A couple of links

•November 30, 2020 • Leave a Comment

In case you were pointed here by Tracy Wilson’s amazing Turntable Report:

The main website of Dromedary Records is here. That’s where to go in order to find out about our releases, artist roster, buy stuff, etc.

The archive for the Signal to Noise radio program is here. You can listen to about 180 episodes of the program there. I archive each week’s episode on Monday (except on November 30, since I didn’t do a new show last week). You can actually follow the show on Mixcloud.

Song #71: Stuyvesant – “This is the End”

•November 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment

November 3, 2020
Song #71: Stuyvesant – “This is the End”

Okay. Here we go.

Song #70: D. Smith – “Worst Case Scenario”

•November 2, 2020 • Leave a Comment

November 2, 2020
Song #70: D. Smith – “Worst Case Scenario”

What is the worst case scenario? Is this it already? I think it is. We’re already there.

You can still help, there are still downballot elections where you can make a difference. Please look at Georgia, Texas, South Carolina in particular.

Song 69: Stuyvesant – “Dirty Looks”

•November 1, 2020 • Leave a Comment

November 1, 2020
Song #69: Stuyvesant – “Dirty Looks”

I started smoking when I was 15 years old.

It was easy. Both my parents were smokers. One morning I was getting picked up for school by a friend with a Corvette; I wanted to be cool and tough and so I grabbed one of my mom’s Vantage 100s, lit it, and waited in the driveway. The first one was tough to inhale, and by the end I was sick to my stomach, my hands shaking and my extremities tingling. The next one made my extremities tingle but no shaking, and so I kept going.

After a week of this I went to visit my father at his house for a weekend. He smoked Newports and left half-empty packs all over the place, so it was easy for me to steal one and bring it home. From that point on, I smoked Newport because they weren’t “lady cigarettes” like my mom’s.

By the time I went away to college I was a full-blown smoker; by the time I graduated it was a pack-a-day habit. I had switched to Marlboro Lights, thinking I was doing myself a favor, health-wise, by not smoking the heavy menthol Newports, but even then I treated cigarettes like I do pizza – loyal to one brand, but occasionally grabbing something different, just to change it up.

My freshman year in college there was a guy on my floor that we called “Vex,” because someone had figured out that “Vex” meant “to annoy,” and Vex annoyed everyone. Vex’s family owned a diner; when the diner went out of business he emptied the cigarette machine and brought a huge trash bag of cigarette packs to school, selling them for a dollar a pack. For a while, we all smoked buck-a-pack Marlboro Light, Marlboro Red, Parliament, Newport, and Camel. Eventually, we moved on to Winston and Kool and Parliament when the good stuff ran out. Soon, all that was left were the “Vex-rettes,” stale packs of Viceroy, Salem, L&M and Pall Mall, the shit nobody would buy. Vex could’ve thrown them out, but I think he liked the fact that desperate smokers would come knocking at his door at 2am, looking for a pack of Viceroy to get them through til morning when the student union would be open. Eventually he was giving them away; free, stale Pall Malls for anyone who was drunk enough to stomach them.

My first business trip was to San Diego; I met up with the guys from Silver Girl Records, a small label that some friends of mine were on. They took me to a restaurant in La Jolla for dinner and I was shocked to learn I couldn’t smoke inside – smokers actually had to stand outside the parking lot, by the road. But I did it.

I got a job as a Product Manager for a company in Westchester County where the owner and his wife smoked. Because they were smokers, employees could smoke in the building, during the day, while working. The office was so nasty-smelling that it was impossible to work there if you were a nonsmoker; eventually all the employees but a handful smoked. We’d have meetings, all sitting around the conference table in the executive suite, everyone with their own ashtray. I’d go home each day, reeking like stale cigarette but with no clue I smelled like that. I didn’t use the ashtray in my car, but there was always a soda bottle filled with ashes and butts in the cupholder. I’d use the same bottle until it was full, and occasionally would look at it and think “My lungs look like that.”

When we had kids, Sandy outlawed smoking in the house, so I’d go outside. All winter long, in the rain, in the snow, in the wind, standing outside, smoking cigarettes. Sometimes I’d be driving somewhere with the kids when they were babies, and I’d look in the rearview mirror and realize the kids were sleeping – so I’d carefully pull over into a parking lot and light up, sneaking drags while the kids slept.

As the kids got older I didn’t want them to see me smoking, so I stopped smoking at home. My daughter was a loving, snuggly kid who didn’t like to be alone, so at bedtime she’d ask for one of my shirts. Every night she’d fall asleep clutching a t-shirt, “because it smells like you,” a blend of deodorant and smoke that she couldn’t identify but brought her comfort.

