Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Courtney Love on American Idol as a Paula Abdul replacement? US Magazine says the rocker indicated it was a possibility. Would Idol really go from one train wreck to another? Oh wait, Courtney's cleaned up her act now, right?

The Police haven't confirmed a tour yet. But, Sting Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland will continue to stoke those flames by opening this year's Grammy Awards telecast. The February 11th performance will be their first together since their 2003 set at their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and could be a prelude to a highly anticipated 30th Anniversary tour.

Music mogul David Geffen is reporetedly opening his home to folks who buy $20 tickets (for $46,000) to a fundraiser for Presidential candidate Barack Obama. What's that saying...for the people, by the people?

Los Lobos has announced an acoustic tour. The Acoustic En Vivo Tour will feature tunes from their latest record The Town and the City and kicks off February 8th in La Jolla.

Billy Joel will also kick off a tour in February. And, in an attempt to corner the sappy market, is releasing a Phil Ramone-produced track on February 7th on, where it will be available for streaming and as music for a Valentine's Day e-card. Awwww, so sweet.

Warner Brothers "indie rock" act (seriously, that's what they call themselves because they are on Doghouse, but apparently not realzing they've signed to one of the largest media companies in the world) The Honorary has an mp3 circulating from their new record Untouched & Intact that comes out in April.
Stream:: Untouched & Intact

The Makes Nice sent over a couple tracks from their Candy Wrapper and Twelve Other Songs release. The band consists of Josh Smith (guitar, vocals), Aaron Burnham (bass, vocals) and Jack Matthews (drums). The trio recorded the record with Phil Manley from Trans Am.
MP3s: Candy Wrapper and California Sun

Truth In Advertising: Perpetual Groove In New York City

By: David Schultz

The old adage that you can never tell a book by its cover oftentimes holds true in the world of music: there's nothing really secret about the Secret Machines; there are no siblings named Scissor and Todd Park Mohr's head really isn't all that big. Then again, sometimes the simplest of maxims contain an enormity of truth. In the case of the Perpetual Groove, you get exactly what you would expect. As their name suggests, the southern-based foursome likes to jam and they will do so with every song. Fortunately, they do it very well.

The band gelled in 2001 when original members Brock Butler (guitar) and Adam Perry (bass) hooked up with Matt McDonald (keys) and Albert Suttle (drums) in Savannah, GA. Working a touring schedule around the new band members' post 9/11 military responsibilities, Perpetual Groove built a solid following in the southeast before tackling the rest of the country. For the Saturday night show as part of their weekend stint at New York City's Knitting Factory, you could sense a big-time atmosphere in the air, ripe with expectancy. With their fan base growing at the same rate as their repertoire, the main room couldn't quite contain the scene that had flocked to The Knit. At the start of the night, there wasn't much room to move; ironically, by 1:30 a.m., when McDonald announced that the Saturday night show was their first New York City sellout, the crowd had drastically thinned.

Hefty in appearance, Perpetual Groove are also weighty in sound, staying free of any crunchy granola style noodling. Occasionally some tunes will commence with a slightly generic jamband sound but they rarely stay there. Quite polished in their skills, PGroove quickly moves into more complicated and interesting directions. At times, Perpetual Groove works their jams like The Disco Biscuits; at others, they work the tunes like moe., but with keyboards. With McDonald at the forefront, they handle the electronica jams well but they aren't the band's strongest suit. Though most work very well, some don't. "Robot Waltz," which closed the first set, played out phenomenally while "Teakwood Betz," which opened the second set, seemed more about making electronica noise than finding a smooth groove.

Far from a Jekyll & Hyde affair, Perpetual Groove are better when they pursue more of roots-rock flavor than spacey explorations. On those occasions, guitarist Brock Butler takes the lead, laying down some nice solos and playing off of McDonald's keys and Perry's bass. When Butler gets down to serious jamming, he seems to withdraw into himself, tilting his head skyward, his face revealing an internal concentration while he channels everything into his guitar. Able to do more than just lay down some classic rock solos, Butler's also an effective and entertaining singer. When not throwing some well-timed monkey yawps into "Breeze," his pleasing voice gives the band another dimension. Whether by design or not, Adam Perry's bass licks boldly push their way to the front of the mix, joining with Albert Suttle's drums to give many of the tunes a weighty feel. Suttle's not only able to keep up with the electronica pace the band often sets but also provides worthy arena rock drum fills. With the sweat beading from his bald pate, Suttle powered the band into "Crapshoot" with his tribal drums

Perpetual Groove also has a gift for mixing different styles, succeeding where many bands find failure. For "Macumba," they skillfully integrated a reggae beat and a standard fifties guitar riff to create an interesting number that ponders the current whereabouts of penguins with the same interest given the subject by Lyle Lovett. Midsong, Butler popped a baseball cap onto his head, came from behind his steel guitar setup and began to lay down some white-boy rhymes from The Beastie Boys as well as a complete run through "Lazy Sunday," SNL's ode to cupcakes and Narnia. In the most surreal moment of the evening, Butler led the crowd through a quick but raucous chant of "Wu Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck wit." Though the rap interlude could easily have come across as forced, it worked spectacularly. Showing more range, the band closed their second set with "Only Always," a pop-style song eerily similar in structure to Spandau Ballet's "True" even down to the wordless phrasing.

Reviewing a jamband can be fraught with difficulties. As most change their sets from night to night, trying to get a definitive take on a band from one show can be like reviewing a movie from a still photo. That all being said, it's clear from Saturday night's show that Perpetual Groove still has room to grow; they aren't at the stage where every jam works or connects. However, they hit much more than they miss: having a natural knack for keeping the jams interesting with extremely hypnotizing and danceable grooves.

Photos by Headylife.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sony BMG Settles FTC Charges

Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law when it sold CDs without informing consumers that they, among other things, contained technology that monitored their listening habits to send them marketing messages. According to the FTC, the software also exposed consumers to significant security risks and was unreasonably difficult to uninstall.

The proposed settlement requires Sony BMG to clearly disclose limitations on consumers' use of music CDs, bars it from using collected information for marketing, prohibits it from installing software without consumer consent, and requires it to provide a reasonable means of uninstalling that software. The settlement also requires that Sony BMG allow consumers to exchange the CDs through June 31, 2007, and reimburse consumers for up to $150 to repair damage to their computers that they may have suffered in trying to remove the software.

According to the complaint detailing the charges, Sony BMG embedded in its music CDs content protection software, also known as Digital Rights Management software, which installed itself on consumers' computers to restrict the number of times the audio files could be copied. In addition to restricting the use of the CDs on computers using the Windows Operating System, the software, which was concealed from consumers, created security vulnerabilities that could allow hackers and other third parties to gain access to consumers' computers.

