Liner Notes- 09.Feb.2023
Tom Verlaine, this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot, a review of The Dream Syndicate's latest release, and more!
Welcome to the 3rd issue of Liner Notes for 2023.
If you’re looking for even more, you can visit here to see everything I’ve written about lately. If you’d like to support On Repeat, the best ways to do that are by taking out a subscription and/or sharing this (or any other) post.
The big news of late has been the passing of Tom Verlaine. You’ve likely read a million posts about it already. Consider this the millionth & 1. I don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been said (and said better). Marquee Moon is, of course, considered canon in some circles.
It’s groundbreaking, great, and worth whatever superlatives get thrown at it, but so too, is some of Verlaine’s solo work. I don’t think that’s received nearly enough ink in recent days. I also don’t know that I’d consider Television “punk’ the way many articles have, but my working definition is more of “bands like The Exploited” as opposed to “bands that were doing stuff no one else was doing.” YMMV.
The rock and roll hall of fame nominee list is also out. I am, of course, required by law to note that I think New Order/Joy Division should be a lock. But overall, it’s an interesting list. And if I’m honest, it’s nice to see the hall move away from classic rock being the default entry.
Baby steps, to be sure, but still.
Given that an artist/band has to be 25 years past their first release to be eligible, each ballot also comes with what I’d deem a gut-punch nominee- as in, I can’t believe they’ve been around that along already (or that I’m old enough to remember when they came out).
This year’s pick? Missy Elliot. It seems like yesterday that I was on a road trip up/down I-95 with Supa Dupa Fly blasting from the rental car, but it’s been almost three decades. Oof.
And if there’s any justice in the world, Warren Zevon will sail in unanimously.
Once he and New Order have some wall space in the hall, I can start my letter-writing campaign to get The Replacements in. Who’s with me?
What do you think of this year’s list? Who’ll make it? Who should?
On to the music…
The Dream Syndicate- Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions
(Click any record to listen on your platform of choice)
During their original run in the 80s, The Dream Syndicate always felt a bit overlooked. You know the story: like 1000 other bands before them, they had some minor acclaim but never quite had their time in the sun, instead simmering just below the surface-their fame limited to college radio’s reach, their reputation carried in quiet conversations and tapes passed around small circles.
Shame, really, as the music they were putting out was as unique as any of their peers, with each of their four records from the time seeming to break new ground.
For those that might not be familiar with the story, the band got its start as part of L.A.’s fabled Paisley Underground scene, along with bands like The Three O’Clock, The Bangles, The Plimsouls, and more.
They dropped their first EP in 1982, and their Days of Wine and Roses (featuring the fantastic “Tell Me When It’s Over” later that year, following those with three more records along with a couple of live LPs for good measure before splitting up.
So maybe their reunion should also fly under the radar. A lot of bands got more attention for getting back together. The Dream Syndicate has bet the other way and released three records since 2019 alone.
The band’s style is at once distinctive and hard to describe—you know it when you hear it. Part of that is down to the wide range of sounds the band manages to work into every record, and Ultraviolet is no exception. Any new release risks alienating fans that want more of the same. The Dream Syndicate has hedged that bet by throwing a little bit of everything into the blender.
Doing that is easy. Doing it well is something else entirely. Fortunately, one of their strengths is shapeshifting effortlessly as they take us on tour through various sounds.
And there really is something for everyone here. The opener, “Where I’ll Stand,” starts out kinda synth-y before building into a wall of guitars at the end. “Every Time You Come Around” is a lovely lament with singer Steve Wynn’s typically enigmatic lyrics:
Was it some kind of place for you?
Can't figure out what you're trying to do
Every time you come to take my name
Someone's trying to find someone to blame
That’s followed immediately by “Trying to Get Over,” a straight-ahead rocker. Closer “Straight Lines” is a return to their early Velvet Underground-influenced sound.
Bottom Line: A fantastic record by a band that is more concerned with putting out good music than fitting into any genre box.
For your playlist: Where I’ll Stand, Trying To Get Over, Straight Lines
Below the jump:
A review of the latest from indie stalwarts Sloan
patchnotes’ sophomore release
A killer Alvvays cover of one of my fave songs from the 80s
The absurdity that is #musictwitter
All that & more. Check it out!