Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Video: Avett Brothers - "Murder in the City"

The Avett Brothers have premiered their video for “Murder in the City” on PasteMagazine.com. Taken from their acoustically recorded EP The Second Gleam, “Murder in the City” will be running exclusively on PasteMagazine.com until Monday, October 6.

“Murder in the City” video

The Second Gleam comes on the heels of the band’s very successful 2007 release Emotionalism, which was lauded as one of the top albums of 2007 by Paste Magazine. 2007 also saw The Avett Brothers winning the title of Best Group of the Year by the American Music Association. The Avett Brothers recently signed with American Recordings/Columbia Records. Their first major label effort will feature production by Rick Rubin and should be out in early 2009.

Along the way The Avett Brothers have built up an impressive and loyal fan base with constant touring. The Avett Brothers have been selling out performances during their current tour in major markets such as Dallas and Seattle, and playing to packed, enthusiastic crowds across the country. The Seattle Times said of their performance, “The Avett Brothers connect with acoustic brilliance…the most honest, forthright pop music being made today.”


New Dylan album to stream on NPR!

NPR Music is exclusively streaming Tell Tale Signs, the highly-anticipated forthcoming album from Bob Dylan, as of Tuesday, September 30 at midnight, one week ahead of the album’s release on October 7. The entire 2-CD, 27-song set will be available to hear on-demand at NPR Music for the week leading up to its official release.

Tell Tale Signs is the 8th installment in Dylan’s “Bootleg Series,” and features previously unreleased recordings, live performances and alternate versions of songs recorded during sessions for some of his most acclaimed albums, Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind among them. Also included on the album are Dylan’s recordings for the soundtracks of the films Lucky You, Gods & Generals and North Country, and “32-20 Blues,” his first ever release of a Robert Johnson song.

Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone writes, “...Tell Tale Signs is less an anthology than an album in its own right. It seems designed to tell a story that sharpens and expands the vista of mortal and cultural disintegration that has been the chief theme of 1997's Time Out of Mind, 2001's Love and Theft, and 2006's Modern Times – perhaps the most daring music he's ever made. Tell Tale Signs makes plain that Dylan knows the caprices of the world he lives in, now more than ever.”


Pre-Order Tell Tale Signs - The Bootleg Series Vol. 8:
Two Disc
Three Disc Deluxe


Monday, September 29, 2008

Review: Girl in a Coma - Both Before I Die

Label: Blackheart Records

Released: May 15, 2007

Being a female band on Blackheart Records, the expectation would be that Girl in a Coma would follow in Joan Jett's footsteps. Unlike so many of Jett's followers though, Girl in a Coma didn't forget that attitude and hooks aren't mutually exclusive. Besides, they're a lot closer to Blondie's edgey punkish pop than to Jett's rather mundane punkish hard rock.

Girl in a Coma have more in common with Blondie or Concrete Blonde even than Jett. Like the former, they capture that same breathy sultriness and show that it can happen without coming across as weak or fragile. They also share Johnette Naploitano's ability to be touching yet dark. There is an unmistakable punk element on Both Before I Die, but unlike most pop-punk of today, these songs have deeper hooks that feel like more than just a facade. "Their Cell" taps into the early 60s girl group sound, yet extends well beyond the two minute pop song enough to exude a dark inner toughness that is the core of why the album is believable.

Girl in a Coma mixes gritty, raw richness with an abrasive edge that finds that happy (or not so happy) middle ground between punk and polish. Their mix of punk's angry aesthetic with pop accessibility rings truer than most in that same game these days.

Satriani: 5/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 7/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creedence re-issues!

Here's a opportunity for the Dude to get his Creedence back (but probably not his tape deck)...

From the press release:

The first six albums by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees Creedence Clearwater Revival will be reissued by Fantasy Records (a unit of Concord Music Group) on September 30, 2008 as six individual expanded-edition CDs. The set marks the legendary band’s 40th anniversary. The albums — Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy & the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory and Pendulum, all originally released from 1968-70 —have been digitally remastered and contain an array of rarities: B-sides, unreleased studio and live material, even a summit between the band and Booker T & the MGs. The reissues will be presented in Digi-Paks that faithfully recreate each original album package in meticulous detail. All feature liner notes by world-class rock music journalists such as Robert Christgau, Ben Fong-Torres, Dave Marsh, Joel Selvin and Ed Ward.

These albums feature the original band from El Cerrito, California: John Fogerty (chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist), Tom Fogerty (guitar), Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). The four cut their teeth as a Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets and later as the Golliwogs. Then, in 1967, after John’s stint in the military, they reunited as Creedence Clearwater Revival and found their own groove, inspired by the music of their youth. “Although they sounded like no other band,” Fong-Torres notes, “They redefined rock and roll. They showed, in the most entertaining way possible, how the music could embrace — and was, in fact, founded on — elements of R&B and the blues, country, folk, and jazz, as well as a world of other musical forms. Creedence were pioneers in the fusion of rock and country. They were roots before ‘roots’ took hold as a music genre.”

