Hey, we haven't done one of these in a few weeks. It's a beautiful day outside, so we ought to all be in just the mood to tell you what we're playing in the store today, and to have some wacky fun.
Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove.
Steve: I remember back in 1976, I was working at the Arena as an usher, and I was told to report for some big concert. I had never heard of Parliament-Funkadelic, or Bootsy's Rubber Band, nor the other two artists whose names I've long since forgotten. Can you imagine how incredibly mind-blowing it would be to see the Mothership Connection tour when you have no idea what to expect from it? This album came out the next year, and it's probably still my favorite Funkadelic record, though several others can give it a good run for its money in my personal hall of fame. Eddie Hazel's fuzz-toned swirly guitar lines, Bernie Worrell's astounding keyboard lines, and the thousand and one vocal lines all blend together into intricate and intoxicating perfect songs. This is pretty much what it feels like to be stoned, and it's all good.
Various Artists, "Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru"
Steve: It's hard to believe that nearly 20 years ago, I was enough of an expert in international music to have been called into classrooms to speak on the subject a couple times. My chops are extremely rusty - I've only dabbled now and again in the last fifteen years - but even when I was eating this stuff up, I didn't know anything about Peruvian music outside of the Andean folk tunes most Americans only recognize when I say, you know, like Paul Simon's "El Condor Pasa." This Luaka Bop collection is recognizably from the same country as that - the lilting rhythms and trebly guitar-like instruments are prominent as ever - but there is also a distinctive African flavor mixed in. It's beautiful, and it's funky, and it's hypnotic.
Steve: Alright, everything I said a few weeks back was premature. This record is growing on me, with some fat Peter Buck riffs and zippy-zappy Mike Mills bass lines, not to mention a monster drummer whose name has been told to me at least a dozen times, yet I can't ever remember it. The album clocks in at only 30 minutes, and I'd still cut about twelve from it, but the good stuff is climb-on-a-chair-fist-in-the-air-scream-along-like-you-just-don't-care good.
Jack: I've liked this record from the get go. The last R.E.M. album was a big snooze, and that's a shame because even when they put out a so-so record I usually like at least one or two tracks. Short records are a good thing, and this one is really rockin'. I have loved this band for as long as I can remember. My uncle Wally was obsessed with them when I was growing up, and they will always mean a lot to me. I'll always buy their albums, even if they aren't that good. Luckily, this one is pretty awesome. The closing track, "I'm Gonna DJ", is my favorite. "Death is pretty final / I'm collecting vinyl / I'm gonna DJ at the end of the world." Ever since DJing for Record Store Day I finally caught the itch for wanting music on vinyl. (Honestly, I still don't think the quality is better than what's on a CD, considering that comes directly from the source and doesn't sound fuzzy, but they're great for DJing.) ANYWAY, this album has me excited about R.E.M. again. Hooray!
She & Him, Volume 1
Jen: Steve just went to lunch and Jack and I find ourselves standing around singing all the harmonies on this album like a bunch of total goofballs.
Jack: I can't help it. She sounds so sweet. She sounds like she needs me to snuggle her.
Jen: This is a great summertime album to drive around with...put the windows down, let the wind blow your hair around....
I know Zooey Deschanel has cited the Phil Spector girl group sound as a big influence on this album and the drum sound on "Sweet Darlin'" is so authentically recreated that--if I hadn't known otherwise--I might have thought it was sampled from the Crystals "Then He Kissed Me." I'm sure they had a production budget that most bands would die for.
While Deschanel has a unique and fully formed personality as a singer, I can't help but imagine some of these songs as performed by other vocalists. On "I Thought I Saw Your Face Today," the vocal delivery (and the keyboards...and the drums) remind me so much of Karen Carpenter that I felt compelled to check Wikipedia for Deschanel's birthdate to see if she might indeed be Carpenter's reincarnation. "Take It Back" and "Got Me" would be great material for k.d. lang except for the fact that Deschanel owns these two tunes--and where lang would turn these into way over the top torch songs, Deschanel gives it a lighter interpretation with a perfect country pop twang.
M. Ward provides a feisty guitar solo on "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here." My only complaint about this album is that, while I am a fan of M. Ward, I wish he had stayed a bit more in the background as a musician and singer because Deschanel is really the star here. Mostly he stays out of her way. Kudos to him for the gorgeous and dissonant string arrangement on the closing track "Sweet Darlin'"--it provides a perfect contrast for all this sticky sweet pop music.
We actually had a lot to say about the She & Him album in a previous post as well.
Jack: I'm not too familiar with their back catalog, but I'm enjoying the creepiness of this record. The strange percussion and electronic things are pulling me in. This record makes you want to sit around in the dark with it blasting from your stereo. "Machine Gun" stands out the most with electronic beats firing off like bullets into the night air.
Steve: I was never a big fan of the old Portishead sound, though it was a pleasant sensation now and again, especially in the background somewhere. And, I doubt I'll be playing this one on my own, but there are some really cool sections on this record, some shredding sounds over interesting chords, and some tricky rhythmic ideas. I don't hear a single memorable melody out of the vocals, but as long as the rest of the record is holding my attention, that's not the worst thing in the world.
Jen: I'm not sure if it was ever Beth Gibbons' intention to create memorable melodies, though. I always thought that she was far more interested in creating languid, moody atmosphere and soundscapes. Portishead has always delivered on that front. What makes this a remarkable album is that they've creatively updated their sound while retaining what is essential. Comeback of the year!
Matthew Sweet, Sunshine Lies.
Jen: !s-d-r-a-w-k-c-a-B Oh, listen to the first track and you'll know what I'm talkin' about. It's a studio trick, folks!
Steve: I listened to it, but I still had to ask her, because I'm not all that bright. It's backwards spelled backwards.