By the time my oldest was a teenager I had limited my smoking to the ride to and from work, plus my time at the office. I bathed in Purell and ate Listerine Pocket Packs like they were peanuts to try and get the smell off me before I got home; by the time the kids were that age, they could surely identify the smell of cigarettes and I did not want them to know I was a smoker. I’d read that you’re entirely more likely to pick up smoking as a teenager if one or more of your parents smoke, and my own anecdotal evidence supported that, and so I continued to hide it from them.

By then I was playing basketball once a week, coaching youth baseball three seasons a year, and cycling somewhere between 50 and 80 miles a week. On the bike, hills killed me – my legs were generally strong enough to pull me up, but my lungs couldn’t take it. I’d shift into harder gears to transfer more of the work to my legs, but then my legs would run out of steam.

There was this one hill in particular where I just couldn’t drag myself up to the peak. I’d get two-thirds of the way up, heaving and gasping for air, and would have to pull over and catch my breath. It was immensely aggravating, and at that point, also a huge challenge that I just could not seem to accomplish.

One day, I took the day off work, and late that afternoon, went out on a bike ride – and made it up the hill. The only difference between that day and any other day was that I hadn’t smoked that day.

And that’s when I decided it was time to quit smoking.

At first, I thought the “cut way back” method was the best way – to hardly smoke at all, but also to not succumb to the nicotine fits. If I was cranky, or headachy, or shaky, I’d step outside and smoke a cigarette. Or half a cigarette. If I was drinking, I’d smoke.

But then I noticed my business partner. Before I consciously started cutting back, we’d go outside a few times a day together and have a cigarette. When I stopped smoking as much, he’d go without me – and when he’d come back into the office, I could smell him. He reeked. I could smell him from 20 feet away, if he walked past my office into his, the rush of air would hit me and I’d think “Holy shit, did I smell like that?!”

I ran out of cigarettes in early October of 2010 and decided I’d try not to buy anymore. On October 22, we did a show at Maxwell’s that I’ve written about – with Stuyvesant, The Mommyheads, Jenifer Convertible and Shirk Circus, for that year’s CMJ convention. Twice that night, I bummed a cigarette from Lenny Zenith of Jenifer Convertible. Then I went another week with no smokes.

On October 30, my friend Kieran had his annual Halloween party. Sandy and I went to the party, and at some point during the night, he and I stepped outside and I bummed a cigarette. I lit it up, smoked half of it, and said “What am I doing? I’ve gone a whole week with no cigarettes.” I dropped the half-smoked cigarette into my empty beer bottle, and that was it.

That was the last cigarette I smoked.

I read somewhere that it takes ten years after quitting for your body to get back to normal after being a smoker. It was one of those articles that gave you different milestones – after 30 days, the cilia in your lungs starts to break free of the tar. After six months, the deformed cells in your body start to repair themselves. That sort of thing. It felt like ten years would never happen, like I’d certainly turn into some gross, smoky mutant before then.

But here we are. Ten years, no cigarettes. The anniversary was yesterday.

Of course I gained a fuckton of weight, but I’ll deal with that over the next ten years.

Song #67: Joy Cleaner – “Life Is A Service Road”

•October 31, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 31, 2020
Song #67: Joy Cleaner – “Life is a Service Road”

I don’t know what life is.

Sometimes I think there’s no way it’s real; in what reality would 63 million people vote for an idiot like donald trump to be President of the United States? This is a country where, just 20 years ago, the republicans ran a candidate on the platforms of compassionate conservatism and restoring dignity to a White House wrecked by the scandals of Bill Clinton. Today, those scandals seem tame by comparison; new lies and new scandals break weekly while those same republicans look the other way. This can’t be happening.

Other times I find myself sitting next to Sandy around a campfire with our friends Nick and Lysa, people we knew tangentially a year and a half ago but who have become close friends due to our shared interests, values, geography (and pandemic anxiety). We’re sitting, half-shivering and half-warmed by the fire, telling stories and looking up at the stars, the smell of wood smoke and crisp, fall air filling my brain, the warmth of friendship and familiarity relaxing me and it seems so real.

Mostly I teeter in the middle somewhere, the manmade construct of time ticking off intervals between events that are coming down the road, some anticipated, others dreaded, some significant, others minor. A record album on its way in the mail. A professional accomplishment. A son moving away. An important election. The end of a pandemic. Baseball season. A concert. A meal indoors with friends. A cross-country drive. Hugging and shaking hands.

