Nerd Lunch Episode 109: Convention Experiences
Top 30 Christmas Songs Chosen From My Holiday Playlist
Just like during Halloween season, music is a crucial aspect of creating the proper atmosphere of my holiday season. Currently, I’m in the middle of a soft launch of my diverse and hefty holiday playlist. This week, I’ve been sprinkling in a Christmas songs into my regular playlists, with a full-on Christmas music bonanza most likely hitting the speakers tomorrow.
From mid-November until the very last bit of Christmas Day, I only listen to Christmas tunes. Yeah, I take it seriously. There’s never been a Christmas when it was any different either. My father started this tradition in our family once cassettes became standard in the household. He would record all of our favorite Christmas songs off the radio, essentially making mix tapes for us to listen to the entire holiday season. We had about 5 or 6 tapes chock full of awesome Christmas music. Once we got a more advanced stereo system we even started to “dub” (No, not dub-step kids. At one time dubbing referred to copying or recording) Christmas record albums (younger kids only semi-know what these are) onto cassettes.
My parents had an extensive record collection. A decent chunk of the collection included some pretty awesome Christmas records that provided me with an endless amount of musical discovery when I was really young. I remember going through stacks of records and finding a bunch of different Christmas compilations that my parents got through gas station promotions. For some reason gas stations used to give you full kitchen silverware sets, glassware, and LPs. It was a peculiar, yet f*cking amazing time in America. I guess gas was a tough sell back then? Now all you need to do is announce that there’s a gas shortage and there’s a line of cars 3 1/2 miles long down Route 9.
The moment November arrived, I hounded my parents incessantly for permission to bring the Christmas decorations inside. We used to keep all of it in the garage and being that we were one of the only families I knew who actually parked their car in the garage, it was sort of a bitch to get all the huge heavy boxes down off the shelves when there was a big brown Buick in the way. Plus, it always seemed to be very cold, not like nowadays when we’ve been getting random stretches of 65 degree weather. So, my parents took all that into consideration and they would attempt to dissuade me every time, but Christmas overcame me. My Christmas force power was too strong even for my parents who were firm when they wanted to be. As soon as they relented and gave me the exasperated “Go ahead…bring it in,” approval, I would instantly start playing Christmas records.
Christmastime was like a state of mind and a drug to me, and it still is. The excitement of the season overshadowed everything else. It was the fact that everything seemed different and better during the holidays. The music, the food, the decorations, the TV specials, the family get togethers, it was all a total blast to me. What was old became new again although this magical feeling would never work without the music.
On the wish list front, I would craft a very detailed list for Santa each year. Months prior to December, I’d cull from the jumbo catalogs that arrived in the mailbox from stores like JC Penny and Sears and very neatly copied down item numbers and descriptions – wouldn’t want those elves f*cking everything up now would we? Frankly, none of that really mattered, I just revelled in being caught up in the season. It was the one time a year when everyone seemed to honestly set aside their differences (for the most part), have a few drinks, and eat some Christmas cookies. I had so many great Christmas seasons with my family and friends and they were all set to music.
Back to those mix tapes. They lasted for years and we played them over and over again. We also started collecting the Very Special Christmas compilations when they started showing up in stores. To have those official releases were great, but Dad’s mix tapes were LEGENDARY. Songs would abruptly cut off and then pick up in the middle of another song, and then other songs would end and he’d forget to stop the tape, so for 8 years we were able to recite Casey Kasem’s post-song banter. Then there’d be songs toward the end of the tapes that were regular top 40 music so we’d go from “Last Christmas” into “Just a Gigolo” by David Lee Roth. It was quirky for sure, but we waited all year to listen to those tapes.
My Christmas music tradition was enhanced when I got my first iPod back in 2004. Christmas playlists were never the same. Gone were the mix tapes that my father made us, but they are fully reflected fully in my playlist. Essentially, this playlist is just a modern version of those old tapes.
