Death Valley Girls “Darkness Rains” 2018. Limited edition yellow with red splatter, Suicide Squeeze Records. We picked up what I believe is DVG’s third LP this past weekend at Romanus Records Fest in Indianapolis where they headlined the jam-packed (15 bands!) evening lineup. Hard driving, punkish garage rock with nods to the darkness of goth and touches of neo-psychedelia via organ and lead guitarist Larry Schemel (who on stage was kinda relegated to the background, allowing the Girls to shine up front, mostly with huge smiles on their faces during the entire set).
We were able to grab the set-list, excellently illustrated:
DVG played several tracks from Darkness Rains, many of them my favorite on the album. They led off with “Abre Camino,” an intensely dark and throbbing scorcher that is the first track on Side B. From Darkness Rains also is the high octane rocker “Street Justice,” the hypnotic “More Dead,” “Disaster (Is What We’re After)” which features Iggy Pop eating a hamburger while jamming out to the song’s beat in its video (spoiler: he clearly loves ketchup), and my top track, “Wear Black” upon which lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Bonnie Bloomgarden pulls out some amazing psychedelic organ.
The Stooges “The Stooges” released 50 years ago today, August 5th, 1969. The Stooges’ debut album is, in retrospect, one of the best and most important records released during its era. At the time of its release it was criticized as dumb (well, yes, it is: the lyrics to “No Fun” and “Real Cool Time” should wipe away any doubt about that), musically simple (“stripped-down” is the polite term I think), brutally loud (nothing wrong with that) but it helped usher in punk a few years later as a widespread musical and cultural movement. The Stooges sold moderately well, hitting #106 on the US charts, with two released singles: “1969” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” I don’t think either charted but the former has been recognized as one of the greatest guitar songs ever and the latter is one of my personal all-time favorite tracks and many mainstream music publications agree, listing it as one of the best rock songs ever made – iy id certainly the best non-holiday song to feature sleigh bells (played by John Cale, who also plays viola on the epic dirge “We Will Fall” and mixed the first iteration of the album but Elektra rejected his mix and Iggy Pop and Elektra exec Jac Holzman mixed the final release).
The Raconteurs “Now That You’re Gone” and “Sunday Driver” 2018. Today, July 9th, is Raconteurs/White Stripes/Dead Weather/solo artist Jack White’s birthday (b. John Gillis, 1975). This double A-side single on copper foil vinyl was part of last year’s Third Man Vault package #38, a reissue of The Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely for its 10th anniversary. Both tracks appear on their newest album, Help Us Stranger, which came out last month (and I received as a Third Man Vault package but haven’t gotten around to giving it a serious listen yet. Both songs are pretty good (much better than White’s last solo release, Boarding House Reach from 2018) but I prefer the harder rocking “Sunday Driver” to the more mellow, bluesy “Now That You’re Gone.” The guitar work on both is pretty excellent (I assume that’s White playing) and the tracks are pretty straight-forward and melodic, with “Sunday Driver” adding in an element of head-banging and ass-shaking. In my opinion, when Jack White collaborates (whether it’s with Brenden Benson, Meg White or Allison Mosshart) he’s in his best form and some of his wackier whims are tempered.
