Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Walk the Line snubbed by Academy

Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic, did not receive a best picture Oscar Nomination, clearing the way for the expected win for Brokeback Mountain. The nominees for Best Motion Picture of the Year are:

Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features)
A River Road Entertainment Production
Diana Ossana and James Schamus, Producers

Capote (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
An A-Line Pictures/Cooper’s Town/ Infinity Media Production
Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven, Producers

Crash (Lions Gate)
A Bob Yari/DEJ/Blackfriar’s Bridge/ Harris Company/ApolloProscreen GmbH & Co./Bull’s Eye Entertainment Production
Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, Producers

Good Night, and Good Luck. (Warner Independent Pictures)
A Good Night Good Luck LLC Production
Grant Heslov, Producer

Munich (Universal and DreamWorks)
A Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures Production
Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel, Producers

Despite the snub in the best picture category, Walk the Line's Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are nominated for Best Actor and Actress in a lead role.

Corretta Scott King RIP

Corretta Scott King has passed away at age 78.

From the Martin Luther King Center site, here's a look back at part of her incredible and dignified life:

Born and raised in Marion, Alabama, Coretta Scott graduated valedictorian from Lincoln High School. She received a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then went on to study concert singing at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a degree in voice and violin. While in Boston she met Martin Luther King, Jr. who was then studying for his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University. They were married on June 18, 1953, and in September 1954 took up residence in Montgomery, Alabama, with Coretta Scott King assuming the many functions of pastor's wife at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

During Dr. King's career, Mrs. King devoted most of her time to raising their four children: Yolanda Denise (1955), Martin Luther, III (1957), Dexter Scott (1961), and Bernice Albertine (1963). From the earliest days, however, she balanced mothering and movement work, speaking before church, civic, college, fraternal and peace groups. She conceived and performed a series of favorably-reviewed Freedom Concerts which combined prose and poetry narration with musical selections and functioned as fundraisers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the direct action organization of which Dr. King served as first president. In 1957, she and Dr. King journeyed to Ghana to mark that country's independence. In 1958, they spent a belated honeymoon in Mexico, where they observed first-hand the immense gulf between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. In 1959, Dr. and Mrs. King spent nearly a month in India on a pilgrimage to disciples and sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi. In 1964, she accompanied him to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Even prior to her husband's public stand against the Vietnam War in 1967, Mrs. King functioned as liaison to peace and justice organizations, and as mediator to public officials on behalf of the unheard.

Since her husband's assassination in 1968, Mrs. King has devoted much of her energy and attention to developing programs and building the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband's life and dream. Situated in the Freedom Hall complex encircling Dr. King's tomb, The King Center is part of a 23-acre national historic park which includes his birth home, and which hosts over one million visitors a year. For 27 years (1968-1995), Mrs. King devoted her life to developing The King Center, the first institution built in memory of an African American leader. As founding President, Chair, and Chief Executive Officer, she dedicated herself to providing local, national and international programs that have trained tens of thousands of people in Dr. King's philosophy and methods; she guided the creation and housing of the largest archives of documents from the Civil Rights Movement; and, perhaps her greatest legacy after establishing The King Center itself, Mrs. King spearheaded the massive educational and lobbying campaign to establish Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday. In 1983, an act of Congress instituted the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, which she chaired for its duration. And in January 1986, Mrs. King oversaw the first legal holiday in honor of her husband--a holiday which has come to be celebrated by millions of people world-wide and, in some form, in over 100 countries.

Coretta Scott King has carried the message of nonviolence and the dream of the beloved community to almost every corner of our nation and globe. She has led goodwill missions to many countries in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia. She has spoken at many of history's most massive peace and justice rallies. She served as a Women's Strike for Peace delegate to the seventeen-nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in 1962. She is the first woman to deliver the class day address at Harvard, and the first woman to preach at a statutory service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

A life-long advocate of interracial coalitions, in 1974 Mrs. King formed a broad coalition of over 100 religious, labor, business, civil and women's rights organizations dedicated to a national policy of full employment and equal economic opportunity, as Co-Chair of the Full Employment Action Council. In 1983, she brought together more than 800 human rights organizations to form the Coalition of Conscience, sponsors of the 20th Anniversary March on Washington, until then the largest demonstration in our nation's capital. In 1987, she helped lead a national Mobilization Against Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County, Georgia. In 1988, she re-convened the Coalition of Conscience for the 25th anniversary of the March on Washington. In preparation for the Reagan-Gorbachev talks, in 1988 she served as head of the U.S. delegation of Women for a Meaningful Summit in Athens, Greece; and in 1990, as the USSR was redefining itself, Mrs. King was co-convener of the Soviet-American Women's Summit in Washington, DC.

One of the most influential African-American leaders of our time, Mrs. King has received honorary doctorates from over 60 colleges and universities; has authored three books and a nationally-syndicated column; and has served on, and helped found, dozens of organizations, including the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation, and the Black Leadership Roundtable.

She has dialogued with heads of state, including prime ministers and presidents; and she has put in time on picket lines with welfare rights mothers. She has met with great spiritual leaders, including Pope John Paul, the Dalai Lama, Dorothy Day, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. She has witnessed the historic handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yassir Arafat at the signing of the Middle East Peace Accords. She has stood with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg when he became South Africa's first democratically-elected president. A woman of wisdom, compassion and vision, Coretta Scott King has tried to make ours a better world and, in the process, has made history.

Van Morrison new disc and tour in March

Van Morrison announced five US dates for March. Morrison is set to tour in support of his upcoming Lost Highway country album Pay The Devil, which hits stores on March 7.

Pay The Devil is comprised of 15 tracks, three originals and 12 covers of some of Van Morrison's favorite classic country songs, including "Your Cheatin Heart," "Things Have Gone To Pieces" and "Big Blue Diamonds."

3/3 San Francisco, CA Masonic Hall - Tickets on Sale 2/3
3/4 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theatre - Tickets on Sale 1/28
3/6 Dallas, TX Nokia Theatre - Tickets on Sale 1/28
3/7 Nashville, TN Ryman Theatre - Tickets on Sale 2/4
3/8 Boston, MA Opera House - Tickets on Sale 2/4

Monday, January 30, 2006

Pete Doherty flips off Judge

Pete Doherty may have shed himself of Kate Moss, but he's still got some nasty habits including acting like a rock star way before he really is one.

In his latest attention grabbing move, the Babyshambles "bad boy" (quotes indicating sarcasm here) reportedly flipped off a judge after learning he'd have to stay in jail until his February 8th sentencing for drug charges.

Maybe it was Kate who shed him off.

Shakira: Humble Breasts ok

Columbian superstar Shakira says she's now happy with her "humble breasts" and has decided against enhancing her "lady lumps" via plastic surgery.

ContactMusic quotes her with:

"The first line I wrote for this new album was, "I told you I felt lucky with my humble breasts, well I'm not'. Thats when I was considering going under the knife, but now I'm completely against the idea. But you never know - maybe next year you'll see me with one side bigger than the other."

I'm happy with Shakira's humble breasts too. Maybe she can compare notes with Jessica Simpson who is obsessed with her not so humble "amazing boobs."

