Friday, June 30, 2006

All That Remains: The Fall Of Ideals

By Rinjo Njori

Western Massachusetts has become a hotbed for heavy metal with Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage becoming major players in the modern metal music scene in the last five years. All That Remains are set to join them in making their mark on the national scene.

The Fall of Ideals, their latest album from Prosthetic Records, builds on 2004's This Darkened Heart. Most of This Darkened Heart was grind heavy and technically based, with hints of melody. The worst that could be said about it is that it might have been a bit heavy handed and rushed. Several tracks even included the all to familiar growl/ sing paradigm, which pretty much every band adopted in 2004. One review even compared Phil Labonte's singing to Journey's Steve Perry. Not very metal, but not that far off.

The Fall of Ideals, at just under 40 minutes, churns out eleven tracks of relentless metal. On "Six" the hardcore riffs and rolling guitars blend beautifully with the breakdowns. Martin and Herbert's guitar work is loose and the riffs bite. This is perhaps the only time on the album where they get a chance to kickback.

"The Air I Breathe" ideally should be the first single in place of the weaker "This Calling." Stylistically it captures all of All That Remains' strengths. "The Weak Willed" comes off as the most brutal song on The Fall of Ideals. The song brings to mind grindcore legends Brutal Truth and Napalm Death.

Musically, Oli Herbert and Mike Martin drive this entire album. Switching effortlessly technical riffs to the more simplistic breakdowns. The solo on "This Calling" is the highlight of the song and the intro on "We Stand" recalls Painkiller-era Priest. Shannon Lucas and Jeanne Sagan form and admirable rhythm section. Lucas's drumming on "We Stand" effortlessly keeps the riffs in time, while taking a back seat during the solo.

The Fall of Ideals themes seem to focus on two areas; the devastating loss of love and inner strength. The "love" songs are brutal with Labonte using horrific imagery to describe how hollow the loss has left him. Often referring to "scars" and "wounds" as if the experience has somehow gutted him. "Empty Inside" is the only song on the album that "gives love a chance." Inner strength also runs deeply through the album. Most of the lyrics come off as extremely mature straight edge anthems and are reminiscent of Inside Out. Similarly, the message All That Remains conveys is not preachy - instead focusing on self reliance and strength of mind. Only the closing song "Indictment" seems to be "off message." A "not-so" veiled jab at extreme religions and their hypocrisy, the song doesn't fit on this record.

All that Remains' Labonte most likely didn't read the review that compared him to Journey's front man. Bit. his singing has changed dramatically. Instead of Steve Perry comparison's Labonte's singing falls more in line with Queensryche's Geoff Tate. On This Darkened Heart the singing seemed force and out of place. Now, the singing parts on The Fall of Ideals are more organic and unpredictable. This gives the songs a more "agro feel." Still the listener might wonder how Labonte effortlessly switches between growl and melody. Other bands who employ this style usually have two vocalists. You can only imagine how raw these transitions are live, but somehow one might imagine they are even better.

With The Fall of Ideals, All That Remains has taken their music to the next level. While they are firmly entrenched in the metal genre, they effectively fuse classic metal, grindcore and hardcore allowing them to keep the music fresh and extremely engaging.

Axl Rose Lends Underdog a Hand: Shakerleg Opens For Guns N' Roses

By: David Schultz
Photos from by Alzo Slade

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Any Catskills comedian worth his salt will immediately tell you, "practice, practice, practice." Ask that same comedian how you get to the Hammerstein Ballroom to open for the newly revamped Guns N' Roses and you'll probably get a non-sequitur response involving Henny Youngman, the neighbor's wife and a nice piece of kugel. For street performer Shakerleg, also known as Mark Nicosia, all it took to open for Guns N' Roses was being in the right place at the right time; oh yes, and having the balls to demand to be there.

New Yorkers present at the Hammerstein Ballroom for Guns N' Roses' first run of shows in years may have recognized Shakerleg from his years as a street performer in New York City. Employing a style that attracted the attention of Modern Drummer magazine and, Shakerleg plays without drum sticks, beating on a modified drum kit with his hands. With his right leg adorned with shakers – hence, the Shakerleg moniker – and his left leg also banging out the beat, the innovative drummer has made himself a fixture at the Union Square Subway Station for close to five years.

Just recently, Shakerleg experimented with playing aboveground, finding a new niche: 59th Street and Columbus Circle, right next to the Trump International Hotel& Tower. In setting up shop on the well-traversed thoroughfare, Shakerleg played to his surroundings. A bit less sycophantic than a contestant on The Apprentice, Shakerleg drew an audience while dedicating songs to the multimillionaire, loudly proclaiming, "This one's for you Trump!"

One weekend, while Shakerleg was doing his thing on the Circle, he's interrupted by a lady dressed in sweats. "I was wondering," she asked calmly. "I have a client upstairs in the Trump Building who is in town and he's got a very important function and he needs to sleep." Seeing where this conversation is leading, Shakerleg quickly cuts her off. "I'm not stopping for anyone in that fuckin' building. They can kiss my ass."

"I'd be willing to pay you," she offered. "He really needs to rest."

"You think you can just pay me off? Fuck that!" replied an incensed Shakerleg. "I gotta make a living and no way in hell are you gonna match what I make out here!"

"I'm trying to be nice," said the woman. Coming clean about her client, she reveals "It's actually Axl Rose."

"I don't give a fuck if it's Jesus," the drummer retorted. "I don't give a shit about Axl. Do I know him? Has he done anything for me?" The rant continued. "Nobody asks those dancers over there to move, so I'm not going anywhere. I could make a nice haul out here in a few hours."

"So if I went to the ATM would you leave," the woman countered.

"You're kidding, right?" he blurted back. "Yeah! If you came back with the money I'd make playing here, I'd leave. But this is the most sellout thing I could ever do. I'm the only person in the world playing like this and I got Axl Fucking Rose up there trying to get me to stop."

"Do you even see what I'm doing," Shakerleg asked.

"Yes, we've heard you for the past few days," she deadpanned.

"And no one hooks me up," Nicosia continued. "What you need to do is get my card to Mr. Axl Rose and tell him that he needs to see what I do."

The woman turned and went back into the hotel, leaving Shakerleg on the sidewalk with the group of bystanders that had gathered during the argument. When she didn't return, Shakerleg resumed playing. After ten minutes, she returned, money in hand, accompanied by a short, unassuming gentleman.

"Sorry, but it's my job to see to it that he's happy and can rest," she apologized.

Dejected, Shakerleg took the money; but he wasn't done. "See what you've done. You've taken me away from my audience that I could've entertained; people that thank me for what I'm doing. The only way to make this right is to put my ass on stage and I'll open a show for him. I mean it. You guys should put me onstage in front of his crowd to make up for this crowd here."

Calming down, Shakerleg introduced himself to the brother and sister who act as Axl's managers. He explained his frustration over the fact that no one will take a chance on what he's doing and that they should take his message to Axl. They asked for a copy of his CD. Seeing that they had already given him some cash, Shakerleg didn't think a free CD was too much to ask for. He threw in a DVD press kit as well.

Ten minutes later, the brother comes back. "Dude, you're not picking up your phone," he said.

"My bad, the phone was in my bag. What's up?"

"Well, what are you doing tomorrow," the manager asks.

Without expression or emotion, Shakerleg gave him the answer, "I'm opening for Axl Rose."

"Yes you are," he replied.

An hour later, Shakerleg received a call from Rick Fagan, Guns N' Roses tour manager.

The next day? Well, see for yourself.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mo' and Less moe.

moe. giveth and moe. taketh away.

At their June 13 concert at Central Park's Summerstage, the upstate New York band informed the crowd that they will return to New York City for a New Year's Eve concert at Radio City Music Hall. Right on the heels of that announcement, moe. confirmed that they will not be continuing their tradition of post-Thanksgiving New York concerts that they began in 2002. Instead of The Big Apple, moe. will move their two night run to The Windy City, playing the Chicago Theater in Chicago, IL on November 24 and November 25.

