Happy 25th to Let It Be (With High On Stress)

One of the overriding themes of this blog is the fact that, quite frankly, I’m getting on a bit. Yeah, sure, I’m not quite reading Q or Mojo yet, but I’ll be 40 in a few years and that mid-life crisis is going to start gnawing at my toes soon. If I start doing posts about my knees hurting or how I’m going to go out and buy me a Porsche, then you know it’s hit me right between the eyes.

In the interim I shall just do posts like these, in which I bemoan the fact that a great alt-rock record was released 25 years ago. 25 years! Sheesh, blimey, and so on.

Smoking Popes

But this one is a bit special to me, mainly because I only discovered it earlier in the year. During one of my jaunts through the Pitchfork 500, one song in particular jumped out, dragged me into a mosh pit, drank my beer and tried to get off with my missus. Yep, “I Will Dare” is that kind of song. So, of course, I went off and bought the extended version of “Let It Be”, and being something of a fan of The Hold Steady and the like, I’ve been rather enjoying it.

And it seems like I’m not the only one who’s still loving the record. Out in The Replacement’s home town, Minneapolis, there’s what looks like a top night celebrating the anniversary at First Avenue. Featuring a ton of bands, pick of the bunch being High On Stress.

Stress Live

Like their heroes, they’ve got that gift of mixing guitars, bass, drum and vocals, and turning out great tunes with that special magic touch. What is it with Minneapolis and great rock bands? Is it in the water or something? Anyway, here’s a video of them playing live with The Replacement’s own Slim Dunlap:

Here’s “Eyeliner Blues” from High On Stress and a couple of beauts from “Let It Be”, including a great cover of “20th Century Boy” from the expanded version. And if you live around Minneapolis, why not pop down to First Avenue next Friday night (27th November)? I would, but I’m off to The Gun.


MP3: Eyeliner Blues by High On Stress

MP3: Sixteen Blue by The Replacements

MP3: 20th Century Boy by The Replacements

Buy “Let It Be” (Extended Version MP3/CD)

Buy “Cop Light Parade” by High On Stress

Do I Know You? Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade

I was listening to the new Sunset Rubdown album “Dragonslayer” the other day, and a thought struck me. And that thought was: “This sounds like those weird, angular Wolf Parade songs with the chappie yelping theatrically over the top”. A few songs later and my mind was made up – this must be the yelpie Wolf Parade chappie. Then a little voice starts up in the back of my head, going, “You knew this, you know. You’re getting old”.

And so I am. Tell you what, it’s terrible getting old. When you have conversations, read, watch TV, listen to music, about 50% of it just goes flying off into the ether as though it never happened. And I’ve not even 40 yet. God knows what I’ll be like as a pensioner. And my memory was always selective at the best of times. Sigh.

Sorry, seem to have taken a bit of a detour there. Age, you know. Anyway, Sunset Rubdown are indeed the spinoff band of Mr Yelpie, Spencer Krug (that’s a top name). Hailing from Penticton, BC, Canadyland1, he’s a prolific fella, not only recording as Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade, but also playing with Frog Eyes, Fifths of Seven, and Swan Lake. As I might have already mentioned, he’s got quite the idiosyncratic style, and whilst this is largely held in check in Wolf Parade, contrasting nicely with Dan Boeckner’s more measured approach, in Sunset Rubdown it’s given full rein.

It’s not a bad record, you know, but you do wish Mr Krug would hold in some of his more dramatic touches, as on some songs, it just sounds like someone’s thrown a bunch of musicians together and told them to play the first thing that pops into their heads. Now, it takes a great deal of skill to do this trick, as TV On The Radio demonstrate, and it doesn’t always pay off here. But some tracks, like “Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!”2 do work, and rather well too.

But compare and contrast with “Grounds For Divorce” from Wolf Parade’s debut “Apologies To The Queen Mary”. When he’s reined in a bit, he produces far more listenable records. Let’s hope the next Wolf Parade album isn’t too far away. Not that I don’t like Sunset Rubdown, you know, but sometimes too much is too much.

1 Which, I was pleased to discover, is not too far from Kamloops, where I once spent a hugely amusing and drunken long weekend back in 2004.

2 Crazy title, crazy band.

MP3: Apollo And The Buffalo And Anna Anna Anna Oh! by Sunset Rubdown

MP3: Grounds For Divorce by Wolf Parade

Buy “Dragonslayer” (CD/MP3)

Buy Wolf Parade’s “Apologies to the Queen Mary” (CD)

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