Some audible advice.

There's very little I despise more than the commercial FM radio scene. It’s gag-inducing, anger sparking. It’s all blah, blah, blah, repeat, repeat, repeat. You know the score. You also know one needs to really dig (or get really lucky) to find the sweet spot your music-loving heart desires. Every major city, heck, any mid-sized city has some pocket on the AM or FM dials which holds a fantastic radio station. Thanks to the Internet, those pockets have been easier to search as Internet Radio has kicked open the doors of availability. What was once an entertainment and educational source confined to your surrounding area is now only confined to how much time and interests you have to spare. While I could list off the number of hero stations out there which requires investigation (and there are plenty), I’m just going to highlight the best. 

It should come as no surprise it’s WFMU out of Jersey City. They have a lauded history which has been blabbed about in such fancy-pants rags such as The New York TimesThe New Yorker, (NYT’s persistent runt of a little brother) Rolling StoneThe Village Voice blah, blah, blah. There’s even a bunch of whoop-dee-do famous people who’ve gone on record and named the station as a fave. Yeah, WFMU is that good: even the Hollywood types enjoy it! So, what's all the fuss? Before they hit the web, WFMU was already amazing with their fierce independence and brilliant DJ’s; this has been going on since 1958, mind you. Not a bad track record. After they went live on the web, their stature climbed even further. One of the corner stones here is their free music archive which hosts roughly 45,000 songs available free as streaming or download and challenges those neer-do-wells over at as best free music dumping ground. According to the station, it’s “a social music website built around a curated library of free, legal audio.”  In other words, you’re not going to get popped by the Feds for digging into their database.

But you’ll need to do that on your own time. What I want you to do right now is investigate one of their web satellite stations; they have three apparently (which, including their terrestrial stream, means they have four available stations, each different, each amazing in their own right…no, they’re not paying me to write this tripe…hell, the WFMU folks are so staunchly independent, they won’t take any underwriting); the one I want you to dial up and dive into is their “Rock ‘n Soul Ichiban” station. Why? Because it’s 24/7 obscure rockabilly, 60’s garage rock and soul. Not interesting enough? Well, hows about they toss in vintage commercials (movies, soft drinks, various concert adverts) and air checks from around the country. You can make believe it’s 1966 in your own living room or wherever the hell you’re hearing it. I mean, shucks, where else are you going to hear Johnny Ray Harris sing “Alligator Meat” or The Jay Jay’s pumpin' out “Shake It Some More” or the wonderful Nocturnals crying their pretty little eyes out in “Because You’re Gone”?

Mix it all together and you have a nice stream of gold flowing from the speakers straight into that membrane which separates your inner ear from your outer ear and which will slowly bleed for a good 36 hours if you accidentally jab it with a Q-tip or chopstick or twig or what have you.

So, there you go: one long-winded screed about a radio station which you may or may not enjoy. What with the Holidays approaching, you're gonna want some kinda distraction, something to do while avoiding your ex-spouse or friends or fruitcake-bearing neighbors at your windswept door who want to know if you'd like to hear a carol or two. Well, you don't. You want to listen to WFMU.


Hot Snakes - "I Hate The Kids"

Time moves on and adjusting is never easy. Older people feel replaced by the younger and everyone feels replaced by ever evolving technological advances, especially older people. 

For example, in the independent rock world, those who came up in the pre-Internet days hold a special grudge towards those who are coming up in it presently. Life for musicians ten years ago, while not necessarily more difficult, was extremely different. Many bands adopted the “Do-It-Yourself” ethos in order to avoid having to deal with pushy, single-minded record companies; for a time it seemed every band had their own label, were booking their own tours and making their own t-shirts. For a time all seemed absolutely beautiful. Fame was not an issue, supporting oneself by playing music was the end-all.

Old habits die hard, however, and by design or by default, a younger generation of independent rock musicians rely more on the helping-hand of technology to ease their way into an otherwise unattainable fame. This rankles the older folks for various reasons; some see it as too easy of a way for a band to mire their way through the world, mostly though it’s a problem of a younger bands not feeling the necessity of paying their dues. Without paid dues, there’s no respect or integrity. Without paid dues, there’s no humility.

Let me present to you one of the best examples of an older-generation’s push-back against the rising tide of Ease:  “I Hate The Kids” by San Diego’s finest export, Hot Snakes (formed 1999, disbanded 2005, periodic reunions since). On the surface, the song may contain a certain “back in my day…” tone, but underneath the obvious, guitarist/singer Rick Froberg encapsulates today’s first-world's frustrating ability to quickly acquiesce into mediocrity. Using the indie rock scene as a metaphor and with only a few lines, Froberg delivers an honest and brutal critique on what he sees as a lazy, good-fer-nothing, self-obsessed society. Meanwhile,  the band (Froberg, guitarist John Reis, drummer Jason Kourkounkis and bassist Gar Wood) builds a tension-filled charge which starts with a low, insect-like hum and bursts into a fantastic and determined rock march. Used as a set opener of for a lot of their shows, (not to mention the opening song for the band’s second LP, Suicide Invoice) “I Hate The Kids” sets the tone, illustrates Hot Snakes worldview,  a beautiful pessimism. 

Life is work, even being in a rock band is work and not some easy ride into the sunset. There is no easy ride. Ever. In barley three minutes, Froberg uses one verse and one chorus (repeated once and changed ever so slightly) to sum it all up perfectly. One line stands out above the rest, a brutal but honest soliloquy where he’s he talking to himself as much as he’s talking to everyone else:

…grab a spade, get in the dirt / the older you get, the less your worth…


Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks - Strange Colores

Are you a rowdy ranger? A true cowboy? A Rrrrriot Grrrrl? If so, you may or may not dig this maximalist tune from the shoutier dude in Animal Collective. And if you listen closely, you may detect some odd remnants from late-90s white-boy hip hop (minus the simulated DJ scratching). Kinda got that chant/sing thing going on at about 0:44, like the Beastie Boys if you're being generous, or like Chumbawamba if you're being an asshole.

Backhanded compliment? Maybe! Pleasurable track? Definitely!


The Savages - The World Ain't Round, It's Square

Not to be confused with the modern P4k darlings (or the millions of other pimply teen rage cases who formed bands named "The Savages"), these boys were based out of Bermuda and ended up cutting the classic garage scorcher "Live 'N Wild." Here's a fittingly low-quality YouTube upload of one of the best tracks from that record. You can find it here: