This will not be a big deal to anyone who regularly reads mp3blogs, or anyone who finds this page through the hype machine, but in october i’m going to comit to something that, for me, is a pretty radical concept: I am going to update the blog at least 5 days a week for the entire month of october. For most bloggers, this is small effin change; stereogum updates a gazillion times a day, and most other blogs I read get in at least 1 post every day for all SEVEN days of the week. With this pile of words, I tend to think things, over think things, leave stuff in the oven until its burnt through to the tray, and then start over. Which leads to, at best, about 1 post a week, one that is probably too long for most people to care about. So i’m going to try to keep to 25 posts for the month of october. That’s the goal.
Anyway, here are two different things altogether.
If people remember Superdrag, it’s probably for their precision power pop 1996 single, “Sucked Out,” with that larynx stripping chorus and those three bashed out chords. The song is great, but the album that single came from, Regretfully Yours, is notable for an entirely unexpected reason; it is a smart, well written pop punk album that almost entirely lacks hooks. With the exception of a few sunny moments, a lot of these songs never even make it to three chords; they lock two chords in a room and let them run into eachother. On such tracks, the band is reaching for simplicity and a blunt sped up thud of a delivery, which often counteracts any catchiness or farmiliar melodies. This has an interesting effect on the album: without a melody running around in front, the listener instead focuses on the lyrics, which vary from simple but quite good (“sucked out” “nothing good is real” “phaser”) to merely passable rhythmic syllables filling up one of the four tracks this album was recorded on. But I give the band credit for pushing singer/songwriter John Davis’ vocals up and not relying on the same overstrummed chord progressions that a thousand other pop punk bands have paved out. Really, the only major difference between Superdrag and critical darlings Sunny Day Real Estate is that the vocals are so muddles on Sunny Day Real Estate’s songs that you cannot decipher many of the stream of conscience lyrics (ok, and maybe SDRE has a better rhythm section, too). For an album released on a major label in a genre that has largely been dismissed for its mundanity and sugarcoating, Regretfully Yours is both bitter and potent. To show you the difference between the album’s not-quite-power-pop and a more standard representation, you can also download the band doing a great version of Big Star’s September Gurls.
“September Gurls” is from the radio only Superdrag EP I Know The Score.
The Television Personalities were familiar to me long before I heard a note of their music, because of their alphabetical proximity to Television; I would often see the band’s stylized album artwork placed in the wrong section at Tower Records as i thought for the 200th time whether it was worth buying a copy of Marquee Moon. Well after a big pestering from friends, college radio Djs and finally the automated emusic “we’d recommend this album” thing, I looked into the band. I’m sure I sound like a kid just discovering Led Zeppelin, but the Television Personalities are great, not just because they’re about the hardest rocking thing that could appropriately be called twee, but also because their songs are intellegent and have real depth to them. “This Angry Silence,” the first song on their first album, And Don’t The Kids Just Love It, is a musical table of contents for the rest of the album. It introduces us to the pissed off, nervous, complaining, endearing personality that is Daniel Treacel, who wrote and sung in the band. The song fulfils the promise of its title without sounding ham fisted. The lyrics show us a cross section of a family falling apart and a man disconnected from the Thatcher’s England. And in the chorus, when Treacel cut’s through the song’s title, all the instrumentation drops out except for a 1 step away from smashed guitar riff. The anger in that instrumental section is palpable, but also reigned in, it reflections Treacel’s own feelings of agitation and simultaneous disempowerment, he’s pissed about his failing family, loveless relationship, and isolation from his fellow citizens, but there’s really nothing he can do to change it.