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Tasty Treat: Licorice at the Blue Note

By: David Schultz

In the early seventies, Miles Davis caused controversy within the jazz world: deconstructing traditional jazz by deemphasizing solos in favor of ensemble group play. On albums like Bitches Brew and On The Corner, Davis adventurously took jazz into new territories experimenting with different sounds and techniques. Davis' spirit of adventure and ability to harness the spirit of a band into one unified purpose lives on in the music and spirit of Licorice. This past Saturday night, at New York City's legendary Blue Note jazz club, Licorice, comprised of David Lott (guitar), Matt Epstein (bass), Chad Dinzes (keyboards) and Josh Bloom (drums), expertly embodied Davis' philosophy. Throughout the evening, Licorice jammed in unison, with nary a member of the quartet taking the opportunity to sit back and let the others carry their weight. At all times, everyone on stage was doing something meriting attention. In lesser hands, the result could be auditory chaos. In Licorice's hands, an exciting concoction of jazz, avant-garde, funk and rock evolves.

The core trio of the band formed through friendships with bassist Matt Epstein. While students at the University of Michigan, Lott and Epstein played together in Meropoix, an instrumental funk jamband before forming a trio with Epstein's childhood friend Josh Bloom. In 2003, rehearsals with keyboardist Chad Dinzes bore fruit, or in this case, Licorice. The band, which skillfully fuses different but compatible music, derived their name from one of Jerry Garcia's explanations of the Grateful Dead's fans. When asked about the Dead's fan base, Garcia responded, "Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, really like licorice." Relix Magazine's honoring the band as the "New Groove of the Month" last October shows that audiences are quickly developing a taste for Licorice.

Licorice's late night set marked a return to the Blue Note where they have participated in the jazz club's weekend Late Night Groove Series since its inception in 2004. The performance marked not only their first show of 2006 but also served as a joint birthday celebration for Epstein and Lott. Coming on stage just after 1:00 a.m., Licorice ran through a tight set which touched on staples like "Scarab" and "Swisher," a couple newer compositions and a seriously powerful instrumental version of the Police classic "Walking On The Moon."

Dinzes gives Licorice a tasty flavor, interjecting a traditional piano sound into the mix. On "What’s Your Status In London?," Dinzes deftly keeps up with the song's tight tempo changes, moving from the stark avant-garde intro into flowing jazzy piano rolls and funky jam-based grooves. A versatile drummer, Bloom pushes the band along through upbeat stretches while also proving capable of working the snare and cymbals for the jazzier excursions. Where Dinzes and Bloom bring the jazz, Epstein and Lott bring the funk. Lott slid comfortably into a couple different roles throughout the night. At times Lott fronted the band, laying down guitar licks as a traditional lead guitarist, during others he mellifluously complemented Dinzes' keys and Epstein’s energetic bass with a solid rhythm guitar.

Despite Licorice's jazz leanings, they have failed to adopt the dour, serious demeanor stereotypical of jazz musicians. Like most jambands, Licorice possesses a sense of humor. In adapting Blink 182's "All The Small Things" into their tongue-in-cheek "Say It (Your Mom's A Vegetarian)," Licorice invented the wonderfully surreal insult, "your mother, she eats tofu." Licorice is also fond of covering "La Isla Bonita," converting Madonna's Caribbean-tinged dance classic into a scorching keyboard odyssey. However, the weighty confines of the Blue Note do not inspire whimsy and Licorice played it relatively straight within its staid surroundings.

In accepting a lifetime Jammy award on behalf of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir spoke eloquently about the improvisational spirit of jazz and its influence, not only on his own music, but on that of the entire jamband ethos. In an acknowledgment to the jazz influence described by Weir, the Blue Note, through their Late Night Groove Series has opened their stage to allow prospering groove-based bands a cozy, intimate and historical venue to showcase a different style of improvisational music. Just in case the connection between the jazz world and the jamband world escaped the Blue Note audience that evening, Licorice dove into "Satin Retreat," the band's adaptation of Davis' On The Corner track "Black Satin." Incorporating Davis' rhythms into their music, just like Davis incorporated rock and funk beats into his music more than three decades ago, the quartet adeptly bridged the gap between genres, offering a generous sample of the wonderful taste of Licorice.

St. Patrick's Day With The Pogues

Prodigal sons of Ireland, The Pogues will be in their element this St. Patrick's Day as they play to a sold-out crowd at New York City's Nokia Theater. Providing a perfect counterpoint to the the City's annual parade, the Pogues will cap off the 2006 festivities by providing New York's holiday celebration with an additional touch of Irish authenticity. The St. Patrick's Day show will be part of a four night run at the Nokia, concludes a brief two week United States reunion tour which will stop in Washington D.C., Atlantic City and Boston.

Of note, The Pogues will be fronted by the legendary, if not erratic, Shane McGowan and boast a classic lineup including Philip Chevron, Jem Finer, Darryl Hunt, Spider Stacy, Andrew Ranken, Terry Woods and James Fearnley. Although founded on mostly reliable word-of-mouth anecdotes, tales of McGowan's drunken outbursts and diva-like tantrums have been embellished to the James Frey level of credibility. Even during the bands heyday, Pogues fans have long been tortured between wanting the see a full show or possibly being present for one of McGowan's monumental breakdowns. Surely, all eyes will be on Shane in the months of March.

The Pogues' popularity peaked in 1987 with the release of Fairytale Of New York. Since splitting with McGowan in 1991, The Pogues have come nowhere close to their late 80s success. Previous attempts to reform the band with McGowan have failed to entirely recapture the Pogues' magic. However, even if all the Pogues have left to offer is nostalgia, their Irish charm will endure.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wilson Pickett RIP (1941-2006)

I'm gonna wait 'till the midnight hour
That's when my love comes tumbling down
I'm gonna wait 'till the midnight hour
When there's no one else around

I'm gonna take you girl and hold you
Do all things I told you in the midnight hour

I'm gonna wait till the stars come out
See them twinkle in your eyes
I'm gonna wait 'till the midnight hour
That's when my love begins to shine

You're the only girl I know
Really love you so in the midnight hour

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sirius Satellite and XM Radio’s Newest Marketing Tool: David Lee Roth

By: David Schultz

When Howard Stern moved to Sirius Satellite Radio, he became Sirius' strongest argument for attracting people away from terrestrial radio. In the last two weeks, a surprising entrant has emerged to challenge Stern as satellite radio's greatest marketing tool: David Lee Roth.

Since taking the commercial airwaves on January 3rd, Roth's inaugural broadcasts have been scatterbrained messes with little to no coherent thought being applied to the subjects discussed during the most misguided call-in show in recent history. In the absence of guests, well, to be fair, interesting guests, Roth must carry the show with his wit and charm. Instead, Roth falls back on stories of his recent exploits as a New York EMT and rehashes old grudges with Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen. In 1985, when Roth oozed charisma, this might be interesting. In 2006, it's painful radio.

