Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Two if by Sea's Mutiny

Editor's Note: This post was written by David Hardy, guitar player for Baltimore's Two if by Sea.


Hi. I’m David from Baltimore's Two if by Sea. Our sophomore album, entitled Safety, was just released on Silverthree Sound Recordings. It debuted on October 17th, and we’ve spent the past month touring the live circuit and visiting the best dive bars in America.

We’ve been described as post post-punk, compared to newer bands like Editors & Interpol, and compared to older stuff too, like Echo & the Bunnymen, Psych Furs, & The Cure. Admittedly, we were influenced by Factory Records material when we started & even played & recorded a version of Joy Division’s “Transmission.” People tried to label our first album as similar to The Faint, Interpol, or Franz Ferdinand, but we had never heard of those bands when we started writing Translations in 2002.

We were never fully comfortable with the labels that were trumped by fashionable buzz-bands circa 2004, and ultimately associated with us. Safety is our reaction to that. Our sound has evolved in the past two years & has become more organic in the process. We feel that our influences are more Winger or White Lion than The Killers or The Bravery.

Seriously though… instead of writing about who our influences are or how important they are, the exact formula for my guitar tone, blah blah blah, I’ve decided to just make a 10-song mix of (mostly older) songs that help me remember why I started playing music in the first place...

ULTRAVOX - Frozen Ones

In 1977, only six-months after their debut record (produced by Brian Eno) had been released, Ultravox dropped their second full-length, titled Ha!-Ha!-Ha! on Island Records. Still years before singer / songwriter John Foxx would leave the band to pursue a solo career (and let them descend into a glut of self-obsessed new romantic, forgettable material), they were full-on art rock at this point. Their debut had been more on the glam side of things, with the Eno influence, but this record captured the essence of the (now gaining) punk movement while yet embracing synthesizers and electronic production. They only managed to ride this fine line for a few years before becoming too self indulgent in songwriting and production. This song starts off minimally with an eerie synth melody over finger snapping, but quickly gains momentum and approached an anthemic-like quality. The music and vocals are immediate, but pulled back just enough to avoid the banal clichés that so many would use as their calling card for years to come.


EMPIRE - Hot Seat

Remember Generation X ? Well, after Billy Idol turned into a mega-star, former bandmates Mark Laff & Bob Andrews started this short-lived band. You can hear guitar riffs reminiscent of genx, slowed down to half-speed. Though commercially unsuccessful, they influenced the DC post-hardcore scene in a BIG way. They released an album called Expensive Sound in '81 and if you listen to this, you'll hear where EMBRACE, RITES OF SPRING, AND DAG NASTY got their sound from... completely addictive.


THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS - India

The Furs were relatively unknown in America until the release of Talk Talk Talk, but this gem comes from their debut LP. This was a pretty adventurous opening track, with a two minute-plus soundscape intro (that would fit nicely into the score of "A Clockwork Orange") that builds into the pounding drums that start the actual song. They really turn up the energy from there on, with a sound that fits somewhere between the Velvet Underground and Bowie. Richard Butler's vocals have an appealing raspiness, which lends a slight nod to John Lydon.


A CERTAIN RATIO - Do the Du (Casse)

Like their peers Joy Division, A.C.R. was one of the earliest bands signed to Factory Records. Initially, they got compared to Ian Curtis & crew (touring with them compounded this), but the addition of dance / funk elements to their music set them off in an entirely new direction. Their style was furthered by acts like the Happy Mondays. Modern bands directly influenced by them include The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, and Radio 4. This track is off their debut, The Graveyard and the Ballroom.


PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. - Public Image

After the Sex Pistols' breakup in '78, John Lydon was inspired to start a new, dub-inspired project. The result was the debut, First Issue. They admittedly spent a significant amount of the recording budget on drugs, resulting in a not-quite concise album in terms of production. Still, it was groundbreaking for it's time, and this single is no-doubt the most accessible on the record. The lyrics are a verbal attack against Malcolm McLaren and his perceived manipulation of Lydon during his career with the Sex Pistols.


