Song In My Head #108: “Nine Times Out of Ten” by the Undertones

If you want hits, the Undertones have ’em. The band’s show at Slim’s in San Francisco last Sunday served as a powerful reminder. Most acts would have to save a song as brilliant as “Teenage Kicks” for the end of the set, but the Undertones performed it midway through with no lull in audience enthusiasm afterward. (New singer Paul McLoone did an excellent job in spite of his struggles with laryngitis, and the fellows played with fervor that would make guys half their age drop.) I was especially thrilled to hear “Nine Times Out of Ten,” a song I’ve loved since my college days. (I don’t know if mashups are a thing anymore, but Chris Bell’s “I Got Kinda Lost” would pair perfectly with it thanks to their shared guitar hook.) Of course, the Undertones did do “Teenage Kicks” a second time for their final encore, since they clearly are not fools…

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Song In My Head #107: “Jackie” by the New Pornographers

I’ve always loved Carl Newman‘s music, but for some reason I tend to gravitate toward the New Pornographers songs sung by his bandmates instead. “Jackie” was penned by Dan Bejar, who sings it on the NPs’ 2000 debut Mass Romantic. When I saw the New Pornographers play Noise Pop in 2002, Bejar was not touring with the band, so drummer Kurt Dahle rendered an excellent lead vocal. Dahle has since left the lineup, so I wonder who sings the song in concert these days. I certainly hope someone does!

Song In My Head #106: “Zombie” by the Fall-Outs

To me, the Fall-Outs are the great underrated band of the 1990s Seattle music boom. How could anyone resist truly infectious pop-punk, topped by classic (if appropriately hoarse) harmonies? While their Sleep album finds heavy rotation on my CD deck, I’ll always have particular fondness for this song. (If you see the 7-inch single somewhere, nab it! It features a nifty organ arrangement that makes the tune resemble an actual Zombies outtake.) I just learned that the band is still together and playing gigs, so let’s make things right, folks…

For your Star Wars Day observance…

May the Fourth is here again, bringing us another Star Wars Day. What better way to celebrate than with Ash‘s cover of John Williams’ “Cantina Band,” released in July 1995 as the B-side to their classic “Girl From Mars” single? I saw the band perform a ripping version in San Francisco last year (and noticed the prominent Darth Vader decal on Mark Hamilton’s bass)…

If you’re so inclined, go to 3:50 of the following video to see the then-teenaged Ash members discuss their Star Wars fandom on a mid-’90s episode of The Big Breakfast, featuring a Star Wars trivia lightning round! (You may roll your eyes at the fairly easy questions, but clearly there were extenuating circumstances involved…)

Song In My Head #105: The Dream Syndicate’s “That’s What You Always Say”

I missed most of LA’s Paisley Underground back in its heyday (being a Northern California-dwelling grade schooler at the time), but a great song will always find its way. I discovered “That’s What You Always Say” the other week thanks to the Bangles’ excellent cover, but after hearing most versions, I have to pick the original on the Dream Syndicate’s 1982 debut EP:

Mystery author Leslie Karst and Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant features in Spring 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

If you enjoy cozy mysteries or the local food scene, keep an eye out for the Spring 2019 edition of Santa Cruz Style. In “Mystery with a Santa Cruz Flavor,” I introduce you to Leslie Karst, the renowned author of the Sally Solari mystery series. Beginning on page 12 of the magazine, Karst tells me how Santa Cruz inspired her unexpected path to writing, the origins of Sally Solari, and the birth of the “snarky cozy.” Want to know how a 17-year-old restaurant has stayed buzzworthy? Turn to page 42 for “Soif and Santa Cruz: The Perfect Pairing.” Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant owner/founder Patrice Boyle reflects on Soif’s evolution, and discusses the restaurant’s new collaboration with UCSC’s Coastal Science and Policy Program. New chef Tom McNary reveals his culinary inspirations, and bar manager Matthew Barron discusses the cocktail menu that’s swaying the allegiance of Soif’s most devoted wine drinkers! If you’re in Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online version appears here.

RSD 2019: The Struggle Continues

I had every intention of getting in line early for Record Store Day, but a last-minute invitation to a dim sum luncheon in Palo Alto changed my plans. The combination of a long day on public transit and erratic coffee consumption left me ill-equipped to face Streetlight’s bins when I arrived in Santa Cruz that afternoon. Two DJs (including a store employee/fellow Sloan fan I recognized) were spinning some groovy vintage Spanish-language soul tunes. (I assumed the cover of Joe Tex’s “Show Me” was by Luis Moreno, but his version I found on YouTube sounds different. Hmm.) What was left at 4 o’clock, you ask? I didn’t see Lone Justice’s Live at the Palomino, but with a CD release on tap I wasn’t worried. My head was turned by Badfinger’s So Fine: The Warner Bros. Rarities, which I debated for a while. The price tag deterred me, but I was more worried about duplicating things I already had. (It’s a dilemma I face often as a Big Star fan. For years I believed they made a mere handful of recordings, but now I see new albums of unreleased mixes every few months. They weren’t together that long, how many more undiscovered tapes can there be? I’m not being snarky, I really want to know.) I put it back, but Pete Ham and company still call to me this morning. Did anyone out there succumb yesterday?  Please tell me if I need to nab a copy after all…