The band has also announced additions to their highly anticipated "moe. down" jam in September. Joining the festival are Mike Gordon and Ramble Dove, Page McConnell with Jon Fishman, Adam Zimmon, Bob O'Dea and Jared Slomoff Banyan featuring Stephen Perkins. Acts already slated include Umphrey's Mcgee, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and U-Melt.

If you can't wait until then, and you live or will be in the Hollywood area you can moe-sy on over to the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard [where editor JD has spent a few fun nights in the past] to catch all or part of their four night run from July 25-28th.

Ken Tizzard: "Quiet Storey introduction"

I first met Ken Tizzard back in 1999 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantic City, New Jersey when a band I was promoting had the good fortune to open for The Watchmen. The Watchmen were a terrific band out of Canada signed to a big label, but never got much marketing help here in the U.S. The band eventually disbanded and Tizzard joined Ian Thornley's band for their debut record.

On tour with Thornley, Ken was cool enough to hook me up with my first real "backstage" interview back in June 2004 when he invited me to talk on the band's tour bus at the Rolling Rock Town Fair in Philadelphia where they played with Sevendust, Finch, Finger Eleven and Three Days Grace.

These days, Ken is entering new territory again. He's released his first solo record and it is a dramatic departure from anything he's done before. He'll hit even newer territory this weekend at the Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford, Ontario when he'll perform selections from "Quiet Storey introduction" with a full orchestra. He'll be performing alongside other internationally renowned artists like Nancy Hermiston, Donna Bennett, Michael Burgess, Viginia Hatfield, Kim Dafoe and Brian Finley.

For details on the show visit the festival's site and be sure to check out Ken's site for song samples and more info on his new project.

Wyden Places "Hold" on Net Neutrality Bill

Senator Ron Wyden announced yesterday that he placed a "hold" on the telecommunciations legislation just passed by the Commerce Committee until clear language is included in the legislation that prevents discrimination in Internet access. According to the Senate's official site, a hold is:

"An informal practice by which a Senator informs his or her floor leader that he or she does not wish a particular bill or other measure to reach the floor for consideration. The Majority Leader need not follow the Senator's wishes, but is on notice that the opposing Senator may filibuster any motion to proceed to consider the measure."

Wyden sent an email to supporters explaining the importance of not giving too much control over the internet to large telecom companies and included this excerpt from his statement:

Mr. [Senate] President, the major telecommunications legislation reported today by the Senate Commerce Committee is badly flawed. The bill makes a number of major changes in the country's telecommunications law but there is one provision that is nothing more than a license to discriminate. Without a clear policy preserving the neutrality of the Internet and without tough sanctions against those who would discriminate, the Internet will be forever changed for the worse.

This one provision threatens to divide the Internet into technology "haves" and "have nots." This one provision concentrates even more power in the hands of the special interests that own the pipelines to the Internet. This one provision codifies discrimination on the Internet by a handful of large telecommunications and cable providers. This one provision will allow large, special interests to saddle consumers and small businesses alike with new and discriminatory fees over and above what they already pay for Internet access. This one small provision is akin to hurling a giant wrecking ball at the Internet.

The inclusion of this provision compels me to state that I would object to a unanimous consent request to the Senate proceeding with this legislation until a provision that provides true Internet neutrality is included. . . .

The large interests have made it clear that if this bill moves forward, they will begin to discriminate. A Verizon Communications executive has called for an "end to Google's 'free lunch.'" A Bell South executive has said that he wants the Internet to be turned into a "pay-for-performance marketplace." What they and other cable and phone company executives are proposing is that instead of providing equal access for everyone to the same content at the same price, they will set up sweetheart arrangements to play favorites. Without net neutrality protections, this bill is bad news for consumers and anyone who today enjoys unlimited access to all of the Net's applications, service and content."

Hopefully the people will win out on this one as big companies have run the Senate and Congress for too long.

JD & The Straight Shot

No, not the JD from Earvolution. But, this JD is just as cool...JD & the Straight Shot will be on tour this summer in support of their new record Nothing to Hide and will do some dates with the legendary Joe Walsh and his James Gang.

Jim Dolan has been playing music since he was 15 and three years ago he formed The Straight Shot with guitarist and chief songwriter, Bruce Koplow; bassist, Roscoe Harring; drummer, Wally Usiatynski and keyboardist, Jonny Rosch.

JD's people tell us that the album takes its name from a line in the song "Slow Motion In Reverse," a shuffling blues track set in a neighborhood dive bar. Dolan says the line sums up not only the record, but his philosphy for living: "My choices aren't based on what other people will think. I do what I believe is right. Whatever reaction you have to me – in business, music or anything – I guarantee you're reacting to the real me."

You can hear the entire record here: Rhino Records Listening Party Page; or here with Real Player; or using Windows Media.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Spitzer Uges U.S. Senate to Preserve Internet Neutrality

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has gained a national reputation for his practical, sensible and no-nonsense approach to governmnet, filed a letter with United States Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye, Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee respectively, urging passage of legislation to preserve neutral and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet.

According to a press release from his office, Spitzer voiced concern that consolidation in the telecommunications industry by the major companies poses a threat to the open and ready use of the Internet by consumers and content providers alike. He urged that legislation be passed which would require Internet backbone operators and service providers not to discriminate with respect to content flowing over the Internet as to quality of service, speed, access or bandwidth, and that they not prioritize or otherwise favor content based on the user's ability to pay or affiliation with the provider.

The Attorney General also urged that any legislation continue to enable Internet service providers to protect consumers from unwanted or harmful content.

The Attorney General stated that the principles embodied in S. 2917 should be included in any legislation that emerges. The Senate Commerce Committee is resuming debate tomorrow.

Chin Up Chin Up preview

Chin Up Chin Up are putting final touches on their next cd that is due out in October called This Harness Can't Ride Anything for Seattle's Suicide Squeeze records. The new disc was recorded by Sir Brian Deck [Iron And Wine, Red Red Meat, Modest Mouse] at Engine Studios.

The Chicago based-band traces its history reaches back to 2001, when Jeremy Bolen and Nathan Snydacker formed Chin Up Chin Up as a "nod to optimism." They've toured extensively throughout the country, sharing the stage with great bands like the Appleseed Cast, the Mercury Program, Pedro the Lion, the American Analog Set, Broken Social Scene, Smog, and Pinback.

You can listen to a preview track from the new disc here and the title cut from their 2004 record We Shouldn't Have Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers here and another track "Virgnian" from that same record here.

Rye Coalition: Curses

Rye Coalition have put out their fourth release Curses. The disc is produced by Dave Grohl with a nice mix of modern, punk and classic rock.

The band consists of singer Ralph Gregory Cuseglio, guitarist Jon Gonnelli, drummer David Anthony Leto, bassist Justin Angelo Morey, and guitarist Herbert Joseph Wiley V. These guys started playing together in high school, and it shows. You can tell these guys play for the music, which is always refreshing.

You can check out their video for "Young Yellers" - directed by Jenni Matz - here.

The band is doing some shows with The Bronx and then hitting the road with Nashville Pussy.

DVD Review: The Who: Tommy Live

By: David Schultz

Pete Townshend's rock opera Tommy has been a multi-platinum selling album, a 1975 star-studded Ken Russell movie, a magnificent concert set piece and a Tony winning Broadway musical. The existence of so many different variations begs one question: what more can be done with The Who's saga about a deaf, dumb and blind kid that sure plays a mean pinball. Surprisingly, there's an answer: release The Who's guest star laden 1989 concert performance from Los Angeles' Universal Ampitheatre and add modern-day commentary from Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.

Not that either has aged badly, but the DVD is notable for how young everyone looks; Roger Daltrey has a full set of hair and Pete Townshend, well, he has hair. Musically, there's nothing to quibble with; by the late eighties, the surviving members of The Who, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle could do Tommy in their sleep. Nonetheless, the performance captured on the DVD, complete with a full horn section, captures an inspired performance. From Townshend's jawdropping acoustic guitar work in "Overture" that opens the show to the finale of "We're Not Gonna Take It," Tommy Live is a fine document of the late eighties version of The Who.

