Staff Trax: Roadside Graves, Goo Goo Dolls, Jimi Hendrix, Little Dragon, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Alice in Chains, Fan Death and Beth Orton

Welcome to Staff Trax, the weekly feature here on DC9 where we shed some light on the music we've been enjoying of late, regardless of the touring or album release schedules that tend to bear the focus of most of our coverage. Consider it a chance for you readers to get some more insight into our own personal tastes. Maybe you'll find something you like, ya dig?

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In this day and age of every random string or roots band claiming to have punk spirit oozing out of their scars and/or tattoos, it's good to know that there are some actual examples that don't have to tell that to you about such ethos for you to actually feel it. New Jersey's Roadside Graves have been pretty prolific as of late, and while their recently released EP, You Won't Be Happy With Me, is rife with turnpike-flavored kick-assedness, their 2009 LP, My Son's Home, stands as their magnum opus. The standout track from that collection, "Ruby," showcases the distinctive vocals of lead man John Gleason. His rootsy-gnarl seems to be tailor-made for a ringleader at one of those evil, haunted circuses that Scooby Doo used to triumphantly bring down. That said, should Scooby and that bitch Shaggy ever encounter Gleason and the Roadside Graves gang outside of a haunted circus, I'd put my money on the latter, for sure. --Kelly Dearmore

Goo Goo Dolls - "There You Are"


I got a few fans of the Goo Goo Dolls pissed at me a while back when I said the band hadn't made a good album since 1995. Well, I went back and listened to 1998's Dizzy Up the Girl, 2002's Gutterflower and 2006's Let Love In and I stand by my opinion 100 percent. I will say this, though: Before the Goos had a fluke hit with the sappy ballad "Iris," John Rzeznik and crew were one of my favorite bands. In the wake of Paul Westerberg breaking up The Replacements in 1991, the Goo Goo Dolls filled that alt-rock void nicely. Hold Me Up from 1990 is still my favorite Goo record, full of catchy tunes played loud and fast. Hell, I might just go see the band when they hit Dallas in August, just hoping they will play "There You Are," the great single that never was from Hold Me Up. --Darryl Smyers

The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Steve Winwood & Jack Casady - "Voodoo Chile"


Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the infamous Electric Ladyland sessions. This is not "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)." This is the 13-plus minute blues jam, featuring a gazillion New York hippies sitting on the floor of the studio, and (a probably very stoned) Steve Winwood on the Hammond B3 organ and Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane on bass. Hendrix invited them all back to the studio for an all-nighter after they jammed at an area club. This take was actually taped at about 7 a.m. the following morning, with everyone's buzz still going strong. What else makes this recording great is the spontaneity of the jam, and the towering, passionate crescendos they bring it to towards the end. Put the stupid fucking cell phones down for a lousy 15 minutes and soak this into your ADD-tainted soul. --Alan Ayo

Little Dragon - "Blinking Pigs"


I was recently given a really great mix put together by Austin creative type, Faith Gay. There were a number of tunes that caught my attention, but one in particular has burrowed its way deeply into my consciousness--and I've now put it on mixes of my own. The song is "Blinking Pigs" by the Swedish outfit, Little Dragon. I recently got around to tracking down the band and found this video for the song. Enjoy!  -Doug Davis


When Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's sophomore album, Pershing, was released a couple years ago, it was the perfect album for a laid-back summer. The pop-leaning sound of this indie rock trio was the perfect companion for me for most of that year. But, the song that stuck out to me the most, and still does, is "Modern Mystery." --Lance Lester

Alice in Chains - "Right Turn"


The four acoustic tracks that comprise Alice in Chains' 1992 EP Sap couldn't have been a bigger 180 from their debut full-length, Facelift. The fact that it was released while Nevermind topped the charts and albums by Pearl Jam and Soundgarden weren't much further below, the move was as bold as it was puzzling. Alice in Chains were content to not be lumped in with the rest of the Seattle grunge scene, and they had dark, new disc, full of newfound maturity and a gentler brand of melancholy to show for it. As different as it proved being from the majority of their catalog (what other AIC album could Ann Wilson of Heart have possibly guested on?) it contains two of my favorite AIC songs, "Got Me Wrong," which I believe to be the best song they ever recorded, and "Right Turn." The latter featured guest vocalists Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Mark Arm of Mudhoney, and was credited as being performed by "Alice Mudgarden" in the liner notes. An otherwise throwaway track gets major life breathed into it by three of the scene's absolutely stellar vocalists--especially at the end, when all three are wailing over one another. -Cory Graves

Fan Death - "Reunited"


Dandi Wind front woman, Dandilion Wind Opaine, and friend, Marta Jacuibek-McKeever, together make up Vancouver/Brookyln nu-disco outfit, Fan Death. Fan Death released its five-song EP, A Coin For The Well, early this year, and "Reunited" is a personal favorite off the EP. Plus, the song has an equally catchy and entertaining video to go along with it. The band is set to release its very first LP, Womb of Dreams, in early August, and if it sounds anything like the duo's preceding material, it should be a fun purchase. -Catherine Downes

Beth Orton - "Central Reservation"


Last year, when my housemate of five years told me he was moving out to buy a house with his girlfriend, I figured I should raid his CD collection one last time and rip anything that caught my ear. Without a doubt, Beth Orton's first two solo albums grabbed me immediately. I wasn't so sure I'd dig her stuff, given her time with the Chemical Brothers, an act I'm still not convinced is worth my time. But I remembered seeing Orton perform "Conceived" on Letterman a few years ago and being quite taken with the song. And for whatever reason, I think of Orton when I see Sarah Jaffe play live. So, here's a great introduction to Orton without any bleeps, pops, and bloops to get in the way of her wonderful voice and her songcraft. -Eric Grubbs 
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