By Alex Brenner
Although I must say 2012 has been pretty good musically so far, I always find myself digging up some older records. When I say older I’m talking about late 90′s and up, not the classics. Talking with fellow A-Lister Rube, the other night we did a little reminiscing and it got me thinking about some great records of the past. The ones where you say “Oh man, I have not heard that in forever!” I do listen to tons of new music too, however, these are some you may have forgotten about or never really checked out. This is my first installment of what I hope may be a new column highlighting some of what I consider to be the new classics.
The Rentals – Return of the Rentals
When bassist Matt Sharp left Weezer in the mid-90′s I was curious as to what his next move would be. In 1995, he really topped Weezer in my opinion with this record. Talk about one of the most ripped off records: poppy melodies, girl boy vocals, fuzzed out bass and Moog driven melodies. If you want to know where the indie synth bands of today are getting most of their material check this record out. Stand out tracks “Friends of P” (which I’m sure you’ll all remember) and the pummeling opener “The Love I’m Searching For”. You can hear his influence on Tegan and Sara’s So Jealous and The Con (and he played on both). File under hidden treasure.
Refused made an announcement they would be reforming to play several shows this year. The press release read as such:
We never did The Shape of Punk To Come justice back when it came out, too tangled up in petty internal bickering to really focus on the job. And suddenly there’s this possibility to do it like it was intended. We wanna do it over, do it right. For the people who’ve kept the music alive through the years, but also for our own sakes… See you in the pit.
For those of you not familiar with this Swedish hardcore outfit, this band has been influential to many of today’s punk acts. In 1998 they released The Shape and sadly it would be their last. Nothing sums up this record better than the song “New Noise”; a song that challenged existing punk sounds with new ideas and aesthetics. Punk could no longer be just about the revolution. They experimented with drum and bass and added elements of jazz and math-rock. This was miles away from the current bands of the time, like Blink 182 and Green Day. Bottom line, this record kicks really hard. I have dents in my steering wheel from drumming to this record in my car.
Pedro the Lion – Control
Some of you may be fans of David Bazan but never really got into his previous project Pedro the Lion. I’ve been a super fan of this band since 1998′s It’s Hard to Find a Friend, but 2002′s Control really hit me. I’m not usually a fan of concept albums, and honestly you can’t really tell it is unless you listen to it closely, but this record is such a strong commentary on “The American Dream”. Bazan has such as talent for writing about tragedy which is possibly why he is one of my favorites. Control is basically the story of a successful business man who cheats on his wife and in the end she stabs him to death. It’s also a fantastic look into the American values such as greed, vengeance, death and how we raise our children. Only Bazan could sing brilliant lines like “The experts say you ought to start them young. That way they’ll naturally love the taste of corporate cum.” This probably my favorite Pedro record, it’s nothing short of amazing. The indie rock equivalent of Radiohead’s OK Computer.
Where do I even start on this record? In 1995 HUM really came out of nowhere (even though this was their third release) and delivered this hard driving album. It was the first time I really noticed the heavily detuned guitars which would later be a huge trend amongst post-hardcore and metal bands. This is really one of those classic records I remember having on cassette – great songs mixed with sludgy Sabbath-like riffs and soaring melodies. Check out the pounding drums in “The Pod” or the killer riffage in the middle break of “Stars”. This record is spectacular.
The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits
This record just came out in 2010 but it reminds me of everything that was good about real punk rock. I listen to this record just about everyday in its entirety which is rare for any record. There is screaming, gang choruses and enough chunky chords and thrashing to give you a black eye. What I think sets this band apart is that they are such great songwriters as well. Sort of that mix between Fugazi and Jawbreaker. If you like your music sung from the heart, this one will certainly do the trick.