Presently, just to give you an idea of what kind of Christmas freak I am, there’s 433 tracks in my Holiday Playlist, some are IDs with Christmas greetings from people like Kevin Smith, Alice Cooper, and others, and a few are sound clips from Christmas movies, but the majority of the tracks are songs. Keep in mind that I’m not one to rip full albums – especially Christmas albums because there’s usually a lot of filler. To clue you in, the only full album I have on my christmas playlist is Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift To You.
You can’t imagine the difficulty I had choosing these songs. What it came down to was, if I had to delete 400 some-odd songs, what are the 30 that I’d keep in the playlist? I tried to narrow it down to 10 and 20, but there were too many that I absolutely couldn’t part with. Once you get down to around the top 15 there’s a more solid rhyme and reason behind why I chose the songs in that particular order. Some are comedic, some are sentimental favorites, others are rockers, but all of them are nostalgic to me and bring to mind memories of the Christmas season. Not everyone is as anal about Christmas music as I am, so, below, I’ve shared my favorite songs with you and also my thoughts on each one.
30. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas – An actual, fully produced non-ironic song based off the SNL sketch with Horatio Sanz, Tracey Morgan, Chris Kattan, and Jimmy Fallon. Just the idea of it made me happy inside. I’m an SNL fanatic so this is great. Julian definitely put his own spin on it and it worked.
29. “Silent Night” by Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Not only is it a Jersey thing, but Aqua Teen is also hysterical, especially Meatwad. I love Meatwad. I wish he could be my real life meat-friend. I love his voice and his laid back nature. I also really love when he starts telling everyone how he’s “the Boss of music” in this version of “Silent Night” from Have Yourself a Meaty Little Christmas, the Aqua Teen Christmas album.
28. 12 Days of Christmas by Bob and Doug McKenzie – A staple for me every Christmas since it came out. I’m not really a big fan of any version of the 12 Days of Christmas because they’re usually pretty monotonous, but this song is never unfunny to me. It’s Canadian humor went completely over my head when I was a kid. I didn’t grasp it at all when this was all over the radio. I just knew they kept talking about beer and thinking tuques, which I thought was funny. Bob and Doug’s interaction set to the sounds of the ’80s keyboard always warms my heart. Hoser.
27. “Christmas Is All Around” by Billy Mack – Romantic Comedies are no friend of mine. I try my best to watch one with Miss Sexy Armpit every couple of years. I give it my best shot, but I usually wind up despising every second of it. One that I did appreciate was 2003’s Love Actually. It’s a good movie for the ladies and it’s more than tolerable for guys as well (i.e. there’s boobs). Plus Bill Nighy sings “Christmas Is All Around,” which gave him a “Do Not Pass Go – Go Directly To My iPod” card.
26. “This Christmas” by Christina Aguilera – This is the one time a year I will listen to a Christina Aguilera song. Aguilera’s cover of the Donny Hathaway song is an excellent update to the 1970 holiday classic and still gets a lot of airplay 13 years later.
25. “Best Part of Christmas” by American Angel If there’s a cult classic status for Christmas songs, this one is in the top 5 for sure. This Jersey band had some decent buzz on MTV in the late ’80s/early ’90s, but was predominantly know for their huge local fan base. You may not have realized it, but their first Christmas song is solid. It’s a bit schmaltzy, but probably the best Christmas song to come out of the 80s rock scene. Think Survivor meets Honeymoon Suite.
24. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” by The Whirling Dervishes Another New Jersey band with a kickass rock rendition of the Grinch theme. If you don’t have it, get it, you’ll love it.
23. “Christmas All Over Again” by Butch Walker Not much of a detour from the orignal, but this is a bang up job covering Tom Petty. If you are a Butch fan you will love this. Very fun and upbeat.
22. “Christmas Tree” by Lady Gaga – Coming off her fantastic performance on SNL and awaiting her holiday special with the Muppets, fill the void with her electro-pop Christmas romp full of double entendres the way only Gaga can do it.
