Unearthed Bikini Kill track is good to find

The track is called “Playground” and is one of three previously unreleased tracks seeing the light of day on the reissue of Bikini Kill’s first demo tape, titled Revolution Girl Style Now.

Hailing from Olympia, WA, Bikini Kill set fire to the punk scene with their Riot Grrrl ehos.  Earlier this year, lead singer Kathleen Hanna was honored in Boston with Riot Grrrl Day, with the mayor proclaiming that a “$10 Bikini Kill record isn’t worth $7.70.  A woman today shouldn’t earn 23% less than a man”.

You can purchase the reissued album, available for the first time on vinyl and cd, here:

http://www.dischord.com/release/BK01/revolution-girl-style-now

or here, if you prefer to order from the band:

http://bikinikill.com/

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Beat Happening to be published in 33 1/3 book series

I’m just going to rip off this news paper report I stumbled across because, wow.  It’s really cool that the first ablum, with a hand drawn logo, from a band that never made it on the national scene, has been approved to be published as part of the 33 1/3 book series wehre authors discuss albums that influenced their lives at length.  This sort of thing is reserved for In Utero, Paranoid, Harvest, Pet Sounds, not quirky indie bands from Olympia…

http://www.goanacortes.com/arts_and_community/article_1f08b4ae-5be7-11e5-a83a-2f126d42f69a.html#.VgGPAJGgJiQ.twitter

The below is originally written by Briana Alzola:

Bryan C. Parker has been obsessed with music since elementary school and has always been on the hunt for something new to listen to.

One day, the native Texan was perusing a record store in Austin and picked up an album by The Microphones, a musical project fronted by Anacortes-based musician Phil Elverum. On the album he noticed a logo featuring the letter K.

Over the years, he picked up more albums with the same logo, including one by Beat Happening, the ’80s group that included Anacortes’ Bret Lunsford.

The K logo belonged to K Records, founded by Beat Happening member Calvin Johnson. Parker started researching K Records and started coming to the Northwest to attend the Anacortes summer music festival (which over the years has taken the name What the Heck Fest and the Anacortes Unknown Music Series).

“I’m the kind of person that likes to dig deeper,” Parker said. “I looked into what came before, what the label was and how it came to be.”

He has posted blogs he’s run about Beat Happening and other K Records groups that he though were important to the music culture.

At the beginning of last year, he decided to submit a proposal to the 33 1/3 book series, in which writers explore an important record in their lives.

The series had an open call for submissions and Parker proposed a book on “Beat Happening,” the first album released by K Records. A few hundred people submitted proposals and from those 14 were signed to write books, one of which was Parker.

This book is Parker’s first but he has written blogs, music reviews and more music criticism in the Austin area. He said he enjoys documenting what is happening with independent music.

A book release party at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 will be hosted by Watermark Book Co. at Anacortes Music Channel, 216 Commercial Ave.

Parker and Lunsford will be attendance and a few Anacortes bands will perform.

Lunsford said other books about Beat Happening have been proposed for the 33 1/3 book series, but this is the first to be accepted.

Parker chose Beat Happening as the subject not only because it is good musically but because it was the kickoff for K Records.

“It’s an important album,” Parker said.

In the research process, Parker interviewed about 20 people, including the band’s three members, their relatives and other people who were central to the band and album’s success. He spent almost a month in the Seattle, Olympia and Anacortes area doing research for the book.

The work features an introduction by Elverum.

Lunsford said he was happy to be interviewed for the book because he was already friends with Parker.

He also depends on other people’s input for the books he has written, so said he was happy to contribute to another writer’s book.

Beat Happening was active in the ’80s and ’90s. It was founded by three college students — Lunsford, Johnson and Heather Lewis.

Johnson, in particular, was focused on promoting independent music and celebrating the music and art coming from small-town America instead of corporate America, Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he played drums and guitar and helped on the Beat Happening records and with setting up shows. His grandfather was a band teacher in Anacortes in the ’40s and was such a talented musician that Lunsford said he has a hard time calling himself a musician because he’s not at that level.

For him, music is a way of self-expression. He’s not a performer anymore but said he is still active in the Anacortes music scene as a fan who offers encouragement.

