FMF Episode #39 – California

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FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
1“California Dreamin'”Bud ShankCalifornia Dreamin’1966

DJ: Gnarly, bro! Welcome to Feel Me Flow! We’re headed West to the Golden State and celebrating the world’s fifth largest economy; California! The weather is heating up, people are busting out the shorts, and many of us are going to take a vacation this summer. Be it just up the road to the beach, or all the way to California, everyone needs those sunny vibes sent their way. What better way to celebrate the summer’s unofficial start than a sunshine-laden Cali episode!

Kicking things off is Dead Kennedys and a Boulder, Colorado transplant named Jello. Eric Reed Boucher migrated West like many, many other artistically driven souls. He attended UCSC before meeting East Bay Ray via an advertisement stating “guitarist wants to form punk band”. A few years later, we’d hear the debut LP of an incredible new punk band called the Dead Kennedys, with a frontman now going by Jello Biafra. Here’s “California Uber Alles” from the DK debut Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables.

Set 1: The Golden State
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
2“California Über Alles”Dead KennedysFresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables1980
3“California Sun”The RivierasLet’s Have A Party1964
4“California Waiting”Kings of LeonYouth And Young Manhood2003
5“California”Delta SpiritDelta Spirit2013
6“California Girls”The Beach BoysSummer Days (And Summer Nights!!)1965

7“California Nights”Wes MontgomeryA Day In The Life1967

DJ: Man, that song is so Cali-feely. We weren’t going to make it through the show without playing it, that’s for sure! From the first LP to feature Bruce Johntson on the front cover as if he were an actual Beach Boy, that was “California Girls” off of 1965’s Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!).

Delta Spirit hail from San Diego, California, so it would seem they have experience in writing about the state. In an interview with Fender, Kelly Winrich stated “California” was written about his girlfriend on the East Coast while he was living in California. After troubles and difficulties they “called it quits” and he wrote the song soon after.

Kings Of Leon played us the third single they ever released with “California Waiting”. The song was previously released on their debut EP Holy Roller Novocaine but rerecorded for the debut album Youth And Young Manhood. On Kings of Leon’s VH1 Storytellers performance, Caleb Followill bemoaned “We kind of sabotaged it on our album, and tried to play it really punk rock. It was better on the EP I think.”

Another absolute must play for today is Joe Jones’ Golden State anthem “California Sun”. Pretty much every garage band or band we’ve played on this show for that matter has covered the song thanks to The Rivieras cover that was a hugely successful single. Joe fraudulently claimed that he wrote New Orleans’ staples “Iko Iko”, “It Ain’t My Fault” and “Carnival Time”, but was disproven in court. Perhaps this is why more credit was never given to the guy for recording the original “California Sun”.

Another track that’s been thrown around the cover mill is Ashford & Simpson‘s “California Soul”. Originally recorded by The Messengers as a B-side and then as an A-side by The Fifth Dimension, the track would eventually make its way to Marlena Shaw. Marlena’s version would stay under the radar for most of the 20th century until being remixed and featured in commercials and video games such as Grand Theft Auto V in the 2010’s. Let’s get that laid-back melody going with Marlena Shaw.

Set 2: Soulshake Skydream
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
8“California Soul”Marlena ShawThe Spice Of Life1969
9“California Shake”Margo Guryan25 Demos2001
10“California Here I Come”Shocking BlueAt Home1969
11“California Sky”Unwritten LawUnwritten Law1998
12“California Dream”Surf DadsDenny’s EP2015

13“California Swing Affair”KnowsumVier (The Loops)2017

DJ: Canadian duo Surf Dads formed and first collaborated through iPhone demos sent back and forth across the continent. They’ve released four EPs and one full-length so far, with a brand new EP Long Weekend coming June 13th.  That track has some real Wavves vibes to it.

Unwritten Law formed in 1990 in Poway, California, home of Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus of blink-182. The San Diego suburb wasn’t even a real town until 1980, yet spawned an entire sub-genre creative scene with blink-182, Unwritten Law, and others only a short decade or so later. From Unwritten Law’s debut self-titled album, we played “California Sky”.

Dutch band Shocking Blue’s 1969 LP At Home reached audiences beyond their wildest dreams and years for that matter. Nirvana famously covered “Love Buzz” on their debut album Bleach, and who doesn’t know the song “Venus”? We played it on our Space episode if you haven’t heard it and want to check it out. The Side B lead-off cut “California Here I Come” played before Unwritten Law.

Margo Guryan never enjoyed the music career many dreamed of when moving to California. Her song “Sunday Morning” would be covered by Spanky And Our Gang on their second album Like To Get To Know You and bring notoriety to Guryan. Guryan recorded one solo album in 1968 and a handful of demos that would later be released by Franklin Castle/Oglio Records in 2001 from which we took “California Shake”.

