Friday, December 08, 2006

CD Roundup: December 06

I remember a day (not too long ago) when I used to go to the record store and plunk down $30 to $100 a week on CDs and vinyl. Thanks to a hardy computer, fast internet connection and room shaking speakers you're more likely to find me buying from sites like eMusic and MP3Sugar and filling up my iTunes with my entire CD collection (currently 3876 songs which translates into 8.7 days worth of everything from Sinatra and the Bay City Rollers to enough Replacements and Hoodoo Gurus to choke a horse).

But that hasn't stopped me from buying the occasional CD and I thought I'd give a quick plug to some of the favorites that have been spinning through the collection.

On a recent trip to Phoenix I grabbed a copy of the city's alternative weekly and read an article about The New Romantics, a Phoenix-based sleaze rock band with all the right influences. One listen to their self-released 'Love Letters and Death Threats' confirmed that the boozy, glam rock charm of bands like the NY Dolls (Thunders era, not the karaoke act being passed off on unsuspecting fans these days) and T.Rex was not lost on today's garage rockers. The disc also reminded me of such 80s/90s staples of my college radio show like The Throbs (whose debut EP was a thing of beauty), Uncle Sam (sleazy glam metal), and The Joneses. Top notch.

A recent Charm City visit from Carbon 14 editors Larry Kay and Leslie Goldman resulted in my first ever visit to Baltimore's Sidebar, a NYC-style punk club that reminded me of Bacchanal, a 80s-era Philly club where I spent many a night boozing it up and checking out bands. There to see Jukebox Zeroes and Labor Party (both on Kay and Goldman's Steel Cage Records imprint) I also found myself treated to the eardrum shattering rawk and roll of Luxury Pushers from Dayton, Ohio. A trio with deafening potential, Luxury Pushers create high energy, no frills guitar/bass/drum rock and roll that can be found on their most recent ep 'Quitter's Holiday' and the earlier 'Eat It.' Both are to be enjoyed at maximum volume.

Stepping into the Wayback Machine for a second we visit the Maryland/DC area's own Slickee Boys, who released a couple of tremendous LPs of sinister power pop on Twin/Tone back in the 1980s. One of those LPs – 'Cybernetic Dreams of pi' – is now available with eight bonus tracks including the EP version of "Glendora" and four tracks "Found in the Trunk of Kim's Orange Fury" according to the liner notes. The Boys still get together for the occasional show (including an upcoming December 30th gig at The Ottobar). Probably best known for the surf-tinged single "When I Go to the Beach," 'pi' also features track after track of hard-hitting, smart pop-rock that leaves me scratching my head wondering why they never hit it big. Hopefully, this disc will sell enough copies to warrant a CD release of the even better 'Uh Oh, No Brakes!' featuring the band revisiting some of the best material from earlier indie releases.

And finally, what would a CD roundup be without a mention of Paul Westerberg and/or his fellow members of The Replacements. (See below for info about a new Mats tribute disc.) Nobody was more shocked than me when news broke a year or so ago that Westerberg was writing music for a big budget animated movie from a major studio. Given the commercial underperformance of his major label post-Mats efforts, I couldn't imagine how the Bard of the Bars would do writing songs about deer and hedgehogs. Remarkably, it doesn't come off too damn bad. The soundtrack for 'Open Season' (Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg as the cover states) finds the one time hero of college radio climbing out of his basement studio and seemingly enjoying himself along the way. The best tracks – "Meet Me in the Meadow," "Love You in the Fall" and "Right to Arm Bears" – won't make anybody ditch their copies of 'Let it Be' or 'Tim,' but you also won't be embarassed to be caught singing along with them in your car. The whole disc is pretty much cute, catchy and somewhat disposable but does feature Paul and Mats bassist Tommy Stinson joining forces on a couple tracks. Combine that with this year's Mats best of (featuring two "new" Replacements songs) and I haven't given up hope of taking my daughter to see a Replacements reunion show sometime in the next twenty years.

And yes, you read that last line correctly. The Exploitation Retrospect family will be growing by one next spring as we will be welcoming a daughter to the fold. This news has led to many important discussions including "Is Klausina an appropriate name?" and "When is it age appropriate to show her RE-ANIMATOR?"

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