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***October Thirty First Two Thousand and Four***

In celebration of just having seen a fantastic live show by The Twilight Singers, here
are a couple of long lost releases that Greg Dulli put out with The Afghan Whigs
a few years back.

Uptown Avondale (1992)
This import is made up of four great covers and one remix of a Whigs song.  Through
both the Whigs and the Twilight Singers, Dulli has shown an obvious love for the cover
song.  This EP contains my favorite cover the Whigs ever did - "Band of Gold" by
Freda Payne, one of the greatest soul songs of all time.

Band of Gold
True Love Travels on a Gravel Road
Come See About Me
Beware
Rebirth of Cool

Honky's Ladder EP (1996)
This EP is by special request; it pairs two of the Whigs best songs from the fantastic
album Black Love with a couple of great-but-odd covers - "If I Only Had a Heart" from The
Wizard of Oz and "Creep" by TLC.  

Honky's Ladder
Blame, Etc.
If I Only Had a Heart
Creep

I'll leave these tracks up for a few days.  And go check out the new Twilight Singer's record
She Loves You  - it's an all cover's affair.  Especially fetching are Dulli's renditions of songs
by Bjork, Marvin Gae, Hope Sandoval, and Mary J. Blige.  The whole album is pretty damn
great.  


***October Twenty Eighth Two Thousand and Four***

Some random photos for your viewing pleasure...


I'm not sure when I actually took these, but it was in SFO some time back (my gut
says 2001).  Although they stink a bit of something an ad agency would come up
with, they still remain two of my favorite photos I've ever taken.


These two got paired together simply by virtue of both being pics that I really like, but
my camera had a light leak (as referenced by the underdeveloped bar that stands out
on the right hand side of the pic).  The nice thing about shooting pics with old, undes-
ireable cameras though is that you are able to replace the body for cheap and still be
able to use all of the lenses.  The first pic is from 1999 I think - taken on a trip out here
to Cali before I moved out.  The second would be the spring of 2000, on the move here -
if you're ever going through Amarillo, Texas, you must check out Cadillac Ranch - an
American icon to be certain.



Both of these were taken with my pinhole camera with a polaroid back.  The first isn't
particularly impressive, with part of it being washed out and all, but I like it anyways.  The
second was taken at Ft. Miley, and was actually a fuck-up; I threw it in my bag and forgot
about it, and then when I was cleaning out my bag a week later (yeah I'm slow like that) I
re-found it...the way the photo and developing enclosure had stuck together kinda made
a neat effect that I ended up liking.


***October Twenty Third Two Thousand and Four***

They call it "punk rock"...

Back in June I saw The Functional Blackouts play at Thee Parkside.  They were
pretty awesome - very energetic and catchy.  People in the know say they sound
a lot like The Pagans, and from the little bit I know about that band I would have
to agree that The Functional Blackouts do have a similar feel.  I took a few photos
of the events...

Additionally, here's five more modern punk bands that I highly recommend.  You
can check the bands websites for additional downloadable tracks...

The Briefs - Sally I Can't Go to the Beach - Recomended if you like the Ramones,
the Undertones, the Damned, and maybe even fans of Supergrass could get into
it.  Immensely catchy, you'll be singing along in no time.  Probably my favorite of the
new crop.  

The Spits - She Don't Kare - While this song is fairly straight-forward, this band can
get quite screwy.  Costumes are often involved and their sound runs a spectrum
between catchy pop-punk and Devo-inspired new wave.  You never really know what
you're going to get with The Spits, but it's almost always good.

The Four Eyes - Rock & Roll Martian - The most fitting title for this music is "nerd rock",
but the band wears that title proudly.  With tracks about Dungeons & Dragons, Sci-Fi
movies, and video games, you know you've got a winner - I was sold upon first hearing
they had a song about the classic film Deathrace 2000.  They are as much sloppy rock
as it is punk; The Four Eyes combine equal parts catchy hooks and comedy that keep
me listening to them again and again.  Their website has a shit-ton of MP3s on it...you'll
not be left wanting.

The FM Knives - 20/20 - Alas, the FM Knives are no more, but they were still a recent
enough band that I wanted to include them.  Comparisons between these guys and The
Buzzcocks seemed to be pretty widely agreed upon by many of my friends, and I'd be
remiss to disagree.  You should especially make a trip to their website just so you can
download their cover of The English Beat's "Two Swords", it rules.  

The Clorox Girls - Walks the Streets - Catchy, catchy, catchy.  And I keep telling myself
"But they're just kids!"...it seems to me that such an ear for a good pop hook would take
years to develop, but I guess these cats were just born with it.  I know the age issue cer-
tainly plays into my comparison, but I really want ot say they are this generation's Red
Cross.

