May Music Mayhem


It may seem that I'm diggin' in the dirt. Gettin' back to my punk rock roots. Well, some of my favorite new music does seem a wee bit primal, oui? And some of it is even out this world. But all of this music is party playlist-worthy for any weekend getaway. Proceed with caution....

"Back to the Way I Was" - Emily Bell: In Technicolor (One-Eyed George)

Love the retro-girl bop rockabilly trip of this Austin-based ginger-haired flamethrower. She's got plenty of sass, snarl, and sex appeal. And her roots-rockin' band rips it up all the while she shakes and struts her stuff. This will keep any party swingin' all night long. Don't move your lips, just shake those hips....

"Signal 30" - Public Service Broadcasting: Inform - Educate - Entertain (Test Card)

Driving, Relentless. Dangerous. Watch out for that speeding vehicle! Throbbing bass, guitar, and drums, played live. Signal 30 was truly a 1959 U.S. public service safety film about the perils of driving. That voice-over is sampled to offer lyrical references in this cautionary tale. Brits J. Willgoose, Esq. and drummer Wrigglesworth deliver a thoroughly refreshing take on electronica with wit, wisdom, and verve. Debut album out on May 28th. This is my summer road trip theme song.

"Space Oddity" - Commander Chris Hadfield

Brilliantly executed revised cover of a Bowie classic performed by Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station. The music was recorded by him before he left, while guitar and vocals were done live. Some lyrics were modified to suit the specifics, but this is profoundly awe-inspiring. "Planet Earth is blue..."

"Down in the Dirt" - Black Flag (SST)

Punk rock fury from middle-aged dudes? Yup. Buzz saw guitar? Yup. Gut-rattling bass? Yup. Jackhammer drums? Yup. Greg Ginn? Yup. Theramin? Yup?! Wot's that you say? Can't hear me? Better turn it up....

"High Heeled Leather Boots" - Baby Bee: The Shaker E.P. (Republic)

Two rock dudes. Drums. Gretsch guitar. Fender Amp. Relentless. Infectious. Bodacious. Soundtrack for the summer? Hmmm... could be. Certainly, one of my favorite singles this month.

"Good To Be King" - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Beacon Theatre, NYC, May 21, 2013

When Mr. Petty announced to his ravenous audience that he was going to play many "deep tracks" on the second night of his five night run of shows at the majestic but intimate Beacon Theatre, I knew we were in for a wonderful evening of rock. Sure, he could have taken the easy way out and played all of his jukebox singles, he's recorded more than enough to satiate the crowd. And he did rock plenty of wonderful covers including "Green Onions," "I Just Want to Make Love to You," and "Friend of the Devil." But when he and the lads launched into "King" from his Wildflowers album, they launched into the rock stratosphere. Majestic and extraordinary, Petty and lead guitarist Mike Campbell trading snakey licks, Benmont Tench on hook-laden piano runs, it was that "it" moment when band and audience commune. And we did.

"The Words Don't Work" The Orange Peels: Sun Moon (Minty Fresh)

Indie power pop. Nothing pretentious, just plenty damn catchy in that Big Star meets Teenage Fanclub pop-rock kinda way. Bay-area leader Allen Clapp writes smart songs, but keeps the beat simple and guitars big and chiming. In that way, he invites the listener along for the ride.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Ardent & Magnolia Pictures)

And speaking of Alex Chilton, do not miss this documentary on Chilton's pop-rock juggernaut act formed after the young man left The Box Tops. One of those criminally ignored American rock bands that, although they were commercial failures, inspired legions of rock bands and fans after them. One of the most enduring legacies in the music biz, even if they remain on the fringe of the pop music mythical landscape.

"Pale Horse Phantasm" - Arborea: Fortress of the Sun (ESP)

Another gorgeous, hypnotic melody from the Philly-based avant-folk duo, this from their fifth album. The video feels like an homage to the ladies of Game of Thrones. To my ears this Maine-based husband-and-wife duo of Buck and Shanti Curran really harken back to the English folk-rock days of Incredible String Band, Pentangle, and Fairport Convention. Regardless of your folk-rock proclivities, their talent can not be denied.

"Empathetic People" - Telekinesis: Dormarion (Merge)

Power pop albeit punky from this Seattle-based indie rocker Michael Benjamin Lerner AKA Telekinesis from his fourth effort. The tune has that English smart rock fury -- think XTC -- with its relentless drum beat anchor, even with its simple, but effective drum breakdown, while the grinding guitars keep building towards the video's most-satisfying vinyl platter payoff. Begs to be played loud and often.

Time to fire up the grill.