By the way, still one of the best things about working at a record store is getting excited about new music before it gets released, and this is my favorite solo Matthew Sweet record since Girlfriend. After his teamwork with Susannah Hoffs last year on an album of classic cover material, Sweet sounds invigorated (and chock full of ideas for harmonies). I'm not sure who is playing lead guitar, but whoever it is sounds like he's memorized every lick played by the Beatles, the Byrds, and some other 60s icons who aren't popping into my head, and then figured out how to manipulate them into something fresh.
Jack: Aw, Matthew Sweet always makes me think of sunshine and summer. It's been a while since he's put out a record that isn't full of throw away tracks. I think that covers record might have refreshed his sound.
Jen: This is one of those perfect pop records. I approve.
John Hiatt, Same Old Man
Jen: Hmm...I am a fan, but I only hear a few songs here that I like. A very heavy Bob Dylan influence permeates this material but I'd rather be listening to, well, John Hiatt singing. Two songs sounds perfect for contemporary country radio and I wonder if he'd been shopping the demoes around Nashville before he recorded them for this album. We're listening to an advance copy of Same Old Man which comes out May 27, but I think he'll never top Bring The Family.
Steve: I'm probably even a bigger fan than Jen, as I own fifteen of Hiatt's previous eighteen albums, but I'm just as disappointed with this one. Oh, Hiatt is never less than listenable, but he sounds on auto-pilot a lot of the time here, and the open arrangements without much discernible lead guitar excitement don't do him any favors. There are far worse records in this world, but with all the good new releases coming out in the next few weeks, I fear this one will fall by the wayside.
Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid.
Steve: I've been listening to these guys for a few years now, an unavoidable fact of life being married to my Elbow-loving wife. That's fine by me, as I would never have fallen in love with this band myself if she hadn't kept on playing them whenever I would be most vulnerable. This new record is chock full of reasons to love them - complex compositions with indelible hooks, majestic synthesizer chords, richly melodic vocals, and intricate rhythm changes. I don't want to make them sound all prog-rock, because at the same time, they've got a heart-on-your-sleeve emotional power that can't be denied.
Jack: I agree with Steve on this record. I've been a fan since I saw them open for Pete Yorn back when I was in high school. Lead vocalist Guy Garvey delivers his beautiful lyrics with the sweet tones of his voice. In fact, I think there's a dark sweetness to all of their albums. I love how this record sounds on the stereo here at Euclid, but they are so many layers to each of their tracks that I always hear more with headphones on. Suggested tracks: "The Bones of You", "Grounds for Divorce", "The Fix". Here's the only song we can think of that they've covered: "Independent Women" by Destiny's Child... as performed by cats...
The Roots, Rising Down.
Steve: I'm definitely liking this. Monstrous grooves courtesy of the tightest live rhythm section working these days - did you see these guys bash out Stephen Colbert's theme song on The Colbert Report a couple weeks back? The weakest link on Roots records in the past has been the rapping, but there seems to be an old school-styled renaissance here, as the rhythms look to the future. Lots of guest stars, including Talib Kweli and Common, as well.
Jack: Don't forget Mos Def! He makes an appearance! When I hear hip hop records for first time I concentrate more on the beats. This album has some amazing percussion.
The Clash, Combat Rock
Jen: I'll probably always pull out my copy of London Calling first, but Combat Rock is an old favorite--and while these were certainly not the first songs that I heard by the Clash, it was the first Clash album that I ever bought. While the references to the Guardian Angels and the film Taxi Driver really date "Red Angel Dragnet" it rocks as hard as anything else on this album. I always loved the more subdued songs (for the Clash, at least) like "Straight To Hell" and "Sean Flynn" too. It's amusing to me now that on the danceable tracks like "Overpowered By Funk" I can hear that this is a band that is experiencing a musical split--one that is soon to spawn Big Audio Dynamite.
Jack: I told Jen I'm glad she put this on because I've never heard the whole record. I'm also glad to hear it because now I know that M.I.A. sampled "Straight to Hell" for her song "Paper Planes" on her most recent album Kala. It's definitely my favorite song on that record, so it's nice to hear exactly where it came from. She just uses a small instrumental section of it looped for her track. It's interesting to hear past the point of that sample. I think maybe I'll appreciate it even more now.
Jen: He's also glad that I put this on because I toyed with the idea of playing Supertramp's Greatest Hits!
Neva Dinova, You May Already Be Dreaming
Jack: This lovely band just released a new record on Saddle Creek a few weeks ago, and you can go see them tonight at The Bluebird when they open for Ladyhawk. Doors at 8, show starts at 9. It's all ages and it's only $10 bucks! Jen and I will be there. Will you?
This record is sweetly mellow, and rather acoustic, though they turn up the guitars around the middle of it. You May Already Be Dreaming is a very beautiful, but sad record. There's a lot pertaining to death in the lyrics. "Squirrels" is the first track that caught my ear because when singing about being underwater, the song suddenly gets filtered to sound as if the band has just been submerged in a pool. These lyrics after they resurface are perfect: "I called you up late at night / I just can't speak when I'm high / I must have been lonely and looking for a friend / I had a great idea but I couldn't find a pen." The rest of the record sunk in after a few listens, and I can't get enough.
Jen: Standout track: "What You Want."
Jen: This selection wasn't my idea. However, I am totally delighted. Actually, the thought occurred to me earlier in the day, but I got distracted by something or other. Jack just mentioned that ABBA is Stephin Merritt's favorite band so we're in good company.
Jack: This was totally my suggestion after Jen joked about putting on Aerosmith. ABBA is a better band that starts with an 'A' than Aerosmith is, even if it was a joke. My mother & her sisters revisited their love of ABBA when I was in middle school, so I've heard these songs a million times and I still love them. Seriously. I think it's good stuff. As far as greatest hits collections go, this is still one of the best. I refuse to go see the musical "Mama Mia". That's just plain wrong.
Jen: I suppose Madonna is in the back of my mind this week since she just released a new album. Otherwise, I don't think I would have noticed how much her early songs rip off ABBA--check out the part in "S.O.S." right before it kicks into the chorus and you'll hear exactly what I'm talking about.
See ya next time folks. We're heading out to the Neva Dinova / Ladyhawk show.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Hey, we haven't done one of these in a few weeks. It's a beautiful day outside, so we ought to all be in just the mood to tell you what we're playing in the store today, and to have some wacky fun.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
by Steve Pick
Those were the days, when magazines held readers polls to determine who were the leading lights in jazz, and then when the leading lights so determined would get together to jam in a studio and produce an album.
I'm not sure what Poll this album was responding to - who has time to read liner notes when you're working the counter in a record store? - but this is a strong line-up. Recorded in 1960, you've got Cannonball Adderley at the peak of his alto sax form, you've got Wes Montgomery kicking ass on guitar, you've got a rhythm section of Ray Brown on bass, Louis Hayes on drums, and Victor Feldman on piano and vibes. I'll admit, I don't know from Victor Feldman, though he sounds nice, but the other four are certified all-stars on their instruments.
The rhythm section keeps things swinging hard, and Adderley and Montgomery shine again and again on this fine album. Adderley sounds to me like he's just interpolating the hard funk he'd started playing in his own group to the blues and standards he'd played with others, and the result is a driving blast of exciting playing. And Montgomery never even considers playing something that was a cliche - mixing chords and single note lines in a way that only the guitar could produce, he shows here as well as anywhere why he was a genius.
I'm not claiming this to be one of the greatest jazz records of all time, but if you haven't heard it, you're in for a real treat, as this particular mix of players meshed spectacularly well together.
Of course, there are no videos of this particular group, but how about this nice one of Cannonball's sextet, which also featured Louis Hayes on drums, not to mention Nat Adderley on cornet, Yusef Lateef on tenor, Sam Jones on bass, and Joe Zawinul on piano?
Monday, April 28, 2008
by Steve Pick
One of the comments indicates this may have been filmed very shortly after the passing of the great Johnny Hodges back in 1970. I have no idea if the equally great Ben Webster is remembering his former colleague in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, or if he is simply moved by the liquid beauty of Teddy Wilson's elegant piano solo, but the man is crying just before he takes his second incandescent solo himself. I'm curious if the white hipsters gathered around the stage really knew just what majesty they were lucky enough to have in front of them.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
by Steve Pick
We know, we know, we've been very remiss in updating the blog this week. We're gonna have lots to say in the near future, but until then, please enjoy this very nice live performance from Amy LaVere.
Monday, April 21, 2008
by Steve Pick
It was like old times Saturday, April 19, as the store was filled with customers all day long and into the night. You may have been a part of it, or you may have just wanted to be here.
Drawn by a series of live performances by six of the greatest musicians or conglomerations of musicians who happen to live in the St. Louis area, people enjoyed the music but also bought LPs, CDs, and DVDs to experience at home. The lines moved a little slowly at times - and we apologize for that - but it was a blast talking to all the old and new customers who came in to Euclid Records on the same day.
We hope to have more pictures up in a day or two - Darren Snow took some pics that we haven't seen yet - but these shots by store manager Neil Landow give you some sense of the flavor of the day. (Remember, you can click on these to get nice big beautiful renditions of these pictures.)
That's DJ Super Conductor (our recently departed employee Anna) spinning on the wheels of steel to open the festivities.
Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets tries to remember the second verse of "1000 Dollar Car." Thanks to the internet, we were able to provide him with the jog his memory needed.
Customers mill about while the Bottle Rockets play.
Finn's Motel brought the rock to Euclid Records, waking up the diners next door at Cyrano's. That's Euclid employee Steve Scariano on the bass there.
Anne Tkach and John Wendland, two thirds of the Rough Shop trio, played their second to last gig right here before heading to Europe for a short tour. You can just see the head of Andy Ploof's dobro.
All five members of Tight Pants Syndrome showed up in the frame, and you've got the back of Karen from Bunnygrunt as she watched them play.
Jackieboy (our own Jack Probst) spun the music between sets, as did Darren Snow and Rob Wagoner (but not when we were looking, alas).
Thanks again for making the first annual Record Store Day a big success. We can't wait until next year to do it bigger and better, even, if that can be imagined. Remember, we're here all year long, so stop in whenever you want some more great music.
Friday, April 18, 2008
by Jen Eide
I first saw the Gossip play at the Firehouse in 2000 opening up for Sleater-Kinney. I never anticipated that I'd see another band blow S-K out of the water, but Beth Ditto has one of those Southern shake-your-innards voices. There's nothing like seeing the Gossip live in a sweaty club, but now that they've found such wild success in London you may not have the opportunity for a while. The next best thing may be to watch this performance of their hit "Standing In The Way Of Control" on Letterman the other night--after which Dave comes out and says he wants to rent a van and drive across the country with them. To which Beth Ditto replies "Uh...are you payin' for it?" Dave says, "Yeah, I'm payin' for everything!" Way to go with the punk rock philanthropy Dave--you've now surpassed Oprah as my favorite celebrity. Can we get your presidential endorsement now, please? Gossip's new album Live in London out now.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
by Steve Pick
I know you're all anxiously awaiting tomorrow's excitement - though you're welcome to come shop today and tomorrow, too - so we'll give you a few nice things to read while you wait for Record Store Day. Don't forget that lineup we have :
12 noon Bottle Rockets
1 pm Farshid Etniko
2 pm Finn's Motel
3 pm Rough Shop
4 pm Dave Stone
5 pm Tight Pants Syndrome
In the meantime, why not check out this nice little story from a former Euclid Records employee who learned here that while record stores weren't his career path, he still likes 'em?
Or how about this delightful little piece from the ever-welcome Peter Holsapple, one of our nation's greatest songwriters and most enjoyable bloggers?
And, one last piece about the little radio station that helps make St. Louis such a livable place? We're talking about KDHX, 88.1 FM that needs your support during its spring membership drive.
by Joe Schwab
Ever since I bought my first record (Janis Joplin Pearl at Korvette’s in case you were wondering) I’ve been frequenting the local record.stores. As Rob, Steve Scariano and I were kicking it around this morning; we started to reminisce about our early record store ventures.
