Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 5

One of my favorite eras in music is the moment just before punk rock exploded.  Here, bands inspired by the Velvet Underground created music that was simple, creative, and energetic.  Their influence is still felt today.

Included here are some of the most important bands of that time, such as New York Dolls, Television, and The Modern Lovers.  Also included are the bands that were inspired by them, including R.E.M., Beck, and Violent Femmes.

Some songs are iconic, others lesser known; but they are all goodies.

Here is the playlist:

Roadrunner by The Modern Lovers

Wicked Gravity by The Jim Carroll Band

X Offender by Blondie

Modern Music by Black Mountain

Loser by Beck

Give It To The Soft Boys by The Soft Boys

See No Evil by Television

Blister In The Sun by Violent Femmes

The Step by !!!

The Creeps by Social Distortion

Personality Crisis by New York Dolls

Radio Free Europe by R.E.M.

Tell Me When It's Over by The Dream Syndicate

Venus Of Avenue D by Mink DeVille

And, in case you missed them, here…

May Your Kindness Remain - Courtney Marie Andrews

from the album May Your Kindness Remain (2018)

If not for the racial gap in its listeners, the natural intersection between country and gospel music would be more deeply explored.  Elvis, of course, managed to create magic in this realm, but not everyone can be The King.

In that sense, I applaud the song May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews.

It all starts so simply, with a gospel organ over what is essentially a country tune.  Then the sense of church is deepened by the backup singers.  This is followed by an inspired guitar solo, with a tone that comes from a country rock space but is transformed with a magnificent tone to imply gospel.  The song then hits a crescendo and ends, leaving you wanting more.

Over it all, Courtney Marie Andrews delivers a beautiful vocal performance.  Not bad for a country girl.

Click Here to listen to May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews.

Don't Ever Forget - Lauren Balthrop

from the single Don't Ever Forget (2018)

Lauren Balthrop is an Alabama girl who moved to NYC to hone her musical talents.  The results will be revealed in her debut album, This Time Around, set for release this September.

Don't Ever Forget is a single released ahead of the album.  I really dig the subtle groove that propels the song; bass, drums, and guitar locked together flawlessly.  Atop this pulse are ethereal vocal stylings that shoot for the upper registers while remaining grounded by the groove.

It leaves me wanting more.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Don't Ever Forget by Lauren Balthrop.

Violent - Grapetooth

from the single Violent (2018)

With its uptempo meter, driving synths, and loose vocal melodies, Violent is a tune that will almost certainly remind you of The Cure or New Order.

The song is a collaboration between Twin Peak's frontman Clay Frankel and producer Chris Bailoni, both from Chicago.  What they have come up with is not complex, but sensible and pleasing.  It is full of hooks and familiar tones.

It is a winner.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Violent by Grapetooth.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 4

Happy Fourth of July to all my friends, everywhere!

Episode Four of this mixtape series intertwines threads of classic country - Hank, George, Wanda, & Roy - with British acts, such as The Animals, Van Morrison, and Joe Cocker.  From this foundation, you can really hear both genres captured in both the rock music of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty and the country music of The Flying Burrito Brothers (featuring the incomparable Gram Parsons) and Emmylou Harris.

You then hear it in like-minded eighties artists, including Tracy Chapman and The BoDeans.

It reminds me that as "American" as it might seem, some British elements are ever present.

Hope you dig it !!!

Here is the playlist:

Only The Lonely by Roy Orbison

House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals

She's A Runaway by The BoDeans

Rockin' Around (With You) by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Bluebird Wine by Emmylou Harris

Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Why Baby Why by George Jones

Feeling Alright by Joe Coc…

The Supremacy Of Pure Artistic Feeling - Self Defense Family

from the album Have You Considered Punk Music (2018)

Last night, I started listening to the latest album by Self Defense Family, Have You Considered Punk Music.  What initially drew me in was that the album's title did not have a question mark at the end.  Was this an oversight, or intentional.

Once listening, I then became captivated by the first track, The Supremacy Of Pure Artistic Feeling.  Again, I was initially captivated by the title.

