Sunday, September 25, 2005

Guest Blog #3: Stuart Berman

Yes, Stuart comes through and saves me from my own slackness -- there will indeed be an update this weekend! Thanks once again, Mr. Berman. The floor is yours:


Broken Social Scene - Do The 95
Constantines - The Young and Desperate
As Canadian indie-ana eagerly awaits two of this season’s biggest releases — Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album, and the Constantines’ Tournament of Hearts — let’s dig up some of their skeletons.

BSS’ “Do the 95” was the B-side to the UK “Stars and Sons” single, yet it didn’t appear on 2004’s B-sides collection, Bee Hives. The title commemorates a BSS offshoot band that played a handful of gigs in the summer of 2001; the concept was essentially a fake Dinosaur Jr cover band — i.e., they didn’t actually cover any Dino songs, they just played a bunch of songs that sounded like they were. Future BSS standards like “Cause = Time” and “Almost Crimes” came out of this experiment.

“The Young and Desperate” marked the Constantines’ first appearance on CD; it was the lead-off track to The Twenty-Year Design Theory, a compilation of Ontario indie-rock bands put together by Anti-Antenna Recordings’ Ryan Mills in spring 2001. While the new Tournament of Hearts finds the Cons cashing in their Fugazi records for the Neil Young catalogue, here the young lions are in full-on Repeater mode, complete with herky-jerky stop/start rhythms and lyrics that begin with the phrase “THIS IS NOT…” (which are a must for all manifesto-rock). They used to close their shows with this, and part of me wishes they still did.

Dr. Dog - Say Something
Like any unwashed band with beards, Philly’s Dr. Dog inspire love and loathing in equal measures, though it’s interesting to see who’s in each camp. New York Times anti-rockist advocate Kelefah Sanneh is actually one of their most vocal supporters, whereas the indie adjudicators at Pitchfork — who you’d think would be all over the Dog’s lo-fi White Album-meets-Big Pink slack-rock — pissed all over them. Fuck ’em: these are huggable hippie jams for those us who hate the Dead, but love The Band.

Gary Higgins - It Didn’t Take Too Long
More beardo-rock for you, from one of the more unlikely benefactors of the recent psych-folk phenomenon. A one-time associate of the Silver Apples’ Simeon Coxe, Higgins is enjoying a minor renaissance after one of his tracks (“Thicker Than a Smokey”) was covered on the most recent Six Organs of Admittance album; Drag City’s recently reissued his long-lost 1973 album, Red Hash, recorded days before the dude went to the big house on a pot charge. Despite the props from the avant-rock set, this is closer to Donovan than Devendra.

Of Arrowe Hill - Positively Antediluvian
In which we give a shout-out to my mate Adam Easterbrook, the mastermind of this London, UK psych trio. Championed by such esteemed Heads as Julian Cope and the late John Peel, OAH are Guided by Voices after a couple of trips to the gym — melody with muscle. This track comes from the band’s just-released second LP, Hexadelica and the Speed of Darkness.

The Ponys - I’m With You
Though not quite as dramatic as, say, JT’s break from *NSYNC, the departure of Ian Adams from The Ponys is something to lament. He was the one rocking the Rickenbacker onstage like a gay George Harrison, offsetting frontman Jered Gummere’s manic Tom Verlaineisms with fey Pete Shelley-ian kiss-offs. This Adams-penned gem, from this year’s Celebration Castle, represents your last chance to prance.