The Who's rock operas have always been good vehicle for guest appearances; their 1996 recreation of Quadrophenia featured well-placed cameos from Gary Glitter and Billy Idol. Like the film, The Who turn over a handful of Tommy's songs to the capable hands of others. Steve Winwood, with a dated eighties spiky buzzcut, handles the preacher's "Eyesight To The Blind," tearing through an all-too-brief guitar solo. Taking her cues from Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle delivers "Acid Queen" with an assertiveness that Townshend never intended for the character. Elton John reprises his role as the Pinball Wizard, sadly dressed more conservatively than in the movie. While Billy Idol became the sadistic Cousin Kevin by simply showing up in his normal clothes, Phil Collins, who in 1989 was making a serious foray into acting, went overboard in dressing for the part of the pederast Uncle Ernie.

The DVD extras are sparse: a set list; a photo reel and a commentary track. However, Townshend's contributions to the commentary track make the DVD worth the effort. Rather than reduce Daltrey and Townshend to disembodied voices prattling on over the concert, the DVD superimposes each one along the side of the screen. The occasional disconcerting images of Daltrey or Townshend sharing the screen with their younger selves does not diminish the strength of their annotations. While Daltrey offers some interesting insights, it's Townshend's thoughts that are the most illuminating. With years of hindsight, Townshend reflects on Tommy's place in rock history, the sociological circumstances that brought Tommy's themes about and the narrative devices he tried to employ. One of Townshend's most illuminating stories involves the relationship between the inspiration for "Sally Simpson" and a near-disastrous double bill that The Who played with The Doors. Tommy Live makes good use of modern DVD technology: if at any point you feel Townshend's getting to pompous, with one button you can turn him off and just listen to one of the greatest bands in rock history.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Axl Rose Street Bitin' Man

Back in 1998, G 'N R put out a huge smash acoustic based EP that, in addition to the giant hit "Patience," opened with a track called "Reckless Life." The tune contained this verse:

I lead a reckless life
And I don't need your advice
I lead a reckless life
And you know it's my only vice

Seems Axl is still following that philosphy for living. Last night in Sweden a reportedly drunken Axl was held by Swedish police for allegedly biting a hotel security guard on the leg. A police spokesperson told the AP that Rose was intoxicated during the scuffle and would be questioned after he sobers up:

"He was deemed too intoxicated to be questioned right away," she said.

I wonder why he didn't use any of these nifty street fighting moves on Tommy Hilfiger?

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Celebrate Their Pearl Anniversary

By: David Schultz

When compiling a shortlist of the greatest rock bands of the last thirty years, it's quite likely that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers wouldn't make the cut. However, next time a classic Petty song comes on the radio; take note: not only will you probably sing along, you'll know all the words.

To celebrate their thirtieth anniversary and the impending release of Petty's latest solo album, Highway Companion, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are taking their enduring brand of stoner southern rock on the road. This past week, Petty & The Heartbreakers came to Madison Square Garden for their first New York City appearance in three years. Cherry picking from three decades of hits, the Manhattan crowd continuously sang along with Petty while he ran through a set list that, even in the absence of beloved tunes like "The Waiting" and "Breakdown," didn't suffer for recognizable classics.

Fresh off of their co-headlining stint at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Petty played under a set of video screens that provided distracting close-ups of the band throughout the night. Given the relatively good sightlines in the Garden, they were unnecessary; only serving to provoke discussion as to whether the 55-year-old Petty once portrayed Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears. After opening with the early-era "Listen To Her Heart," the band went right into "You Don't Know How It Feels," marking their first but hardly last foray into Petty's stellar solo material. While egotistic on the surface, the Heartbreakers contributed significantly to Petty's individually-titled efforts, making their inclusion into the show quite appropriate. Petty's 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever received the most attention; the crowd drowning out Petty's voice on the choruses of "Free Fallin'" and "I Won't Back Down" and doing a little hippie headbanging to "Runnin' Down A Dream." In addition to the smoothly rendered reading of "You Don't Know It Feels," they went back to Wildflowers for the encore, an energetic version of "You Wreck Me" that far exceeded its studio counterpart.

Petty spent a portion of the show reclaiming old songs and old melodies: offering a twangy version of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care," recently covered by Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst and others, as well as a scorching rendition of "Mary Jane's Last Dance," in which he laid ownership to the guitar line allegedly purloined by Red Hot Chili Peppers for "Dani, California." However, if Petty is truly upset over the similarities between his 1981 hit and the Red Hot's new single, he should perhaps take a look in the proverbial mirror to see if he's a pot calling the Peppers' kettle black; Petty's new single "Saving Grace," seems to borrow just as heavily from John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom."

Perhaps influenced by his recent time at this year's Bonnaroo, Petty sought the crowd's approval to "jam a little bit" in their encore. While they didn't take that moment to experiment with interminable noodling, Petty & The Heartbreakers zipped through a medley-type jam that borrowed as much from the Isley Brothers' "Shout" as it did from Them's "Mystic Eyes." Always eclectic with their covers, Petty nodded to the band's influences earlier in the show; putting down his guitar in favor of a tambourine and maracas while the Heartbreakers quickly ran through The Yardbirds' "I'm A Man" and pre-Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well."

Often overshadowed by Petty's subtle superstar status, The Heartbreakers remain an exceptionally tight band, responsible for some of the more subtly ubiquitous songs of a generation. From within his cube of keyboards, Benmont Tench had chances to solo, excelling on the greasy bridge of "Refugee." More than Petty's equal on the guitar, Mike Campbell ceded the center stage guitar theatrics to Petty, throwing off his guitar riffs with modest aplomb. Petty's rhythm section, made up of original Heartbreaker Ron Blair, who returned to the band after a lengthy absence on The Last DJ, and Steve Ferrone, formerly of the Average White Band, toiled admirably in relative anonymity. Likewise, Scott Thurston offered additional guitar, keyboards and the occasional harmonica solo in yeoman fashion.

As she has for the early shows in the tour, Stevie Nicks, the band's "little sister," joined Petty & The Heartbreakers for a reprise of their 1981 hit "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," and took lead on Petty's own "I Need To Know." Wearing a new outfit, Nicks returned a couple songs longer to duet with Petty on a quiet version of the introspective "Insider." Once the ruling earth-mother of seventies rock and roll, Nicks, who thankfully no longer looks like she possesses her own gravitational field, seemed content with a supporting role, singing background far to the right of the stage, spreading her arms wide while providing her distinctive harmony to "Learning To Fly."

Nicks wasn't the only notable name appearing with Petty at the Garden this evening. While fronting Phish, Trey Anastasio used to headline Madison Square Garden regularly; as a solo act, he’s become an illustrious opening act, returning to MSG for the first time since joining The Black Crowes for a memorable New Year's Eve show. Focusing his one hour set on newer songs, Anastasio offered solo faves like "Night Speaks To A Woman" and "Come As Melody" before concluding with a groove-heavy rendition of "First Tube." The fact that Anastasio didn't come back to join Petty & The Heartbreakers during their set might be the only disappointment of his Garden appearance.

Petty & The Heartbreakers have a catalogue broad enough to offer a different show each night. However, the set lists for the early shows have remained substantially similar. Fittingly for a show dedicated to their length career, Petty & The Heartbreakers have been finishing each show with their first true success, the arena anthem "American Girl." While the boys from Gainesville, Florida have had bigger hits, "American Girl" remains the song that tears the house down; the sinuous opening chords drawing raucous shrieks from all the American girls in attendance. Petty's traveling roadshow continues on throughout the summer. While Anastasio occupies himself with his own mini-tour with Phish bassist Mike Gordon and the Benevento Russo Duo for a highly anticipated slate of shows with Phil Lesh & Friends, Pearl Jam and The Allman Brothers Band should provide suitable alternatives in the supporting slot.