So yeah, check out the band's websites for more tracks.  Additionally, you can check out
the webstore that Zach from The FM Knives runs called No Ambition - not only does he have
a ton of MP3s available for download (including my very favorite Functional Blackouts track,
which is the reason I didn't list it here), but the prices are cheap as shit as well.  Other groups
I highlyrecommend that have tracks on the site are The Bananas, The Knockout Pills, MOTO,
and The Tyrades.


***October Nineteenth Two Thousand and Four***

Various Peoples

These are some random pictures I've taken of friends, family, etc.

I would probably get in trouble at home if I didn't start out
                              with the love of my life, Chelsea.  I took this photo in Vegas,
                              the same time as the photos at the bottom of the page.  
                              This is still my favorite photo of her.
I took this photo the evening of my 21st b'day.  it was a very fun
                    evening...we went dancing at a gay bar on goth night, for reasons
                    I'm still not sure of.  We dressed up in funny outfits for the occasion,
                    and two of my straight male friends spent the better part of the night
                    dancing together in an effort to get closer to this lesbian that looked
                    just like the girl from Trainspotting.  This is Drew and Todd, good
                    friends still to this day, and even though we moved from NC to the
                    other side of the country they live less than 2 blocks away.
This fuckin' guy is Brian Weeks.  You'll hear more about him later
                               when I do a post about his band, Summer Set.  I met this guy
                               during my freshman year of college, he had the room next to me.
                               for two straight years I had awful roommates, but meeting this guy
                               made living in the dorms totally worth it.  If I had to narrow it down
                               and say I had a "best friend", this would be it.  It drives me crazy
                               he's on the other side of the country, but we'll work all of that out
                               eventually.
This is my girlfriend's brother, Skyler, and his girlfriend Heather.  
                              Despite only being 18 years old, he's actually a cool kid and not
                              asshole like most folks his age.  He's going to school to become a
                              film maker - maybe he'll hire me to be gaffer or best boy someday.
                              This photo was taken at the Nevada County Fair in 2003 - I love this
                              photo, but I can't explain why exactly; something with the way that
                              he's looking at the camera and she's looking at him and they are both
                              sucking down their drinks at the same time.  It just works.


***October Twelfth Two Thousand and Four***

Harold Ray: Live in Concert

The last couple of years, I've been much more into classic soul/r'n'b stuff than I ever have been in the past.
Thankfully, Harold Ray: Live in Concert exists as a Bay Area icon for those who have these same urges.  
Through mostly classic & obscure covers, they eemingly channel the spirit of the past so well you'd think
they were psychic mediums with a direct line to Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and the rest of the fallen idols.

You can check out some of the songs from their debut LP (which was fittingly recorded live) over at their
label Alternative Tentacles.  But more importantly, note that the name of the band ain't lying: the only true
way to experience HR:LiC is to see them perform live - the energy the band gives off is amazing, and
even manages to get a curmudgeon like myself dancing on occasion.  They play pretty often here in the
Bay Area, so you have no excuse not to see them if you live around here.  


***October Tenth Two Thousand and Four***

Thee More Shallows

The sophomore effort by this group, "More Deep Cuts", will most likely go down as my favorite record
of the year.  An I'm not talking about just being favorite record of a local band, but favorite record period.  
It is beautiful blend of Codeine, Rex/New Year, a little Echo & the Bunnymen, Odessa Chen's haunting
back-up vocals, and some electronic bits, all blended together in a most highly listenable fashion.  So far
the record has only been officially released overseas by Monotreme Records; the fact that the band
haven't found US distribution for the album yet just goes to show how fucked up the record industry is
nowadays.

Check out some MP3s of the new record at the Monotreme website linked above.  Additionally, you can
listen to a track from their debut record on the band's website.  And finally, check out many more (and
better) photos of the band, both live and portrait over at Playing in Fog.  And if you're feeling particularly
bored, I've written a few reviews of them that are up there as well.


***October Seventh Two Thousand and Four***

I take a lot of photos of buildings, especially those falling apart.  I dunno why, but decaying and depressed
structures have always had a large appeal to me...I often find myself daydreaming about the past of the
building, what it had been, what it had meant to people.  Or something equally pretentious and stupid.
Anyways, this is a handful of pictures taken back home in Western North Carolina, mostly from my college
years I would guess.  All of these are from the town of Marion, with the exception of the first photo which is
from Bandana.





***October Fifth Two Thousand and Four***

It's time for my first music post...we'll call it a Superdrag Mix Tape type o' thang.  (NOTE - all but bonus
tracks now removed)

It is my contention that this Knoxville, Tennessee band will go down in history as one of the most underrated pop
bands of all time.  I'm going to post a few songs here to prove that I'm not just blowing smoke on that fact.  