With Record Store Day coming up on Saturday, I thought I’d start a discussion on stores from days gone by. So I submit to you my 10 favorite hangouts from the 60’s and 70’s and encourage anyone reading this to chime in with their favorites.
1- Streetside Records – Now I’m talking the original Streetside on the north side of Delmar. Cramped and filled with an amazing selection, the Jazz section was sublime but the waterbed in the back still kind of throws me for a loop.
2- Music Village – What can you say about a place where the parking was on the roof. A great selection of Rock domestic and imports (this place would have been a great bar) and some fine wall to wall blue shag carpeting. Right down Forsyth from…
3- Discount Records – This was a chain, but a really great store specializing in Classical, Jazz and Folk but loads of great Rock ‘n’ Roll imports with those Jem stickers on the front. Viscount Records in Northwest Plaza was another store in the chain and was a must stop in the record store road trip.
4- Akoshic Records – Most people remember The Akoshic after it moved into the Spectrum head shop here in Webster. The Akoshic that I frequented was at 6 North Euclid and the future home of Wuxry and later Euclid Records. Cool selection from the hip owner Russ Mills, but the best part was walking through the black light room into the light show. One whole wall was colored lights with mirrors along each side wall and head phones for listening to that new Hendrix LP Russ was playing.
5- The Pseudonym - Down the street from The Akoshic at Euclid and McPherson was the Pseudonym, right next to Herb Balaban’s Gypsy Cowboy boutique. Flowers, hippie trinkets and incense were in the front of the store but in the back was a small but very cool selection of esoteric odds and ends, hippie Rock and some nice bootlegs as well.
6- Boot Heel Records – At the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee, this huge joint had isles of bargain cutouts, Country hits and a fine selection of 45’s. Two and three dollar cutouts at Bootheel now fetch a small fortune on eBay. If I knew then what I know now…
7- The Record Bar – The one in Clayton on Brentwood, not the mall store. This was the first record store that I ever went to, though by that time it was more of a children’s cloths store. They still had a small rack of records though and my Mom tells me she used to buy 78’s there when she was a teenager. Oh, a bit of trivia: the place was owned by Kevin Kline’s Dad.
8- Laclede Music – I found this place just before they closed in the mid 70’s. Too bad, from what I hear this was one of the true gems in St. Louis record store community. Amazing 45 selection too.
9- Peaches – Huge superstores with giant album cover art inside and out. When they first opened, there was nothing you couldn’t find. When they had in-stores they would have the artist put they’re feet and hands in cement out front, al la Grauman's Chinese Theater. Can somebody tell me if they’re still there, and who was represented?
10- Korvettes – A big box store before the big box store. These guys kicked the shit out of Famous Barr or Stix Baer and Fuller’s selection plus great prices. By the way, I paid $4.79 for Pearl! Below are a couple T.V. ads for Korvettes, check out the oh so red hot Julie Newmar in the second ad.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
by Steve Pick
If you're a singer/songwriter with a rock bent, it's got to be beyond belief to suddenly find yourself on stage with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band pumping out one of your songs. Sure, Bruce and Alejandro Escovedo have two voices not exactly intended to blend, but the joy on Bruce's face and the exhilaration in Alejandro's song is riveting. Apparently, this happened the other night in Houston, and it's available on YouTube already. I am so looking forward to the new Alejandro Escovedo album - if this song is typical, he may be vying for album of the year.
Spread the word - tell all your friends - tell the people you barely know - Euclid Records is definitely the place to be on Saturday, April 19. Six of St. Louis' finest musical conglomerations will be here performing live for your entertainment in support of the first annual National Record Store Day. We'll have free goodie bags chock full of CDs and 7" singles and other assorted record label gifts. We'll have lip-smackingly delicious barbecue for sale from our friends at the Highway 61 Roadhouse. We'll have disc jockeys culled from the ranks of our staff bringing you the groovin'est sounds in between the live performances.
Here's the schedule for the live music - note the addition of one more band at 5 pm from previous announcements:
12 noon: The Bottle Rockets
1 pm: Farshid Etniko
2 pm: Finn's Motel
3 pm: Rough Shop
4 pm: Dave Stone
5 pm: Tight Pants Syndrome
Our suggestion - pick your favorite artist and stick around for somebody you haven't heard before. We happen to think this is an unbeatably great representation of St. Louis area music.
Monday, April 14, 2008
by Jen Eide
Quote of the day--from the latest issue of Spin magazine which features an interview with Kim Deal of the Breeders:
Q: Do you think other musicians can sometimes take themselves too seriously?
A: ...Just watch out for anybody who has an Ovation guitar. That's your clue right there that something bad is about to happen.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
by Steve Pick
We are just over two weeks away from what would have been Duke Ellington's 109th birthday, if his superpower would have been the inability to die rather than the ability to create the greatest music of the 20th century. But, you don't need a reason to celebrate Ellington's music. I just went on Youtube, typed in his name, and voila - this 1935 nine and a half minute theatrically released flick that I'd never seen before. Featuring Barney Bigard on exquisite clarinet, and some nice trombone from Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, "Symphony in Black" is one of Ellington's early suites leading up to the "Black, Brown, and Beige" extravaganza a few years later. And, lip synching while laying on the floor, you get a brief appearance by none other than a very young Billie Holiday, who sings the blues section of the suite, even though blues was never to be her forte the rest of her career. Just watch the thing, and crank up the speakers - this is masterful Ellington.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Yup, you read that right folks, we still have about twenty left and as far as I know we are the only one in town that still has them.
Don't be a fool and pay some scalper on craigslist above face value. Come give us a visit--$29 cash only, limit 4 per customer.
by Jack Probst
Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
A mostly techno-driven outing in space, with the occasional spastic electroclash freak-out. At times it sounds like Crystal Castles blew up an arcade in the '80s and unleashed all the sound effects from Donkey Kong. For maximum enjoyment, ask your local DJ to spin it when you're bumpin' in the club.