A few weeks ago I thought of a person I used to work with; someone who was generally pleasant but had a bitter streak, and lived with the nagging feeling that someone was always out to get her. It colored her outlook on everything; it wasn’t in her personality to accept anything at face value because she was so skeptical of everything. I remember thinking it must be so hard to constantly find a reason to be skeptical. She complained about being marginalized at work, but refused to take on more responsibility because it wasn’t in her job description. She refused a promotion because it meant she might be asked to do more work, but then complained about her poor salary increases. She told me once “Everyone will screw you if they get the chance.” I looked her up on the internet recently and found she had died. I guess she was right.

Song #66: Cuppa Joe: “Something New”

•October 30, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 30, 2020
Song #66: Cuppa Joe: “Something New”

Years ago we invited Cuppa Joe to come up and play a record release party for the Busy Work 7″ at Under Acme, a venue on the Lower East Side where we would do occasional shows. We put together a four-band bill which included Footstone and Ditch Croaker, plus Melting Hopefuls, whose “Pulling An Allnighter On Myself” 7″ we were releasing at the same time as Cuppa Joe.

The show took place on October 22, 1993 (I still have the ads I took out in the Village Voice and The Aquarian Weekly to promote the show), and the four bands were excellent. The room was packed, and true to form, we actually drank all the beer – the only beer you could buy at Under Acme was bottles of Rolling Rock, and during Melting Hopefuls’ set, the venue pulled me aside to let me know that they had run out of beer. I wear that like a badge of honor.

During Cuppa Joe’s set, they played a couple of songs I hadn’t heard before, which included one that I seem to remember as an instrumental, a pretty cool piece that reminded me at the time of The Feelies a bit. I remembered the chord progression well enough to teach it to myself on guitar the following day, and I continued to play it (at least to play it as I remembered it) for years afterward, because I am a shit guitar player who knows the cowboy chords and little else, so when I happen to figure something out, it goes into my limited repertoire and remains there forever.

Unfortunately, when we put out Cuppa Joe’s Nurture CD, the song didn’t appear on it, which bummed me out, and it slowly faded from my memory. Until 2012, when the Cuppa Joe guys got together and recorded the album Tunnel Trees, which included a track called “Something New,” which immediately rang in my head as the song I heard way back in October of 1993 at Under Acme, and taught myself (somewhat) on guitar.

The lyrics, though, had been updated, and were about as meta as song lyrics could get:

Too many years since I’ve been downstairs
With headphones on until 2AM
Now it’s all coming back, from the multi-track, laying down each line
One at a time

This used to be “Follow What You Do”
Then it became “Konichiwa”
Now it’s “Something New”

Learn it fast on the basement floor
Move it off to a distant shore
Either way, it’s a pretty fine tune

And on those late nights after practice

Driving up a dark I-295
Just to be a part of such a labor of love all the time
Felt so alive, so alive

Used to be “Follow What You Do””
Then it became “Konichiwa”
Now it’s “Something New”

Learn it fast on the basement floor
Move it off to a distant shore
Either way, it’s a pretty fine tune

Spatch is shaking the basement floor
And I’m back from a distant shore
Even Rick is considering (unintelligble)

The song tells of how the band wrote songs while Doug was stationed in Kenya with the Peace Corps, and how he’s back, and “Spatch” (drummer Steve Spatucci) and Rick (bassist Rick Larkin) were recording new music – and also how the song had evolved over those 15 years, originally called “Follow What You Do,” then “Konichiwa,” and now, well, it’s something new.

Cuppa Joe were fun.

I wish I could play you “Follow What You Do” and “Konichiwa,” and perhaps Steve will chime in and share those songs with us, as he’s a pretty thorough archivist of Cuppa Joe’s history. But I can play you Something New, which is pretty cool since yesterday, I played you “Something Old.”

There are still a few days left until the election, and I’m still committed to donating Dromedary’s proceeds from any downloads to Swing Left. The reality, though, is that your donation this late in the game would be better off if you made it directly to the candidates, so that they could employ your money for last minute advertising.

Here are a few Democratic candidates running against incumbent Republicans that I think are worthy of your cash:

Jaime Harrison is running for US Senate in South Carolina, hoping to unseat Lindsay Graham. As if “unseat Lindsay Graham” wasn’t enough, Harrison believes in ending private prisons and investing in schools. The race is still very close. You can make a donation to Harrison at this link.

