TV Set – The Cramps

I’m a big fan of horror movies. That’s no secret.

Luckily for me, horror movies and punk rock tend to intersect.

In the case of the Poltergeist remake this year, Spoon took on The Cramps original track, “TV Set,” as a campy addition to the soundtrack.

But I wasn’t content to settle for that.

I listened to The Cramps occasionally in high school, so I decided to give them a spin again. When I delved into their catalogue, “TV Set,” accosted me. It wasn’t the indie chugger that Spoon created. It was angry and raw. And it’s no surprise that they’re often credited with being one of the forerunners of Psychobilly. (Even though lead singer Lux Interior wouldn’t own the term.)

I was about to say, “They sound like they’d fit in at CBGB,” until the internets revealed that they were regulars there. Shocker. I’m sure Hilly welcomed them with open arms.

One of the most refreshing things about The Cramps is that they didn’t self-destruct like other artists did. While Sid was busy killing Nancy and the Talking Heads were fighting over royalties, The Cramps chugged on.

It wasn’t until Lux Interior’s death in 2009 that the band finally called it quits.  That’s 37 years of face-melting guitar duels and Lux’s notorious Iggy-esque antics.

Poison Ivy (lead guitarist) and Lux were married, so perhaps their lifelong honeymoon helped The Cramps find stability. Regardless, I’m incredibly appreciative that their campy tunes laid the groundwork for artists like the HorrorPops and Tiger Army. (I’ve never been a big Misfits fan…)

So the next time you’re feeling a bit stagnant, I’d turn on a horror flick. You never know who will be lurking in the soundtrack.

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A New Wave – Sleater-Kinney

The other day, I made my husband do a double-take, as I openly called him a feminist.

“I didn’t know you’d categorize me as that,” he said.

“You listen to Le Tigre and Sleater-Kinney. C’mon,” I replied.

And it’s true! My husband is more of a feminist than I’d ever thought. He doesn’t objectify women, and he often says that I’m the “tough” one.

Well, his adventures into female-centered bands paid off.

Of course I’d heard of Sleater-Kinney, but I’d never taken the time to listen to them.

Knowing my affinity for Bob’s Burgers and Portlandia, Brandon played me this video.

Immediately I was surprised by 2 things: how FUCKING ADORABLE the video is. Seriously, the Belcher kids never fail to charm. And how WONDERFUL Carrie Brownstein’s voice is.

I know, I know. You’re probably wondering how I consider myself a music fan and failed to hear her for this long. Because I’m an asshat, that’s why.

Esquire boldly called Sleater-Kinney “The Best Band in the World,” in 2007, and it’s been argued that they are one of the rare artists that haven’t released anything less than perfection.

To further prove their influence, Sleater-Kinney’s friends recorded themselves singing “Cities to Love” as a precursor to their album release. There’s some faces you’ll recognize.

Brownstein recognizes the importance of that Kinney does. She was quoted by the NYT as saying, “’After we stopped playing, I was more aware that we did not have clear predecessors or successors,” Ms. Brownstein said. “Which is probably the thing I’m most proud of. There was really no one like this band. It’s like a language that was going extinct.'”

Perhaps that’s why they got back together: despite Sleater-Kinney’s past issues with touring and a few of them not fitting with that lifestyle, they all realize that this is something bigger than themselves.

Don’t Mess With Me – Brody Dalle

One my my high school crushes was Brody Dalle. I started listening to The Distillers after I became heavily interested in Rancid and Hellcat Records. (I was obsessed with almost everything that label produced.) I loved everything about Brody. To me, she was the epitome of female badassery. She had an unmatched swagger and voice, all while still being completely and utterly stunning and unapologetic about being a woman. I thought that was amazing.

Recently, Brandon asked me if I had heard of Brody, and my interest piqued immediately. “Of course I have! Why?”

He loaded YouTube on our PS3 and played this video.

I had no clue that she’d released Diploid Love, but he and I have been listening to it on repeat since Friday. (We picked it up at Shake It on our date night.)

Especially now that she’s blonde, I’m sure the comparisons to Courtney Love are pouring in. But I prefer Brody by a landslide.

When I listened to her while she was in The Distillers, she had jet black hair and looked undead, except for her blood-red lips. As it turns out, when she and Tim Armstrong split (the lead singer of Rancid, and owner of Hellcat) her musical career took a major hit.

According to an article published by The Guardian in April 2014, “It took her three years to leave Armstrong, and when she did, the aftermath was brutal. His celebrity friends waged a public campaign against her, criticising Dalle in the press, and reportedly threatening the male Distillers and blacklisting anyone associated with the band. “We lost every fucking body. Me and my guys were left there standing alone, holding each other.””

In addition to that, Dalle was battling with a meth addiction, which as many know, is something that people rarely bounce back from. The Distillers last album, Coral Fang, produced some mainstream hits, but it wasn’t enough to save the crumbling band and lead singer.

Luckily, Dalle moved forward and married Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and had children Camille & Orrin, who she credits for her continued sobriety.

Diploid Love has a lot of gems that are worth a listen, but my favorite so far is Don’t Mess With Me.

While the beat and progressions Dalle uses are enough to draw in a casual listener, I can’t help but appreciate her lyrics, as well. Her entire album speaks to overcoming battles – both inward and outward – and Dalle has clearly won all of the ones she’s been faced with.

You’re the reason I can stay
And fight until the death

Fall Back Down – Rancid

Don’t worry about me, I’m gonna make it alright
Got my enemies crossed out in my sight
I take a bad situation gonna make it right
In the shadows of darkness I stand in the light…

…If I fall back down, you’re gonna help me back up again
If I fall back down, you’re gonna be my friend

I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been sad. That’s all there is to it. Last Thursday, my mom’s dog had to be put down VERY unexpectedly. My dad has been out-of-town for work, so I was the only one that could be there for her. When she called to say it was time, I left work and drove to be with her. It was one of the darkest days I’ve had as an adult. For some that might sound stupid, but for us, our dogs are our family. And Wren was a wild family member. Seeing my mom so devastated and knowing she’d now have to go home to an empty home plunged me into depression. I begged her to stay with Brandon and I at our apartment.

In addition to that, Brandon and I had been planning on adopting a second dog. So a day after putting down a beloved family member, I drove to Dayton to pick up a new one. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy at all.

On Friday when Jarrett and I got home with Ivy, we had a few friends at the house. And when the pressure became too much and I sobbed like a baby, they hugged me while standing in my kitchen, and left to give me time to process.

All of this leads into this song:

As mentioned before, I have a certain affinity for Indestructible by Rancid. It was released in 2003 while I was heading into high school, and I became addicted to it.

“Fall Back Down” is a much poppier song than their usual, but it always serves as a pick-me-up when I’m sad.

Let’s face it: my friends are amazing. They’re family. And family sticks together. This song is a break from the cynicism of punk, and I love the gratitude it conveys. Next time you’re emo, don’t be embarrassed to listen to a song that picks you up, regardless of how old or unpopular it may be. We all have our own journey to take when we’re having a hard time. Let’s just hope you have awesome people to share it with.