Ian’s Challenge #001 (Part 2 of 3)

This is Part One.  Here is Part Two.

The Living End – Prisoner of Society (1998)

Deciding what song to play off of the album was a tough decision.  This self-titled release from the Aussie band is probably one of my favorite albums of my time.  The singles that hit traveled through the K-Rock airwaves in Syracuse were “Prisoner of Society” and “Trapped,” and the latter has a horn accompaniment that accentuates the catchy track, and the brass is not overwhelming.

As a spoiler, Green Day and The Stray Cats will not be showing up on this list.  However, The Living End embraces both bands when yielding their punk/rockabilly style that is completely irresistible.  The Stray Cats are undoubtedly The Stray Cats.  The Green Day I’m referring to the band’s Dookie (1994) and its predecessors (Kerplunk, etc.), when the band had a more raw punk sound before their loud and gritty Insomniac, and the definitively produced Nimrod (the album where catchy songs prevailed, and we “had the time of our lives” for better or worse.)  The Living End is a good blend of the two bands, the sounds; although, Green Day most likely definitely did not inspire the trio, but their early work–as stated–gives a nice comparison.

They’ve been consistent through the years, but I haven’t heard anything new in a few of the recent years.  I’ve played them consistently as loud, however.  They validate that the old rock and be blended with the new rock, punk that will resonate through the years.

***

Jimmy Eat World – Clarity (1999)

Jimmy Eat World released Bleed American the summer before I went off to college, in 2001.  The release of the album was preceded by the title track from the record, of course.  The fast, raw track was a breaking point for the band, putting them into the mainstream light.  After the September 11th attacks, the band respectfully changed the name of the album to Jimmy Eat World, and the title track changed to “Salt Sweat Sugar.”  In my opinion, this was a nice change. It didn’t sound offensive, but positive for U.S.A. spirit, but it is obvious that the title could have gotten misconstrued at that point in history.

Even before buying the CD, it was realized (like many bands) that Jimmy Eat World had previous albums, Static Prevails and Clarity.  Something about the latter struck a chord with me.  Clarity is raw and insanely melodic.  “Table for Glasses” is an unexpected start to an album; it’s melody is not fast and explosive, and it sets the tone of the album, which plays without redundancy.  Each track is like a snowflake, all different but passionate from the start to the end of its fall.  The epic “Goodbye Sky Harbor” plays on for over 16 minutes, beginning gritty and ending polished.  GSH is a song I like to play at bars, getting my dollar’s worth of a song; sure it probably annoys some people.

***

Less Than Jake – Hello Rockview ( 1998)

Ska.  I love it.  The Toasters.  Madness.  The Specials.  Reel Big Fish (the band’s Turn the Radio Off was in contention for this spot).  Mad Caddies (the band’s album Quality Softcore was also in the race for this spot).  Catch 22.  Link 80.  MU330.  Edna’s Goldfish. I could go on with this list.  The sound of horns lighting the way for punk-driven music.

Less Than Jake, after hearing Dopeman off of the 1996 release Losing Streak, nestled into a spot in my heart.  As much as I love Pezcore and Losers, Kings, and Things We Don’t Understand, the noir graphic novel liner notes helped solidify this album.  Hello Rockview attaches itself to stateside adventures to Boston and Cape Cod, high school life, and falling in love with girls I’ll never see again and beautiful New England cities.

“Sit down. Remind me how this is the same old story of growing up and getting lost,” Chris belts out for the chorus of “Help Save The Youth Of America From Exploding.”  It’s just exciting.  The lyrics of the songs are full of piss and vinegar.  It’s almost a requirement to be a borderline asshole if you’re a lead singer of a ska band.  I have much respect for LTJ.  I just wish their latest releases were more thowbacks than not.

So… this isn’t their best album.  Regardless, despite this album teetering the borderline of adopting melody (pop punk) and singable songs over angst, is simply fun.

***

Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)

You were all waiting for this, I know.  You weren’t, but I’m just about to mention Serendipity.

Chris, you’re sooooo beating this movie to death, you sap you.

In the second to last scene of the movie, a song caught the attention of my ears:  “Northern Sky,” which is by Nick Drake, and it’s off of his  Bryter Layter album.  Bryter is a compelling album, which encouraged me to visit and thoroughly enjoy one college day.  In Oneonta, New York, there may not be much for the average and car-less college student to do, but enjoying the fall foliage and sitting around campus (doing homework) is a healthy option.  The portable CD players were still popular back then, so the decision was to bring and listen to one CD, or carry more in your bag.  Oh, the inconvenience!

(“Blah, blah, blah,” says I.)