MJ Hegar is a badass who is running for US Senate in Texas against Republican John Cornyn. Cornyn is ahead in a very red state, but Hegar has a chance, and voters pulling the lever for her could also vote Biden. If Texas goes blue, the election is over. You can make a donation to Hegar at this link.

Jon Ossoff is running for US Senate in Georgia against Republican David Perdue, and famously ripped Perdue to shreds in a debate this week. They are neck and neck. You can make a donation to Jon Ossoff at this link.

Theresa Greenfield is running for US Senate in Iowa against Republican Joni Ernst, and while Ernst has a lead, there’s still time. You can learn about Greenfield and make a donation at this link.

Sara Gideon is running for US Senate in Maine against spineless Republican Susan Collins. Gideon is slightly ahead, and can win. You can learn about Gideon and make a donation at this link.

Cal Cunningham is running for US Senate in North Carolina against Republican Thom Tillis, and is slightly ahead. You can learn about Cunningham and make a donation at this link.

And I encourage you to investigate Justice Democrats, who are transforming the Democratic Party into something truly special, one downballot election at a time, and will need your help long after next week’s election is over. Visit them at this link. And maybe consider running for office yourself!

Song #65: Penguins Kill Polar Bears – “Something Old”

•October 29, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 29, 2020
Song #65: Penguins Kill Polar Bears – “Something Old”

My oldest son was in high school when we put out Vessels & Veins by Penguins Kill Polar Bears, back in 2011. At that age, he and I bonded over music; he liked some of the emo and heavier commercial rock that was leftover in my library from our “dark period,” and as I began to emerge from that, we both developed soft spots for some of the post-rock bands that were popular at the time, like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. Those dramatic blasts of loudness that emerge from the quiet spots hit us both in the right place, I guess.

For this reason, his favorite Dromedary band was Penguins Kill Polar Bears. It seemed that he was pretty into the fact that his old man was working with a post-rock band from Scotland, and he talked about them and listened to them a lot.

He’s an adult now, and he’s just signed a lease on an apartment in Philadelphia. He’s moving in with his girlfriend, who we love, and who has a job that can take her there. For him, it’s an exciting adventure, and a step into adulthood that really excites him.

I have never entertained the idea that he would move far from us. He just always seemed like the one that would stay nearby. When we moved to the Hudson Valley, he came along. Our other two kids – who we always assumed would go – fell in love with our new community, and they are going to stay. It’s like, by moving here, we gained two that I thought we’d lose, but lost one I thought we’d keep. I’m not sure where to file this in my brain.

I’m so very proud of him for taking such a huge step, but man, I’m going to miss him. I miss him already, and he’s still here. We’re a super-tight family; we are all each other’s best friends, and I am most definitely happiest when we are all together. It is going to be weird, not seeing him every day, not giving him giant bear hugs all the time.

At the same time, that’s why you make people. You make these little tiny people so they can get big and leave. Sort of a weird thing.

Anyway, when reviewing Dromedary titles for this little creative exercise, I realized that I released a song called “Something Old,” and another called “Something New,” by two different bands, which is Something Weird. So we’ll do “Something Old” today, because today I most definitely feel like something old. Tomorrow, I will do something new.

Song #64: Moviola – “Calling On the Line”

•October 28, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 28, 2020
Song #64: Moviola – “Calling On the Line”

For the last few years, I’ve prided myself on the amount of time I spend each week searching for new music. I host a radio show every Sunday night, and about 75% of what I play is music that’s been released in the last six months, so every week is filled with searching online, reviewing new releases, following different social media groups, learning about what music my friends are discovering. I may not mention it to you, but if you’re posting somewhere about new records, I am paying attention and listening to your recommendations.

For the first half of the pandemic, my music discovery time was essentially reduced to zero. At first, I was consumed by news; spending all my time on news sites, learning what I could about the progression of the disease, how it spread, how it was treated, what scientists were discovering. After sufficiently marinating in doom for a month or so, I decided I did not want to contaminate any new records – I didn’t want to discover anything I really liked, only to subsequently have it remind me of such an awful time. So I stopped listening.

At the end of April, the radio station where I volunteer had figured out how to get prerecorded shows on the air, even though the University was not permitting anyone on campus to do shows live. This necessitated that I begin searching out new music for the show, and I naturally went back over the prior month to ensure I didn’t miss any important new releases while I was hiding under my desk in the fetal position.

