July 31, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Pink Martini

Pink Martini is not your average little big band. It's more of an intellectual jazz collective with a wondrous musical talent and need to spread it around. The group's core due --pianist Thomas Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes-- met at Harvard where they were studying such head stuff as literature and history. Flash forward to the cocktail nation's New York City uprising in the mid-to-late 90s, Lauderdale rings up Forbes to see about putting together a big band and Pink Martini comes into full fruition. Thier debut album, and still my favorite (though they are all good), Sympathique appeared in 1997, made an international splash, and sold a measly 750,000 copies. Their second, Hang On Little Tomato, featured mostly original material and sold more than half a million copies. Their latest, Hey Eugene has perhaps their most truly jazz feel with lots of cool, sultry songs like City of Night, the title track, and a very swank version of Tea For Two featuring a perfect pairing of Forbes with legendary jazz man Jimmy Scott. The song here, "Amado Mio", hearkens back to that first release and is actually a rearrangement of a film noir track from 1946,

Pink Martini -- Amado Mio

Pink Martini - Hey Eugene

July 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Booby Traps

These Booby Traps are a rockin, trashy garage punk combo from down under, not the US east coast boy bar band. Oh yeah, and these Booby Traps know how to kick up a storm. The girls look like they were dressed by the Hives, and sound like they were trained by The Pandoras. The boys are all in black, and their sound is deep, dark, driving and definitley bad ass. It's all pure rock-n-roll. You can hear echoes of the Who and the Stones, and lots of early rock influences like Bo Diddley. But there's also the fuzzed up swagger of the garage revivalists of the 80s like The Pandoras, The Chesterfield Kings, The Fuzztones and so on.

Thier second LP Makin It with the Booby Traps bowed in '08 and is a floor stompin, hip shakin', go-go inducing album that showcases the snarly, yet girlish vocals of Carrie, whose voice floats effortless atop a wave of sound built by the band, like it does on this somewhat stereotypical garage rocker "Be My Caveman". A recently posted track on their myspace page, "Bad Reputation" is methodically blistering in its attack, and shows the band continuing in the same, wonderful, vein.

The Booby Traps -- Clara Bow

July 29, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Bicycles

A litte bit garage. A little bit twee. A little bit power pop. A little bit soul. Lots of little bits can add up to good things that sound big and beautiful like The Bicylces, from Toronto. The Bicycles first CD, The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly featured 60's inspired sound with catchy and memorable harmonies. They've got that group harmonizing ability down pat, and when backed with jangly guitars and a driving beat it sort of reminds me of Couple, or The Lodgers. It was a packed with great songs power pop songs like "Gotta Get Out" and "Two Girls From Montreal", and a song only a Canadian band could get away with without being band from Montreal, "Paris Be Mine".

Earlier this year a stripped version of the down band (from a quintet to a quartet) dropped their sophmore release, Oh No, It's Love, bursting with another 19 poppy gems. While the band may be short a player, the sound builds nicely on their earlier work and shows a maturity that usually is harbinger of the band breaking out into the mainstream. Both are so good, that I've got the title track of the latest for you, as well as "B-B-Bicycles" from the first. Sadly, all that potential notwhithstanding, the band is on "hiatius" and you know what that means. No bursting forth into the mainstream view is likely to happen.

The Bicycles -- Oh No It's Love

The Bicycles -- http://mrsuave.wordpress.com/files/2009/07/01-b-b-bicycles.mp3

July 28, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Claim

The Claim are lumped in with the C-86/jangle pop/twee crowd of the late '80s thanks to their unique incorporation of that sound with a revival like, soulful, guitar driven R&B sound that was more akin to the mod revival than anything else. The influences of their contempoaries are heard throughout, namely The Housemartins and The Smiths. The band had only the one release I'm aware of, Armstrong's Revenge & Eleven Other Short Stories, and it featured this organ fueled, swirling bit of modish delight, "This Year's Shirt".

The Claim -- This Year's Shirt

July 27, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Pinkees

The Pinkees are a little known power pop band that faded to obscurity after a blip in the British charts in 1982. The band plays pretty straight ahead power pop of the kind that was more popular in the US in 1982 than it was in the UK, and perhaps that's why the band ultimately disappeared. This track "Say What Your Thinking" is one of three reasonably good songs on their self-titled LP, along with the jaunty sixties pop of "Thinking of Her". The video below features what was probably their best song, "Danger Games", and is introduced by John Peel on Top of the Pops.

