Simon Says: (Musical) Veterans Day

on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Words: Simon Opie

Veterans Day is 11/11 in the USA and late June here in the UK. Musically, it seems to be sometime in September as the month has been subject to a mountain of releases from veteran bands. Amongst others, there were offerings from Green Day, Calexico, No Doubt and, yes, even the still going strong ZZ Top too, maybe even renewed by the derivative blues revival inspired by the success of The Black Keys. Some of our choice picks from the month are below.

The aforementioned are mostly disappointing it has to be said, either because they really offer nothing new – as with Green Day and Calexico - or because they are awful – No Doubt. I guess when you’re into the ten albums plus bracket its hard to find new things to say, however illustrious your past glories. But there are some who can pull it off and I’ve picked out a few who deserve special mention for albums that won’t necessarily find them new fans but will totally engage existing ones:

Melvins – 'Freak Puke'

Technically, this is Melvins Lite and it was released in June, but the Melvins have been on a roll recently. So 'Freak Puke' finds them in Lite format – Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover teamed with Trevor Dunn on upright bass – and making the customary unholy racket. The last three tracks are the best with a Paul McCartney cover ('Let Me Roll It') sandwiched between the excellent title track and the extended 'Tommy Goes Beserk'. Try: 'Freak Puke'.

Dinosaur Jr. – 'I Bet On Sky'

Since their return from hiatus with the excellent 'Beyond', Dinosaur Jr. have found new purpose and they show here just how accomplished their songwriting skills are. The album is nicely understated and also finishes with a lengthy workout. Try: 'Pierce The Morning Rain'

NOFX – 'Self Entitled'

No lengthy workouts here of course, as NOFX kick out their twelfth studio album, every last one of them released independently. Fat Mike and crew work the formula but always have something smart to say and play far better than they let on. Try: 'Cell Out', 'X-mas Has Been X’ed'

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – 'Meat And Bone'

JSBX have been quiet for quite a while, although busy with side projects. A great live band with some notable studio records, most famously 1994’s 'Orange', they truly are veterans (but not quite in the ZZ Top class). This album represents a return to their roots and a welcome return to their very best. Maybe with the experience of his adventures with Heavy Trash, Jon Spencer sings less like an Elvis impersonator and Judah Bauer and Russell Simins back him up with relish. Tremendous stuff. Try: 'Bag Of Bones', 'Bottle Baby', 'Danger', 'Boot Cut'.

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