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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Altrok Radio Music Update #106

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Samsa
  • Lake Trout
  • Sparks
  • Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers
  • Sounds, The
  • Killing Fields, The

Plus we've got newly-added music:

  • Adored, The - Tell Me, Tell Me
  • Arctic Monkeys - The View From The Afternoon
  • Bell Hollow - Getting On In Years
  • Belle And Sebastian - White Collar Boy
  • Chalets, The - No Style
  • Data Panik - Cubis (I Love You)
  • Good Shoes - We Are Not The Same
  • Happy Couple, The - Hopeless Case
  • Knife, The - We Share Our Mother's Health
  • Kubichek - That Pop Carry On
  • Little Man Tate - Court Report
  • Orion Experience, The - There's No Love In February
  • People In Planes - If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)
  • Seems So Bright - Bombs & Waves
  • Ulysses - Make You Feel Good
Our Newly-Added Classics:
  • Cadell, Meryn - The Sweater
  • Dolby, Thomas - Silk Pyjamas
  • New Order - Rock The Shack (with Bobby Gillespie)
  • Pixies, The - Gigantic
  • Pulp - Lipgloss
  • Sound, The - Sense Of Purpose
  • Squeeze - Last Time Forever (Extended)
  • Talking Heads - Psycho Killer
  • XTC - Funk Pop A Roll

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Rain, The Park & Another Gone Cowsill

Bill Cowsill & Curt Gowdy R.I.P.

The fate of our beloved Cowsills is one of those harsh reminders that life ain't fair, despite all initial positive outpourings and the memories of those ephemral AM radio blasts (3 and a half in "total") which started in the fall of 1967 with "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" and ended in late winter 1969 with "Hair." We also got the theme to "Love American Style" shortly thereafter.

And even though it was The Loud Family who gave us a clearer realistic perspective on the dysfunctions of that era's American Dream Home, it was The Cowsills fantasy a lot of us cared to embrace. Barbara did stay with Bud ("William Sr.") but the band faded fast as the faux-Cowsill TV hit The Partridge Family stole their thunder. Barbara died in 1985.

Many years later Cowsills buzzing arose. Susan got involved with Dwight Twillley and inevitably ended up marrying one of The dBs (Peter Holsapple) although I think Flashcubes' drummer Tommy Allen was the first power popster to "court" Susan back in the pre-pube days when he went backstage to give her a teddy bear he won at the NY State Fair of 1969 in Syracuse.
Minus Bill Cowsill, The Cowsills made an impressive, albeit under the radar, comeback in the early '90s. They played a very memorbale gig at this off-the-beaten-path bar in Butler, NJ called Jiggs. We (Nick Celeste & I) got to hang out afterwards and they happily signed autographs. The Cowsills slowly but surely contiued to make music as the millennium ended. Susan and Peter also formed the New Orleans all-star band The Continental Drifters with Vicki Peterson of The Bangles.

Recently, in the wake of hurricane Katrina--which was home base for Barry Cowsill as well as his sister Susan and Peter Holsapple--tragedy struck the Cowsills when it was discovered that Barry was missing. Months later he was pronounced dead. Barry was the black sheep whose tale of woe was recently aired on VH1's Bubblegum Babylon.

Bill, not unlike Barry, went on his own path after the hits faded. After an unsuccessful solo release (1971's "Nervous Breakthrough") he moved to Canada and lived his life and continued to perform music.

News sources stated Bill had been ill for a few months, suffering from emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing syndrome and other ailments. He died in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday.

for more info check out this site:

The Cowsills Web Page (

Altrok Radio Music Update #105

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • The King Of France
  • The Delilahs
  • Belle And Sebastian
  • The Long Blondes
  • The Helio Sequence
  • Voxtrot

Our newly-added music:

  • Dead Disco - City Place
  • Film School - Breet
  • The Gaskets - The Easy Life
  • The Gossip - Keeping You Alive
  • The Human Value - Somebody
  • The Kooks - You Don't Love Me
  • Men, Women & Children - Lightning Strikes Twice In New York
  • New Sense - What If I Get Sick
  • Pigeon Detectives - I'm Not Sorry
  • The Presets - Are You The One
  • Samsa - First, The Lights
  • She Wants Revenge - Out Of Control
  • The Sounds - Painted By Numbers
  • Sparks - Metaphor
  • The Tender Trio - Plates Are Broken

Our Newly-Added Classics:

  • APB - Rainy Day
  • David Bowie - Fashion
  • The Dickies - Nights In White Satin
  • The English Beat - Ranking Full Stop
  • The Hoodoo Gurus - (Let's All) Turn On
  • Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Endicott
  • The Police - Truth Hits Everybody
  • The Ramones - I Wanna Live
  • Shoes - Tomorrow Night
  • The Thought - Every Single Day
  • The Wedding Present - Nobody's Twisting Your Arm

Monday, February 13, 2006

Altrok Radio Music Update #104

Grinders (the stuff we play heavily):

- Magic8
- Prix, The
- Long Blondes, The
- Pigeon Detectives, The
- Arctic Monkeys
- Foreign Born