>>> Regretfully Yours (March 1996, Elektra Records)
This was the first that most folks came to hear Superdrag; the band had a cassette-only release called "Stereo
360 Sound" in 1994 (later re-released by the band on CD) and an EP on Darla titled "The Fabulous 8-Track
Sound of Superdrag" in 1995 (my copy of this is crap or i would have otherwise included some songs here).  But
it was on this album that they achieved the status of "one hit wonder" as far as the general public was concerned,
with their breakout hit "Sucked Out".  Despite it's heavy MTV airplay, which in those days was an instant turn-off
generally, I was immediately hooked by John Davis' piercing vocals and the band's abilty to fuzz-out pop music in
such a, I dunno, Teenage Fanclub "A Catholic Education" kind of way.

>>> Head Trip in Every Key (March 1998, Elektra Records)
Sophmore slump?  Probably...but it's still a damn good record.  it's biggest problem is that it is WAY overproduced,
resulting in a loss of all of those fuzzy/noisy bits that helped make their earlier work so appealing.  I've often lamented
how much I would love to hear them re-record this album the way they *really* sound...it might end up going from their
worst (but still good) release ot their best.

>>> 360 Stereo Sound (November 1998, Superdrag Sound)
After their first two full-lengths on a major label, trouble was a brewing for the band...the follow-up didn't produce any hit
singles, and yadda yadda yadda, the band gets dropped, a story we've all seen repeated time and time again.  For one
reason or another, they chose to re-release one of their first cassette-only EPs, "360 Stereo Sound".  A couple of these
songs made it onto their first full length in a more polished fashion, and the release also included some demos from various
other recording sessions.  This was put out more for completist fans like myself who didn't have the wherewithal to track
down a copy of those original demos, and I was grateful for it.

>>> In the Valley of Dying Stars (October 2000, Arena Rock Recording Co)
Where it seems most bands pack it in after the major label tango, Superdrag soldiered on and signed with New York-based
Arena Rock Recording Company.  Not surprisingly, it also showed a return to their noiser (but still quite poppy) roots, much to
both mine and my friend's delight.  It seemed obvious that the band had come to terms by now that they were not going to make
it in the "big time", and set forth on am ission to return to their rockin' roots.

>>> The Rock Soldier CD (2000, Arena Rock Recording Co.)
Although titled a "CD", this is essentially a single for the track "Lighting the Way" from "In the Valley of Dying Stars", with some
additional unreleased tracks.

>>> Last Call for Vitriol (July 2002, Arena Rock Recording Co.)
Their final record?  It looks that way as of now, and it was a fine leg to go out on.  In this release, they explore their softer side
again, but never leave the bombast completely.  It turns out ot be a very nice mix of the band's two differing personalities.  It
also marks the first time that non-John Davis material makes one of their records as far as I know, in the form of two tracks
written and sung by the band's new bassist Sam Powers.

>>> Demos/B-Sides/Covers
Here are a few other favorite tracks by the band that never made any of the albums.  Superdrag recorded a wealth of material...
I have an entire cassette tape of demos from the "Head Trip..." sessions that I need to get converted to CD at some point.  
Additionally, the band were prolific in their song covering - you were nearly guaranteed something new and exciting when you
saw them live.  Shit, they evfen played "Freebird" live once when someone yelled it out.  Now that's a band that is dedicated to
their fan's requests.

 - Twisted Fuck - Not only does this song have a great name, but it's one of the catchiest songs they ever recorded.
 - Better Now Than Ever - I believe this is actually a 4-track demo of John Davis as "Johnny Flame", his solo personality.  At
some point the band recorded a version of this as well, but I've always loved this version; it feels like you're sitting in his kitchen
with him as he records it.
 - Bullet - A Misfits cover, of which I have a few by them.  It's not something I would have noticed before hand probably, but there
is definitely a Misfits-influence to many of Superdrags more upbeat songs.
 - First of the Last Calls - A Husker Du cover, probably the most often name-checked band when reading reviews of Superdrag.
 - Bastards of Young - A Replacements cover, and a damn good one.  But ot be honest, you could play me a version of this made
entirely of donkey farts and I'd still love it, that song is so so so damn good.

>>> Epilogue
So where is the band now?  

John Davis found religion...he's working on a solo record to be released on a christian-music label sometime soon.  I'm both
scared and apprehensive about what will come of this - there's plenty of religious music out there that is awesome, so there's no
real reason to be scared, but his choice of labels frightens me a bit more than most.  Sam Powers and Mic Harrison are doing
solo things and touring with various bands.  And Don Coffey, Jr, the only original member with Davis, runs and records bands at
a studio back home in Tennessee.  A friend of mine recently shared a few beers with him in a bar, and said he's a really nice guy.  
That's always nice to hear.

Superdrag.com - go here for further news, solo tracks from the various band members, and you know, the typical shit you find on
a band's website.
AtomicPope.com - go here to download a whole shitload of Beatle's covers by John Davis, recorded all 4-track stylee.