A quick look at the individual reissues:

Creedence Clearwater Revival [Expanded Reissue]: This album included CCR’s first smash hit, the Dale Hawkins song “Suzie Q,” plus the classic cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” The reissue contains four bonus tracks: “Call it Pretending” (the B-side of the band’s first single), the band’s first recording of a cover of Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” (later re-recorded for Cosmo’s Factory), a live version of “Ninety-Nine and a Half” recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1969, and a full-length live version of “Suzie Q.” Almost famous former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres wrote the notes.

Bayou Country [Expanded Reissue]: Creedence Clearwater’s second album was chock full of hits and much-played album tracks: “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” the Little Richard cover “Good Golly Miss Molly,” the seven-minute “Graveyard Train” and the eight-minute “Keep on Choogling.” The reissue also contains a longer alternate take of the album track “Bootleg,” live versions of “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary,” and a psychedelic blues jam recorded live by San Francisco's seminal KSAN-FM called “Crazy Otto.” Annotator was San Francisco Chronicle pop music editor Joel Selvin.

Green River [Expanded Reissue]: Green River contained the hits and notable album tracks “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Lodi” plus a cover of Ray Charles’ blues standard “Night Time is the Right Time.” Bonus material includes “Broken Spoke Shuffle,” the instrumental track to a song John Fogerty never finished, another unfinished track called “Glory Be,” plus three live tracks: “Bad Moon Rising” from the 1971 Berlin concert, “Green River/Suzie Q” from the 1971 Stockholm show, and “Lodi,” recorded in Hamburg. Liner notes by the esteemed critic Dave Marsh.

Willy & the Poor Boys [Expanded Reissue]: Willy came out in 1969, when, as annotator Ed Ward writes, “a period when Creedence, surely the most anomalous band in the San Francisco explosion of the late ‘60s, was also proving its most commercial seller of them all.” The album contains the anthemic “Fortunate Son” along with “Down on the Corner” and a cover of the traditional folk song “The Midnight Special.” Bonus tracks include live versions of “Fortunate Son” and “It Came Out of the Sky,” plus an unreleased studio version of “Down on the Corner” recorded with Booker T & the MGs for a TV special at the band’s Berkeley rehearsal hall. The song features John Fogerty trading licks with guitar hero Steve Cropper.

Cosmo’s Factory [Expanded Reissue]: Cosmo’s Factory was the fourth and biggest of the string of five Top 10 albums Creedence Clearwater Revival released in 1969 and 1970. Included were “Travelin’ Band,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Run Through the Jungle” and covers from Marvin Gaye (CCR’s signature take on “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”), Bo Diddley, Roy Orbison and Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Bonus material includes a bare bones, horns-free remake of “Travelin’ Band,” a live version of “Up Around the Bend” from the 1971 European tour, plus an unreleased version of “Born on the Bayou” emanating from the CCR/Booker T & the MGs summit which took place in 1970 at Cosmo’s Factory studio. Notes were penned by Robert Christgau.

Pendulum [Expanded Reissue]: Creedence by this time was the top-selling rock band in the world, coming off seven consecutive Top 10 hits. The album contained the hits “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Hey Tonight” and “Molina.” Bonus tracks include a live “Hey Tonight” plus “45 Revolutions Per Minute (Parts 1 & 2), the rarest of CCR collectibles, which was packaged in a plain white sleeve alluding to the Beatles’ White Album. Produced under the spell of the Fab Four’s “Revolution No. 9,” the tape montage tries to impart the elusive Creedence humor with the help of Bay Area DJ Tom Campbell. Joel Selvin wrote the liner notes.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

MVD Entertainment Group annouce plans to release VINYL!

MVD Entertainment Group (MVD) has announced plans to issue several releases on vinyl including new and previously unreleased tracks by Devo and the Dwarves, plus reissues by G.G. Allin, Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics, and more. MVD and Big Daddy have deep access to a great amount of quality content from some very collectible artists.

“We are very fortunate to be able to revisit this great catalog and bring these gems back to life in their originally intended format,” said Ed Seaman, COO of MVD.

This comes in response to a resurgence of fans, collectors, and true audiophiles who prefer the warm sound of vinyl. According to a July 2008 article in Billboard, “Indie retail started the party, but now some of the chains are carrying vinyl too. In addition to Fred Meyer and Borders, Best Buy has said publicly that it will experiment with carrying LPs.” Since retailers are becoming increasingly supportive, it was a no-brainer for MVD.

"I love vinyl...always have and always will,” Seaman. “The look, the feel, and of course the sound. And most importantly - with vinyl you get an easily digestible chunk of music to listen to - about 15 minutes per side. And then, it is time to make a decision: do I flip the album over and play the other side? Or do I pick a new record?"

Upcoming releases include…

DEVO – Watch Us Work It

This will contain four versions of the song “Watch Us Work It”: Teddy Bears Version, Original Devo Demo Version, Karaoke Version, and "Still Workin'" Version. It was recorded at Mutato Muzika in Los Angeles and produced by Sweden's famous Teddy Bears. The DELL company heard it when Paul Malmstrom and Linus Karlsson at the Mother agency in NYC pitched it as a possibility for a TV campaign for the newly developed, high-end laptop computer. DELL loved it, so they used it for nationwide TV ad campaign. The vinyl will also include “Devo Was Right About Everything” by Attery Squash (re-mix by Robert and Gerald Casale).