The Pinkees -- Say What You're Thinking

The Pinkees -- Danger Games

July 26, 2009

From the Vaults: Modcast #85: Mr. Suave's Cold Cold World

Once more into the vault my friends, once more into the vault. Step back in time, to a time when the modcast was young and fresh. Take a giant step outside your current listening constraints and journey with me all the way back to the cold and blustery days of February 2008. I've opened up the vaults and dusted off a classic modcast that I think you'll enjoy. Again.

Welcome to Mr. Suave’s cold, cold world. Cold, brrrr, because I spent this past week in the freezing cold, the subzero, completely ungodly temperatures of snowy Minnesota. I thought for sure that I’d have all the time in the world to work on the modcast – I mean what the hell else do you do when it’s below zero? And way, way, way, below zero with the wind chill. Surprisingly, I had a full schedule of relaxing, drinking martinis, sleeping, drinking martinis, relaxing, drinking martinis, and visiting with the family. Oh yeah, and drinking martinis. Gotta keep warm somehow. No matter, the songs on this week’s show are hot, hot, hot. We’ve got mod, mod and more mod. From The Crooks and The Lambrettas to Manual Scan and The Vertabrats, it’s all good. Welcome to modcast #85. Enjoy.
  • The Legendary Golden Vampires – Rebel Woman
  • The Crooks – Me and My Friends
  • The Odd Numbers – Autumn Leaves
  • Chardon Square – ’65 Film Show
  • The Lambrettas – London Calling
  • The Soup Dragons – Slow Things Down
  • The Continentals – Walking Tall
  • The Alljacks – Guilty
  • Manual Scan – Don’t Know Where to Start
  • Wards of Court – How Could You Say One Thing
  • The Vertabrats – Left in the Dark

Bopnus Videos
The Soup Dragons -- Head Gone Astray

Manual Scan -- New Difference

July 25, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Leopards

I first discovered The Leopards thanks to Rodney on the Roq. In 1985/86 he was constantly playing this really cool sixties pop tune the tongue in cheek outlined the mod lifestyle, "Psychadelic Boy." It became a sort of mod cult favorite, and The Leopards quickly became one of my favorite garage bands. Partly that was due to the fact that they sounded more like The Kinks then, well, then The Kinks themselves during those days.

The album I found was, unbeknownst to me, their second Magic Still Exists, after relocating to LA from Kansas of all places. It was full of British Invasion sounding two minute pop songs with a very jangly tone, and I thought it was fantastic. It wasn't until years later, thanks to the in-for-ma-tion su-per-high-way that I stumbled across their first album, produced in 1977 for all that it sounded like it was right out of 1967. That release, Kansas City Slickers, reminds me of the Kinks (though not as much as Magic Still Exists), but also brings to mind the kind of quirky vaudeville like sound of David Bowie's mid-sixties Pye recordings. There's a much better history write up at Beat Garage Pop, along with rips of the two albums.

The Leopards -- Psychadelic Boy

July 24, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Cleaners From Venus

Quirky is the word that comes to mind when I hear someone mention Cleaners From Venus (which is very bloody often). The band, which kicked off in 1980 was Martin Newell, Lol Elliott and Giles Smith, and the three of them did things, well differently. Namely, they released cassettes only, not records, and for many years had no label support or distribution surviving by word of mouth in the cassette underground. Their sound was influenced by the very British song writers like Ray Davies and Syd Barrett, while the band's adventerous nature and style was more similar to XTC , Fun Boy Three, and the Television Personalities. Their sound was decidedly post-punk, with hints of psychadelia and jangle pop throughout. The song, "Clara Bow", has a sort of lounge vibe when it starts, and the vocals are akin to Blur and other Britpop bands. If you can find it pick up the Golden Cleaners release which has a nice collection of the band's work.

Cleaners From Venus - Clara Bow

July 23, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Vapors

Like dozens of other bands The Vapors hit the scene in the late 70s with a punk fueled, guitar driven, spikey sort of power pop laced with catchy melodies and hooks galore. But, they got a leg up on everyone by impressing Jam bassist Bruce Foxton and landing a opening slot on the Jam's tour in 1979. And then Foxton's wife helped land the band a record deal with United Artists. Their first album New Clear Days was more than solid, it was downright inspired in places. All of this vaulted them to prominence in the UK amongst punk/new wave afficianados and the sky should have been the limit.