21. “Silver Bells” by Twisted Sister – There was a trend several years ago where a lot of the popular metal and hard rock bands of the 80s began to record their own Christmas songs and albums. Twisted Sister was at the forefront of this trend. Their A Twisted Christmas album was well done, often tongue in cheek, and actually worked since Dee Snider and Co. didn’t make it a joke, they made a legitimately good rock Christmas album.
20. “I Wanna Rock You Hard This Chrismas” by The Dan Band – You may remember this band singing an expletive filled version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the movie Old School. They continued their legacy with an original Christmas rock song filled with F-bombs and sexual innuendos.
19. “Jingle Bell Rock” by 38 Special – There’s a story about this one. When I was in my first year of college I was driving to class in my old Corsica and the stereo reception was extremely fuzzy that day. I was tuned into New York’s Classic Rock Station Q104.3 and I was making out little snippets of a rocking version of “Jingle Bell Rock.” With all the fuzz and the noise from the highway I couldn’t make it out well at all, but a small part of me thought that David Lee Roth was covering “Jingle Bell Rock.” If that was the case, it was imperative that I verify it. Why didn’t I know about this already? This began a several year quest to figure out what song this was. I called 3 DJs at the station about this. I researched their playlists, I scoured the Internet (which was not as advanced back then obviously) and I couldn’t find it. I searched every rock band’s discogrpahy that I thought it might be, but to no avail. Finally a couple of years ago, I was looking at a Christmas album on iTunes from a band who didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility back then. It was 38 Special. Definitely not anything like David Lee Roth, but with all the interference on the station I cut myself some slack. It is a really good rocking rendition of the song and I dig it eve though I still wish it was DLR. This mystery lasted almost 10 years, finally the case is closed.
18. “Rockin’ Christmas Time” by 40 Foot Ringo – You may know this band as a modern offshoot of the New Jersey band Trixter. This bouncy rocker just conjures up all kinds of awesome memories for me. The original Trixter lineup has been promoting their latest album Tattoos and Misery for the last year – check it out, it’s good stuff.
17. “We Need a Little Christmas” by New Christy Minstrels – This specific version was featured on an old album my parents got from a gas station. It’s upbeat with their signature folk sound and it gives me that nostalgic feeling. It was always the first song I kicked the season off with.
16. “Things I Want” by Sum 41 and Tenacious D – In this song there’s a ridiculous Christmas list that comes off almost like a bunch of weird ransom demands. “A Motley Crue Lunch Box filled with sticky buns.”
15. “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams I refuse to acknowledge that Scott Weiland recorded a cover of this. This is the Jaws of Christmas songs because it’s such a damn classic that it shouldn’t be remade.
14. “Back Door Santa” by Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi saturated this popular Christmas song with their ’80s pop metal sheen replete with silly banter, synthesizers, and guitar solos. This was when the band was having fun before it became a weird corporation run by an egomaniac with more interest in politics than rock and roll.
13. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Dean Martin – The kind of music to get snowed in to. And toasted.
12. “White Christmas” by Darlene Love – Possibly the ultimate Christmas song from the greatest Christmas album of all time, A Christmas Gift To You From Phil Spector. It’s pretty damn perfect from the arrangement to Darlene Love’s vocal performance. Many people prefer “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), but if I had to choose, I’d go with “White Christmas” in the end.
11. “Winter Wonderland” by Johnny Mathis Another case of not being able to choose just one, I love mostly all of Johnny Mathis’ Christmas songs but this one is the most memorable to me thanks to it’s superb production quality and the songs ability to literally make me feel like I’m sledding in the middle of Hoth.
10. “Oi to the World” by No Doubt An energetic cover of the Vandals’ Christmas song.