Recommended Tracks: "Crimewave", "Loving and Caring", "Good Times"
Check out Crystal Castles myspace page.
The Teenagers, Reality Check
The Teenagers are like if CSS got drunk at a party and had a one night stand with Arab Strap. CSS never called again, but Arab Strap got preggers and had a baby. Then that baby grew up listening to The Cure and loves to play 80's synthpop. (Wait... it might have been another band like The Cure. I don't know exactly. CSS gets around a lot, if you know what I mean.) Anyway, The Teenagers are actually three French guys that left their teen years a while ago. The lyrics are naughty and frequently reference pop culture icons. Scarlett Johansson even gets her own love anthem. (Her Tom Waits cover album comes out soon, so we'll see if she's still worthy.) Despite the foul language, the record does have some upbeat and positive tunes to boost the ol' self-esteem. It's a fun record to run around town all night to.
Recommended Tracks: "Homecoming", "Starlett Johansson", "Sunset Beach"
Check out The Teenagers' myspace page.
And check out this great music video for "Homecoming":
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Euclid Records is pleased as punch to announce the list of St. Louis area performers who will be playing in our store at 601 E. Lockwood in Webster Groves on Saturday, April 19. Enjoy an all-day cookout with our friends from HWY 61 Roadhouse--mmm...BBQ!
Noon: The Bottle Rockets
1 PM: Farshid Etniko
2 PM: Finn's Motel
3 PM: Rough Shop
4 PM: Dave Stone
In addition, enjoy DJ sets with Euclid Records employees Rob Wagoner, Darren Snow, Jackieboy & Super Conductor. Fun will be had. Come on out and celebrate the independent record store. Read what Euclid Records owner Joe Schwab had to say about Record Store Day and independent retailers in a previous post. Oh, and check out this post from Carrie Brownstein on the subject.
If you're reading this on Wednesday, regularly scheduled updates on the music in the store continue below.
We've taken a couple weeks off from the live-blogging of our musical choices, but Steve Pick, Jack Probst, and Jen Eide are all working today, and we're gonna do it again. Don't forget to come back throughout the day for updates. UPDATE: Hey, Darren Snow showed up this afternoon, and he's in here, too.
John Henry and the Engine, Under the Yellow Moon.
Steve: I'm opening the store today, got no help until noon, so you're gonna get nothing but my opinion for a little while. I discovered this St. Louis band on MySpace last week, and now we've got their debut CD right here in the store. It's a little confusing having two bands in town with such similar names - the other I'm thinking of is Jon Hardy and the Public - but deal with, St. Louis, because they're both good. These guys have a bit of a Springsteen feel, that solid bar band ethic of playing to make you feel good by the end of the night. Breathy vocals, strong tunes, powerful arrangements. They're having a CD release party Saturday night at Off Broadway. Why not check them out?
Van Morrison, Avalon Sunset.
Steve: Can't remember the last time I threw this album on. Despite the fact that it has one of his biggest, if not the biggest, hits of the last thirty years in "Have I Told You Lately," this is not quite a major release from Van the Man. It leans towards the mystical side, but without quite reaching the heights, or even the mid-points, of Astral Weeks. Part of the problem is the cold production values that sounded so clean and digital to the engineers back in 1989. I forget what acoustic guitar brand it is that creates that shimmering yet too bright sound, but it's all over this record. Still, Van was on a pretty solid streak at this time, and was two years away from making one of my all-time fave records, Hymns to the Silence (currently out of print, alas). Avalon Sunset has just been brought back in print, and I guess one of the clearest measures of its status in the Morrison catalog is that we record store workers never realized it was gone the past few years.
Jen: Really all you need is Astral Weeks, and maybe Tupelo Honey and Moondance.
Blind Boy Fuller, East Coast Piedmont Style.
Steve: Despite an interest going back twenty-five years, and a significant amount of time spent reading books and occasionally listening to records, I haven't really absorbed all the different styles and approaches of acoustic blues from the twenties and thirties. I'm reasonably comfortable with the Mississippi Delta stuff, but the Piedmont material hasn't gotten near the attention it deserves. This record is a joy, some truly energetic, rhythmically diverse and melodically rich music. Fuller was a heck of a good singer, too, as well as a guitar player of skill and imagination.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Pershing.
Jen: Hmmm...I like their sound. They somehow remind me a bit of my favorite little known mid-90's Subpop band The Spinanes. They were an anomaly in that scene in that they were really poppy in contrast to all the grunge that was coming out of the label at that time. There's something about the rhythm guitarist and the female vocalist that's bringing them to mind. Ok, and the songwriting and the drumbeats as well...everything is comin' up Spinanes.
Jack: Mmm... fresh indie-pop goodness. I saw these guys open for Peter Bjorn and John at The Pageant last Summer. I remember digging them, but I only listened to the last album a few times and it didn't really stick. This one a bit more memorable. This record is nice, sweet, and short. Jen just asked me where they're from, and it turns out the original members met in high school in good ol' Springfield, MO. I had no idea.
Jen: Hey, they're playing the Bluebird on Monday, April 14th. Could be fun!
Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.
Jen: Well, I guess it's not fair to trot this album out again, but I just wanted the opportunity to gush about the absolute best show I've seen all year--and for those you who were there I'd love for you to leave your comments. There are very few shows that I attend where I feel personally transformed by the power of a musician's performance. But with the quality of the songs and the intensity of the performance I think that something broke inside of me during this show and for a fleeting half hour I began to feel human again for the first time in eight years. I talked Jack into coming along at the last minute and as we were walking out after the show he said "I am so glad you talked me into coming!"
Jack: She called me "Bubble" when convincing me to go. I can't say no to being called "Bubble". It was a lovely show. There was a few moments where the band brought a bigger sound than what's on the record. It was really beautiful. I'm proud to say I can sing as high pitched as he can.