Summer School For The Paul Green School Of Rock

School may be out for the summer: but if you are enrolled in the Paul Green School of Rock, that simply means you get to go on a summer tour. Starting with two Los Angeles shows, the "Gift Of Rock" tour will embark on a 23 city jaunt that will include an appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL.

Apparently the inspiration for the Jack Black vehicle, School Of Rock, Paul Green's haven for musical academia is no stranger to the screen, having been featured in the A&E documentary Rock School. The band, featuring teen guitar prodigies, C.J. Tywoniak and Zak Page will prepare for their upcoming U.S. dates by playing Zappanale, Germany's Frank Zappa festival.

It's one thing to say you saw a superstar while they were playing to ten people in a dingy college club; quite another to say you saw them before they hit puberty.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sublime Tribute DVD

Tomorrow, June 27th, the Sublime Tribute MusiCares Benefit Show DVD Look At All the Love We Found: LIVE is hitting stores and net shops. The DVD contains
artists like Los Lobos, Unwritten Law, Ozomatli, and LB Shortbus featuring Eric Wilson from Sublime.

There is also a bonus CD with Sublime covers performed by "The Banned" featuring Chuck D, Fishbone and other all-stars. These bonsus tracks were not featured on the Look at All the Love We Found CD that was released last summer.

You can get details here and check out a trailer for the film.

Music that Was Banned in Russia

Here in America we've seen some of our First Amendment rights start to slip away the past few years, but overall we live in a pretty free society and take for granted the access we have to media of all types, including music.

Historians have dug up a list of music banned in the USSR back in the not too distant past. It's quite a list, as reported in the Scotsman:

- the Sex Pistols, Madness, AC/DC, the Village People, Donna Summer and Julio Iglesias were part of the eclectic mix of censored acts.

- "Talking Heads joined the list for "myth of the Soviet military threat" and Pink Floyd were blacklisted for "distortion of Soviet foreign policy".

- "Heavy metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Nazareth, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were blacklisted for supposed offences including religious obscurantism, violence, racism and anti-communism."

- "the Clash were banned for 'punk and violence,' as were, among others, the B-52s, the Stranglers and Blondie."

- "Tina Turner was banned for "sex", Donna Summer for 'eroticism'"

Dr Andrei Rogatchevski, a lecturer in Russian studies at Glasgow University, said: "The authorities didn't like references to sex because they disliked any emotions they could not control."

That sounds like certain extremely influential groups right here in America.

The Foundry Field Recordings: prompts/miscues

By: David Schultz

The brainchild of singer and lead guitarist Billy Schuh, The Foundry Field Recordings derive their mellow, industrial sound not, as might be expected, from the underbelly of a teeming metropolis but rather from Columbia, Missouri. Their grandiose full length album, prompts/miscues, centers on the premise of an apocalyptic daydream, examining life in the absence of mundane daily details. Full of dreamy songs about modern conflicts that bring about the "casualty of war," Schuh, in an ethereal near-feminine voice, mourns the loss of identity and individuality in a post-industrialist society. Although it's a theme that's been extensively explored by others over the last few decades, there's still room for exploration.

Draping symphonic guitars and lush production around leisurely paced songs, The Foundry imbues prompts/miscues with the same cold war imagery found in Douglas Coupland novels. Metaphors aplenty: there's some ambitious songwriting afoot here. Mainly, Schuh expresses hope and joy in the face of dire circumstances; "Warning Raids Over Kiev" containing a seemingly post-Columbine joy over the cleansing effects of seeing your city destroyed. While Schuh clearly has a gift for songwriting, at times his imagery loses its subtlety, becoming the heavy-handed musings of a withdrawn, disaffected teenager glumly writing in their journal: "Broken Strings" contains an abundance of tortured modern technology metaphors to describe the loneliness of a broken heart; and in case anyone missed the underlying themes, the album's untitled final track contains air raid sirens and the wordless chattering of a computer keyboard.

prompts/miscues isn't all navel-gazing reflections upon the soul-crushing decline of society; there's some upbeat musings on the subject too. Powered by Becky Baxter's bass and Benjamin Hook's synth, "Holding The Pilot, Holding The Fact" echoes The Cure and guitarist Daniel Stegall gets room to roam on "Buried Beneath The Winter Frames." The slick production leaves its ragged edges untouched: the aural mishmash at the start of the album's opener, the two part "Battle Brigades," bookends nicely with the similar tricks closing "Circuits On Board."

For the most part, The Foundry Field Recordings succeed in following through on their premise and have created a relaxed, meditative, introspective album. Rescuing it from the realm of background music, prompts/miscues contains many lush orchestral arrangements with beautiful melodies that provide a nice contrast to the bleak sentiments expressed in the lyrics.

Morningwood Limp: Cancels Midwestern Shows

Morningwood have been forced to cancel shows in Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis as the result of singer Chantal Claret's gimpy knee. The sexy lead singer injured her knee on the Brooklyn band's European tour and has been ordered to take some time off in order to avoid knee surgery. But, it looks like Claret will be back on stage for the band's July 3rd gig in Ohio.

Claret writes on the band's MySpace page:

"I just wanted to thank everyone for all of their super super sweet words of support and all that jazz when they heard about my bum leg. It is so amazingly nice, thank everyone for their awesome wishes and what not, i can't not get better with stuff like that going into the universe. Man, I sound like a silly hippy. . . I promise you I will be back on my feet in the minimum amount of time nessacery, I will continue this tour if I have to have my leg amputated..."

Very rock 'n roll.

Friday, June 23, 2006

New Tom Petty

Tom Petty: Highway CompanionTom Petty's new record "Highway Companion" won't be out until July 25th, but we've got some streams for you of the single "Saving Grace" for an early preview.

Don't forget you can check Tom out on the road during his 2006 North American "Highway Companions Tour" with Trey Anastasio, Pearl Jam, The Allman Brothers and The Derek Trucks Band on selected dates.

"Saving Grace" Audio Streams: (Quicktime) (Real)

Barat's Dirty Pretty Things Fufill The Libertines' Promise

Dirty Pretty Things: Waterloo to AnywhereDirty Pretty Things: Waterloo to Anywhere
Universal International

by Rinjo Nori

Carl Barat once referred to Pete Doherty as his musical soul mate. When your musical soul mate is a self admitted addict you may want to reevaluate your definition of soul mate. Granted Doherty is highly talented, but his problems led to the demise of one of the most promising bands to emerge in recent memory. Doherty didn't quite hold up his end of the soul mate bargain. As a result, The Libertines' all too short career abruptly ended.

With the Libertines gone and Doherty struggling to put his life back together, Barat is devoting his time to the extremely tight and energetic Dirty Pretty Things. Joining him on this new project are Gary Powell (The Libertines), Anthony Rossamando (The Libertines, also Doherty's replacement on the last Libertines tour), and Didz Hammond (ex-Cooper Temple Clause). Barat takes this new opportunity to explore his feelings about the last few years with The Libertines and specifically his crumbling friendship with Doherty. Barat reminds you immediately, and confirms, in just over thirty minutes, what he brought to The Libertines: tight and focused songwriting and a biting wit. The music is part Beatles, part British Invasion, part Clash; all with Barat's vocals contributing folksy pub tone to the songs.

Barat wastes no time in laying out the themes of Waterloo to Anywhere. This is strictly about Barat and Doherty. Barat's commitment and blind faith, and Doherty's inability to commit and self centeredness. The opening track "Deadwood" hints at wasted opportunities, anger, and finally resentment. Barat sings "See I really like you, But I'm nothing like you", somehow trying to rationalize the growing divide.

The blame game also goes both ways, with Barat sometimes accepting the blame: "The enemy as I know it is right inside my head." Luckily Barat is smart enough to realize the blame doesn't lie solely with Doherty. Barat manages to single out the media's attention to The Libertines on "Blood Thirsty Bastards" and how the constant rumor mongering takes its toll. The best songs on Waterloo to Anywhere are "Gin & Milk" and "You Fucking Love It" (live clip combined with Gentry Cove below), Barat's singing is extremely aggressive and the whole band keeps up the pace. Yes, there are songs that aren't "obviously" about Doherty and these straight up punk songs are sure to get fists pumping.