9. “Christmas Vacation” by Mavis Staples – In the vein of ’70s R&B that she was known for with The Staple Singers, this theme song to one of my favorite Christmas movies ever was an instant part of my annual celebration. It accompanies the fun animated intro sequence to Christmas Vacation. Originally, before I was able to find a good copy of it, I started playing my Christmas Vacation VHS tape and held my boom box next to the TV speakers and recorded the song while the movie was playing. I used that for a few years before I was able to get it on a real cassette.
8. “Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters – The Carpenters can do no wrong. Karen’s voice was soothing and calm and brings to mind sitting by my Uncle’s fireplace on Christmas eve, staring at the tree and the stockings, wondering what Santa would bring me in the morning. Plus the line “Christmasing with you” FTW.
7. “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses – Belive it or not I grew up hating this song while my sister loved it. I would beg her to stop singing it. It didn’t take long for me to realize I actually adored it too and I was in denial. Originally it seemed kind of annoying, but I just looked past it. Sure it’s goofy, but it gets stuck in your head. It’s so familar now that it’s a holiday classic that you hear in tons of movies and commercials.
6. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney – For some reason this song gets a lot of flack. First of all leave Paul alone. This song is an ’80s Christmas classic, in fact, there was a huge blast of Christmas songs in the ’80s that wound up becoming perennial favorites and this is one of them in all of it’s synth glory. Watching him perform it on SNL last year was awesome too. While listening to this track it’s tradition that I get a small paper cup of spiked egg nog and march around the apartment like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the intro to Real Ghostbusters.
5. “Christmas Celebration” by Weezer – I’ve been a fan of Weezer since they debuted, and to the opposition of many fellow loyal Weezer fans, I actually still really dig their modern output, maybe even more than “classic” Weezer if you can fathom that. They recorded a couple of early Christmas tracks, but years later, around 2008, they released an EP on iTunes called Christmas with Weezer. I love all of their renditions of Christmas songs because they maintain the traditional arrangements but plug in electric guitars and incorporate their signature harmonies.
4. “Christmas In Hollis” by Run DMC – I lost count how many times I’ve rapped along to every word of this song. Using a sample of “Back Door Santa,” Run DMC concocted the greatest rap/hip-hop Christmas song of all time. I can never get enough of this one.
3. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by BRUCE Springsteen This song makes you feel like you’re down on the boardwalk in Asbury on a cold December day and you’re being introspective like Bruce would be…thinking of whether you’re going to be on Santa’s naughty or nice list. It’s a pure Jersey Christmas song and it’s a synonymous with the Christmas season for me.
2. “Last Christmas” by WHAM – Haters gonna hate, Sexy Armpit gonna love. Agree to disagree.
1. “All Alone on Christmas” by Darlene Love – Wall of Sound. CHECK. E-Street Band. CHECK. Recaptures the Phil Spector magic. CHECK. Tugs at your heartstrings. CHECK. Sax solo by THE BIG MAN. CHECK. References to her own song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” CHECK. Nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas. Tell ’em Darlene.
Podcast Challenge Accepted Captain Needa
As stated many times before here at The Sexy Armpit, I’m like the Sy Sperling of the Nerd Lunch podcast. I’ve been a frequent “4th chair” guest on the show, but I’m also a fan. So, if you’ve been dragging your feet and still haven’t checked out their show, now is a great time to jump on. C.T, Pax, and Jeeg just celebrated their 100th episode that featured the return of former members of the show as well as clips and questions for various guests they’ve had on through their run such as myself. Just as a side note, in addition to a bunch of other episodes, I’m proud to say that I was on episode 69 DUDES!
In the process of looking for further podcasts to check out, I turned to the next logical option: The Cult Film Club Podcast. The CFC is hosted by Paxton Holley, Shawn Robare, and Jaime Hood all members of our stake of geekery on the Internet.