The majority of Roth's show revolves around his monologues on political and social issues. At the core of Roth's problems is his lack of pedigree to credibly offer opinions on many of the weighty issues he wants to discuss. Roth wants listeners to buy into the belief that he is an intelligent, thoughtful social critic without making any effort to build up such a rapport with his audience. To most listeners, David Lee Roth is an increasingly irrelevant, aging rock star. America likely cares no more for his thoughts on President Bush's policies or legislative enactments than they would about Courtney Love's views on health care or Paris Hilton's thoughts on the amendments to the tax code. Before his predecessor Howard Stern confronted politics, he had earned the trust of his audience, generally reserving his strongest, most lucid opinions for issues within his bailiwick as a performer (e.g. censorship, the FCC) or as a longtime New Yorker (e.g. daytime highway construction, living in New York after 9/11).

Roth attempts to confront and discuss a wide variety of issues on his show, inviting listeners to call in and join the discussion. When the subjects are entertainment related, especially with respect to musician's behavior, Roth is in his element, obviously having a large reservoir of knowledge on the topic. When he wants to discuss politically charged issues like the recent New York City transit strike or the war in Iraq, Roth's glib, easy answer persona fails him to miserable, horrific degrees.

When discussing weighty topics, he sounds like a moderately educated person simplistically and unconvincingly arguing about issues that are beyond the full breadth of his comprehension. In relating his views on the Iraqi War, Roth mashed his thoughts on Bush's reasons for going to war, America's conduct of the war and our continued presence in the country into one muddled, confusing argument. Before you could make an effort to parse through what Roth thought he was trying to say, Linda, one of his foils chimed in, a la Britney Spears, that she follows and believes in whatever our President does because it's wartime, he's our Commander In Chief and deserves our respect and trust without question. When a listener phoned in to chide Linda for her slavish worship, Roth dismissed the caller thanking him for calling in to humiliate himself, leaving his friend's blind allegiance unquestioned.

In the 80s, Roth showed enormous charisma and a sense of humor in his "Diamond Dave" persona. Sadly, all of those character traits are absent from his morning program. When the discussion turns to the music and entertainment industry, Roth shows glimmers of interest. Given that Van Halen continued under the same name after Sammy Hagar replaced Roth, his views on whether a Freddie Mercury-less band should still call themselves Queen had some weight behind them, even if tinged by his remaining bitterness for those who participated in Van Halen version 2.0. Similarly, when Roth confronted an author who had written a book about an extraterrestrial influence in rock and roll, Roth relied on his own experiences with egocentric musicians to express skepticism in the author's thin premise.

Unfortunately for his audience, Roth rarely stays grounded in areas he can comfortably and knowledgably discuss. An early diatribe against gun control, early in his first week on the air, typified Roth's elocutionary failures. In supporting his view that America requires better education on guns rather than gun control, Roth told a surprisingly riveting tale of a delusional ex-convict attempting to kidnap his father, a 56-year-old physician, at gunpoint. The incident, which occurred in his father's medical office, concluded with his father disarming the kidnapper with his bare hands before escaping out a back door. Throughout this story, Roth remained completely oblivious to the fact that he supported his argument for the unlimited right to purchase weapons with an anecdote involving an unarmed man in his mid-fifties (albeit with a black belt in karate) eluding a psychopathic gunman without the use of a weapon which Roth wishes everyone to have free access. Ignoring the fact that restricting weapons might have prevented his father from having one pointed at him, Roth proudly announced that he purchased a gun and slept with it under his pillow until the police captured the gunman. Regardless of whether you agree with his political views, Roth's ineptness as a political pundit or coherent social commentator predominates the entire discussion.

Unless Roth significantly improves, his time on commercial radio may be limited to how long it takes Infinity Broadcasting to figure out how to bring Adam Carolla's program over from the west coast. Somewhere in the entertainment graveyard, a crypt houses the corpses of The Chevy Chase Show and The Magic Hour. The caretaker should start preparations to receive the David Lee Roth radio program, it is arriving soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sienna Miller paints with her breasts for Factory Girl role prep

Sienna Miller, Jude Law's gal pal is really getting into her upcoming role portraying artist Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl. On her role prepration Miller says: "I've got rooms covered in tits after going back to doing what I do best - getting naked."

Sedgwick gained noteriety as Andy Warhol's playmate in the mid-60s. She also reportedly lived with Bob Dylan and is rumored to be the inspiration to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde record as well as songs like "Just Like a Woman" and "Leopardskin Pillbox Hat."

Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians wrote a song about Sedgwick called "Little Miss S" which was on their Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars album released in 1988 and The Cult wrote a song about her life called "Edie (Ciao Baby)" which was on their Sonic Temple album released in 1989.

The Velvet Underground song Femme Fatale (on the album The Velvet Underground and Nico) is reported to have been written about Edie at Andy Warhol's request.

Guy Pearce, Jimmy Fallon, Hayden Christenson and Meredith Ostrom will also star with Miller in Factory Girl.

Clap Your Hands Say SXSW

Indie and music blogger darlings Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have been added to the expanding SXSW music festival roster. Dashboard Confessional, the Go! Team and the Arctic Monkeys are also recent editions.

The SXSW festival runs from March 10-19 in Austin, Texas.

Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule Return To The Studio

The hardest working man in rock and roll Warren Haynes will be returning to the studio this week with Gov't Mule to record the follow up to 2004's Deja Voodoo. In an almost unprecedented move, the band will post daily updates on their web site with streaming video, still photos and, of course, a blog. The mule.net/inthestudio site will launch on January 18, coinciding with Mule's commencement of rehearsals. The plans are for the site to remain live, throughout the entire recording of the album providing intimate access to the bands creative process.

Haynes will be able to devote his full attention to the Mule project until mid-March. At which point, he will rejoin the Allman Brothers Band for their annual March residency at New York City's Beacon Theater. At the venue that has become as familiar to them as Royal Albert Hall is to Eric Clapton, the Allmans will play 13 shows from March 9 through March 25.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon Cash in Golden Globes

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both took home Golden Globe awards for their portrayal of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in the film "Walk the Line."

Both were terrific in capturing the love affair of the country greats. Remarkably, both also did their own singing in the film and pull it off quite well. Duets like "Jackson" are particularly well done. Witherspoon is clearly a favorite now for the Best Actress Oscar and don't be surprised if Joaquin wins for Best Actor there too.

The film itself also took home a Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy. While their is plenty of music and some comedy in the film, neither dominates and the film is more of a drama than either of the former. Of course, if Walk the Line were nominated as a drama, that would have made it more difficult for insider favorite Brokeback Mountain to win in that category.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Living Colour's Will Calhoun's Native Lands Jazz Odyssey

Fresh off a December mini-tour with Living Colour, drummer Will Calhoun will be returning to the stage in late January in support of Native Lands, his recent jazz offering. Calhoun's solo projects differ significantly from his work with the hard rocking Living Colour, focusing on world beats and jazz revealing another musical side of the tremendously gifted drummer. Calhoun's four night run at New York City's legendary Blue Note jazz club will commence on January 26-29 with two shows each night.

Calhoun embarked on a month long European tour last October in support of Native Lands, remaining overseas to reform Head/Fake with Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish for a November run of European shows. No rest for the weary, Calhoun and Wimbish returned to the States, hitting the road with Vernon Reid and Corey Glover. The January shows will mark Calhoun's first performance of his Native Lands material in the United States.