New/Recent Releases:

- Ashcroft, Richard - Why Not Nothing - Keys To The World
- Belle And Sebastian - Funny Little Frog - The Life Pursuit
- Chapin Sisters, The - Toxic - The Chapin Sisters [EP]
- Constantines, The - Soon Enough - Tournament Of Hearts
- Duke Spirit, The - Cuts Across The Land - Cuts Across The Land
- Gossip, The - Standing In The Way Of Control - Standing In The Way Of Control
- Helio Sequence, The - Harmonica Song - Love And Distance
- Hey Gravity! - Inside Out - 7'' Single
- High Violets, The - 44 Down - 44 Down
- Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers - Beehive - Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers
- Killing Fields, The - We're Not Going To Be Friends - Teknotes [Compilation]
- Raconteurs, The - Steady As She Goes - 7'' Single
- Seems So Bright - One Depth Below - Seems So Bright (MP3 Demo)
- Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and

Newly-Added Classics:

- Blur - Trouble In The Message Centre - Parklife
- Cope, Julian - Levitation - Julian Cope [EP]
- Del Fuegos - Don't Run Wild - Boston, Mass.
- Hunters & Collectors - Back On The Breadline - Fate
- Icehouse - We Can Get Together - Icehouse
- Nelson, Bill - Acceleration - Vistamix
- Newman, Colin - You, Me And Happy - Not To
- Rave-Ups, The - Positively Lost Me - Town & Country
- Reed, Lou - I Love You, Suzanne - New Sensations
- Screaming Blue Messiahs, The - Smash the Market Place - Gun Shy
- Wire Train - Chamber Of Hellos - In A Chamber

Friday, February 10, 2006

Altrok Weekend: Upstage Benefit, Twisted Faire, Guitar Show

Looks like there's a few notable things happening in New Jersey in the dead of winter...maybe not so surprising considering how non-dead this winter has been.

Upstage Magazine is a tireless supporter of Asbury Park's rock scene, and as one of its primary voices, nobody wins when it's silent. That's what happened when a small fire disabled part of their operation, so a fine collection of artists has been assembled to give them a hand - notable among them, Altrok faves Val Emmich and Meagan Brothers. The benefit will take place starting 5pm Saturday at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park; there's lots more info and a full line-up behind this link to Upstage's announcement.

Bizarre chuckleheads A Halo Called Fred will be doing a set at the Wicked Renaissance Faire, which itself promises to be a bizarre collection of happenings in general. (A hint: folks under 15 are strongly discouraged from participating.) Looks like Voltaire's involved, too - always a good indicator that weirdness is on the way. All of that happens Saturday inside (yes, inside - they may be bizarre, but they ain't crazy) the New Jersey Expo Center in Edison.

Next Sunday (Feb. 19) brings the Brookdale Guitar Show, now in its ninth year. It'll be at the Student Life Center at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, and to say it will provide an immersive environment for all things musical would be an understatement. Performances will be provided by Charles Bissell of The Wrens and Sonny Kenn, among many others - what, you thought with all those guitars lying around, someone wouldn't want to pick one up and play it?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What I Like About Glue, Part III: 2005's Songs And Other Ephemera