The crew gets into detail about films that may not usually get the spotlight such as one my favorite ’80s cult films, The Wraith and The Beastmaster. What I find most appealing about this show is that I usually walk away with some tiny bit of knowledge about a film that I may not have been aware of previously. Toward the end of their conversation they task each other to recast the films they are discussing which makes for a fun and interesting time. Between life, family, blogs of their own, and other projects, I have no idea how they keep up with it all. I suggest checking them out. They’ve got a really cool looking website and graphics. http://cultfilmclub.com/
Not sure how I could be completely unaware of one of the most popular horror podcasts around, but sometimes I’m pretty oblivious to things. Bloody Good Horror has a huge fan base and for good reason. These guys are good. They’ve been at it for so long and their crew has an awesome chemistry because they genuinely seem to be good friends. I’m not sure if they actually are, but it sure sounds that way. Coming from a dude like me who spent many years working in FM and AM radio, this show has a polished sound, from the bumpers to the beer suggestions. They let each other speak and the pacing never gets boring. Pick out a few of your favorite horror films, chances are they’ve done a show about some of them, and listen to one of the best horror podcasts available.
Other shows I checked out and enjoyed include UnderScoopFire Podcast, and He-Man.org’s Roast Gooble Dinner Podcast. As for famous people, I’m not going to gush over their shows because they have networks behind them throwing them wads of cash, but I avidly listen to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s show, Jay Mohr’s non-sports show, as well as many of Kevin Smith’s various podcasts.
Thank you for joining me to read about my podcast challenge. If you still haven’t made the jump to discovering the vast world of podcasts, get on it! There’s a lot of poorly produced crap out there, but there’s also some real high quality, independently produced shows that would love to gain new listeners. Head over to iTunes and subscribe to some of these shows now – they are FREE!
…Cause I’m Saved By The Bell!
SIXX A.M “This Is Gonna Hurt” Review
Nikki Sixx seems to be more passionate about creating new music with SIXX A.M rather than with Motley Crue. After reading Sixx’s latest book also titled This Is Gonna Hurt, it’s obvious that lead singer James Michael is a conduit for Sixx’s musical ideas. There’s a ton of creative energy between the two of them and SIXX A.M’s accompanying album “This is Gonna Hurt” is like a Lazy Susan waiting for you to spin it around and savor all of it’s treats.
The reason why you can take my opinion about the newest SIXX A.M album seriously is because I was a fan of Motley growing up in the ’80s and I always gave it my best shot to get into all of Nikki’s side projects. Usually they weren’t very memorable. I actually enjoyed Brides of Destruction when they first formed but listening back after all these years, their tunes don’t hold up that well. When SIXX A.M hit with The Heroin Diaries not only was I blown away, but the world of rock music was pretty stoked as well. Here was a truly inspired album with feelings behind the music, all conveyed through a group of extremely talented musicians and a kick ass lead singer.
Truthfully though, a lot of the songs on Heroin Diaries were a little too dark for my taste. The more upbeat “Life is Beautiful” and “Pray For Me” are two outstanding tracks and I had my doubts that they would be able to surpass the success of those singles on their next effort. Man was I wrong! If there’s ever been a list of bands who have released a second album that eclipsed their first, let SIXX AM be in the top 5. This is Gonna Hurt has it all. Every track is a discovery and worth putting on your iPod.
This is Gonna Hurt shows that the band has expanded creatively and musically. It seems they went in a more mainstream direction this time, but the nature of the music is brighter and hopeful. The music that went along with The Heroin Diaries was appropriately darker in tone, but I think that’s what hindered it from being an outstanding album as a whole. This is Gonna Hurt succeeds because it’s one of those albums for me where I don’t need to skip any tracks. So, there’s no Sophomore slump for SIXX A.M. And although I’m already waiting to see what they cook up for us next, I’ll share with you some of the highlights of this killer summer album.