Steve: Hey, Bubble, can I have $50? Thanks.
Jen: Well, no. But I do have an extra bag of ramen noodles that I could share.
You know, the other remarkable thing about Bon Iver--aside from the music--is that this is one of the few times that you might consider taking the buzz you're hearing into consideration. Justin Vernon did a 500 copy home pressing of For Emma, Forever Ago garnered an amazing amount of attention at the CMJ showcase, parlayed that into a deal with Jagjaguar, and proceded to blow everyone's minds at last month's SXSW. This is an album that I fully expect to be listening to five, ten, fifteen years from now. And I can't really say that's happened for me since The Replacements Pleased to Meet Me, Elliott Smith's Either/Or, Sleater-Kinney's Dig Me Out, or Spoon's Kill The Moonlight.
Jim Lauderdale and the Dream Players, Honey Songs.
Steve: Jim Lauderdale is a pain in the ass to us music writers. The guy has made something like a dozen records over the last twenty years or so, five in the last three years alone, and they're so damn consistently fine that you can't come up with anything to say about them. Oh, sure, one or two might have strictly acoustic instrumentation, and this one finds him accompanied by the likes of James Burton on guitar, Ron Tutt on drums, and Glenn D. Hardin on piano. But, Lauderdale's songs don't ever change - he just comes up with unforgettable hooks in classic country music styles again and again. I did notice while happily driving around with this CD in my car recently that it's hard to pay attention to his lyrics - either he spits them out so fast you can't keep up, or your mind is still dwelling on that brilliant chorus. But, if that's a complaint, I'll complain about some pretty useful talents.
Jen: Very catchy...I'm harmonizing along, though I'm sure my co-workers wish I would shut up.
Steve: Heck no, I only wish Jack would join in on the high parts.
Jen: Well, that first song was fun, but now they've lapsed into slow, bad relationship songs, which are fun when there's a larger than life country superstar's personality behind it. But here it just feels agonizing.
Steve and Jen: Totally irrelevant to the music, but let's send out a happy birthday to Patricia Arquette, who turns 40 today.
Jen: You look fabulous, sweetie!
Love your show!
Head of Femur, Great Plains.
Steve: I used to hate the band Great Plains in the 80s, though I have long since befriended their talented keyboardist and all-around groovy dude, Mark Wyatt. And, they did create one bona fide classic, "Letter to a Fanzine," with its unforgettable musical question, "Why do punk rock guys go out with new wave girls?" That has nothing to do with this record, but that's all I've got in my head right now.
Jack: Head of Femur are from Chicago. I believe Darren once said they were the only band he's ever wanted to punch. They're probably one of my top 20 bands of all time. I love their records. This new one is delivering more of the same sound I love, even though I think they dropped a few members since the last record. I like how they structure their albums by splicing in kind of poppy, quick paced tracks, along with more epic narrative tracks (like "Covered Wagons"). "Jetway Junior" is catchy and "Climbing Up Fire Escapes" is unforgettable.
Darren: They were the *first* band I wanted to punch. A complete list is available; send a self-addressed stamped envelope to AREN'T YOU CUTE! STEP A LITTLE CLOSER, P.O. Box 1212, St. Louis MO 63108.
Steve: It's a damn good time to be a cello player, or any other string player, if you like indie rock. Seems like trumpets are fading (though not completely), while strings are omnipresent.
Nice anatomical drawing, however.
The Breeders, Mountain Battles.
Steve: Hey, who threw me inside an aquarium before putting this record on? And how come I'm not even wet? And why aren't there any melodies in these songs? And what happened to the cymbals on the drummer's kit? And just exactly what is the deal with these Deals, foisting off utter drek like this as a major release after six years of nothing?
Jen: Well, to be fair, Steve's never really liked the Breeders, or the Pixies for that matter. But as much as I like most of these songs I have to agree that the production is awful. I kept hoping that if I turned the volume up it would sound better, but to no avail. Even though it was recorded analog it sounds like they ran it through a computer and stripped all the variation in frequencies out. Which is a shame because Kim Deal has such an interesting voice. But here it just sounds...flat.
Darren: First time I listened to this, I didn't hear anything I thought I needed to hear again. Second time I heard it (without recognizing it when it was put on), I thought it was something I'd heard dozens of times before: the first couple of tracks have that instant-familiarity quality. Still, the songs seem sketchy and unfinished to me. I know that's the Pod style, but I find myself wanting to hear these songs fleshed out to Last Splash proportions. I realize this is the record most of their fans wanted them to make; I can take it or leave it. Incidentally, the Kim Deal piece in the latest Spin is pretty charming. Sobering up and getting some Pixies closure have done her a world of good.
Jen: Actually, it may be worth the trek over to the east side to catch the Breeders at Pop's on May 10 if only to hear what these songs could have sounded like with a decent mix. On the whole, Mountain Battles is not a bad record. If they'd left five songs off of this it would have made a helluva EP. The songs I love remind me of Pod...except the recording sounds like shit.
Love, Forever Changes.
Jen: Ouch! And ick. I thought that this was the Moody Blues when it went on the sound system. Irredeemable. I'm thrilled to be taking my lunch break soon.
Steve: Irredeemable! Damn! Next thing Jen will tell me she hates Bob Dylan! Or Richard Thompson! (Oh, wait, she does. One can never fathom people with good taste and inexplicable blind spots, can one?)
Me, I think this is one of the greatest rock albums in history, not that I'm the only one. I don't always subscribe to Standard Rock Critic Orthodoxy 101, but this is one I have to agree with. And, all those strings and horn players who have been appearing on indie rock records these last couple years have to bow down to Arthur Lee and company for setting the template which current auteurs have been following.
This, by the way, is the 315th reissue of this classic (give or take 305). It sounds absolutely stunning, like the band is hanging right here in the store with us. There's a second disc of an alternate mix, not to mention some outtakes and obscurities, and maybe I'll check that out in a day or two. For now, I'm basking in the glory of the original sounding better than ever.