The FTC also alleged that it was deceptive, in violation of federal law, to fail to disclose that Sony BMG's monitoring technology, included on many of its CDs, monitored consumers' music listening preferences and sent targeted marketing ads to their computers. In addition, the settlement bars Sony BMG from using the information on consumers' listening preferences that it has already gathered through the monitoring technology it installed and bars them from using the information to deliver ads to those consumers.

The settlement bars Sony BMG from installing or hiding content protection software that prevents consumers from finding or removing the software, and requires that it provide a reasonable and effective way to uninstall any content protection software. It requires that for two years, Sony BMG provide an uninstall tool and patches to repair the security vulnerabilities created on consumers' computers by previously installed software.

For the next 20 years, BMG must also comply with record keeping and reporting provisions designed to allow the agency to monitor compliance with its order. Failure to do so, could result in further action by the FTC.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement was 5-0. The FTC will publish an announcement regarding the agreement in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through March 1, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

John Hammond Brings The Blues To B.B. King’s

By: David Schultz

One of the most accomplished interpreters of the blues, guitarist John Hammond has racked up some serious credentials, releasing more than two dozen albums and sharing the stage with luminaries like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf in addition to classic rock icons as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers Band. His estimable back catalog provides ample evidence of his ability to capture the essence of the blues in all of its derivations. Hammond's even shown the foresight to beat Scarlett Johansson to the punch, his album of Tom Waits covers, Wicked Grin, beating the buxom beauty's rumored collection to the stores by about six years. On Push Comes To Shove, his latest, Hammond not only freshens up his traditional blues sound by bringing Philadelphia "hip-hop blues" star G-Love into the mix, he offers up five originals songs of his own.

On the release date of his 31st album, Hammond joined Cajun-style pianist Marcia Ball at the B.B King Blues Club & Grill as part of a potent double bill. To the surprise of some of the staff, The Hammond Quartet, which included bassist Marty Ballou, drummer Steven Hodges and keyboardist Bruce Katz, took the stage in the opening slot, beginning the evening with an hour long set of polished blues.

B.B. King's Times Square monument to the blues couldn't differ more from the juke houses that spawned Hammond's blues. But, its dinner-theater atmosphere provided the perfect scene for the Hammond Quartet, which added a fifth, David Hansen, for a good portion of the set. Hammond's audience skews towards an older demographic that, for the most part, has lost their desire to stand elbow-to-elbow in a funky Lower East Side club in order to catch a show. In that respect, the crowd matched Hammond's unwavering love of the blues, sitting with reverent silence while a master bluesman practiced his craft

At 64 years of age, Hammond doesn't bring many new tricks into his stage show. However, his inclusion of his originals from Push Comes To Shove may qualify. In addition to his new material, Hammond peppered his set with the traditional blues numbers that his fans have come to expect, punctuating the old and the new songs with his crisp guitar licks. Hammond will continue to deliver those classic blues licks as he continues to tour the United States throughout the winter.

[Photographer: Jessica Chornesky; Copyright: EMI Music]

Peter Gabriel Drums Up Support for Witness

And The Eyes Of The World Are Watching Now
In an era where YouTube makes it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to broadcast their every whim, Peter Gabriel is making a plea to harness video voyeurism for good. At the World Economic Forum in Davros, Switzerland, Gabriel engaged in a little fundraising for Witness, his latest venture which seeks to document human rights abuses throughout the world on amateur video cameras. "With the phone and Internet, anyone, any place, can tell their story," said the politically-conscious singer.

A longtime supporter of Amnesty International, Gabriel provided one of the defining performances of the Eighties during the 1986 Conspiracy Of Hope concert at Giants Stadium. With 80,000 people singing along to "Biko," Gabriel not only made one high school junior realize that music can do so much more than entertain, he motivated many in attendance to join the Nobel Prize winning organization with his understated "the rest is up to you."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Justin Timberlake continues to amaze. Not just on stage, but off. Perez Hilton - ok, not exactly a journalistic icon - reports that Timberlake was joined at Sundance by Jessica Biel. Now, that my friends certainly qualifies as sexy back.

Keith Richards, who may or may not have recovered from falling out of that tree last year, is apparently on a health kick. The "walking dead" guitarist has reportedly taken to drinking "organic vodka." The healthy booze was supposedly a gift from Ronnie Wood's wife, who is reported to be encouraging a more healthy lifestyle for the group of sixty-somethings.

Jason Mraz composed "The Beauty In The Ugly" in support of the "Be Ugly 07" campaign as "Ugly Betty" seems to be all the rage these days. The show appears Thursdays on ABC at 8/7c.
Stream: real / windows

U-Melt's Winter Tour will be kicking off tonight, Friday, 1/26, with a show at Mexicali Blues Cafe in Teaneck, NJ. Saturday night, U-Melt will be travelling down the Jersey Turnpike to headline The North Star in Philly. More tour dates here.

The Arctic Monkeys reportedly were victims of theft. The band was said to have set up a photo shoot near some unoccupied Liverpool houses and were planning to feature a toilet in the shots. But, some local kids reportedly spoiled the fun when the ran off with it. Now word on whether the loo-ters were caught.

The Safes get a mention here because of a song title I liked. Their "Phonebook Full of Phonies" title reminded me of my favorite book Catcher in the Rye. You'll recall Holden Caufield's fondness of the word phonies. But, back to the Safes, the Chicago band of brothers just released their latest record Well, Well, Well. and are embarking on a club tour.
MP3s: "Phonebook Full of Phonies" and "Fairy Tale Tomorrow"

The legendary B.B. King was reportedly hospitalized last night. King is reportedly in good condition and under observation in the University Of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. No reason was reported for the visit. King's hospitalisation meant a scheduled gig last night at the Grand Opera House had to be cancelled.
Video Flashback: B.B. King joins Stevie Ray Vaugh for SRV's "Texas Flood" in 1988.

Gnarls Barkley: Smiley Faces

Gnarls Barkley is still deservedly riding high on their platinum selling St. Elsewhere. Gnarls received five Grammy Award nominations, including "Record of the Year" for "Crazy" and "Album of the Year." The band also picked up nominations for "Best Alternative Music Album" and "Best Urban Alternative Performance" for "Crazy". Danger Mouse was also named in the "Producer of the Year" category for the 2nd year in a row. Gnarls will also perform live on the Grammy Awards show.

The latest single from the celebrated album is "Smiley Faces."

Stream: REAL and WINDOWS.

Green Apple Festival Ripens And Grows

In 2006, the inaugural Green Apple Music & Arts Festival, which kicked off with the Jammy Awards at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, featured two days of outdoor performances at Grand Central by the likes of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Assembly Of Dust, Umphrey's McGee and Tea Leaf Green headlining CBGB, a screening of Wetlands Preserved and three nights of concerts all throughout Manhattan.

