Tag Archives: Punk

My Favorite EPs

In music, albums and singles are praised all the time–whether it be at the Grammys or by an arts and entertainment magazine or just some dude’s blog.

However, EPs (extended plays for you those of you not with it), the no man’s land between singles and albums, often go unrecognized. After thinking about it, I confirmed that I did, in fact, listen to enough of them to put together a little list.

These are the ones that have stuck with me.

Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988)

I imagine when all the hair metal bands in LA heard this, they just collectively shit their pantaloons.

Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are the bands that get credit for starting the grunge movement, but Mudhoney was really the heart and soul of that scene. Before the success of Nevermind, this is the record that put Sub Pop on the map.

Mission of Burma – Signals, Calls and Marches (1981)

I remember hearing “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” for the first time and thinking this is one of the best things I’ve ever heard.

Mission of Burma were all trained musicians (in a scene where that wasn’t necessarily positive) and thus knew where to bend the rules. The complex compositions (relative to contemporaries) and strategic use of noise and feed back created a one-of-a-kind sound you’re not likely to forget.

Minor Threat – Minor Threat (1981)

When you get into punk music there are a few bands you’re required to listen to, Minor Threat is one of them.

It only clocks in at about 9 and a half minutes, but Minor Threat’s first EP is a powder keg of aggression and exuberance.

At this age, it’s hard to get behind some of the youthful righteousness of the EP. But, when I have a rough day at work, “I Donna Wanna Hear It” is the perfect form of catharsis.

Fugazi – Furniture (2001)

Fugazi is another Ian Mackaye band that seems to be required listening. The band was rooted in punk but moved away from the brevity and bluntness of the hardcore scene.

I think most Fugazi fans might be inclined to favor the band’s first self-titled EP or Margin Walker, but it’s always been Furniture for me.

It’s only three songs, but it’s 8:51 of brilliance. “Number 5” is one of my favorite instrumental songs because it’s so unrelenting.

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5 Bands I Like That Probably Make People Think I’m Mentally Unbalanced

You might have gathered that I like music, like, a lot. As an audiophile, I’m sometimes put in the position of defending particular tastes in music.

Most of us have probably had the experience of a friend scrolling through iTunes and shooting a sideways glace or making an offhanded comment after seeing a certain artist’s name.

Sometimes it’s more innocent. A friend might see a band he doesn’t recognize and ask to hear a sample. Then he might make a face that lets you know he believes his ears are experiencing a brand of harassment that typically results in jail time.

Now, that’s not to say that I have something extraordinarily embarrassing such as Britney Spears or Air Supply in my iTunes library, but I do own some albums that probably make my friends reevaluate my state of mental well-being.

5. Queens of the Stone Age

I unabashedly love QOTSA. I dug them the first time I heard “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” off Rated R in high school. Also, Josh Homme, the lead singer and guitarist, seemed a like a genuinely cool dude when he was on Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations.

But I don’t think anyone would argue that QOTSA is for everybody. Their songs are heavy and dark (thematically and sonically) for the most part. Many also have an eerie quality, probably the result of Homme’s high-desert upbringing.

Understandably, some people are put off by songs titled “Hangin Tree,” “Burn the Witch,” and “Sick, Sick, Sick.”

4. At the Drive In

At the Drive In is also another heavy band that’s not for everyone. The song “One-Armed Scissor” hooked me on Drive In. However, that’s one of the band’s more accessible songs, which says something.

Drive In also uses dark themes like QOTSA but adds primal screams on top of them. However, for every deafening, driving song in Drive In’s catalog, there is a quieter, meandering counterpart. It makes for a very schizophrenic listening experience.

I’d also be remiss if didn’t mention the creepy voice over at the beginning of “Enfilade,” which mimics a call from kidnappers–complete with voice modulator.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Smoking Popes

I’m trying to get better at posting these, so without any further adieu:

#5 Smoking Popes

The Popes are near and dear to me because they are from my hometown, Crystal Lake, Ill. Well, one of the members is; the others are from the neighboring town but close enough.

The Caterer brothers, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., formed the pop-punk quartet in suburban Chicago during the early 90s. Josh, Matt and Eli Caterer received instruments as kids and started playing together. After some instrument switches, Josh and Eli took the guitar duties and Matt took up the bass.

Drummer Dave Martens completed the original incarnation of the band—Speedstick. But Martens was unhappy with the band’s musical direction and quit. Dan Felumlee (who went to the same high school as me) replaced him and the band became Smoking Popes.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Jawbreaker

Listen up! I’m starting a regular series about bands I love that, for one reason or another, never gained a mainstream presence, but deserved to. I’m kicking off the inaugural entry with one of my favorite punk bands of all time:

# 1. Jawbreaker

Jawbreaker. Clockwise From Left: Adam Pfahler, Blake Schwarzenbach and Chris Bauermeister

This band is very close to me. I’ve been listening to them for over a decade, so this entry will probably be longer than those that follow. But I’ll try to keep it short.

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