Info: Not available until 2009

GG ALLIN - Freaks, Faggots, Drunks and Junkies

Vinyl edition of what is probably GG Allin's greatest studio album. This was GG's fourth album when it was originally released on Homestead Records in 1988. Recorded with a backing band featuring members of New England punk/thrash heavies Psycho, this one contains some of GG's best songs. "Die When You Die" is arguably the most famous GG Allin song and this album features the original, best version of the live warhorse. It also includes GG's rewrite of David Allen Coe's "Longhair Redneck" titled "Outlaw Scumfuc." The punkest man alive (at the time) at his peak.

Info: http://mvdb2b.com/item.php?s=MVDLP4811

PLASMATICS - WENDY O WILLIAMS – Beyond the Valley of 1984

This is their second album and features some of the best songwriting of their career, as well as a lean and tight sound combing metal, punk and hard rock. A truly ground breaking release that sums up everything the band stood for and still sounds completely fresh over 25 years after its release.

Info: http://mvdb2b.com/item.php?s=MVDLP4812

DWARVES - Dwarves Limited 10 Inch

Way limited 10" picture disc vinyl split, one side Dwarves, live KSZU FM Stanford, recorded in 2004. The other side is Dwarves singer Blag Dahlia covering AC/DC (Big Balls) and the Ramones (The KKK Took My Baby Away) as well as some originals. This record is limited to 1030 copies and these are the last of them. Full color picture disc of a delightful young woman in a Mexican wrestling mask and not much else.

Info: http://mvdb2b.com/item.php?s=MVDLP4667


MVD Entertainment Group (formerly Music Video Distributors, Inc) was formed by Tom Seaman in 1987. Seaman entered the music business in the early 1960s with Manhattan music retail landmark the Record Hunter, and later worked with Sam Goody, CBS Retail and JEM Distribution. While merchandising early Video Discs in the 1980s Seaman recognized the potential for the Music Video format. His belief of “why just hear the music when you can see it AND hear it” led to the formation of Music Video Distributors, a specialist in carrying the best selection of music videotapes and ultimately DVD. Ed Seaman joined the family business in 1989 and is currently C.O.O. and General Manager of MVD.

In the last 10 years, MVD has transitioned from being a one stop/wholesaler for Music Video to a leading Distributor and Label for Music Video on DVD. Some of the artists MVD has worked with include Sublime, Pixies, Bad Brains, Devo, The New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, the MC5, Dead Kennedys, Danzig, Marillion, Ween, Shane MacGowan, Stryper, Johnny Winter, and much more. Labels on MVD’s roster include Metal Mind, Inakustik, Sexy Intellectual, Cherry Red, Video Service Corp, Disconforme, and many more. Since 1999, MVD has released over 1500 titles, and was the second largest producer of Music DVD in 2007.

In 2006, MVD entered the CD Distribution business with the formation of MVD Audio. “For years our suppliers pushed us to carry CD,“ said Ed Seaman. “They were very happy with our performance with their DVDs and in 2006 we made the leap. The CD business is still a multibillion dollar industry, and we have found a great deal of success with the format already. This new venture with Big Daddy Music shall further stake our claim in the music business, and we anticipate great things from the catalog and new releases of Big Daddy’s labels. Burt Goldstein’s experience and expertise in the music business are a tremendous benefit as well; I believe that we have the opportunity together to equal a lot more than the sum of our parts.”

Tom Seaman, CEO of MVD, says “Growth is an important aspect of our business; we have grown from VHS distribution, to DVD licensing and distribution; now CD’s enter our business umbrella. We are also expanding our digital sales aggressively. We welcome Big Daddy to the MVD fold!”

By joining forces, the group will combine their diverse expertise and flexible distribution infrastructure in order to provide the labels, artists and customers with a higher level of service than ever before.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Street Dogs and Flatfoot 56 on Tour!

Don't forget that both bands reviewed here today are on tour together (along with Time Again):

9/16 Jacksonville, FL, Jack Rabbit's
9/17 Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Culture Room
9/18 Orlando, FL, The Social
9/19 Atlanta, GA, Masquerade
9/20 Carrboro, NC, Cat's Cradle
9/23 Baltimore, MD, Ottobar
9/24 New York, NY, Blender Theatre @ Gramercy
10/1 Cleveland, OH, Grog Shop
10/2 Detroit, MI, Magic Stick
10/7 St. Louis, MO, The Bluebird
10/8 Omaha, NE, Sokol Underground
10/9 Denver, CO, Marquis Theatre
10/10 Salt Lake City, UT, Club Sound
10/19 Tempe, AZ, The Clubhouse
11/16 Sayreville, NJ, Starland Ballroom

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Review: Street Dogs - State of Grace

Label: Hellcat Records

Released: July 8, 2008

State of Grace is an album of roots: family roots, community roots, ethnic roots...and musical roots. Don't confuse that with being about the past though. The album doesn't break out on any new musical paths, but it is every bit about the present and future as it is about the past. That's quite simply because it's alive.