For 2007, the Green Apple Festival will spread throughout the United States with 150 shows at 80 separate theaters in 3 different cities, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. In the Festival's most ambitious venture to date, Relix Magazine, Pete Shapiro, and will mount a simultaneous day long concert on Earth Day, Sunday April 22, in New York’s Central Park, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

While many of the shows have yet to be announced, the Festival will return to Vanderbilt Avenue outside of Grand Central Terminal and Particle will return to the Bowery Ballroom, the scene of their 2006 sold-out Green Apple show.

Jazz Fest Announces 2007 Lineup

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, affectionately known as Jazz Fest will take place this year April 27-29 and May 4-6. The 2007 Jazz Fest returns to the Fair Grounds Race Course and will feature 10 stages of simultaneous music programming and a Food Fair offering more than 100 varieties of authentic Louisiana cuisine.

Harry Connick Jr. will close out Jazz Fest, capping off two three-day weekends that will include opening weekend performances by Dr. John, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Norah Jones, Calexico and Soulive and final weekend performances by Z.Z. Top, Steely Dan, Galactic, Counting Crows and the Allman Brothers Band. Oh yes, Jazz Fest will also feature performances from numerous jazz and blues musicians whose names won't sound familiar but will blow you away nonetheless.

Van Halen Reunion Not Inked Yet

Van Halen reunion rumors and "reports" are all over the place, including Billboard. But, even Billboard didn't say it was a done deal. And, neither does a source close to the Van Halen camp. The source didn't deny anything would happen, but confirmed that as of yesterday nothing is official. That also includes what the line-up will be, if any, for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

The Hall inducted both Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth along with the rest of the traditional Van Halen line-up. Left out was singer Gary Cherone, who appeared on Van Halen III. Cherone's tenure, according to a spokesperson for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wasn't part of the band's "significant era" so the Hall subjectively chose to not include Cherone as part of the Van Halen induction. Of course, Cherone might argue that VHIII was a Gold record and produced a #1 rock hit with "Without You."

Another twist in the Hall of Fame scenario is that some even questioned the inclusion of Hagar. The rule for induction states that your recording career must be 25 or more years old before being eligible. Van Halen's career started more than 25 years ago and so did Hagar's. But, Hagar wasn't with VH for 25 years. The Hall spokesperson said that the vote was on the VH "entity" and not the individual members and since Sammy clearly was part of VH's "significant era" he gets in.

Interestingly, when asked if Hagar would get in on his own, the spokesperson didn't seem to know Hagar had a career for over a decade before joining VH. When I provided that information the response was "I don't listen to that kind of music." Uh, you mean, rock and roll? Hopefully, I don't need to spell out the irony.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Van Halen reunion with Roth? E! Online reports that a deal could be signed as early as today for a 40 city tour. An email I sent to Eddie Van Halen's rep on the West Coast this morning is unanswered. Given the time difference, I'll update later if this is confirmed.

MTV UK reports that Amy Winehouse and Jamie Callum were among a group kicked out of a London bar last night. The same report cites the Sun as saying that Jarvis Cocker and Ronnie Wood were also part of a group hanging around the bar's piano and apparently making too much noise for management. Perhaps the managers didn't realize they had the "next big thing" in their presence?

Speaking of Ronnie Wood if you've ever wanted to "jam with the Stones" as Spicoli would say, the next best thing might be a rock fantasy camp. Wood is reported to be among the instructors for a rock school that would also include Cream bassist Jack Bruce, Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker and Spencer Davis. Gigwise says that students paying the hefty tuition fee will also be taken to a recording session at Abbey Road Studios and play a gig at the Cavern in Liverpool.

Fall Out Boy is reportedly the latest victim of a leaked record. Pete Wentz told NME, "This isn't the end of the world, (but) it certainly feels pretty terrible." The band will reportedly add a bonus track to the official release to encourage fans to pay for the official version instead of downloading the leaked tracks.

Rumors are flying about the Who playing the monster Glastonbury festival. Artic Monkeys, Bjork, the Killers, Razorlight and the Smashing Pumpkins are also being tossed around as possible bands on the bill. Speaking of the Who, I read somewhere the other day that Pete Townsend sort of apologized for saying bands like the Stones were too old to tour anymore [insert your own "hope I die before I get old joke here].

I just got this mp3 from Chicago's Dearborn so I haven't had time to fully digest it. But, it sounded decent on a first listen and Jambase says: "Want to see a great rock band and dance your ass off? Then go see Dearborn, a rock and roll quartet from Chicago that knows how to blend killer riffs and catchy melodies with funky dance beats and flat-out grooves. This isn't emo, this isn't metal, this isn't prog. This is straight-up rock, and it's not to be missed." So, check them out!
MP3: Already Down

Philadelphia's Dr. Dog is readying their new release. We All Belong will be released in February and the band, who in the past have toured wth Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, My Morning Jacket and other big names will embark on their own US tour. Label mates The Teeth will be on many of those dates.
MP3: My Old Ways

The Ataris new record, Welcome the Night, drops on February 20th. I'm told that it is a bit of a departure from their previous stuff and that the record was produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / David Byrne). If you listen carefully you may here hints of The Pixies and Sigur Ros.
MP3: Connections Are More Dangerous Than Lies

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Swear Ready to Hit NYC

I had the pleasure of meeting The Swear down in Atlanta this past summer. In addition to putting out some quality songs, these folks struck me as really good people. Elizabeth Elkins is a force whose delivery and lyrics on songs like "The Sleep Inside", "January" and "Deadfall" are as good as anyone in the rock game today. Elkins is joined by similarly able band mates in Jeremy Zamora (guitar), Kent Aberle (drums) and Kevin Williams (bass).

If the songs sound familiar, you may recognize them from one of several tv shows that have featured their tunes. The Swear have been played on Smallville (The CW), Roswell (The WB), Rescue Me (FX), Reunion (FOX), Life As We Know It (ABC), Wanted (TNT), Outward Bound (The Discovery Channel) and various MTV programs. In 2006, The Swear was also recognized on the Atlanta It List, as one of only five music acts (with Outkast, Sugarland, Ludacris and TI).

They have been tearing it up all over the South, but will make their first foray into NYC tomorrow night at Arlene's Grocery. If you're in the area stop on in, you won't be disappointed.

Mp3s, News and Notes

Norah Jones has a new record coming out next week. Not Too Late hits stores Tuesday, January 30th. The material is classic Norah Jones and not the punkish pop she'd been experimenting with last year in NYC clubs. Stream: Windows Media / Quicktime / Real

The Jesus and Mary Chain (yes another Scottish band!) are joining the list of reunions and will play at Coachella. You can refresh your recollection of JMC or if you weren't a child of the 80s discover them for the first time over at the Rhino Records site.

The Shins will be on David Letterman tonight. Via MySpace their label is encouraging fans to tape it and post it to the internet. I'm sure that'll make some lawyers happy. And, with all the hype you probably thought their new record, Wincing the Night Away, was already out when in fact it drops today.

