Chaotic. Kick. Ass. Noise. Rock. From. Reno. Nevada.
I love Elephant Rifle.
I first discovered the band back in 2015 when they dropped their Ivory LP. B.G.M. writer, Brandon Perras interviewed Elephant Rifle vocalist, Brad Bynum back in 2015 because we loved Ivory so much.
The band has dropped another LP called Hunk, and it is even more chaotic, kick-ass, noise, rock, from Reno, Nevada, than Ivory was. I feel like Hunk is a perfect title for the new album. It is just so heavy and thick. Seriously a great album.
So as a way to give Elephant Rifle and Hunk some love we hit up Bynum and Elephant Rifle guitarist, Clint Neuerburg and asked them what their favorite, overrated, and underrated albums are.
Brad Bynum, Elephant Rifle vocalist
Favorite Album: Wire – Pink Flag
OK, standard disclaimer about how there are at least 65 albums I could claim as my favorite and couldn’t live on a desert island without. But I’m gonna go with Pink Flag just cuz I think it’s the perfect punk record. In 36 minutes, they pack in 21 songs, and they’re all great.
And what’s wild is that—even though I’ve listened to this record about a million times since I first bought it on a friend’s recommendation 20 years ago—every time I listen to it, different songs stand out as the highlights. And Colin Newman is one of my favorite singers ever. I love his accent, timbre, phrasing and characterizations.
And the lyrics are great. Plus, Pink Flag was released in 1977, and seems to point simultaneously toward both post-punk and hardcore—and it was a huge influence on both of those genres. It’s punk, hardcore and post-punk all at once, with great songs that are fun to sing along with. It’s a record I’m always in the mood to hear.
Most Overrated: The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)
The worst thing about hating the Eagles is that whenever you mention that you hate the Eagles, people just think you’re quoting The Big Lebowski. And the Eagles might seem like an easy target because a lot of people hate them, but regardless, a lot of people still love them. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the second-biggest-selling album of all time—after Thriller—and it in no way, shape or form deserves that status, so therefore totally overrated. And in the last five years or so, I’ve noticed more people defending and praising the Eagles, and saying how it’s become passé to hate the Eagles.
Fuck that. Fuck the Eagles.
It’s bad enough that they share a name with a shitty Tolkien deus ex machina and a football team that attracts fans that are somehow even more obnoxious than average football fans, and the Eagles are synonymous with denim-clad, corporate-fed rich white guys who sing about their hurt feelings. But here’s what makes the Eagles especially terrible: They’re almost really good.
I love classic rock. Sure, white-guy music from the ’60s and ’70s is the most overrated music ever, just because it’s always treated as “important,” but a lot of it really is great music. Even some of the stuff that kinda sounds like the Eagles—I love the Stones, Dylan, the Byrds, Gram Parsons. The Eagles almost seem like a band I would like. And many of their songs seem pretty good when you first hear them—but then something always ruins it. It might be a groaner lyric, a saccharine vocal harmony, a chorus that repeats way too many times, or a guitar solo that goes on way too long. Every Eagles song sucks in its own way.
And the closer you listen, the more they suck. As a songwriter, you can learn a lot about how to ruin an otherwise good song by listening to the Eagles. The Eagles are the most rewarding band to hate.
Most Underrated: U.S. Maple – Talker
I give props to U.S. Maple every chance I get. I saw U.S. Maple open for Pavement at the SF Fillmore in ’99, and it changed my life. I’d never heard of them before. The crowd hated it. This was pretty late in Pavement’s career, and the crowd was basically a bunch of frat boys in Birkenstocks.
And U.S. Maple came out playing this strange, fragmented music, and the frat boys started booing and flipping birds. And the band kept right on playing, totally defiant. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the music, which is microtonal and rhythmically disjointed. And the singer was all gasps, grunts and wheezes. But after a while, the internal logic of it clicked, and what seemed ugly at first suddenly seemed beautiful.
It changed the way I hear music. And it was all the more inspirational to see them pull off this music in front of such a hostile audience. I bought Talker a day or two later and haven’t stopped listening to U.S. Maple since.
Clint Neuerburg, Elephant Rifle guitarist
Favorite Album: Grateful Dead – Europe ’72
Man, where do I start with this one? There are dozens of albums that I listen to religiously and could at any given time make the case for being one of my favorites. Instead of drilling down and trying to get to the truth of the matter, I’m going to pick the one of those several records I listened to most recently: Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72.
For me, this is a perfect document of a band performing at their peak. Sure, there are some rough edges, but that gives it a charm and life where a lot of other live albums of the era—The Song Remains the Same, for example—sound a little flat and indulgent (a word I would not use to describe Europe ’72 even though it’s a Grateful Dead album). I defy you to listen to this version of “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider” and not get goosebumps, and the whole F side of “Prelude” into “Morning Dew” is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard committed to tape.
Most Overrated: Prince
Not gonna win any friends with this one—even my bandmates and my wife tell me I’m full of shit—but I’ve never understood the allure of Prince. I get that he’s a great guitar player, but whenever someone tries to convince me of his greatness as a songsmith they play me something that sounds so dated from a production standpoint that I could tell you the week in 1986 it was recorded.
It’s weird, because I love Morris Day and The Time, but can’t get with Prince. Maybe he was the original Mos Def: way better with other people’s music than his own.
Most Underrated: Propagandhi
Every record by Propagandhi. How they aren’t the biggest hardcore band in the world baffles me. They are one of the best aggressive bands of the last 30 years.
Maybe THE best.
The fact that most people mention them in the same breath as NOFX or Lagwagon is a crime (though I do love Lagwagon, too). They offer so much more than paint-by-numbers skate punk. Their guitar work alone stands toe-to-toe with the best any metal band can offer, and Chris Hannah’s lyric writing is phenomenal. Every album they release is better than the one before it, which is a hallmark of a truly great artist. If I can only pick one, I’m going with Failed States, but their entire catalogue is magnificent.