Friday, June 26, 2015

Cold War Kids “Five Quick Cuts” EP (Record Store Day 2015)

On Record Store Day 2015, the Cold War Kids issued a 10-inch EP titled Five Quick Cuts, which contained five previously unreleased tracks. The vinyl-only EP was limited to 10,000 copies.

True to its title, the short-and-satisfying EP barely takes fifteen minutes to breeze through its five tracks, which were recorded in March and April of 2014. As was the case on the California alt-rock quintet’s two most recent albums, current guitarist Dann Gallucci co-produced the tracks with Lars Stalfors; it is therefore not surprising that the first two tracks sound like they were made by a more disciplined variation of Gallucci's former band Modest Mouse. Those two tracks also take something of a retro-‘80’s approach: “Stop/Rewind” has a synth-rocking sound that recalls that decade, while “Amazing” is reminiscent of that era’s cleanly produced blue-eyed soul. On the EP’s second side, the Kids sound quite similar to the Killers, with lead singer Nathan Willett coming on very much like Brandon Flowers. The fast-moving “One Song at a Time” had radio-hit potential. “Thunderhearts” and the one-minute instrumental “Portuguese Bend” both have a U2-like guitar ambience. Do Five Quick Cuts an EP make? In this case, yes.

Cold War Kids “Five Quick Cuts” EP (Downtown DWT70404) 2015


1. Stop/Rewind
2. Amazing


3. One Song At A Time
4. Portuguese Bend
5. Thunderhearts

Monday, June 01, 2015

Forgotten '80's songs I'll never forget

Ah, the 1980's. You know what they say: it wasn't rock and roll's best decade. But that was the decade that I grew up in. People who grew up in the '60's had the Beatles, people who grew up in the '70's had Springsteen, and people who grew up in the '80's had...Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince...I don't even want to keep going down that list! Those were the artists that my friends were listening to while we were coming of age in that era, but I was (and still am) a stubborn lover of rock and roll -- even when it is out of fashion, and even when it is going through a period of qualitative weakness. So, while my friends were listening to that era's dance pop, my FM radio dial immovably stayed tuned in to my local rock and roll stations during the '80's.

There was good music that came out of the '80's, but much of it has not aged well. Still, many modern alternative bands show a clear '80's influence, so that decade's new wave music does seem to be somewhat back-in-style (at least among some hipsters who are too young to actually remember the decade).

The songs that I've put together on the YouTube playlist below are songs from the early-to-mid-'80's that are probably forgotten by most people, and some might arguably deserve to be forgotten. But I have never forgotten them, and I probably never will. These songs entered my subconscious during my formative years, during the decade when MTV played music, and they have never left me. This is probably the most spontaneous list of songs I've ever put together in my adult life, because it was naturally assembled by my subconscious mind. This is by no means intended as a list of the "best" songs, or the "right" songs, from this period. It is simply a list of songs that have managed to stay with me for decades, for better or for worse.

So, feel free to peek inside my musical subconscious by listening to the YouTube playlist below. Some of these songs are guilty pleasures, and some are just pleasures. I'll let you be the judge of which songs deserve which label.

Track list:

Prism - "Don't Let Him Know" (1981)
Novo Combo - "Tattoo" (1981)
Tony Carey - "I Won't Be Home Tonight" (1982)
Comsat Angels (aka CS Angels) - "Will You Stay Tonight" (1983)
Danny Spanos - "Hot Cherie" (1983)
Arc Angel - "Tragedy" (1983)
Guiffria - "Call To The Heart" (1984)
Kim Mitchell - "Go For Soda" (1984)
Mass - "Do You Love Me" (1985)
Smash Palace - "Living On The Borderline" (1985)
Van Zant - "I'm A Fighter" (1985)
Shooting Star - "Summer Sun" (1985)
Honeymoon Suite - "Feel It Again" (1985)
Bricklin - "Even When You're Done With Me" (1986)

“…Y'see, the birth of rock and roll coincided with my adolescence, my coming into awareness. It was a real turn-on, although at the time I could never allow myself to rationally fantasize about ever doing it myself. I guess all that time I was unconsciously accumulating inclination and listening. So when it finally happened, my subconscious had prepared the whole thing.” – Jim Morrison