Warm in the Wake will put out their new record on January 30th. The Decatur-based southern popsters are taking their melodic brand of indie rock on tour and you can get dates on their MySpace page.
MP3: Tame Thoughts

According to their publicist, The Berg Sans Nipple "present a dazzling amalgam of dreamy electronica, percussion-heavy afro-beats, layers of feedback, pop melodies and dub blankets on Along the Quai." You can judge for yourself with a couple mp3s, I just wanted to see if we'd get some extra google hits from the word "nipple." Maybe we'll have more luck if we write "Jessica Simpson" next to it.
MP3s:: Mystic Song and Along the Quai.

Erin McKeown: Sing You Sinners

By: David Schultz

Singers gravitate towards American standards for many different reasons: Bette Midler went there cause the songs were right in her wheelhouse; Bob Dylan hit it for Good As I Been To You to make a point about (or avoid) music royalties and Rod Stewart dove in because . . . well, some things can’t be explained. With her latest album, Sing You Sinners, Erin McKeown, the often-folky, New York singer-songwriter is the latest artist to make a foray into the music of yore. Echoing back to the Great American Songbook period, the talented songwriter avoids any central message, focusing instead on the timeless melodies of yesteryear.

McKeown doesn't have the strong voice necessary to place at the forefront and make a centerpiece of these songs. Instead, she relies on her ability as an artist to get to the heart of the song. She gives a jazzy flair to tunes like "Get Happy" and "Rhode Island Is For You," but the oddness of songs like "Cou Cou" and "If You A Viper" becomes a bit distracting. McKeown definitely has an ear for the period: "Melody," the album's one original, blends so well it sounds transported from the decades past. McKeown barely modernizes the tunes, keeping them within the confines of their own era. For nostalgia's sake, Sing You Sinners may find a niche but for McKeown, her future doesn't lie in living in the past.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Check out Gym Class Heroes on AOL Music Sessions Undercover. They perform acoustic versions of 'Cupid's Chokehold' and 'The Queen And I' from the As Cruel As School Children record as well as putting their own spin on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Under The Bridge.'

Mat Kearney is hitting the road as part of the VH1 "You Oughta Know" Tour. Mat will be joined by The Feeling and Rocco DeLuca and the Burden. The tour kicks off in March in Denver. Not to be outdone, MTV has Lily Allen headlining its "Discover and Download" tour.

If you're in NYC you should check out the Kerri Black's singer/songwriter showcase this Thursday January 25, 2007 at Mo Pitkins 34 Ave A. Kerry's bill includes Lin McEwan, Gregory Paul and Dave Doobin. The kicks off at 8:45.

Snow Patrol drummer's Jonny Quinn broken his arm while snow boarding. Yes, quite ironic. Quinn's injury will not side line the band. The rest of the Patrol will continue to tour with a replacement drummer. NME reports that ex-Therapy drummer Graham Hopkins will fill in.

Matt Russell will release his debut for Apology Records, Climbing, on February 6th. LocalBuzz says "Russell has an evocative, emotional voice that can deliver the raw power of stripped-down Springsteen one moment and the gruff, melancholic intimacy of Tom Waits the next." Listen to the title track here.

Amy Winehouse, who recently kicked off a US tour, continues to make label execs happy. She's #1 in the UK (two weeks in a row) and according to Island Records has now shipped over 500k albums. Amy has also been nominated for Best Album and Best Female Vocalist for the Brit Awards. Check out mp3s for "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good." YouTube has the video for Rehab here.

If you're going to write a song called "Punkrocker," there aren't too many better choices than to get Iggy Pop to sing it. That's exactly what Sweden's Teddybears did. Check out the video for Punkrocker here.

Pagoda is set to release their self-titled album on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label on Feb 27th. You can listen to their energetic "Lesson Learned" here.

Angels & Airwaves are working on their new record. They'll do some recording in Tom DeLonge's Macbeth recording studios. The band will also play an Earth Day concert at the school that wins the mtvU GE "ecomagination challenge."

In other green band news, O.A.R. has partnered with the Clif GreenNotes campaign to promote environmental awareness during the course of the band's Winter Tour with Gomez. Both bands are trying to "green up" their act by using biodiesel to fuel their tour buses, offsetting the tour's CO2 emissions through the purchase of clean, renewable wind energy credits, minimizing the idling of tour buses and staying at hotels identified as more sustainable.

Roger Waters contributes a track to the soundtrack for The Last Mimzy. The tune "Hello (I Love You)" features guest appearances by drummer Steve Gadd (Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Steely Dan), guitarist Gerry Leonard (music director/guitarist for David Bowie), with Waters on bass and vocals. The Last Mimzy's 6-year-old star Rhiannon Leigh Wryn also appears on the track, singing along with Waters on the chorus.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Stories are circulating that Paul McCartney has offered a divorce settlement to Heather Mills. Both sides probably want to avoid an ugly court scene. Again, the lesson here kids is that when you're a rich pop star be happy to have one "love of your life" or if you do marry again, get a pre-nup! Meanwhile on the music front, McCartney's "Jenny Wren", which earned Sir Paul a nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal, will appear on the Grammy Nominations 2007 compilation disc. Fellow nominees like Gnarls Barkley and Justin Timberlake appear on the collection as well.

Reports have Rage Against the Machine reuniting for Coachella in April. We'll have to see if they can come back together, and if they do, whether it will be just a one off or if something bigger comes of it.

The God Damn Doo Wop Band is putting their modern spin on old school doo wop. Check out their "Rooftops of Bangor" here. Score another interesting indie act for Minneapolis.

The Icicles are in the studio with Britt Meyers working on their next disc, tentatively titled, Arrivals & Departures, which is expected to hit stores this spring. In addition to Myers, the band has also worked with producer Dave Trumfio (OK Go, My Morning Jacket, Billy Bragg & Wilco) who produced The Icicles' EP, Pure Sugar. If you don't know the name, you may recognize their tune Sugar Sweet in a widely run Motorola commercial, which begs an interesting question. Can you get major play from a major corporation and still be an "indie" band? Apparently the answer is yes.

Of Montreal has a video out for the first single from their new record Hissing Fauana, Are You The Destroyer?. As expected, it is nothing like standard video fare. Check out "Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse" here.

Washington DC's The Vandaveers will release their full-length debut Grace & Speed in March. You can preview "However Takes it Takes" and "Marianne, You Done it Now." If you're in the DC area, you can see the band this week (1/25) at Iota opening for Mark Eitzel (American Music Club).

Yoko Ono and Cat Power have teamed up for "Revelations". The re-worked song, which originally appeared on Yoko's 1995 record Rising (which had its own guests with Sean Lennons and Timo Ellis). On the new remix disc, titled Yes, I'm a Witch, Yoko scores additional "indie rock" cred with an appearance by The Flaming Lips. Yes, the quotes on indie rock are to acknowledge that the Lips are in the Warner Brothers family.