  1. IVY- Corners Of Your Mind
  3. MARJORIE FAIR- Empty Room
  4. DOVES- Black & White Town
  5. EDITORS- Munich
  6. POSIES- Conversations
  8. TSAR- Wanna Get Dead
  9. MARK MULCAHY- I Have Patience
  10. ED HARCOURT- Born In The '70s
  12. THE 88- All 'Cause Of You
  13. HOT HOT HEAT- Middle Of Nowhere
  14. NADA SURF- In The Mirror
  15. ED HARCOURT- Still I Dream Of It
  16. PERNICE BROTHERS- Amazing Glow
  17. MAGNET- Duracellia
  18. IVY- Nothing But The Sky
  19. DANDY WARHOLS- All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey
  21. THE HOLD STEADY- Multitude Of Casualties
  22. MARJORIE FAIR- Empty Room
  23. MANDO DIAO- Annie's Angle
  24. THE TOMS- Sun
  25. INTERPOL- Evil
  26. MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE- Astro Zombies
  27. DOVES- Snowden
  29. METRIC- Monster Hospital
  31. SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES- Transcendental Suicide
  32. SUFJAN STEPHANS- Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
  33. MY MORNING JACKET- Wordless Chorus
  34. PERNICE BROTHERS- There Goes The Sun
  35. BLOC PARTY- Helicopter
  36. IVY- Ocean City Girl
  37. THE HOLD STEADY- Your Little Hoodrat Friend
  38. FRANZ FERDINAND- The Fallen
  39. THE BRAVERY- Unconditional
  40. JOHN EASDALE- King For A Day (live on WRSU)
  41. BAUMER- How The West Won
  42. KASABIAN- Reason Is Treason
  43. SHOUT OUT LOUDS- Very Loud
  44. CAPITOL YEARS- Mounds Of Money
  46. STEPHEN DUFFY & THE LILAC TIME- Don't Feed The Rats
  47. ED HARCOURT- Strangers
  48. LOUIS XIV- Finding Out True Love Is Blind
  49. ED HARCOURT- Loneliness
  50. DOVES- Sky Starts Falling
  51. GO-BETWEENS- Finding You
  52. HOT HOT HEAT- Running Out Of Time
  53. SPOON- The Beast & Dragon Adored
  54. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- Tribulations
  55. THE PONYS- Today
  56. LOUIS XIV- Paper Doll
  57. MARJORIE FAIR- Don't Believe
  58. MARK MULCAHY- 4:04
  60. SPOON- Two Sides/Monsieur Valentine
  61. LOUIS ELIOT- Warmth Of The Sun
  62. THE DECEMBERISTS- The Engine Driver
  63. STARS- Ageless Beauty
  64. DEATH IN VEGAS- Dirge [live]
  65. LOUIS XIV- Illegal Tender
  66. MANTUAL FINIALS- Christopher Street
  67. MARJORIE FAIR- Waves
  68. THE TEARS- Autograph
  69. DRAMARAMA- Try 5 Times
  70. BOB MOULD- Paralyzed
  71. MAGNET- Deadlock
  72. THE HOUSE OF LOVE- Love You Too Much
  73. LOUIS ELIOT- Heaven's In Your Eyes
  74. STARFLYER 59- The Contest Completed
  75. JOHN DOE- Heartless
  76. COLDPLAY- Talk
  77. PERNICE BROTHERS- Red Desert
  78. JOSH ROUSE- It Don't Matter To Me
  79. FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE - The Girl I Can't Forget
  80. THE TEARS- Lovers
  81. THE POSIES- Second Time Around
  82. BIG STAR- Lady Sweet
  83. NADA SURF- Concrete Bed
  84. MAXIMO PARK- Grafitti
  85. LONGWAVE- Fall On Every Whim
  86. KINGS OF LEON- Four Kicks
  87. THE 88- Coming Home
  88. MARJORIE FAIR- Silver Gun
  89. MY MORNING JACKET- I Will Be There When You Die [live]
  90. FEEDER- Pushing The Senses
  91. SILVERSUN PICKUPS- Kissing Families
  92. CEASARS- Don't Fear The Reaper
  95. DRAMARAMA- The Bottle And The Bell
  96. TRUE LOVE- Decay
  97. MY MORNING JACKET- Knot Comes Loose
  98. ED HARCOURT- Atlantic City
  99. THE 88- Head Cut Off
  100. MAGNET- The Pacemaker
  101. GORILLAZ- Feel Good Inc.
  102. KELLY CLARKSON- Since U Been Gone


  1. CLAUDINE LONGET- Hello Hello: The Best Of Claudine Longet
  2. BOB DYLAN- No Direction Home
  3. VARIOUS ARTISTS- My Mind Goes High: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA
  4. VARIOUS ARTISTS- A Whole Lot Of Rainbows: Soft Pop Nuggets From The WEA
  5. JOHN LENNON- Walls & Bridges
  6. CLEANERS FROM VENUS- The Very Best Of ('04)
  7. VARIOUS ARTISTS- Yellow Pills: Prefill ('04)


  1. Various: Including: MARIANNE FAITHFULL, FRANK SINATRA, CATHERINE DENEUVE & NINO CASTELNUOVO- known as "Theme from Umbrellas Of Cherbourg" it's English title is: "I Will Wait For You" it's French title is: "Ne Me Quitte Pas"
  2. FIONA APPLE- Blue Skies
  3. SMALL FACES- Wham Bam Thank You Mam
  4. THE CARAVELLES- You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
  5. PEGGY LEE- Let's Love
  6. IDES OF MARCH- Vehicle
  7. MONKEES- Pleasant Valley Sunday (mono)
  8. TAVARES- It Only Takes A Minute
  9. MICHAEL JACKSON- Got To Be There
  10. RICH KIDS- Young Girls
  11. THE QUICK- Ain't Nothing Gonna Stop Me
  12. LAMBCHOP- The New Cobweb Summer
  13. DICTATORS- Exposed
  14. DAVID JOHANSEN- Cool Metro
  15. CHEAP TRICK- High Roller
  16. FRANCOIZ BREUT- Je Ne Veux Pas Quitter
  17. COMSAT ANGELS- It's History
  18. CLAUDINE LONGET- I Think It's Going To Rain Today
  19. TIMEBOX- Beggin'
  20. TOM JONES- Once Upon A Time
  21. RAINY DAY- Flying On The Ground Is Wrong
  22. MOTT THE HOOPLE- Angel Of 8th Avenue
  23. MIRIAM MAKEBA- Pata Pata
  24. DION- Baby Let's Stick Together
  25. NILSSON- Mucho Mungo/Mt. Elga
  26. THE CRITTERS- Bad Misunderstanding
  27. HELLO- Game's Up
  28. MINISTRY- Cold Life
  29. MARK LINDSAY- I'll Never Fall In Love Again
  30. CLAUDINE LONGET- A Man And A Woman
  31. TOMMY JAMES- Love Song
  32. DOOBIE BROTHERS- South City Midnight Lady
  33. JOE WALSH- Indian Summer
  34. SQUEEZE- Tongue Like A Knife
  35. ENGLISH BEAT- Too Nice To Talk To
  36. MANDY BARNETT- The Whispering Wind
  37. BEACH BOYS- Til I Die (alt mix)

