Album of the Week: Baby by Petrol Girls


Album: Baby
Artist: Petrol Girls
Release Date: June 24, 2022
Label: Hassle Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Preachers
  • Feed My Fire
  • Baby, I Had An Abortion
  • Fight For Our Lives

Thoughts: London’s hardcore punk quartet, Petrol Girls, unleashes an absolutely necessary torrent of feminist rage on their latest release.  The stripped down sound is minimalist punk at its best.

 

Rating: ****

Album of the Week 2022

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Documentary Movie Review: Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché (2021) #atozchallenge


Welcome to Panorama of the Mountains! My name is Liam and I enjoy watching documentary movies.  This month I will be reviewing 26 documentaries from A-to-Z!

Today, I’m cheating a bit and using the subtitle because I had more “P” movies that I wanted to watch than “I” movies. Documentaries starting with the letter Documentaries starting with the letter I that I have previously reviewed include: 

Title: Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché
Release Date: 27 February 2021
Director: Celeste Bell & Paul Sng
Production Company: Generation Indigo Films | Polydoc Films | Tyke Films | Velvet Joy Productions
Summary/Review:

I’ve only recently become acquainted with the music of the seminal UK punk band X-Ray Spex so I was eager to watch the biography of the band’s lead vocalist and songwriter, Poly Styrene.  The film is narrated by her daughter Celeste Bell and themed around Bell sorting through the artifacts of Poly Styrene’s career several years after her death in 2011, and reconciling the mother she knew to the punk icon.  Actor Ruth Negga provides the voice reading from Poly Styrene’s diaries.

Born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, Poly Styrene grew up feeling isolated as a mixed race child in class conscious England.  Inspired by seeing the Sex Pistols, she formed a band which she fronted with her unique voice and anti-fashion styles. The themes of consumerism and artificiality are frequent both in her music and in this story of her life.  She reacted negatively to fame which intensified mental health issues.  Poly Styrene’s career as a punk musician was short but the movie also focuses on her later life, especially her time in the Hari Krishna movement.

I’ve read other reviews that note that a lot of the material in this movie is featured in other documentaries on X-Ray Spex.  But coming to Poly Styrene’s story new I found it to be a brilliant introduction to her life and career.

Rating: ****

Documentary Movie Review: A Band Called Death (2012) #BloggingAtoZChallenge


 

Welcome to Panorama of the Mountains! My name is Liam and I enjoy watching documentary movies.  This month I will be reviewing 26 documentaries from A-to-Z!

Documentaries starting with the letter Documentaries starting with the letter B that I have previously reviewed include: that I have previously reviewed include:

Title: A Band Called Death
Release Date: June 16, 2012
Director: Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett
Production Company: Drafthouse Films
Summary/Review:

Three brothers from Detroit – David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney – form a band that is considered the first Black punk band and maybe the first punk band ever.  They only released one single before dissolving the band largely because the record companies wouldn’t promote their music if they wouldn’t change their band name from Death.  Decades later their music is rediscovered by record collectors and their full album finally gets released.

The surviving brothers, Bobby and Dannis, tell the story of the visionary leader of the band David.  In an eerie way, David’s fascination with death and his belief in posthumous fame feels prophetic.  In addition to being a movie about a band that made some great songs and got their delayed recognition, this is a story about family. In fact, it radiates wholesomeness in a way you wouldn’t expect from the story of a punk band called Death.

Rating: ***

Album Review: Let Me Do One More by Illuminati Hotties


Album: Let Me Do One More
Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Label: Snack Shack Tracks
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pool Hopping”
  • “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA”
  • “Threatening Each Other Re: Capitalism”
  • “Growth”

Thoughts: I’ve been following illuminati hotties since the group’s first album in 2017 and enjoy the infectious punk rave-up sound with touches of bubblegum.  Sarah Tudzin, who leads the project, calls it “tenderpunk.”  The music may make you overlook the intelligent lyrics that focus on both the personal and the political, so listen carefully.
Rating: ***1/2

Previously Reviewed:

Music Discoveries: The Clash


In Music Discoveries, I find artists and bands that I’ve liked but have only listened to a small portion of their output, and do a complete listen of their discography. In the case of the Clash, this is a band I have listened to a more extensively but nevertheless have still found new-to-me music.