The UK's Field Music could be Trans-Atlantic musical cousins to our Cold War Kids. The lads have a record coming out February 20th and you can preview "Sit Tight" here.

Circle Sound: Luther Dickinson & Rich Robinson Heat Up Manhattan

By: David Schultz

When The Black Crowes famously reunited for a week's worth of shows at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom, they selected a fine slate of artists to accompany them, including the North Mississippi AllStars. In addition to joining The Crowes for an encore of Elmore James' "Shake Your Money Maker" during that March 2005 run, the AllStars' lead guitarist Luther Dickinson (and his bandmates) rang in 2006 with the Robinson brothers at their New Year's concert at Madison Square Garden. As both bands are steeped in the southern tradition of the blues, it can't come as any surprise that they hit it off both on and off stage. No strangers to the joys and miseries of playing in a band with their brother, the Crowes' Rich Robinson and the AllStars' Luther Dickinson left their respective siblings at home to team up for an evening as Circle Sound.

While Circle Sound publicized their Friday night show at the Bowery Ballroom as featuring Robinson and Dickinson, it came with a heavy Black Crowes vibe. Current Crowes band members, keyboardist Rob Clores and bassist Sven Pipien, who is cultivating the Chris Robinson homeless hippie look, as well as former Crowes drummer Bill Dobrow rounded out the band. Aswirl with promises and rumors of special guests, expectations over surprise appearances ran amok and the presence of 2007 Hall Of Fame inductee and resident New Yorker Patti Smith sated all but the most unreasonable appetites for something exceptional.

Any hopes that Circle Sound would feature multiple guitar battles between The Crowe and The AllStar were quickly dashed. Robinson made no effort to match Dickinson's exemplary skills, providing rhythm guitars and complementary riffs instead of an old-fashioned duel. With his thick glasses and unkempt locks, Dickinson looks more like a librarian than a skilled bluesman. Bringing his customary phalanx of guitars, Dickinson switched axes every couple of numbers, notably breaking out a mandolin for a triptych of songs including Ry Cooder's "Boomer's Story," a song often covered by Chris Robinson when he sits in with Dickinson and the AllStars. Brother Rich seemed content to let Dickinson handle the leads, only once breaking out the slide guitar for a countryish version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." For the encore, the two guitarists attempted some guitar theatrics on "Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz," an acoustic, Led-Zep style outtake from Amorica. Dickinson seemed to throw off Robinson at the start of the song by switching guitars and the two seemed to play at odds with each other until the end when they finally meshed.

With the exception of a take on the AllStars' "Bang Bang Lulu" and the acoustic beginning to the encore, Circle Sound pretty much avoided NMA or Black Crowes fare, using their Bowery gig as an opportunity to have some fun. Becoming the night's most skilled cover band, Dickinson and Robinson breathed life into some wisely chosen classic rock covers, some old-school blues and a few Robinson originals. The band's best moments were on gritty blues tunes like "Spoonful," "Mean Old World" and a pair of Johnny Winter tunes. They dove heartily into the slinky off-kilter beat of The Rolling Stones' "I Just Wanna See His Face" and they expertly Crazy Horsed their opener, "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere."

Robinson and Dickinson shared lead vocals throughout the set: Robinson fronting during tunes from his 2004 album Paper; Dickinson handling the swampier blues and classic rock covers. However, Patti Smith's voice resonated the most. Near the end of the set, the politically outspoken singer mesmerized the crowd with a rendition of "Smoke Signals." While Smith may be physically showing her age, her voice and stage presence remain as captivating as ever.

Opening act Langhorne Slim also provided some nice variety. Playing a revved up acoustic guitar like Ray Lamontagne on steroids, the gullible in the crowd could have been convinced that Slim was a disguised Jack White.

Circle Sound's Bowery Ballroom show was one for the band, who seemed to truly enjoy the freedom of taking a night off from their usual catalog to play a set of their favorite tunes. Far from an indulgent night, Dickinson, Robinson, the rest of Circle Sound, Smith and Slim exceeded all expectations, producing a fast-paced night of quality blues and rock and roll.

[PHOTO CREDIT TO VANARK - Check out more of his fine work HERE.]

Demander Downloads

NYC's Demander are readying their new full length effort The Unkindness of Ravens. The band consists of Karen Correa (vocals/bass), Jared Scott (guitar) and Sivan Harlap (drums). When naming them band of the day, Spin compared them to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. However, Demander has their own unique brand of rock that'll get you up out of your seat.

You can check out two preview tracks here: Lovelife and Hollis. They also have an interesting animated video for Hollis. As an added bonus, Franz Nicolay from the Hold Steady is featured on a couple tracks of the new LP as well. The band will head west in February for some California dates and come back to the East Coast and work their way south in March toward SXSW. I hope to catch them somewhere along the line, and suggest you do the same.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Neil Young is releasing a set of previously unreleased live and studio tracks assembled from earlier days in his career. His Archives Volume 1 will consist of eight CDs and two DVDs and will be out later in the year. But, first Young is putting out a live solo cd, Live At Massey Hall, which was recorded in January 1971 in Toronto, Canada.

Garbage is set to hit the studio to record some new music. Drummer Butch Vig reportedly told MTV: "We're recording a couple new songs at the end of February. I think everyone's excited about getting back in a room and playing some music together. We've been working on it for a while. There was originally talk about doing a B-side and remix CD as well. I'm not sure what we'll do, but we have a lot of B-sides and remixes over the years, so it would be cool to see that come out in a proper package for our hardcore fans."

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have a new record due out in March. Meanwhile, catch "The Sons of Cain" here. Another indie buzz band, Arcade Fire, are also readying new material. Their new record is called Neon Bible. You can listen to the track "Black Mirror" here.

Brooklyn's Pela, who struck me as very nice guys when I got to hang a bit with them in Philadelphia last summer, have announced a deal with Great Society records and will be putting out a full length disc in April. The band has a great live show and worth checking out if you haven't seen them yet.

For those who like a genre mixing, check out this track with a little Biggie, Tupac and others mixed over a mash-up of David Bowie's "Fame" and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."

Keller Williams got a bunch of friends together for his new record. Dream hits stores in February and includes appearances by Béla Fleck, Bob Weir, Michael Franti, Steve Kimock, The String Cheese Incident, Victor Wooten and a host of others.

A Wintry Sunplash In The City: Toots And The Maytals At The Canal Room

By: David Schultz

After Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, there isn't a bigger name in reggae than Toots Hibbert. His widespread legacy includes an appearance in The Harder They Come, reggae's Citizen Kane, his songs have been covered by reggae artists and beyond and just recently contributed a cover of "Let Down" the Easy Star All Stars' Radiodread. Throughout their career, Toots and the Maytals have remained a viable live attraction, selling out Manhattan's Nokia Theater during last April's Green Apple Music & Arts Festival. This Wednesday, on one of the first frigid evenings to strike New York City this winter, the reggae legend returned to the Big Apple with his latest band of Maytals, warming things up by bringing Caribbean reggae and soul to a sold-out Canal Room.