What I Like About Glue, Part II: 2005's Shows

  1. RASPBERRIES @ BB King's, NYC 7.24.05
    This was one of those freaky, rare, once in a lifetime shows that was pure magic in a bottle. The Saturday gig (7.23) was quite the opposite. Close friends said they weren't up to snuff, the mix sucked and the nerves were apparent. It was their first NYC show in over 30 years and they had a rep to live up to. Luckily they had a second shot at redemption, and they soared like the live power pop dream machine you wished was always THIS ON.

    There really isn't anything else to compare what it's like to hear "Tonight," "Ecstasy," "Go All The Way," "I Don't Know What I Want" and "Overnight Sensation" in their full blown glory. This was BIG music that never once sounded overblown or grandiose. AND that's what's always BEEN the genius of Eric Carmen and his Raspberries oeuvre. Time capsule of all time capsules was 1972-1974 where all EC touched was pretty much pop manna: The post-Mod era--which never was given a name beyond a posthumous Power Pop "tag."

    These days I sense Eric's concept flies a bit closer to David Bowie's (musically speaking) than say Badfinger or Big Star's; which sounds silly until you hear Bowie swipe Steve Marriott (Wham Bam Thank You Mam) and cover The Who and Easybeats next to The Berries' "Tonight" and "I Can Hardly Believe You're Mine." Both really wanted to capture the energy and height of the '60s mod movement, but make it all new in 1972 and 1973.

    Carmen's performance of "I Don't Know What I Want" was (as it's always been) an insanely intense tribute to The Who (one for the ages) while "Ecstasy" was the most amazing power pop performance ever. This was a week to remember: Eric Carmen called in on my radio show for a short, but spirited interview. I can rest now.
  2. MARJORIE FAIR @ Mercury Lounge, NYC
    This was the biggest surprise of the year. As much as MF's debut "Self Help Serenade" grew on me, there was a sense that the band would NOT be worth checking out, because like many shoe-gazer bands, the excitement level can be very low. After seeing underwhelming gigs by Coldplay and Doves, I wasn't expecting this American band to be all that great. Well I was way off the mark, and I'm glad I didn't let my skepticism get the best of me.

    They were stuck on a bill at Mercury Lounge between a local Buck Cherry wannabe and Elkland. There was probably 8 people there to see them. I was there with my friend Tommy Allen. We withstood the wannabe band and waited as Marjorie Fair set their stuff up. This was one of this classic 25 minute breaks where the band puts on their own music inbetween sets while they get ready to go on. A vibe was in place. Kinda sounded like Sufjan Stevens and other moody indie pop.

    About halfway into the break they set up their video backdrop which was a cool abstract use of film footage. Kinda reminded me of a film version of those Echo & The Bunnymen album covers.

    As the band settled in and got their gear hooked up, a sound slowly arose. Guitarist/lead singer Evan Slamka quietly and unassumingly plugged in and joined the bassist, keyboardist and drummer in this swelling surge. After a few minutes of sound they broke into my latest favorite song off the CD, "Silver Gun" (almost lost and tucked away on track 11).

    What became immediately clear was that Evan was an amazing singer with an emotional pull that took it up a notch. He was also doing the big Johnny Greenwoodesque guitar work. Not shabby. "Silver Gun" segued without a break into the disc's opening cut, "Don't Believe" and everything I thought was impossible had been pulled off. Finally a band who pulls off the whole Radiohead/Verve vibe without being a rip-off or too nice and sweet. It was perfect. "Don't Believe" segued without a break into "Waves." It was the best 1-2-3 punch of the year.
  3. FLASHCUBES/THE LUXURY @ The Paradise, Boston, MA 11.11.05
    I love my Flashcubes and I'm always a bit biased, but this year's lone performance at Boston's Paradise for the annual IPO fest, was indeed a monumental moment. It was almost exactly 365 days since all four had convened on a stage. Per usual, the IPO setup was fast and short. The 'Cubes got no soundcheck which meant they had to do everything on the fly because there wasn't a rehearsal (no "Hello Suzie" this year, damn).

    This year Gary, Arty, Paul and Tommy didn't opt for the ritual Indian food feast. We took next store for some fast Mexican which wasn't bad. Current stories of what's gone on since whenever the last time everyone saw each other took place. Arty came in with the habitual new item for the guitar set-up, just so that it won't be predictable. We went back to the club to see this amazing new local band called The Luxury who have a lead singer much like that of the guy in Stereophonics, but their music has a strong romantic underpinning which had all of us singing their praises all night. It must've gave the 'Cubes a boost, because their set, which followed, was an incendiary monster to match their best.