Back when the Clash was an active band I was a child who decidedly did not like punk music. Of course, I didn’t really know what punk music was since I basically equated it with heavy metal (and honestly I didn’t really know what heavy metal was either). I first became acquainted with the Clash like many mainstream Americans with their 1982 hit songs “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” In 1989, I was reading a “Best of the 80s” issue of Rolling Stone that ranked the Clash’s London Calling as the #1 album of the decade (despite being released in December 1979). I got a copy from the library and gave it a listen, surprised by what I heard and more surprised that I loved it.

A couple of years later, I started college and many of the people in my dorm listened to the Clash so I got exposed to their other recordings, including the more raw punk of the earlier days. And so, five years after the Clash broke up, I became a fan.

Lately I’ve been trying to learn more about the band by listening to a podcast produced by the BBC and Spotify called Stay Free: The Story of the Clash hosted by Chuck D of Public Enemy fame.  That prompted me to give the Clash the Music Discovery treatment.

Album: The Clash
Release Date: April 8, 1977
Favorite Tracks: “Remote Control,” “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.,” “White Riot,” “Career Opportunities,” and “Police & Thieves.”
Thoughts:

The Clash come in with a roar on one of the most remarkable debut albums of all time.  This is The Clash at their most raw, most punk rock, and yet already melodic enough to be appealing to squares like me. They even cover a reggae song, “Police & Thieves,” which was innovative at the time. The album also stands as a legacy of the social unrest, inequality, and racial strife of the UK in the 1970s.

Rating: ****1/2


Album: Give ‘Em Enough Rope
Release Date: November 10, 1978
Favorite Tracks: “Guns on the Roof,” “Drug-Stabbing Time,”
Thoughts:

The sophomore effort feels more stripped down and raw than the debut, although the second side is poppier (and “Drug-Stabbing Time” sounds deceptively cheerful).  Lyrically there’s a broadening of topical issues beyond the band’s experiences in London to global political events.  This album doesn’t grab me as much as The Clash, but it’s still quality.

Rating: ***


Album: London Calling
Release Date: December 14, 1979
Favorite Tracks: “London Calling,” “Hateful,” “Rudie Can’t Fail,” “The Right Profile,” “Lost in the Supermarket,” “Guns of Brixton,” “Death or Glory,” “Revolution Rock,” “Train in Vain”
Thoughts:

It’s hard to find anything new to say about what many people consider one of the greatest albums of all time, except to say it is one of the greatest albums of all time.  It’s hard to single out my favorite songs, although “Lost in the Supermarket” has always resonated with me. I wonder what it would’ve been like to hear this album for the first time in 1979.  It must’ve been so unexpected for most listeners of the time.

Rating: *****


Album: Sandinista!
Release Date: December 12, 1980
Favorite Tracks: “The Magnificent Seven,” “Hitsville, U.K.,” “Somebody Got Murdered,” “The Sound of Sinners,” “Lose This Skin”
Thoughts:

Almost a year to the date of releasing a double album, the Clash follow up with a triple album! Sandinista! is reminiscent of the Beatles “White Album” in it’s diversity of musical styles, large list of guest musicians, and the sense that one could pare down this sprawl into a great single album, but what would you cut?  The new wave and “world music” sounds of the album seem to be years ahead of the rest of music world.

Rating: ***1/2


Album: Combat Rock
Release Date: May 14, 1982
Favorite Tracks: “Know Your Rights,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and “Straight to Hell”
Thoughts: The band’s best-selling album is more radio-friendly with tracks like “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” but I don’t think the band compromised too much for commercial success. Other tracks on the album like “Know Your Rights” hearken back to their early punk rock sound. And then there’s music that doesn’t sound like anything else ever made, like “Straight to Hell,” one of my all-time favorite songs by any band.
Rating: ***1/2


Album: Cut the Crap
Release Date: November 5, 1985
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts: This is the much-maligned final album of the disillusioned remnant of a once great band.  The songs are formulaic, recorded over cheezy 80s synth with shout-along choruses that sound like a crowd of drunken football supporters.  It’s not terrible, but it it is boring, which is about the worst thing one can say about the Clash.
Rating: *


My Clash All-Time Top Ten Songs

Aramagideon Time (Live at Shea Stadium)

(NOTE: The live performance combines Armagideon Time with The Magnificent Seven which is not evident from the YouTube clip)

I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.

Know Your Rights

Lost in the Supermarket

Remote Control

Revolution Rock

Rudie Can’t Fail

Somebody Got Murdered

Straight to Hell

(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais

Monthly Mixtape – August 2019


Mandolin Orange :: Golden Embers

It’s also worth checking out the band’s Tiny Desk Concert.

