A Season of Songs, Days 58-66: Playing Vacation Catch-Up (not a song title)

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Ok, as stated in my last post, for the last week plus i’ve been on vacation and without real computer and internet access, so there haven’t been any posts lately.  Before I left I assigned myself songs for each of the days I would be gone with the hope that I would be able to take some time and write a little bit in my journal each day about the songs.  That didn’t happen.  I did however take the time to look at the list each morning and spend some time ruminating on each song.  I’m gonna catch up on the last 9 days songs here; much quicker/shorter write-ups than usual, then back to the normal one song per day write-up starting again tomorrow.

Day 58 – Operation Ivy – “Caution – I think the first time that I heard Operation Ivy was my first semester of college.  Some of the punks that I began hanging with decided to go see the movie “Singles” on opening night.  We loaded up into Greg’s car and he had a tape of Operation Ivy in the tape deck.  The sound was immediately addictive.  I asked Greg to make me a copy and he made me a “SKA classics” tape that I still have that includes the entire Op Ivy discography, Mighty Mighty Bosstone’s “Devil’s Night Out” and a handful of songs by Beefeater (not really ska but seemed to fit the feel of the tape) to round out the tape.  Inside the tape Greg wrote “grab yer hat n start skankin, rudeboy! time to unwind.”

Day 59 – Beefeater – “Mourning – Strangely today’s song is one of the Beefeater songs also on that tape.  The song is from their 1985 debut album “Plays For Lovers”.  Also strangely this is the day that Emma and I spent most of our day hanging out in the Adams Morgan section of Washington DC and ate breakfast at a restaurant right next to Madam’s Organ, an early home for DC punk.

Beefeater can best be described by one of their song titles – “Trash Funk”.  The music definitely has that early DC hardcore vibe but also has that funky bass (Dug E Bird would go on to be in Rainlikethesoundoftrains) topped by Tomas Squip’s (now Onam Emmet) lyrics which he delivered in variety of ways – spoken, yelled, howled.  “Plays for Lovers” is a great album including some of my Beefeater favorites like “Assholes Among Us”, “Fred’s Song (slam dancing)”, and this song, “Mourning”.  Check out this interview with Onam Emmet from 2010 where he talks about his time in the DC hardcore scene; good stuff.

Day 60 – Propaghandi – “The Only Good Fascist Is A Very Dead Fascist– I really love the first two Propaghandi records.  The lyrics are right-on politically in many ways but also a bit over the top and ridiculous. The songs are catchy and fun.  I could never get into any of the next couple records that they put out and haven’t listened to the most recent.  This is one of the songs off of “Less Talk, More Rock” that i’m not that into.  It’s not that I don’t like it at all or that I can’t get behind the song, but it does make me roll my eyes a bit.  Mind you, you’re likely to still hear me singing along at the top of my lungs to the song, but lines like “Aryan-Nations and Hammerskins, You can wear my nuts on your Nazi chins” are a bit much.

Day 61 – The Breeders – “Mad Lucas” – “Cannonball” was one of those ubiquitous songs my sophomore year of college and it is easy to understand why.  It’s a great song.  I picked up “Last Splash” at the time and really loved the whole album.  I wasn’t a Pixies’ fan (and still never really got into them to this day) but had heard some of the first Breeders’ album “Pod” the previous year at the radio station and enjoyed that as well.  Favorite song on “Last Splash” is probably “Divine Hammer” but I did always have a soft spot for “Mad Lucas”.  It’s this weird, minimalist, fuzzed out, screechy song with the vocals all muddled.  Dig it.

Day 62 – Queen – “Somebody to Love” – Full disclose: aside from buying a cassingle (yes, a cassingle) of “Bohemian Rhapsody” after seeing “Wayne’s World”, I had never really gotten into Queen prior to one of the He Taught Me Lie’s tours. Either Jim or Eric brought along a copy of Queen’s Greatest Hits, Volume One and I quickly understood what great stuff I was missing.  Go down the line a year or two and Emma are planning our wedding and trying to figure out some music to work into our ceremony.  We didn’t have a “traditional” wedding but based our ceremony off a Quaker ceremony (and actually had it at a Quaker Meeting House) with our own twists.  The music we entered to was part of Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto, #1”.  And once we had said our vows and kissed – we exited to “Somebody to Love”.  It wasn’t necessarily one of the Queen songs that had previously stood out to me but now that song has a special place in my heart.

Day 63 – Creta Bourzia – “Fuck the Tough Guy” – Creta Bourzia is a Pittsburgh band that seemed to have been around since I moved into town in 1996.  I first really became aware of them once the Roboto Project opened up in 1999 and they began playing there occasionally.  Their first album “Memories of Earth” came out in 1998 and includes this song.  This song is indicative of the heavy, math-rock influenced sounds that bands like Shale, Jumbo and Don Caballero were making in Pittsburgh in the late 90’s.  I would have the luck to put out 2 Creta Bourzia songs on compilations I did with my Hardtravelin’ record label in the early 2000’s.  I think their contributions to the “Go Down Fighting, Come Up Smiling” CD and the “Revolved Back to Failure” tape comp, “Knuckles and Creases” and “Saturation” respectively, are probably my favorite songs of theirs, but both this album and the “1002” CD they put out in 2001 are great listen.  Looking at their bandcamp page, I see a third album’s worth of material (with those comp songs on it) that I don’t have downloaded.  I don’t think that was ever released as an actual release but maybe I just missed it.  Worth a download, I’m sure.

Day 64 – Jodeci – “Forever My Lady” – Back in the early days of ipods and whatnot, Eric the Red asked me to help him download a bunch of R&B stuff that he wanted a copy of.  He didn’t have an ipod but he knew that I did and knew that I had access to itunes and so he talked me into helping him download some songs and burn him a handful of discs for him.  This is how I ended up with several Jodeci, Atlantic Starr, Luther Vandross, Babyface and other R&B songs on my ipod.  Fun to have but honestly not stuff that ends up getting too much listening unless it pops up while shufflin’.

Day 65 – Mollies – “Work” –  The Mollies were a Pittsburgh punk band that existed around the time that I moved to Pittsburgh.  I never saw them.  People of a certain era and a certain section of the punk scene from that time speak fondly of them.  For awhile in 2006-2007 I was doing a podcast of local punk/hardcore/diy bands and someone (I don’t even remember who at this point) got me a copy of the recording that The Mollies did as part of WRCT live show.  As far as I know they didn’t do any studio recordings.  Lo-fi, kinda poppy, energetic punk with kinda overblown vocals on this recording (and lots of silly in-between song banter).  It kinda reminds me a bit of Fracture from the other side of the state.  Good stuff; would be glad to share these mp3’s with anyone who wants to hear them.  Bummed to never have taken the chance to see them live.

Day 66 – Nice & Smooth “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow – Probably another song that I heard first on “Pump It Up”.  Love this song so much – the production is really them just lifting the riff from Tracey Chapman’s “Fast Car” without any additional samples or accompaniment; just Nice and Smooth’s sweet flow.  The two verses are kind of strange in that Nice’s verse is a pretty straightforward bit of rhyming and braggadocio and then Smooth comes along with this rather heavy verse about love, drugs, betrayal and loss. And I guess that was part of the idea behind the song – sometimes life is this slow, relaxed thing and then sometimes shit happens quick without you realizing it.   Great song – always attached in my mind to Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” – not just because there are two Smooths but because both songs have a similar feel – somber songs that paint these pictures of everyday life interrupted.  Check both songs out if you aren’t familiar.

* * *

Alright — that’s it.  All caught up.

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