Stranded In Stereo: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Next Week: SiS Celebrates 2007

Tomorrow will be December 1st, and we will enter the final month of the year. With that, it is time for everyone here at Stranded In Stereo (the blog and it's official website) to start unveil their albums of the year lists.

While the main site will feature individual Top 10 lists from our various contributors, I'll be taking over the blog and giving an insight to the year that was 2007 in my own special way:

On Monday, I'll be unveiling the three winners that take home this year's humbled Honorable Mention award; this will be going to three records that were released this year. Yet they were not. (Suspenseful, I know!)

On Tuesday, I will unveil the first part of my Top 30 Albums of 2007, giving you #30 through #21. I will also be posting my Top 10 Songs of 2007 with a special treat included for all.

On Wednesday, we will look at #20 through #11, and also look at some of my favorite movies that were released this year.

On Thursday, we enter the Top 10, looking at #10 through #6.

And on Friday, we will post the Holy Grail, #5 through #1, and we will crown a Champion: Album of the Year 2007.

Do join us next week, it shall be a blast.!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SiS At The Club: Ween

I'm not going to lie: when I first saw Ween last summer, I was upset with them. Maybe the better word to use at this juncture would be disgusted; to use upset would denote that I actually liked the band and that I was upset with them over a poor song selection. They were playing as part of an amazing triple bill, alongside Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips. Although all three bands played equal set times, the idea that the Youth went on before the Ween didn't sit well with me, it gave me that feeling of disgust that was mentioned a sentence or so ago. I stood there, irate during their 75 minute set, wondering when would this singing about waving dicks in the wind and ladies charming men with their voodoo would stop so Wayne Coyne could come out and confetti would explode all over the masses.

And it was sometime after that show, I was maybe a month removed, and I found myself listening to Ween records. I was floored by The Mollusk; I thoroughly enjoyed their attempt at a commercial record with its follow-up, White Pepper. People thought I had gone mad, going back on a statement that I declared I would never like this band. And then, something just happened. I don't know what it was but it just clicked, and the stars aligned, and I became a "fan."

Maybe "an appreciator of their music" is the better tag that fits me? Their brand of humor has seeped through my pours this last year, and with their new album La Cucaracha, they have managed to hold my interest. It's cohesive for a Ween record; from the cheesy horn intro ("Fiesta,") to the dabbles in reggae ("The Fruit Man,") to what I aptly call their version of a lost song that should've been on CHiPs ("Woman And Man.") Essentially, it's the Ween record for all fans of the band.

So last night, all but 15 months since my first dabble with Ween in the live setting, I saw them again. Rather than 75 minutes this time, they would play for 135. In the 30 songs that made up their set, they played the new ("Learnin' To Love") but obviously did not forget their humbled beginnings ("Buckingham Green," "Dr. Rock," Stroker Ace.") I think I would actually prefer Ween live over their records, at least for their older material. On record, old gems like "Spinal Meningitis" is one of the umpteen tracks that utilizes the ploy of manipulating their vocals, whether they are slowed down, sped up, or otherwise. Live, though, it's rather hard to do, so Gene Ween finds himself having to manipulate his voice off the cuff. At times he uses no tricks on his voice on the album version, but changes is up for its live presentation ("Someday,") displaying a voice that really isn't all that painful to listen to. All the while, Dean Ween stands on his side of the stage and plays his guitar for a packed audience, just like he dreamed of as a child in his bedroom I am sure.

I noted that I felt like I was a mutant frat party or something; the crowd was rather diverse, you felt like this band was the band at the college party and the band playing down on the farm. They are a band that definitely creates an interest cross breed of fan: people who like their heavy metal and their brit pop, or people who like to laugh at their music and shout along to obscene lyrics. Or, maybe they don't care for any of that, and they just enjoy seeing the creators of that music having a good time, and the people who do enjoy it having a good time in return. That's what I am to Ween.