Their first single, "Prisoners" was a great song, but didn't catch the public eye. It wasn't until the release of their second single, the legendary "Turning Japanese", that the band broke into the UK charts, and also the bottom of the US charts, and more importantly into the US psyche. Over the years the song's continue US pop culture prominence far outpaces it's peak of #36 on the Billboard charts. The band's third single, the track here, "News at Ten", might have been their strongest, but was released just when a Musicians Union strike killed any chance to appear on Top of the Pops or really parley the single's initial successes into something more.

A second album, Magnet, followed. It veered away from the band's spikey, punky, sixties styled power pop -- something they wanted to keep from being labeled a mod revival band, which is how they were being pegged thanks to having toured with the Jam. No, the second album was well afield from the Jam being darker in both sound and style, more in line with the band's more recent influences: Devo, Magazine, Wire, and XTC. It's a good album, all too often ignored and underrated, but it isn't nearly as sharp and exciting as New Clear Days was.

The Vapors -- News At Ten

July 22, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Knack

Everyone's heard "My Sharona" the debut single by The Knack. How many bands have their debut single go to #1? Bloody few to be sure. The Knack were the first power pop band to break into the charts. They didn't just break into, but broke the US charts climbing all the way to number one, the first of the new wave power pop bands to ever do so.

"My Sharona" was released in 1979 and shot to #1 bursting America's power pop cherry, and then sat atop charts plagued with lots of disco flostsam and jetsam for six weeks.

The consequence of such a stellar debut? Well, for most people it's all they know about The Knack. The public really never got to know that band that penned lots of cool power pop tunes with great sixties overtones, and lots of rock, like the song here, "Good Girls Don't". The video below will make most people wonder, Sharona who?

The Knack
-- Good Girls Don't

The Knack -- The Hard Way

July 21, 2009

Modcast #135: Power Pop Summer

Welcome to another mid-summer classic, this of the power pop kind. There's nothing better than the news that power pop legends Cheap Trick -- celebrating their 35th year of existence if you can believe it -- have a new album simply titled The Latest. Or that California's own sunshine power poppers extraordinaire, The Orange Peels, have a new release in the works. And if you throw in new stuff from the Beat Seekers, Baskervilles and Green Day, well than you've got a summer line up that is sure to be a winner. Pull a lawn chair, smooth out a blanket, pop open a cold one or six, and enjoy the show my friends.

Cheap Trick -- When The Lights Go Out (2009)
The Orange Peels -- Birds of a Feather (2009)
The Beat Seekers -- Don't Blame Me (2009)
Baskervilles -- Caught in a Crosswalk (2008)
Albert Hammond Jr. -- In Transit (2006)
Holiday -- Who's Gonna Find Out (1996)
Green Day -- Lights Out (2009)
Rinaldi Sings -- Goodbye Steve McQueen (2008)
The Elephants -- Obvious (2007)
The Corner Laughers -- You Two Are The Ones (2006)
Travoltas -- Endless Summer (2002)

Bonus Videos:

Baskervilles - Midnight at the Underground Club

Beatseekers -- Dead Air Radio (Live)

The Orange Peels -- So Far

July 20, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Yardbirds

There are only a few things one needs to know about the Yardirds. They were hands down the best of the blues-rock bands of the sixties, and they were the birthplace of three of the greatest rock guitarists -- Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page -- and one of the criminally underrated singers of all time, Keith Relf. Relf always lived in the shadow of the band's phenomenal guitartists and never was able to get out from under that before he died young in the mid-70s the victim of electrocution from playing an improperly grounded guitar. The track here is just one of dozens and dozens of fabulous blues songs turned into hip-shakin rock and roll numbers. "Dust my Broom" was recorded for the BBC in 1966 with Jeff Beck on guitar at the time.

