Japandroids, "Young Hearts Spark Fire"
This was the song that launched the Japandroids, rattling around enough on blogs to get the band the attention that would make their career. It's a solid capsule of their sound, all fuzzy guitars, propulsive drumming, and catchy shouting. It's easy to see how people got excited for this, and the excitement would pay off with Post-Nothing and to a greater extent Celebration Rock.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Lap Dance"
This comes to us from one of the leftovers records that JSBX put out, this one collecting miscellany from Acme. The leftovers records are actually not bad, generally, even if they are kind of shaggy. The truth is that peak JSBX was just fun to listen to, even if maybe they weren't doing their best material. Anyway, this record is Xtra-Acme USA, and it's not something to pick up until you've worn out the proper albums, but if you're a JSBX freak you should absolutely listen to it.
Bent Knee, "Hold Me In"
There's a certain pressure in having to write something about each of these songs. Yes, it's the gig (can it be a gig if nobody reads or pays attention?), but things will come up and I've got to figure out a thing to say. Little bit about the band, the album, the music? Some personal history with the act? Ruminations about genre? Dumb bit? All possibilities. But if I don't really love the band for whatever reason, there's risk of me falling back to just regurgitating some biography from a web serach. That's not great. So I think about alternatives.
The scoundrel's route is to go meta. Talk about the blog, the experience of writing it, of filling in an entry. It's the coward's way because it has nothing to do with the song at all, it's just a way to reference the context in which this is all occurring. I try to avoid it, truthfully, because nobody comes here for this kind of self-examination. I mean, nobody comes here at all, but you know what I mean.
At any rate, the tempataion to go meta is strongest when a song just doesn't speak to me at all. It might be from a record I sampled from an act just because they got some buzz and they didn't connect with me. And they come up, and what can I say? "This record didn't do anything for me." Nobody wants to read that either! Honestly, I should just do a dumb bit. But sometimes it's too late for that.
Did you know I just write these as the song is playing? And I try to do it in real time, so you kind of get the first draft of my thoughts? Yeah, I know, it shows.
Hepcat, "Dance Wid' Me"
The first Hepcat album, Out of Nowhere, really established their bona fides as not just ska revivalists, but first-wave ska revivalists. They weren't referencing the Specials, they were referencing the Skatalites and Prince Buster. It helped them stand out from a lot of other acts, and helped this stuff age really well. It's not their finest record, they would grow into their sound and peak with Right On Time, but it's good stuff nonetheless.
matt pond PA, "Halloween"
Bet you thought that last one was going to be a dumb bit!