Calhoun's band for the Blue Note shows will include Stacy Dillard and Marcus Strickland on sax, Orrin Evans on keys, Corey Wilkes on trumpet and Mark Kelley on bass.

Last tour for U2?

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, U2 guitarist the Edge says:

"The reaction to the shows has been unprecedented," says the Edge. "From a really great start, it's just built and built and built. I'm happy to say bye-bye, because I don't think we could ever top it."

Does that mean they won't try? Obviously, no matter what happens after the tour - which now heads to Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South America and Japan for the final leg - Bono will find a way to stay in the spotlight. Somehow, I'm thinking the band will stay with him.

U-Melt Announces Winter Tour Schedule

U-Melt, one of the bands atop Earvolution's list of Artists to Watch in 2006, have announced their winter tour schedule. After kicking off the tour with an opening slot for Strangefolk at Boston's Paradise Rock Club, the foursome of Rob Salzer (guitar), Zac Lasher (keys), Adam Bendy (bass) and George Miller (drums) will migrate south headlining shows along the way with their high-octane, jam-based grooves.

Tour highlights will include: the celebration of U-Melt's 300th show in Pittsfield, MA; the groups first Florida performances and a slot in the Wormtown Winter Carnivale at Mill Street Brews in Southbridge, MA. U-Melt will return home for a two night stay at New York's Knitting Factory supporting their fellow emerging rockers Tea Leaf Green.

With more shows to be announced shortly, the announced tour dates are:

1/28/06 Boston, MA: Paradise Rock Club (w/ Strangefolk)
2/ 3/06 East Setauket, NY: The Velvet Lounge
2/ 4/06 Pittsfield, MA: La Cocina
2/ 9/06 Knoxville, TN: Barley's Taproom
2/10/06 Tuscaloosa, AL: The Booth
2/11/06 Columbus, GA: The Loft
2/15/06 Jacksonville, FL: Freebrid Live
2/16/06 St. Petersburg, FL: The Bank
2/18/06 Marathon, FL: The Hurricane Grill
2/19/06 Marathom, FL: The Hurricane Grill
2/20/06 Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Oakland Park): Alligator Alley
2/24/06 Virginia Beach, VA: The Jewish Mother
2/25/06 Kill Devil Hills, NC: Outer Banks Brewing Station
3/ 3/06 Southbridge, MA: Wormtown Winter Carnival @ Mill Street Blues
3/ 9/06 New York, NY: Knitting Factory (w/ Tea Leaf Green)
3/10/06 New York, NY: Knitting Facotry (w/ Tea Leaf Green)
3/11/06 Belmar, NJ: Phanphest Presents Cabin Fever Phest @ Paul's Tavern & Cabin

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Penthouse interviews Iggy Pop; calls U2 "white rock"

In the latest edition of Penthouse, Iggy Pop claims that he "still acts like a cat on acid" after every show -- even though his 58-year-old body is completely sore, but Iggy Pop, the "Godfather of Punk," is an ageless rocker who recently reunited with his band The Stooges. Back on tour again, Iggy recently took a break from performing to chat with celebrity interviewer Chaunce Hayden for the February Penthouse interview. Penthouse reports that Mr. Pop is still quite explosive about subjects such as drugs, U2 lead singer Bono, New York City and so-called white music.

Some choice quotes from Iggy include: "People are starving in general, especially when you get to white music, which just increasingly sucks. U2 is a good band. There is a certain kind of reassuring white rock and some people do well with that."

On New York and its music scene: "I think the worse NY is doing, both socially and economically, the better the music. Unfortunately, it seems like NY is doing awfully well these days!" Iggy's sound bites don't stop there and this article is a must-read, even if you've never even heard of The Stooges!

Also in the February edition, T.A.T.U. lead singers Lena and Julia claim they're not lesbians in this month's Q&A, even though fans have reportedly seen them lock lips on more than one occasion. Canadian songstress Fefe Dobson, often compared to Gwen Stefani and mentored by Joan Jett, is profiled in the issue as well.

NYC Man Lou Reed Goes Overseas

Mercurial rocker Lou Reed will kick off a month long European tour with a performance at the 2006 Winter Olympics at the Piazza Castello in Turin, Italy. The tour will primarily remain in Italy with March stops in Slovenia, Serbia and the Czech Republic. Reed will be joined by longtime band members Fernando Saunders, Mike Rathke, Rob Wasserman and Tony "Thunder" Smith.

Prior to going overseas, Reed will play two warmup shows in his native New York. On February 11th, Reed will play the New York Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie. Two days later, Reed will take over the hip-hop club Crobar in New York City. The show will mark a return to Crobar for Reed, who played a one-off B-sides only gig there a couple years ago. For now, Reed's two New York shows look to be Reed's only Stateside appearances in the near future.

Wes Tucker & The Skillets: Beauty In The Broken

By: David Schultz

Needing nothing more than an acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter Wes Tucker has quickly built a following in the D.C. area with his soulful voice and finely crafted songs. Tradition, Tucker's 2004 solo release, places the singer in the quiet environs of the studio, primarily featuring his acoustic compositions. Critically well received, three of Tradition's tracks received finalist recognition at the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition. Resisting any temptation to rest on the laurels of his honored album, Tucker wasted no time in forming the Skillets with guitarist Bryan Washam and drummer Dave Rutkowski, who assisted Tucker on Tradition, and guitarist Arch Alcantara as a vehicle for his more upbeat songs.

More than just an ample backing band, The Skillets add a bluesy touch to Beauty In The Broken, giving deeper breadth to Tucker's musical range. The album covers a lot of ground, spanning different genres of music, but never strays far from its base, rootsy, countryish guitar-based rock and roll. The upbeat tracks on Beauty In The Broken provide the most enjoyable moments. The raucous guitars in the quasi-biblical "Casting Stones" and the swamp-tinged "Wasted Words" show the Skillets to be a capable band. "Road To Zion" contains some nifty Dave Matthews-like guitar and careful listeners will hear an occasional riff from the Jerry Garcia school of guitar amidst the mix. It's also why the garden-party background jazz guitar on "Into The Light" and "Around My Way," while catchy, fails to completely satisfy. Given what Tucker & The Skillets are clearly capable of doing, expecting more isn't unwarranted.

Musically, Tucker's slower pieces are not the strongest part of the album. However, they contain his more exceptional lyrics. Especially on "Costa Mesa" and "Bound To Rise," Tucker excels in expressing the feelings associated with finding what your heart truly desires and the burdens such knowledge can bring. Although the ballads slow down the album's pacing, they provide a nice showcase for Tucker's warm, voice with the closing ballads, "Intertwined" and "Nothing Less" comparing favorably to those of Ben Harper.

Listeners looking for something groundbreaking or revelatory might be disappointed with Beauty In The Broken. However, discerning listeners with appreciative ears will admire and relish the nuances of Tucker's thoughtful songwriting and the Skillets' skillful musicianship. Encouragingly, Tucker shows great growth on Beauty In The Broken, showing positive signs that he and the Skillets have a bright future ahead.

Josh Kornbluth

If you're in the Philadelphia area and in the mood for some comedy, check out Josh Kornbluth doing his comic monologue "Ben Franklin: Unplugged" at the Philadelphia Theater Company (through Jan. 21).

