Five Songs, 4/28/2017
After I kept shuffle on yesterday, I got Silkworm, Mono Puff, The Roots - lots of bands I wanted to talk about. It can be agonizing letting stuff like that go away, but rules are rules. Without rules, this whole thing just becomes "Josh writes about music however he wants" and then I'll probably stop doing it. And then ones of people will be deprived of this scintillating work!
Up in the sky! It's a playlist!
The Allstonians, "Aldo Moro"
The Allstonians were one of the better bands of the third wave, playing their ska straight ahead without really trying to add rock, punk, or anything else into their sound. This is when it occurs to me that I might want to define some terms. For ska bands, people often will refer to a particular period. The first wave of ska was the start of it all in Jamaica in the early 60s - The Skatalites, Prince Buster, Toots and the Maytals, folks like that. Ska was a melding of influences, with jazz being folded into things like calypso to result in something new.
The second wave of ska was centered in England around the 2 Tone label in the late 70s, with The Specials being the most prominent band, and other folks like The English Beat, Madness, and The Selector being reasonably well known. These bands took the sounds of ska and added in some of the edge and tempos of punk rock.
The third wave was a rediscovery of ska in the late 80s and early 90s, with many of the prominent bands being from New York City or Boston. Just as the second wave bands took their cues from the first wave and added additional influences, the third wave looked to the second wave and then often added more to it. While some third wave bands played it straight, a lot added even more punk or rock influences, resulting in bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones or No Doubt. By the mid 90s, the third wave was hitting its commercial peak, although creatively, it was past its prime by then.
So, back to the Allstonians: they were one of the bands playing it straight, sounding more like the first wave than anything else, and as a result, were one of my favorite bands of the third wave. This is from their third album, Bottoms Up, which wasn't as good as their first two records. How you know you're dealing with something obscure: there were 12 views of this video on YouTube.
Grandaddy plays indie rock, with a fair bit of electronics thrown in, along with the occasional nod towards country. Of the two albums I have by them, Sophtware Slump and Sumday, the former is much better, and is the one that I listen to most often.
Teengenerate, "Human Tornado"
Pure garage rock that sounds like it was recorded in someone's basement straight onto a cassette recorder. The twist is that this band is from Japan, so on those rare occasions when you can make out the vocals, they make even less sense than the average garage rock band. Still, there's plenty of energy going on here, and they don't overstay their welcome, so it can be a fun listen.
Rites of Spring, "Hidden Wheel"
Here, we hear Rites of Spring doing a song that's much more of a conventional rock song, outside of Guy Picciotto's usual impassioned vocals. As usual, Rites of Spring is a pleasure to listen to.
The Mars Volta, "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus"
Somewhere between math rock, progressive, art rock, and hardcore lies The Mars Volta. Rising out of At The Drive-In, they've taken the approach of that band and dialed everything all the way up. Long songs with tons of things going on are kind of the standard here. If you aren't paying attention, it's easy to get lost in the blizzard of guitars and on-a-dime changes. Personally, I always enjoy being surprised by music, so I like the Mars Volta a lot. This album, Frances the Mute, is kind of the one where they got weird. The previous one, Deloused in the Comatorium, certainly has its share of long songs, but Frances really goes off the deep end on that front.