Music Quickspins

The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings (Canvasback Music, 2017)

The Orwells might be Terrible Human Beings, but they have compiled an eclectic, grungy, rock and roll album. If you are a fan of grunge 60s rock, chances are you will be delighted with this playlist. The American band from Chicago sounds just like typical young guys in a garage band expressing their teenage angst. Their opening track, “They Put a Body in the Bayou,” has an interesting set of lyrics that might raise a few eyebrows: “Told me act your age, that’s why she’s underage, said her papa hates the Federales and when he drinks too much he smacks her face.” Song after song, each have a distinct 60s grunge aesthetic that leaves all tracks sounding similar. Each might be great on their own, yet, as an album, their ballads tend to sound repetitive. Overall, a great grunge rock album filled with vintage melodies and grungy guitar riffs.

Trial Track: “They Put a Body in The Bayou”




Beginner’s guide to 60s garage rock

A time machine back to 60s youth culture along with the best albums and hits

In 1972—45 years ago, now—legendary music writer, producer and guitarist for the Patti Smith group, Lenny Kaye, teamed up with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman to put together a compilation which would forever change the scope of music to come. The compilation in question was Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, a two-disc assemblage of 27 of the best American garage rock cuts released between 1965 and 1968. Not only did this collection prove to a myriad of aspiring musicians that instrumental mastery isn’t all it takes to make great music, catalyzing the punk scene of the 70s. It also installed the long-bygone garage rock genre—one which was often downplayed in its time by music critics as being overly simple and childish—as a legitimate and respected one. Nuggets shines a light on a horde of forgotten acts whose music would influence generations to come, and serves as gold-standard collector’s item for record enthusiasts.

Though garage rock music is instantly recognizable, it’s incredibly difficult to stifle down to a singular definition. This is due to the great creativity of the genre’s bands as a result of the DIY nature of the music. Styles such as blues, R&B, rock and roll and especially the British-Invasion music of the early 60s, led by groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, played a large role in shaping these groups’ sounds. Garage rock instrumentation would usually consist of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. The genre would often feature a small organ and heavy psychedelic effects which fell in line with the drug craze of the late 60s. This collision of older music styles with the careless, drug-fueled sentiment of the time enabled these bands to create truly unique sounds which now act as a crucial snapshot of the era.

In retrospect, it’s clear that mid-60s garage was very much a singles-dominated style. While many groups recorded one or two major hits, their output often capped there. Bands such as L.A.’s the Standells, whose raving ode to Boston, “Dirty Water,” stands not only as one of the best garage rock songs ever recorded, but as one of the best period. The Electric Prunes, whose eerily psychedelic “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)” shares similar credentials, and stands as prime a example of this phenomenon.

Todd Rundgren’s group, Nazz, is perhaps the most interesting example of this happening. Formed in Philadelphia in 1967, the group caught their big break opening for the Doors later that year. Despite releasing three commercially-shunned LPs, the band now stands as one of the most influential garage groups of all time. Their acclaim stems from their 1968 single “Open My Eyes,” a track which blended swirling psychedelia with raving pop melodies into a mind-boggling perfection, and helped pioneer styles such as power pop, while acting as the blueprint for Rundgren’s fruitful solo career. In fact, “Hello It’s Me,” the single’s B-side, was later redone by Rundgren in 1973, and became arguably his biggest commercial success.

To call garage rock a singles-led style is not to discount the importance of the LPs that came out of the era. Indeed, a plethora of groups found success past the single and went on to record cohesive records which proved equally vital in marking the era. Texas-based band The 13th Floor Elevators stand as arguably the most important example. Often credited with inventing psychedelic rock as we know it, 1966’s trippy proto-punk opus, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, proved massively influential to generations of musicians to come and is now considered a seminal piece of modern music.

Fellow psychedelic purveyors, the Music Machine, led by the legendary Sean Bonniwell, is another group whose success surpassed 45s, as the group shined a light on pop’s dar

ker side in its iconic, mellotron-driven 1966 release (Turn On) The Music Machine. On the other end of the spectrum lie LA’s the Seeds, who earned plaudits with their 1966 self-titled effort. The record utilised sun-soaked, acid-fried melodies to convey tales of youthful frustration. Other notable groups to reach this level of withstanding album success are Boston’s the Remains (The Remains, 1966), whose knack for pop songwriting matched their keen musical abilities, and Seattle’s the Sonics (Here Are The Sonics, 1965), who were much heavier than any other group of the era. These aforementioned groups, as well as countless others, played a key role in establishing the garage rock style as more than snotty kids recording poorly-performed covers in their parents’ basements.

