Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of 2012: 70-59

70. Paul Burch and The Waco Brothers – Great Chicago Fire     

It's a bold move to begin your album with Johnny Rotten’s infamous closing line from the last Sex Pistols concert: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” “Great Chicago Fire” a collaboration between Country/Rock and Roll classicist Paul Burch and Post Punk hero Jon Langford’s Waco Brothers starts with that quote and ends with a Bob Dylan cover and in-between are some of the best Country Punk songs of the last decade.  

 Free Mp3 at Bloodshot Records

69. The Manic Low – Songs for an Up Day    
 In all of Punk Rock there is no voice like Jack Grisham’s: clean and gorgeous and it blows the doors off the building. From TSOL to Tender Fury to The Joykiller to his latest project, every new Grisham record is an opportunity to be thrilled. This one is 60’s Pop with a driving 90’s Punk influence, and it will stay in your head for days.


68. The Smith Street Band – Sunshine and Technology
The gruff, folk-influenced, Punk bands of the last few years have been the soundtrack to D3C for the last three seasons and SSB is a great addition to our monthly playlists. Catchy, aggressive, and detail rich, each song is a perfect short story:                                                                                                                    And I’ve finally found a home                                                                                                                  In a handful of people I was lucky enough to bump into
We act like pessimists but we’re in love with it.
And I’m in love with you
And our tiny bed in the upstairs front room of a run-down terrace house
As obviously perfect as that sounds.
Even in the summer when the cardboard window that you tape on every day falls out
And wakes us up…
And tonight I’m getting young drunk
Walking around the streets where I grew up
Knowing that they’re to blame
And all the red brick fences look the same.” 

67. The Men – Open Your Heart
For an album that announces itself with a riff lifted from “Suspect Device” by the Stiff Little Fingers “Open Your Heart” is a bit of an all-over-the-place record. Meaning, it starts with an iconic (and limiting) trick and expands outward in all directions. It’s not a Punk album, but you can hear the Stooges and The Saints and The Meat Puppets. It’s not College Rock but there’s a whole lot of Pixies and Shoegaze here. It’s not Psychedelic, but “Oscillation” swells and drones in the best acid-fried way. It’s hard for a band to be all things to all music geeks, but if you like anything released in the four decades of Rock, you will find something here to love.

66. Lambchop – Mr. M
The strings swell (sounding oddly like the strings that begin Bjork’s Joga) and it’s a gorgeous moment, broken by Kurt Wagner’s narcoticly groovy line: “Don’t know what the fuck they talk about…”, and we’re off. Lambchop is, admittedly, a band you have to work at liking. Not because they’re difficult, far from it, they are the most fucked-up, country tinged orchestral Pop band you’ll ever find yourself humming along to. They’re subtle. Too subtle for some, who end up missing the way their songs slowly unwind and how they cushion Wagner’s wickedly funny and terribly sad words.

65. The Victim Party – The Worst Party on Earth 
No one’s reinventing the wheel on this album, but then, no one really has to. It’s just one of the best collections of driving, catchy, boy/girl punk out there right now. 

64. Slug Guts – Playin’ in Time with the Deadbeat 
The late 70’s/Early 80’s Australian scene was one of the wildest and most creative Post-Punk explosions of the era. Bands like The Birthday Party, The Scientists, The Triffids, Beasts of Bourbon, The Moodists, and Crime and the City Solution incorporated elements of Country, Blues, Garage, Goth, Lounge, and Noise into their angular, confrontational sounds. Slug Gut has been accused of sounding just like The Birthday Party, but, in fact, they sound like all those classic Australian bands combined. They manage to mix The Scientist’s Garage Rock , The sleazy sounds of the Beats of Bourbon and the pop song craft of The Triffids with the art terror of The Birthday Party, to create the darkest, most glorious mess imaginable. 

63. Neneh Cherry & The Thing : Neneh Cherry & The  Thing 
One of this year’s most surprising and soulful records was an album of onetime Pop star (and deeply brilliant artist) Neneh Cherry’s collaborations with Avant-Jazz group the Thing on a collection of cover songs. There’s a lot going on in that sentence, but bear with me. The group tackles Suicide, MF Doom, and Martina Topley-Bird with amazing results, but it’s the version of “Dirt” by The Stooges that comes on like a revelation: still as sexy and grimy as the original, but with the Free-Jazz influence turned way up.


62. Titus Andronicus – Local Business 
Not as unhinged as previous albums, but no less powerful. Titus Andronicus still howl their bleak observations (see the opening line: “Ok, by now I think we’ve established that everything is inherently worthless…”) at you with ever escalating intensity. “Local Business” is all guitars and poetry and a firm belief that Rock and Roll is supposed to mean something, goddamnit.