Steet Dogs' musical roots are the likes of Stiff Little Fingers' rough, melodic honesty and Cocksparrer's angry, yet refined hooks. They don't nail every song on the album, with a couple or three that, for all their passion, just fall a bit flat (but only in comparison to their own highs, not against the field in general). But when they're on, they write the kind of punk anthems that thousands of kids would be willing to walk through fire behind. Street Dogs tap into why punk rock still means something to kids generations after it started. At their best, they are the soundtrack to the good fight and anger based on love. They are the songs I can play when I need the spark to be a better person.

History books are about the past, but roots are the basis for today. You can't stand steady to face the future without them. Street Dogs know their roots, but they live right here in the present and connect.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 8/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Review: Flatfoot 56 - Jungle of the Midwest Sea

Label: Flicker Records

Released: May 15, 2007

When a band merges punk and Irish folk, the first influence that comes to mind is the Pogues, but Shane McGowan and company were more a folk band with punk attitude. The real origin of the more punk-leaning mixture is the Stiff Little Fingers. While the bands today tend to wear their Irish hearts on the sleeves (despite not actually being from Ireland in many cases) with a bagpipe here or a tin whistle there, the gritty, honest folk nature of their brand of punk rock is what really ties them to the older folk tradition. It is people's music.

Flatfoot 56 are undoubtedly a punk band and have no small debt to the likes of SLF, but unlike their peers, they owe an even greater debt to the Pogues. They offer more than just a few nods to Irish folk music, with many centered on a tradition that goes back a good many years farther than "Alternative Ulster." It's a natural occurrence for Flatfoot 56, because punk itself has much in common spiritually with folk and they run with that instinctively. That being said, Jungle of the Midwest Sea does have its share of Oi singalongs and raw guitar melodies making it dominated as much by punk as it is by folk.

On "Hoity Toity," they sing, "There is a struggle between doing what you want and doing your own thing." Musically, they resolve the struggle, because they do fit into an old, old tradition where singalong choruses encourage a pub-like atmosphere of community. In the process of meeting that tradition, they have indeed found themselves though.

Satriani 6/10
Zappa 6/10
Dylan 7/10
Aretha 8/10
Overall 7/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Head over to Vinyl Collective for the presale for the VINYL version of ALL ABOARD: A TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY CASH!

This will be the ONLY PLACE to pick up ALL FOUR COLORS in a COMPLETE SET.

Here is the color breakdown

100 on black
100 on pink
300 half/half pink and black (VINYL COLLECTIVE EXCLUSIVE)
500 pink w/black splatter

Black is only available w/ the complete set and there will be less than 50 sets.

Reminder also that there is a BONUS TRACK ON THE LP!!! It is an alternative version of Delia's Gone by Ben Nichols(Lucero). Also included with the LP is a digital download card so you can put the songs on your iPod.

Watch for details on the CD presale and the LP Presale at Anchorless Records' official webstore.

Don't forget that the label will be donating all proceeds to benefit the Syrentha Savio Endowment. Check it out!

All Aboard: A Tribute To Johnny Cash will be available October 21st!

Track Listing:

1. Man In Black: The Bouncing Souls

2. Country Boy: Fallen From The Sky

3. Wreck Of The Old ’97: Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music)

4. Let The Train Whistle Blow: Joe McMahon (Smoke or Fire)

5. Delia’s Gone: Ben Nichols (Lucero)

6. God’s Gonna Cut You Down: The Gaslight Anthem

7. Cocaine Blues: The Loved Ones

8. Give My Love To Rose: OnGuard (feat. Jason Shevchuk of Kid Dynamite and None More Black)

9. I Still Miss Someone: Casey James Prestwood (Hot Rod Circuit)

10. Hey Porter: MxPx

11. Cry,Cry,Cry: The Flatliners

12. Ballad of a Teenage Queen: The Dresden Dolls feat. Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady

13. Folsom Prison Blues: Chon Travis (Love = Death)

14. There You Go: The Sainte Catherines

15. I Walk The Line: Russ Rankin (Good Riddance, Only Crime)

16. Bonus Track/Vinyl Only: Delia’s Gone (Alternate Version) Ben Nichols (Lucero)

About The Syrentha Savio Endowment (SSE)

The Syrentha Savio Endowment (SSE), an Internal Revenue recognized non-profit organization, provides financial assistance to underprivileged women who cannot afford the expense of fighting breast cancer. Since their inception in 2002, SSE has raised funds through a handful of programs including The Shirts for a Cure Project, The SSE Benefit Concert Series, annual charity dinners, awareness walks and online auctions. SSE has awarded gifts to organizations that help women in struggling neighborhoods find the means to fight this killer. For more information on SSE see www.syrentha.org.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Call to Preserve new song up on Myspace

Call To Preserve have posted a new song from their forthcoming album due out September 30th. You can hear "Hope For The Fallen" from their Facedown debut From Isolation on their Myspace page.

