WNnG – Musings from the desk of chaz.

This Just In.
July 23, 2008, 4:01 pm
Filed under: New Music

Dr. Dog – Fate CD (Park the Van)

Dr. Dog have been around for some time now, since 1999 I believe. I’m not too sure how I managed to miss them. For their last album, We All Belong (also on Park the Van), they received quite some praise. Their name started popping up in magazines and blogs, favorite album lists and the occasional late-night talk show appearance. I still managed to not throw on their album. Then the new CD came out and I figured it was time to finally hunker down and see what they were all about (there was also a convincing Conan O’Brien appearance involved, but I’ll leave that out so it doesn’t seem I need TV to be convinced). Dr. Dog find themselves smack in the middle of the upstart new wave of indie gothic Americana. Quite frankly, I think they’re even doing it with a little more authenticity than a lot of the rest of the wave out there. Perhaps we’ll say that these guys are on the crest with Okkervil River, the Dodos and Megafaun, among others who add their own spin on something already established. To clarify – by Gothic Americana, I’m referring to musicians like David Ackles, not some strange and awkward goth/americana hybrid.

This brand of music has really always been around, but perhaps it just hits the forefront and becomes better received in times of turmoil and uncertainty around here. Something to latch onto to dig your fingers deeper into the heart of America and get you closer to the stirred, unsteady dirt of years past. To feel that connection to the power and soul of raw, 50s and 60s traditional music like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the haunts of the cafes. There’s a cleanliness and purity involved in it. Honesty, perhaps. The Band certainly springs to mind as well when listening to these guys. Personally, I become weak during Rick Danko’s songs and that’s the exact melancholy and unease of mind that these guys invoke – they’ve got Danko’s soft (yet strangely powerful), pained voice down. That’s probably why it’s grabbed me.

Or then again, perhaps in times of turmoil and unrest, this style of music just becomes more real, more honest and that much more relevant. Give it a spin. Let me know.


Gentleman Jesse & His Men – self titled LP (Douchemaster)

Brand new full length brought to us by our current favorite powerpop/garage label out of Atlanta. Gentleman Jesse is a piece of the Carbonas, perhaps even a slightly more functional piece as he’s constantly playing out down there and is on top of getting his songs heard. Where the Carbonas are loved for their Dead Boys approach and unpredictability, Gentleman Jesse keeps it more in the Stiff Records vein coming at us from the Nick Lowe or Wreckless Eric perspective. He’s still got the dirt and sneer of ’77 punk, but he’s straight up powerpop and rock’n’roll. No frills, just great songwriting. The type of song that makes ya feel good to be playing it on your player knowing it’s current and you’ve still got a chance to be a part of it. That is, unless you were fortunate enough to be around for the late ’70s Stiff Records phenomena. I was not so lucky. So I gotta be on constant lookout for the new one.

Anyway. It’s no secret. I love powerpop and I love garage. I love the originals that sparked ears in the ’60s and ’70s and I love most of the currents that crowd the ’00s. I’m a sucker for the sound. Regardless, this is one of the better ones to hit my turntable this year. New or old. I was sold at the 7″ that Douchemaster put out a couple years ago, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for some time. And it held up to all expectations. Great record!


Black Kids – Partie Traumatic CD/LP (AlmostGold/Columbia)

It’s finally out. Everyone may now rest at ease. We haven’t seen hype this big since say, Hercules and the Love Affair or Vampire Weekend. Or maybe ‘since’ isn’t the right word to throw at it as those all happened within this year. It’s definitely interesting how that’s happened a few times this year already, no? The whole incident where something starts its climb up the praise ladder a good four to six months before it’s even available to the buying public. Is it the desire for the writer to be on the cutting edge and know about the band before the band knows about the band or is it a finely tuned tool of media? That’s curious. It seems to work though. The Black Kids’ name was in everyone’s heads before the actual thing came out.

It’s still too soon to say whether the hype machine hurt the release or helped it. They’ve made magazine covers and they’ve been getting play on every college radio station everywhere. Now, I can’t quite fully wrap my head around the Vampire Weekend explosion, but I can understand this one. A few years back this would have been one of my more favored releases of the year. The Black Kids’ new record is the best Pulp record I’ve heard in ten years. No, I think I meant to say it’s the best Cure record I’ve heard in ten years. Actually, I think it’s the best album either one of those bands have put out since Different Class-era Brit pop hit the fans. These guys have represented Pulp-magnitude Brit pop ridiculously well. Whereas dancey post-pop isn’t quite my thing, I definitely see the appeal of this record. It’s menacingly dark and awkwardly upbeat all at the same time. The male vocalist has a Jarvis Cocker voice and a Robert Smith croon and knows how to effectively pull emotion out of the listener. The female vocalist is a little more playful and disco-oriented but they never push the dance-ability over the edge.

This is a pretty solid modern day glam record with choppy guitar and dancey rhythms. And again, I don’t want to call it a dance punk or neo-disco album as it’s more rooted in ’90s Brit pop than anything. So. If you haven’t found your new Different Class since Different Class was originally released, maybe consider picking this album up. Or then again, maybe it is all just hype.



1 Comment so far
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It’s funny, the hype for the Black Kids album started so long ago that I mistakenly thought that the album had been out for months!

Now that Gentleman Jesse LP, that is one solid album. Thanks for pointing it out!

Comment by Cangrejero

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