Taking the stage in a snazzy purple suit, the 61-year-old singer led the Maytals through a quick version of "Pressure Drop." Opening the show with his biggest hit seemed akin to Lynyrd Skynyrd kicking off a show with "Free Bird," but Toots had more reggae classics in store and methodically worked his way through his back catalogue. It's been a while since Toots had an outburst of new material; his latest album consisted of high-profile duets with the likes of Eric Clapton, Ben Harper and Willie Nelson. As such, the set remained focused on original classics like "Funky Kingston," "Monkey Man" and "Reggae Got Soul" and adaptations like "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Louie, Louie."

Toots and the Maytals predominantly followed the same pattern for most of the songs. After a verse or two, Toots would engage in a call-and-response with the audience, giving them a chance to lustily sing along and then the band would speed the song up with the crowd bouncing excitedly along with Hibbert. Though repetitive, the pattern remained effective. A significant deviation from the formula occurred in the encore during Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams To Remember." Remaining stationary at the mike, Toots captured the song's smoldering soul

Even though he may be responsible for naming the genre in his 1968 hit "Do The Reggay," Toots has always been more than just a reggae singer. Clearly influenced over the years by James Brown, Toots remembered the Godfather Of Soul with a little off-the-cuff detour into "I Feel Good" with an accompanying Good Foot shuffle. The Maytals even modified their customary response to their leader's call to "hit me" from a reggae bounce into a James Brown sting. In working "Say It Loud (I'm Black And I'm Proud)" into a song, Toots acknowledged the predominantly white crowd, modifying the lyrics to exude pride in all races.

The one-off Canal Room show will be Toots and the Maytals last scheduled performance until March, when they play a slate of shows in Florida as well as the Langerado Music Festival.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Kelly Clarkson will have a little extra kick on her next record thanks for punk legend Mike Watt. Watt, currently playing with Iggy Pop and the Stooges, was impressed by the Idol's vocal abilities. He is quoted as saying "I heard that Kelly won some game show, but I was really impressed how she sang her ass off."

Kings of Leon told NME that their new record would be ready for an April 2nd release. But, the band also said we can expect a new single before then, probably in March.

Atlantic Records sent over a link to Paolo Nutini's vid for "New Shoes" - check it here.

The Post Chronicle speculates that Jewel may be in the running to replace Paula Abdul on American Idol if the spacey Paula continues her wacky ways. I don't see it happening. Fox is smart enough to know that people want to see what Paula will do next and the "is she or isn't she" tabloid headlines referring to intoxication are extra publicity for the show. Now, if she really goes off the deep end, maybe. But, for now I think Jewel will be sticking with Cowboy Troy on Nashville Star.

Minus the Bear is working on both a remix record and a disc of entirely new music. Scheduled for a summer release, the new record is tentatively titled Planet Of Ice and is being recorded by Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon). Meanwhile, MTB fans can look forward to Interpretaciones Del Oso, the band's remix record, which will be released Feb. 20th.

Deerhoof, who've toured with The Flaming Lips and Radiohead, is putting out their new record next week. Friend Opportunity hits stores on January 23rd and the band starts their US tour the next day in LA. Meanwhile you can check out their single "+81" here.

Jack Johnson, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab For Cutie, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers, John Hiatt, Guster, Blues Traveler, Government Mule and a host of other artists will appear on a tribute record to The Band called Endless Highway: The Music of the Band. The compilation is due out later this month.

NYC's As Tall As Lions will be part of Alternative Press Magazine's "Band You Need To Know" tour. Cute Is What We Aim For, Circa Survive and Envy On The Coast are also on the bill.

The New Orleans area is still in need of help. If you can't afford move there like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly have, you can hopefully squeeze in a visit. A prime time to head to the Big Easy would be the first week in May. You can catch the 6th Annual Ponderosa Stomp on Wednesday May, 2nd at the New Orleans House of Blues. Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators Fame will appear along with a host of others.

KT Tunstall Working On New Record

Scottish lass and Grammy nominee KT Tunstall is still receiving accolades for her very well done Eye to the Telescope, but is already working on her next release.

KT says: "I'm very happy with how the album is sounding so far so I've just got to get it finished. I should be in the studio at the moment but instead I'm here in Los Angeles. I should be finished the album by the end of February so we don't have long. There's a bit of pressure but that could be a good thing."

KT is nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

New Bloc Party Video

Bloc Party has a new video for "I Still Remember" - you can check it out here. Meanwhile their other new tune "The Prayer" topped the NME charts for the second week in a row, and if you haven't seen it yet you can check that clip here.

American Idol Big Kickoff

American Idol boasted over 57 million viewers for their first night of Season Six. That's more than they've gotten for some of their finale shows and their second highest single show to date. For comparison, it is also the highest rated Fox premiere in total viewers in the network's history. I guess, for better or for worse, there's no end in sight to the Idol franchise.

Next week is Memphis, but don't forget to look for Earvolution friend Sabriena Stone when the New York area auditions air. And, as for last night, yes the "Big Red" dude from Seattle creeped me out too.

Dylan's New Digs and Tune

Bob Dylan has reportedly bought a sweet new pad. The troubadour is reportedly ready to nestle into a Scottish mansion that sits on 25 acres of woodland near the village of Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire. Sounds like quite the place! Enjoy it Bob, you've earned it.

Reports also have a new Dylan tune called "Huck's Theme," appearing on the soundtrack for the film Lucky You. The movie, which stars Drew Barrymore, is also said to feature a pair of Bruce Springsteen tunes, including old school track "The Fever."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ramones and Clash Added to Grammy Hall

Did you know the Grammy's had a Hall of Fame? I didn't. But, it turns out they do and this year have added the Ramones' self-titled record The Ramones and The Clash's ever-relevant London Calling to their list of honorees.

Speaking of the Clash...Mick Jones reportedly told Blender Magazine that the lads weren't very happy with one of their tunes being appropriated for war time cheer leading. Mick says Joe Strummer was particularly miffed: "When he saw it (Rock The Casbah) put on the side of a US bomb... Joe was in tears. We hated that appropriation. We never meant anything like that."

Korn Covers Radiohead and The Cure

Korn, reports FMQB, are putting out a new MTV Unplugged CD. I had no idea that MTV still did those? Anyway, it was reportedly recorded this past December and features appearances by the recently engaged Amy Lee of Evanescence and Robert Smith of The Cure. Lee sings with the boys on "Freak On A Leash" and Smith appears on Korn's take of the Cure's "In Between Days."

The Unplugged special is set to air online first on February 10th, then on MTV proper on February 17th. Korn also has reportedly covered Radiohead's "Creep" for the disc, which will hit stores in March.