You can catch Call To Preserve on tour supporting their new album From Isolation.

Sep 25 - Jacksonville, FL @ Fuel (CD Release Show!)
Sep 26 - Brandon, FL @ The Porch (CD Release Show!)
Sep 27 - Melbourne, FL @ Jaycees (CD Release Show!)
Sep 28 - Ocala, FL @ The Capitol (CD Release Show!)
Sep 29 - North FL, FL @ TBA
Sep 30 - Pensacola, FL @ The Red Door
Oct 1 - East Ridge, TN @ The Warehouse
Oct 2 - Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway
Oct 3 - Louisville, KY @ Bulldog Cafe
Oct 4 - Evansville, IN @ Resurgence Church
Oct 5 - Tinley Park, IL @ Mojoes Rock House


Review: Eli "Paperboy" Reed and The True Loves - Roll With You

Label: Q Division

Released: April 29, 2008

Last month, I drove to a funeral in another state. Funerals, especially funerals for a man who sort of became my surrogate father when my own dad was 2,000 miles away, aren't usually enjoyable experiences, so I made sure to pack the car full of fun music. I threw a couple of classic soul albums into the pile, because few people understand life the way good soul artists do.

Eli "Paperboy" Reed and The True Loves went on that trip with me, and I've got to tell you, they helped to keep my perspective focused on the parts of life that matter.

Like most classic soul songs, the tracks on Roll With You focus almost entirely on love, lost love, lost love due to cheating, rediscovering lost love, redisovering cheating, and so on. And like most classic soul songs, the mood is buoyant despite the heartbreak that drives all the songs.

Now, you might argue that, being as Roll With You came out in 2008, the album doesn't qualify as classic soul. But you'd be wrong. Eli and his band cherry pick the finest elements of 1960's R&B, and they put it together in an album that is solid from start to finish. There's absolutely nothing ground-breaking here, but it's great to hear new songs in this style. The excitement of hearing Roll With You must be similar to how people felt in the '60s when they heard a new Wilson Pickett or Aretha Franklin or Otis Redding or Sam Cooke record.

If this had come out in 1968, it would've been rightly dismissed as derivative and redundant. If it had come out in 1978, it would've been ignored for being old-people music. But in 2008, the act of writing 11 new songs -- nearly all of which are on par with the greatest Motown and Atlantic tunes -- and recording them is bold in its own way. It's a statement that the past is never dead, and we can't ever lose sight of our history, no matter how far into the future we move.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 8/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Review: Matthew Sweet - Sunshine Lies

Label: Shout! Factory

Released: August 26, 2008

Matthew Sweet had a good run in the early to mid 90s, releasing three very good albums in a row. Since that time, he's been erratic at best, including the appropriate but lackluster covers collaboration with Susanna Hoffs. Granted, Sweet's music has been lite, but his best efforts manage to meld sweet pop with a confidence in his own pleasantly bizarre perspective.

Sunshine Lies starts off with a series of 60s-drenched psych pop tunes that are among his best. The jangle is there, the hooks are abundant and the music, even when melancholy, feels awfully good. Heading into the second half though, Sweet stumbles into the Carpenters-esque saccharine pop of "Pleasure is Mine." But two songs later, Sweet is on track again with fuzzy garage rocker "Sunrise Eyes" and he puts together a strong finish with catchy songs that have Sweet's peculiar identity.

Sweet may never make another album on par with Girlfriend or 100% Fun, but that doesn't he won't make albums worth hearing. Sunshine Lies isn't without its sketchy spots to be sure, but in its best moments he at least knocks on the door of his past success.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 6/10
Overall: 6/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Review: The Dark Romantics - Heartbreaker

Label: Lujo Records

Released: September 9, 2008

In the early 80s, Wall of Voodoo made some dark, moody and strangely captivating music out of a peculiar meeting of post-punk, synth pop and the roots of rock n roll. On Heartbreaker, the Dark Romantics find themselves at the same point where these influences flow together and they make music that is deliberately at odds with itself, nervous, pleading vocals and trebly guitar or stark piano poking through smooth synth textures.

It is an album that comes together only to pull itself apart into an unsettled restlessness. "The Death of You" is part synth pop and part "Ghostriders in the Sky," like a post-Armageddon cowboy song. "Never Been Loved" is reminiscent of "Careless Whispers" (yeah, the Wham song) only with a tangible madness and even the slick disco of the chorus doesn't diminish its humanity. The album's darkness grows into the coldness of the title track which knocks on Nick Cave door to insanity.

These songs believe that joy exists, but only in someone else's world. They are love songs for the unloved, breakup songs for those with no one to break with. Heartbreaker is for the broken heart that never had the opportunity to fully love. The discord yearns for beauty in a way that is, as the band name itself explains, quite romantic and entirely dark.

