Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #25 Gateway Drugs “Wait (medication)”

<< #26    |    #24>>

Back on Cinco de Mayo, 2015, I went to see Swervedriver perform at the now defunct Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa’s Byward Market. I had been excited to see yet another re-formed shoegaze legend, but as much as I enjoyed their set, I found myself quite surprised to leave the show even more impressed by the opening act.

Los Angeles-based four-piece, Gateway Drugs, had only just released their debut album, “Magick spells” the month before, and they had already toured as support for noise rock and shoegaze icons Ride and The Jesus and Mary Chain. They were led by a trio of siblings – Noa (guitars), Liv (guitars), and Gabriel (drums) Niles – each sharing vocal duties, while the fourth member, Blues Williams, simply looked cool and accompanied them on guitars and bass. The quartet were all in black, leather, furs, and sunglasses and were playing a garage rock infused shoegaze that sounded at different points like early Dum Dum Girls, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I left the show with a copy of the aforementioned debut album on CD and duly fell in love with it. Its accomplished sound and the pop sensibility that lies just beneath the surface of all those roaring and screeching guitars could easily be traced back to the music surging through the veins of the Niles siblings (children of The Knack’s Prescott Niles).

I was convinced they were going to be huge.

But then, there was nothing but relative silence from the group for almost five years.

Fast forward to 2020, just a few short days after the WHO declared COVID-19 to be an honest-to-goodness pandemic and things started to shut down in earnest, a new Gateway Drugs single appeared, seemingly plucked out of the ether and there finally came the news of the long-awaited sophomore release. I say this last bit with my tongue firmly planted in cheek because perhaps I was one out of only a small handful whose interest hadn’t waned in the interim. This first single really got me excited and that was only multiplied by fifty or so when I learned that “PSA” was produced by The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner.

“Put myself on a leash, I’d stay
Kill myself just to hear you call my name”

Of course, that first single was none other than “Wait (medication)”, our song of focus today. I’ve read that Liv Niles has called it a reflection on excess, madness, addiction, and how “extreme highs give way to extreme lows.” It’s an apt Coles Notes for the jackhammer drum beat, crunchy bass line, clanging and twangy guitar screams, and the dual vocal assault by Liv and her brother Noa. It is a four-minute salacious stroll down the chaotic and messy trail blazed by the JAMC and the BRMC.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.

Categories
Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Interpol [2015]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Interpol live at Bluesfest 2015

Artist: Interpol
When: July 18, 2015
Where: Claridge Homes stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Context: I had been following this New York-based indie rock band for well over a decade by the time 2015 rolled around. Interpol were easily my preferred out of all the post-punk revivalists and their first two records are still among my favourite of the 2000s. Founding bassist, Carlos Dengler had left the band five years prior (in 2010) but the remaining trio of Paul Banks (vocals, guitar), Daniel Kessler (guitars), and Sam Fogarino (drums)* were still (and still are) very much a going concern. In fact, they had just put out “El pintor” the previous year, perhaps their best album in a decade. After initial a wave here and a smile there, pleasantries dispensed, they started in like gangbusters, a sonic assault of angular guitars and booming basslines, and Paul Banks’ iconic deep vocals, often lying in wait in the weeds and layers of synths. It was a powerful set and loud, mixing new and old seamlessly. Interestingly, they went to the well of 2004’s “Antics” quite often, digging out favourites like “Narc”, “Evil”, “Take you on a cruise”, “C’mere”, “Not even jail”, and finishing off the whole works with “Slow hands”. I especially appreciated the passionate and crazed rendition of recent single, “All the rage back home”, a personal favourite. I think my only critique of the set was that at around fifty minutes, partially due to an act finishing up late on the other stage, it all felt way too short. Still, Interpol!!!!

Point of reference song: All the rage back home

Sam Fogarino of Interpol
Daniel Kessler of Interpol
Paul Banks of Interpol
Brandon Curtis and Brad Truax, touring members
Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino

*They were joined on stage by touring bassist Brad Truax and Brandon Curtis (formerly of Secret Machines) on keys.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 1993: #19 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Someday I suppose”

<< #20    |    #18 >>

I’ve already written on these pages about how I got a job at my small town’s 7-Eleven in the spring of 1993 and how working there was part of the reason why that summer was one of the best of my life. I worked as many shifts as I could that summer and many of them would be of the overnight kind and I often found myself work with either Tori, Heather, or Michelle, the other new employees at store. I always had a blast on these shifts because these three young women were close to me in age and like me, they loved to have a laugh.

It was on one of these midnight shifts that I first heard this song on CFNY, the radio station to which we always had it tuned. It was this swirling, rocking number that mixed horns with racing guitars and a bopping, staccato rhythm and the vocalist rapped and spoke and shouted in a deep and dark voice. It always got my head bouncing and my feet tapping as I counted the bags of chips and packs of gum during our evening inventory counts. The problem was that I always seemed to be away from the radio, serving a customer or in the back, stocking the milk shelves, when the radio announcer came on to supply us with the name of the song and who it was that sung it. It got to the point where it became an ongoing joke: we would dance frantically around the empty store when the song came on and then laugh hysterically when we realized that we once again missed the 5 Ws. It was like the musical version of the Polkaroo*.

Finally, during one night shift right at the end of summer, I came out from the back after changing the syrup for one of the slurpee machines and Michelle excitedly put a slip of paper in my hands with the biggest smile on her face. She had scrawled on the paper in big looping script the words “Someday I suppose. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.” I knew exactly what the words meant immediately and if I wasn’t so shy and awkward at the time, I would’ve given her a big hug.

Starting pretty much the very next day, the search was on. I went to our town’s only music store and didn’t find anything by the band. A few days later, I joined my parents on a shopping trip to the Oshawa Centre and hit the chain music stores (HMV, Sunrise, and Sam the Record Man) and likewise came up empty. Finally, I planned a solo trip back in to Oshawa to hit some of the independent stores downtown, specifically, the renowned Star Records**, and there found a copy of the Bosstones’ third album, “Don’t know how to party”, on CD. This album, along with Spirit of the West’s “Faithlift”, might have been the two CDs I listened to the most that fall, both for very different moods and reasons.

“Don’t know how to party” is really a misnomer because it really does party and it parties hard, especially track four of twelve. The song that introduced me to the band on all those midnight shifts is still my favourite by the Boston-based octet. “Someday I suppose” riffs hard on the ska punk theme, a pogo with a chainsaw, a plaid suit jacket with the arms ripped off and the tie tied around the head, Rambo-style. It’s an explosion of good vibes, of not giving a shit, of living in the moment and putting off the heavy lifting and the heavy thoughts for later.

“There was a verse
That I was gonna write
I haven’t yet
But there’s still a chance I might
An open book
That I still wanna close
I’ll find the time
Someday I suppose”

The horns, the bassline, Dicky Barrett roaring, and the image of Ben Carr hopping around like a man possessed. It all just makes me smile.

*Those who know, know.

**I’ve already written words about this trip and this particular store when I posted about Primus’s “My name is mud” for this very same list and series.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.