Yardbirds -- Dust My Broom

July 18, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Last of the International Playboys

The Last of the International Playboys is a popular phrase being the name of multiple songs and albums, most notably by Morrissey on his last release, but is the name of only one band. A big band. A big latin jazz band with big vocals. TLOTIP is the offspring of German bandleader Walter Kuehr who put together a big band of accomplished jazz and swing artists in New York in the early 90s. The result was a 1997 self-titled release of "Vegas jazz and Latin lounge" that perfectly suited the cocktail nation's desire for smokey lounge. But this was more than just lounge. TLOTIP was lush, melodius, fully smokey and sometimes dark jazz that was perfect for sipping scotch. The disk had a sort of hit (among the loungophiles anyhow) with "I Want My Old Life Back", and had a number of great big band instrumentals such as "Lovers and Losers", and cool sax jazz like "Last Chance to Dance". The song here, "Two Big Whiskey's for Little Ann" features the voice of Babi Floyd and is simply the sound of swank.

The Last of the International Playboys -- Two Big Whiskey's For Little Ann

July 17, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Mando Diao

The words Mando Diao appeared to Swedish garage rocker Björn Dixgård and so that's what he named his band. Mando Daio could easily be lumped into the Britpop category, and rightly so, but the band is more than that. With ten years and five full LPs under their belts (and a whopping 17 videos), the band has built a huge following across Europe, with their latest album Give Me Fire topping the charts in Germany and a handful of other countries. Their heavily sixties influenced sound ranges from the slow and introspective "How We Walk" to the soul infused garage rock of "Motown Blood", to the post-punk screamer "Killer Kaczynyski" to the sixties sound of the song here, "And I Don't Know" from their B-Sides and Demos compilation.

Mando Diao -- And I Don't Know

Mando Diao -- Gloria

July 16, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Cute Lepers

Formed in 2007 out of the ashes of The Briefs (who I hope rise again like a phoenix), The Cute Lepers are a punk band that would have been right at home at CBGBs in 1979. The Lepers' sound --and style-- is most evocative of that late seventies hey day of power pop infused punk from the likes of The Ramones, Blondie, Romantics and so on. Of all the bands revisiting the 70s sound, The Cute Lepers are one of the best. The songs are motly short, sharp and spikey, with infectious choruses that you can easily find yourself humming for hours on end after listening.

Sadly, in March of this year, guitarist Travis Criscola died in his sleep from an accidental overdose of pills and alcohol. The band is soldiering on and I hope that this doesn't keep them from reaching their full potential.

Lead singer Steve E Nix released this statement on the band's myspace page:
Early the morning of March 28, in Cincinnati our friend and band-mate Travis Criscola passed away in his sleep. He was 24. Travis was guitarist in the Cute Lepers for the last six months and was the perfect addition to the band as it's developed. He was our friend. His company was always a pleasure. I don't think I ever heard him say a negative word about any one. He was smart, polite and considerate, always interested in learning more about music and playing guitar... he really loved music. He was passionate about music in a way that only other like minded musicians recognize and relate with. When Travis joined the band he would not think twice about jumping on the bus from Olympia and making the two hour ride to Seattle for a spur of the moment rehearsal, and then riding the bus two more hours to get back home. In fact Travis was doing this three times a week up until we left for europe to start our tour. His character and his commitment made him the very best we could hope for in a band-mate and a friend. We're gonna really miss him. We feel that it's appropriate and absolutely not in bad taste to disclose the cause of death of our friend. Travis combined alcohol and pills, then went to sleep and never woke up. It was an accident. Travis was not any kind of a habitual drug user. I'm a man who has left drugs and alcohol alone for over a decade and I just wont work with people who are mixed up with narcotics. It is rare to find a rock n' roll musician in his early twenties who doesn't get caught up in hitting the bars and going to parties on tour, and Trav was just one of those ones who made a really bad decision. He naively took some type of pills on top of the beer he was drinking and that's it. I believe that it would be a disservice for us to leave out this information. People would wind up hearing distorted versions of the truth anyways. Also our hope is that other young musicians, or anyone it may apply to who reads this will learn from our tragedy and perhaps wise up a bit. We're currently traveling across the country back home to Seattle with heavy hearts. Trav's family and his beautiful longtime girlfriend are in our prayers. --Steve

The Cute Lepers -- It's Summertime Baby

July 15, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Pranks

Seattle power poppers The Pranks released their first album, Modern Communication, at the end of last year and extablished themselves as a power pop band to be reckoned with. Produced by lead singer Erik Foster's older brother --Boss Martians' front man Evan Foster--The Pranks play a pop-punk style of power pop, and deliver a modern sound that echoes Weezer and the Posies at times. Yet, it's clear that the Pranks understand the power pop of the seventies just as well with flourishes that recall Cheap Trick such as on the song here, "Modern Communication".

