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The Lacking Organization

Episode 114: Can’t Do Much

Episode 114: Can’t Do Much

Katie Crutchfield, performing as Waxahatchee, has been slowly and steadily building her repertoire and now her talent is overflowing her banks.

IN THIS EPISODE

Atili, Baby Shakes, Black Lips, Broken Bells, The Coctails, Field Music, The Giraffes, The Go! Team, The Growlers, Herb Alpert, Home, J.U.F., King Sporty, Little Scream, Miss Li, Mr. Elevator & The Brain Hotel, The Muffs, Of Montreal, Omar Shooli, The Oranges Band, Parquet Courts, Pavo Pavo, Rinôçerôse, Secret Colours, Shantel, The Subjects, Supergrass, Walter Wanderley, Waxahatchee, XTC

For more information and a full playlist with notes, visit the.lacking.org/podcast/2020/0114-can-t-do-much

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The Lacking Organization

Episode 106: Odelia

Episode 106: Odelia

They call it Hotlanta for a good reason, but I’m sure The Black Lips have enough bad attitude to have way more colorful names for their hometown.

IN THIS EPISODE

Amir Alexander, Black Lips, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Capstan Shafts, Creedle, Daddy Long Legs, Dr. Frank, Entrance, Field Music, The Fiery Furnaces, Fontaines D.C., The Free Radicals, Funkineven, The Get Up Kids, The Growlers, Karen Dalton, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Linnea Olsson, Los Amigos Invisibles, Mahala Rai Banda, Metric, Moon Duo, Mr. Elevator, The Muffs, Nick Lowe, The Obscuritones, Pele & Elis Regina, Pom Poko, Tennis, Thee Shams, Tim Timebomb, The Wild Reeds

For more information and a full playlist with notes, visit the.lacking.org/podcast/2020/0106-odelia

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The Lacking Organization

Episode 105: Along the Santa Fe Trail

Episode 105: Along the Santa Fe Trail

M. Ward could get by on his smoky velvet voice alone, but he also happens to be a supreme connoisseur of what alert musicians call songcraft.

IN THIS EPISODE

1990s, The Breeders, Brendan Benson, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, CocoRosie, Consolidated, David Lindley & El Rayo-X, Deadbeats, The Fauns , Great Grandpa, M. Ward, Mount Kimbie, Mr. Elevator, The Muffs, Nathaniel Rateliff, North Mississippi Allstars, Of Montreal, Olivia Jean, The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band, Plaster, The Ramones, The Rock*A*Teens, Schneider TM, The Snitches, Tennis, VHS Or Beta, Waax, We Ragazzi, Ween, Whitey, Yo La Tengo, Zig Speck & The Specktones

For more information and a full playlist with notes, visit the.lacking.org/podcast/2020/0105-along-the-santa-fe-trail

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Features

Kim Shattuck, RIP

“I Sceam My Fool Head Off”

Kim Shattuck, RIP

As most of us have seen, the Muff’s co-founder and frontwoman Kim Shattuck died at age 56. On October 2, 2019, Shattuck’s husband, Kevin Sutherland, posted to his private Instagram account, “This morning, the love of my life passed peacefully in her sleep after a two-year struggle with ALS.” Former bandmate Melanie Vammen re-posted the story and the Muffs’ Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald shared a statement on Facebook. The tragic news was confirmed by the Muffs’ current record label, Omnivore Recordings. Shattuck did not make public her diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the muscles.

Perhaps that’s fitting. By all accounts, ALS is fucking awful. Shattuck’s persona always seemed to execute positivity, even in the ’90s when that wasn’t necessarily ‘cool’. While Shattuck is best known for her excellent work helming the Muffs, she also played bass in the garage-rock psychedelic throwbacks the Pandoras in the 1980s. While screeching your pain in your lyrics was common in the grunge-era ’90s, Shattuck’s scream was different. It was joyful and bratty, not self-pitying. And she employed her scream skillfully, not egregiously. There were flashes of her infamous wahhhhhaoooooo in the Muffs’ influential self-titled debut. Shattuck brought her affirming screams to the fore in Blonde and Blonder – the Muffs’ second record that was named after a snide remark by Courtney Love. In the liner notes of the re-mastered album, Shattuck succinctly states, “I scream my fool head off.”