"Hush Your Mouth" mp3

"Let's Ride" mp3

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 7/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Review: Elvis Presley - The Complete '68 Comeback Special 40th Anniversary Edition

Label: RCA

Released: August 5, 2008

The story of Elvis' 1968 comeback special is well known. By that time, the music that Elvis, not begot, but certainly laid the groundwork for, had passed him by. While Elvis was busy making silly movies like Blue Hawaii and Harem Scarum, rock and roll was broadening its horizons and beginning to take itself a bit more seriously in light of the self-empowerment of a generation involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements. Naive teen sentiments embodied in songs like "Hound Dog" or "Heartbreak Hotel" seemed ridiculous in light of the turbulent times. Quite simply, rock and roll was evolving into rock while the King was off following someone else's lame muse.

In this environment, Elvis returns to perform four sets on two dates in front a small audience at NBC's Burbank studios. There was absolutely no chance for him to recover the raw edginess he had on "That's Alright Mama," even with the return of Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana. Times had changed and so had Elvis. Nonetheless, his performance is loose and free. Elvis is light and agile and lacks the self-consciousness that he would have had if he really was a has-been. Oddly enough, he was nervous about performing live after a seven year lay-off, but he told executive producer Bob Finkel, "I want everyone to know what I can really do." And that is exactly what he did. Against the odds, Elvis was on fire. Perhaps that adversity is just what he needed.

In addition to the original album with which most everyone is well-acquainted, this package includes the full shows from which the TV special was culled and the rehearsals. It's really the rehearsals that make this set. You can hear that the King is hungry again. You can hear how confident and loose he is. This isn't the same guy who was forced in embarrassing roles in bad movies, this is just an older version of the guy who took a love of C&W, R&B and gospel and mixed it with his raw, though somewhat naive, sexuality and changed the face of popular music. It's evident on the original album. It's evident in the full shows. But nowhere is it more clear than in the free-wheeling rehearsals. Elvis and his band stumble through "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and despite the stuttering performance, they just sound great. Rock n roll was never about perfection and that's demonstrated here as well as anywhere.

This is not the Elvis that made young girls scream (although he surely made plenty of middle-aged women scream), but it's a farther cry from the Elvis that died with so much bacon fat and prescription drugs in his system that he couldn't even sustain a bowel movement. In 1968, even if only briefly, he was the King.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 8/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Video: Beat Union - Can't Stop the Radio

Something tells me it's no accident that they got the guys from the "Rock the Casbah" video...

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Review: The Treat - Phonography

Label: Rockular Recordings

Released: 2007

On Phonography, the Treat not only incorporate a lot of British rock styles from the late 60s and early 70s, but they manage to do it seamlessly and make it fresh. They draw on everything from the raw bluesiness of Led Zeppelin to the grandiose prog of Genesis. Starting off an album with as much bombast as "Fanfare for a King," sets high expectations. In this game, there isn't much room between perfection and silliness and there's no doubt that the Treat are over the top, but what they pull off over the course of the album is rivaled today perhaps only by Bigelf.

The 70s are a curious time in rock history. In the wake of the Beatles-inspired experimentation of the late 60s, a lot of the music began trading its youthful energy for big, fat bombast. So often bands that rehash the 70s fail to correct that problem (and exacerbate it instead), but The Treat tap into only the very best and re-energize it. I can imagine a song like "Too Late," their homage to the Who and Faces, fizzling in the hands of the average purveyor of nostalgia despite being a fantastic song. But The Treat do more than just remake the sounds of the past, they relive them. And they live such a broad range too. They follow up "Too Late" by taking on King Crimson and Genesis. Earlier they live up to Sabbath and Cream and later to Traffic. "Black Cat Whites" jumps back and forth between Syd Barrett and Sweet without missing a beat. It just shows how good a handle they have on the music they love.

Their influences are a who's who of great British rock. Though they do occasionally slip into AOR flatness (for a few moments here and there, not for a few songs), but it's their energy and love that makes the album so exciting. Phonography does pretend that nothing has happened since 1975, but that's not the end of the story. Whether you like Zeppelin or Genesis, Cream or Procol Harem, Jethro Tull or Traffic, Syd Barrett or Sweet, the Who or Queen (I could really just keep going), the Treat has a reinterpretation that is more appreciation than copy.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 7/10


If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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The Clash Live at Shea Stadium 1982 - coming October 7!

The Clash are at the top of the list of bands I'd wish I'd seen, so needless to say, I'm excited about this one! The only band that matters!

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Review: Omni - Ghosts

Label: Faux Pas Records (buy it at the band's site)

Released: May 2008

If you have any doubt that Radiohead has been tremendously influential on today's rock scene, take a look at all the bands that have inherited Thom, Johnny and company's particular take on Brian Eno. It's everywhere from indie rock to post-metal and Omni is no exception.

While the Radiohead influence is easy to put your finger on, to Omni's credit, their overall sound is not. They take ambient rock in many directions. Rhythmic change-ups give them a mathiness that runs throughout. They also mix in alt rock and emo tendencies and the experimental boldness of prog rock. Dabblings in funk and electronica also work within the context of Ghosts. Occasionally devolving into lite jazz doesn't undermine the record, but it does point out its biggest weakness: there too much head and too little heart here. Omni really only seems to hit their emotional stride once and that's on the minute and a half long "A Ghost." Otherwise, if they're feeling what they're doing, it just never quite comes across.

