rock & roll like the last 25 years never happened: Their stomping rock songs make you wanna dance, their ballads bend your ears on first listen, their solos don’t go on forever, and their lead singer has both a classic screech and a gentle, unaffected croon. Most important, they’ve got a repertoire of songs that the Stones, Badfinger, AC/DC and Cheap Trick forgot to write. Get Bornis a ridiculously confident debut.
Kings of Leon
Holy Roller NovocaineEP
Youth and Young Manhood(both RCA)
Skip the EP and advance directly to the album. Good ol’ belt-buckled-boys boogie and holler — it’s got some Allmans soul on it, too, and some nice ballads. Live? Undeniable. But let’s see what they can do without the aid (or hindrance?) of a Nashville gun-for-hire songwriter.
Solo easygoing folker from Northern Europe, with a clear genetic basis in Nick Drake and Donovan. Lotsa wide-screen production Ă la those guys and Glen Campbell. Vaguely bossa nova. Pass the champagne.
Up the Bracket(Rough Trade)
A fantastically high-energy, ramshackle yet coherent late-afternoon performance at Coachella was the proof that this album’s pudding suggested: tons of li’l hooks, duo singing, frantic melodies, evocative diaristic lyrics, and music that’s part Clash, part Jam, part Who, part Housemartins and so on. Classically bohemian stuff, smart and vulnerable. Produced by Mick Jones!
The Sleepy Jackson
Beautiful country-Beatles, John Lennon “Mind Games” melodies and great acid-naif lyrics, all loved up into a futuristic, majestic sheen with pedal steel, choirs, piano and the occasional Chic beat. Luke Steele, who is the Sleepy Jackson, is ridiculously gifted: Check “This Day,” an astonishing song that features six discrete melodic vocal hooks in its first 90 seconds.
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