I found myself completely absorbed by this tune.  It has the vibe of a post-punk campfire song, if there is such a thing.  One where a singer waxes poetically over a chord progression that is slowly played on guitar, one note at a time, king of like the music of Sun Kil Moon.  I envision myself burnt out in a small, dimly lit room with the musicians as they drone out the sound.

Then I began to listen to the lyrics.  Listening to the flawed point of view of the narrative.  It is fascinating.

My girl and I started fostering dogs
Shit's a hassl…

Leap Of Faith - The Interrupters

from the album Fight The Good Fight (2018)

There once was a baby eagle named Devin.  Of all the hatchlings in the nest, he was the strongest, most stubborn, and most determined.

When his mother would return to the top of the towering pine tree with food, he would squawk the loudest; sometimes, even stepping on the throats of his siblings in order to secure an ample share of the masticated fish parts.

This made Devin bigger and even more strong.

Then came a morning when his mother returned to the nest without any food.  His father perched himself on an adjacent branch, keenly surveying the surrounding environment for predators. A moment later, his mother stuck her beak beneath a sister and flipped her out of the nest.  The horror!

As this continued with other siblings, Devin burrowed into the sticks and branches.  Ultimately, it was just he and his mother.  As she tried to pry him loose, he tightened his talons and would not let go.  His mother continued to try, but Devin was too stron…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 5

This year, like most years, is full of so much incredible music.  What seems different, to me, about 2018 is how easily seemingly diverse genres are integrating together.  It also amazes me just how many of these artists I had never heard of until now.

This mix starts off with Italian Pop, moves to Australian grooves and a Hispanic take on Blue-Eyed Soul, before settling into some Alternative tunes.  From there the ever-morphing genre shifting continues into R&B, Soul, & Dance.

Perfect for your next house party, pool party, or barbecue!

Some of my favorite tunes included in this mix are Tenderness by Parquet Courts, Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito, and Like It Is by COEO.

Here is the playlist:

Simme Meridionali by Gianni Santoro & Gianni Vezzosi

Just Relax 2018 by Baby Beef

Love Of Mine by Bardo Martinez

Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito

California Finally by La Luz

Tenderness by Parquet Courts

Reprise De Fonk by Art Of Tones

Frontier Man by Gruff Rhys

I Am Here (I Am Aliv…

Tenderness - Parquet Courts

from the album Wide Awake! (2018)

One of my absolute favorite tunes of 2018 (thus far) in Tenderness by Parquet Courts.  For the past many months, I have been increasingly-less-patient in waiting for the song to appear on the Internet so that I can share it with my dear readers.

Unfortunately, that has not happened.  Apparently, Parquet Courts has a deep-seated distaste for social media and avoid having much of a presence.  As a result, the song does not exist on YouTube, BandCamp, SoundCloud, or even the record label's website.

That sucks.

I have found a solution.  Tomorrow, I will be releasing Episode 5 of my Pink Squirrel mixtape series. Included in the mix will be this outstanding tune.

As you listen to the song, listen to just how tight the band is.  Practice makes perfect.  Groups that put in the time are rewarded by gelling together into a cohesive unit that can't help but sound better than others, even those with greater talent.

As I listen to Tenderness by Brooklyn…

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 3

One of the interesting things I've discovered in putting this mixtape series together is the differences between the rockers and the R&B crowd when it comes to their first musical moments.

Rock & Roll artists and punk rockers are all about that emotional outburst.  Think about Little Richard belting out Tutti Fruiti or The Ramones playing the Blitzkrieg Bop.  These songs are pure adrenaline.

R&B artists are different.  They focus on throwing down a mean groove.  In this mix, you will here some great opening long-play moments by artists like Billy Preston, The Commodores, and Booker T. & The MGs.  They are all about the groove.

This mix also contains fantastic rock artists whose music is deeply connected to R&B.  This includes The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Jam.

And then there is James Brown...

