Saturday, September 19, 2015
This album contains the Daredevils standout, yacht-rock hit, "Jackie Blue." It still sounds strange in the context of the band's music. They try so hard to be down-home and roots driven rock n' roll. They step heavily into country and bluegrass and keep a live sound. Then, out of nowhere, "Jackie Blue" with its smoothness and cocaine perfection. You'd guess the band was from Los Angeles and not in between Springfield, Missouri and Kansas City.
From there, the Daredevils do what they do. Play around with rock n' roll and traditional roots music. There's a track entitled, "Kansas You Fooler," which seems to recall the bitter Kansas-Missouri rivalry, However, this appears to be a coming to terms with Kansas after leaving Colorado, seeing all the flatness of Western, Kansas is kind of peaceful. Another highlight is the track, "E.E. Lawson," which is this driving bass rhythm with truck stop vocals telling the story, it's a bit novelty, but clever. Overall, the LP is a strong effort worth repeated listens.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
This album was originally released as a CD on Owned & Operated Recordings in 2000. It was the third album in the Shiner catalog and I remember having it and being bored by it. I had loved Splay, tolerated Lula Divinia, but didn't have the patience for this album.
Looking back, I was in college when it was released and trying to understand complex subjects in class, I didn't want any complication in my music. I was feeling the lo-fi scene featuring Pavement, power-pop of the late-70's, and punk rock. I didn't have to think about that music, that stuff was plug and play. And, if I did have to concentrate on tunes, it was at KJHK and by the year 2000, post-hardcore had run it's course in the college radio scene. I just thought I had to have some sort of persona. I used to like Shiner, but couldn't anymore. They were like Rush at this point, way too old-man rock.
Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed by that version of me. I had lot more of my own pretensions than this album has. Sure, it's math-y and each song is like an equation that only makes sense upon it's conclusion, but, its got a lot of depth and emotion to go along with it. Listening to it now, I get why they were big in Chicago and signed to a label owned and operated by post-hardcore darling, Jawbox frontman, J. Robbins. It's cause they were pretty great.
This new reissue was put out by the band themselves, vinyl only on blue/white splattered vinyl. The colored effect does go well with the original artwork which is greatly enhanced by the size of the cover. The pale guy in the suit and crown standing over a skyline looks much more grand staring at a LP jacket versus squinting at the old CD liner. Got to think Shiner may be able to get the rights to give the same treatment to Lula Divinia and Splay at some point. The doors are closed at DeSoto with Dischord only paying attention to the Jawbox catalog. I'd hope J. Robbins is a cool enough guy that he'd just let Shiner do what they want if asked.
SHINER - STARLESS
Monday, September 14, 2015
The first track, "Palomino", is quite the statement piece from Mates of State. It's huge piece of refined pop. It's cinematic and you've probably heard it in commercials or on the radio, it's that kind of thing. Then, right after that, the husband and wife duo hit you again with the track, "Maracas", which is just as perfect. Just a bouncy rhythm, catchy lyrics, and it'll give you an immediate sugar rush.
And, if you only had the album for those two songs, it wouldn't be a bad thing. However, the whole LP is filled with hits. Gone are the chaotic back and forth of their duo's first albums, this features a full band and a much more focused sound. The kids, they hate it, they still want the bashed out sounds and shouted vocals. But, there's nothing wrong with enjoying this album, it's like finally admitting you like Fleetwood Mac. Sure, some of your cool points are lost, but at least you're being honest with yourself.
Monday, September 7, 2015
While most albums of this ilk spend time covering church music, fight songs and an occasional Beatles song, this goes WAY beyond. Of course, they do a Beatles cover and other pop hits of the era (in fact, the Beginning takes their name from the Chicago track which they cover to open the album). But, there's an original here, with fuzzed out guitar solos and high school amateur charm. Despite that the teen garage scene was a memory by 1972, these kids from Garden City apparently didn't get the message.
The album should be worth $100's for the efforts of Bryan Larson, who the liners indicate was a Garden City High School Junior at the time of the record. His guitar cuts across all the fluff. Second, he arranged a portion of the album, which starts on Side 2 with Jimi Hendrix's "You've Got Me Floatin'," which for 1972 anywhere Kansas just had to be 'what the fuck.' He then leads the band through a garage-driven version of the James Gang's "Funk #49." And as cool as those two selections are, the orinigal tune credited to Larson is the highlight of the album. A 15 minute and 55 second track entitled "Rats Running through the Garbage" that takes up most Side 3 is amazing. First, simply because the band instructor allowed it. Second, it's 15 minutes of a kid just freaking out on his guitar. At times the track sounds straight evil. It does get lost a number of times, but it's forgiven just for the inspiration the kids are playing with on it.
As for the cover selections, they aren't all mind blowing, but there are some pretty incredible covers. The cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," is drug riddled, with interesting vocal harmonies and a trippy attempt at making a guitar sound like a sitar. Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" sounds tiny compared to the original, but the amateur quality is enduring and there's a big chunky bass line and nifty guitar lines. Not all the cover selections hit, but it makes up for it with unexpected drum breaks and fuzz guitar solos you'd expect from 1967 teens, not 1970's teens from Western Kansas.