Clean The Kitchen
In college I used to go to this breakfast joint across town called J.J.‘s. It was run by an Indian family, and they had a 99 cent breakfast special that brought in the college kids by the truckload, so the dining room was always total chaos. The owners were great but still getting used to the dynamics of running a busy restaurant. To accommodate large parties they would regularly ask patrons to switch tables halfway through their meal. The waiter would come over with a sheepish grin and say “please to move?” while pointing at an empty table, and we would dutifully pick up our plates and coffee mugs and move to the new table. What do you want for 99 cents? Anyway, this place also had a special on the menu called Clean The Kitchen. When you ordered it the cook would take whatever was simmering on the griddle and pile it high on your plate. It had a little of everything and never the same dish twice. It didn’t look too pretty, but it sure was delicious. I thought back to this as I was looking for a theme to this week’s list, because it looked like I just piled on a little of everything. So here’s my Clean The Kitchen Top Ten, all the music that has been lingering around my turntable, CD player and iPod recently.
Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
Oh, that voice. Such a heavy, serious voice that sings of heavy, serious things like death, pain and regret. But something amazing happens when I listen to this sad man sing his sad songs- I feel better.
Royal Baths – Better Luck Next Life
Some bands happen to sound like their name: Van Halen, Urge Overkill, Led Zeppelin, I could go on. These guys don’t. To be fair, I’m not even sure what a royal bath sounds like. I imagine lots of laughing and splashing. Probably a few orders being given, that type of thing. Royal Baths the band sounds nothing like that. I am reminded of Darker My Love, but they’re the flip side of the coin. Both bands are suitably steeped in the psychedelia of the 60s. To my ears, Darker My Love is more Monterey Pop (lyrical, lighthearted, lysergic), and Royal Baths is more Altamont (dreamy, dark, dexedrine).
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
Thank you once again fellow Big Takeover bloggers for turning me on to so much good music: Best Coast, The Joy Formidable, and now Dum Dum Girls. It sounds like they love The Shangri-Las and The Ramones in equal amounts, so their choice of Richard Gottehrer as producer was just what the doctor ordered.
Persian Claws – Caged and Unreleased
They’ve assimilated all the best parts of 60s garage rock- driving snare, twangy guitars, whiny organs, catchy chord progressions and strong melodies- and crafted a killer album that’s full of fast songs, sharp hooks and punk attitude. I hereby nominate Persian Claws for the inevitable Grandchildren Of Nuggets compilation.
When Particles Collide – Mass to Energy EP
Played a couple shows recently with this rock and roll duo from Bangor, Maine. They deliver short, tight, pop-punk gems with confidence and grace. Chris Viner is a total powerhouse on the drums, relentlessly pounding the skins in perfect time as Sasha Alcott simultaneously spits out chords on her Gretsch while singing catchy tales of loss and love.
The Replacements – All of ‘em
Having a ball reading All Over But The Shouting, the Replacements oral history, and can’t stop listening. Played every record in chronological order over the course of two days this week, and have been endlessly spinning the first four since.
The Kinks – The Kinks in Mono Box Set
Ten disc box set in glorious, original mono. First seven LPs plus three CDs of EPs and singles. As much as I love this, I kind of hope more of my favorite classic bands DON’T follow suit, because I just can’t afford to buy all these box sets!
A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
When it comes to hip-hop I’m sort of a grumpy old man. I don’t really care about today’s jams and wish everything still sounded like the Native Tongues scene in the 90s, back when I listened to a lot of rap. For Pete’s sake, back when this record came out we didn’t have iTunes, I had to walk three miles uphill in a snowstorm just to buy the cassette.
Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
Remarkably, at least a half dozen of these songs would sound right at home on a mix tape made by my fourteen-year-old self, back when VH ruled my world. Maybe that’s because the lion’s share of the songs are actually reworked VH demos from the 70s, but I don’t care- it works. Too bad they didn’t use recording techniques from the 70s, though- the production is pretty squashed. Eddie’s sound is no longer brown, it’s candy apple red. But his playing has never been better; he obviously had something to prove to all the haters. Mission accomplished. Somebody should buy him a coffee mug with “World’s Greatest Guitarist” on it. I would also just like to add that I despise “Tattoo” as much as everybody else. I almost didn’t listen to the album because I was so disappointed when I heard it. My theory is that they released this as the first single to try and hook the kids who were weaned on the dreck of modern rock radio and aren’t familiar with the band’s back catalog.
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
The production and style of this record instantly brings me back to the post- Nevermind grunge era, but it doesn’t matter because the songs are beautiful and timeless.