Jen: My other major blind spot would be the Velvet Underground...just to lose any indie cred I might have had. What can I say, Dylan irritates me, though I love his vocal influence on many, many other artists. If I could wipe out 75% of his career I would. I wouldn't say I hate Richard Thompson--he just bores me to tears--although, I love his cover of Britney Spears' "Ooops, I Did It Again." The song is totally stripped of it's Lolita vibe and has enough old man creepiness to redefine the song in the most ironic of ways. Plus, it has a great Scottish folk guitar breakdown in the middle.
Steve: Hah! The joke's on Jen. She spent so much time writing about hating Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson that she had to hear all of the Love album.
Jack: Aw, Jen... I love you, bubble. I don't care for Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground (except for "After Hours". That's kind of a sweet song), as well as many other "legendary" bands. I'm sick of Richard Thompson, but I will admit I became fond of a song on the last album, but I can't remember the name of it. I like the Love record, though. Mostly just "Alone Again Or", which I discovered in a Wes Anderson film.
Darren: There's nothing quite like Forever Changes. It's hippy-dippy, it's mildly exotic, it's strangely genteel. It's a 1936 New Yorker article about Mexico read aloud as "found poetry" on open-mic night by a guy in a fringed jacket and granny glasses.
Panther, 14 kt. God
Jack: I took a suggestion from our Sony/BMG rep's last.fm page and looked up Panther. The opening track gets me excited about it the rest of the record. Musically, I think they sound a bit like Pinback, but on speed. Lots of fast layered guitar bits. Then you hit a track like "Glamorous War", which is full-on droning with an organ, plus a nice violin bit towards the end. The singer isn't anything too special, though it works for what they're doing. "Take Yr Crane" has them rocking a cello. Nice.
Steve: I remember the 80s. Man, after Talking Heads did Remain in Light, and then King Crimson came along, and of course the Police, everybody was talking out their ass about polyrhythms and funk and experimenting with structure. And some of it was even pretty good. I remember seeing bands at Billie Goat Hill like the Yard-Apes, Be-Vision, and others forgotten to the mists of time (or the Jet Lag archives that one day I'll get around to revisiting). Anyway, these guys don't have the songcraft that made the better bands of that time, nor do they have any sense of production values, but they do have some pretty cool pseudo-funk rhythms and oddball time changes.
Darren: If I recall the '90s correctly, the Samples sorta answered the question: "What if the Police were a jam band?" Well, Panther seems to be answering the question "What if the Samples were an indie-rock band?" This is not an indictment, merely an observation. I'm just trying to put a sound-picture in y'all's heads. Or maybe try this: If you replaced these dudes' weed with coke, they could be !!!
Jesus, I sound high. I have never hated the name !!! as much as I do right now. Love the band, though. The band called !!!. God. Never mind.
Sonny Rollins, Volume Two.
Steve: It's so cool to hear Art Blakey play behind Monk and Rollins on "Misterioso." It's like fire trying to float on water. One of the iconic album covers in all of jazz, yet I'm not overly familiar with this record. Sometimes Monk plays piano, sometimes it's Horace Silver. J.J. Johnson chimes in on trombone sometimes, and Paul Chambers plays bass. Rollins has made more exhilarating records, but this is a solid, all-star session, one of the only ones he did for Blue Note.
The Old Haunts, Poisonous Times.
Jen: I had never heard The Old Haunts before when I went to see them play at The Way Out Club last year. I guess the real draw for me was that ex-Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail was in the band. She did not disappoint--she placed a cinder block in her bass drum as an anchor and still kicked the kit halfway across the room. "Volitile," the first track on this album is probably the best, or maybe just the one I've heard the most, but it has a great part with a wordless vocal that I like to whine along with.
Jack: Gosh, Jen, you are being a blog hog! Just teasing... I don't have too much to say other than I am extremely bored. It sure would be nice to have a rush of customers right now. As far as The Old Haunts go, I'd say I dig it. His voice sounds a little bit like Jack White when he gets all screechy and whiny, except this guy doesn't annoy me at all.
Dark Meat, Universal Indian.
Jack: Can't go wrong with a band that has a song called "Well Fuck You Then." Speaking of that, I found a CD wrapper in the racks. Obviously someone ripped us off. It happened to have the barcode on it, so I looked it up to see that they swiped a live Phish CD. Don't those damn pseudo-hippie frat boys have enough money to buy their dumb Phish CDs? Well, fuck you then.
Jen: Uh...here comes the review....
Darren: Mudhoney, dressed as pirates, get a Salvation Army band really pissed off, and together they go on a rampage of rock 'n' roll destruction!
The Teenagers, Reality Check.
Jack: Okay, I swear in the next two days that I have off that I will finish my review for The Teenagers record. It's my favorite record to play in the store after about 6 p.m. and the review is half done on my home computer. Look for it soon. This is making the last hour here go by so much faster. I've been drooling over the Lollapalooza lineup all week and I was crossing my fingers for them to play there. There's still time for them to sign on! Hot Chip would be nice, too!
Jen: Great album to drive to with the windows rolled down! Time to close up shop...see you next time!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago may be the best album I've heard thus far this year, so you know that I'll be down at the Billiken Club Tuesday night for the show. Besides, it's free and all ages so you really don't have a good excuse for not being there as well. Doors at 8:00 PM--Collections of Colonies of Bees are opening.
Check out the video for The Wolves (Act I & II).
Listen to Bon Iver devastate everyone within earshot at SXSW last month. Unbelievable.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
by Steve Scariano
Folk rock on the radio---always a good thing. Easily their best and first classic single since "Man On The Moon," as odd as it may be to still use the term "single" in 2008. So catchy, the song has been playing on an endless loop inside my head for the past three weeks. Not complaining at all though, cause it's thankfully knocked the "free credit report.com bay-bee" jingle out of my noggin. :) Thank you, boys!