XTC - Making Plans for Nigel

XTC's third album, Drums and Wires, was their first full-length for Virgin Records (1979). Although this found the band embracing a slightly more traditional rock sound, the record still captures an art rock meets dub sound with its drum-heavy production. The album was riddled with overt political references; this first single sparked controversy by making a lyrical reference to British Steel. Andy Partridge sarcastically quips about dominating parents pushing their son into a dull-career. Although they went on to have several more popular singles before Partridge had a nervous breakdown onstage (Paris, 1982), this one is my fave...


TAPPI TIKARRASS - Krid

Another very short-lived band, but way ahead of its time considering they came from the culturally starved and geographically isolated boundaries of Iceland. They're considered the first serious music project of now enigmatic singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Three years before the Sugarcubes (who just announced their 20th annoversary reunion), Bjork was fronting a slightly exotic punk / pop band that resembled Souxie and early Cure, as well as (musically) sounding VERY similar to (yet unknown) R.E.M. They released one album in '83, called Miranda. The band's name has a rather lewd meaning, coined by the bass player's father. I'll let you look-it-up for yourself. The lyrics are in Icelandic, which add to the haunting appeal...


THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN - Just like Honey

Released in November of '85, the debut Psychocandy was a blueprint for the NoisePop genre, combining raw feedback with elements of The Beach Boys, The Velvet Underground, and a production technique that yielded an eerie Spector-like wall of sound. JAMC had a reputation for their chaotic live set, which often ended in equipment trashing. Their supposed penchant for LSD & amphetamines only fueled the mystique they carried. This release paved the way for later Creation Records' acts like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride.


THE AFGHAN WHIGS - Debonair

The Whigs were riding on the wave of notoriety at the time they released Gentlemen. As the first non-northwest band to sign to SubPop, they were buzzworthy by the time they signed to Elektra to release their fourth album. Their mid-tempo, minor key tunes were the product of their whiskey-soaked ego's, and the bands early tours were described as a blur or drinking and fighting. 1993's Gentlemen oozed of equal parts bar-rock, R&B, and punk. The depravity was completed by Dulli's lyrical themes of love, sex, addiction and the dehumanizing combination of them. This single was the most well-received on the record, but they achieved only moderate success—Rolling Stone described the band as spending "the bulk of their career on the brink of stardom".


PULP - Party Hard

This song starts with the line; "I used to try real hard to make friends with everyone on the planet." This pretty much sums-up Jarvis Cocker's attitude on Pulp's 1998 penultimate album This is Hardcore. Jaded with the price of fame, he followed up '95's award-winning pop masterpiece, Different Class with a concept album of introspective gloom. "Party Hard" depicts washed-up club goers trying to embrace the last throes of youth by drinking & drugging to the point of exhaustion, "just to prove we're alive."
There are moments on this record that capture the best of Roxy Music, yet without being the least bit derivative. A pop record that embraces the slow, downward spiral can be a beautiful thing as they prove here, even if it means alienating a share of your former audience.


Due to our recent tour, this is all I have for you. I hope to be back early next year with the rest of the guys. I would like to leave you with two of our songs. "All the Reasons to Leave" is off of Safety. "The Affair, Act II" is a reworking of the closing number off of Translations, and was unreleased until now. You will only find this track here, so enjoy!

Two If By Sea - All the Reasons to Leave
Two If By Sea - The Affair, Act II




Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder
Saturna
Low Red Land
Can Joann
Middle Distance Runner

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff said...

All great selections, particularly Pulp and Afghan Whigs!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you talk about Public Image Ltd., your ignorance becomes offensive. Get on with your reality and let sleeping dogs lie.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Caught the Two If By Sea show on Nov 18 at the Talking Head...if you've never seen these guys, do yourself a favor and catch them live. At the risk of disparaging their studio material, they sound totally different live...truly one of the best local bands in Bodymore. I've seen roughly 150 shows this year and the Nov 18 sits comfortably in the Top 5.

Thursday, November 23, 2006  
Blogger Silent 3 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thursday, February 01, 2007  
Blogger Silent 3 said...

The Public Image single: the original 7" vinyl release of that had a picture sleeve that was a fold-out tabloid-style newspaper!

Thursday, February 01, 2007  

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