Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Celebration rockers Japandroids and the indescribable James Pants.
Listed: Japandroids + James Pants
Canadian duo Japandroids - that’s guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowe - broke big in 2009 with the messy, thrashy, utterly exhilarating Post-Nothing. The two toured relentlessly, pausing only for a couple of months after King’s near-fatal brush with a perforated ulcer. They regrouped to record 2012’s Celebration Rock, a brash, heart-on-its-sleeve rampage that, Jennifer Kelly of Dusted wrote, “manage[s] to fill every crevice in the sound, with long-ringing power chords, prism-splintered strumming and punch-drunk, speed-crazed, fill-scrabbled drums.” King took part in this week’s Listed.
1. AC/DC - Powerage and Highway To Hell
Q: What is rock?
A: Old AC/DC and Cleveland, Ohio.
2. The Wipers - Is This Real?, Youth Of America and Over The Edge
Despite playing guitar, I’m not particularly "into" guitars or guitarists. I can’t solo worth shit. In fact, I don’t even know what half of the chords I play are called. Having said all that, I think that Greg Sage is a criminally underrated and under appreciated guitarist. There should be foldout posters of him in guitar magazines, and cardboard cutouts of him at Guitar Center. OK, maybe there shouldn’t be - but you understand my point! Like any true innovator, his sound is distinctly his own - I don’t really even know who or what to compare his style of playing to. Somehow it is both simple AND complex - at the SAME TIME! I often describe my style of guitar playing as "trying to make one guitar sound like two." Greg Sage was already nailing this concept before I was even born. There should be a Guitar Hero video game consisting of only these three records. OK, maybe there shouldn’t be - but you understand my point!
3. X - Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under The Big Black Sun and More Fun In The New World
Four classic albums in four years - how many bands can say they pulled that off? Not many. Japandroids cover "Sex And Dying In High Society" on the B-Side of the "Younger Us" single, and I was so proud of our version that I sent each member of the band a copy of the 7-inch when it was done. They probably took them straight to Amoeba. Then again, I did meet John Doe briefly a few years ago following an X gig in Toronto, and he was remarkably kind to me. He seemed genuinely thankful for the praise I was reaping upon him. Can you believe I’ve actually met someone who was IN Roadhouse!!??
4. Tom Waits - Closing Time, The Heart Of Saturday Night, Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs
The phrase "What would Tom Waits do?" (often abbreviated to WWTWD) became popular in the 1990s as a personal motto for adherents of rock & roll who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Tom Waits through the actions of the adherents.
5. The Cure - Head On The Door, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me , Disintegration and Wish
I had the pleasure of seeing The Cure recently, and the only thing better than hearing "Friday I’m In Love" was realizing that it was ACTUALLY FRIDAY!
6. Whiskeytown - Faithless Street, Stranger’s Almanac, Heartbreaker and Pneumonia
During my time at university (2000-2005), if you had asked me what my favorite records were, it would have been these. One, two, three and four. The only variable would have been the order by which I ranked them.
7. Dead Moon - Echoes Of The Past
Fred and Toody Cole… quite possibly the cutest "not cute" couple in the history of rock & roll.
8. The Murder City Devils - Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts and In Name And Blood
A certain someone I know (who lives in Seattle and works for an iconic Seattle record label - YOU KNOW WHO ARE!!!) keeps telling me that he is going to introduce me to Spencer Moody "next time you’re in Seattle." As you may have guessed by my tone, this has yet to happen, despite repeated visits to King County. What the fuck, Frank? ANYWAY… The Murder City Devils are one of my favorite Pacific Northwest bands ever - right up there with The Sonics, Hendrix, The Wipers, Dead Moon and Nirvana. I always loved these records, but it wasn’t until I started playing in a touring band myself that I felt like I really understood these records. Today, they mean ever more to me than they did 10+ years ago when I first heard them, and that is saying something.
9. The Sadies - New Seasons and Darker Circles
Now that the Constantines have broken up, I can confidently say that The Sadies are my favorite Canadian band. Unquestionably one of the greatest (actively touring) live bands in the world. You don’t want to mess with them. Gary Louris of The Jayhawks produced these two records, and they sound fucking killer. Truly a band’s band.
10. Grinderman - Grinderman l and Grinderman ll
No explanation necessary.
James Pants is a Cologne-based, American multi-instrumentalist that’s coolly defiant of all categories but his very own: “fresh beat.” With said genre, Pants re-visions everything from ‘80s soul to post-punk, new wave to electro-boogie to rap. Back in 2008, on prom night, Pants met Stones Throw head Peanut Butter Wolf, and he’s been releasing material for the label ever since. His third LP, James Pants, came out in 2011.
1. Les Baxter - Jungle Jazz
Along with Crystal Illusions from Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66, this was one of the first records ever in my collection. I must have been around 13 or so, and actually shoplifted the record from a fall bazaar at my dad’s church. I felt bad about this a year later and then paid extra in tithe. The song "Papagayo" immediately floored me, as it was like nothing else I’d ever heard – especially considering my previous steady diet of LL Cool J, Soundgarden and Crash Test Dummies. There’s what appears to be an Amazonian native on the cover, which feels a bit exploitative, but I guess that was the point of exotica music. I think this was a turning point in my musical tastes overall. I still wish I could make this kind of stuff. My dream is to be an authentic modern exotica star – not sure what that sounds like yet.
2. Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me?
I think I mention this record every single time I get asked to name some of my influences, as it’s just a part of my staple diet. Whenever I get down about life, I throw this one and visualize stalking high school cheerleaders. His chord progressions and song arrangements are just insane, especially how they can alternate between groovy and suicidal so quickly. And while his vocal delivery is an acquired taste for some, it’s one of his selling points in my opinion.
3. Too Short - Life Is Too Short
I really wasn’t much of a Too Short fan until I hit college. Before that, I was on some righteous kick could only listen to ATCQ, Fu-Schnickens, Del and Das EFX when it came to hip hop. Once I heard this record though, I remember thinking a) this dude never stops rapping and b) I can memorize most of these lyrics. Plus, his beats are so stripped down, which is a huge influential aesthetic for me in general – especially when it comes to hip hop. Which is the opposite of...
4. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless...this record. Which is completely not stripped down. Well, I guess it is in terms of arrangements, but the sound is so damn huge it’s like sensory overload. This is another album I wish I had discovered in high school rather than college as I would have probably saved three years on my music education. This record was a large inspiration for my self-titled LP from the other year. It’s got that classic pop sensibility, but encased in this wall of noise. It reminds my wife of My So Called Life but I don’t think their music was ever in that show.
5. The Residents - The Commercial Album
Forty songs in 40 minutes. It’s like the punk ideal, but using marimbas, synths, drum machines and subversive children’s poetry instead. I knew about this band for ages, but didn’t really "get" this band until the last few years and they have been a source of continual fascination for me. The songs are so stupidly simple in terms of arrangements and notes, but so insanely complex in terms of overall sounds and layers. I also like how they hardly ever use chords. It’s mostly just a bunch of monophonic instruments playing. I’m trying to accomplish that for my next record. Chords are overrated.
6. Crass - Stations Of The Crass
The first song I heard from this band was "Walls" and I thought they were some kind of weird disco band. Then I heard "Mother Earth" and "Heard Too Much" and I was instantly hooked. I’m not a huge punk fan overall, but this stuff is tops. The drummer is fantastic and has this really crisp, tinny, marching drum vibe going on, which really resonates with me as I used to play snare drum in a marching band.
7. Pyrolator - Wunderland
I live in Köln, Germany, now and this record was made up the road in Düsseldorf I believe. I had no idea about this guy till I moved here, and this has quickly became one of my favorite records ever. Pyrolator was in the group Der Plan (who are equally rad). He has a couple other solo records that are good, but this is by far the strangest. I still can’t tell if it’s a subversive take on children’s documentary music or supposed to be completely authentic. It’s like some CD-ROM, Sim City 2000 vibe. The sounds he uses are massively inspirational for me, as I think the instrument sounds people use are one of the most important elements of a record. Sometimes a song on a synthesizer sounds retarded, but if you play it on a trombone it’s rad. That kind of thing. The sounds Pyrolator use sound cliche out of the box, but in an entirely exaggerated and refreshing way.
8. Vangelis - Blade Runner Soundtrack
This is hands down my favorite movie, and obviously the soundtrack plays such an integral part to the whole thing, that it follows it’s also one of my favorite albums of all time. Vangelis nails the polluted, eternally-raining and technologically superior (or is it really?) future perfectly. I wish I could wring that much emotion out of a synthesizer, but I guess I’d have to learn how to properly play one first. I think good old Papathanassiou is a genius.
9. MF Doom - Operation Doomsday
I can’t even remember why I bought this record in the first place, but it was definitely right around the time it originally came out. I think the local store was out of that instrumental Company Flow record and I had money burning in my pocket or something. I had no idea who MF Doom was, but the cover made up for that. Man, I’m glad I bought this record. Everybody talks on an on about how good of an MC Doom is/was, but I didn’t really listen to the lyrics (and still barely listen to any lyrics nowadays) at all – it was the beats that blew me away. They were straight loops of ‘80s R&B records with sloppy drum machine put on top. They were amazing loops of course, and the sound was all messed up. No one else sounded like that. I tried to copy his style to varying degrees of success for like the next five years, but didn’t know that all I had to do was buy some $1 Atlantic Starr records to do so. I still think this is the way hip hop should be made... Complete loop piracy and a drum machine. All the proper Premier-style chopped and flipped stuff is cool and all, but it’s these simple beats that win in the end. Diddy knows what I’m talking about.
10. The Seeds - Web Of Sound
From the fast jams like "Rolling Machine" to the slow jams like "Faded Picture" and the knockout "Just Let Go", this album is on fire. The sound is so rugged and the singing so strained... It just reeks of pure, unbridled psychedelic lunacy. Had I been alive in 1968, I would have done whatever it took to tryout for a tambourine position. I bought this in high school in my hometown of Spokane, Wash. at an old mom-and-pop record store called Little Nell’s, and I had no idea was I was getting into. I listed this record as one of my favorites a couple years back, and (RIP) Sky Saxon’s wife contacted me to say thank you. She then sent some vintage Seeds and Sky Saxon posters, like full on silk screened in killer colors, to the Stones Throw offices for me. When I was in LA, I picked them up and put them in the trunk of my managers car. Mayer Hawthorne was also in the car. After dropping him off, I realized the posters were gone. He denies all wrongdoing, but to this day, I swear he has them. Behind his boyish good looks and unescapable charm, there is a soul of ice.
By Dusted Magazine