Ween Set List:
Fiesta / Nan / Take Me Away / The Grobe / Bananas And Blow / Spinal Meningitis / Learnin' To Love / Transdermal Celebration / Voodoo Lady / Your Party / Did You See Me? / Piss Up A Rope / Touch My Tooter / Put The Hammer Down / Buckingham Green / My Own Bare Hands / Zoloft / Stroker Ace / Object / Tried And True / The Mollusk / I Don't Want It / Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain / Dr. Rock / Waving My Dick In The Wind / Gabrielle / Woman And Man / Someday // The HIV Song / Roses Are Free

Download: "Spinal Meningitis" [mp3] // [Buy Here]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


"Switches spectacularly combine all that is good about British indy (new wave bounce, three part harmonies, guitars that 'chug') with all that is good about US indy (The Pixies, pretty much). We really don't need to remind you how all-powerful such a record could be." - NME

London-based Switches will be releasing their debut album, Lay Down The Law, produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) on Interscope Records in March 2008, but in the meantime, they have a four song EP available.

Download: "Drama Queen" [mp3]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SiS Guest Blogger: Rupert Lyddon (Grand National)

This week, we're introducing the SiS Guest Blogger column, where we have bands who we've featured on recent volumes of Stranded In Stereo chime in with some words on their influences, or tell us some crazy story about that time they were at a Denny's in the middle of nowhere at all hours of the morning. Kicking off this new feature is Rupert Lyddon, one half of the London duo Grand National, as he gives us some words on two of his favorite albums to ever me melted on the wax.

Joni Mitchell - Hissing of Summer Lawns
For a ton of reasons, One of the things she nails on this album where a million fail is she's freaking musical without it being muso. Her communicative intent is so strong the sheer musicality ends up just being an underpinning to her big picture. It's as clever as tits without getting in the way of the feeling of her speaking with you one on one.

For me it's between her and the Quiffed dude from salford to who's the greatest lyricist of all time. When she released the album in 1975 Rolling Stone named it as the worst album of the year, which kind of shows how alien or ahead of it's time it was. Supposedly she was hanging out with captain bob dylan at the time whilst he recorded "blood on the tracks," double rumour has it that they shared an album listening party together. Shizzer, i'm turning into a music historian farty an not answering the question dagnabbit. Look, it's prince's favorite album too. That enough? Grand National and Prince will share an album listening party next album, then we'll challenge him to basketball afterwards Charlie Murphy style. Thats enough. [Buy Here]

Jan Hammer - Black Sheep
Forget some of his late eighties Cheese and ubiquitous You tube embarrassments, (Yes we've got a fair few of those too.) He's just got this immediate feel and soundscape that says "Jans here and i'm gonna wrap the best Moog riff around your ears brain and booty." He did a bunch of great late seventies albums super ahead of the time, ground breaking etc and all of the "ahead of the curve" quotes times ten plus. So yeah, he's playing a cold arsed synth but you can feel his fingers all over your body and breath against your neck, lovely or not depending. Electronic music late seventies to early eighties is often pretty and particularly fashionable, and yes relax Jan Hammer is up there with the best of them, but he also manages to out cool them all and be a proper no shit heavy weight dork at the same time. Fantastic. His Miami Vice theme tune wasn't bad either.

And of course, Grand National's stellar new album, A Drink And A Quick Decision, is out now on Recall Records.

Download: "By The Time I Get Home There Won't Be Much Of A Place For Me" [mp3] // [Buy Here]

Monday, November 26, 2007

SiS At The Club: They Might Be Giants

Ladies and gentlemen. Three words that were expressed many countless times Friday evening from John Flansburgh; he's one of The Two Johns, Flansy, the one that wears the glasses and plays guitar with his left hand in They Might Be Giants. I bet on average, between every song, he said that phrase at least two times for every sentence it started with. The other John of The Two Johns, last name Linnell, he surprisingly kept quiet for a bit, but when he did talk, he had the crowd laughing as well. It would be hard to walk out of that show without a shit-eating grin on your face, without a bounty of joy and the enthusiasum of a 5-year old gleaming from all possible extremities.

Whereas Flansburgh was the cheerleader, the motivational speaker, Linnell was the second banana who just was there to play his songs and got the crowd roaring when calling the late Ronald Milhouse Sagan during "Phone Calls From The Dead." Out of nowhere in the middle of "Older" came blasts of confetti from the sky; for a minute one would've thought they were at a Flaming Lips show if the Johns walked across the crowd in a big giant bubble. Instead, Flansburgh would break out his big marching drum with the TMBG insignia on it during "Whistling In The Dark," their trademark of recent shows.