The title track “This is Gonna Hurt” is a straight ahead fast paced head bopping and fist pumping rocker. Then, on “Lies Of The Beautiful People” James Michael’s voice ascends to Myles Kennedy heights. “Live Forever” is epic and radio friendly with a little bit of My Chemical Romance sprinkled in. It also features a Slash level guitar solo by DJ Ashba. “Sure Feels Right” is one of the best tracks on the album and it’s not even a hard rocker. It reminds me of Tommy Lee and Butch Walker’s “Good Times” and it’s just as good of a time. It has a breezy quality that’s perfect for driving around on a sunny day with the windows down. “Smile” is a sweet love ballad that will make Train shit their pants in fear, but it’s still OK for dudes to listen to. The “doo do doos” in “Help Is On The Way” has hints of Marvelous 3 and helps make for another strong, rocking track. “Oh My God” mixes Springsteen caliber storytelling with a vast U2 style musical atmosphere and a guitar solo reminiscent of Richie Sambora’s on Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye.” You also won’t be disappointed in the infectious and colossal “Goodbye My Friends,” which is what I’m saying to you right now!
The Sexy Armpit’s Top 10 Bands of 2010
One of The Sexy Armpit’s favorite things to do is to check out local bands since they are usually more interesting and put on a better show than the majority of bands who just sit on their mounds and mounds of cash and feel like they can go out and play the same show and same setlist that they’ve been doing for 10 years. People pay for tickets to concerts so they deserve a KICK-ASS show in return. The following bands were chosen by The Sexy Armpit under 2 conditions: 1) they hail from NJ or NY 2) their music is not boring 3) the band puts on an awesome show. This begins our annual NYE countdown of The Sexy Armpit’s Top 10 Bands of the Year!
10. Rapid Fire – F*cking METAL. That is all. They will permanently freeze your fingers into devil horns. Now for the kicker – these dudes are in high school. I was still playing with action figures in high school.
9. The Sexy Heroes – A fun pop-punk type band out of Saddle River, NJ who wears neon firefighter pants at all of their energetic shows. Almost a shoe-in to be the next band that you’re teen daughter will be obsessed with.
8. Natasha Komis – My iPod is chock full of chick rock and Natasha Komis is a nice addition to the playlist. This young Jersey girl has left her appearance on Paris Hilton’s My New BFF behind and is rocking like Joan Jett for the 2k generation. You can get her stuff on iTunes.
7. The Deafening – Raw hard rock out of New York City. Lead singer Coco Caine’s vocal range soars into the stratosphere while the band gives you a bad case of rock neck. Also on iTunes.
6. The Fletchers – Infectious indie rock out of Highland Park, NJ. Read our review HERE.
5. Those Mockingbirds – I saw them open for the now defunct God Loves a Challenge at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. I picked up their CD after the show and dug it. I see them gaining national attention in the future. This year, make sure you check out one of their lively shows around NJ and PA.
4. Lipstick and Cigarettes – Still considered new on the scene, L and C sounds like they’ve been around for a while…ohhh, say since 1983? This NJ rock band combines modern elements of bands like The Killers, with the classic new wave sounds of The Cars. After my first L and C show I knew most of the songs by heart and I was singing them for the rest of the night. Their album is available on iTunes.
3. Star Killer – Their hard, industrial brand of rock may not be for housewives or Tony Bennett fans, but Star Killer has landed and brought with them a very fresh and exciting sound that combines elements of Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Marilyn Manson, and P.O.D. Lead singer Jasin Cadic grew up in Edison, NJ and has also starred in The Perfect Age of Rock and Roll. Their EP is available for FREE for a limited time so get your ass to their website.
2. Scarlet Carson – It’s been a long time since our state has had it’s own rockers. I’m not talking about, Bruce, Bon Jovi, or Gaslight Anthem…I’m talking about the glory days of metal, hair bands, and excessive rock, i.e. Motley Crue. It was all about living the rock and roll lifestyle, drinking, and playing shows that made the audience want to fist pump – NOT Jersey Shore style, but because the music simply ROCKED. That’s what these guys are all about and they sum it up as “Dirty Jersey Rock and Roll.”