Lesh Still Loves New York

Healing all hurt feelings after scheduling quirks resulted in New York being left off the late 2005 tour schedule, Phil Lesh & Friends have scheduled a mid-February eight show run in the Big Apple. Dubbing the New York mini-residency "Hell, I Still Love You, New York" Lesh will play five shows at the Beacon Theater (February 10-12, 14-15) before moving down the road for three shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom (February 17-19).

Although Friends may vary, Lesh has most recently been accompanied by singer Joan Osbourne and the ephemeral Ryan Adams. If eight nights of Dead-influenced rock and roll isn't enough for you, former band mate Bob Weir and Ratdog will be making their own stop in New York, taking over the Beacon Theater for a three night run of their own, April 6-8).

Tickets for the Lesh &; Friends shows go on sale Friday morning at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release new record in March

The new album from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Show Your Bones" set to drop on March 28, 2006.

"'Show Your Bones' is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket," says singer Karen O. "Maybe there is some of that electric current flowing through the tracks of our album illuminating us from the inside out for you to laugh at and cry to or fry to. Or not."

Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner recorded the album with producer Squeak E Clean and mixed with Alan Moulder. The follow-up to 2003's "Fever To Tell," Chase says, "in the early stages the music was stretched wide and then tightened up."

"Fever To Tell" was certified Gold and nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. The band will announce tour dates to follow the cd release.

James Blount, Kaiser Chiefs and Coldplay lead Brit Award nods

The Brit Award nominees were announced today. James Blunt (Male Solo Artist, Album, Breakthrough Act, Single and Pop Act) and the Kaiser Chiefs (Group, Album, Rock Act, Breakthrough Act and Live Act) landed five nominations each. Coldplay followed up with four and KT Tunstall has three. The full list includes:

British Male Solo Artist:
Antony and the Johnsons • Ian Brown • James Blunt • Robbie Williams • Will Young

British Female Solo Artist:
Charlotte Church • Kate Bush • Katie Melua • KT Tunstall • Natasha Bedingfield

British Group:
Coldplay • Franz Ferdinand • Gorillaz • Hard-Fi • Kaiser Chiefs

British Breakthrough Act:
Arctic Monkeys • James Blunt • Kaiser Chiefs • KT Tunstall • The Magic Numbers

Some American's and other "non-Brits" got nods in the International categories:

International Male Solo Artist:
Beck • Bruce Springsteen • Jack Johnson • John Legend • Kanye West

International Group:
Arcade Fire • Black Eyed Peas • Green Day • U2 • White Stripes

International Breakthrough Act:
Arcade Fire • Daniel Powter • Jack Johnson • John Legend • Pussycat Dolls

Alt rock icon Paul Weller is being honored with an "Outstanding Contribution to Music" award when the show airs on February 15th.

Jon Bon Jovi: Just Say No

NewIndPress.com is "reporting" that Jon Bon Jovi does not take drugs - but drinks plenty of wine - because he's afraid it'll interfere with his sex life.

Apparently the steel horse rider doesn't want anything to get in the way with his ability to "get it on" with his woman.

Who says Jon gives love a bad name?

North Mississippi Allstars Tour

The North Mississippi Allstars kick off their winter tour tonight at West Hollywood's House of Blues.

The Allstars will then head south for the remainder of the tour, making a February 3rd through the 6th detour to play international waters as part of the Dave Matthews and Friends Caribbean Cruise Getaway.

The Cruise features the NMAs, Ozomatli, Mofro, Bob Weir and RatDog, G. Love, Toots and the Mayhals, Soulive, Mike Doughty's Band, Micheal Tolcher, DJ Logic, ALO, John Brown's Body, Motion Potion, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Brett Dennen.

Music Blog Network Reaches 1,000,000 a week

The Music Blog Network, launched in June 2005, has grown from nine sites to 25 and is poised for further growth in 2006. Initially, the network reached 1,000,000 page views per month. Now, the expanded network boasts 1,000,000 page views per week. The network allows entertainment marketers to quickly target the blogs' influential music fans and does so at a fraction of the cost charged by traditional media outlets.

As noted at the time of initial launch by DigitalMusicNews.com, music blogs "have become increasingly important arbiters of taste, with the savvy tastemakers speaking to incredibly targeted groups of listeners." Tapping into the bloggers' interconnected audience, early advertisers on network sites included Touchstone Films, Random House Publishing, Sony Pictures, Lions' Gate Films and TBS.

Since then, Lexus, VH1, MSNBC, Three Thieves Winery, and Sirius Satellite Radio have utilized the network in recent months. CBS has an ad campaign set to launch this week on Music Blog Network sites for its new series "Love Monkey" - a comedy about a record label executive.

Independent record labels have been particularly active with music blog ad buys. New West Records bought ads on network sites to promote the release of Johnny Cash "Live from Austin Texas" this fall. While, Matador Records is particularly innovative in its current campaign, where the ad has been rotating to promote different releases in different weeks during a month long run on network sites. The ability to modify an ad in mid-run is a particular useful benefit that advertisers do not have with traditional media ad buys.

Jeff Davidson, the network's organizer and publisher of Earvolution.com states: "we have grown by carefully choosing the best independent voices the web has to offer and will continue to follow a smart growth policy by selectively adding new members."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Music videos on your cellphone

Want to be the coolest kid on the playground? MobiTV and Universal have announced the latest effort to get you to part with your allowance: music videos for cell phones.

Universal Music Group and MobiTV today announced the immediate availability of more than 1100 music videos from the Universal Music Group and four new mobile music television channels available on the MobiTV(R) Service. The MobiTV branded music channels will showcase full-length music videos from more than 375 Universal Music Group hip hop, pop, alternative, rap, rock and metal artists, including 50 Cent, Beck, No Doubt and U2.

"Bands get frustrated when their music videos only get seen on the lunar eclipse," emphatically stated Lifehouse lead singer, Jason Wade. "To have our Lifehouse videos on millions of cell phones, our fans will be happy!"

Millions downloading Lifehouse videos? hmmmm. I'd be looking for that lunar eclipse before I'd expect that to happen.

Heineken follows Howard Stern to Sirius

Heineken USA today announced that it will be the first beer advertiser on the new Howard Stern Show, which debuted on SIRIUS Satellite Radio yesterday morning.

"Heineken is pleased to continue its more than 11-year affiliation with Howard Stern and his show. Howard's show has always been an incredibly effective ad vehicle to help our Brand reach its core consumers in a relevant and engaging way," said Mr. Glaser. "We also are delighted to be the first beer advertiser to support Howard in his move to SIRIUS. We are confident Howard will attract an even wider and larger audience on satellite radio in the months ahead."

High School Reunion - A Tribute To Those Great 80s Films

By: David Schultz

High School Reunion clearly has ambitions. Targeting the mid-30's demographic that will have the fondest memories for the syrupy John Hughes movies of the 80s, this compilation attempts to introduce them to new artists playing songs that may possess some grudgingly sentimental value. Some of these songs are inextricably intertwined with the scenes they accompanied. The thought of Jennifer Jason Leigh losing her virginity in a baseball dugout should bring Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" to mind. When Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" plays, who doesn't imagine Lloyd Dobler, boom box high overhead? Heterosexual males surely smile with salacious delight upon hearing the opening strains of The Cars' "Moving In Stereo." Playing on the goodwill already established by the songs and their strong connection to some well-known films, High School Reunion deftly avoids becoming a kitschy collection and generally succeeds. The uninspired tracks simply reproduce the original while the exceptional covers creatively interpret and joyously reinvent some fairly evocative 80s tunes.

