Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Come guitarist Chris Brokaw and Brooklyn power-pop act Lame Drivers.
Listed: Chris Brokaw + Lame Drivers
Come played consummate ’90s bummer jams, with a cathartic dual-guitar attack sounding like a bluesier Birthday Party underscoring Thalia Zedek’s smoky voice and unabashedly pained lyrics. The band--like many peers from that bygone decade--reunited to play a handful of dates. These shows were just a few of Come guitarist Chris Brokaw’s many obligations in 2011. The former Codeine member also collaborates with ex-Karate guitarist Geoff Farina and poet Holly Anderson, plays in The New Year, Empty House Cooperative, and Dirtmusic, and composes film scores. He sat down to tell us about ten (plus) records formative to his musical development and distinctive guitar style.
1. New York Dolls - In Too Much Too Soon / Kiss - Alive
Along with Jeff Beck’s Beck-ola, these are the records that made me want to play electric guitar. In particular, seeing the New York Dolls on Don Kirschner’s rock concert was a pivotal experience at a very early age, essentially shoving Evel Knievel, Bruce Lee and Planet of the Apes off my screen.
2. Buzzcocks - Spiral Scratch EP / Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power
When I was 13, the dudes at the local record store made me buy these along with the Ramones Leave Home. This formed an indelible blueprint for guitar, for drums, for life.
3. PIL - Second Edition / Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
Along with Joy Division’s Still, these records continued to shape how I saw rock music and life itself; but with a greater sense of sprawl and immersion. I was ecstatic to finally make a real double album with Come’s Gently Down The Stream and I thought a lot about these records (as well as Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.
4. Camper Van Beethoven - Key Lime Pie
To my mind, one of the best and most fully realized rock albums. It arrived at a pivotal time in my life and was a balm. I recently saw it performed live and was stunned at how intact it remained.
5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - From Her to Eternity / Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites - Dead Men Tell No Tales
I consider these records inspirations, or footnotes, somehow, to my bands Come and Codeine, respectively. There was a certain kind of grave elegance that I think each of my bands aspired to in their own ways.
6. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um
For a few years, this was the only jazz music that made sense to me on the same levels that rock and punk had. Subsequently I got further into jazz, which was mostly what I listened to through the 90’s.
7. Townes Van ZandtLike Rain on a Conga Drum / Al Green - I’m Still In Love With You / Chet Baker - Let’s Get Lost / Leonard Cohen - I’m Your Man
I started to enjoy some great singer/songwriter dudes. The romance of it all sort of took me over.
8. Christ Smither - Live at Somerville Theater / Keith Rowe - Live at the ICA
Around 2000 I saw these 2 guitarists play solo shows in the same week. Both had been at their craft for 30+ years and both seemed to be at the top of their game - absolutely spellbinding. Along with solo shows I saw around then by Ernst Reijseger and Joe Mcphee, these were tremendously inspiring to me as a solo performer.
9. Pig Destroyer - Terrifier / Converge - You Fail Me
These records got me excited again about rock music. Around the time, a friend asked me, "hey Brokaw, is rock dead?" to which I replied, "No, but you may have to look for it in places other than those to which you’re accustomed".
10. Prurient / Burning Star Core - Ghosts of Niagra
in recent years I’ve gotten more into noise and its culture. The sense of possibility, in all areas of expression, has been inspiring and enriching to me.
Honorable mentions: Hank Williams, Neil Young, the Velvet Underground, AMM, Circle Jerks, the Sex Pistols, the Germs, Black Flag, X, Van Halen, Bad Brains, Wolf Eyes, Gun Club, Wipers, Eric Dolphy, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, ICP Orchestra, the Flatlanders, Peter Brotzmann, Thomas Brinkmann, Fennesz, Marc Ribot, Wussy, Azita, the Jesus Lizard, the Birthday Party, These Immortal Souls, Leaving Trains, Diamanda Galas, Glenn Branca, Bush Tetras, Bone Awl, Branikald, vlad Tepes, Only Ones, Go Betweens, Andrew Hill, Grachan Moncur III, Charley Patton, Gary Davis, Howlin Wolf, Hot Tuna, Phyllis Dillon, Blondie, Beethoven.
Lame Drivers, in their current incarnation, are a three-piece power pop band from Brooklyn, New York that blends in quasi psychedelic tendencies to give their hooks a rough around edges sound. They have a full length LP coming out summer of 2011 on Sleeping Giant Glossolalia and have released music on Not Not Fun, yet most of their attention thus far has come from music they have given away for free on their own lame drivers website and the Free Music Archive. Most notably, their 27 song compilation Cruisin’ Classics 2003-2010 (which can be downloaded here gained them radio traction at the mighty WFMU. For this week’s listed feature, we caught up with guitarist Jason Sigal to give us some insight into the band’s influences.
1. Guided By Voices- The Grand Hour EP / The Breeders - Head To Toe EP
The Grand Hour EP includes the songs "Alien Lanes" and "Bee Thousand." Those songs are not nearly as good as the albums of the same name (they don’t even appear on ’em!), but this whole era of GBV is amazing, and Grand Hour represents that. It has some choice songs like "Shocker in Gloomtown," which The Breeders covered on the Head To Toe EP. J Mascis produced that Breeders EP, and encouraged them to record another song they were jamming on, "Freed Pig," without realizing that it was a cover written about him by his ex-Dinosaur Jr bandmate Lou Barlow. Speaking of ex-bandmates, shout out to former Lame Driver Matt LeMay for that bit of trivia and for pointing out many gems in the GBV catalog when we did our one-off GBV cover band one Halloween!