1. The Dirty Pearls – It’s already been several years since I first saw The Dirty Pearls live and I knew from that moment that they were the only band in recent times, perhaps since Buckcherry, to grasp what rock and roll is all about. If you’ve never heard of the reigning kings of New York City rock and roll, you will when they release their first official full length album, Whether You Like It Or Not in Spring 2011. All you silly-ass Nickelbacky bands and Daughtry soundalikes should go crawl into a hole because there’s about to be a gigantic, sleazy, sexy, hard rock explosion so get the f*ck out of the way!
How The Grinch Stole New Jersey
The Christmas season has officially kicked off and The Sexy Armpit’s iPod has been cranking out the holiday tunes, but there’s one song that I forgot to put on there! “Mr. Grinch,” a 1995 alt-rock cover version by The Whirling Dervishes who hailed from Westfield, NJ.
The Whirling Dervishes got some airplay on MTV and they were were pretty big in the local Jersey rock scene in the ’80s and ’90s. Members of the band went on to form Everlounge, who frequently plays original rocking lounge music in bars and clubs around The Garden State. Whether you’re a New Jersey native or not, their version of “Mr. Grinch” is a must add to your Holiday playlist.
Everlounge will be playing at:
The Stage House
Scotch Plains, NJ
The Fletchers – Lights Out Loud
I could have sworn the only thing coming out of New Brunswick, NJ was the vomit shooting out of 2nd floor apartment windows like cannonballs over Hamilton Street after a night of partying, that is, up until the moment an old friend made me aware of a rock band called The Fletchers. They recently released their 2nd album Lights Out Loud, and from the moment of insertion (of the CD you scumbag!), the stereotypes of a repugnant college town cleared away like acne after being doused with Proactive. I can’t guarantee that listening to The Fletchers will work wonders on that jock itch of yours, but hey, it’s worth a shot!
The Fletchers’ Lights Out Loud ascends to heights that their debut album Bright Blue Lights did not. Lights Out Loud is a more focused outing and it’s accessibility makes it apparent that the mind and the voice of The Fletchers, Gary Kaplan, has created possibly the finest work of his musical career. What makes Kaplan different from the host of other songwriters and lead singers coming out of New Jersey is that he’s enjoyed success in bands before. In the ’90s (the ancient times), Kaplan was the singer and songwriter behind two indie bands, Dandelion Fire and Rotator Cuff. His former bands have opened for other big name bands, and Rotator Cuff’s video for “Alfa Romeo” scored airplay on MTV, way back when they still didn’t play music videos, except for a little show at a hideous hour called 120 Minutes.
On Light’s opening track, “Beaches,” Kaplan’s distinct voice almost seems too strong for it’s airy background vocals and breezy, top down instrumentation, but it all comes together less than a minute into the song. Unlike the secretive Coca-Cola brand, The Fletchers formula comes right out of your speakers for you to savor. It’s the juxtaposition of Kaplan’s raspy voice, resonant backing vocals, and music provided by Dan Coffey on bass, Rob Freda on guitar, and Cliff Heaton on drums that provides quite an addictive blend.
Kaplan’s wisdom from his invaluable exposure to the music business has undoubtedly helped The Fletcher’s hone in on their signature sound. Fresh indie rock radiates from Lights Out Loud. Rob Freda’s superb guitar work plays an integral role, but the tunes are also replete with fun choruses, harmonies, and other pop sensibilities. The band’s influences can surely be detected, but The Fletcher’s are not begging to be noticed by the similarities they bare to the groups they listen to on their iPods. Several reviews and critics have cited similarities ranging from Brit-Pop acts to XTC, REM, and The Kinks. A more prominent musical connection, at least to The Sexy Armpit’s ear, is to another New Jersey rock band, The Smithereens. To be clear, The Fletcher’s are definitely not a Smithereens tribute band, but if you punch “The Smithereens” into a Pandora playlist, The Fletchers may very well come up next.
Lights Out Loud was produced and engineered in Hopewell, NJ and mixed in East Brunswick, NJ.