Towards the end of the disc, Barat's anger seems to dissipate on "Wondering" and "Last of the Small Town Playboy." Barat understands that the farther Doherty falls and the more he obsesses about where to lay or accept the blame, he risks losing his way as an artist and as a person. Barat proves that his artistry remains intact as well as his ability to move on.

While Barat and Doherty's drama provide the story, the music stands on it's own. "Gentry Cove" hints at The Clash's reggae-tinged punk, while "Wondering" has a hypnotic rhythm guitar, and "Bang Bang Your Dead" echoes Definitely Maybe-era Oasis, with "smaller" guitars.

Barat has managed to take everything he learned from his experience with Doherty and hopefully exorcise it through his music. With Waterloo to Anywhere Barat projects a tremendous amount of confidence, the way most people used to feel about The Libertines.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Guitar World Sexes Things Up

American hero Hugh Hefner, flanked by his three hottie Playmate girlfriends Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridget Marquardt (stars of the hit E! reality show, "The Girls Next Door") grace the cover of the 2007 Guitar World Buyer's Guide.

Hef holds a Gibson 1957 "Vintage Original Spec" Goldtop Historic Reissue, while Bridget Marquardt strums a topaz blue Peavey HP signature Series USA Custom guitar. The Playmates are also earmarked in exclusive photos throughout the guide, including a special double-sided poster with all three girls "rocking out on some gorgeous axes" - (their words, not mine!).

This year's Buyer's Guide is reportedly the magazine's largest ever, with over 250 pages highlighting more than 3,000 product descriptions and photos. From electric to acoustic to bass, Guitar World's editors select the top guitars in each category, complete with current price information on each. The guide also features the latest and greatest amps, effects pedals and guitar accessories.

"With this year's buyer's guide, Guitar World has created the ultimate rock and roll fantasy: thousands of the world's most beautiful guitars side-by-side with some of the world's most beautiful women," said Guitar World publisher Greg DiBenedetto. "We're thrilled to have the larger-than-life Hef and his girls join us for our largest guide ever!"

Open Auditions for 1,343 Guitarists

In 1992, Canada set the Guinness World Record with 1,342 guitars playing in unison. It's high time the U.S. beats that record with a minimum of 1,343 guitarists playing the national anthem of rock and roll, "Louie Louie" on Saturday, August 19 at LouieFest.

Electric or acoustic, guitar and bass players from across the country are encouraged to make a summer trek out west to where Louie Louie's most popular arrangement was created and is a large part of the Northwest's music history. LouieFest will be held at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway just outside Tacoma. Registration is $20 to participate in setting the world record. All information regarding registration to participate in the festival is available at or by calling MOstuf Productions' hotline at 1-888-280-5870.

LouieFest is the namesake of rock history's original garage song made popular in 1961 by The Wailers on Etiquette Records, believed to be the first artist-owned record label in the industry. Second only to Paul McCartney's "Yesterday," The Wailers arrangement of "Louie Louie" proved to be a major contribution to the recording industry with over 5,000 recordings. Richard Barry originally wrote the tune in 1955, but it was The Wailers rock and roll version that set off a string of commercial successes - most notably by the Kingsmen.

2006 marks the third LouieFest and third attempt to break the Guinness World Record. All ages are encouraged to register and attend. Louie Louie will be performed in the key of A.

Hey, maybe since the Surreal Life season is over Poison's C.C. Deville could go up to kickstart his comeback?

Big City Rock: Big City Rock

By: David Schultz

At some point during the next fall TV season, The O.C. or some other show of that ilk will prominently feature Big City Rock's earnest "I Believe In You" in a slot that will make the song a hit and propel the band to a new level of mainstream recognition. If that scenario makes you twitter with excitement, then you will find much to enjoy on Big City Rock, the group's self-titled debut album. If that thought makes you cringe and rend your garments, then the album will simply give you a bad case of agita.

An LA band full of transplanted Midwesterners, Big City Rock has created a fine piece of corporate rock: one with little substance beneath its slick veneer. The shallow sentiments expressed over near-generic guitar rock aren't imaginative and seem inoffensive by design. On the opening track, the catchy and somewhat humorous "Sink," Nate Bott - sings of the depths he would go to for a girl, the lowest of which would be to "kiss the feet of businessmen." Such devotion!

Behind keyboardist Frank Staniszewski, Big City Rock gives eighties synth-rock a valiant try, channeling the sound of The Killers on "All Of The Above." On the bouncy "Human," they emulate the slick new wave bands that populated MTV in the mid eighties to great effect. However, their attempt to replicate the genre's detached, mechanical vibe on "Shelter" falls flat.

While there is nothing truly lacking on Big City Rock; there's also nothing captivating. If you happen to miss this album or this band: fear not, there should be more sounding just like them around the bend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Zero 7: The Garden

By: David Schultz

For their third album, The Garden, sound engineers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker, more familiarly known as Zero 7, reprise the same formula that has worked for them so far: atmospheric soundscapes and sagely selected guest vocalists. Building on their newfound popularity in the wake of the inclusion of "In The Waiting Line" on the eclectic Garden State soundtrack, Zero 7 recruited Swedish-Argentinean classical guitarist Jose Gonzales and Six Feet Under's overnight sensation Sia Furler.

With not much more kick than a transcendental meditation tape, the album opens with its most ethereal offering, "Futures." Gonzales' soothing voice floats over the track's patiently layered guitars and dreamy effects to create a trippy Meddle era, Pink Floyd vibe. Although an enjoyable bit of pop, the radio-friendly "Throw It All Away," featuring Sia's vocals, sounds too much like Jamiroquai. A better use of Furler's talents comes on "This Fine Social Scene." When Binns and Hardaker forego the vocals, they create nice Kraftwerk-lite bits of techno-pop like "Seeing Things" and "Crosses." Their inclusion of horns on "Your Place" and "Waiting To Die" echo back to Blood, Sweat & Tears same use of the brass.

The relaxed rhythms on The Garden make it the perfect album for a quiet stress-free evening or unobtrusive background music for a dinner party. In walking the tightrope between finely crafted mellow electronica and cheesy synth-pop, Zero 7 has created a pleasantly effective album of airy agreeable tunes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Arctic Monkeys Bassist Leaves Band

Arctic Monkeys Bassist Andy Nicholson has permanently left the band. The band posted this message on their website:

We are sad to tell everyone that Andy is no longer with the band.

Nick O’Malley, who stood in for Andy while he was absent from the recent tour of North America, shall carry on playing bass for the remaining shows this summer.

We have been mates with Andy for a long time and have been through some amazing things together that no one can take away. We all wish Andy the very best.

Nicholson took a break from touring due to "exhaustion." The band is continuing its US tour and will hit Europe and Australia later this summer.

Nathan Asher and the Infantry: Marching North From Carolina

By: David Schultz

Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Nathan Asher and the Infantry have already amassed a considerable following within their home state. Taking their cue from the title of one of their songs, "Leave The South," Asher and the Infantry came north for a week's worth of shows in New York and New Jersey, bringing their blend of insightful, observational lyrics and sprawling musical arrangements outside of the cozy confines of the Tarheel State.

Although Asher and the Infantry are in their relative infancy, there's every reason to think they will succeed on a national level: "Turn Up The Faders," a slyly crafted song in which Asher's slightly nasal, near monotone delivery provides the perfect narration for the slowly building tune about finding release in the beats and rhythms of a metropolis, won the 2005 John Lennon International Songwriting Contest as well as the 2005 Great American Songwriting Competition. They have also been awarded the trifecta of Best Rock Band, Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song by the Independent Weekly Music Awards.

