Formed by Zachary Fairbrother from the ashes of Omon Ra and Omon Ra II, Philadelphia’s Lantern rocks some busted up, broke down, punk as fuck, lo-fi psych blues. The band’s recent release, Burned Youth, is a reissue of what was previously a tour-only cassette, and its 9 tracks offer a bit of Stones-ian swagger and infectious melodies with some noise to spare–a great place to start for anyone looking for a new soundtrack for old habits that die hard.
Burned Youth is out now via Night People. Check it out here (scroll down to ‘Current Tape Releases’). Or you can grab a digital copy at Lantern’s Bandcamp page here.
I’m not certain as to whether A Wasteland Companion, the title of M. Ward’s latest lp, is a reference to T.S. Eliot’s modernist masterpiece, or if it is simply yet another entry in contemporary pop/art culture that seems to be obsessed with impending apocalypse (see Melancholia, Bellflower, Tim Foljahn’s Songs for an Age of Extinction), but I do know that after a break from solo releases spent as a Monster of Folk and the “Him” in She & Him, Mr. Ward has returned to his dusty-folk-delivered-across-crackling-airwaves roots. It’s a welcome return.
A Wasteland Companion is out April 10 via Merge Records. Check it out here.
The album is currently streaming in its entirety via NPR. Listen here.
The first result that pops up in a Google search for the term “Two’s Up”–preceding a Metrolyrics entry for the AC/DC song and a Wikipedia entry for an Australian gambling game–is an Urban Dictionary entry that lists three definitions:
1. Two’s up is the act of slipping one in a lady friend whilst your friend does the same on another orifice
2. Nutha way 4 sayin save me half (on cig)
3. A song by Australian Rock N Roll band AC/DC on their 1988 album Blow Up Your Video
Though only the third definition directly mentions AC/DC, all three definitions seem relevant to the song (as does the third Google result for the Australian gambling game).
I first heard the AC/DC song “Two’s Up” as a high school teenager when I bought 1988’s Blow Up Your Video on cassette as soon as it was released. Though it is buried as the second to last track in a front-loaded album, singles-wise, the song stood out to me because of its overall sound. It starts with a guitar line that I wouldn’t call pop, exactly, but that certainly isn’t a traditional AC/DC, A-C-D-C, hard-hitting riff, and that has a sort of pensive, romantic quality to it. While this quality doesn’t fit, thematically, with the first Urban Dictionary definition for “two’s up”–unless you’re Tommy Lee, you probably don’t consider that to be a particularly romantic scenario–the definition does parallel some of the song’s lyrical content, particularly the first line of the chorus, which declares, “I go, you go, she go, we go,” as well as an out of nowhere shift from gambling metaphors to a description of what is either strippers or a lesbian peep show:
The way you slide and slip
Love the way you girls work out
And make the partnership
Make that partnership
Except for these, perhaps inevitable given the band, forays into sexual innuendo, the song’s lyrics mostly portray a sort of chips-are-down-but-I-ain’t-out, throwing-caution-to-the-wind mentality that is in keeping with the tone set by the opening guitar line. Even when the song, for its verses, switches to a start/stop riff more familiar to fans of AC/DC, the whole thing is swathed in reverb, which helps to enhance the overall tone. Maybe it’s because my father had passed away not long not before this album was released, but this softening of AC/DC’s sound and attitude appealed to a completely different part of me than, say, “Big Balls”, “Whole Lotta Rosie”, or even “Back in Black”. It has an I’ll-take-what-I-can-get resignation (also seen in the second Urban Dictionary definition) mixed with an I’m-gonna-get-what-I-can-take resolve that I could, and can still, appreciate. Certainly, I hadn’t lost everything at that time in my life, but youth has a way of amplifying emotion to dizzying heights, and this song had a way paralleling my feelings that it was time to pack it all in, hit the road, and see how life landed. And when life serves up a tray of shit sandwiches, it still does. But it also makes me think of strippers.
From the Big Rock bombast (and pure rock ‘n’ roll joy) of AC/DC to lesser known but no less seminal punk rockers The Saints and Radio Birdman to today’s crop of garage and punk acts such as Circle Pit and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Australia has a long history of producing gritty, grand, infectious, and high-energy rock ‘n’ roll, and with its self-titled debut album Sydney’s Royal Headache joins the ranks of both forebears and contemporaries in the land of thunder from down under. Produced by Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey Young and Straight Arrows’ Owen Penglis, and released last year in Australia via R.I.P. Society (home to Circle Pit, among others), the album shoots a dose of 60’s AM soul into Australia’s garage punk scene, and Royal Headache, set for a spring tour of the States, are primed to take U.S. audiences by storm. Ferocious, soulful, hook-filled fun for your rock ‘n’ roll collection.
Royal Headache is out May 8 in the U.S. via What’s Your Rupture?. Keep a look out for it here.
Here’s some tour dates. Catch ’em live if you can…
Fri. May 25 – Los Angeles, CA @ Blue Star
Sat. May 26 – Oakland, CA @ Vitus
Mon. May 28 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Jones
Tue. May 29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
Fri. June 1 – Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn (Chaos in Tejas)
Sat. June 2 – Austin, TX @ Club Deville (Chaos in Tejas)
Wed. June 6 – Minneapolis, MN @ House Party
Thu. June 7 – Chicago, IL @ The Burlington
Fri. June 8 – Madison, WI @ University of Wisconsin
Sat. June 9 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
Wed. June 13 – New York, NY @ Cake Shop
Thu. June 14 – New York, NY @ Northside Festival
Fri. June 15 – Boston, MA @ P.A.’s Lounge
Back in May of last year los grillos was superfly psyched to make the acquaintance of The Hussy‘s debut lp, Cement Tomb Mind Control, a blistering blend of garage rock intensity and psychedelic production flourishes delivered with a keen melodic sensibility. Now from The Hussy comes follow-up lp Weed Seizure, and from title to cover art to its 13-songs-in-27 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll abandon, it takes all the best bits from the band’s debut and makes them better. The album is being released through Tic Tac Totally Records, home to OBN III’s, A Giant Dog, and Bare Wires, and fans of those bands would be doing themselves a favor by grabbing a copy of The Hussy’s latest straight away.
Weed Seizure is out March 20 via Tic Tac Totally. Look for it here.