The Pranks -- Modern Communication

July 14, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Herman's Hermits

It was on this day in 1967 that Herman's Hermits started their biggest US tour, with opening act The Who. When you think of Herman's Hermits you inevitably think of the quirky, simple pop songs that propelled the band to the forefront of the British Invasion in 1964 well ahead of The Beatles and The Who. In 1965 the Hermits were the top selling pop act in America, and through the mid-60s had two #1s and a string of top 10 hits. These ranged from the pop of "I'm Into Something Good" to the campy and catchy "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" to the quirky vaudevillian song "I'm Henry The Eight I Am" which was first recorded in 1911.

However, in the beginning they were a serious R&B band, playing the hip shakin' R&B hits of the day. The band suffered from being over managed, not unlike other bands of the mid-60s like The Yardbirds, The Animals, The Monkees and a host of others. Thneir management wanted a clean cut teen friendly band, and that's what was delivered. With a tremendous amount of success to the tune of over 50 million albums. In 1967 they released their final MGM album, their most mature and best to date, but it was doomed by the summer of love and the rise of psychadelic freakbeat. The song feature here, "Moonshine Man" was perhaps the best track from that underrated album.

The popularity and commercial viability of that clean cut sound died away in the late sixties, and by 1971 the band was over. There have been lots of reunions, but none that include all the original members. You can see The Official Herman's Hermits sans lead singer Peter Noone, or you can see Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone, but sadly both amount to little more than tribute bands.

Herman's Hermits -- Moonshine Man

July 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The White Stripes

The White Stripes aren't the first band that springs to mind when one thinks mod. In fact, at first glance they don't have anything mod about them at all. But, that's sort of the point of my mod-a-day project, highlighting things that mods might like that probably wouldn't cross their minds otherwise. Hence, The White Stripes, maybe more mod than most people would realize.

Defying most attempts to adequately define their sound, The White Stripes took delight in producing songs that incorporated a number of different styles and sounds. I have always thought of them as mostly a garage rock band, one with a deep love and respect of the blues, and a definite flare for the dramatic. They were at the forefront of the garage punk revival out of the motor city in the late 90s, and led the way for the eclectic heavy guitar sound that dominated alternative music in the first part of the 21st century.

Their sound ranges from the sixties sounding garage rock of "Hand springs" (the song here), "Hotel Yorba" and "The Denial Twist", to the indie styled "Little Ghost" and "In The Cold Cold Night", to the post-punk of "Seven Nation Army", to the Zeppelinesque "Instinct Blues", to the skiffle like "Rated X", to the punk like "Hypnotize", to the very heavy blues of "Lafeyette Blues" and "Ball & Biscuit". And then there was their breakout song, one which on first hearing sounded like something from the Buzzcocks, "Fell In Love With A Girl", and which hit it big partly because of a very cool video made with lego animation.

The White Stripes were a garage revival band, but they were also much more. They took elements of various types of underground music and blended them in new and innovative ways -- but not so innovative as to relegate themselves only to the ghetto of college station airplay. They were able to combine a radio friendly pop sensibility with that edginess that garnered them mainstream success and huge record sales.

The White Stripes -- Hand Springs

White Stripes cover Burt Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself"

July 12, 2009

Modcast #134: Mr. Suave's Rough Edges

Modcast 134 Mr. Suave's Rough EdgesThis modcast is a bit different than the others, since I'm turning the mod mod world into more of a punk punk world.

Listen Now

Growing up in southern California in the early 80s I was lucky enough to get to take in some of the great music of the era, namely hardcore punk. Most of the time I was wearing paisly shirts, three button mohair suits, desert boots and riding my scooter. But there were sometimes when you just needed to experience some non-violent violence, some unagressive agression. Those were when you headed out to see some hardcore bands like The Stepmothers, Circle Jerks, Delirium Tremens, Pilsbury Hardcore, the Dickies, TSOL and their ilk. The music was fast and loud and the crowds were over the top. Good luck if you were a little guy like me who got caught in the wrong pit. There were one or two times where I came home bruised and bloodied and missing a shoe or shirt. So, here's some heavier stuff, some hardcore suave style.