Kinks “Kinks Greatest Hits” 1971. Today, June 21st, is Kinks’ founder, frontman, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist (Sir) Ray Davies’ 75th birthday (b. 1944). The “godfather of Britpop” was knighted in 2017 and has received countless awards and accolades over the years for his songwriting and contribution to the rock canon: garage, rock, pop, psychedelia and even punk. This Canadian issued comp (on Marble Arch Records) has the best of the best of the early Kinks catalog. Side One starts off with the excellent 60′s pop classic “A Well Respected Man” (on the EP Kweyt Kinks in the UK, on the LP Kinkdom in the US) followed by the garage classic “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” (1965 The Kink Kontroversy), “Till The End of the Day” (also on The Kink Kontroversy, #8 UK, #50 US single charts), “Set Me Free” (1964 single, #9 UK, #23 US) and one of my favorites, the low-key garage-crunchy “Tired of Waiting For You” (1965 Kinda Kinks, #1 UK, #6 US single charts). Side B begins with one of the best-known and timeless Kinks hits “All Day and All of the Night” (1964, #2 UK, #7 US, appears on the US released Kinks-Size LP) that pretty much set the bar for garage rock. Then comes “I Gotta Move” (1965) the controversial, enduring and endearing “Lola” (1970, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneyground, #2 UK, #9 US single charts), the sole Dave Davies-penned track on this comp: folky-twanged “Wait Till the Summer Comes Along” (1965 EP Kweyt Kinks) and ends with another Kinks biggie “You Really Got Me” (1964, #1 UK, #7 US) which inspired generations of hard power chord rockers. That track is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and listed on multiple best-of lists for best guitar tracks and best songs of all-time.
Chrome Cranks “Love in Exile” 1996. Today, June 11th, is Bob Bert’s birthday (b. Robert Bertelli, 1955). Bert drummed for Chrome Cranks, as well as for Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Knoxville Girls, Jon Spencer and the HITMakers, among many others. Love in Exile was Chrome Cranks’ third and final studio album and also features former Honeymoon Killers’ bassist Jerry Teel along with Cranks founders William Weber and Peter Aaron. Much like Sonic Youth, Honeymoon Killers and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, it’s blues-punked noise rock, with a dash of psychobilly thrown in for a sound Allmusic labels “sleaze-rock.” There’s a deeply sinister cover of the old traditional tune “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” as well as some sparse – and also sinister – experimental tracks like “Movie Star” and “Curtains for My Baby.” Some of my favorites are the growling blues-exploded “We’re Going Down,” the blues-boogie punk of “Lost Time Blues,” as well as “Hot Blonde Cocktail,” a great screaming ass-shaker that weirdly got a decent amount of airplay on MTV in the mid-90′s.
I saw Bob Bert perform with Jon Spencer last summer, July 2018. His “drum kit” was a refabbed car engine atop a bass drum and hooked onto a trash can; he hit his kit mainly with hammers.
The Sunset Bombers “Sunset Bombers” 1978. Ariola Records. Hard-rocking and high-energy with a glammy garage punk sound that predates that revival rage of the 90′s and early 2000′s by a good 20 years. Sunset Bombers was a one-off album project propelled by Doug Fieger, bassist and vocalist for The Sunset Bombers and soon-to-be member of the The Knack of “My Sharona” fame (1979). Fieger is from the Detroit area and the music of The Sunset Bombers has the same rough edge as fellow Detroit rockers MC5 and The Stooges but with a nod to good-time partying à la The New York Dolls. On The Sunset Bombers is a blistering bass-heavy cover of “Gimme Some Lovin’” as well as covering The Trogg’s “I Can’t Control Myself.” Also particularly good is “Let’s Drive Tonight” (such an infectious bass/guitar hook on this one!), “Gutter’s Paradise” and “Drag Queen.”
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – Take A Ride… New Voice Records – 2000 Released: 1966
It’s amazing, how loud and powerful a great mono record can sound! This album is over 50 years old and scratched up but it STILL beats the pants out of most new records. The 50s and 60s were vinyl’s golden years, nothing beats the pressings from that period. Also, Mitch Ryder is an all-time badass. I need more.
Garage Rock collection 101 1- Buy the 2lp Nuggets compilation of 60′s garage rock. Seriously, it’s must have. 2- Buy albums from every single band featured on it.
Badass garage rock collection, guaranteed. I’m still actively looking for more Seeds records, but this is what I have for now. The self titled debut and “A Web Of Sounds” are both very high on the want list, original or well pressed reissue, either works for me. Not pushin’ too hard, y’know…