The time has come in the week for a brand spanking new edition of Top Five Fridays, where I find a great and happening musical or otherwise artistically inclined cat to share a handful of their favorite records with the rest of us. Last week found us for the first time ever in Melbourne, OZ, where the garage rockin’ shoe gazin’ genius known to the world as Steph Crase aka Summer Flake shared some of her top albums (you can check out that action over here). Today we’re in Philly with Alex Moxam, the primary force behind Rock n’ Roll band Public Health.
I came upon Public Health’s stellar 2015 EP “Down” by hanging out on the wonderful Theory 8 Records home page. The Nashville label/management company first came on my radar as they put out another of my favorite releases of 2015, Idle Bloom’s face melting “Some Paranoia” EP (You can check out Idle Bloom’s T5F over HERE). When you see that alums of Theory 8 include the likes of Caitlin Rose and Bully, you know they mean business. Spending time on the Theory 8 page reminds me why true indie labels are so helpful to all of us out there scouring the interwebs for musical gold. Whether I am clicking through Theory 8, Stupid Bag, Salinas, Don Giovanni, Burger, or Infinity Cat, I feel like I can trust the musical taste behind it all putting out these records. If I liked one release, chances are I’ll probably like the rest of the label’s output.
Anyway, listening to “Down” reminds me of one of the reasons I love Rock ‘n’ Roll so doggone much. You can’t buy your way or gear your way to a great rock ‘n’ roll record. You can have the most expensive producer, the best mixing board, and record the whole damn thing to tape, however if the songs and the spirit aren’t there, some group of cats who recorded their album in their living room with a handful of mics are going to come and blow you away. On “Down,” Alex Moxam and his cohorts (album credits shout out to Kevin Kearney, Jordan Mrazik, Kevin Comly, Julien Rossow-Greenberg, Sam Combs and Ben Fra) deliver a handful of songs that are fun, raw, immediate, and totally thrive in the lo fi/home recording aesthetic of the record. There isn’t a weak track amongst these five songs, but “Name of the Game” is a standout for me, where the urgency and introspection of the music drives home a lyrical expression of emotionally/intellectually fueled insomnia.
I’m excited to kick off another exciting season of Top Five Fridays, the part of the show where some fantabulous artist comes aboard this crazy ol’ website and takes us all on a magical mystery tour through five of their favorite records. Our guides this week are a rowdy bunch of good time rock ‘n’ rollers from music central Philly PA, The Plums.
I first heard tell of The Plums from their fellow York PA rockers The Ok-Oks (some of you repeat offenders to this blog might recall The Ok-Oks’ own T5F back in 2015). Thanks to the incomparable Animal House Shows, I was finally able to catch the band live at a killer showcase in Harrisburg a couple weeks back, and from the instant I heard the opening riff of their banger “Bad Apples,” I was sold. Seriously, I’ve had that song playing on a loop while I was writing this piece. From the dueling lead guitar intro to its call to arms ear worm of a hook “Bad Apples” is as a great a slice of garage rock goodness as you’re going to find anywhere these days. These gents are far from a group of one trick ponies though. A listen through their live album “Live at Sign Of The Wagon 6/6/14” shows a band who is just as capable bringing out the meandering windy guitar jams as the blazing riff rockers. These cats can play. Perhaps the greatest sum up of their sound I could offer comes from the band itself: “What the Ramones would sound like if they had learned more than three chords.”
Today for their TF5, The Plums have offered up a selection of records as eclectic as their live show, and I’m excited to share it all with you…Give it up for The Plums!
According to an old saying, bands with a name starting in “The” only listen to other bands with names starting in “The.” We’re still undecided. Here’s five of our most cherished LPs, thanks for tuning in.
The go-to tape in our band van. Perfect blend of psychedelia, Mersey-beat and pop—if you haven’t heard any of their songs besides “There She Goes,” take a listen to some of their Timeless Melodies.
We spent the early years of the band cooped up in friend’s basements, recording the weirdest songs on an 8-track cassette recorder. We’re not technophobes by any means—at the time we were just too broke to afford 21st century recording equipment. Most were original songs that ended up becoming our album, but a few didn’t make the cut—there’s a tape somewhere of us doing a Wesley Willis-esque cover of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” with a running time of 12 minutes. “De Stijl” is one of the best home recorded albums ever, and as a kid, it was A Boy’s Best Friend.
And did you see The Hateful Eight, when it cuts to “Apple Blossom” in the snow? Perfection.
These recordings have influenced our songwriting in surprising ways. We try to crush dark chord progressions like these into our double-timed, electrified garage rock—what the Ramones would sound like if they had learned more than three chords. If you’re going through a bad breakup, Make It Easy on Yourself and take a listen.
What the world needs now, is triple albums, sweet triple albums…Jeremiah has a vinyl copy of this new wave odyssey. We used to drink endless pots of coffee and clean our old apartment to it and yes, it took 36 tracks to get things straightened up. We always ended up throwing a big party that same night and wrecking the place all over again—the seasonal ritual of sacrificing an acoustic instrument, broken ceiling tiles, wrestling, you name it—our landlord was a patient and forgiving man. I think we did it because deep down, we just wanted to listen to Sandinista! One More Time.
Last but certainly not least is Hartle Road’s self-titled EP. We met these guys at our first show in Philly—these guys are “super-rad” musicians who play some of the meanest, most inventive psychedelic rock coming out of the South right now. We fell in love with the cut of their jib when they did a perfect note-for-note rendition of Television’s “Marquee Moon” and we’ve been fans ever since. Take a minute to check out their Bandcamp, they have some great tunes.
I’m going to stand by any band that cites both The White Stripes and Dionne Warwick as influences. Also late era Clash does not get enough love. Combat Rock any one?
If you are aiming to have a good time and are roundabouts Philly Saturday March 19th, The Plums are playing Connie’s Ric Rac. More info about that HERE. I advise you go and experience this fine outfit for yourself.
These gents have some links across the interwebs, including Facebook, and Twitter. Follow them/like them wantonly click on these links so you can see what they are up to. Also keep checking their website for news of a full length album!
Thanks for reading folks and tune in next week for another exciting installment of Top Five Fridays!
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter loves music, tacos and not exercising. If you like these things as well, mayhaps you should follow him on twitter.