    The set was their usual well-tailored 1-2-3 bang it out of the park wallop of power pop and Paul Armstrong punk ("Pathetic" and "I Need Glue [More Than I Need You, Baby Baby Baby Baby]"!), but was even tighter than usual as they went five for five without a second to break. Drummer Tommy Allen taking top honors as most valuable player again. Bassist Gary Frenay looking on as if this shit is just too freaky too believe, but pleased as shit that he's in a band that rocks so mercilessly.

    They closed with Eddie & The Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do" and got called back for an encore which included The Jam's "In The City." Much to my surprise and Gary Frenay's was the almost in unison standing ovation from the crowd, who were all politely digging this last set of the night, but most of whom were virgin eyes and ears to these boys from Syracuse.
  4. BRIAN WILSON @ Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
    Amazing mid-summer night's dream concert under the stars. 1st set was beach Boys tunes. 2nd set was "SmiLE" in its entirety. Wow.
  5. PERNICE BROTHERS @ Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA
    New live line-up. A stronger band.
  6. HAMELL ON TRIAL @ Sarah Street Grill, Stroudsberg, PA 12.22.05
    Hamell's 2nd release for Righteous Babe is set for this month. Judging from the majority of new stuff debuted, the boy hasn't lost one iota of his wit and muscle. And we got some great X-mas jokes to boot.
  7. ED HARCOURT @ Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
  8. SCREEN TEST @ Shifty's, Syracuse, NY
  9. MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ 1.1.05
  10. RICHARD BARONE @ Joe's Pub, NYC 4.29.05
  11. THE LOST PATROL @ The Goldhawk, Hoboken, NJ
  12. WONDER STUFF @ Irving Plaza, NYC 5.8.05
  13. FLESH FOR LULU @ The Loop Lounge, Passaic Park, NJ
  14. GRIFFIN HOUSE @ The Goldhawk, Hoboken, NJ
  15. JOE'S BAND @ Duck Inn, Chaumont, NY 10.29.05

What I Like About Glue, Part I: 2005's Albums

[Pat Pierson is a guy whose opinion I respect, and whose prose we've featured at Altrok for a while. Now it's just easier to do it. And so, heeere's Pat... -Ed.]

In many ways I'm sick of this waxing reflective of the state of our music (2005's) because it's only my opinion and it gets a bit redundant. And it doesn't do the artists as much justice as it would if you could hear their songs while reading about them.

That said, once I got started, it was like riding a bike, and I was off. This year's Pazz & Jop came out a week ago (check and the results were pretty predictable. Kanye, M.I.A. (not the old punk band), and Sufjan Stevens did well. Robert Christgau wrote one of his finest (and still very dense) essays about the current state of pop music and the world of music criticism and modern technology's hand in the matter. Unlike some of the years in the '90s, his choices rang true and clearer with the "writer/critic" I've been reading since 1980. And he finally gave a Pernice Brothers record a slot on his year-end list. This, after years of thinking I've overrated them, which, maybe I do, but then again, I really do like them that much. They don't wear out.