They aren't the performing duo that they were when their career started over two decades ago, nor the rock band formation they culled together in the early 90s. They are now that 5-piece rock band live with a blaring horn section. Named the Tricerichops Horns, this brass trio blared their way through a top notch rendition of "Dr. Worm," while carrying the band through "Spy" and The Else fave "With The Dark."

And although they know how to still have fun all these years later, they also can take things seriously. Midway through "Damn Good Times," only the second song of the night, Flansburgh told the crowd of DC's 9:30 Club that they could stop the show at any time, like right now. He had stopped the band to tell the people moshing in front of him to cut it out. And they did. And the happiness continued. And we were all given a reason to be thankful this year.

A phone call from the dead, earlier this year:

They Might Be Giants Set List:
The Cap'm / Damn Good Times / Why Does The Sun Shine? / Take Out The Trash / Alphabet Of Nations / Cyclops Rock / Withered Hope / She's Actual Size / Mr. Me / Turn Around / I'm Impressed / Phone Calls From The Dead / Birdhouse In Your Soul / The Shadow Government / Older / Maybe I Know / Contrecoup / Triangle Man / The Famous Polka / Spy / Whistling In The Dark / With The Dark / Museum Of Idiots / Dr. Worm /// Boss Of Me (theme) / New York City / Graveyard / The Mesopotamians // Purple Toupee / Istambul (Not Constatinople)

Friday, November 16, 2007

SiS At The Club: Yo La Tengo

When I first saw Yo La Tengo a little over a year ago, I was skeptical. For almost 10 years, I had raised myself on a healthy dose of their brand of cross-pollination; utilizing their albums like a mix tape, where at times no two songs were ever the same.

Their live shows can be a testament to that, and the current Freewheeling Yo La Tengo tour finds the band utilizing their love of mixing things up: providing new arrangements for their own songs, performing some of their favorite covers, and answering questions from the crowd, all off the cuff for nearly two hours. Seeing it once was amazing, so seeings how they played an early and a late show (something they've done for a number of these dates,) seeing them twice would be purely entertaining.

The band is notorious for never playing the same set twice; they had to apologize to people who requested songs in the second set that they played first, because that was how they rolled. They took questions from the crowd, and tried to answer them as accurately as they could; one about the stock market resulted in a discussion of Porky Pig, and how bassist James McNew was a proponent of the shirt but no pants thing that cartoon characters do, and how comfortable it really was.
I wanted to participate in the activity of actually having a dialogue with one of my favorite bands. As it got quiet early in the first set, I just announced 'Detouring America With Horns, please?' While down in front someone made a request for "One P.M. Again." Guitarist and vocalist Ira Kaplan told the gentleman in the back (me) that the vetoed my request for a song they barely play and barely remember for a song that they barely play. That didn't bother me, though, I was elated when they ended up closing the show with it.

While the early show had a vibe that almost felt as if there was a set to follow, the second set did not. The late show rules were in affect, the band claimed. By the third song in they were already taking requests (someone demanded they play Roky Erickson's "Starry Eyes," and they did, because that how the late show rolls Ira Kaplan claimed.) That request followed with a request for "Our Way To Fall" (tear,) and someone asking for Georgia to speak the first verse of "Madeline," which they denied, so they played the song instead. Lots more covers in the second set; people ask for a Dump (James' side project) song, so they get a cover from a Dump album. Someone asked the song they closed with at the Avalon last year a capella, only if the guy in front would hum it. He hummed it, they broke it out (The Cosmic Rays' "Somebody's In Love.") Someone even attempted to request "Detouring," which they had to reject since it was played. I then shouted to thank them, to which Ira kindly replied "Someone mustered enough money to go to both shows. You thought it was obnoxious because we already played it, but now it's worse because he's here to rub in." Go me.

I was asked later that night if I could decide which show was better, and I can't and I won't. I don't want to pick favorites on this one; each show brought its own brand of uniqueness and of genuine fun. I guess it could be better if you could mesh an ultimate set between the two, but there's nothing about that that makes it freewheeling.