On this collection, the breakout songs come from those artists who used the original song as a framework, adapting the song to suit their style. AM replaces Jim Kerr's suave restrained yearning from The Breakfast Club anthem "Don’t You Forget About Me" with an intense growl, turning the song from a plea of remembrance into a near hysterical order. Lori McKenna goes in the opposite direction, scaling back the lush melodies from "In Your Eyes" creating a smoky, smoldering torch song out of the Gabriel classic. The Bastards of Melody take the same approach with The Replacements' "Within Your Reach," offering a more sedate, contemplative version of the song.

High School Reunion doesn't play everything completely straight. The Bennies' wild version of "Weird Science" and The Dresden Dolls' piano and drums working of "Pretty In Pink" provide a chuckle. Although they could have opted to vamp up The Vapors' wanking classic "Turning Japanese," even further, The Blank Pages instead replaced the slick 80s sound with rousing guitars, creating a fun indie-sounding anthem. The Caulfield Sisters remove Morrissey's whine from "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" and replace it with an acoustic guitar and banjo. In the hands of The Wading Girl, "Danke Schoen" loses the cute Ferris Bueller charm, becoming a boisterous, rollicking rave-up.

While far from unlistenable, Blake Babies' John Strohm's "Somebody’s Baby" and Matthew Sweet's cover of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "American Girl" fail to offer anything new. Similarly, the Dipsomaniacs' version of the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" pales in comparison to the Goo Goo Dolls' 1991 cover.

Fans with fond memories for the soundtracks of teen classics like Pretty In Pink, Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Sixteen Candles won't be disappointed by High School Reunion. While basking in the nostalgia of their youth, listeners can also open their ears to some fresh new talent that might otherwise have escaped their attention. But then again, this convergence of emerging artists, iconographic music and benchmark film might have another explanation. As ubiquitous 80s actor Tracey Walter explained to 80s icon Emilio Estevez in Repo Man (who’s title track is covered here by Frank Black), perhaps "[t]here's this lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything . . . show you what I mean: suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly someone will say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate of shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness." Maybe this album has always been in our collective subconscious. Then again, maybe this review just needed to be concluded with a cool quote.

Monday, January 09, 2006

VH1 to honor rock legends Rush

VH1 Classic will air the television premiere of "Rush R-30," a DVD concert performance from the band's 30th Anniversary Tour. The concert will air as part of VH1 Classic's salute to Rush the weekend of Friday, January 13.

The "Rush R-30" concert was filmed at the Festhalle in Frankfurt, Germany on September 24, 2004. The "Rush R-30" two-DVD package was released November 22, 2005 by Zoe Vision/Rounder Records.

The concert's 22-song set list in the concert spans Rush's stellar 30-year career, representing 17 of the band's 18 studio albums. Performances include "Hemispheres," "The Spirit of Radio," "Anthem," "Tom Sawyer," "Subdivisions," "Earthshine," "2112," "Limelight," plus tracks from the band's 2004 covers EP Feedback including "Summertime Blues" and "Crossroads."

The Strokes: First Impressions Of Earth

By: David Schultz

In 2001, The Strokes unleashed the much-hyped Is This It, solidifying their position as the poster boys of the hipster-cool New York scene. Although their debut album lived up to the hype, the same couldn't be said for their dreary 2003 follow-up, Room On Fire. With the first high-profile release of the New Year, the Strokes kick off 2006 with the more polished, more mature First Impressions Of Earth. The Strokes haven't abandoned the stripped down sound that earned them acclaim. Rather, they've finely honed it. Instead of channeling Tom Verlaine or the Velvet Underground's gritty New York sound, the Strokes, with their signature staccato guitars and straightforward but powerful drums, are developing their own.

On the whole, First Impressions has a cleaner, fresher sound than their two prior releases. With David Kahne replacing longtime producer Gordon Raphael, lead singer Julian Casblancas no longer sounds like he's singing in a different room, trying to be heard above the noise. For this outing, Casablancas now appears to have been invited into the same room as the rest of the band and given a better microphone. Although given room to belt out some of his trademark howls, Casablancas tones it down, showing some vocal versatility. Guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi and bassist Nikolai Fraiture keep things simple but forceful. The relatively modest song lengths give their in-your-face riffs a stark, hit-and-run feel. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti invaluably keeps the whole thing grounded and it would be hard to imagine the Strokes getting the same feel with a different drummer.

Emblematic of First Impressions, the lead single "Juicebox" epitomizes the band's growth. Containing the expected growling guitars behind Casablancas' strong vocals, there is a crispness to the track that's been missing from their prior releases. With its sparse opening evolving into a rumbling mix of guitars, "Evening Sun" captures the band stylishly pulling out their Velvet Underground tricks. The band experiments with some new sounds, incorporating Valensi's Mellotron into "Ask Me Anything" and bafflingly integrating a chorus right out of Barry Manilow's "Mandy" into the otherwise hip "Razorblade." First Impressions opens briskly, with "You Only Live Once," gallops along nicely through "Heart In A Cage" (providing a nice couplet with "Juicebox"), drifts into a U2 worthy climax on "Fear Of Sleep" before closing with the jaunty, upbeat "Red Light." Even the uninspired, formulaic songs like "On The Other Side," "15 Minutes" and "Killing Lies" possess a nice sharp beat and hardly detract from the overall album.

Since their debut, The Strokes have been a polarizing force amongst music fans. Be it a dispute over whether Casablancas and Hammond's silver-spoon upbringing rob the band of ever possessing street credibility or whether the band deserved the hype lavished upon them in their infancy, The Strokes have always provoked animated discussion. Their tertiary effort won't serve to answer any of the questions, save one that has dogged throughout their short career, will they last? Reigning in their less defined impulses on First Impressions, the Strokes demonstrate a maturity and control demonstrating that they will not only last, but should be unveiling creative, intelligent and edgy music for many years to come.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

XM Radio introduces its "iPod" killer

The big news in satellite radio - and really all of radio - is Howard Stern's debut tomorrow on Sirius. But, XM Radio - the other player in that medium - is making its own moves and waves to try to change the media landscape.

Howard Stern consistently touts how his move to Sirius will change the face of radio. Stern's move may have some impact, but the biggest thing to change radio has been the iPod. Since its arrival on the scene, the iPod has been the answer to corporate radio's stale playlists. Consumers have become their own DJs and radio now seems to have far less radio and far more talk shows.

Adam Corolla, who is one of the folks, along with David Lee Roth, who's show now fills Stern's time slot on "regular radio" said it best when he quipped that "If you want to hear music, get an iPod. If you want to hear talk, get a radio." Of course, both satellite channels are pleasing music fans with great music selections and old fashioned DJs who play music twenty-four hours a day.