The Villebillies: The Villebillies

By: David Schultz

Finding strength in numbers, The Villebillies travel down the road of mixed genres paved by Kid Rock. With five lead singers/rappers, the ten-strong band delves into their roots creating a mélange of hillbilly bluegrass, pop and hip-hop. Their admirably ambitious attempt to merge styles doesn't quite work at the same level as Detroit's Native Son; while they've failed to create a modern masterpiece, The Villebillies have created a delightfully guilty pleasure.

The themes of The Villebillies tunes are pretty basic: they sing about drinking, the joys of home and how they got panache. The instrumental half of the band plays simple backing tracks, throwing a repetitive guitar riff, string trill or banjo riff over tinny drums. Like many hip-hop tracks, the melodies are borrowed/adapted from other songs and the vocals range from street braggadocio to homespun sentimentality. Despite its shortcomings, The Villebillies' debut zips along at a nice pace. The songs may not be classics but they are fun. On "Ol' Faithful," the vocals replicate Eminem, on "Rolling Stone," they create their best groove and on "Talkin Stupid," in which they do just that, they find their most effective rapping style.

Tone down your expectations, remove your hipster hat and you'll find yourself getting a kick out of The Villebillies.

Aerosmith: Devil’s got A New Disguise (The Very Best Of)

by Dave DeMarco.

It's been a few years since we've had a new Aerosmith release, so the powers-that-be at Columbia Records decided it was time for yet another "best of" package. Since this set combines the gems from Aerosmith's early Columbia era with the mega hits from the Geffen years, it could almost be considered a compilation of all the previous Greatest Hits collections. So let's do a checklist of everything one would expect to appear here: "Dream On"? Check. "Back In The Saddle"? Check. "Walk This Way"? Of course, but this time we get the always-fun Run DMC version. Moving on..."Dude"? Check. "Elevator"? Check. And the blockbuster ballads are all present and accounted for as well. Also, lest anyone forget that Aerosmith released an "amazing" new CD in 2001 entitled Just Push Play, that CD's chart-topper, "Jaded" is also included.

While there are plenty of folks who are mighty content to hear Aerosmith crank out the hits from the 70's, this reviewer feels that the band is still releasing vital, creative and most definitely rocking material. Thankfully, two new tracks grace this release. The first, "Sedona Sunrise" is slightly reminiscent of Permanent Vacation's "Hangman Jury" with its earthy, organic Americana vibe. This is the kind of groove that the band seems to fall into effortlessly and it showcases them at their most comfortable. The second new offering is the title track and is poised to sit in the hallowed grounds with the rest of the band's arena-ready hits. That trademark Aerosmith swagger is just as strong as ever. Through all the studio sheen and refinement, there's no denying that the band's heart is still in a brownstone apartment on Boston's Commonwealth Avenue. Even if you own all their albums...oops, sorry...have all their tracks on your ipod, it's worth shelling out a few shekels for Devil's Got A New Disguise, just for these two new tracks.

Here's hoping that bassist Tom Hamilton makes a full recovery from his battle with the big C so that he can rejoin his comrades and collectively "vaccinate your ass with a phonograph needle"!

Ewan McGregor as Cobain?

Kurt Cobain's life (and death) have been the subject of various books and films over the years. But, Courtney Love herself has reportedly decided to further cash in put out a film after she reportedly acquired the rights to Charlie Cross' Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven.

Reports have Ewan McGregor being hand picked by Love to play Cobain. Love, who's been seen lately with Billy Corgan, is also out pushing her own story in the form of "diaries" - including an email to Lindsay Lohan - that have been put together as a book. We'll have to wait and see if the movie actually happens. Reports say it is in very early stages, probably meaning it is just a thought at this point.

Queen Readies New Material

Lead singers are always difficult to replace and some are always harder than others. Case in point is Queen's Freddie Mercury. The guy was a quintessential showman and the songs fit his style and voice. Trying to "replace" Mercury is impossible. But, Paul Rodgers, who has had his own great career, has done an admirable job stepping into the role as Queen's new lead singer.

His style and voice are not even close to Freddie's. But, being a professional and someone secure in his own abilities, Rodgers has stuck to being himself and putting his own stamp on the Queen classics. Now, he'll get a chance to forge his own piece of the Queen legacy. The band is reportedly working on a new record of originals. Brian May is quoted as saying "It's gonna be good, because next time we go out (on tour), we won't just be nostalgia." May is wise enough to know much of it will be nostalgia, but the guitar legend seems excited to be able to mix in some new songs next time they go out on the road.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Announcing Earvolution Records

Pawnshop RosesI'm pleased to announce an offshoot of this humble blog: Earvolution Records. I'm even more pleased and proud to announce that the first act signed to the new label is Philadelphia's Pawnshop Roses.

I first was introduced to Pawnshop when an Earvolution contributor featured a song here on the blog in 2005 and eventually met the band in May of last year, which resulted in recording a fun podcast interview. After getting to know the guys, I decided to approach them about signing on to my long planned label idea and now have reached an agreement to put out their first full length record.

The label will focus on music I like and will feature acts who deserve a wider audience. Artistic freedom, greater artist profit sharing and flexible, artist-friendly contracts will be the hallmarks of this new venture. For too long record labels have been acting like they are the ones with all the talent when in fact there wouldn't be a music industry without the remarkable music artists have been putting out over the years. Earvolution Records will respect that reality while fostering family-type relationships and a collaborative approach with Pawnshop and all future acts. Yes, I've already got some in mind...but first things first.

Pawnshop recently won the YouTube Underground contest for Best Live Video. The band appeared with the other winners on Good Morning America and since has been featured performers on Philadelphia's CBS and NBC TV affiliates. The band has also enjoyed support from Philadelphia radio on WMMR and Y-Rock on WXPN.

I anticipate the new Pawnshop record to be ready in March and a digital single to be released before then. The guys are working with producer and fellow musician Pete Donnelly, from the Figgs, and have been honing their already great live show, most recently with a killer set at the World Cafe Live this past Friday night. You can expect more of that in 2007 and beyond!

Backyard Tire Fire Burns Brightly In New York

By: David Schultz

After the dissolution of the Illinois based jamband Brother Jed, guitarist and songwriter Ed Anderson formed Backyard Tire Fire with drummer Tim Kramp, ultimately bringing his brother Matt Anderson into the fold. Going back to the drawing board with a new band may not have been the planned step on Anderson's itinerary, but it has yielded an alt-country power trio that's starting to grow beyond their Midwestern roots.

This past Friday, Backyard Tire Fire hit New York City, opening for The Radiators at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Located in Times Square, the upscale, corporate-slick venue didn't provide the ideal setting for the roadhouse-style trio as the venue's core demographic doesn't exactly match the Tire Fire's intended audience. With many early arrivers finishing up their meals, Kramp and the Andersons had the unenviable task of winning over a crowd primarily flocking to Midtown to see the New Orleans based rockers.

