Bootlegs and B-Sides

Bootlegs and B-Sides

By Elizabeth Long, Columnist

Bang Bang Rock and Roll-Art Brut

The term “art brut” was originally coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art that falls outside the traditional definitions of fine art. Art brut is the raw demonstration of emotions, and primitive in its composition. Singer Eddie Argos liked the movement so much he named his band after it. Art Brut’s 2004 debut album Bang Bang Rock and Roll is filled with songs both humorous and emotional. This album is the antithesis to the intricately plotted and choreographed albums common today. Bang Bang Rock and Roll sort of sounds like it was made in someone’s garage. This album features blunt lyrics, heavy guitar, and a lot of yelling. The sound is best described as punk. This is not to say the songs don’t carry emotional impact, but rather that it comes in everyday forms. Throughout the album, Argos sings about his love for modern art, contemplates moving to Los Angeles, and weighs his chances of winning a fight. Argos also deviates from the norm with offbeat lyrics, like in the song “18,000 Lira”: Enrique’s got a head cold again, it’s not his fault/ He’s a brave and valiant leader. Argos provides poignant lyrics as well, demonstrated in “My Little Brother”: And every song, every single song on that tape said exactly the same thing/Why don’t our parents worry about us?

Bang Bang Rock and Roll is full of refreshingly simple ideas. The result is a visceral, unsubtle sound with no pretensions. Argos has a startling relatability, especially noticeable when he breaks off a song and starts to speak to the audience. This album is creative and unpredictable, and takes punk in new directions.

Band members: Eddie Argos, Ian Catskilkin, Chris Chinchilla, Freddy Feedback, Mike Breyer.

Top songs: Emily Kane, My Little Brother, Moving to L.A.

“Super Freak”- Meiko

“Super Freak,” originally written and performed by Rick James, is the quintessential song of the ‘80s. Despite the reprehensible behavior of its creator (who assaulted two women), this song has remained a classic throughout the decades. This creative cover by Meiko is from her newest album, Playing Favorites, on which she performs only covers. Her version is a minimalistic approach, with acoustic guitar and no chorus. Meiko’s soft and melodic voice is a stark comparison to Rick James’ raucous and slightly sleazy approach in the original song. Her version carries a weight and sadness that James’ “Super Freak” lacked. While James sings in a salacious and celebratory tone, Meiko seems to quietly grieve. Her cover is a remembrance and a mourning. This is a unusual and original reimagining of “Super Freak,” and should not be missed.

“Henry and the H-Bombs”-Jeff Tweedy

This live cover of the Mott the Hoople song “Henry and the H-Bombs” is only available on YouTube, yet worth the listen. The original song portrays struggling band named Henry and the H bombs. The song title itself is allusion to to the hawkish American secretary of state Henry Kissinger and the 1970s American arms race with Russia. Jeff Tweedy, best known as the lead singer of Wilco, does an impressive version of this song, despite missing some of the lyrics. At this impromptu performance in Champaign, Illinois, Tweedy trims the song down by a minute, and changes the lyrics slightly. This was unavoidable, as the original version of this song is slightly incomprehensible. Rather than mimicking Ian Hunter’s somewhat impassive vocals, Tweedy infuses this song with emotion singing: I can’t remember-don’t know where we got name from/All I know is that we’ve been together too long, Tweedy brings the dead-end situation depicted in “Henry and the H-Bombs” to life. The despair, and the hope in trying to get your dream out of a basement are evident in this cover.