The fact that garage rock has stayed relevant for so long and is still played in abundance around the world today speaks volumes about its cultural significance. The boom in popularity of this musical style can be largely attributed to Lenny Kaye and his Nuggets compilation, which was the first to shine a positive light on this music following its fading-away in the late-60s. Not only did garage rock music provide an interesting snapshot of late 1960s youth culture, but it offered an innumerable amount of kids a musical voice they never knew they had.

Recommended Albums:

  1. The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (International Artists, 1967)
  2. The Music Machine – (Turn On) The Music Machine (Original Sound, 1966)
  3. The Remains – The Remains (Epic, 1966)
  4. The Seeds – The Seeds (GNP Crescendo, 1966)
  5. The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics (Etiquette, 1965)
  6. The Monks – Black Monk Time (Polydor, 1966)
  7. ? & the Mysterians – 96 Tears (Cameo-Parkway, 1966)
  8. The Count Five – Psychotic Reaction (Double Shot, 1966)
  9. The Shadows of Knight – Gloria (Dunwich, 1966)
  10. The Chocolate Watchband – No Way Out (Tower, 1967)

Recommended Singles (From non-album groups):

  1. “Dirty Water”: The Standells (Tower, 1965)
  2. “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)”: The Electric Prunes (Reprise, 1966)
  3. “Respect”: The Vagrants (Atco, 1967)
  4. “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”: The Blues Magoos (Mercury, 1966)
  5. “Open My Eyes”: Nazz (SGC, 1968)
  6. “She’s About A Mover”: Sir Douglas Quintet (Tribe, 1965)
  7. “A Public Execution”: Mouse and the Traps (Fraternity, 1965)
  8. “The Trip”: Kim Fowley (Corby, 1965)
  9. “Liar, Liar”: The Castaways (Soma, 1965)
  10. “Action Woman”: The Litter (Scotty, 1967)

60s rock songs that changed it all

An introduction to rock and roll’s most remarkable hits

The late 60s to early 70s marked the best and most formative years of rock and roll. Some rock groups created their own unique sound that would influence new styles of rock music, including progressive rock, psychedelic rock, punk rock and heavy rock. Here are some of the songs that, not only changed the very face of rock, but inspired a whole new generation of music.

The Kinks: “You Really Got Me” (1964)

This song showed The Kinks’ ability to create a unique sound that was way ahead of their time. The guitar solo was a precursor for heavy metal. The use of power chords heavily influenced future rock players in the realms of heavy metal and punk rock. The popular American rock band Van Halen even covered this song in 1978. Brothers Ray Davies and Dave Davies were the very heart and soul of The Kinks, and the combination of their talents made the band a huge success for many decades following this release. The younger brother, Dave, was an extraordinary guitar player, and Ray, on the other hand, was one of the greatest songwriters in rock and roll, with hundreds of songs under his belt, such as “Come Dancing,” “Lola” and ‘Waterloo Sunset.” “You Really Got Me” was the British rock band’s breakthrough hit, establishing them as one of the top British Invasion acts in the United States. It was also a number one hit on the UK’s singles chart when it was released in 1964. After decades of success, the band was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.


The Rolling Stones: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)

This song not only launched the Stones’ career, but it hit a raw musical nerve. The song’s lyrics clearly express the annoyance of constant advertisements and incessant consumerism. The song also talks about their frustration with the female sex and a woman’s inability to be satisfied sexually, which was controversial at the time. While they definitely had bold, in-your-face lyrics, The Stones’ music told powerful stories. The very first note of the song is the devil’s interval, otherwise known as the augmented fourth, which quickly gives a distinct sense of tension and anger. The distorted guitar sounds, done through a Gibson fuzzbox, only furthers this feeling of dissatisfaction and aggravation with the world. The title, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” rebels in its rejection of proper grammar. Needless to say, the song opened up a whole new world of rock music, paving the way for musicians to be more colourful and expressive in both their lyrics and their instrumentals. Rolling Stone Magazine placed this song second on its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. This song, however, only marked the beginning of what was to come for the band, as they went on to be one of the greatest rock and roll groups of all time.