On both nights, the majority of the Infantry's set came from their latest album, Sex Without Love, a concept album about, well, sex without love. Per the band's myspace page, a hidden plotline lurks within the CD's comprehensive liner notes; even if the thematic link between the tracks may not be readily apparent, the strong songwriting will be. On the album, Asher shows considerable lyrical range: on "Thursday Night/Friday Morning" and "Sex Without Love," Asher draws empathy with his insecure trembling voice betraying a lost, heartbroken soul; on "Leave The South" and "No More Colleges" Asher relates images with the same coolly detached, hyper-vigilant observance that works so well in "Faders."

In their live performances, Asher, by far the smallest guy on stage, plays with the biggest heart. While Asher remains the soul and conscience of the band, the Infantry gives life to the songs: Lawson Taylor's keyboards provide and excellent counterpoint to Asher's vocals; the professional wrestling sized tag team of Dan and Nick Abbate (drums and bass) comprise an exceptional rhythm section; Turner Brandon offers nice synthesizer backing, coming to the forefront with an occasional harmonica solo and Chris Serino's guitar work nicely complements Asher's rhythm guitar.

In addition to playing standout tracks like the rousing opener "Leave The South" and "Storms" with its Neil Young inspired guitar licks, the Infantry made "Turn Up The Faders" a focal point of the show. Introducing the song as one about clubbing, one of New York City's more exciting activities, Asher punctuates the tune's prelude with a deadpan taunt of 50 Cent and the G-Unit. On "Thursday Night/Friday Morning," which found great topicality on a late Thursday evening, Asher slowly built up the emotion in the same fashion of Bruce Springsteen; the Infantry coming in strong to provide the musical punch necessary to complete the full impact. Although the band experienced a couple sloppy moments, they were never derailed, quickly righting any mishaps with good-natured grins.

Similar to Of A Revolution, Asher and the Infantry still have the aura around them of a college band destined for success. At their Thursday night show at Arlene's Grocery, Asher and the Infantry attracted a large Tar Heel following and played a show suitable to the large appreciative crowd. A sign of the band's skill and professionalism, they put as much into their Arlene's performance as they did their sparsely attended Mo Pitkin's show five days earlier. As the band spreads their wings beyond their native North Carolina and audiences get a taste of Asher's lyrical talents, they should fulfill that destiny.

Paramore: All We Know Is Falling

By: Sean R. Grogan

"What Are You Waiting For? Go Get It Already!"

What do you get when Tennessee teens decide to mix it up with a twenty-somethings? Paramore, a rock sensation for the 21st century. At only 17, singer Haley Williams has the vocal talent and ability comparable to singers three times her age. She knows just how to hook the listener and make them feel the emotions in her words. Paramore is not another female-fronted, No Doubt knockoff band. Instead, imagine The Get Up Kids blended with Lacuna Coil and a touch of Williams' teenage angst that erupts through in her passionate, talented voice, and you'll begin to understand Paramore.

Produced by James Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever) and Mike Green (Yellowcard), Paramore's freshman release, All We Know Is Falling (Fueled By Ramen), opens with "All We Know," a song that rocks to the core as Williams blasts away at the mic and then lulls you back for the chorus while the hellbent guitars, hard-hitting bass, and pounding drums take you for an enthusiastic joyride. The final track, "My Heart," closes the record by melding the smooth sounds of Williams and the raging backup vocals of Josh Farro into a synthesis of sound that'll turn any metal fan into a Parmore fan.

Not only are Paramore talented, they work hard and play shows harder. As soon as they wrapped All We Know Is Falling, they began touring with Simple Plan, and Straylight Run, and earned a feature spot on the Vans Warped Tour. Don't miss them this summer. You might be kicking yourself all winter if you do.

Return Of The Reggae Sunsplash

Long before there was a music festival every other weekend, the Reggae Sunsplash used to bring the top stars of the genre to everyone's hometown. Originating in Jamaica in 1978, the Sunsplash gained reknown for featuring reggae and dancehall stars like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Steel Pulse alongside international superstars like Stevie Wonder.

After an absence of seven years, the Sunsplash will return to Priory, St. Ann, Jamaica from August 3 through August 6. Beginning August 10, the touring version of the festival will come to America with UB40, Toots & The Maytals, Maxi Priest and Third World heading the bill. A Japanese version of the show, featuring Jimmy Cliff and Shaggy, begins August 19.

As in the past, the festival will be hosted by the voice of Reggae Sunsplash, Tommy "Yes Indeed!" Cowan and will be rounded out by a Jamaican food and crafts fairs, selling everything from jerk chicken to intricate wood carvings and hand crafted clothes. "The feel and flavor of the Caribbean Island of Jamaica shall engulf us all," says Cowan.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Tripe About Hype: Arctic Monkeys At The Roseland Ballroom

By: David Schultz

Everything written about the Arctic Monkeys may not focus on whether the Sheffield youngsters are deserving of all the media hype that surrounds them: it only seems that way. Since the release of their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not, nearly every critic and blogger has had their say in this "chicken or the egg" conundrum: have the Monkeys succeeded because of the hype or has the hype caused the Monkeys' success? Well, the answer to that question will not be found here.

The debate over the Arctic Monkeys' praiseworthiness has supplanted discussion of the merits of the extraordinarily young band and their musical accomplishments. The Monkeys' summer tour brings them back to New York City for the second time this year. A couple months ago, they sold out Webster Hall (capacity: 1400); just three months later, they're selling out the Roseland Ballroom (capacity: 3000). While increasing exposure, the endless touring that has followed the release of Whatever People Say I Am, has taken a toll on the group. Absent from the summer tour is bassist Andy Nicholson. Citing exhaustion, the 20-year-old is sitting out the American leg of the summer tour with fellow Sheffield lad, Nick O'Malley, filling in for the spent bassist.

Youth is often wasted on the young but not on this group of 20-year-olds. With only one album and an EP to draw from, the Monkeys played a perfunctory yet energetic seventy minute set of latter day, proto-punk rock. Where most young bands unimaginatively run though their limited catalog, the Monkeys avoided a night of rote recitation. Using the studio versions of their shorter songs like "You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Looking Straight At Me" and "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured" as a base, the Monkeys added a little extra zest, making them fuller-length arena rockers. On songs like "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But . . ." and the evening's closer "A Certain Romance," they explored what can be done with their lengthier material. They also had the good sense to leave their hits alone, offering straight forward renditions of "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" and "Fake Tales Of San Francisco."

It would be easy to write off any band comprised of relative teenagers as too young, too raw and too inexperienced. That simply can't be done with the Arctic Monkeys. Alex Turner and Jamie Cook traded riffs like seasoned guitarists; O'Malley seamlessly replaced Nicholson on bass, joining with drummer Matthew Helders to propel the rhythm full speed ahead. Seemingly unimpressed with the large turnout, Turner expressed his sentiment with the jaded and cynical stage demeanor of a cranky veteran. Instead of using the enthusiasm of youth as an excuse for indulgent excesses, the Monkeys harness it with a maturity belying their years. Don't place your money on the Arctic Monkeys becoming another flash in the pan; wager on them becoming Sheffield's version of The Strokes.

The Futureheads: News And Tributes

The Futureheads: News and TributesBy: Sean R. Grogan

"The Headlines Say..."

The longtime veterans of the music world, The Futureheads, are sure to blow up the charts with their 12th installment, News And Tributes. Riding the wave of excitement after performing on Coachella's main stage, selling out London's Astoria, and with bands like Oasis, Pixies, and the Foo Fighters, The Futureheads began recording News And Tributes.

The record, produced by Ben Hiller (Depeche Mode, Blur), shows real growth as the band slows down the pace, and allows themselves to focus on developing tight songs complete with grinding guitars and crashing cymbals. While the emphasis has changed a bit, their energy and intensity has not. The result is a bold and brash, catchy record laced with samples of dance beats and classic punk rhythms.

The first single, "Skip To The End," opens like an 80's classic rock tune and transforms into a pop track full of glitzy guitar and rhythmic drums. Singer Barry Hyde's vocals become a 5th instrument in this tight quartet of highly talented musicians. The record is full of sonic sensations, from the electronic sounds resonating on "Return Of The Berserker" to the sweet harmonies on "Burnt."

