Ebola, football and U2 (again)

By Tom Smith

Much has happened in the last thirty days. Bono has apologized for the mass intrusion of U2’s latest album on everyone’s Apple device. My sources in the Pentagon tell me Bono’s apology was brought on by my column last month in the Scene. You may ask what the Pentagon has to do with U2. Trust me, the Pentagon has been keeping tabs on U2 for decades. Bono, by the way, it’s not punk to apologize. Your penance is ten Hail Sid Viciouses, and light a candle to Saint Stiv Bators.

Ebolamania is sweeping the nation.

Sadly, not a dance craze from a deleted scene in Woody Allen’s “Zelig.” Where is Tom Ridge when we need him? What else do we need other than duct tape and plastic sheeting? In his absence, to lead our nation I’ve decided to stock up on toilet paper, hummus, and fancy, high-powered IPAs. And speaking of high-powered IPAs, I’m sure all my fellow Lenny Bruce lovers will be glad to hear there is a beer brewed in his honor called “Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. Rye Double IPA.” I love their tag line, “Brewed with an obscene amount of malt and hops.” Ten percent alcohol to boot! I must say I was scared by the rye, but it is a delicious beer. I have vowed not to leave my house until our nation is free of Ebola or the Super Bowl has been completed. Another thing that has changed is my confidence in my Super Bowl pick of New England vs. Chicago.

“The Walking Dead” is back and better than ever. “Gotham” is way better than I thought it would be. “The League” is firing on all cylinders already, and I truly believe Taco and Rafi should run for president and vice president.

November Nostalgia Alert: What is this, you may ask? A special parade in downtown Green Bay dedicated to the Packer greats of the 1980s? Will we see floating balloons in the images of Randy Wright, Brent Fullwood, Frankie Neal, and Ray Stachowicz? Little known piece of trivia: Ray Stachowicz is the first NFL player I ever met. I was playing basketball at Eisenhower school on the East East side of Green Bay, and there was a guy punting right next to the basketball court. We started a conversation, and I jokingly said, “Hey, if you can punt it down to those tennis courts, you should be in the NFL!” He then informed me he was the punter of the Green Bay Packers. Oops.

No, this is not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about some Groovie Ghoulie Mania! Much better than Ebolamania. Kepi Ghoulie of the Groovie Ghoulies will be performing at the Crunchy Frog, 301 South Broadway, on Wednesday, November 26. Kepi will be performing under the moniker of Kepi Ghoulie Electric. This will consist of Kepi being backed by Mean Jeans (Dirtnap Recording artists from Portland, Oregon), performing an entire set of Groovie Ghoulies and more. Since there’s no rest for the wicked, Mean Jeans will then headline the show with their own material.

Rounding out this incredible bill are two of Wisconsin’s finest, Jetty Boys and Beach Patrol, 9 p.m. start. Another great show I must mention is an all-ages punk rock affair at the Eagles Club, 1035 Vanderbraak. Headlining is Rev Norb and the Onions, Narco State (from Minneapolis), Ladders (from Milwaukee), Motra (Green Bay, and have a killer EP coming out on 11/14, release show at Rock and Roll Land that day), and Enough Already, 8:30 p.m.

tom-nov-3Chuck Prophet – “Night Surfer”
Yep Roc Records
Time Bomb Rating: 11 out of 13

I’ve listened to Chuck Prophet albums in the past and none of them have struck me like “Night Surfer.” I need to go back through his catalog because I’m bowled over by his latest release. This album instantly takes me to a happy place with a merger of Ray Davies and Alejandro Escovedo, with a dose of the Figgs thrown in. The album starts out with a pounding, drum powered rocker named “Countrified Inner-City Technological Man.” No wonder on the rock solid drum action when I realized thee Prairie Prince is handling drums and percussion on this album. Track two, “Wish Me Luck” is a great optimistic sarcastic anthem for 2014. Track four, “They Don’t Know About Me and You” once again does nothing to shake the awesome Ray Davies vibe on this album. Peter Buck of REM plays acoustic guitar on this track.

Every track on this album is solid and tells its own little story. This is also one of those records where the more you listen to it, the better it gets.