Procol Harum: “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967)

This deep and powerful song was not only a precursor to many styles of rock music, but it had an enormous impact on many rock musicians. The sound of the organ takes you on a journey through time, in a majestic and other-worldly way. The song incorporates classical music and rock, making it a precursor to symphonic rock and, by extension, progressive rock. People who have analyzed the song over many years notice the band took many of their influences from the classical pianist Johann Sebastian Bach, according to Billboard magazine. This track also has psychedelic rock elements—music that mimics the mind-altering experiences of being on psychedelic drugs. The descending bassline sounds both classical and ceremonial, while also giving the impression of timelessness. There are other psychedelic aspects that are layered throughout the song, such as the distorted, almost backwards-sounding guitar. The song has garnered an enormous amount of success, in fact, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, the song has sold 10 million copies worldwide. This song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

The Beatles: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

The Beatles must be included in the list of most influential rock songs of all time. Around 1967, the band decided to take a break from touring and playing their music live. Paul McCartney came up with the idea of creating an entire album that sounds as though they are  playing in front of a live audience, and it opened up a whole new door for the band. By moving away from the constraints of their well-known and established band, this also gave The Beatles all the creative freedom in the world to explore their musical identity and their sound. This kind of creative spunk is what is most inspiring about both the song and the album. The album won four Grammys in 1968 and Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this award.


Allah-Las: sun-soaked sounds and ‘60s style

Drummer Matthew Correia answers questions on Los Angeles’ deep roots in music and art

If you see a bright radiating light on the horizon, it’s probably Allah-Las’ tour van treading through the snow while on their current tour through North America. This four-piece of L.A. sun shaman met between the stacks of dusty LPs at the massive record store, Amoeba. Towelling off after catching a tube ride, these surfers laid down their boards to write songs on whatever came to mind. Their love of Los Angeles’ history, from the ‘50s Beatnik youth snapping their thumbs on the shores of Venice, to the aching nostalgia in Bukowski’s words on Hollywood, is all absorbed in their crystalline melodies and Western drawl. Their ‘60s-sounding songs have reverb cranked high, reflecting the slow tides hitting the shore of their native land.

Allah-Las in Los Angeles, 2013. From left to right : Dunham, Michaud, Correia and Siadatian

Drummer Matthew Correia didn’t know much about drums at the band’s conception. During soundcheck at the band’s early gigs, the soundman would ask Correia to test the kick-drum—but the drummer wasn’t sure which one that was. He’s since discovered where the kick-drum is, and his playing throughout the album sounds moody and wonderful, like crushing seashells under your feet. He answered The Concordian’s eager questions.

The Concordian (C): Is there an ‘old Los Angeles’ feel in your music? What does that mean to you?

Matthew Correia (MC): The literature, music, art, design and photography from Los Angeles have always interested us. Those influences, along with the history and geography of our hometown, somehow make their way into our sound naturally, I think. If we grew up somewhere else we would sound different I’m sure.

C: Why was it important for your music to stray away from digital effects and synthesized sounds?

MC: We’re not against digital.  We did what worked best for us. We dig music with synths, but like a lot of styles and instruments, it just hasn’t made its way into our sound.

C: Do you feel being compared to ‘60s rock in most music articles describes you well? Or are they too quick to generalize?

MC: We’re honoured to be compared to that music. We’re influenced by other places and other decades of course but people are going to hear what they’re familiar with and that’s fine.

C: Does your music correspond less with music from the ‘60s and, rather, match more with the ‘feel’ or ‘vibe’ associated with California’s previous decades?

MC: Sure. I think we’re very much a product of our environment. A mirror of a mirror of a mirror … We grew up digging through the past while listening to loads of local bands around L.A. Influence has been passed down to us as it was to them. Ariel Pink, Beachwood sparks, The Tyde, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, are a few of our L.A. favorites.

C: Is your music best sampled by listening to the entire album, end to end? As if your music is a 40-minute trip into the old L.A. histories you’ve mentioned—a change in perspective.

MC: We hope it feels like a trip anywhere you’re listening. Nearest far away place.

C: On a more personal note, I was just in California, and listening to Worship the Sun while buzzing around L.A. The music definitely fits perfectly with the setting. When coming back to Montreal and listening to it while driving through a snowstorm, it seemed to have a totally different effect. If at all, why do you think your music carries with it such a strong ‘mood’ or ‘vibe,’ for lack of better words?

MC: We’re a moody bunch. I don’t know, we put everything into those records.

It changed our lives for better or worse and it’s all in there. If you ever need some tunes for the road check out Reverberation Radio. It’s a podcast we make with our six closest friends. Every Wednesday: a new mix.

C: Your self-titled album and Worship the Sun both share the general themes of “sun” and “girls.” is surfing under the sun a remedy for heartbreak.

MC: Things aren’t always what they seem. Songs that sound like they’re about a girl, the beach or fun in the sun might be about something else. We’re happy that people associate us with sunshine and sandy beaches because we love those things, but we hope that people make their own interpretations.

These sun worshippers will be blazing through their tunes on Montreal’s chilly Wednesday night. If you’re cold and blue, step into Allah-Las’ solar furnace.

Allah-Las play Petit Campus Nov. 26 with Tashaki Miyaki

Exit mobile version