The result of this kickstart was that I vaulted into one of the most intense periods of music discovery I’ve ever had in my life. In searching my brain for an analogy to put in this space, there’s really not one; the amount of new music that’s been released over the last few months, intertwined with the growing ease of using the internet to explore various musical idioms, combined with the sheer amount of music that hit the world all at once in the spring, has resulted in my spending an ungodly amount of time streaming, searching, and buying new records from all over the world.

It has been a welcome distraction and also an eye-opening, mind-expanding exercise, as I have begun to realize that my love of a crunchy, distorted guitar and a catchy melody has really limited my consumption of music. This wildly open mind I’ve always thought I’d had, in terms of music, has actually been fairly closed to most music that couldn’t somehow be classified as “punk” or “jazz.”

My love of jazz is only eclipsed by my lack of knowledge of it, as closed as my mind has been to different musical styles, so has my inability or unwillingness to spend much time with jazz recorded outside the late 1950s to mid 1960s. My first cue to this was a friend outside music who has turned himself into a jazz maniac, becoming knowledgeable about seemingly every musician who played on every record – he’ll buy a record and learn the name of a sideman on the album, then seek out every record on which that guy played. “CDs are cheap as dirt, and don’t take up much space,” he told me, “You can buy them for fifty cents and build a huge library.”

My second cue was the album Heaven and Earth by Kamasi Washington, which was released last year but undiscovered by me until people’s year-end releases began to show up, when it quickly vaulted onto mine.

What ultimately blew my mind, though, was a concept I’d never heard of before, whereby the word “jazz” is considered a racist pejorative; a term that all by itself simultaneously conjures stereotypes and limits exposure. For my radio show, for example, I may never have considered a lot of music I listen to – and play – routinely today, simply because, well, “it’s jazz.” It may be noisy as fuck, super-aggressive, and explore all sorts of great territory, just like my guitar music, but slap that word “jazz” on it and it doesn’t work for the show, before I even listen to it. Turns out that a lot of it works great for the show, and my show has become considerably more interesting to listen to as a result.

This realization has opened up a world of opportunity for me, and I’ve been pretty insatiable, searching all over the world for new sounds and opening my eyes and ears to things I’d never even considered exploring before. My first visit back to a record store this summer (something I haven’t done since, as I’m still not psychologically comfortable in the tight space, flipping through stacks of records in hopes of finding a treasure), I found myself venturing inside in hopes of finding a couple of early punk records, and walking out with a couple of Indian classical albums.

The best part of this is what, at one point in my life I would have considered the worst: I don’t know anything about any of this music. It’s everywhere, there’s so much of it, there’s seventy years of recorded music behind me and more coming out every day. I don’t know what makes it good, or bad, or pedestrian, or revolutionary, there is no way I’ll ever understand it all, but I suddenly don’t want to miss any of it.

And there’s also my good and reliable friend, indie rock.

In the middle of all this discovery, the band Moviola released a new album and reissued much of its back catalogue as well. Moviola are a band from Columbus that I’ve known for a few decades; I walked into Under Acme one night in the 90s while they were onstage and fell in love with them. Turned out we had some mutual friends, and one of their members, Ted, and I struck up a penpal relationship where we’d send each other music. I wanted desperately to put out their music, but they had a relationship with Anyway Records, both then and now, and had no need for tiny Dromedary Records.

Years later, I became friendly with Bela, the owner of Anyway, and was able to tell him how much I admired his label, mostly because of the sheer number of his records that Ted sent me in the mail back in the 90s.

Moviola were a perfectly wonderful indie rock band that wrote fantastic songs and didn’t fret so much over fidelity; that these records came out during the low-fi “movement” just made them feel more friendly. Over the years, the band evolved into a more country-flavored band (I once read them described as one of the country’s best indie rock bands that evolved into one of the country’s best roots music bands), their music occupying a similar space to, say, Giant Sand or Songs: Ohia.

The fact that they’d released a ton of music with super-limited distribution over the years meant that they had lots of tough-to-find songs, so when I reached out to Ted in 2010 to ask if he’d be interested in contributing a Moviola track to our Haiti benefit, he sent me a link to a bunch of songs and let me choose one. I chose “Calling On the Line,” and thus, after fifteen years, finally got to release a Moviola song.

You should check out their back catalogue, including their latest excellent release, Scrape and Cuss, at https://moviolamusic.bandcamp.com

And here’s “Calling On the Line.”

Song #63: David Rat – “Become Like The Sun”

•October 27, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 27, 2020
Song #63: David Rat – “Become Like The Sun”

Yesterday, I voted. Sandy and I stood on a reasonably long line in midtown Kingston, jumping on just before the polls opened at 9AM. When the line stretched to about a block long, a man drove by and yelled “God bless you!” out his car window, followed by “God bless you for fighting!”

