“Downtown” Randall Brown fronts the quirky local band Quartjar and performs regularly on his own, primarily at the Bistro next to the Bijou Theatre. Brown also manages the News Sentinel’s entertainment listings and runs the daily’s Ramblin’ Man entertainment blog. Here’s what he’s been listening to lately.
Motorhead, Motorizer (Steamhammer/SPV, 2008)
I put together my own “best of” Motorhead disc a few months back and my overwhelming thought was, “Why have I not been listening to Motorhead my entire life?” The new CD, Motorizer, is more of the same, and by that I mean it’s awesome.
Dan Reeder, Sweetheart (Oh Boy Records, 2006)
Very DIY: this fellow builds his own guitars and designs and records his own raw, simple, and nigh on literary acoustic-electric blues. He jumps from quiet, poignant songs about family life (“Beautiful”) to bawdy ditties (“Pussy Titty”). Then he gets bawdy and poignant all at once and manages to make a song called “Pussy Heaven” be about international labor justice and consumerism.
Black Keys, Attack and Release (Nonesuch, 2008)
It's like sighting a fabled, mythical creature when contemporary musicians get the blues right. Apparently, being homely helps. These average Joes from Ohio play raw guitar/drums dynamics like Itzhak Perlman plays violin. The clicking sound from the guitar at the beginning of the opening track, "All You Ever Wanted," fills me with delight. Sometimes I have to start the song over three or four times.
This summer, I’ve been reconnecting with fIREHOSE, the band formed by The Minutemen members after singer-guitarist D. Boon died. They were a manic blast of Minutemen-esque jazz-punk filtered through late-’80s jangle-rock. (Take that, Lester Bangs!) They sang about life and the way of the doin’ of things with heart and passion.
Bonnie Prince Billy, iPod playlist
I have a ridiculous amount of Will Oldham music on my iPod. I tend to love every warbly, off-pitch, voice-cracking minute of it. His melodies can be transcendent.
Charlie Brown on Acid, Live at DadaFest Zero (1986) (Moot Point, 2008)
Disclaimer: This was my band when I was 18. I recently reconnected with the bass player and he digitized this old cassette recording of us. I mention it because I’m in the throes of hearing music I made 20 years ago and thinking, “That was so god-awful.” But then there are some moments of sonic meandering that make me think, “Why do I not do that anymore?”