  1. PERNICE BROTHERS- Discover A Lovelier You
    I like them and they've made four completely perfect inspired pop albums. The live show this past year was their finest yet; edgier and more intense. So they grab my brass ring with little conflict.
  2. MAGNET- The Tourniquet
    I loved Even Johansen's tragically ignored brilliant 2001 solo outing "Quiet &Still" so much I decided I had to find out if he killed himself or maybe made another record. It would be crazy to think that the blog-fuks and netties who think they have a pulse on GREAT indie music would give the boy props; never. And, so, much to my amazement was the fact that Even "Formed A Band" shortly thereafter, stoopidly called it Magnet (there's at least one other one) and virtually took hold of the lost "pop" aesthetic Radiohead lost sight of after "OK Computer."
    "The Tourniquet" is a wee bit self-indulgent with too many songs that seem to be written about the same girl who tore his heart out. That said, he's not laying down or flying a white flag. Exploring with thrift intelligence with the aid of Jason Falkner, the first half of the record is a virtual masterpiece, albeit a run of songs that need to be taken out of context and shown the light of day. In 2006, this disc will be out in the U.S. (the band is opening for Stars). And who woulda thunk it: Even's masterstroke cover version of Thin Lizzy's "Dancing In The Moonlight" got airtime on "The O.C." a few weeks back.
  3. IVY- In The Clear
    I like them and they've made four completely perfect inspired pop albums. Since they do it with ease, no one's figured out that they're a zillion times more important and BETTER than Stars. Oh well.
  4. ED HARCOURT- Strangers
    I like him and he's made three completely perfect inspired pop albums. He also put out a 2-disc collection of odds and sods to prove he really is a genius, or at least is in that zone Matt Mac Haffie refers to as "Genius Level." Sufjan Stevens my ass, this is the shit.
  5. THE TEARS- Here Come The Tears
    Like my friend Mike Cimicata pointed out in his run down of the best of 2005, this is more like "Coming Up" part II than a return to the old Suede which saw Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler flirt briefly with UK superstardom. Not released in the U.S. where such blatant romanticism thwarts the buffoonery of the indie contingent and the assorted dumbass who doesn't want any love songs.
    Bring John Leckie in to produce and write an even better batch of songs and I'm a sucker for it. A wee bit overhyped in the UK, but nonetheless a solid offering of modern atmospheric rock. Plus, their performance on Conan O'Brien was arguably the most intense TV gig of the year.
  7. THE 88- Over & Over
    Many were ga ga about their debut. I felt the production didn't cut it. Here on disc #2 they NAIL everything they touch. One of the few CDs that can run from start to finish and never sound tired or redundant. Good show. Good pop.
  8. NADA SURF- The Weight Is A Gift
    I like them. And after the mis-step of MTV success and a so-so debut, they've made three completely perfect inspired pop albums. And they're always a great act to catch live.
  9. THE HOLD STEADY- Separation Sunday
    Finally, along with the debut, I caught up with this unique rock band late in 2005. Great to hear someone spew poetic about geography and the assorted female amongst our pop culture consciousness. What a band.
  10. DRAMARAMA- Everybody Dies
    I'm biased. But that said, I wasn't sure this collection was gonna hold up after stops and starts and the initial set-up as John Easdale's 2nd solo disc; which the late Greg Dwinnell blasted as we rode down Sunset Strip all the way through Hollywood down past UCLA and into Santa Monica back in 2003.
    Greg died. Shortly after, Dramarama reformed for VH1. Chris Carter and John Easdale fell back into the all-too familiar disagreement which was part of the band's initial break-up in the '90s. (It's Only Money, after all.) Sans Carter (and Jesse Farbman), Easdale decided to keep Dramarama together despite the rift. He had already been doing west and east coast jaunts regularly with Mark and Pete that were de facto Dramarama gigs anyway.
    Name back in place. Sound, too. The disc finally saw light of day in 2005 with a perfect running order. John did the radio rounds and did a nice extended on-air performance on my show on WRSU which highlighted some of the songs I wasn't completely sold on. This was where it sunk in. "King For A Day" hit home and made a clearer connection to the opening cut "The Bottle And The Bell" (aesthetically, that is.)
    And of course the band rocked in its old glory on the title cut and "Try 5 Times."
  11. DOVES- Some Cities
    I like them and they've made three nearly perfect rock/pop albums in a row.
  12. MARJORIE FAIR- Self-Help Serenade (U.S. release)
    The UK pressing had one less song (no "Empty Room") and made my top 10 of 2004. This pressing gets another mention because "Empty Room" is a classic song which no UK band of note (i.e. Coldplay) could touch in 2005. And all from a guy from NJ. The other reason was because their gig at Mercury Lounge was the best show by a new band that I'd seen all year. Evan Slamka put a unique spin on an all-too familiar sound by never once sounding forced, trite, banal or nice.
    On the surface the music is sluggish and the songs sound like the boy needs to get out of the house a little bit more. But for all of us who get the alienated blues and enjoy music that knows how to capture the heart's disenchanted moment, it never gets better than this.
    Nu folk rock. Good show.
  14. PITTY SING - Pitty Sing
    (Or)Formed a band. Band broke up. They really like Ultravox. Way better than the Killers.
  15. FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE- Out-Of-State Plates
    Toss out the annoying novelty songs and it's an insanely amazing collection of songs. Great new songs show hope for the future. And they're a great cover band.
  16. SPOON- Gimme Fiction
    More good music.
  17. ED HARCOURT- Elephant's Graveyard
    Got songs?
  18. TSAR- Band-Girls-Money
    Hard to believe no one gets this. It's only rock and roll, but the majority has lost the thread. These kids bring it on home. And they play fast the way fast should be. How did so many people forget?
  19. FRANCOIZ BREUT- Une Saison Volee
    French artful folk/chamber rock. Think Velvets and a language barrier.
  20. THE GO-BETWEENS- Oceans Apart
    More is good.
  21. LOUIS ELIOT- Long Way Round ('04)
    See The Tears.
  22. OCEAN COLOUR SCENE- A Hyperactive Workout For The Flying Squad
    A good record.
  23. FRANZ FERDINAND- You Could Have It So Much Better
    Despite my hesitancy, mainly because the lead singer sounds like he's sticking his chest out and bellowing like a nucklehead, I luv a lot of the songs and the band is good. Kinda reminds me of early Roxy Music.
  24. HOT HOT HEAT- Elevator
    Got songs, too?
  25. THE WHITE STRIPES- Get Behind Me Satan
    Unlike many, I don't like this more than say, the breakthrough album. I do like the production a lot more which is what saves it for me in the end mainly because when he sings about ringing that stoopid little doorbell in that lame whiny voice I want to slap him. But its Meg's drums that suckers me back to my Moe Tucker fascination. It's good. And no one else really does it quite like this. And it should be so easy.
  26. GORILLAZ- Demon Days
    You know what, anything with Damon Albarn is still worth some attention. And despite cries of lackluster this and boo hoo hoo that, I like more than half of it a lot.
  27. EDITORS- The Back Room
    They were so good live at their NYC debut that some think they'll be as big as The Killers. The one drawback is that to sell a million CDs in the states your post-punk better have a sense of novelty or be spun with poppy delight so that the girls will dig it. This ain't that. Think Interpol-lite, which is a good thing.
  28. BLOC PARTY- Silent Alarm
    After the year spun out, this sorta petered out too despite the excitement of its tension and hooks. Nonetheless a good band to have around and break through.
  29. INTERPOL- Antics
    I hate them and I luv them.
  30. MARK MULCAHY- In Pursuit Of Your Happiness
    Quiet unassuming indie rock by ex-Miracle Legion dude. Good songs. Inspired showing.
  31. SHOUT OUT LOUDS- Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
    See Bloc Party.
  32. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- LCD Soundsystem
    Clever and smart techno for the 21st century.
  33. MAXIMO PARK- A Certain Trigger
    A few good hits and the right idea. They just need the personality and artistic aplomb that made a band like XTC so damn good. Than again, XTC started off iffy.
  34. THE BRAVERY- The Bravery
    Mike Cimicata was also right on this one. By all accounts they shouldn't be of any worth, but like, say A Flock Of Seagulls, I like to hear some of their songs.
  35. LOUIS XIV- The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
    Glam without the heels. Maybe it was seeing them on TV that killed it for me. I still like a good chunk of it, mainly because it is great throwaway glam rock tainted with a little Mark E Smith.
  36. TRUE LOVE- Wings
    Me thinks it's their strongest showing. Keith Hartel is finally giving Ray a run for his money. Tom is always the reliable source.
  37. THE POSIES- Every Kind Of Light
    A few amazing moments. Throw on Auer's Big Star song "Lady Sweet" and it might be closer to a strong comeback.
  38. SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES- Origin Vol. 1
    They still can be quite amazing when they want to. And I'd much rather hear this than many of the dubious things that's passing for hipsterville these days.
  39. OASIS- Don't Believe The Truth
    See above review.
  40. THE LOST PATROL- Lonesome Sky
    Great live band. On record the songs aren't as enigmatic as when they're experienced firsthand, live. Which is why there's a lot of hope for this band. Somebody please bankroll them. P.S. They're playing The Loop Lounge this Friday night! (Feb. 10th).


