LAWRENCE ARMS (for fans of Jawbreaker and Crimpshrine)
When Jawbreaker broke up in the mid-90's, dirty faced punks and emo kids agreed on one thing. The band gave up to early. "How could they leave us behind so quickly?" All sorts of theories flew around. Among the most used was that Jawbreaker's marriage with DGC Records did them in. A void was there. In 1999 a bandmate of mine played me something that made my ears do a double take. "Is this an unreleased Jawbreaker song?" I asked. What I was hearing was another three piece, this time from Chicago, called The Lawrence Arms. It was all there. The tension between the downtrodden and hopeful lyrics. The icy guitars that sounded like they were being played through walls of broken amplifiers. All of this being coated with melodious vocal lines throughout. They are signed to punk institution Fat Records and are currently in the studio working on their fourth album. I've posted my favorite Lawrence Arms song which comes from their Ghost Stories album.THE LAWRENCE ARMS, "100 Resolutions"
DEPECHE MODE (for fans of classic Depeche Mode)
Yes I know, Alan Wilder hasn't been in Depeche Mode for over 10 years! But I had to post a classic era photo. This is the new single from the synth pop forefathers and it brings them full circle to their glory days. 'Precious' could have easily been on the Violater album. The new offering, Playing The Angel,will be out on October 18th. DEPECHE MODE, "Precious"
ROBBIE TAKAC (for fans of Cheap Trick and Husker Du)
Criminally reduced to the "fat guy" from the Goo Goo Dolls, Robbie Takac writes the kind of songs that hook right into you from the first time you hear them. There is no pretension to his style. No fancy or cluttered arrangements. What you do get is a simple yet highly effective approach that harkens back to the mid-80's days of Husker Du and The Replacements. One thing his songs usually carry are a sense of utter urgency. With each release, Johnny Reznick's (the main songwriter and face of the band) songwriting gets closer to adult contemperary oblivion. But Robbie's material has kept true to his style. Let's hope he continues on that path. I've posted 2 songs from A Boy Named Goo and one from their Gutterflower album.
GOO GOO DOLLS (w/ ROBBIE TAKAC on vocals), "Burning Up"
GOO GOO DOLLS (w/ ROBBIE TAKAC on vocals), "Somethin' Bad"
GOO GOO DOLLS (w/ ROBBIE TAKAC on vocals), "Tucked Away"
EXPLODING HEARTS (for fans of The Strokes, The Undertones and Flamin Groovies)
The Exploding Hearts were a 4 piece from Portland, Oregon who played music steeped in the schools of power pop and 1977 punk. Sadly, the band only had the chance to release one album due to a van accident the young band was involved in during the spring of 2003. I'm not biggest expert on the current american punk scene but when I heard these songs I wasn't going to deny them. They are timeless. I've posted "THROWAWAY STYLE" and the "could of been written in 1979" gem, "JAILBIRD" which are both on the 'Guitar Romantic' album.EXPLODING HEARTS, "Throwaway Style"EXPLODING HEARTS, "Jailbird"
GWEN STEFANI (for fans of Madonna and Stacey Q)
She's beautiful. Her talent is unmistakable. Her band, No Doubt, have released irresistable pop records for the better part of 10 years. And her solo debut has sold in the millions since it's release last year. It would be easy to hate Gwen Stefani if she wasn't so damn intoxicating! I posted "Cool" which reminds me of the kind of stuff the major station here in NYC, Z-100, played in 1987. That my friends is not a bad thing at all.
GWEN STEFANI, "Cool"
INFORMATION SOCIETY (for fans of Human League and TKA)
When you first find out that Information Society hailed from Minnesota, you can't believe your ears! I actually thought they were from the UK when I first heard the single "Running" in the summer of 1985. Back then, NYC pop radio was getting taken over by freestyle music. It was a latin flavored type of electro. Groups like TKA and Expose had massive local hits in that period. Information Society's early output was held in high esteem in freestyle circles. Producer/songwriter, Paul Robb, remains one of the most innovative studio technicians in dance music. His influence can still be heard in house music, synth pop and dark wave. The vocals of Kurt Harland sounded eerily like those of Peter Murphy. Especially on the song I posted, the aforementioned, "Running."
INFORMATION SOCIETY, "Running"
INTERPOL (for fans of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Chameleons)
Interpol get a lot of flack for merely being a retread of Joy Division. Sure, Paul Banks' vocals seem influenced by Ian Curtis and Carlos Dengler's bass playing often floats around the higher notes like the great Peter Hook. But critics have largely failed to get beyond it. Interpol are a much more polished animal. The guitar work is leaps and bounds more involved than Bernard Sumner's. I hear more of an Echo & The Bunnymen influence in the songwriting. Go check out their 'Crocodiles' album and see if you agree. I've posted the trance meditative, 'Directions,' from the HBO series 'Six Feet Under' soundtrack.
P.S. I grew up with Carlos from Interpol. We played in our first bands together. We wrote songs that tried, and often failed, to meld the sounds of Voivod, Iron Maiden and Testament together. I have tapes that will stay in the vault forever. Check out the bad pic below which was taken in 1988 in Carlos' bedroom.
(l-r) Carlos Ramirez, Rob Savage and Carlos Dengler