The Rezillos -- Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
Adolescents -- L.A. Girl
45 Grave -- Concerned Citizen
Shattered Faith -- Right is Right
Leaving Trains -- Gas, Grass or Ass
Circle Jerks -- World Up My Ass
Social Distortion -- Telling Them
Dickies -- I'm OK, You're OK
Willful Neglect -- E.M.S. & D.
Dead Kennedys -- Pull My Strings
Wasted Youth -- Punk For A Day
The Cortinas -- Defiant Pose

Black Flag -- Rise Above

Adolscents Live 1982

And keep up with me between modcasts:
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Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. Mod friendly music mixes since 2006.

July 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Graham Day & The Gaolers

Trying to do a single post on Graham Day is rather difficult. When it comes to mod infused garage rock there are few musicians that can compare. He was a charter member of The Prisoners, Prime Movers, Solarflares, and has produced mod acts like Len Price 3 and Jarvis Humby. And of late he's been fronting his own band the Gaolers. So, that's where I'm going to focus. You can find out all about the others elsewhere quite easilyl I'm sure, and maybe someday in the future right here. Just not right now.

The band first debuted in 2007 with Soundtrack to the Daily Grind which shared a sort of freakbeat delivery of raw r&b with the sixties mods it echoed like The Creation and The Pretty Things. But it was much more than just a derivitive sound of the sixties. It offered a modern view of the world thanks to Day's poetic lyrics and a tight production where organ and guitars shared the limelight back and forth, giving a sort of swinging sixties feel to it overall.

Then last year came The Gaolers sophomore release Triple Distilled. Picking up right where Soundtrack to the Daily Grind left off the album delivers a baker's dozen of blistering garage rock numbers in under 40 minutes. The album is less swinging psychadelia, offering a harder edged, still professionally polished, garage rock sound. Where the organ was up front in a number of Daily Grind tracks, it is mostly absent on Triple Distilled. The songs now are all about the guitars -- driving and buzzsawing across the top of Day's vocals. Many of Distilled's songs are Day's in your face proclamations about him being of an age to do whatever he wants, "Glad I'm Not Young", "Wanna Smoke", "Just A Song", and "Better Man". The song featured hear is "Pass That Whiskey", a twangier rock number (thanks to sitar) that lauds the benefits of whiskey over ale to take the edge off.

Word online is that Graham Day & The Gaolers may have just finished their last tour, for undisclosed reasons. Let's hope they can keep recording even if they hang up their traveling gear.

Graham Day & The Gaolers -- Pass That Whiskey

July 10, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Simon Dupree & The Big Sound

Simon Dupree & The Big Sound was the name of a British blue-eyed soul outfit of the mid-sixties formed by three brothers that was one of the most mixed up bands of the day. They started out as a mod styled rhythm-n-blues unit that recorded a number of decent singles along the lines of The Who, The Creation, and The Animals, such as their first single featured here, "I See The Light", and othes like "Reservations" and "Day Time Night Time". The songs were okay, but not all that memorable and the band was popular on the club circuit, but still their debut album's sales were meager at best. The band morphed then into a more psychadelic sound, and when that didn't work later became a sort of easy listening folk rock act. Along the way they tried stupid publicity stunts and made a couple of colossal blunders such as booting out their pianist when he announced he was changing his name to Elton John; or replacing session player Dudley Moore when they went out on tour. Looking back they should have stuck with their bluesy R&B style.
Simon Dupree & The Big Sound -- I See The Light

July 9, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Artwoods

The Artwoods were formed in 1963 by Art Wood, (Stones' Ron Wood's older brother) who had started out in the legendary Blues Incorported with the founding fathers of British blues, Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies. The Artwoods were one of the bedrock bands of the sixties mod scene, playing a mix of hard blues and hip shaking R&B. While they were one of the favorites of London's club-going mods throughout the sixties, they never had the breakthroughs that others like The Sones, Yardbirds, or Small Faces did. Their records were every bit as good if not better, but didn't sell nearly as well. Consequently the band broke up in 1967 with members going on to play in bands like John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Deep Purple. This track "I Take What I Want" was one of their most popular, combining gritty vocals with a memorable bass line for a great dancefloor gem.