Depeche Mode Remastered

by Rinjo Nori

Depeche Mode have endured the fickle musical landscape for roughly twenty five years. Experiencing career highs (Violator), career lows (David Gahan's heroin problems), and a comeback or two (Exciter, Playing the Angel). To pay tribute to their longevity, Rhino has remastered three of Depeche Mode's album's from their 80's heyday: Speak & Spell, Music For The Masses, and Violator.

The remaster includes remixed stereo versions of the original recordings, additional songs, 5.1 surround sound and DTS versions on DVD, and a "Behind the Music" style "mini-film." However, because it was the record that kicked things off for the band, I'll focus on Speak and Spell.

Depeche Mode were unique when Speak and Spell was originally released and not simply because they disposed of the guitar, bass, and drum and replaced them with synthesizers. Thier uniqueness stemmed from matching all these sounds with their finely crafted pop songs. Vince Clarke, Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore manned the synths behind David Gahan's innocent vocals. "Just Can't Get Enough", a Depeche Mode classic and arguably their most recognizable tune on Speak and Spell, still has that heart thumping beat. That first record also included Depeche Mode classic's "New Life" and "Dreaming of Me."

Clarke's songs range from fluffy dance party song's to extremely dark and menacing. On the remaster they include the not so subtle, but upbeat, tale of heartbreak "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead". The homoerotic "Boys Say Go" and "What's Your Name?" are almost laughable after 25 years of debate on the "sexuality" of Depeche Mode. The songs hold up as instrumental's, but I can't imagine Gahan or Gore even entertaining such light fare. "Puppets" and "Photographic" are much more indicative of the template that Gore would adopt in future Depeche Mode songs. These are the hidden gems of Speak and Spell.

Gore's infancy as a song writer is on full display for their first album. The forgettable "Big Muff" follows the somber "TORA! TORA! TORA!" - which is solid enough for repeat listens and hints ever so slightly at the musician that Gore would become. Gahan's vocals which seemed muffled on the original release gain a little more strength on the stereo remaster and are completely liberated in the 5.1 and DTS versions. More than on any other Depeche Mode release Gahan comes across more as a figurehead rather than a front man, especially on the aforementioned "Boys Say Go" and "What's Your Name?."

For pure and casual Depeche Mode fans, the retrospective mini-film Do We Really Have to Give Up Our Day Jobs?, makes this remaster worth it's weight. Clarke, Fletcher, Gore, and Gahan are positively giddy when they remember the genesis of Depeche Mode. Clarke, of course, left after Speak and Spell and went on to form Yazoo (Yaz in America) and later the hugely successful Erasure. Twenty five years has dispelled any acrimony that occurred at the time. Clarke's leaving the band is only mentioned in a textual epilogue at the close of the mini-film.

One of the other highlight's of the mini-film is the interview with Brian Griffin who conceptualized the cover photo for Speak and Spell. He owns up to the fact that the cellophane covered swan is a bit over the top and finally admits he has no idea what he prompted him to submit such a horrible cover to the band, though the band seem to give him a pass.

Never having heard Dolby 5.1 or DTS sound I was rather impressed at how much more life the process gives to the music. Depeche Mode's electronic sound is more vibrant in the surround sound digital format. Gahan's vocal's, as previously mentioned, are placed in front of the music rather than in between the groups monophonic keyboards. "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Dreaming of Me" are revived with the new format and "Photographics" dark robotic melody simmers.

This refresher in Depeche Mode circa 80-81 makes you a little better for the effort you put into the listening experience. Producer Daniel Miller said it best, "They were never New Romantics, they were Futurists." Twenty plus years, the future has arrived and now Depeche Mode helps us romanticize about the not too distant past.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bonnaroo listening party

If you didn't make the trek to the Bonnaroo festival you can still jam to many of the top bands doing their down in Tennessee.

The AT&T Blue Room will feature exclusive performances from Damian Marley, Bright Eyes, Neville Brothers, Steel Pulse, Moe, Gomez, Les Claypool, Nickel Creek, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, Dungen, Deadboy & Elephantman, and The Codetalkers featuring Col. Bruce Hampton.

Webcasts will run from 12:30 p.m. to midnight each day. Following the event, much of the content will be archived on the Blue Room so you can catch it at a later time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Paul McCartney: Now He's 64

The Who hoped they would die before they got old, Neil Young thought it better to burn out then to fade away and Paul McCartney wondered about what life would be like when he's 64. In the prophecy department: the Beatle wins.

Here's wishing Paul McCartney a "Happy 64th Birthday!"

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I'd been out 'till quarter to three, would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older, too.
and if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy, mending a fuse
when your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings, go for a ride.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds
who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I'm sixty four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
if it's not to dear.
We shall scrimp and save.
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
yours sincerely wasting away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form, mine forever more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I'm sixty four?

EMI Settles Payola Charges

The New York Attorney General announced a settlement with EMI concerning payola allegations. Suprisingly, some very good artists who shouldn't need help getting on the radio, allegedly benefitted from the scheme. As done previously, because of the educational aspects the press release provides into how the industry operates we'll reproduce the bulk of the AG's press release:

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today [6/15] announced a settlement with EMI Music North America ("EMI") to end its pervasive "pay-for-play" practices in the music industry.

EMI - which includes Virgin Records America, Capitol Records, EMI Christian Music Group and S Curve Records - is one of the four major record companies in America, and its parent, The EMI Group, is the third largest music label in the world.

Spitzer’s investigation determined that EMI provided illegal financial benefits to obtain airplay and boost the chart position of its artists by bribing radio station employees with concert tickets, video games, and hotel and airfare expenses; providing a stream of financial inducements to radio stations to assist with overhead costs; using independent promoters as conduits for the illegal payments to radio stations; and engaging in fraudulent call-in campaigns to increase the airplay of particular songs.

The EMI artists who have benefitted from the payola scheme include the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Norah Jones, and the band Gorillaz.

"When a record label engages in an elaborate scheme to purchase air time for its artists, it violates state and federal law and presents consumers with a skewed picture of the country’s proclaimed 'best' and 'most popular' music," Spitzer said. "We're pleased that our investigation of payola in the music industry has resulted in significant business practice reforms that will help generate more diverse airplay."

Radio airplay is the single most effective driver of music sales. The more airplay a song receives, the higher it climbs on published charts that purport to reflect the song's popularity, and the more likely consumers are to buy it.

The Attorney General's office obtained emails and sworn testimony from EMI executives who admitted providing radio station programmers with items of value in exchange for airplay. For example, in a September 2004 email, a Virgin promotion manager explained that a radio program director was seeking "Toronto Stones" tickets for himself, and that the director was willing to offer "what it takes for us to get them." When questioned about the email during testimony taken by the OAG, the promotion manager confirmed that the program director from WOTT in Watertown, NY, did indeed receive tickets to a Rolling Stones concert in Toronto for his personal use, and that the label received airplay for Rolling Stones and Exies songs.

Also during the investigation, a Capitol promotion manager testified that the label would pay for production costs if a radio station were putting on a concert, and would pay other radio station bills and expenses, in exchange for airplay. Similarly, a Virgin promotion executive testified that radio stations "might say, 'I'm thinking of adding your' whatever this week. 'Do you think you can take care of lighting for my show, production for my show, or T-shirts' or something like that."

EMI supplemented the work of its promotion employees through independent promoters – third-parties who are paid specifically to deal directly with the radio stations to obtain specified levels of airplay. Although hired by the record labels, some independent promoters employed by EMI – including Jeff McClusky, Bill McGathy and Michele Clark – had exclusive arrangements with particular radio stations.

Under the terms of the settlement, EMI has agreed to undertake company-wide reforms, including the immediate cessation of payments and other inducements to radio stations and their employees in return for "airplay"; discontinuance of independent promoters as a pass-through for securing airplay; hiring of a compliance officer to monitor promotion practices; and implementation of an internal system to detect any future abuses.

EMI will also make a $3.75 million payment, which will be distributed through the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, to New York State not-for-profit entities to fund music education and appreciation programs. The Attorney General acknowledged EMI's cooperation in resolving the matter.