There's so much more to note and remember, but I can't seem to rack my brain at all. Check the sets below for notes and facts.

Early Set:
Beanbag Chair / Stockholm Syndrome / Decora / Be Thankful For What You Got (William DeVaughn) / You Tore Me Down (Flaming Groovies; played after discussing how they thought about, but quickly scrapped, Fakebook II, which would've been Fake:Book II, just like Mission:Impossible 2's pointless location of the colon) / Big Day Coming (*slightly altered arrangement of the fast version, with Georgia on vocals) / Mr. Tough / Gentle Hour (Snapper cover) / 1PM Again / Today Is The Day (rock version) / No Water / Fourth Time Around (one of their Dylan covers from I'm Not There) / Pablo And Andrea / Deeper Into Movies / Emulsified (Rex Garvin) /// Don't Cry No Tears (Neil Young) / Detouring America With Horns (thank you Ira, Georgia, & James)

Late Set:

Tom Courtenay (
Camp YLT Version) / I Should've Known Better / Starry Eyes (Roky Erikson) / Our Way To Fall (tear. again.) / Madeline / On The Right Track Now (Roky Erickson) / (Unknown Cover) / The Weakest Part / Nuclear War / Cherry Chapstick (*played as the answer to the question 'have you ever written a song and then realzied it was already written?' Ira says it might sound like "The Diamond Sea," but I always thought it sounded more like "Teen Age Riot") / Sugarcube / Somebody's In Love (The Cosmic Rays) / The Ready-Mades (The Bonzo Dog Band) / The Crying Of Lot G / Autumn Sweater (awesome arrangement, Georgia and Ira doing some call and response vocals for the chorus) / The Story Of Yo La Tango /// Season Of The Shark / Love (Robyn Hitchcock)

Download: "Fourth Time Around" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Word With Jose Fritz

Another day finds another piece from Jose Fritz talking about KK Rampage's swan song, in the form of The Final Friend.

No matter how good the movie is, it’s always a little empty feeling when you turn that last page. You stayed up because you couldn’t stop. It’s late at night, and the suns gone down and all the sounds of diurnal life have died down to humming security lights and cicadas in the weeds. Then you flip that last page and the next one is white. You can stare at it all you want; your greedy goddamned eyes just make out the bleached wood pulp fibers making up the paper. This record feels like that.

To that effect the letter from Brandon that accompanies it reads like an incunabulum. I’ll quote it here in its entirety:
“KKR is officially dead. When we were living no one gave a shit. Now that we’re dead… people still don’t give a shit. Anyway… with KK we tried to make something different and I think with these last four releases we succeeded at creating something different and interesting and without-a-doubt something I’ll be proud of for years to come. Thanks for supporting our little band. We’ve got some new bands we started and we’ll keep you updated with those.”

Since 2004 they released 14 CDs, one cassette, three 7-inches, and three 12-inch LPs. This final release compiles some of their out of print material. It includes their second CD, the False Flattery EP, the Without Feelings EP and the Skull LP. Performance artist Weasel Walter provides liner notes that make for some of the best reading I’ve ever found wrapped around a CD-R. In it he reports three amazing things. 1. He reports that KKR once sent a dead animal fetus to a music columnist. (I’d like to report for the record, it was not me.) 2. He thinks they are vulgar, and get naked too much. 3. He likes their vocal harmonies.

In congress I’d guess that Mr. Walter met them in a pizzeria but never actually heard them, nonetheless a hysterically funny essay. If you can beg a copy off of an ex-band member I totally recommend reading before listening. The band is everything they’ve always been: painfully noisy, unbelievably insane, like a half-naked hobo running through a Chicago snow bank. The king is dead, long live the king.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Better Than Monkeys

We found this one on a napkin written by Stranded In Stereo contributer Jose Fritz..And if you click on the napkin, it gets bigger...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's A New Mixtape from Hollywood Holt

Today's post comes courtesy of frequent SiS writer Eavvon O'Neal, and his thoughts on the new mixtape from Chicago's own Hollywood Holt.

