Round V – A is for the Au Pairs

Au PairsI wrote about the Au Pairs back in February 2013. However, it was only about six months ago when I actually found a copy of their first album, 1981’s Playing with a Different Sex. I’ll be honest, the only reason I knew of the band was their brilliant single “Come Again” which they played live for the 1982 film “Urgh! A Music War”. Continue reading

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X is for Xymox

XymoxI am kind of cheating here. Twist of Shadows is the album I listened to before writing this post. That was their third album, the first two albums the band released they were going by the name Clan of Xymox. I liked both of those albums much more, especially the brilliant darkwave sophomore effort MedusaTwist of Shadows was really, really good though. Continue reading

W is for The Wipers

The WipersKurt Cobain lists this band as a major influence. That would be enough of a reason for me to check out The Wipers anyway but luckily for me they had been on my radar for years prior to that. The Wipers formed in Portland, Oregon back in 1977. One of the things I love about this band is even though they were classified as punk rock they created music that never limited them to the constraints on that genre. Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Greg Sage is one of those musicians who truly follows the DIY mantra, wanting to create art solely for art’s sake. The music of The Wipers was complex and featured guitar work that was grunge long before grunge hit the mainstream in the nineties. The lyrical content was dark, completely matching the tone of the music and most important, music this intense was loaded with a barrage of hooks. Continue reading

V is for Villagers

VillagersWhen I was contemplating the letter V the obvious choice was the Violent Femmes so I kept looking through my iPod until Dublin, Ireland’s Villagers jumped out at me. I bet it’s been at least seven years since I listened to their 2010 debut Becoming a Jackal. Revisiting the album was nice. The record contains 11 tracks and while for me was not groundbreaking it is good, original indie folk. That album was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize and went to number one on both the Irish Albums and Irish Indie Albums charts. It possesses a very solid, consistent sound, the kind of music I like to mellow out to in a coffeehouse.

Villagers have a new album entitled The Art Of Pretending To Swim coming out later this month, their fifth overall. I’m hoping they tour here, would love a chance to see them live. Here is a live clip of songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Conor O’Brien singing the title track from their debut album. Cheers!

T is for TV on the Radio

DSC00788Earlier this month it had been 10 years since I saw TV on the Radio for the first time at the 2008 Monolith Festival at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The best thing about this festival for me was how many bands I had never heard of that I ended up becoming fans of and this band is a great example. Continue reading

S is for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

DSC00773Oh man, what a pleasure to talk about this band! My sister and I went to the first two Monolith Festivals at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado back in 2007 and 2008. I’m telling you, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza may be the hipster music festivals (which is why I don’t go) but this festival was sooooooooooooo much better in my opinion. I did go to Coachella in 2009 and that was great, still not as good as this event. I saw a lot of incredible bands that weekend, many for the first time: Continue reading

R is for Ron Pratt

Ron Pratt - I Made It Through the RainI really miss this guy. I met Ron Pratt the summer of 1985 when I was working at Organ Stop Pizza which was at 7th Street and Missouri back when I was in grade school and high school. I wrote a post about him just over six years ago entitled “Whining is the Offspring of Futility in Music Form” so you already know how much this gentleman means to me. I think this year I have missed him even more than ever. Lots of great memories, I just wish he was around for even more …

These alphabet posts are about music and while I am not a huge fan of traditional pop/pop standards, Ronnie was able to create an interest in the genre that never existed before. For two years I had the opportunity see him perform most Friday and Saturdays or Saturdays and Sundays at Organ Stop. If I recall he usually did three sets a night, three songs a pop accompanying the organists that played the entire evening.

You have to realize that I was in high school at the time so it wasn’t cool for me to like any music other than punk rock, new wave, rockabilly and on rare occasion a little bit of rock and roll. I had developed a mild appreciation of classical music because of work but I was so closed minded at the time that even genres I like today such as thrash metal, old school hip hop and classic rock were in my opinion trash. Therefore, the idea of appreciating anything that could be considered easy listening was out of the question. Ron’s ability to sing these standards with passion and power quickly caught my attention.

There are a lot of male vocalists out there who put their voices to this genre of music. We know the famous ones. Here are some highlights from Ron’s musical career:

  • Sang at Circus Circus, Caesars Palace, Golden Nugget, Desert Inn and other clubs around Las Vegas
  • Sang in Phoenix at La Strada, Senor T’s, George’s Ole’, Longhorn Saloon, Blue Grotto and other venues
  • Sang with the “Phabulous Phoenicians,” a barbershop choir, and in 1985 went to Salt Lake City for National Championships and received a Bronze Medal
  • Awarded Phoenix, Arizona’s “Male Vocalist of the Year” in 1986

I can say that I became a fan of songs such as “Ol Man River”, “Mack the Knife”, “New York, New York”, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, “I Made it Through the Rain”, “This One’s For You”, “How Great Thou Art” and “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) as a result of watching Ron Pratt sing live. I only got to see him perform at Organ Stop but as his son I was given three cassette tapes of his work. I will always treasure them and each cassette has a little message he taped for me. These are the only pieces of music I possess that I have never taped/burned for anyone else. Never will.

No videos this time. Miss you Pop, thanks for being the best friend I will ever have. Cheers!