Keep On Moving: Alt-Nation Gets a Makeover

After like 13 years of writing under Alt-Nation, it is weird to say fuck that, but I’m nobody’s go-to for rational thought so … fuck it. The original Motif column name that I wrote under was Exile in Olneyville, an obvious Stones pun, plus a reference to where I was living at the time. I still share the ZIP code, but it isn’t where I’m at in life. Since we are talking about outposts overlooking Olneyville, let’s talk about my amazing friends who own the Scurvy Dog, Jami and Terry, who are celebrating 10 years of turning the old Green Bar into a home for wayward punk rockers. They started from the gutters with my pal Brendan and turned the joint into a haven for lovers of cheap booze and good music played loud. Be on the lookout for Scurvy Dog all-day parking lot shows throughout the summer, and I’ll try to touch on that when it’s happening. Since I’m on a Scurvy kick, let’s talk about some foul weather about to hit, like a Foul Weather Friend.

Foul Weather Friend – Self-Titled

Don’t know why, but I didn’t think that I’d like this debut album from Foul Weather Friend as much I do. It was an irrational fear because I run into my pal Bruce Humphrey at every show I’m excited about from here to Boston. We obviously have similar interests. What was I thinking — that Bruce was playing in a one of those country pop bands? In the words of Husker Du, “It makes no sense at all.” I popped in the biscuit and it kicks with a tune, “Halo Moon,”  that is so good that I spent three months listening to that on repeat and didn’t bother with the rest of the record (sorry Bruce!). foul weather friend As the title suggests, it is ethereal and not far from a stone’s throw to stuff like The Yawpers with a Stones opening punch like punk rockers mining the roots. Lines like, “We’re so sway by the lunacy around us” sum up these times. I did eventually get to track two, being the responsible journalist that I occasionally am, to “Fences and Walls,” which is impossible to think of without mentioning the orangutan President we are all so lucky to have according to one Twitter account. “Fences and Walls” reminds me of Mathew Sweet fronting a band inspired by mod-era The Who mixed with Psychedelic Furs. “Let It Go” reminds me of the Goo Goo Dolls, before they sucked, as a ballad. It’s not quite Replacements level, but what is? “Girls of Wild Strawberries” sounds like you crushed Nick Lowe and Tommy Keene in a blender and poured the result over ice. “Happy Bubble” is the rocker with runner-up status to “You’re Love Won’t Leave Me Alone.” The closing, “No Use to You Now,” captures the defeated heartbreak of The Replacements with an indie rock swing.

Foul Weather Friend, Jenn Lombardi, and You And Everything will be rocking Nick-A-Nee’s on Jun 22.

The Damned – Evil Spirits

The first UK punk band to release an album returns after a 40th anniversary tour with a new album that was much anticipated … by me, not sure about everyone else. The Damned teamed up with famed Bowie producer Tony Visconti, so it sounded promising. The thing about Damned albums is when (originally bassist) guitarist Captain Sensible is in the lineup, they are usually money. As recently as 2001, they hit 33 on roulette with Grave Disorder, which was a fantastic record. I can’t tell you the same about the follow-up, So, Who’s Paranoid? without turning into the pom pom waving cheerleaders that pass for music critics these days. I caught The Damned live last year, and they are still amazing. The previous time I saw them, they were great, too, but my main takeaway was waking up for work to find their drummer, Pinch, still drinking in my kitchen. Evil Spirits is about the here and now, probably more so then Letters to Cleo, kicking off with the ominous, yet rocking, “Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow.” It is a perfect song for these imperfect times. It gets better with “The Devil In Disguise” where singer Dave Vanian snarls, “Don’t be the victim, be the crime.” The rest of the album leaves something to be desired with ballads like “Look Left” and “I Don’t Care” that feels like a Vanian indulgent goth fantasy. The latter doesn’t suck, as it kicks into a Black Album rave-up. I just want The Damned to be great, and can’t say that this is great. But hey, they are here and the Sex Pistols and The Clash are not.

Darklands – Hate It Here

This is another one that is a bit late, like everything in my life, but the new record from Darklands, Hate It Here, is another personal favorite for post-punk mayhem. I was drawn to seeing the band because they took their name from a Jesus and Mary Chain album. I was all in, like when one is down to their last chips in poker, but I don’t know anything about gambling unless it is a day that ends in a y. There are plenty of bands doing the ’80s post-punk thing, but Darklands just do it better. I don’t know why so many bands remind me of the band Hum, but “Kensington” feels like what that Train to Mars song would be like if it was rocked out. “See You Soon” has that Echo and The Bunnymen flavor, but maybe without Echo, and The Birthday Party instead. “The Hill I Choose to Die On” is just noisy dark pop with a buried Keith Levene playing guitar with a Public Image Ltd feel. “Fremont” is my Darklands mix tape jam with the line, “I can see you’re not quite there.” The closing, “Like a House on Fire,” sums it up between the instrumentation and desperation.

Darklands are next in action at AS220’s Psychic Readings on Aug 7, so set a reminder in your phone now and thank me later.

The Voidz

Strokes front man Julian Casablancas’ other project is much more electro-pop orientated. The Voidz have a new album, Virtue, which features Strokes-worthy pop hooks (“Leave It In My Dreams”) at times, but is just more out there. It is better than Casablancas’ solo record, but you can’t really compare it to The Strokes because they are two different things. This show will be a cool chance to catch Casablancas in an intimate setting.

The Voidz and Porches rock The Met Café on Jun 29.

Girls Guns & Glory

Girls Guns & Glory kick out the jams with a twang and a bang. They pretty much take old style country and rev it up with some rock ‘n’ roll.

Girls Guns & Glory will be at The Knickerbocker in Westerly on Jun 30.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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