The difficulty with mixtape criticism some believe is that you should be able to separate the emotional attachment to the dubbed track, to properly analyze the skill of the artists over a borrowed beat. I think that's bullshit. I think the best part of a mixtape is seeing how an artist vibes with a track they love and recreates it, molding it, and making it their own. Syntax and personalized dictum come into play in a major way, but more significant if the atmosphere that’s created. It’s kind, it’s about the love of the game, and Hollywood Holt's Holt Goes To Hollywood is homage to that love of Hip-Hop.

Holt comes from Chicago, which is pretty deeply involved in Hip-Hop's change in sound. Deeper soul, and more a rapidly alternating pattern of rhymes, showcases the flavor created from the Midwest. And as much as people would like to claim that Chicago is new to the game, the same instinct, and celebration that created & grew Hip-Hop in on the East and West, has always been present there as well. This mixtape illustrates that, but may be overlooked. Tracks that should call attention are "Caked Up" and "Come To Me". With these tracks, Holt moves outside the pre-constructed rhythmic boundaries and associations that could be transferred from the original tracks, making eat beat his own. He falls into this trap, of mimicking the vocal patters used on the original version of "Holla At Me", but his rendition is still a credible attempt. It's not Lil' Wayne, but just the undertaking is merit enough. There are also a few tracks with a few Feist vocals that are pretty genius. "Feist Hearts Hollywood Holt" is impressive simply by its existence. The only other Feist mixtape track I've ever heard is owned by Lupe, so that should say something about where Holt and producer Mano's heads are.

Holt's lyrics are simple, allowing a staccato like flow at times, but can be upped to higher ranges of complexity, seemingly on a whim. He draws from the energy and vibrance of his peers, those busting out of Chicago now, most notably the Cool Kids. He claims he's the greatest rapper ever, and while that is not true now, with a few proper releases, that feeling could prove to be astounding intuition. Which means, Holt goes to Hollywood now, but wont be stopping there.

Download: Holt Goes To Hollywood [Here]

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Country For Old Men: In (More) Cineplexes Soon

There should be several reasons why I love living in the city, but I can only think of two this morning: one being that I love no longer having anywhere from a 75-120 minute commute to go to a show, and the other being that when movies come out in "limited release" or "select cities," I luck out and get a chance to see movies weeks before I would have back at home.

So this weekend I got to see the new Coen Brothers flick, their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. The movie, not even being shown on 30 screens in the U.S. yet, played to a packed house on a Saturday afternoon, much to my delight. Then again, with all the critical praise it has been receiving, on top of the fact that it's a Coen Brothers movie, it is no surprise, really.

I don't want to say much for fear of giving anything away, but, to sit in a theatre in pure silence for two hours is just intense. There's not even a soundtrack; the only percussion provided is from the gasps and beating hearts of the crowd. It's all a tale of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and the repercussions that follow. That's all I'm saying. Go see it when it comes out, or if you are like me you can catch it now at your local art theater.

If not, go see No Country For Old Men when it makes wide release November 21st.

Trailer time:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gran Ronde Play Shows, Drop Tour/Digital EP

The four men that make up the Los Angeles based Gran Ronde kicked off a mini-east coast tour last night, supporting Razorlight and The Von Bondies (yes, they're still around, and apparently have a new album in the can for release some time in the New Year.) The band signed with Filter US Recordings (yes, related to the awesome music magazine of the same name) and are giving fans of theirs and general fans of music alike a taste of what's to come with the On And On EP, available only at these shows at on iTunes.

The EP features the title track (which is also on the upcoming
Secret Rooms full length, due in February) and four more songs that aren't on the album. The band still has a few dates left in New York and Canada, so catch them if you can before they rest up for what will surely be a busy 2008.

11/08 - Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw
11/09 - New York, NY - Fillmore at Irving Plaza
11/11 - Toronto, ONT - Phoenix Concert Theatre

Download: "On And On" [mp3]

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Electrelane Saying Goodbye?

Months ago, as they hit the United States of America to play some shows in support of this year's No Shouts, No Calls, I blogged like a madman about this Brighton based quartet. And, much to my dismay, Pitchfork has just announced that after their current run of shows ends next month, they will be no more for now. They've decided after a decade of making albums, rocking out, and making me go hot for one guitarist (Mia Clarke, you are just beautiful,) to take a break, persue other things ya da ya da ya da.