The reality of music disappearing from "free radio" will make it harder for that medium to serve the younger and lucrative advertising demographics who are music happy and iPod savvy. Now, XM wants to take things a step further connecting the iPod generation with satellite radio.

To make this connection, XM has introduced what has been dubbed an "iPod" killer, which is a portable compact radio that also stores and plays MP3s. And, with a deal with Napster you can now buy the songs you hear on XM and download them to your new system. Its a nice combination that could catch on.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fall Out Boy Tour Dates

Chicago rockers Fall Out Boy have released new tour date information. The band will spend the early part of 2006 in Europe - where a few of the dates are already sold out - and then swing back through the U.S.

On the U.S. leg, the band will be joined by the All-American Rejects & Hawthorne Heights.

Sonic Youth in Studio for 2006 release

Sonic Youth has been holed up Sear Sound Studio working on their new record that is set to be released this year. Sear Sound is the same spot the band recorded early efforts like "Sister" and "Experimental Jet Set."

Their website reports that songs recorded in the first days of the sessions linclude "Pink Steam," "Do You Believe in Rapture?," "Or" and "Sleepin Around." No exact release date has been set, but the band fully expects it to happen in 2006.

iPod bad for the ears?

Are we hurting ourselves by pumping up the volume on our iPods? Rock legend Pete Townsend thinks so. The Who guitartist knows a bit about ear damage. But, all those amplifiers rock bands use aren't the main problem says Pete.

Townsend credits his hearing problems to studio headphones and thinks iPod users might not be in as much trouble as he now finds himself. But he issues words of caution noting that hearing damage cannot be repaired. Townsend recommends taking long breaks between listening sessions.

Its a warning that somehow I think will largely go unheard.

Imogen Heap: Speak for Yourself

by Adam Carroll.

Imogen Heap's sophomore solo effort, Speak for Yourself, delivers twelve tracks that could easily fit any director's soundtrack agenda. Following the success of Frou Frou's "Details," a collaboration with producer Guy Sigsworth (Madonna, Britney Spears), her latest smorgasbord of sound was released on her own independent record label Megaphonic. "I loved working with Guy," Heap stated in a June 2005 interview, but conveyed her readiness to finally receive full credit for her now distinctive sound and completely display her musical abilities.

Since the use of "Let Go" for the closing moments and climax of Zach Braff's indie film hit Garden State, all eyes have finally turned to Imogen Heap. Imogen's ability to mix fast-paced songs and light hearted pieces on her latest CD is a winning combination.

"Headlock" and "Goodnight and Go" follow this pattern and allow the listeners to safely buckle their seatbelts for the rest of her musical adventure. Her dulcet harmonies could strike a chord of peace and incubus in a serial killer's untamed rage. The first single of Speak for Yourself, "Hide and Seek," featuring layers of Heap's voice engulfed by a synthesized effect, helped propel the popularity of the second season finale of the O.C.

Speak for Yourself also provides tracks like "Have You Got It In You?" and "Just for Now" that boast the strength and appeal of Imogen's vocals. Although this album is an experimental creation in itself, "Daylight Robbery" stands out as the most experimental of all with distorted guitars and an endless list of electrical sounds. It also proves to be a piece that is not easy to listen to, because of its obscure structure. "Loose Ends" on the other hand is seemingly generic and sounds more like something out of a Jem album. It is arguably the only weak song in this 2005 release.

"The Walk" and "I Am In Love With You" are lyrical, love webs that, although personal, are easily accessible. The closing piece, "The Moment I Said It," is a slow, piano driven song that completes Speak for Yourself. All in all, Heap's first independent, full length album is full of addicting tracks that tease and tempt the listener to play her songs over and over. She's a created a true gem with beautiful sounds and has the ability to enhance anyone's state of mind.

Her exquisite voice can be most recently enjoyed during the closing credits of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "Can't Take It In," a piece specifically made for the film, showcases the voice and music that seems to be able to sprinkle the final touch that captivates an audience. The result of such success is now a long line of eager industry professionals and an accumulating legion of fans.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


by Rob Dunne

With his latest film, Spielberg has crafted a brilliant piece of work which this writer believes is a profound meditation on the impact of terrorism on humanity.

The Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics is the springboard for the story which follows. The basic narrative is a cat and mouse thriller in which an ultra-covert group of Israeli assassins is on a mission to systematically hunt down and kill 11 Palestinians connected with the Munich killings.

The suspense during the assassination set pieces is masterfully handled and the pacing is perfect as the story evolves and expands. Eric Bana plays the leader of the Israeli group and he is the main focus of the story. Bana's performance is amazing. He enters the mission driven by blind loyalty to a cause. However, his actions come with severe emotional and psychological consequences. He slowly becomes paranoid and morally bankrupt, no different than the terrorists he claims to despise.

Spielberg challenges his audience like never before. Along with wide critical acclaim for the film, Spielberg has received much criticism from both "sides" of the argument - he has been accused of being both a blatant Zionist and anti-Semitic in his portrayal of the conflict. This really goes to the heart of the matter. Spielberg is asking a fundamental question: is either side in the moral right when both sides are killing people?

The most immediate and obvious argument is that Israel is just reacting to the Palestinian attack. However, Spielberg pushes us to examine the issue on a much deeper level. He wants us to consider what it might be like to actually take a human life. Can any territorial "cause" be truly worth the life of a human being?

In the end, Spielberg does not present any definitive answers. Instead, he leaves us with an image that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways - offensive; poetic; ambiguous; compelling. One thing is certain, it will make you think. Ultimately, that seems to be Spielberg's objective. He wants us to reflect on the value of human life. Spielberg has called Munich his "prayer for peace". I, for one, say Amen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ashes To Ashes: Assembly of Dust

By: David Schultz

Very few environmental scientists possessing an M.B.A. from Cornell get to have their name chanted in unison by adoring fans. Yet, this past Thursday night after the Assembly of Dust concluded their set at New York's Irving Plaza such an event did so occur. Responding to the exuberant and reverent chanting of his name, Dust's most recognizable face, Reid Genauer, returned to the stage, guitar in hand, kicking off the encore with an acoustic version of "Sideways Train." Genauer's remarkable academic resume notwithstanding, the crowd's adulation for him arises more from an appreciation of his skills as a singer-songwriter than from his proficiency with his guitar. With a poetry and optimism missing from many songs today, Genauer and occasional collaborator Nate Wilson tell simple, rural stories involving recognizable characters that show a skillful mastery of old-school Dylanesque songwriting.

After spending close to a decade with the Vermont-based Strangefolk, Genauer left his former mates to pursue his graduate studies. Unable to keep away from the stage, Genauer ultimately formed the Assembly Of Dust as an outlet for his new songs and to the consternation of some old fans, for old Strangefolk tunes. Maintaining a calm presence on stage, Genauer delivers his songs with a relatively conversational singing style. Not until he dives into the chorus does Genauer's deceptively strong voice reveal itself. Genauer's well-designed choruses, whether it be from Assembly of Dust originals like "Amplified Messiah" or Strangefolk favorites like "Valhalla" and "Roads" inspire rousing sing-alongs from the crowd.

