Part two of a four part series: Wally’s Best Music of 2004
Published first at Soulfish Stew.
Young Heart Attack – Mouthful Of Love: Young Heart Attack channels AC/DC, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, MC5, and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few of the influences that can be explicitly heard, into a 34 minute masterpiece of hesher rock. The title track explodes out of the speakers with total abandon; the opening chords learned from the school of Angus Young, but the song really takes off when Jennifer Stephens adds her vocals to the mix. She really does sound like Vince Neil circa “Too Fast For Love” and part of what sets this record apart is her vocal interplay with Chris Hodge. “Starlite” begins with a synthesizer riff almost identical to the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and then gives us a freak lyrical version of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” as Chris tells his date, “I’ve got to prove I’m a man, can’t you understand” while the music boils over. “El Camino” features a sped up Black Sabbath guitar riff as if Tony Iommi had been pilfering Ozzy’s diet pills while the vocals evoke Robert Plant. While the Southern deep fried boogie of “(Take Me Back) Mary Jane” is stretching a bit, they still manage to pull it off. After all, they do hail from Austin, Texas. You don’t have to have lived through the original era of heavy metal parking lots, parachute pants, and mullets, but it should would deepen your appreciation for the Young Heart Attack who quite simply: flat out rock! Pop a cassette in the tape deck, pick up your buddies, buy some booze and cruise.
The Features – Exhibit A: Sure the Features are Tennessee homeboys who’ve played together since high school in the small town of Sparta and my old garage band used to play the same venues. Lead Feature Matt Pelham might even say hello to me if we bump into each other like we did a few years ago at a Salvation Army thrift store (I scored a Vibrations record that day!), but this doesn’t mean you’re not getting an impartial review. The Features first release years ago on the now defunct Spongebath label disappointed me because I didn’t think it captured their live sound adequately. Their Beginning EP showed me that the live act could be caught in a studio setting. Exhibit A really cranks up the volume with 12 witty and exuberant pop songs. “Blow It Out” should have been a huge hit with its chorus of “If you’re happy and you know it, turn the volume up and blow it out”, plus I love “There’s A Million Ways To Sing The Blues”. The Features aren’t conventional rockers. Matt’s high keening vocals might not be liked by all, but the songs are well written, arranged, and performed. I just wonder how teenagers growing up in a small town on the cusp of the Cumberland Plateau could have been so influenced by Pere Ubu.
The Clash – London Calling Expanded Edition: One thing that Rolling Stone magazine got right was when London Calling was named the best album of the 80’s, even if the record actually came out in 1979. I usually balk at naming a record the number one of all time, but while London Calling is playing I can’t think of anything else I want to be listening to, if that makes any kind of sense. Even if this wasn’t packed with bonus tracks and a DVD, it would be worth getting. Maybe it should be reissued every year.
Part three will highlight three of my favorite singles.