The Sexy Armpit says Download these tracks: “Beaches,” “Maybe,” and “Wasted.” BUY the MP3 album of Lights Out Loud at CDBaby for only $7.99 or the CD for $9.99.Find out more about The Fletchers at their official site: www.thefletchersmusic.com. Friend them on Myspace: www.myspace.com/thefletchersmusic or Become a Fan on Facebook.
The Fletchers play The Loop Lounge in Passaic Park, NJ this Friday, March 5th.
NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 34: The Situation from MTV’s Jersey Shore
Unfortunately, The Whereabouts just doesn’t have the same ring as The Situation. I’m absolutely furious that Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has tarnished one of the best words in the English language forever. All the hipsters who actually enjoy watching MTV will now associate the word SITUATION with a former male stripper from Staten Island. In fact, this guy helped make Jersey Shore the pop culture phenomenon that it is, and the m-therfucker is from Staten Island?!?! He’s what true Jersey Shore folks call a Benny! Or as you may remember in a scene from Star Wars: A New Hope “We don’t serve their kind here!”
When I was but a young whippersnapper, the word SITUATION was well respected. It was an esteemed word that didn’t come to mind when sweaty, fist pumping, ‘roided out, guidos were mentioned. The real situation is the puddles going on in their armpits! (That is not Sexy). Can you remember a simpler time not so long ago? Take a moment to think back to a period of your life when the mere mention of the word situation elicited such cool and recognizable song lyrics such as “OK, here’s the SITUATION my parents went away on a weeks vacation…” I’m going to make a safe wager that Will Smith doesn’t even care that whenever I hear one of his legendary rhymes, a Staten Island guido will completely cloud my mind and impair me from enjoying the rest of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s classic “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Every time I hear the word situation, it feels like I’m having a little heart attack.
I used to chant along wild and passionate with Motley Crue’s frontman Vince Neil, and shout “It’s the saaame ol’, saaame ol’ SITUAAATION!” and now thank goodness I have a medical alert button around my neck or someone would literally have to kickstart my heart. This guy is frigging everywhere! I can’t think of a more appropriate time to say WTF? Have you ever been sitting around quietly reflecting on the events of the day and suddenly began to think to yourself…”What the hell happened to Yaz?” Well, coincidentally, that happens to me quite often and even when I looked them up and found out that they reunited in 2008, it still slips my mind what the hell happened to Yaz. So, in order to recall Yaz’s glory days of British synth pop stardom, I have to crank up the iPod and spin the click wheel to one of their biggest hits, yep, you f-cking guessed it…SITUATION!!! What a word killing bastard! I’m getting a class action lawsuit against this guy for ruining one of my favorite words ever!
To protect my heart from failure, I’ll be refraining from using the word S——-N from now on. Since Mike Sorrentino rose to fame thanks to MTV’s Jersey Shore, it was merely a week until I started seeing “I Love The S——-N” T-shirts.
Can’t we be a little more creative here people? At the very least I would have expected some illustrated abdominal muscles on the front or “Lift up my shirt to see The S——-N!” Dammit, I should be this assholes PR guy. They could’ve had a shirt that would give the tuxedo t-shirt a run for its money! (This eBay store should be ashamed of themselves for creating the most uninspired S——-N shirt ever.)
Shitty t-shirts aside, one of these days, The Sexy Armpit will inform The S——-N all about how he’s permanently massacred one of the finest words in our vernacular. Hopefully by that time I’ll have ruined the words SEXY and ARMPIT for him!
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the most influential idols in my life, George Carlin:
“…Newspeople like to say ‘police have responded to an emergency situation,’ no they haven’t, they’ve responded to an EMERGENCY, we know it’s a situation…everything is a situation!”
Where to find these shirts:
Garden State Parkway Inspired Tee designed by Skeezoid on CafePress.com
“I Love the…” at the official Jersey Shore store at Zazzle.com, and yes…they even have t-shirts for your dog.
Mike’s Quote Tee from mdunphy89 found in her Sweet T’s store at Zazzle.com