The Regrettes :: I Dare You

Clairo :: Alewife

Palehound :: Worthy

Gauche :: Pay Day

YACHT :: (Downtown) Dancing

 

Previous Mixtapes:

Monthly Mixtape: July 2019


Only three new songs for the month of July, probably because I’ve been too busy listening to “Old Town Road.” All of these bands share in common band names that are challenging to find in a search engine.

Necking :: Still Exist

Punk rock women from Vancouver.

Abjects :: The Storm

Punk rock women from London.

CUP :: Soon Will Be Flood

Electronic experimental music from Brooklyn

 


Previous Mixtapes:

Revenge of the Two-Sentence Album Reviews


Album: Deserted
Artist: Mekons
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Lawrence of California
  • Mirage

Thoughts: Mekons are an original UK punk rock band from the 1970s who remain fresh and relevant 40 years later.  The folk rock/punk rock sound of Deserted is reminiscent of Billy Bragg, and is inspired by the landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park.
Rating: ***

 

 


Album: Gnomes and Badgers
Artist: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • What if You Knew
  • Millvale, PA
  • Something Sweet
  • Smart Boy

Thoughts: I heard this playing in a coffee shop and through the magic of Shazam, I learned about a new band.  The album is an excellent collection of funk/jazz fusion from a former member of Lenny Kravitz’s backing band (so basically it’s the good part of Lenny Kravitz music without the bad part of Lenny Kravitz music).
Rating: ***


AlbumThe Seduction of Kansas
Artist: Priests
Release Date: April 5, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Seduction of Kansas
  • Good Time Charlie
  • I’m Clean
  • 68 Screen

Thoughts:

A punk rock epic that draws inspiration from a book by Thomas Frank?  Yes, please!

Rating: ***1/2

 

Two Sentence Album Reviews: The Ones I Missed Edition


NPR recently released their 50 Best Albums of 2018, and while I reviewed several of the albums on that list, there were four I wanted to hear more of. This will probably be my last album review post of the year UNLESS you have a favorite album of 2018 that I absolutely must listen to and post it in the comments.

Album: Blueprint
ArtistAlice Bag
Release Date: March 15, 2018
Favorite Tracks: Turn it Up, Stranger, White Justice
Thoughts:

Alice Bag is a new discovery to me, but she was a member of the Bags, one of the earliest members of the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene in the 70s & 80s.  She remains an activist as well as a musician, her voice now having the wisdom of age to pair with the punk rock hooks.

Rating: ***


AlbumOrquesta Akokán
ArtistOrquesta Akokán
Release Date: March 30, 2018
Favorite Tracks: Mambo Rapidito, Un Tabaco para Elegua
Thoughts: Daptone Records, who revived classic soul music with Sharon Jones, does the same for classic Cuban music.  I don’t know much about mambo but this is a damned good album.
Rating: ****


AlbumWolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa
Artist:  Jeremy Dutcher
Release Date: April 6, 2018
Favorite Tracks: Mehcinut, Ultestakon, Sakomawit
Thoughts: Canadian composer and singer Jeremy Dutcher draws upon First Nations’ music for his classical compositions.  The pieces grow from samples of early 20th-century  wax cylinder recordings of Wolastoqiyik songs.
Rating: ****


Album: Siblings
ArtistColin Self
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Favorite Tracks: Story, Quorum, Stay With the Trouble (For Donna),
Thoughts: Composer and choreographer Self mixes classical arrangements, electronic dance music, and a soaring falsetto.  Collectively the songs work toward the idea of creating family for among people who identify as queer.
Rating: ***

 

 

 

 

Album Review: Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts


 

Album: Wide Awake!
Artist: Parquet Courts
Release Date: May 18, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Violence
  • Before the Water Gets Too High
  • Mardi Gras Beads
  • Almost Had To Start A Fight/In and Out of Patience
  • Tenderness

Thoughts:  The Parquet Courts are an indie rock band from New York City by way of Texas.  Produced by Danger Mouse, the music has a lot of elements of classic punk rock mixed with funk, psychedelia, Everley Brothers-style harmonies, dub reggae, and pub sing-a-longs.  This approach could be generic but the Parquet Courts manage to make a joyful sound that’s even danceable.  Despite the amalgam of retro sounds, the lyrics of this album are “woke” (ast the title implies) focusing on current issues, albeit not through specific references but via moods that are rooted in our times.
Rating: ****