But it wasn’t just Shattuck’s impressive vocals that hooked fans and fellow artists alike. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong has long been a fan of the Muffs and noted in an Instagram post that his band listened to the Muffs constantly while recording what would be their breakthrough, Dookie. Veruca Salt posted their tribute on Twitter to a “brilliant pop songwriter” and “total punk-rock badass” with a sweet picture of singer-guitarist Nina Gordon with her arms around a yellow dress-clad Shattuck.

Despite this sad development, we have not heard the last of Shattuck. Barnett and McDonald’s statement notes that “Kim produced our last album, overseeing every part of the record from tracking to artwork.” The Muffs are scheduled to release their first album in five years. The 18-track No Holiday will be available October 18.

omnivorerecordings.com/the-muffs

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Music Reviews

The Muffs

The Muffs

The Muffs

Omnivore Recordings

Aside from the obvious reasons, who really knows why artists remaster and reissue their albums? Celebrating a 15 or 20 or another neatly-numbered anniversary makes sense. So does fixing perceived (or real) engineering and mixing errors and providing bonus tracks for diehard fans. But otherwise, why do it? The Muffs have remastered and reissued their first album-22 years after its debut. The California-based pop punkers were like a lot of bands that rode in on the early ’90s alternative rock wave, courtesy of a major-label deal. Sure, the band had brief glimpses of fame with their cover of “Kids in America” included on the million-selling Clueless soundtrack or their music video for “Sad Tomorrow” played on MTV’s 120 Minutes or “Everywhere I Go” featured in a commercial for the now-defunct Fruitopia beverage.

However, the Muffs’ relationship to Green Day is the most interesting. As the story goes, that other California-based pop punk band was so impressed with new producer Rob Cavallo’s work on the Muffs’ debut that they had him produce their third studio album. As we all know, Dookie was a worldwide smash that sent Green Day into the stratosphere. Beyond the tangential relationship-and later friendship-the Muffs and recent Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame-inductees Green Day have a lot in common. Frontwoman Kim Shattuck’s undeniable knack for crafting super catchy, melodic, bratty, slap-happy pop punk almost matches Billie Joe Armstrong’s. Almost. For that, and other debatable reasons, the Muffs were essentially a footnote in the annals of alternative rock. And that’s unfortunate.

After helming the bass for the all-girl ’60s-throwback garage-rock group, the Pandoras, Kim Shattuck and keyboard player Melanie Vammen switched to guitars to form the Muffs with bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Criss Crass. This lineup only lasted the first album (Shattuck and Barnett were later joined by drummer Roy McDonald for the next five Muffs albums). Shattuck’s snotty vocals and occasional screams blend into 16 infectious tracks on the self-titled debut. Even when the formula wears thin, like the strummy riff of the third track (and future Fruitopia TV ad) “Everywhere I Go” being too similar to the fourteenth track, “Eye to Eye,” the album is enjoyable. And, The Muffs features a couple interesting cameos, like the Godfather of Exotica Korla Pandit playing a Middle Eastern organ riff in the beginning of “From Your Girl” and Jon Spencer providing buzzing distortion with a theremin on the hard-rocking “I Need You.” And, of course, there’s the Angry Samoans cover, “Stupid Jerk.” The 31-second sludgy stomp features Barnett taking sole vocal duties to sound like Kermit the Frog crossed with Lemmy Kilmister.

While the remaster has leveled out the track-to-track sound variations of the initial album, Shattuck’s perpetually bratty vocals remain intact. After listening to The Muffs, one could conclude that Shattuck’s singing is an affectation. After all, she was just out of her twenties at the time. However, the four-track demos show otherwise. Shattuck’s disaffected alto sounds almost sincere on the jaunty “Not Like Me” compared to its raspy, slowed-down demo. In addition to the eight previously-unreleased demos, the remastered edition includes a radio remix of “Lucky Guy” and a cassette version of “Everywhere I Go.” A glossy booklet contains photos, ephemera, new liner notes by Barnett, and a track-by-track explanation by Shattuck. The frontwoman explains how many of the songs are about Barnett, who she dated for three years ending the year before The Muffs was released. (Perhaps that explains the vocals.) Other songs address topics like arrogant people (“Better than Me”), weirdos (“Another Day”), and the like. Written about a town gossip, Shattuck kicks off the second half of The Muffs by sneering “I don’t like you/ and I won’t pretend to!” in the opening of the bouncy “Big Mouth.” While surprisingly endearing, the remastered The Muffs likely won’t attract new fans, but who needs a reason to reissue an album anyway?

themuffsband.blogspot.com

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Interviews

TIGER! TIGER!