When the band steps away from the mikes, good things result as Genauer's songs provide a wonderful framework for the band to show off their improvisational skills. AOD will extend the songs in concert but, save for the show closing "Westerly," opts against stretching them to extraordinary lengths. With Genauer playing rhythm guitar, the onus of lead guitar sits upon the shoulders of Adam Terrell. Where other guitarists might pull the band into trippy, exploratory territory, Terrell surgically punctuates each song with crisp solos, adding to the mix rather than taking it in a different direction. On the other side of the stage, Nate Wilson patiently provided solid keyboards, awaiting the opening provided by "Speculator" to provide a wonderful Hammond organ solo that had the crowd swaying to and fro. Bassist John Leccese and drummer Andy Herrick provided a firm backbone, providing support rather than solos.

Significant for those who take note of their fellow concert-goers, Assembly of Dust's laid back sound attracts a good number of female fans, who unlike some that you might see at a Dave Matthews Band show, truly dig the band. Prior to Dust assembling on stage, the Hackensaw Boys provided an hour long set of bluegrass and traditional acoustic music, quickly spreading their contagious enthusiasm throughout the crowd. Early arriving fans received a treat with the hellaciously sexy Grace Potter leading the Nocturnals through a short but remarkable set capped off with an organ-heavy rendition of "Nothing But The Water."

Following in the footsteps of other notable musicians that have passed through the Burlington, Vermont area, Genauer and the Assembly of Dust excel on stage. The troupe from Instant Live have been following the band through their December shows, including their second annual two night New Year's run at Boston's Paradise Rock Club. Putting his M.B.A. to fine use, Genauer craftily closed the year by creating a slew of albums capturing the band in their element.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Best Independent CDs of 2005

E-Music conducted both a writers poll and a users poll to compile the best independent discs released in 2005.

The writers poll had Konono on top:

01 Konono No. 1, Congotronics (Crammed Discs)
02 Antony & The Johnsons, I Am A Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)
03 Animal Collective, Feels (Fact Cat Records)
04 Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)
05 Hold Steady, Separation Sunday (French Kiss Records)
06 Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree (4AD)
07 Annie, Anniemal (Big Beat)
08 Various Artists, Run the Road (Vice Records)
09 Slits, Cut (KOCH Records)
10 Bettye LaVette, I've Got My Own Hell to Raise (Anti Records)
11 Spoon, Gimme Fiction (Merge Records)
12 New Pornographers, Twin Cinema (Matador Records)
13 Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Fierce Panda)
14 Bobby Bare, The Moon Was Blue (Dualtone)
15 Danger Doom, The Mouse & The Mask (Epitaph)
16 Bloc Party, Silent Alarm (Vice Records)
17 Supersystem, Always Never Again (Touch & Go Records)
18 James Blood Ulmer, Birthright (Hyena Records)
19 Decemberists, Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
20 Go-Betweens, Oceans Apart (Yep Roc Records)
21 Eels, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (Vagrant Records)
22 John Doe, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (Yep Roc Records)
23 Deerhoof, The Runners Four (5 Rue Christine)
24 Washington Phillips, Key to the Kingdom (Yazoo-Shanachie Records)
25 Clientele, Strange Geometry (Merge Records)
26 Gang Gang Dance, God's Money (Social Registry)
27 Of Montreal, Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl Record Co.)
28 Blackalicious, The Craft (Anti Records)
29 Albert Ammons, Hey Piano Man (JSP Records)
30 Gogol Bordello, Gypsy Punks (Side One Dummy)
31 Lyrics Born, Same!@#$ Different Day (Quannum Projects)
32 Nortec Collective, Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3 (Nacional Records)
33 The National, Alligator (Beggars Banquet)
34 Black Mountain, Black Mountain (Jagjaguwar)
35 Iron & Wine/Calexico, In the Reins (Overcoat Recordings)
36 Yo La Tengo, Prisoners of Love (Matador)
37 Cocorosie, Noah's Ark (Touch & Go Records)
38 Isaac Hayes, Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? (Fantasy/Stax)
39 So Percussion, Steve Reich: Drumming (Cantaloupe Music)
40 Vasti Bunyan, Lookaftering (Dicristina)
41 Serge Gainsbourg, Love And The Beat Vol. 1: Love Gainsbourg's Way
(Sunnyside Records)
42 Ladytron, The Witching Hour (Rykodisc)
43 Dave Douglas, Mountain Passages (KOCH Records)
44 Attileo Mineo, Man in Space with Sounds (Subliminal Sounds)
45 Various Artists, Sun Spots: The Story of Sun Records (Sun Records)
46 Blueprint, 1988 (Rhymesayers)
47 Dr. Dog, Easy Beat (National Parking)
48 Horace Andy, Dance Hall Style (Wackies)
49 Various Artists, Thai Beat A Go-Go 2 (Subliminal Sounds)
50 Fieldwork, Simulated Progress (Pi Recordings)

Sufjan Stevens topped the readers poll:

01 Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)
02 New Pornographers, Twin Cinema (Matador Records)
03 Decemberists, Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
04 Spoon, Gimme Fiction (Merge Records)
05 Bloc Party, Silent Alarm (Vice Records)
06 Antony & The Johnsons, I Am A Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)
07 Hold Steady, Separation Sunday (French Kiss Records)
08 The National, Alligator (Beggars Banquet)
09 Josh Rouse, Nashville (Rykodisc)
10 Danger Doom, The Mouse & The Mask (Epitaph)
11 Great Lake Swimmers, Great Lake Swimmers (Misra Records)
12 Lemon Jelly, '64 - '95 (XL Recordings)
13 Echo and the Bunnymen, Siberia (Cooking Vinyl)
14 Sun Kil Moon, Tiny Cities (Caldo Verde Records)
15 Ladytron, The Witching Hour (Rykodisc)
16 Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Fierce Panda)
17 Matisyahu, Live at Stubbs (Or Music)
18 Iron & Wine/Calexico, In the Reins (Overcoat Recordings)
19 The Pernice Brothers, Discover a Lovelier You (Ashmont Records)
20 The Frames, Burn the Maps (Anti Records)

Sony settles security suit due to flawed DRM

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined in a preliminary settlement agreement with Sony BMG last week to settle several class action lawsuits filed due to Sony's use of flawed and overreaching computer program in millions of music CDs sold to the public. The proposed terms of settlement have been presented to the court for preliminary approval and will likely be considered in a hearing set for January 6, 2005 in federal court in New York City.

"The proposed settlement will provide significant benefits for consumers who bought the flawed CDs," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Under the terms, those consumers will get what they thought they were buying--music that will play on their computers without restriction or security risk. EFF is continuing discussions with Sony BMG, however, and believes that there is more they can do to protect music lovers in the future."

"Sony agreed to stop production of these flawed and ineffective DRM technologies," noted EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "We hope that other record labels will learn from Sony's hard experience and focus more on the carrot of quality music and less on the stick of copy protection."

The flawed cds were recalled in November of 2005 and included Trey Anastasio's Shine, Switchfoot's Nothing is Sound, Neil Diamond's 12 Songs, Cyndi Lauper's The Body Acoustic, Frank Sinatra's The Great American Songbook, Montgomery Gentry's Best of 1999-2005 and Our Lady Peace's Healthy in Paranoid Times.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!