Thursday, March 30, 2006

I was playing the Swell Maps for my daughter tonight while I gave her a bath, the sparkling guitar work in "Big Empty Field" ricocheting off the tiled walls from her little Barbie boombox. I told her that a marine setting was the perfect place to listen to a band named after the ocean waves, who wrote songs like "Midget Submarines" and "Collision with a Frogman." We were celebrating the life of Swell Maps guitarist Nikki Sudden, who passed away on March 27th after playing at the Knitting Factory in New York City and leaving us with a one-week-old, gorgeous live recording courtesy of WFMU (you can hear it at -- be sure to check out the acoustic version of "Midget Submarines" -- I had to click on the various links on the page to hear all the tracks). I only have a strange Swell Maps comp cd, "Sweep the Desert," that I believe combines a bunch of their sonic experiments, wandering some borderland between punk and ambient noise, but I love it like butter. Just seems like we've been playing too many send-offs over the last couple of years at our peeling palace, having done in-house tributes to Joe Strummer and Johnny Ramone in recent memory. The Damned are playing two "30th Anniversary of Punk Rock 1976-2006" shows in England this spring, and the incandescent flame of punk rock seems suddenly dimmed by the mist of the ages. 30 lovetrucking years and it's still the only show in town -- Punk Rock is Dead! Long Live Punk Rock!