In honor of their pending departure, I once again provide you the chance to download the greatest song by Electrelane, "Bells," and check out them doing a great homage to the Boss' "I'm On Fire" down below.

Catch them while you can, if you can that is:
11-09 Athens, Greece - Gagarin205
11-10 Thessaloniki, Greece - Xylourgeio-Mylos

11-16 Vevey, Switzerland - Rocking Chair
11-17 Zurich, Switzerland - Rote Fabrik
11-19 Strasbourg, France - La Laiterie

11-20 Lyon, France - Transbordeur
11-21 Toulouse, France - Le Cleo
11-23 Angouleme, France - La Nef
11-24 Paris, France - Trabendo
11-27 Glasgow, Scotland - King Tut's
11-28 Manchester, England - Academy 3
11-29 London, England - Koko
12-01 Brighton, England - Pavilion Theatre

Download: "Bells" [mp3]

Annuals Sign to Canvasback, Release EP

It was I suppose a year ago that we were all taken by surprise when Raleigh, NC's Annuals came in to play. Sporting their love and admiration for their contemporaries that gave them a sound that was equal parts Broken Social Scene and Animal Collective, as they were hailed one of the new best acts around.

After the sucess of Be He Me, the band has left Ace Fu to sign with Sony imprint Canvasback, and are in the midst of crafting their major label debut. Until then, the band will be dropping the Frelan Mas EP on iTunes this Tuesday. Culling b-sides and outtakes from Be He Me, it also features their cover of the gospel standard "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," which is a pretty good rendition if you ask me.

Taking a break from recording, the band is on the road with their new labelmates Manchester Orchestra. Pure Volume is celebrating this tour with a Mannuals mash up contest. Take a song by each band, throw them in the proverbial blender, mix 'em up, and you might just win an acoustic Epiphone guitar autographed by both bands, along with copies of their albums, some 7" singles, etc. Pretty sweet, huh? Check all the info out for that one here,

November 6 – Subterranean – Chicago, IL
November 7 – Varsity Theater – Minneapolis, MN
November 10 – Crocodile CafĂ© – Seattle, WA
November 11 – Plaza Club – Vancouver, BC
November 12 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
November 14 – Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco, CA
November 15 – Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA
November 16 – Epicentre – San Diego, CA
November 17 – The Clubhouse – Tempe, AZ
November 19 – HI-Dive – Denver, CO
November 20 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS

Download: "Nah Keseyi" [mp3]

Monday, November 5, 2007

SiS At The Club: Superdrag

In reality, they say that you can only be 12 years old once. In any one person's given span of life, everyone gets to be 12 for 365 days (unless your 12th year happens during leap year, which then gives you that extra day of holding about before officially becoming a teenager.) They say that one can never go back to being 12, and it is true. Unless you suffer from that disease in which you just age in reverse, you only get to be 12 that one and only time.

And then, there comes me and my ability to deny that one can only be so young for so little time. In my lifetime, I had seen Superdrag only once: at the time, it wound up being their second to last show on a rainy September weekend in 2002 when I was 18. It was a great show, and at the end of the night I walked away smiling from ear to ear as they rang incessantly for days on end, and chalked it up as one more of my all time favorite bands I had seen in concert. They would eventually go on sabbatical, leaving hardcore 'Drag fans to wonder what would happen in the future, if there would ever be another Superdrag tour, or another Superdrag album.

This past summer, I went nuts, typing various characters that made no sense when I found out the original line-up of Knoxville's finest power pop was getting together for six shows this fall. (This is the part where this whole 12 year old thesis comes in.) When I had seen them in '02, beyond original members John Davis (vocals/guitar/piano) and Don Coffey Jr. (drums,) the other two spots were filled by long time Knoxville friends, Sam Powers (once of Who Hit John, the band that originally did that song "Stu" that he sings on Superdrag's final album, 2002's
Last Call For Vitriol) and Mic Harrison (of The V-Roys and The Faults fame, the band named check in "I Guess It's American," or as it is now known on this year's Changin' Tires On The Road To Ruin comp, "I Am Incinerator.") Never in a million years did I think I would see Don and John perform alongside Brandon Fisher (guitar/vocals) and Tom Pappas (bass/vocals/afro) ever. It's not like they left on bad terms, they were just fried from all the touring and wanted to stay home, have families, all that stuff. When I was 12, Regretfully Yours was out, "Sucked Out" was getting MTV airplay, and they became one of the first bands that took a hold of me. And then Head Trip In Every Key came out and changed me at 14 forever. I would've killed to see them at 12 years old, touring with label mates Nada Surf and chain smoking throughout the set, but I couldn't because, alas, what parent in their right mind would send a 12 year old to that show. Thanks, mom.