Pink Moon is the all acoustic release of Drake, who is the only instrumentalist (vocals, piano and guitar).  I wrote a post referencing him well over a year ago.  The simplicity and energy of the album is beautiful.  It goes along with an album in the following post, but you’ll have to wait about that.  It was more than the association with a movie that brought me to Drake or Drake to me, depending on how you look at it.  I cannot decide on a favorite track, which brings forth the conclusion that this is one of those albums for me that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping a track.  The majority of these albums in the challenge are, but this quality is especially true for the selections of this post.

However, the album sandwiches heart wrenching tracks, including “Which Will” and “Things Behind the Sun,” with “Pink Moon and “From the Morning.”  The latter, the final track, can be safely said to be my favorite.

***

R.E.M. – Automatic for the People (1992)

One of my favorite bands ever is R.E.M.  Fact.

Picking one album was difficult, Monster took the silver medal, but “Nightswimming” solidified the decision for me.  The song definitively turned me into a believer of signs and not coincidences, how these signs as bittersweet and haphazard as they come should not be ignored or passed by.  The song doesn’t remind me of a girl, but a former interest is involved to create the strength behind the track.  My interest in R.E.M. solidified in the late 80’s, which was long before I met her.

 The other singles from the album prove strong, including:  “Drive,” “Everybody Hurts,” and “Man on the Moon.”  R.E.M., in my opinion, maintained the independent sound despite their popularity, which gave me the ability to follow them consistently through the years.  Unfortunately, I never saw them in concert.  Maybe–my fingers are crossed–they’ll have a reunion tour down the road.

12 thoughts on “Ian’s Challenge #001 (Part 2 of 3)

  1. You know, I love Jimmy Eat World, but I just could never get into the first two albums they recorded. Even “Bleed American” is about 50/50 for me in terms of songs I’ll listen to or skip. I think they really defined their sound come “Futures” and their last album was just staggering (and heartbreaking). Maybe I’ll give “Clarity” a shot.

    • “Bleed American” is still 50/50 for me as well. They got very poppy. I really enjoy “Futures” and the band’s EP “Stay on My Side Tonight” is excellent. These two albums were steps in the direction of their original sound, and the EP is delightfully dark.

      “Chase this Light,” “Invented,” and “Damage” are definitely eye-rollers for me with more tracks to be skipped than listened the whole way through.

      Give the earlier albums “Static Prevails” and “Clarity” a try. My favorite aspect about “Futures” is that came out in a two-disc set, the final product and an unmixed album–that old Jimmy sound can be heard.

      Thanks for commenting, man.

  2. Pingback: Ian’s Challenge #001 (Part 3 of 3) | The Infinite Abyss(es)

  3. As an Aussie, I very much grew up with The Living End on high rotation on our alternative radio station (which ruled my little grunge – then goth and metal – heart) called Triple J.

    They’ve just recently replaced Stone Temple Pilots on the Soundwave tour (which I had to miss because, pregnant – damn sacrifices!!).

    Loved Parts 1 and 2 🙂

    • Glad you are enjoying!

      I think I was the only one of my friends who enjoyed The living End, which is kind of sad, but it’s unique that I love them. Saw STP wit the original members a couple years ago, and they rocked.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  4. Wow, I hadn’t thought about some of those bands in a while now. Thanks for the reminders!

    My morning drive is mostly 80s, 90s and 90s Alternative on the satellite radio, with some Backspin (old school rap/hip hop) mixed in.

    • Niiiiiiiice. I cannot get enough of A Tribe Called Quest while driving. Their jazz-infused/inspired backdrop is amazing.

      One more post to go! The decisions keep changing. I’ve given up on deleting, but I’m crossing out sections instead to show my process.

      Glad to hear you’re diggin’ it!

  5. Nice! I miss REM! I read that Cobain’s body was discovered with Automatic For The People playing on repeat. 💔My morning commute makes me feel like I’m driving into the 90s. I have Nirvana unplugged, REM Automatic for the People, and Counting Crows August and Everything After on heavy rotation. Looking forward to your next post!

    • Nirvana was such a beautiful band, lyrics and all–the pain, politics, drugs, personal disgust. There is beauty in misery, but it’s a shame on what happened.

      The “odd” number 27 with all those deaths as well: Cobain, Drake, Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison… another strange fact.

      I cannot get enough of August and Everything After. Definitely one of the essential albums. All the tracks are beautiful, but “Anna Begins” stands out for me.

      • Yeah there’s something to 27, wasn’t Amy Winehouse 27 too? Loved her voice! Anna Begins and Perfect Blue Buildings are my favorites but I agree, the whole album is a gem!

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