SUPERGRASS - Road To Rouen
STARS - Set Yourself On Fire
BRENDAN BENSON - The Alternative To Love
KATE BUSH - Aerial
BOB MOULD - Body Of Song
THE BLUE VAN - The Art Of Rolling
THE CARDIGANS - Super Extra Gravity
EMILIANA TORRINI - Fisherman's Woman
RENO'S MEN - Step Up To The Stereo Slider
THE PONYS - Celebration Castle

Good But Overrated

KANYE WEST - Late Registration
M.I.A. - Arular

Obviously people like these records for whatever reasons. That said, there's a deeper sense of cattle call than of pure greatness. And this has always been a case with rock criticism and its choices for best albums. No one ever seems to question the critic as to whether or not these records hold any true significance to THEIR life the way, say a fan's favorite record does. The critics' dilemma arises while avoiding myopia in the attempt to expand his or her horizons. Why would you vote for a record you would never have listened to othwerwise.

In other words, the life we lead and our own personal needs and heartbeat USUALLY desires something that makes sense with our selves. Where do you go to when you want to rock? Where do you go to when you want something mellow? Where do you go to when you want something adventurous?

Has the critic--who obviously entered the field because he loves music--lost sight of what he likes for the aim of covering all areas of substantial music; to fit in and be part of the so-called zeitgeist? It's always been the critic world's Achilles' heel.

Thusly, the problem with critics' polls is this: Since almost everyone who votes has a pulse that's part of a group of people who rally around certain causes/artists, there's gonna be a tendency and need to "get" the record everyone is talking about. And so, the scales are usually tipped in favor of the record that was talked about the most, not necessarily the best one. And with the current state of blogmania and uber-transient listening habits, it's kinda frustrating to sit and watch.

I need to hear all of Kanye's disc, but judging from the live performances and that retread single ("Golddigger"), I'm not running out the door to get it. I'm still amazed that people praise him as much as they do. He's kinda like the Guns 'N Roses of hip-hop right now. Since there's hardly anyone making great commercial rap and hip-hop records, Kanye gets touted as the second-coming. It's all good mind you, but HOW good is the question.

Yes he was cool and smart enough to work with JB (Jon Brion) which on paper looked like a genius move but in practice doesn't sound like the major coup it should've been. But what the hell do I know, I think Eminem is as worthless as Moby Grape.

Sufjan is good, not great. Nothing close to the genius of Red House Painters or Lambchop at their best. His hype, like that of Bright Eyes and Magnetic Fields doesn't help him any. He needs to be brought down to earth, or away from the UFOs.

M.I.A.'s "Arular" is the stupid useless artcrap twaddle glopfest critics love. Bah. Annoying and basically useless, bar the politics and the unique blending of ideas.

New Pornographers have yet to write a really good song, and I'm being lenient. If anyone thinks that a children of a lesser Sloan is worthy of a place in the hearts of indie rock fans like that of The Pixies, they've been seriously duped. I mean, what the fuk, I've got songs a mile long that wipes them useless in a second. Heard any Warm Jets, Pinko Pinko, Flamingoes, Eggstone, Melony, Popsicle???