Here is the playlist:

Slinky! by Link Wray & The Wraymen

Out In The Street by The Who

Green Onions by Booker T. & The MG's

Please, Please, Please by James …

Bullshit Anthem - Fantastic Negrito

from the album Please Don't Be Dead (2018)

Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
You tell 'm, Fantastic Negrito!
Click Here to listen to the album version of Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito.
Click Here to watch Fantastic Negrito perform Bullshit Anthem live in Chicago.
Click Here to read my December 2016 blog post for Working Poor by Fantastic Negrito.

I Am Here (I Am Alive) - Bonny Doon

from the album Longview (2018)

If you ever read an interview with a graffiti artist, they are inevitably asked a variation of the question, "What drives you to spray paint a subway car?"

Ten times out of ten, the answer is, "I want the world to know that I exist."

I believe we all have the desire to be recognized for who we are, for what we believe.  We all want to be counted.  It is what drives Facebook and this blog.

The song I Am Here (I Am Alive) by the Detroit group, Bonny Doon,   It touches on this desire:

Are you half empty, or half full
Is something missing, I can't tell
Is there more I can't see

Yeah, I'm a track with no train
I'm a cat with no name
Sleeping through my dreams

Feel like I'm wastin' time
Just want to be where I'm goin'
Just want to be where I'm goin'

As much as I dig the song's theme, I dig how it is delivered.  Soft and tender.  Pure and poetic.

As much as we are recognized for what we say, this …

Frontier Man - Gruff Rhys

from the album Babelsberg (2018)

Perhaps a dozen years ago, I spend about a month outside Lusk, Wyoming building a giant monstrosity in the middle of nowhere.

To get to work each day, I needed to drive off the road for forty minutes, or so.  Along the way, I would need to navigate a variety of hills and rock formations, always staying on the path.

Every evening, on the commute back to Lusk, I would encounter a rancher who was driving a herd of goats home for the night.  He was a tall, thin thirty-something who always wore jeans, a sleeveless flannel shirt, and a moderately brimmed black hat.  He drove am open-topped, weathered Land Rover from the late 1960s.

On either side, he was flanked by three border collies.  Upon his whistle commands, they herded the goats and kept them moving in the desired direction, usually by nipping at their Achilles tendons.

I always parked my ride a safe distance from them and watched this spectacle for as long as I could.  It was my great memory of my ti…

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 2

Episode 2 is a rocking mix that includes great guitarists - like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chuck Berry, and Dick Dale - coupled with iconic first tracks by The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Replacements.

Exercise for your speakers !!!

Here is the playlist:

Love Struck Baby by Stevie Ray Vaughan

School Days by Chuck Berry

Cherry Bomb - The Runaways

10:15 Saturday Night by The Cure

1969 by The Stooges

Moanin' At Midnight by Howlin' Wolf

Re-Hash by Gorillaz

Surf Beat by Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones

One More Time by Joe Jackson

Mirror In The Bathroom by The English Beat

Holidays In The Sun by The Sex Pistols

Takin' A Ride by The Replacements

The Sound Of Confusion by Spacemen 3

In case you missed Episode 1:

... and you can always find all of my mixtape on my MixCloud page.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 1

In many cases, the first track on the first album represents that magical moment when an artist stands beneath the spotlight for the first time.  It is the moment when they unleash their talents on the world; when they say "This is who I am.  This is my art.  I matter and I will not be denied."

These songs are vital.  They are full of energy and promise.  They are the essence of rock 'n roll.  Of the punks.

This mixtape series captures two hundred, or so, of my favorite opening statements spanning the past sixty plus years of popular music.

Episode One features some of the greatest "track ones" ever recorded, by artists from Little Richard to Smashing Pumpkins.

Here is the playlist:

Uncontrollable Urge - Devo

Oh Boy! - The Crickets

Harlem - Bill Withers

I Feel Free - Cream

Janie Jones - The Clash

Hero Takes A Fall - The Bangles

I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles

Break On Through - The Doors

Gloria - The Patti Smith Group

I Am One - Smashing Pumpkins

Train - The Buddy…