Boston indie veterans the Beatings have embraced the old-fashioned DIY ethic for nearly a decade now, releasing two full-length albums and a handful of EPs—as well as a sizable catalog of other bands and side projects—on their own Midriff Records label since 2001. The Beatings also embrace their hometown’s storied alt-rock tradition, with influences ranging from Mission of Burma to the Pixies. The band will preview songs from its new album Late Season Kids (due out next month) at Pilot Light tonight.
Golden Time (Merge Records, 1999)
My favorite R*A*T song is on their Sweet Bird of Youth LP, but to hear a glorious band in all their glory, the near-perfect Golden Time is the way to go. It always finds its way back into my playlist. They’re defunct a few years already, but no band sounds like the Rock*A*Teens, then or now.
Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan
“Sign Language” from No Reason to Cry (Polydor, 1976)
It just never ends with Dylan. There’s the albums, the Bootleg Series, the radio show, actual bootlegs, interviews, articles, books; and then you think you hit the wall with the guy and you find some old song you somehow missed, and you shit your pants all over again. “You” here meaning “I”.
Yo La Tengo
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (Matador, 1997)
This is one of my favorite records of all time. Top three on an island or the moon or whatever you need. I’ve listened to “We’re an American Band” a few times a week, I think, for about 10 years now.
You Must Ask the Heart (Rounder, 1995)
As I write this, I realize that apparently I have no use for music from this century. I think I’m okay with that. Thank you.
Hands and Knees
Et Tu Fluffy? (Midriff Records, 2009)
They’re label mates and people will scream “Conflict of interest!” But Hands and Knees also happened to have put out one of the most charming, interesting, and exciting albums this year. It’s clever, but not in an over-thought, forced, cheap, or self-conscious way. It has a very familiar feel and tone and also feels completely new and fresh—jangly and rock-y, scream-y and sweet and so obviously good. I was pissed when I first heard it because it was so outstanding I got jealous. People should own this album.
“Never Stop” from Invisible Jet (Ecstatic Peace, 2006)
This album has been around for a few years, but I did what we do when most friends hand you their new disc—I put it to the side for a rainy day that never comes so that if it sucked and in passing they asked me what I thought I could say I hadn’t listened to it yet, sparing feelings without lying. Which was a big mistake. The entire album is wonderful, but toward the end is “Never Stop.” It’s an organ-drenched pop gem with a repeating chorus that is catchy and fun to sing along with and completely out of character for the band. I called the band recently to congratulate them on the album and tell them my infatuation with the song and they responded with a deserved “Thanks, a-hole—the album’s been out for three years and it took you this long to give it a listen, huh. Effing jerk-off!”
“Dance All Night” and “Who Stole My Monkey” from Johnnie Billy Goat (Rounder, 2000)
Boozoo is a recent discovery for me. I first heard him the morning after an undignified evening of drinking. My head was in shambles and “Who Stole My Monkey” came on one of the cable music channels while I was scanning aimlessly and it was the only thing that made sense to me at that moment. My thoughts were swimming, my lungs hurt, and every nerve in my body seemed to be pulsing at once in a wave formation. Then I heard a Southern gentleman emphatically accuse someone of stealing his monkey and demand to have it returned immediately, and I was feeling him. I understood his plight immediately and fell in love with the bouncing zydeco accompaniment. The song could border on novelty if not for Boozoo’s gravitas. I like “Dance All Night” so much I blatantly ripped off sections of it for songs on the new Beatings album.
Fantastic Gusts of Blood (Suburban Sprawl Music, 2008)
Wonderful, fun, indescribable, spaz-rock based out of Detroit, Mich., with one of the best live shows in the world, who I like for many different reasons and whose comfort with public display of facial hair I find brave.