TIGER! TIGER!

Atlanta band goes home, then takes on Europe

A tightly packed crowd jams the compact dance floor in front of the stage at Ybor City’s New World Brewery, trying to get as close as possible to Tiger! Tiger! The band tears into tunes from their new album The Kind of Goodnight, while fans try to find space to shake their hips. Singer Buffi Aguero whips up the crowd telling them, “This is supposed to be a dance contest. There’s plenty of room right here,” pointing at the foot of empty concrete right in front of the monitors.

A young man responds to the challenge, invading the limited open space with some freeform wiggling. The crowd hoots and the band smiles.

The New World Brewery show was a homecoming of sorts for Tiger! Tiger! Singer Buffi Aguero is originally from Tampa, and three of her bandmates also hail from Florida. Organist Sam Levja is the only native Georgian in this Altanta combo. The Tampa show was also something of a warmup for the band’s upcoming European tour. Before the show. I talked to Aguero about her band, their new CD and what they’ll be up to in the coming months.

“I’ve been in a lot of bands here in Atlanta,” Buffi says, describing how her three year-old band came together, “It was one of those things where it’s hard to find people you like to play with but even more important was finding people you want to spend 17 hours with in a van. I had played with Suzanne, who plays bass, in the Vendettas. I also played with Sam, the organ player, in the White Lights and the Vendettas.” The band is rounded out by guitar and sax man Shane Pringle and Miami native Mario Colangelo.

Suzanne Gibboney and Mario weren’t on Collisions, the first CD from Tiger! Tiger! “The first record was a little artier,” Buffi relates. “We don’t have a cello anymore, so this record is more straightforward. Once Suzanne and Mario joined, it became real exciting. Those two are just such a force.”

The Kind of Goodnight is an exciting blast of straight-on rock and roll. The band pays homage to 60’s garage sounds with sax and organ riffs bouncing off Buffi’s cutting lyrics. It’s hard not to smile at the crafty putdowns in “The First Thing” (the first thing you should know about her, she’s a liar and a cheat). On the other hand, “Stand In” is a nice little party anthem and Shane lives out a Springsteen moment when he takes the lead vocal on “Misfortune, Bad Weather and Debt.”

“I’m excited about this record” Buffi says. The record will be domestically released by Austin, Texas-based Chicken Ranch records. The disc will also be released in Europe on Beyond Your Mind Records, setting up the November tour.

“We’re doing a month long tour of Europe to support the new record,” Buffi says enthusiastically, “I think it will be really fun. My other band, the Subsonics have worked with this promoter before and did a really, really good job for us. They make sure we have good hotels and good food!”

The tour will be a bit of an adventure taking the band places they’ve never been before. “The Spanish part will be really great,” Buffi says. “There are some dates I’m really curious about. We’re going to play Warsaw. I don’t know what kind of audience there is for a band like ours in Poland. It will be either really interesting or really bad.”

Buffi doesn’t seem too concerned about the prospect of bombing in some Warsaw rock club. “This band is more of a fun project than a career project,” she says philosophically, “I like Polish food a lot, so even if the shows don’t go well, we will eat well.”

www.myspace.com/tigertigerband

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Music Reviews

Halo Friendlies

Halo Friendlies

Get Real

Tooth & Nail

Things are definitely looking up for all-female punk-popsters Halo Friendlies: Following last year’s performance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this summer saw them playing Warped for their second straight year. This sophomore album, their first for Tooth & Nail, should drive home the point, with its 11 infectious, feel-good anthems and its single quietly strummed ballad.

Kim Shattuck from The Muffs produced this, which may give you a clue about the unabashed and unrelenting energy on display, but its the band’s performances that occupy center stage throughout, all spot-on abrasive pop with a punk’s heart. From the opening, choppy “Sellout,” to the strutting “Just Like You” and the skate punk of “Don’t Let Me Down,” there’s hardly a weak moment on here, with Halo Friendlies coming across like a Bangles meeting Foo Fighters, or Cheap Trick swapping tunes with Rancid.

Halo Friendlies haven’t made a profound or imaginative album, by any stretch of the imagination. This is, however, an album of hook-ridden and incessantly catchy punk-pop that doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, and comes out looking all the better for it. Get real, indeed. Good stuff.

Tooth & Nail Records: http://www.toothandnail.com