Up next is one of three sub-themes for our California episode. We’ve got five West Coast-themed tunes coming at you, starting off with The Rolling Stones’ Nanker Phelge production “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”; their poke at marketers and those silly darn music businessmen in monkey suits. Later in the set, listen for a familiar voice. Or the kin of a familiar voice, rather. Here’s the Stones!

Set 3: Down On The West Coast
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
14“The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man”The Rolling StonesOut Of Our Heads1965
15“West Coast Woman”PainterPainter1973
16“West Coast Bros”BalueQuiet Dreamer2014
17“West Coast”Emily’s ArmyDon’t Be A Dick2011
18“West Coast”FIDLARToo2015

19“California Fun”Los StraitjacketsEncyclopedia Of Sound2001

DJ: FIDLAR’s “West Coast” was originally written for their 2012 self-released EP Shit We Recorded In Our Bedroom, but made the cut for their sophomore album Too. The song was a welcome transition after the Emily’s Army track before it. Every Emily’s Army album was produced by lead singer Joey Armstrong’s dad Billie Joe. Yes, that Billie Joe.

That is until the band would change their name to SWMRS. For SWMRS’ debut or the third in Emily’s Army’s discography, the band would call on FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper to produce. This took the band in a similar direction to FIDLAR with the use of drum machines mixed into punk rock screamers. From Emily’s Army’s debut, that was “West Coast”.

Balue is New Mexico musician Eli Thomas. Eli makes lo-fi music that sounds so perfect in a hot setting like an oasis or beach. It’s weird how those things work together, too. You’d think it’d be the other way around. Balue released Wavy Daze in 2016 and has plans for new music in 2018. Keep an eye on their Bandcamp!

Originally an Edmonton band named 49th Parallel, Painter would rework itself after moving to the American West Coast in the early 70s. They recorded their self-titled debut and only album in San Francisco and released it in 1973 to local acclaim. They opened for many international acts including KISS and Jethro Tull but would split up shortly afterward and all go on to new bands. Their big regional single “West Coast Woman” garnered them some attention but the national scene wouldn’t catch on.

Coming up in our fourth set is FMF regular band Best Coast singing about the only place they ever sing about. I’ll give you a hint; it starts with a “C” and ends with an “alifornia”. Following them will be a Set 4 Score from ex-Seattle’s La Luz. La Luz is on their way up, I tell you what! Their new album Floating Features is fierce, fantastic, and full of surfy goodness. More on that later. Here’s Best Coast!

Set 4: San Andreas
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
20“The Only Place”Best CoastThe Only Place2012
21“California Finally”La LuzFloating Features2018
22“California My Way”The Main IngredientEuphrates River1974
23“California Dreaming”CosmonautsIf You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die2012
24“California Blue”Roy OrbisonMystery Girl1989

25“Los Angeles Spring Nights”Kid TarôSpring Nights2018

DJ: Roy Orbison’s 1989 comeback album turned out to be a smash hit. Allowing Jeff Lynne to guide and nurture him through the recording process, Roy churned out the hit single “You Got It”, his highest charting single since “Oh, Pretty Woman”. “California Blue” was co-written by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Mike Campbell and features them on the recording. Roy would die in December of 1989, just as his comeback was beginning.

Los Angeles band Cosmonauts droned their way through “California Dreaming”, and not the version you may have been expecting. The Burger Records residents released their latest A-OK! in 2016, their fourth album for the label.

The Main Ingredient kicked off our Fools episode with their most well-known track “Everybody Plays The Fool”. The third single released from their third album with Cuba Gooding Sr., “California My Way” brings funky chord progression with funky demands. The 1974 album Euphrates River peaked at number 8 on the Soul US charts.

La Luz slithered through the Set 4 Score with a killer new song “California Finally” from their latest Floating Features. The ex-Seattle-now-LA quartet’s debut album It’s Alive was produced by Ty Segall and was their first of three (so far) for Hardly Art. The newest album Floating Features was produced by Dan Auerbach and plucks all the right strings for a retro-vibe warm weather washout. Look for them on tour this summer in the US!

Our last two sets feature California’s biggest two cities. We’ll start off with the City of Angels; Los Angeles. We could, and maybe will do an entire show on Los Angeles. We could probably do one on San Francisco for that matter. For today, though, we’ll just grab a few classics and a few lesser-known hits for the sets. Starting the LA set off is Pixies frontman and founder Frank Black. Frank’s first solo record was released just months after the Pixies’ split. From his 1993 solo debut, here’s “Los Angeles”.