Monday, February 06, 2006

Altrok Radio Music Update #103

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:
  • Little Man Tate
  • Guillemots
  • Bromheads Jacket
  • The Gossip
  • SOUND team
  • Sons And Daughters
Plus we've got newly-added music:
  • Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down
  • Birdmonster - All The Holes In The Wall
  • The Damnwells - Untitled
  • The Delilahs - This Is It
  • Foreign Born - Into Your Dreams
  • Franz Ferdinand - Darts Of Pleasure [Live]
  • The King Of France - White Confection
  • Kubichek - Opening Shot
  • Lake Trout - Now We Know
  • The Long Blondes, The - Big Infatuation
  • The Michelles - Springtime
  • The Mystery Jets - The Boy Who Ran Away
  • The Pigeon Detectives - Don't Know How To Say Goodbye
  • Polytechnic - Running Out Of Ideas
  • The Strokes - Electricityscape
  • Wonderful Allstars - Engineered
Our Newly-Added Classics:
  • The Bongos - Glow In The Dark
  • The Clash - I'm Not Down
  • Hugh Cornwell - Another Kind Of Love
  • Fabulous Poodles, The - Mirror Star
  • Figures On A Beach - No Stars
  • The Gas - It Shows In Your Face
  • The Jam - Standards
  • Ladytron - Seventeen
  • Polyrock - Romantic Me
  • The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
  • The Thompson Twins - Make Believe (Special Extended Version)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Whither Rockpool?

It has long been the editorial opinion of Altrok that the main thing separating the lean times from the times of plenty, in terms of interesting rock, is a visible, uncompromised outlet. That's "visible" as in "easy to stumble over and find weirdly compelling", and "uncompromised" as in "percieved as being driven more by artistic merit than commercial greed." (Note that I said percieved. Remember, kids, faking it is often as good as meaning it, at least for a while.)

That got me thinking about Rockpool, but that means the remainder of this piece is pretty much the result of the tattered remnants of hive memory regarding that pivotal entity, since there's not much Google can cough up on the subject. Apparently, nobody talks about Rockpool anymore (and frankly, I'd like to find out more about its details myself) but once upon a time, you couldn't spend any time on the subject of Modern Rock on the East Coast without stumbling over Rockpool.

Danny Heaps talks about Rockpool now, though, but that's understandable - he founded it. According to his bio at Sanctuary, he started "as DJ of the legendary NYC club, The Mudd Club, and then founded the New Music Seminar and the first 'new wave' promotion company in the States, Rockpool." (Note that I'm still fact-checking this stuff - from what I remember, the New Music Seminar was founded by Mark Josephson, Tom Silverman and Joel Webber, and it appears that, according to his bio, Josephson founded Rockpool, so...huh?)

Rockpool's charter included a trade magazine and a record pool - DJs would subscribe to it and receive the latest import and domestic alternative releases, and the choices Rockpool made for their monthly deliveries went a long way toward determining whether a record got heard in the clubs, or on college radio, and even on WLIR, New York's premiere alternative rock outlet. It begat the New Music Seminar, an annual modern rock bacchanalia that collapsed under its own weight around 1990. Its primary competitor, CMJ, is still kicking around, and promotes the annual Music Marathon that takes New York by storm each year.

But that's about all the info I can get, Google-technician that I am. And so it's up to you - if you've got anything to add, let me know. It seems like a story that ought to be written.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What's This Button Do?

And so, Altrok finally steps into the 21st century, formatting-wise, with an actual, honest-to-goodness, powered-by-Blogger weblog. Welcome to the Rantcast - the line forms to the left.
Please Look At Our Advertisers (Or The Website Gets It)
Congratulations, you've found the hidden text.
Welcome to, also available at and Here's where the remaining listeners of several fine radio stations have retreated, regrouped, and built a replacement strong enough to stand on its own. It builds on the independent legacy of New Jersey's FM106.3, New York's WPIX and WLIR, Oklahoma's 105.3 The Spy, the pre-buyout mindset of KROQ, WBCN and WHFS and of every other alternative station that was destroyed at a moment's notice - not because they weren't making money, but because there was bigger money to be found elsewhere.
We've stood by as truly independent alternative rock radio died. Sure, something called "alternative" took its place, but we know for sure that anything that "tests well" with soccer moms just ain't alternative. (Even if some of us happen to be soccer moms.) So we've taken matters into our own hands.
This really is independent alternative rock radio, visible here at and audible at our web radio station. It has the classic music that fired our passions back in the day - or that we maybe only heard about from our elders - but it's mostly made of the new music that does precisely the same for us now. We're paying attention to scenes all over the world, watching the energy build, and waiting to see what it creates. Wherever it happens, we'll make sure you can hear about it here. We've been slowly building all this since 2001, and now that you've noticed us, we're glad you're here.
Of course, it's only here because you want it to be here, and it can only stay if you help it along - especially by checking out our advertisers (they support us) and by listening (the more that listen, the more visible we are.) Please use the "feedback" link above to let us know whether it works for you, and what you want it to be as the future unfolds. (And if you need help hearing it, let us know that, too.)