2. The Moles- On The Street / Rare & Weird
To Australia! Where, if this list included live sets, I’d have to put Melbourne’s Eddy Current Suppression Ring on here. But it is a list of recordings, so I’m picking The Moles, who I have never seen live and are completely unrelated. Anyway, Richard Davies is an avant-pop genius. The Moles was his band before he left Sydney for Connecticut, and this stuff is much rawer than the chamber pop he’d get into later with Cardinal, but equally well orchestrated. One disc is a "best of" the other is what it says it is. Both are packed with great songs that mix Flying Nun-ish hooks with experimental musical ideas.
3. The Great Excape- Welcome To My Life
This was one of Daniel DiMaggio’s pre-Home Blitz bands, with the legendary John Eastridge on bass. The Great Excape were very influential on me as a teenager who was new to New Jersey, especially once I started played drums in the band. John and Daniel both wrote great songs about Allentown, satanists, cicadas, disgust cats, the military and the like. We played some Christian Happenings, recorded to MiniDisc, and covered everything from "Alone Again Or" to Stars on 54. John and Daniel knew so much about music, in part because along with Ben Powell they had been doing the Strong Little Legs show at local radio station WPRB since before I even met them, which inspired me to start volunteering there too.
4. Karnataka College of Percussion- River Yamuna
This album basically demonstrates everything that I know to be awesome about South Indian Carnatic music. Led by Dr. K. Raghavendra’s, these eleven fantastic musicians are armed with an arsenal of toned percussion instruments and techniques, which they break down track-by-track: from jaw harps, to frame drums, to clay pots, to "Konnakkol" the incredible ’Percussion Language’ used to represent different ways of hitting a hand-drum through voiced syllables. Then they bring it all back together for traditional and original compositions like "Many Faces," and the title track. I found this in the WPRB library when I first started doing a late night show there in high school, and it was kind of my gateway to international music.
5. Traffic Sound- Yellow Sea Years: Peruvian Psych-Rock-Soul 1968 to 1971
When it comes to international psych-meldings from the global 60s/70s global rock explosion, I’m especially into sounds from Turkey, Cambodia, Zambia, Nigeria, and Peru. And I just can’t get enough of this collection, mixing Andean folk, a bit of afro-latin, and a heavy dose of classic rock. Traffic Sound formed just as Peru came under the military dictatorship of General Juan Velasco Alvarado, which perhaps lends even more of a revolutionary power to the music, songs like "Survival" and their cover of "Sky Pilot." Other songs are lighter ("A Beautiful Day," "White Deal / Poco / Big Deal") and of course psychedelic ("Meshkalina" is about Incas discovering Mescaline and has really insane backup vocals). I would love to hear someone sample the intro to "Those Days Have Gone."
6. Shoes- Black Vinyl Shoes
An incredible home-recorded, self-released power-pop record from 1977.
7. Rozz & Negative Trend- The Pop Sessions
1978 was a great time for San Francisco punk, and seems to have been pretty fluid too because Rozz Rezabeck also sang in a bunch of other bands (including some time in the Sleepers!). The Pop Sessions was recorded the same year as the 4-song Negative Trend EP that features a different vocalist (Rik L Rik), Craig Gray of Tioling Midgets, and Will Shatter & Steve DePace who went on to found Flipper. But none of those guys played on the Pop Sessions -- it’s just Rozz, and a band he called Belfast Cowboys -- but it is still amazing, 9 killer songs in 19 minutes, full of raw energy, and the vocal delay is the icing on the cake. My favorites are the punchy "I Don’t Wanna Be A Machine (Karen Anne Quinlan)" and the ballad "I Can Laugh About It Now."
8. Clone Defects- Shapes of Venus
Timmy Vulgar rules! He’s really been stepping into new dimensions lately with Human Eye and Timmy’s Organism. This, from 2003, is still part mutant, but more rooted in the Motor City. I hear a ton of Stooges influence in this, even though Timmy claims not to be so into Iggy Pop.
9. Kool Keith- Spankmaster
Kool Keith invents his own weird worlds through genius phrasing over super-minimal off-kilter beats,. I’m a sucker for the surreal mainstream world of Spankmaster.
10. Ghédalia Tazartès- Checkpoint Charlie
Everything I’ve heard from Ghédalia Tazartès is completely mindblowing. Playful yet focused sound collage, musique concrete without academic pretense, with mysterious voices and incredible vocal performances (that are actually his own voice more often than it would seem!). I first heard of him through Repas Froid, the Tanszprocess collection of short pieces from Tazartés’ archives. Something about Checkpoint Charlie really grabs me. At times it almost sounds like Sublime Frequencies’ Radio series, maybe Radio Morocco, the way it’s all spliced together. Then there are industrial moments, drum machine/harpsichord duels, hypnotic accordion-based songs. Plenty of languages I can’t understand on this recording, but still plenty of meaning. And I love the spoken English blooper reel theme / repetition in "Charlie’s Retiré."
By Dusted Magazine