Omni certainly has creativity on their side. They've taken an increasingly overused influence and managed to do some very interesting things musically. Now the only trick is fill out that creative spirit with a sense of wildness to match, something that makes their music fly in fact rather than just theory.

Satriani: 9/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 5/10
Overall: 6/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Review: Play - s/t

Label: self-released

Released: November 18, 2008

Anyone who thinks the head is more important than the heart in rock n roll pretty much misses the point. It's the reason that the MC5 were better than Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the Ramones were better than Steely Dan and the Replacements were better than Def Leppard. Sure, there are bands that give us the best of both worlds, but forced to choose, heart always counts more than head, because we feel the music, we don't reason through it.

On their self-titled debut, Play clearly understands this. This isn't the next big thing, but the thing that's always been. Twenty-five years ago, the American rock underground overflowed with this kind of band: the Replacements, the Del Fuegos, the Smithereens, the Long Ryders and others made a buyers' market for raw melodies and simple hooks. Today, most raw rock n roll falls into one of several niches, but bands putting soul into basic bar band rock are few and far between. Play goes some way toward filling that void. They aren't refined, they aren't brilliant and they aren't (thank God) perfect, but their pulse is that back beat you can't lose.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 7/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

DVD: Punk's Not Dead

Label: MVD

Released: July 8, 2008

Most documentaries are just visual histories of a band or a scene. The trouble is that they take a scientific approach with a hypothesis that they attempt to prove over the course of the film. But punk is a human story and one that, at its best, has dictated its own future. Punk's Not Dead lets the story tell itself, no judgments, no science.

It follows punk from the Ramones through the Pistols and Clash, on to Black Flag and Minor Threat. It picks up the punk revival of the late 80s and early 90s and its subsequent commercial breakthrough via Green Day up through the corporate-sponsored Warped Tour. The interviews include a few big names like Rollins, MacKaye, Biafra and Armstrong, but dig deeper as well into the Charlie Harpers and Jimmie Purseys, right down to the kids who make their own scenes happen (with whole sequences on little sub-scenes like Drunk Tank House as well as bits sent in from kids around the world).

Punk's Not Dead succeeds largely because it gets it. It doesn't take an outsider's view or have that old "back in the day" condescension, but instead focuses on the ever-changing and evolving state of the punk scene and how it has managed to be an alternative for thousands of kids even after it was co-opted by mainstream culture.

Rating: 8/10

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

News: Look Mexico Fall Tour and new digital EP

LOOK MEXICO - Fall Tour Update / New Digital EP
* U.S. Tour begins today
* Shows with Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls, Bear Colony, The Winter Sounds
* For song EP, Gasp Asp, now available digitally

Look Mexico (Tallahassee, FL) hits the road today for a month-long tour of the U.S.

The band's newly converted veggie oil-powered bus will take them westward for a week of shows in Texas and Oklahoma with Bear Colony before joining up with Fake Problems and Cobra Skulls for eight days of Left Coast shenanigans. Finally, the boys will conclude their national expedition in the Southeast playing shows with The Winter Sounds.

In early October, Look Mexico will take a short break before heading back out for two additional weeks of touring along the East Coast. Eventually, they'll end up where all Beartrap bands seem to be ending up on Halloween weekend: at The Fest in Gainesville, FL. More info on those dates soon.

The national tour coincides with Lujo Records' digital release of Gasp Asp, the band's newest four song EP. You can pick it up from iTunes here.

For a limited time, you can grab a free mp3 from Gasp Asp. Check out the first track, "You're Not Afraid Of The Dark Are You?" here.

Earlier this year, Lujo released The Crucial Collection and is also responsible for unleashing Look Mexico's awesome debut full-length, This Is Animal Music, upon the world in 2007.

Gasp Asp will be receiving the vinyl treatment very soon as well; a three song seven inch version of the EP will be available in early October. Stay tuned for a pre-order news, as well an announcement regarding the stupid label responsible for this inevitable plastic disaster...

As always, I suggest you catch one of these shows if possible. Look Mexico never fail to excite and entertain. And if you're lucky, you might get spit on. Just kidding (sort of).