Beat Happening released new music in 2000. A retrospective of the band, featuring some of its most important songs and biggest hits, is due out this fall, Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he wasn’t a songwriter or a vocalist for Beat Happening and instead took a side role. Because of that, he could enjoy the Beat Happening music as an observer as well as participating in the music-making process.

“I don’t mind saying I’m a fan of Beat Happening’s music,” he said. “I had a front row seat and I was happy to be a part of it.”

Chris Cornell covering Prince

My girlfriend accidentally introduced me to this song because she wasn’t aware Prince had written “Nothing Compares 2 U” and knew only the Sinnead O’Connor version.

Chris Cornell is making quite a habit of covering songs that no longer belong to the people who originally wrote them, as his previous viral cover was “I Will Always Love You” the day after Whitney Houston died.

From the Vault: Green Apple Quick Step

Green Apple Quick Step were a band from Seattle who, in 1995 released two very big singles among the Seattle alternative radio scene.

The first one,  “Dizzy” hailed from their album Loaded, but had previously appeared on the soundtrack to The Basketball Diaries.  The movie itself featured Leonardo di Caprio before he took the world by storm in Romeo and Juliet.  When people went back to his earlier movies to see what they had missed, many inadvertently stumbled across this song, which was one of the soundtrack’s highlights.

The second one, “Los Vargos” was more localized as a single but fairly routinely became their encore crowd pleasing song.  The video was directed by McG, who has gone on to direct the television shows Supernatural and Chuck.  I remember seeing Green Apple Quick Step and Presidents of the United States of America at Mercer Arena during Bumbershoot 1995.  Mercer Arena is currently undergoing renovation so that it can be used by the Seattle Opera House.   God I’m getting old…

It Was 20 Years Ago Today…September 1995

The Flaming Lips: Clouds Taste Metallic

I have always had an odd fascination with The Flaming Lips. I first heard them when “She Don’t Use Jelly” was released as a single in 1993. The song was a quirky alt-rock track with humorous lyrics and something about it drew me in, even before I dove headfirst into the alternative rock scene. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, their album from 2002 has one of my favorite tracks from that decade, yet I have passed on buying the album on vinyl at least 5 times. The followup to Clouds Taste Metallic, Zaireeka was a 4CD release, each with a different instrument but when played simultaneously, they formed a coherant song; that also intreagued me. But somehow, I missed the fact that this album came out in between “She Don’t Use Jelly” and Zaireeka.

The album begins with “The Abandoned Hospital Ship”, which iteslf for over a minute has only piano and acoustic guitar before kicking into distorted guitar at almost the halfway point. The lyrics never pick back up after that point in the track, but the band does flex their muscles.

Track three, titled “Placebo Headwound” asks several questions, some of which make more sense than others, but the meaning of the track can probably be summarized in the final few lines of questioning. “And if God hears all of my questions/How come there’s never an answer?/Is it nothing? Nothing?”. Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips doesn’t like to say things straight, instead coating worldly observations in mystery and prose. Why does one never hear a response when questions are asked of God?

“This Here Giraffe”, track four on the album, was released as the single from the album. The track offers a fairly straightforward alt-rock sound, with slightly distorted guitar and a driving drumbeat. Again, the lyrics seem to be about realizing that humans do things they deem important, but in the grand scheme of the world, utterly don’t matter. The titular giraffe, on the other hand, has a bird land on its head, and instinctively knows it doesn’t matter, instead choosing to laugh.

One of the longer song titles in The Flaming Lips catalog, “Guy Who Gets a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World” is a track along the same vein as what would follow with “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”. An average nobody gets a headache and, while trying to get rid of said headache, thinks thoughts which are deeper than anybody else has ever thought. He earns adulation for this revelations, but can’t celebrate because he still doesn’t know how to rid himself of the headache. The story is told in a straightforward manner, but perhaps the deeper meaning of the song is that sometimes average nobody’s have amazingly deep thoughts, but unless those thoughts are noticed, the world doesn’t change very much, especially for those people having the deep thoughts.

My favorite song from the album, “They Punctured My Yolk” tells the story of two people with a very close bond (which can be interpreted as love or friendship, take your pick) train for an outer space mission together, and then mission control decides to only send one of them. The resulting loss, the severing of the bond created between the two people feels to the one left behind like their very being has been punctured and they can never be made whole again. The lyrics are so poetic in the way that people can read different meanings into the song and see their own situations in the circumstances of the characters within the song.