Twin PeaksTwin Peaks – “Wild Onion”
Grand Jury Records
Time Bomb Rating: 12 out of 13

Take early 1970s Alice Cooper mixed with Lime Spiders with a pint of Iggy Pop, is how I would describe Twin Peaks. I must note when talking about this band with friends, most of them kind of groan that their name is Twin Peaks, but please ignore it. For Jebus’s sake, I even feel the Neckbones listening to this band. When I listen to tracks such as “Mirror of Time,” I also hear Stiv Bators. “Sloop Jay D” reminds me of a hybrid of Sonic Youth and the Byrds. Track five, “Making Breakfast,” is a definite intermingling of the Rolling Stones and Dead Boys, recorded on a budget lower than Dead Boys had. “Fade Away” is like an ant farm, and the ants in this farm are Buzzcocks, Pixies, Replacements, and Man … or Astro-man? The passionate “Flavor” may be the tour de force of the album. Hey, Apple, make the world listen to this song! Do a favor for Flavor! I can’t wait to see this band live.

Nude BeachNude Beach – “77”
Don Giovanni Records
Time Bomb Rating: 13 out of 13

Brooklyn’s Nude Beach with “77” have now joined Reigning Sound as the two bands not from Wisconsin that have delivered albums worthy of Record of the Year. Remember folks, the competition for Record of the Year from Wisconsin alone is pretty tight; Space Raft, Tim Schweiger and the Middlemen, Midwest Beat, Sleepwalkers, Rev Norb and the Onions, and Sugar Stems have all released incredible albums this year. The last Nude Beach album, “II,” was jaw dropping. “77,” is a progression and is just as good, if not better. “I’m Not Like You” is a slab of the Figgs and the Byrds. While playing this CD in the store, on two separate occasions customers have asked if we were playing the new Tom Petty. Must be the Byrds vibe doing that. Others will argue with me, but I don’t think the voices are that similar. I mentioned the Figgs, and by all means, if you are a Figgs fan, I really think you will love this band.

“Yesterday” shifts the album into third gear, and comes off as a murkyish Hoodoo Gurus. “For A While” has kinda the Beach Patrol feel to it. “I Can’t Keep the Tears From Falling” is quite the rocker that puts the record into fourth gear and is my favorite track. This song has a fuzzed out boogeyish, Lou Reed’s Vicious riff to it that propels the song into a head on collision with early Soul Asylum. “Can’t Get Enough” has the more rocking variety of Big Star tone to it. “I Found You” is proof that in some parallel universe, Hanoi Rocks and Nick Lowe worked together. “If We Only Had the Time” has the more down tempo variety of Big Star tone to it. This record also is one that increases in brilliancy with frequency of listening. Yet another band I truly can’t wait to see live.

muffsThe Muffs – “Whoop Dee Doo”
Burger Records
Time Bomb Rating: 13 out of 13

It’s been ten years since the last Muffs albums. Sometimes when a band takes that long between albums it can be trouble. Take, for example, Boston. Their third album Third Stage was one of the biggest disappointments ever in rock and roll. Fear not, the Muffs are back and better than ever. The Muffs blast off the starting line with the nitrous oxide flowing from the get go. They do so with “Weird Boy Next Door,” and no truth to the Green Bay urban myth that Muffs singer Kim Shattuck briefly lived in Green Bay next to Rev Norb. Track two, “Paint By Numbers,” continues the barrage. No sign of rust on this band whatsoever at all. This track could have appeared on the debut album of the Muffs. “Take A Take A Me” sounds like the Muffs rocking up a Davy Jones Monkees song. Oh yes, Kim still has the best scream in rock and roll. When I play this album in the store, once again on numerous occasions, I have been asked if this is the new Tom Petty.

Just kidding, they ask if it is Joan Jett. Just between you, me, and the fence post, these days Joan Jett doesn’t hold a candle to the Muffs. Love the song “Cheesy,” very catchy. I wonder if this will ever be used on a Cheez Wiz commercial? This is Wisconsin, cheese is an important subject. “I Get It” is another fine rocker with vocal contributions from bass player Ronnie Barnett. Kim produced this record and does an outstanding job. This may be the Muffs’ best sounding album, and song-wise, it’s right up there also. Roy McDonald (also of Redd Kross) once again gives an outstanding performance on drums and percussion. I order any self-respecting Muffs fan to buy this in vinyl, CD, or cassette at a record store near you. Now that I think of it, add this to the short list of non-Wisconsin albums vying for Record of the Year.

Make Green Bay weird.

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