July 8, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Jack Gedge

Mod, power popper Jack Gedge is better known as Johnny Barker bass man of The Kravin' A's, and now playing with Graham Day & The Gaolers. His Myspace page is packed with unreleased tracks that will make any garage rock fan happy. Here's a excellent, trippy, organ-fueled bit of soft-psych pop: "Can't Hide".

Jack Gedge -- Can't Hide

July 7, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Four King Cousins

If you like groovy soft pop of the sixties ala Burt Bacharach, Free Design, and Harper's Bizarre, then you're in for a treat when you drop the needle on the The Four King Cousins one and only, criminally underrated 1968 release. Looking like jet set stewardesses the all girl combo produced by David Axelrod tear up eleven pop standards from the likes of Brian Wilson, Lesley Gore, and Bacharach. The song here "Let's Get Away From It All" was a 1940s pop standard made famous by Sinatra, but even he didn't give it as smooth a groove as the Cousins do.

The Four King Cousins -- Let's Get Away From It All

July 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Now

The Now were one of many skinnytie wearing power poppers to try and break out in 1979. They released just one record before label troubles wiped them out, which is sad because it showed great potential. With a sound that fit somewhere between The Records and The Jags, the band punched out ten sixties-tinged power pop tracks that ranged from very radio friendly "Can You Fix Me Up With Her", to the rockin' "Flex Your Muscle", to the Raspberries-like anthemic pop sound of "Reaction", to the album's most cliche but still fun "What's Her Name." The song here, "Baby, I'm Bad", is by far their edgiest. Clocking in at under two minutes its speedy, punky, snarky and really almost two short songs in one with a machine gun solo in the middle.

The Now -- Baby I'm Bad

July 5, 2009

Modcast #133: Gettin' Down Mod Funk Style

It's time for you to get on your good foot and get going. I've got some supersouped up soul for you,complete with all the sides of jazz, funk, and pop you can handle. You are about to swing into an incredibly cool mix of dancable music with James Taylor Quartet, Double Beat, Quantic, Herbaliser, Lettuce and more. Right now I think its time you get on your feet and get this party started.

The Herbaliser Band -- Mr. Chombee Has The Flow
James Taylor Quartet -- Get On Your Feet
Low Fidelity Jet-Set Orchestra -- Taxi's Chase
Modulo 5 -- Infected
The Sound Stylistics -- Shake and Hip Drop
Lettuce -- Blast Off
Queen Eve and the Kings -- All Hail The Queen
Fred Leslie's Missing Link -- I Got So Much Trouble In my Mind
The Bamboos (w/Alice Russell) -- Bring It Home
Spanky Wilson and the Quantic Soul Orchestra -- When You're Through
Double Beat -- Something New

Paolo Negri and The Diplomettes -- Love Potion #9

Quantic Soul Orchestra -- Pushin' On

July 4, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Green Day

Last night was the kick off of Green Day's uber-spectacle 21st Century Breakdown tour. Modcast listeners will probably know that my inner punk is an unabashed fan of Green Day, so no apologies from me for helping to fatten their coffers. Still, I didn't think there was anything much to be said (and wasn't planning to ever post anything about Green Day because of all the hoopla they've already been getting), but having just been to their show it's about all I can think about right now. Have to say, if you have the chance you'll want to go see it just for the pyrotechnics. I'm still trying to figure out if Billy Joe is mad with power, or laughing at his audience all the way to the bank. Maybe a little of both?

A friend sent me Kerplunk in the mail in 1993 thinking I might like it. She wasn't wrong. From the first song, "2000 Light Years Away" to the closing cover of "My Generation", I was hooked. I'm still hooked. The latest album, 21st Century Breakdown has so many echoes of The Who, The Buzzcocks and The Ramones what's not to like?

Green Day -- 2000 Light Years Away

Green Day -- My Generation

July 3, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Question

[Ed Note: This is based on a previous post from 2007]

The Question were one of the greats in the pantheon of Southern California mod bands in the 1980s. They were there at the very beginning in the early 80s, and survived performing right through the end of the decade.

I first saw them play at The Concert Factory, I think, in the spring of 1984. I remember the show because it was before I bought my first scooter and I reallly hated having to drive to the show in my pathetic old Vega. The area was packed with scooters and the club was full of sharp dressed mods. The band was still riding high on the release of their first single the year previous.