As we wound around the building, it felt great to finally be waiting to cast my vote for something this important. I looked at the line, all of us six feet apart, wearing masks (Sandy and I wore two each), each of us required to sanitize and don disposable plastic gloves when entering the building, remove the gloves and re-sanitize prior to leaving, each of us quietly and nervously pawing at the ground while we waited.

And then it hit me, all at once. Anger.

I don’t know what I’m going to have left when this is over. And I look at the people who’ve been fighting consistently for four years, donning pussy hats in January of 2017 and marching on Washington, and not stopping since. I don’t know how they did it.

Seven days left.

Song #62: The 65’s – “Greatest Pretense”

•October 26, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October 26, 2020
Song #62: The 65’s – “Greatest Pretense”

Bands break up, musicians have arguments with one another and part ways. It happens for all sorts of reasons. I get it.

But sometimes, those strong and dynamic creative personalities can make some fucking amazing music, and when Joe Pugsley and Dan Smith did their best work together, it was pretty fucking magical. There are songs on Strike Hard! that are just fantastic, melodically beautiful, crushingly heavy, just outstanding songs.

I think almost every song on Strike Hard! is good. I think three or four are legitimately great. And I think one, “Greatest Pretense,” is brilliant.

We put out two different versions of the song, and each one showcased different things that I loved about the lineup of The 65’s that played on Strike Hard!

The album version was the Bob Mould version, a straightforward dose of pop, with Dan singing lead, his melancholy voice singing dark lyrics over upbeat handclaps, tambourine and layers of guitar, including subtle acoustic strumming. The chorus comes in after the second verse, the phrase hitting hard:

This feeling we’re all chasing keeps escaping me
Even though we’re all caged, we pretend that we’re free.

and then, similar to Dan’s later song “The Ballad of Squeaky Fromme,” Dan single the final lyric:

Even though she’s miles away, I still pretend that she loves me
And maybe that, my friends, is the greatest pretense

And with that, the song just ends, this time with a long, one-minute fade out, Dan repeating the song title. Two verses, one chorus, and you’re left with the dark lyrics, echoing in your brain as the song fades away.

Once, I drove from Jersey to Pennsylvania in the middle of the night, with “Greatest Pretense” loaded on my iPod (back when I had an iPod), and I played it again and again, studying it, singing along, learning the lyrics and the subtle vocal melodies. Maybe I played it 20 or 30 times in a row, just deconstructing the song til I knew it inside-out, clicking back to the beginning and listening to the segment where the guitar feedback introduces the chorus, or the way the chorus ends with a slight change to the melody line, longing for a second chorus or a third verse to resolve the song in a way that befits the uplifting melody.

Two weeks after Strike Hard! was released, we put it out again, this time a completely different version of the song, on the digital B-side of a single release we did for “Pretty in Pink” on Christmas Day, 2011.

This version was completely different. Instead of the Bob Mould poppy version, this version swings, a different rhythm provided by John Steele behind the kit, and with much darker, more distorted guitar. The bass doesn’t come into the song until just before the beginning of the verse (including a clam in the second verse), and instead of Dan, lead vocals are provided by Joe. The darkness of the song, with Joe’s vocal, is much more apparent, and the vocal in the chorus is provided by Cindi Merklee, who by that time was the band’s bass player. Cindi has a beautiful, expressive voice, and Dan’s harmony vocal sits far in the background, barely audible, just providing a little texture. This time, Joe sings the killer lyric at the end, and instead of a minute-long fade, the track ends with a long, plaintive guitar solo.

Two completely different interpretations of the same song by the same band, released within two weeks of one another.

The 65’s have released some killer music since Strike Hard!, and so has Dan. The 65’s added Ed Roessler on guitar, an excellent musician who I knew from the band Miss Ohio, and Ryan Struck on bass and backing vocals (Ryan is the creative voice behind Scary Hours). They’ve released a number of singles and EPs over the years, and they were excellent.

Dan, for his part, released Groping For Luna, Vol. 1 on Dromedary, and has released a few albums on his own, both original material and covers. He’s got a new project he calls Smallpox, and the forthcoming record is outstanding.

Despite all that, the creative chemistry on that first 65’s record was pretty amazing, and despite the fact that the version of the band that created it is no more, it would be a fucking shame if everybody involved didn’t occasionally stop and remember what a great piece of music that was.