So, they go on this tour, being weekend warriors, playing to packed crowds along the east coast about every other weekend in October and early November. And they finally get here to Boston, to take stage at the Paradise, the home of their last show in September 2003. This isn't like a Pixies reunion show, or The Police. You walk in to this show and find the band manning their own merch booth, talking to every fan. While John and Brandon scribble their names and little messages on their tour only
4-Track Rock!!! / Complete "Bender" Sessions for the fans, Tom writes down on his hand a list of places people had traveled from to see that night's show, to make sure their zip codes get a mention later on.

After pleasant sets from Stewart Pack (Superdrag's go to man for art direction and layout) and Mic Harrison backed by Knoxville's finest in the High Score, the Drag took to the stage and John introduced "Whitey's Theme" to start the show at precisely 10:46 PM EST. The band would go on, plowing through the back catalog for two hours straight, complete with multiple segues from the obvious ("Slot Machine" in to "Phaser," duh,) to the surprises ("Liquor" in to "Nothing Good Is Real." I think I stopped breathing during that song, held back from tearing up for how that song has been so very close to me for a decade, singing along with some guy next to me during the part before the last chorus where it's just John's vocals carrying the tune. Gives me chills still.)

This is what I waited all of my life to see. Seeing them in '02 was just fine, but that night they focused mainly on
Vitriol and 2000's immaculate In The Valley Of Dying Stars, while just hinting at their major label Elektra efforts and EP before it. This night was about celebrating the Superdrag we all grew to love with 1996's Regretfully Yours, an album that they played in its entirety this night, omitting "What If You Don't Fly?" for some unknown reason. While the first half of their set was dominating by the finest moments Yours had to offer, they broke it up a bit by playing the classic single "Senorita," available on 7" and on their Stereo 360 Sound CD, and "Liquor" from their 1995 debut EP, The Fabulous 8-Track Sounds Of Superdrag much to the delight of the crowd. And of course, all went wild during "Sucked Out" when played late in the 4th quarter.

Throughout the show, Davis was as grateful as ever, bowing after songs, thanking the crowd with many pleasantries, professing his admiration and love for the opening acts, and every fan who was there that night. As Davis played his role of leader, Pappas played the role of ringleader, bringing his brand of humor to the crowd by speaking mostly in a voice that would compare to that of a mad scientist. He's the Pete Townsend of bassists, really, jumping up and down doing splits, skipping across the stage afro still in tact to jam out with Fisher during the perfect rendition of "Rocket," save for me yelling '1-2-3-4' way early. Pappas has the genuine vibe that reminds me of Stewart Copeland of The Police: he's the goofball, he's the reason this reunion maybe took place? Looking at him on the stage, screaming like a banshee during the middle of "Cynicality," it was like he never wanted to leave the stage and was so glad to be back and would make a promise to never leave again.
So the night ended with "Rocket" going through multiple false endings before they left the stage. I walk out of the club and find Tom Pappas right back at the merch table, wiping the sweat out of his afro, stating, "Looks like a band just left the stage or something!" They had left the stage, yes, but they were still playing in my mind.

Superdrag Set List:
Whitey's Theme / Slot Machine / Phaser / Carried / Garmonbozia / Truest Love / Senorita / Six-Eight / N.A. Kicker / Liquor / Nothing Good Is Real / Tell Me I'm Not Free / I'm Expanding My Mind / Hellbent / Sold You An Alibi / Do The Vampire / Amphetamine / Pine Away / Unprepared / Keep It Close To Me / Sucked Out / Cynicality / True Believer // H.H.T. / Bloody Hell / Destination: Ursa Major / Rocket

: "Rocket" (from the Bender Sessions, 1995) [mp3]