soundstreamsunday: “Candy-O” by the Cars

the-cars-candy-o-button-b3064(2)It’s been forty-ish years since their first record but it’s not difficult to remember how important the Cars were to American music.  Punk really broke with the Cars and maybe also with Devo, because until these bands hit the radio, and they did so in a big way in 1978-79, punk music and its influence was just a news story for those of us not living on America’s coasts.  The Cars weren’t a punk band really at all but they brought a toughness to their pop music that defined American new wave, even as they were being played, say, between the Doobies and AC/DC on the radio (as they still are today).  They represented a slew of less commercially fortunate American underground bands: Big Star, NRBQ, Flamin’ Groovies, the kind of groups who extended 60s garage rock post Beatles.  That is, they saw the art in what they did.  They opened ears.  Ric Ocasek’s and Benjamin Orr’s lyrics were smart, un-fussy, their singing had the odd effect of creating emotional distance even while containing heartbreak, and Elliott Easton’s guitar kept the band on course — they were never not a rock band.  Here on “Candy-O,” the title track of their second album,  the Cars throw down a power pop gauntlet elevated by this raw live peformance.  Bookended by a monster debut album and outsized 1980s success, “Candy-O” is nonetheless the band’s peak as new wave game changer.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section above.

Tim Bowness Lost in the Ghost Light

Years ago, when I was 16 I found an organization that helped with my curiosity about progressive rock, it was called the Classic Rock Society, they were based in Rotherham (a short bus ride away from the small village I lived in at the time) and they met on a Wednesday night in a pub. Beer and prog, all within a short distance from my front door, what was not to like?

One night at the pub talking about prog music in 1995 a friend lent me an album by a band I’d never heard of called No-Man, the album was Flowermouth, and it’s mix of shifting sounds and emotive vocals was my first introduction to the works of Mr Steven Wilson and Mr Tim Bowness, and I was hooked.

Luckily I got to see Porcupine Tree not so longer afterwards, but despite following No-Man and Tim Bowness solo work, it took me slightly longer (nearly 20 years in fact) to see Tim live, with Henry Fool at Eppyfest in 2014, followed quickly by seeing him at the Louisiana in Bristol in 2015.

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soundstreamsunday: “Futureworld” by Trans Am

Futureworld_(reissue)-Trans_Am_480The relentlessness of TransAm’s album Futureworld is a darkly beautiful thing, a fist-waving ode to personal alienation in the late 90. Its Germanic vocoder nods to Kraftwerk, its post-rock distortion and, above all, Sebastian Thomson’s drumming, set a tone so consistently, yet energetically, brooding that it simply will not be denied. It fits neatly in the set of movies and music (thinking Fight Club, Boards of Canada…) directly pre-9/11 that captures the crumbling of 90s tech optimism, the cold distance occasioned by staring at a screen rather than reading a person’s face. This is where the digital shit hits the fan. When I listen to the song “Futureworld” I think these things and I also rock out. Its structure is all about the dynamics of momentum, its breakneck launch ending as a ship with rockets disengaged, a pulse along a motherboard, an incredible downshift punctuated by unlikely but perfect Bonham-esque pounding.

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