Though Accelerate is by no means the greatest REM record ever, as Rolling Stone describes it, I do think a case can be made to indeed call it comeback. I'll say it again, the key to this record's strength is it's brevity---one and definitely two or more songs would have probably sunk it for sure. The boys should be commended highly for getting in and then getting the fuck out sans excess on this one.
Now the merits of an artist rewriting their best ideas from 20 years ago into new songs can be argued all day, but I think this works very, very well for the band on this album. The era they're rewriting here is that '84-'86 period that saw them transitioning out of their early jangle and into thicker and darker heavier riffs on the more rocking numbers, and into even darker and bleaker sonic corners on the ballads.
So yeah, there is the manipulation factor to consider on Accelerate, as the trainspotting of "hints" of older songs from that '84-'86 era will come easy for long time fans when listening to these new songs. But I think in this case it's ok, cause it really doesn't feel crass in any way. I think the boys are sincere in their desires to just keep it simple and rock on at this point in their career when it comes to making a new record. I've heard the album about a dozen times now and I love how it zips by and feels like an old school EP more than anything else. For now, I'm enjoying this record A LOT.
And given the band's and especially Mike Mills' heavy involvement in the Katrina recovery New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund organization, I was wondering how they were going to address Katrina on the new album. They did not disappoint. The song "Houston" is as subtly great a statement on the subject as Ian Hunter's "How's Your House?" was blatant. REM at their political best, including a reference to Jimmy Webb's classic song "Galveston" to boot!
Here's the video for that single:
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Just curious to hear from those folks who have already bought the new album by the Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely...does anyone else think that "Rich Kid Blues" sounds awfully reminiscent of Styx? Not that there's anything wrong with that.... I would love to hear your comments on this.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
by Steve Pick
Yesterday, you'll recall - because you ruminate about our blog all day and night after you read it - I was discussing, among other things, the new B-52's album, Funplex. Well, I didn't do a particularly good job of telling you anything about what the record sounds like, but our fave music blogger Carrie Brownstein does, in her latest installment of Monitor Mix.
Joe Schwab's post the other day about National Record Store Day elicited a comment from Jarret Green, who has a nice blog of his own, on which he sent some love our way, as well as to some other fine independent record stores. Get over to Stoplight Sleep and look around.
We've pointed you before in the direction of Ted Barron's excellent blog, Boogie Woogie Flu, but you've really got to read this guest posting by the great dB's drummer Will Rigby about his youthful days meeting up with Alex Chilton and Chris Bell of Big Star.
Thanks are due to former employee and generally groovy dude Jon Scorfina for sending readers over to our blog from the Star Clipper Blog. Jon sells comic books now, and we definitely believe you should support that very fine store in U. City, and read the fun posts over there.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
by Steve Pick
Three things have happened today that I want to talk about.
1. I listened for the third complete time to the new album by Panic At the Disco, Pretty. Odd.
2. In an e-mail exchange, a friend brought up something of a disconnect between my appreciation of the B-52's for delivering in Funplex the exact sort of thing I expect out of a band I've enjoyed for thirty years, without any room for change.
3. I listened for the second complete time to the new album by R.E.M., Accelerate.
The B-52's have gone sixteen years without releasing a record, and now that they have, it sounds pretty much as though it could have been dropped at any point in their career. R.E.M. have been releasing records all along, but I stopped caring after Monster back in 1994. The new record is a blatant attempt to win me back over. I've reflexively hated Panic! At the Disco (they've now dropped the !) and all that post-emo young boy rock for which they've stood, but now they've released a record that caters to all my musical desires - melody, harmony, hooks, intricate arrangements. I'm told their fan base hates them for it.
What do musicians owe to their fans? I think they owe their best effort, their honest interest in the music they're presenting. Other than that, they don't owe us anything. If they feel like perpetuating the same style they've done for thirty years, then all I've got to worry about is whether or not they do it well. If they want to completely throw away a previous musical approach, I'll listen to it and decide whether or not I'm going to like it. If I don't, that's not a betrayal on their part, simply a difference of opinion between us.
I enjoy Accelerate, I really do. But something about it sounds pro forma in a way that the similarly rocking Monster didn't. Every crunching guitar lick, every throbbing, pounding beat, every soaring Michael Stipe melodic line, sounds familiar from the first listen, as if it was predigested for those of us who grew up with the band and refused to follow the paths they took away from us.
So, why is the B-52's record so much fun, while this one sits outside my comfort zone (not very far, outside, mind you - I can't help tapping my foot to the rockers that open and close Accelerate)? I think it's in the looseness of approach from this band which helped form the Athens, GA scene that created R.E.M. in the first place. The B-52's never worried about making grand statements; they just throw a great party, and you're welcome to come dance this mess around if you feel like it. With R.E.M., there has always been an implication that the music means something more than just having a good time, and sometimes, it very clearly has. Such an ambition can, I suppose, lead to a greater disappointment when the reach exceeds the grasp.
So, meanwhile, I'm loving the Panic at the Disco record, simply because their ambitions have moved beyond just pounding out noisy little bursts of angst and sentimental love songs (or whatever the heck they were doing - honestly, I wasn't listening closely enough, and would usually run from the room when they might be heard). But here, they have fulfilled what I've been waiting for from young musicians - a true burst of creativity inspired by the ability to listen to just about anything good that's come before. Yeah, they want to make a record as good as the Beatles did, and if they don't come up to that standard, they have half a dozen songs which are worming their way pretty solidly into my memory banks.
I wonder if Panic will have to go back to their roots in a few years, and try to recapture their audience which seems to be leaving them in droves - I don't know if we've sold any yet, because the audience of people my age with my musical interests haven't found out how cool this record is. I wonder if R.E.M. will win me over and give me the thundering shivers of rock excitement they so obviously want me to experience, or if I'll continue to be wary of the cynicism I'm feeling at the heart of this record. I don't, however, wonder anything about the B-52's. I'm too gosh darn busy smiling every time I hear the record.