Spitzer's probe of payola in the music industry previously resulted in three settlements with leading music companies: Sony BMG, Warner and Universal, and a lawsuit against Entercom Communications Corp. The investigation is continuing.

Pop Tarts: Britney Bawls, Madonna Moves On with Lindsay

At about the same time she was puzzling every rural parent in America by rationalizing her shockingly poor parenting skills to Matt Lauer as "we're country," Britney Spears has found herself back in the news for her treatment of little Sean Preston. While purchasing some pink g-strings at a Victoria's Secret on Mission Viejo, California, the pop star reportedly addressed her son's need for a diaper change by setting him on the floor next to the cash register. Now while we can debate all day as to whether pink g-strings are "country," we can agree that the floor of a lingerie store might not be the most sanitary of changing stations. As reported in the Toronto Star, once done, Spears tried to hand the dirty diaper to a sales clerk, asking her, "Can you throw this away for us?" The sales staff -- possibly hoping for an autograph instead of a soiled diaper -- refused. Perhaps the Save Sean Preston Petition has some merit after all.

Parenting skills aside: Pop Tart emeritus Madonna has expressed her disapproval for Spears' abandonment of her Kabbalah faith, apparently ending their friendship and asking her to return a 12th Century text on the religion she gave as a wedding gift. However, Madge moves on quickly. With Spears now finding religion in caring for her own child, Madonna has taken Lindsay Lohan under her wing; the two becoming fast friends due to their shared interest in Kabbalah. According to In Touch magazine, Madonna and Lohan are not only contemplating making music and a movie together, they may take a trip to Israel as well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Warped Tour Giveaway

The Warped Tour is in full swing and like every year has some very cool bands. Now, Earvolution is ready to send you to the show! And, as they say on tv - wait! That's not all...

Enter here and you can win:

· A trip for two to Warped Tour 2006 August 11th at Tower City Amphitheater in Cleveland, OH - plus accommodations and transportation to and from the show!

· A pair of tickets for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame tour

· A guitar signed by all participating artists

· Backstage passes and the opportunity meet all the artists and attend a BBQ with Warcon artists Helmet and Adair

· A video iPod from loaded with shows from FUSE, participating artists' videos and current albums

· An annual subscription to download all of your favorite Warped Tour bands from past and present at

· An annual subscription from Alternative Press Magazine

Meanwhile, Fuse TV has tons of Warped Tour coverage here.

Gnarls Barkley Has The Force

Complete with Boba Fett and a Star Wars inspired orchestra Gnarls Barkley performed their hit "Crazy" at the MTV music awards. Turns out the song almost was given away to another artist, but other music industry contacts turned the song down. So, much for these so-called experts!

Liz Berlin of Rusted Root

[Ed. Note: In light of Rusted Root's featured set at Bonnaroo this coming weekend, I thought it'd be appropriate to reprint an interview with Rusted Root's Liz Berlin that I did for a sports oriented site a couple years ago (think ESPN's 'Cold Pizza'), hence the sports questions.]

You've seen and heard her as one of the illustrious voices within Island Def Jam's multi-platinum selling band, Rusted Root. Now, Liz Berlin tells us what she's been up to and why skateboarding is her favorite sport.

Over their twelve-year history, Liz and Rusted Root have toured with Santana, the Allman Brothers, Sting, Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, Page and Plant, Jewel, and The Grateful Dead among many others. Raised on classical voice training as a child, she has sung with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Opera. This was the beginning of the long and twisted path through the worlds of folk, pop, ethnic, rock, and Rusted Root, through which she has created her own unique artistic vocal style. Liz also performs as a duo with Jenn Wertz (also of Rusted Root fame).

We caught up with Liz to check out what's next for her musically and talk a little sports.

JD: Congratulations to you guys on all your success with Rusted Root. You and Jenn have been performing acoustic does that differ musically and professionally from performing with the band?

LB: thanks, yeah, Jenn Wertz and I have been performing together for the last few months or so. We've actually been playing and singing together since the beginning of Rusted Root "behind the scenes," but we just recently decided to take it on the road. Our music is inherently different from Rusted Root's mainly because Mike Glabicki is the lead singer and writer of most of Rusted Root's music. Our shows consist of songs that Jenn and I have written and developed together for the past like 10 years or so. We take turns singing lead vocals and back each other up with guitars, drums, percussion, and harmonica. It's really exciting.

JD: sounds cool, what else is going on?

LB: As far as what I am doing, I recently released my first solo album. It is a live album recorded over the course of 4 years with my band at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Pittsburgh. I am currently in production on my studio album which should be released in the fall. I'm playing a headlining show in Pittsburgh at Club Cafe on May 21st.

I am also doing a lot of work with the non-profit organization that my partners and I have called Creative.Life.Support. I'm teaching recording and production classes to high school kids, co-writing and producing Hip-Hop and R&B songs with them. Another part of C.L.S is Creative.Life.Records, a non-profit record label which is backing a release by Bleeder whose CD I am producing.

JD: Tell us about Bleeder?

LB: Simple indie hard pop is how they would be described. It is my first production job for a full length album and I have a lot of faith in the band. We're recording the album at Mr. Smalls Funhouse which is my recording studio in Millvale, PA. You should check out their music They are very cool.

JD: When is Bleeder releasing a CD?

LB: They have just released a 4 song EP in anticipation of completion of their full-length album and are playing some live shows in the Pittsburgh area.

JD: How does producing compare to recording your own material?

LB: I love producing. To be able to see something you love in a band and help to bring it to it's potential on a recording, it's very fulfilling. It's a lot of work, but I can obsess over it until all hours of the night. The thing that's different about producing someone else as opposed to myself is the objectivity. When I'm working with someone else's material I know pretty much right away when a performance is right for the track, but it's hard to judge my own performances like that. As an artist, most people need that outside person to give them perspective and bounce ideas off of and I am no exception.

JD: Am I correct that 50 Cent and Black Eyed Peas recorded at your space?

LB: Yeah, 50 came in when he was doing his radio promo tour with G-Unit, right before their album came out. They were working on some new material and wanted to see how it would go down on tape. Black Eyed Peas came in to do a re-mix of a Sting song featuring Mary J. Blige for a European release.

JD: Any other "big names" record there?

LB: Ryan Adams came and stayed with us for 5 days. He was just about to go on the road for the summer opening for The Rolling Stones and needed to rehearse with his band before hand. So he rented out our theatre as a private rehearsal hall and he and the band stayed in our rectory house, which we call the "Rock & Roll Bed and Breakfast." We've also had some great artists play shows in our theatre like George Clinton, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Dickie Betz (of the Allman Brothers) It's been awesome.

JD: that's quite a set up, a theatre and recording studio in one facility! That's a lot to keep up with, how do you keep in shape?

LB: I'm also really into mountain biking. I'd really like to try freestyle biking at our park, but so far I'm too chicken.

JD: Have you always been athletic?

LB: I was on the swim team in high school, and it was a sanctuary for me, although I was the worst swimmer on the team.

JD: What are your favorite sports to watch?

LB: My favorite sport is skateboarding. My husband, Mike Speranzo (photo right), and I own a skatepark here in Pittsburgh and he is a great vertical Skater. I find it amazing to watch him fly through the air. He placed 3rd in the NSA Nationals for vert in 1988 and was sponsored by Sims Skateboards, Tracker Trucks & Vision Street wear. He had features in Trans World & Thrasher. In 1989 he moved to Woodward, PA to develop the Skateboarding program at Woodward Camp which at that point consisted of 2 campers and one ramp. In 2000 he placed 4th in the world in the Vans Amateur International for vertical.

JD: cool - a skatepark in the same spot as the theatre and recording studio. Mr. Smalls should be a stop on the next Vans Warped tour! Liz, thanks for catching us up on what you’re up too. Good luck on continued success with the park, studio and theatre and have fun on the road with Jenn!

Share This Post

Search Earvolution


Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!