SEP 02 - Pensacola, FL @ The Red Door Venue w/ Bear Colony, The Gills
SEP 04 - Houston, TX @ The Free Press w/ Bear Colony
SEP 05 - San Antonio, TX @ The Warhol w/ Bear Colony, Through Her Vibe
SEP 06 - Austin, TX @ Red 7 (Patio) w/ Bear Colony, Old Coyotes, Ladies
SEP 07 - Dallas, TX @ The Prophet Bar w/ Bear Colony
SEP 08 - Tulsa, OK @ The Marquee w/ Bear Colony
SEP 10 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 12 - Reno, NV @ Tonic Lounge w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 14 - San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 16 - Mountain View, CA @ Red Rock Coffee w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 18 - Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse Record Store w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 19 - Riverside, CA @ Back To The Grind w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 20 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls
SEP 21 - San Diego, CA @ O'Connells w/ Fake Problems, Cobra Skulls, FrankTurner
SEP 22 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Chyro Arts w/ Teejay Sundance
SEP 26 - Cincinnati, OH @ Midpoint Festival w/ The Dark Romantics, Pomegranates, Mouse Fire
SEP 27 - Dayton, OH @ The Oregon Express w/ The Winter Sounds
SEP 28 - Louisville, KY @ Skull Alley w/ The Winter Sounds
SEP 29 - Nashville, TN @ Springwater w/ The Winter Sounds
OCT 03 - Greenville, SC @ Mellow Mushroom w/ The Winter Sounds, The Dirty Eighties
OCT 16 - Auburndale, FL @ Bloodhound Bash
OCT 17 - Asheville, NC @ New French Bar w/ The Dark Romantics
OCT 26 - Virginia Beach, VA @ The Jewish Mother w/ Fake Problems
OCT 28 - Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern w/ Fake Problems
OCT 31 - NOV 02 - Gainesville, FL @ The Fest

- One of the most promising, talented and musically honest bands we've discovered in a long while. - Alternative Press

- Like with clear spring days, you can't help but be transported to a happy place with Look Mexico on repeat. - Spin.com

- Obvious talent and a reputation for fantastic live shows could earn them a spot on the indie-rock A-list. - Stereo Subversion

- Hotter than jalapenos soaked in Tobasco, you should discover Look Mexico. - Big Cheese

- Unique, totally enjoyable and, sometimes, downright addicting. - Punknews.org

- I threw my drink in their face and pooped on their tour bus. - Buzzgrinder

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Review: Cephas and Wiggins - Richmond Blues

Label: Smithsonian Folkways

Released: July 29, 2008

I was scared when I was first asked to review Richmond Blues. Most of what I've heard from Smithsonian Folkways has been extraordinary, but most of the music I've discovered on their label is classic stuff that's passed the test of time. It's hard to go wrong with Lead Belly or Paul Robeson or Woody Guthrie. But a new blues recording by a couple of guys I've never even heard of? I don't know...

In fairness, I have to put my bias on the table. I don't much like the blues. I went to a cut-rate music school in the late '80s whose mission statement might as well have been, "We'll teach you to play fast." And what's the easiest thing to play when you're learning how to play fast? Yep. The blues. You haven't lived until you've sat in a room full of long-haired Norwegian men pick-sweeping their way through a Muddy Waters song.

Needless to say, it soured me on the blues. And on long-haired Norwegian men, but that's a story for another day.

So after months of ignoring emails from the label asking me if I liked the CD, I finally accepted the fact that I had. To. Listen.

And hot dog! Listening is actually pretty fun!

First of all, this is pretty simple stuff, at least by Norwegian long-hair standards. It's an acoustic guitar/harmonica duo, with vocals. No drums, no bass, no amplifiers, no keys, and certainly no 32nd notes or whammy bars or any of that crap. The harmonica is much closer to Sonny Terry than it is Blues Traveller, and the guitar and voice remind me of Lead Belly. Not that Cephas & Wiggins sound like Lead Belly, but that's a much closer comparison than anyone like BB King or Muddy Waters or Stevie Ray Vaughn.

For more than 30 years, Cephas & Wiggins have kind of been the international diplomats of a style called Piedmont blues, because they've traveled all over the world playing their music and introducing the traditional sound to new audiences. I wouldn't know Piedmont blues if it came up and bit me on the leg, but I can't imagine anybody doing the music more justice than these two men. The interplay between the harmonica and the voice is awesome. There's a great deal of call and response happening, and it's just a lot of fun hearing what I can only describe as a conversation between Cephas' voice and Wiggins' harmonica.

I'm a bit surprised by the fact that most of the songs are slow or mid-tempo pieces. From what I read in the liner notes (which alone are worth the price of the CD), Piedmont blues was popular at black house parties and social gatherings in the South and Mid-Atlantic. This isn't music I can really imagine dancing to, though, which means either Cephas & Wiggins have spent too much time playing folk festivals and universities instead of Saturday night house parties, or my days as a glowstick-waving raver have irreversably corrupted my idea of dance music. Most of these songs make me imagine sitting on the porch with a jug of hooch while I listen intently to the music. (For what it's worth, I have never drank 'hooch' in my life, be it in a jug or a glass or a paper cup. But I bet some hooch would taste mighty fine with Richmond Blues.)

This is a good CD that is very different from what most people, especially those of us who were born and raised on rock, think of as the blues. One additional appeal of this CD is that, as a rock fan, I can hear this music's influence on groups like White Stripes. Richmond Blues is definitely worth a listen, even if you don't like the blues.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 8/10



If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Found in the Shuffle: Sweet - "Action"

Song: Action
Artist: Sweet
Album: Best of Sweet

If you can get past the fact that it sounds like it was recorded in a tin can and played back on an AM transistor radio from Radio Shack circa 1975, it's a pretty awesome song.