It's exciting and humbling that, even in the tiny sliver of scene in my purview, I had a hard time picking just five songs to discuss, and that's not counting several of my all-time favorites already mentioned by the estimable mssrs. Rodgers and Gold in our first two Best Local Rock Songs Ever installments. Whether mainstream or not, our cup runneth over with mad skills in songwriting and rocking. Fear not, those of you whose memories run longer: The next few installments promise to break out of The Aughts. But without further ado, make the jump and feast your ears on Best Local Rock Songs Ever, Spring Break '06 Edition!
Glossary, "Shout It From the Rooftops"
In 15 years, Joey Kneiser and low-notesman Bingham Barnes have made seven records together with great bands, and I could easily pick a track from any one of those to exemplify Joey's near-supernatural ability to write a song that speaks on a deep, personal level to just about anyone who listens. Glossary's 2007 record The Better Angels of Our Nature (grab a download here or here) saw the group coalesce into its current form, with Joey's then-wife Kelly singing and playing percussion as well as anyone on Motown's staff, Todd Beene (also of Lucero) on steel and second guitar, and Eric Giles on drums, augmented just for this record by Matt "Mr. Jimmy" Rowland's prodigious keyboard skills. At the center of the album is "Shout It," with its dead-simple chord progression from the roots of rock 'n' roll and its unforced, un-preaching, universal message of hope, which I've seen put crowds of 100 to 1,000 into a full-Beavis head-bang.
[News flash: Yesterday the U.K.'s Xtra Mile announced they will release Glossary's 2011 record Long Live All of Us in Europe, ahead of their April tour.]
Velcro Stars, "Lush With a Crush"
Even back when they gigged as Daphne vs. Velma, Shane Spresser, his wife Bekah and their pal Keith Pratt displayed a knack for stellar pop that brought together Big Star's raw power and tender underbelly and Pavement's dry wit and off-kilter cool. Their debut record from 2006, Hiroshima's Revenge, brims with choice, hooky cuts (especially "Cascade" and "B-Side of Love"), but this single, recorded with Brian Carter for use on a couple of compilations, shows them at the height of their powers. Every piece, from the indelible melodies to Keith's distinctive voice, falls perfectly into place. Though they've been quiet for a while (check out their Bandcamp page for an entire album of Velcro Stars material circa 2009, ... You Will Never Feel a Thing), work continues on some new songs that I hope will see the light of day before long.
Eureka Gold, "Belly Full of Wine"
It's true that Scenester/Creamster Adam Gold appeared on the skins in this group, but that had no impact on my decision to include them on my list (besides, it's been years since they've played together). When Eureka Gold was around, and Holly House was a thing — both a kickass show on WRVU hosted by Turbo Fruits' Matt Hearn and a bohemian crash pad/artistic collective (see how many of the li'l babies you can name in this photo!) — I didn't get out of the 'Boro much, and only caught them when they came down for a show at Casa Burrito sometime in '06 or '07 (Or was it Tomato Tomäto already? It's Three Brothers now). Their clever arrangements and Beach Boy-grade harmonies from Buddy Hughen and Jordan Lehning impressed me, and it was this song that stuck in my mind when I saw their CD at Grimey's later. Short and sweet, the tune is almost over before it starts really rocking, but it holds up well under the weight of nostalgia and repeat listening.
All We Seabees, "Bruin Hunt"
Whatever exciting new discoveries we might have been making as young adults, the second Bush administration certainly did not precipitate only days of wine and roses for us angsty, left-leaning youngsters. This song, from 2006's Anne the Snake, became a staple in the Detroit transplants' live set. Though performances dropped off over time, it survived all the permutations of the band through its dissolution in 2009 (their final record, MK Ultra, is worth seeking out to hear the group with an organic electronic bent, courtesy of Aaron Irons and Zach Powers). Maybe it lasted because Bryan Fox's dystopian diatribe touched the cloud of paranoia many of us struggled with at the time, or maybe it was Dave Swartout's biting Asheton-meets-Atkins guitar that kept us rocking along. Either way, this one still stands up as a permanent reminder of how it felt to wake up in the wider world.
Heartbeater, "Lead You Astray"
Though it stands perfectly well on its own, this song is also an acknowledgment of contributions to the scene from a collective of musicians who first went by Sauce Juice, a nod to their underground pizza biz, and later as the Meltface Music Faction. While members of the amorphous ensemble continue to make inventive and exciting music as Ascent of Everest and Hanzelle (don't forget past incarnations like Water Melancholy Flower, Evil Bebos or Baby Teeth Thieves), the short-lived Heartbeater made the tunes that best fit the "rock" category. Fronted by Greg Mabry, who went on to lead San Francisco's Evil Eyes, this track from the group's self-titled debut EP also features Jon Shoemaker on bass and Jeff Ehlinger (who you can currently see with Ascent of Everest and Richie) behind the kit. It's the sonic embodiment of predatory behavior, with lithe and aggressive rhythms supporting Mabry's howling guitars and hungry-eyed Thurston Moore croon.