“Christmas at the Zoo” tells the tale of soembody who on Christmas Eve, gets the idea to release the animals from the zoo. In lyrical interpretations that come straight from the lyrics, the animals agree that they’re not happy at the zoo, but agree that to be concerned about them is good. My interpretation of this song is that knowing and understanding that other things have feeling and many deserve a better life than that which they are given is what it means to be fully aware of your surroundings. Those who are only aware of themselves lose sight of the fact that sometimes their actions have detrimental consequences on others.

According to wikipedia, “Evil Will Prevail” is the last song on the album (more on that in a few sentences). The track takes the pessimistic tone that amorphous evil will always win, but the tone of the song suggests that we should all keep trying anyway. The world is frequently dominated by the bad news, but sometimes good eeks out a victory anyway.

Now, back to the business of the last song on the album. “Bad Days (aurally excited version)” was the last track on the version I first heard of this album, and as such I’m going to treat it that way. The song was the first single promoting Clouds Taste Metallic and a different mix of the track was featured on the Batman Forever soundtrack. That soundtrack featured two of the biggest hits of 1995 (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2 and “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal), which caused several people would not otherwise have paid attention to the music of The Flaming Lips to hear their work. Perhaps not coincidentally, the same can be said about another band who appears on the soundtrack, Sunny Day Real Estate. Right, back to my interpretation of the song. The lyrics pair with “Evil Will Prevail” in that this song portrays the positive mental attitude of bad days coming to an end when you can dream anything you want. In effect, Coyne is saying that even when life makes you angry, you can still find enjoyment and pleasure in your dreams and nobody can stop you.

In 2002, their rise in popularity through the years led the band to release a 3CD compilation of their early material with the amazing title of Finally the Punk Rockers are Taking Acid. The Flaming Lips have never been afraid to musically travel where ever they want to go, knowing that they have built a loyal fanbase who will follow them and await the next musical experiment. As a band, they have released album-length covers of Dark Side of the Moon and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They released an album of collaborations with different artists. They released a 24 hour song available only inside a gummy skull. Through it all, they have fostered a live show which places them as one of the best performers in the world.

Welcome back, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

I’ve finally had time to listen to this first preview of Maklemore & Ryan Lewis’ upcoming album, and it kind of serves to remind people that Mackleore can write heartfelt lyrics.  The other song that’s been released from his upcoming album, the song titled “Downtown”, didn’t do anything for me, but it was funny to see the brief cameo of Ken Griffey Jr.

“Growing Up” may very well end up on my 2015 year end countdown, but I may also hold it back if the album isn’t scheduled for release until 2016.  Either way, enjoy this track.

From the Vault: Rust – “Not Today”

This song came up on my ipod today and I felt like giving it a home.  The band really only had this single (in fact, it’s the only song I can find by them on youtube).  It was a catchy radio piece of ear candy.  I have a friend who bought the album.  I remember listening to it and not liking the rest, but I had a problem with that back in the day (I’m better now).

The song was released in 1996 and didn’t make much of a dent on the alternative/modern rock charts, but I remember my little group of friends in high school digging it.

Here’s an actual video posted on yahoo:  https://screen.yahoo.com/not-today-021926845.html

If you find this page, and can tell me more about the fate of the band or the musicians, please drop me a line!

20 years of Queer

Apparently, a few days ago, Garbage (Oscar the Grouch’s favorite band) announced a 20th anniversary deluxe edition of their debut album as well as a brief tour.

I recently reviewed the album as my August 1995 “It was 20 years ago today” selection, available here:  https://seattlemusicnerd.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/it-was-20-years-ago-today-august-1995/

For those interested, the 2CD deluxe edition, featuring an entire album of “G sides”, is available to order from the band’s website, and is scheduled for release on October 2:  http://garbage.sandbaghq.com/garbage-20th-anniversary-deluxe-edition-2cd-pre-order.html

By way of promotion, the band has released a video of sorts for one of those G sides, titled Subhuman, which was released as an a-side in the UK, with two US Garbage singles as the b-sides.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni4nyNblA5I