Attacking the Beat
by Eric Lastname
Congratulations: You assholes have ruined music for me again. You have taken one of the few things that makes this miserable jerk non-miserable and completely defiled it for the umpteenth time with your backbiting, scene politics, phony and/or perceived phony interests, phony and/or perceived phony bands/people, high school popularity contests, pissing and moaning, asskissing and a thousand other activities that are and should be secondary or tertiary to the tunes themselves. Why you've done it, I don't know. Maybe you were bored. But you did it.
So, here I am, stuck in another one of those ruts that all music obsessives get stuck in, sick to death of all things r'n'r. This usually lasts for a good couple months. I still buy the new albums but I'll confess that it's merely due to habitual autopilot. I get the fuckers in the mail and look at the pretty covers and file file file those slabs away on the shelf while they're still in the plastic. Later I pull 'em out and yell at the roommate about mucking up the alphabetical order even though he didn't touch anything. He's a good guy and can handle it. I can't handle it. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm sick of music. I chainsmoke his ciggies in the livingroom and watch bad TV. I drink whiskey and waters in the front room and the people who walk past the big picture window can gawk at the stupid shit on the couch who now feels like a hamster without his wheel.
I also pull out the Old Faithfuls.
The Old Faithfuls are the dependable staples that get me by. I can listen to them whenever, wherever and remember why I'm here in the first place. Why I'm here in the first place is that I like music. I like music. I like... I don't care about making nicey-nice with people who are into the same bands I am. I don't care about making pals. If I do make pals with these people, that's a perk. If I don't, no tears. I still got my Old Faithfuls.
The Country Teasers. Ben & Co. remain, after all these wondrous years, as potent as ever. They are also unaffected by just about everything. They are the real deal. Wallers's warped humor and stumbling, smirking tunes are the product of a genuine talented human and luckily the rest of the Teasers are also talented humans capable of carrying their weight and there you go. I suspect they don't give much of a fuck and that is inspiring in a day and age where everyone else gives too much of one.
The Cheater Slicks. Dark and miserable tunes and I'll be goddamned if they ain't coming from an actual dark and miserable place. There's something almost transcedent about the brooding, suicidal nature of a song like "In This Town" -- fuck it. Let's die. I'm not ashamed to say that when I hear their take on "I Think I'm Coming Down" I can very easily move myself to tears. Speaking of which, their covers are not covers. They are Cheater Slicks songs.
"Cleveland Confidential". One of my all-time favorite comps. Hudson remarks in the liners that no one really liked the Womanhaters' "Cry 815." I love "Cry 815." It is an antisocial and eerie mess. It sounds like it was played by a collective someone who just shot his last affordable fix and beat his girlfriend and then decided to calm down with a walk to the liquor store. A breath of fresh air in the '00s, a time period I will remember as being saturated in fake decadance and desperation. From "Cry" it only gets better. Hearing this, I know exactly what Cleveland-circa-late-'70s was like because I was there. Or at least feel that way. I smell the smog and see the crime and feel like I could die tomorrow and no one would give a care. That is the mark of a fucking good compilation.
Jesus & Mary Chain's "Psychocandy." I pull this one out when I'm drunk and nostalgic about ex-girlfriends. I also fall asleep to it. Sometimes I listen to it when I'm really pissed off and I feel better. I feel like I should go seek out a new girl. It's trancelike, saccharine and due in no small part to the grand production, strangely brutal. It goes good with whiskeycokes. Hell, it goes good with anything.
The Now. So as I type this we got a bunch of faggot powerpop bands and some pretty good ones galavanting around the USA and I would assume other places. Some good ones, yeah. Mostly shitty ones. It makes me wince. I'm embarassed for some of these people. The embarassment makes it hard to listen to some late '70s favorites that they (falsely) cite as influences, right or wrong. But no one ever tried to cut into a Now cover except for Firestarter who, no big surprise, nailed this NJ gang's "Flex Your Muscle" with what I would assume to be minimal effort. "Flex Your Muscle" is great. But not even close to being the most memorable tune on the self-titled LP from '79. A weird album. How or why, I can't quite pinpoint. If anyone ever attempts a take on "You Are the One" and fucks it up, I will be on their doorstep toot-sweet with a rusty dildo-tipped chainsaw. You read it here first.
Later-era Scientists. Yeah: I prefer their later Stooge-sludge to the early power-p material. If you have never been half drunk and zooming down smalltown IL backroads at 3 a.m. while dodging fireflies and trying to ground your wheels to the dirt instead of grass and scaring yourself in regards to the total lack of civilization in the area in which you are currently lost, all while "Revhead" is at full tilt on the stereo making the blood curdle, I don't expect you to get it.
Alexander Spence's "Oar." You bet. "Diana" is one my favorite songs ever, period. It is Skip and Skip is what I'd consider to be one of the most honest voices in the history of r'n'r. Being shit-nuts probably didn't hinder his frankness. Anyway, "Oar" is a folky giant. I hate most anything considered to be folk. However, I love "Oar." I have never put this on, to my knowledge, in the company of anyone other than myself and it's because I just don't think other people will understand what a tender ditty like "Diana" means to a cynical, jaded ass like me. Oh well.
"No New York." Mostly just for those Contortions tunes.
Debris. Okie weirdos and beardos that gave/give/have given MX-80 Sound quite a run for their money. Their fantastic reissued "Static Disposal" LP sometimes gets too jammy but "One Way Spit" is a kick in the nuts and "Tricia" is a goofy masterpiece. In the next few years I plan on singing "Tricia" outside of a girl's window at 5 a.m. after a restraining order judgment. Any Tricias looking to volunteer, get in touch.
Snakefinger's "Smelly Tongues." He was a bizarre one and at one point, a good one. "Smelly Tongues" is Snakey at his most potent. Perhaps one of Ralph's Records' brighter moments of welcomed delirium. Sinister, whispered-right-in-your-ear vocals that make me smile every time. The intended A side on this 45, "The Spot," is also no slouch.
There are many others, sure. Sometimes the Stones will snap me out of it. Sometimes hearing "Down on the Corner" on the radio. But these are what I pulled out this time around. I'm still not sure if it worked. The wrapped and unlistened recs remain on the shelf and I'm not particularly motivated to listen to any of them. But then, I'm not particularly motivated to do much of anything. I prefer that the music come back to me, not the other way around. And with the Pagans reunion coming up at the Blackout, there's a possibility of that happening. Which means that you assholes will have your work cut out for you again. I'm confident that you'll succeed in ruining music for umpteenth time +1, but I'm also confident that the Old Faithfuls will still be there when everything else just can't do the trick. Roaches after the nukes. Well.
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