Category Archives: Rediscovered

Condo Fucks :: Fuckbook

condo-fucks-fuckbookDoes anybody still listen to Paul McCartney?  Perhaps you do, and have followed his every move up to the counter of your local Starbucks; or maybe your knowledge of Sir Paul exists only until the end of the Beatles.  Either way, McCartney had an amazing run through the 1970’s, dropping the incredible Los Angeles-tipped Ram with his wife Linda, continually hitting the top of the charts with Wings, and continuing to wistfully delve into and out of rock legend under his own name.  But before he released Ram and joined up with Wings, McCartney decided to record an entirely instrumental version of Ram, oddly called Thrillington, and released under the name Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.  Why?  Who knows, the album didn’t come out officially until 1977, with no mention of McCartney’s involvement anywhere to be found–in the liner notes, packaging, nothing.  In fact, it wasn’t until 1989 that McCartney even came forward that, in fact, the album was his.  Just another footnote in rock-n-roll history.  But this post isn’t about Paul McCartney, or Percy Thrillington for that matter.

No, this is about the Condo Fucks.  Who are the Condo Fucks, you might ask?  Well, they’ve only released 16 albums since 1984, and have been one of the most consistent bands on the indie circuit since their creation.  Still nothing?  Well, I guess the gig is up.  Indie rock stalwarts Yo La Tengo decided to throw together some new recording equipment and smash together an album of covers by some of the finest garage bands in music history: electric eels, the Beach Boys, and Young Rascals.  Their label, Matador, decided to have a little fun with its release and created an elaborate backstory to the rise and fall of the Condo Fucks legend.  In their notes, they claimed that the band got together and recorded it in a pacy 45 minutes in an abandoned warehouse in Hartford, Connecticut.  About a month ago, when I received the initial two singles from the album, “What’cha Gonna Do About It” and “Gudbuy T’ Jane”, I was instantly hooked.  I finally picked up the album last weekend, and I’m still hooked.  Thirty-one minutes of simple lo-fi, guitar-driven glory.  Roped in by the Condo Fucks.

Some might scoff at the idea of a band putting out an entire album of covers, but this is nothing new to Yo La Tengo.  In fact, the legendary Fakebook remains to this day one of Yo La Tengo’s finest efforts.  It contains only five original YLT songs, the others consisting of mostly folk and country tune-ups.  What is your thought on covers?  Some laugh at the idea, and consider it a lazy effort to put out more albums, while other view it as dishonest and occasionally disrespectful to predecessors.  I, for one, believe that covers can shed new light on bands that are “difference-makers” in our current scene.  What drives them or inspires them?  A masterfully crafted work of covers, or simply paying homage to influences in your shows, can often go a long way towards helping the fans understand more about music history.  And in an age where we have blogs, message boards, fan clubs, etc. devoted to the every tidbit of our favorite artists, isn’t it beautiful to be surprised, or tricked?  Like Sir Paul McCartney, Yo La Tengo has crafted their legend on not attempting to follow a normal “track” for the typical artist–they simply put out great music (lots of it), and desire to take the listener on a new ride. 

Fellow Condo Fucks-appreciators Aquarium Drunkard have done an extensive interview with Yo La Tengo’s James McNew about Fuckbook, and what drove them to release such an oddly-timed record.  For the music nerds, take the red pill and dive in headfirst here.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the one and only Patsy Cline…”

patsycline-724191I have a really bad habit of diving into certain genres of music for an extended amount of time.  For weeks on end I’ll live in the shoegaze era, floating from My Bloody Valentine to Ride, and then the next month will be bluegrass and folk.  I’ll be the first to say that I probably miss a lot in the process, but I simply can’t help it–the foundations of the music I’ve grown to love over the years are built on the albums and bands that I continually return to.

One artist that is with me from month to month, though, is the everlasting Patsy Cline.  No matter where I am in my collections, I’ll put her on, if only for a few songs or a few albums.  She was only on the airwaves for a very short amount of time, but her voice is one that will reverberate through music history for ages to come.  Cline paved the way for not only country music’s fusion with the pop and jazz movements of the day, but for women artists in general.  She abhorred the way women had been treated while touring across the United States, and always made her strong personality known.  Johnny Cash revered her and introduced her on stage with the classic Cash distinction, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the one and only Patsy Cline.”

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Patsy Cline’s career was her striking ability to make even the most subtle songs truly unforgettable.  The two songs that I’ve decided to include here both fit that description; one you’ve probably heard, the other you probably haven’t.  When she was once asked about how she could elicit such emotion on her recordings, she simply responded, “Oh, I just sing like I hurt inside.”  Unforgettable.

Patsy Cline – Three Cigarettes (In An Ashtray)

*Second Mp3 on the way shortly…

Rediscovered: New Order, the Early ’80s

new-order-power-corruption-and-lies1

As I’m putting together the Top 10 of 2008, I thought I’d unveil a new feature on Baked Beans & Glitter: Rediscovered.  In Rediscovered, I’ll highlight an era, album, or specific track of an influential band, and hopefully do them justice.

So, occasionally, I’ll get bouts of insomnia, and when I can’t get any reading done, I’ll usually put on the TV.  Last night was one of those nights, but thank goodness, because a channel was playing a recent New Order show from Glasgow, Scotland.  As many of my close friends know, I’m a massive New Order fan, and this show only reconfirmed why.

If you’re not familiar with New Order, I’ll provide just a little background information on the band.  Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris (the current members who make up New Order) joined underground legend Ian Curtis to make up the timelessly-influential group Joy Division.  Though I’m sure there will be a week that I’ll cover Joy Division exclusively, many bands today attest to the monumental impact Joy Division had on the musical landscape in the early days of punk rock.  In fact, I would go so far to say that though they made up the darker elements of punk, Joy Division was post-punk long before the last embers of punk were glowing.  Then, as quickly as Joy Division rose, they came to an end.  On May 18, 1980, lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide days before their first American tour.

Now, what happened next was the stuff of legend.  I won’t attest to being a blogger of mythical things, but New Order became the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Joy Division’s demise.  Factory Records, the record label of both Joy Division and New Order, was managed by local Manchester TV personality Tony Wilson, who ran the label in what was then a very unorthodox method–by letting the bands under them dictate most of their direction, and keeping it local, in Manchester.  In New Order’s first album release after Curtis’ death, Movement, you hear a band struggling to find their own way, both vocally and musically.  Factory Records put out a handful of singles for the band, some of which became New Order’s turning points.  Singles “Temptation” and “Ceremony” combined elements of the dark, punk-driven guitars that characterized Joy Division, with the frequently joyous, emotional vocal swoons that would characterize New Order for years.

The band then turned around to release Power, Corruption, and Lies in 1983.  This album saw a marked change in the band’s style, with the power-punk flair of Joy Division’s sunnier moments, and now, adding in the dance/electronica synthesizers that would become the staple of Factory Records.  In standout track “Age Of Consent”, you’ll hear the dance-punk flavor that has become the rage today in modern indie music–and remember, this is 1983.  Factory Records, and their legendary club in Manchester, would be the birthplace of modern dance, electronica, rave, and post-punk, and if anyone had as big a role ushering in this new sound as New Order, I’d like to know.

New Order – Age Of Consent

New Order – Ceremony

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To see all of these moments documented in the most wonderful way, get 24 Hour Party People, the great Steve Coogan-led movie about Factory Records and the many, many bands that spawned from the Manchester scene.

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Buy Power, Corruption, and Lies