The Question first started in 1981 and by the release of their first single in 1983 had built quite a following. In 1985 when their second single dropped they were packing out shows all over Southern California and even though they didn't play ska songs, like the Untouchables they pulled crowds equally from the mods and skinheads.

Here's how Insight Out magazine lauded The Question in the Mods Mayday 89 issue:
It was 1981 and people called them mods and scooters were their gods, and they were Los Angeles' answer to The Jam. With the enigmatic Tony Rugulo as their lead vocalist and on guitar, Daniel on bass and David White on drums (now with The Untouchables) the band took off after their appearance on the Wharf Rat Tales compilaiton with their first two L.A. mod anthems "Shall Be Love" and "Brand New World."

This was followed in early 1983 by the release of their first 7" EP with "Easy", "Stare You Down", and "Distance Apart". 1983 Also marked a big boom in the local scene which was spearheaded by The Question. Returning from a very successful three week mini-tour of Hawaii they sold out the Country Club in Reseda while headlining a show that included mod faves like The Targets, Sidewalk Society and The Jets.

Throughout '84-85 The Question continued to play to packed houses. 1985 saw Phil Cuzimano join the band on guitar while Tony changed over to bass (Phil started in The Patterns and then played a dual role in The Question and Chardon Square for quite some time), and marked the release of the band's second EP featuring "Getting Through". "Daddy Rolling Stone", and "The Right Track", all of which became crowd favorites. It was just after this that Tony wrote "Wild Child" for The Untouchables. Undoubtedly, The Question have a solid history in the L.A. mod scene, and will add another chapter at the Mayday show.

The Question always had a great mod revival sound that could either be along the lines of hard driven power pop bordering on punk, or very soulful with lots of sixties R&B influences. Their shows were always packed, and even though the band had a sort of rotating line -- up Tony kept it all together and delivered fantastic shows.

The song here is "Shall Be Love" one of the band's best. Here is a video of the band doing their version of "Wild Child", also at Fender's, at the Mod Jam Festival in 1988. (All apologies for the video quality)

The Question -- Shall Be Love

Just as an interesting side note, throughout the 80s there was a persistent rumor in the scene that Rugulo's father, Pete, was a jazz musician and a composer/arranger in Hollywood for TV and films. More than a rumor, it was the truth. Pete Rugulo, among other things, penned the theme song to Leave it To Beaver.

July 2, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited

What do you get when you combine surf music, go-go music, spy themes and a cool sci-fi vibe? Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited of course. This very chic, ultra cool, Swiss combo produces some of the finest intrumental mod lounge tracks you'll ever hear. They have a whopping five albums to their credit: Jet Sound Inc, Live Fast Die Young/Jo Siffert (film soundtrack), Plays Lost TV Themes, The Fluid Soundbox, and The Spacesound Effect. Each is good with its sort of feel and theme, but for me the best is The Fluid Soundbox. It incorporates more sixties sounding spy themes, go-go music, and otherworldly jetset bachelor pad music than the others, giving it much more of a cool lounge feel. The song here, "Dragon City", combines all of these elements into a single ubercool track.

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited -- Dragon City

July 1, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Perms

The Perms are Canadian indie power poppers who have just released their 4th album. Keeps You Up When You're Down. The band says these are the best songs they've ever written and I have to agree.

Let me get out of the way the requisite comparisons. For isntance, the very first track, "Give Me All Your Lovin'" reminded me instantly of Urge Overkill's debut disk. On first listen a few other bands sprang instantly to mind: Weezer, Foo Fighers and Sloan. Additional spins, and there's been a lot of additional spins let me tell you, have brought up echoes of some modern power poppers like The Posies, Fountains of Wayne and The Pills.

The album is driven by energetic, guitar driven, pop songs, and features great songwriting, clever lyrics, plentiful hooks, and tight arrangements. The song featured here "As You Were" is just one gem among many, with "You Don't Know" and "Big Mistake" being a couple of other really great standouts. If you like indie flavored power pop you will love this disk. The pace is fast, the intensity high, and the hills and valleys are clearly intentionally designed to shift the listener's heartrate at just the right times. Before you know it you've blown through a dozen of this year's best power pop tunes. (And they've got a pretty cool website too.)

The Perms -- As You Were