61. The Holy Mess – Cande Ru Las Degas  
The fact that someone coined the term “Dad Punk” is deeply unsettling, since Punk is exactly the same age as I am. (Leaving aside that Suicide began using the term in ’72, we’ll settle on the date Punk started as the day The Ramones first played CBGB’s, August 16th, 1974. If you say, “but The Sex Pistols!”, I will throw a drink in your face. England didn’t invent Punk Rock, New York did. They just marketed it better.) What the hell is Dad Punk you ask? Punk with a bit more Rock and Country. Less Hardcore, less discordance, way less nihilism. Heartfelt instead of rage-filled. Which describes the new Holy Mess album perfectly.


60. Alex Chilton – Free Again (Reissue) 
Alex Chilton has one of the most frustrating legacies out there. His first band, The Boxtops, gave us “The Letter” and a handful of other great Rock/Soul singles; his next band, Big Star, produced three masterpieces: The Power Pop-defining #1 Record and Radio City and the far-reaching, nearly apocalyptic “Third: Sister Lovers”, and then…well, “spotty” would be a kind way to describe his solo career. “Free Again”, though, is a whole different animal. Recorded between the Box Tops and Big Star it finds Chilton finding his own voice by stretching the sound of the Box Tops into areas both gritty and sweet. The title track struts a bit and “Something Deep Inside” has a lovely little melody and a bubbling organ sound that’s pure 70’s AM gold. You need the three Big Star records, that’s a given, but if (when) you fall in love with Chilton’s voice, this is the only next step.     

59. Terry Malts – Killing Time 
Perfectly fuzzed-out bedroom Punk. In a better world, all of these songs are a hit. What makes this standout among the hundreds of other poppy, fuzzy bands is the energy. 80’s Hardcore is clearly a huge influence (They even cover Negative Approach), but it’s played with a crazy amount of lightness and sweetness.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Best of 2012

“I found a place where it feels alright.
I heard a record, and it opened my eyes.”
-          Pretty Girls Make Graves. “Speakers Push the Air”

There may be no stronger influence on a D3C event than a great record. It’s the reason why we try to have a musician perform with us every month, and it’s why, often, play titles are cribbed from lyrics (I always wanted my table of contents to read like a playlist.)
New York music scenes were the models for D3C: 70’s Punk, early 80’s No Wave, late 80’s Hardcore; it’s where we first discovered that all the truly important things were DIY, and too this day, we’re still inspired by every generation of boys and girls who pick up a guitar and just go.

In that spirit, we’re thrilled to present the first ever, Dialogue with Three Chords, Best Albums of the Year list.

From now until January 1st, I’ll be counting down, oh, let’s say, our top 75 releases from 2012, and see how far I get. I’ll also link to our 2012 playlist on spotify.

These albums helped shape our voice this year, so please, listen, comment, and tell us what we missed.

75. Down and Outs – Forgotten Streets                                                                                                 Excellent Rock and Roll leaning Punk. In all honesty, this is more of what the Gaslight Anthem wrought: Springsteen by way of The Clash, but what’s interesting about hearing a UK band attempt this style is that there seems to be a strong Oi! influence here, either by design or simply because the best Oi! always had a strong Pub Rock influence.                                                                                                                           Down and Outs at Soundcloud                                                                                                                     
74. Dan Vapid and the Cheats – Dan Vapid and the Cheats                                                                  Pop Punk, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, has made a huge comeback over the last few years, and that’s something that I never would have believed, having lived through the 90’s and watching it go from a handful of great Lookout! Records bands to a bunch of Ramones clones and childish nonsense that would make Blink 182 say “grow the hell up.” Yet, here we are, and of course, one of the best releases in this genre comes from an elder statesman: Dan Vapid from the legendary (though troubled) Screeching Weasel. Pop done right can still be an exhilarating thing.                                          

73. The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea                                                                    It seems like we need a “theme” for every Magnetic Fields release since “69 Love Songs” (Acoustic, Electronic, Distorted, etc), so I’m taking it upon myself to dub this one “Psychedelic”. It’s not ponderous, wonky, acid-fried, or pastoral, but it is brightly colored, so maybe “Madchester” is the better theme. Either way, Merritt is still one of the best lyricists around, able to be achingly funny and desperately sad at the same time, and that’s a hell of a trick.

72. Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder                                                                                          You may have a problem with a band working under what can only be described as a “stalker/home invasion” motif, and I can’t say I blame you, but they manage to do it with enough smarts that it begins to sound like a carefully crafted skewering of Emo Punk’s lonely and pining male-on-the-verge-of-derangement song craft (particularly on the outstanding “Heart Shaped Guitar”). Over-intellectualizing aside, it’s a ripping Pop Punk record. 

71. Joey Ramone - “…ya know?”                                                                                                      This not the best album, nor is it an embarrassment, which is an achievement in and of itself since it was assembled from half-finished vocal takes, it’s simply a chance to hear Joey’s voice one more time.