Set 5: The City Of Angels
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
26“Los Angeles”Frank BlackFrank Black1993
27“Los Angeles Is Burning”Bad ReligionThe Empire Strikes First2004
28“Los Angeles”Peach Kelli PopWhich Witch2018
29“Los Angeles”Jacuzzi BoysGlazin’2011
30“Los Angeles”XLos Angeles1980

31“I Left My Heart In San Francisco”Count BasieThis Time By Basie – Hits Of The 50’s & 60’s!1963

DJ: X is from Los Angeles. Their debut album is titled Los Angeles. Their debut single was titled “Los Angeles”. We couldn’t leave them out of this. The 1980 debut was produced by another LA legend Ray Manzarek of The Doors. X even coved “Soul Kitchen” on the LP.

Miami, Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys put out Ping Pong in 2016 which saw a complete remix release the following year. I love when artists do a full album remix. It’s almost like the album was released in an alternate universe. We’ve played Jacuzzi Boys a few times before, they fit our profile here at FMF. We played the band’s ode to the city where they recorded that album, “Los Angeles” from 2011’s Glazin’. The title track to Glazin’ features a music video of vagina’s “lip-synching” to the tune. Ha!

Peach Kelli Pop has been everywhere lately, including last week’s FMF episode about Mountains with their song “Rocky Mountains”. From that same EP, the next track on it actually, we played “Los Angeles”. Look for PKP on tour summer 2018!

LA’s Bad Religion played a City of Angels jab from 2004’s The Empire Strikes First. The punk band has been singing LA-anti-anthems since their incredible debut; 1982’s How Could Hell Be Any Worse?. “Los Angeles Is Burning” was the lead single off of Empire, their thirteenth album released.

Our LA set was punk rock saturated for a good reason, a lot of great punk came from there. Coming up in our last set about San Francisco, we take things into another dimension. Ok, not really, but the tunes will start to get a little more psychedelic as they go by. We’ll end the show with the hippie anthem of the Summer of Love if you were packing up a van and heading West. Starting things off, though, is an early cut from the most talked about rock band around right now, Arctic Monkeys. First known as a garage rock outfit, the band’s latest effort Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino has turned people upside down on them. I think it sounds more like a long-lost Bowie album than anything; which is friggin’ awesome! From their debut album, here’s “Fake Tales Of San Francisco” from Arctic Monkeys.

Set 6: The City By The Bay
FMF #TrackArtistAlbumYear
32“Fake Tales Of San Francisco”Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not2005
33“San Francisco”FoxygenWe Are the 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic2013
34“San Francisco Dating Life”Hot Flash Heat WaveSoaked2017
35“Let’s Go to San Francisco”The Flower Pot MenLet’s Go To San Francisco (Parts 1 & 2) – 7″ Single1967
36“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair)”Scott McKenzieThe Voice Of Scott McKenzie1967

37“California Dreamin'”Baby Huey & The Baby SittersThe Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend1971

DJ: Its probably a good thing that Scott McKenzie didn’t get specific with the type of flower required atop ones helm to enter the City By The Bay or we may have had people plucking flowers from peoples’ gardens. Scott’s one and only hit, a mega one at that comes from his debut LP The Voice Of Scott McKenzie and was actually written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas to promote the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. Right place, right time, eh Scott?

Another ode to the journey to the Bay came from much further East. The Flower Pot Men were from England but were more of a creation of Deram Records to support a tour than anything else. The song was written by songwriters John Carter and Ken Lewis but they weren’t interested in touring or forming a group to support it. They chose some studio musicians to create a group known as The Flower Pot Men. “Let’s All Go To San Francisco” was the UK’s Scott McKenzie-esque one-hit wonder hit of the Summer of Love.

Hot Flash Heat Wave are San Francisco’s indie darlings of the moment. Having just released Soaked in 2017, the band is taking their first national tour summer 2018 throughout the US. Unfortunately, they aren’t hitting Minnesota. Next time, guys. HFHW released their debut album Neopolitan in 2015.

Foxygen broke onto the scene when Jagjaguwar released their sophomore LP We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. The band released Hang in 2017 led by the single “Follow The Leader” and the album was allegedly the first to be recorded by the band in an actual studio. We heard “San Francisco” from that groundbreaking sophomore album.

Closing us out is a fantastic cover of “California Dreamin'” by Baby Huey and The Baby Sitters. Please do yourself a favor and get this album! The few great covers and the song “Hard Times” are worth it alone.

That wraps us up this week everyone! We hope you enjoyed our California vibes for this beautiful summer day! Join us next time on Feel Me Flow!

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Author: Nick FMF

Music Blogger. FMF is a playlist curated specifically to chosen themes. Think Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour meets Little Steven's Underground Garage.