At the outset, it seemed a task the trio wouldn't accomplish. With Ed Anderson seated near the stage front with an acoustic guitar, the Tire Fire began their set with a series of country songs. Not only did the straightforward acoustic country fail to initially captivate the crowd, given Backyard Tire Fire's alt-country leanings, it also came off as disappointing. Segueing out of the acoustic section with a brisk romp through "Tom Petty," a Johnny Cash inspired tune professing the desire to accomplish the same level of stardom as the sandy-haired Floridian, Anderson moved to the electric guitar and the set found its heart.

It was during the second half of the set that Backyard Tire Fire dove into their Drive-By Truckers blend of blues and country. They touched on Skin & Bones, their latest EP, tearing through a cover of Barry Cowsill's "Crack Alley" and their own "Downtime" as well as previewed their upcoming Vagabonds & Hooligans, highlighted by "The Wrong Hand," which is Chris Robinson's voice short of being a lost track from an early-era Black Crowes album.

Paying homage to the venue's lofty pedigree, Anderson led the band through a deliciously funky romp through Luther Allison's "Ragged And Dirty," ripping his finger open in the process. Relishing his battle wound, Anderson proudly displayed his bloodstained guitar during an inspired "Blood On The Strings," giving an added level of meaning to the "Turn The Page" weary-from-the-road song.

Vagabonds & Hooligans will come out in the first week of February with the band celebrating the release with a Midwestern run of shows. They will also be on the bill for the Allman Brothers led Wanee Festival on April 13 in Live Oak, FL.

Mp3s, News and Notes

Can a week go by without Noel Gallagher insulting someone? The "I'll say anything to get more press while pretending I don't need it" rock star is quoted as calling Robbie Williams' latest effort dog shit. Speaking of Oasis, one of the few acts to receive praise from Noel is the Arctic Monkeys. They've been preparing a new record, but claim a ghost visited them in the studio. It is claimed the ghost is a young girl. Perhaps it's simply Alex Turner's ex rattling some chains.

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have a new video for their latest single called "Naked Sun." You can stream it here: Windows Media / Real Audio.

North Carolina indie rockers the Annuals are hitting the road with the Dears and will perform on Conan O'Brien this Thursday night. You can download their single "Brother" here.

Norah Jones is taking her act to the big screen. The songstress is appearing in My BlueBerry Nights along side Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz. No doubt Jude isn't unhappy with that cast of ladies.

Rose Hill Drive, who are touring in support of their debut record, will join the Who on tour again this year. The band will join friend and fan Pete Townsend on select US dates in February and March.

Keegan DeWitt is finished with his new record and it is available via his website. You can sample two tracks here: "Bed of Mercy" and "So High So Low."

The Metermaids combine their own brands of hip-hop and indie rock on these tracks: "Let it Rain" and "Don't Sleep."

Perry Farrell is apparently ready to record some new music. Reports have Farrell working on tracks with old pals from New Order and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as the Black Eyed Peas leading lady Fergie and DC's Thievery Corporation. In other guys-recording-before-it's-too-late news, My Bloody Valentine is also reportedly ready to put out new material as well. If they do, it'll be their first record since 1991's Loveless.

Pete Doherty released without charges after his latest brush with the law. Pete apparently quickly put the incident behind him because reports had him joining his band Babyshambles for a surprise gig last night in a London pub.

Hagar Casts Doubts On Van Halen Hall Of Fame Reunion

At last year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, The Sex Pistols defiantly refused to appear and accept their award while the members of Blondie let personal issues get in the way of a true reunion performance. For 2007, all eyes are upon Van Halen for the "will they or won't they" drama.

Sammy Hagar believes both he and David Lee Roth should get a chance to perform at Van Halen's induction but is pragmatic about the obstacles. Citing the fallout both singers have had with Eddie Van Halen (not to mention bassist Michael Anthony's issues with the guitarist), Hagar fears that they won't play at all. "The talk amongst us so far has been that we're probably not going to play, because of the awkward situation," Hagar is reported as saying. "We're not like mortal enemies or anything, there's just some weird quirks."

If they are permitted to play two songs, things should be fine. "If there's only one song," reportedly said Hagar, "well, then that could be kinda interesting."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ryan Adams and America on Letterman

America's new record Here & Now is out tomorrow and Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell will celebrate with a performance on Letterman with special guest Ryan Adams. They will perform "Ride On" from the new record, which was produced by Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and features guests like Adams, Ben Kweller, and members of My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf.

Bunnell says "Ride On" is "the closest thing to a rocker for me on this album. Ryan Adams plays a real retro guitar on it and Ben Kweller plays a little electric piano ala Ray Manzarek of The Doors." He adds, "Adam [Schlesinger] added some 'sha la la' vocal pads things to the pre-chorus that drew it into a little more of a pop vein from it being just a jam song. The theme is about pushing's a rallying song."

You can listen to "Ride On" featuring Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller and Adam Schlesinger here: Windows Media / Real / Quicktime

Red Hot! Cold War Kids Kick Off Dual Coast Residency In New York City

By: David Schultz

The Cold War Kids have reached a truly surreal level of fame. Surpassing the strata of "are they good," they have become so universally adored and beloved that anyone failing to proclaim their greatness seems to make news simply by failing to recognize the genius of the earthy, literary band from California. Having received accolades from nearly every Internet and print publication, Pitchfork's review criticizing not fellating the uber-buzzy Cold War Kid's debut album Robbers & Cowards, became a newsworthy event in and of itself, thrusting the Cold War Kids smack dab in the middle of a debate over Pitchfork's editorial scruples. If the Cold War Kids even care about such an argument, they are opting to make their bullet points from the stage.

This past Wednesday, the Cold War Kids returned to Pianos on New York City's Lower East Side for the first of three shows that will constitute the NYC leg of the band's dual coast residency. In playing the cozy venue, the Kids are giving their fans one last opportunity to see them in an intimate space. Symbolic of their growth, the logistics of Pianos' stage no longer works entirely to the band's advantage. With the piano so prominent in songs like "We Used To Vacation" and "Hospital Beds" set up along the far side of the stage, Willets played nearly half the show to the adjacent wall. Although it didn't diminish Willets' energy or ability to connect with the audience, the sight of him banging away on the piano just outside of the stage lights provided a weird visual.

The Cold War Kids play with seemingly limitless reserves of passion, rarely standing still for more than a moment. Though they may appear ragged, there's nothing uncontrolled about their performance. Even when it seems like they have spiraled astray, they are in complete control, able to tightly snap right back into a hook or a riff. Guitarist Jonnie Russell and bassist Matt Maust confidently throw off complimentary riffs, much like the later version of the Velvet Underground when Doug Yule and Sterling Morrison did the same. Unlike the Velvets, Maust and Russell are prone to occasionally charging head long at each other like rampaging bulls. Maust and drummer Matt Aveiro don't provide your standard rhythm: Maust's bass lines loom large in the mix, his opening salvo of "Hang Me Up To Dry" fast on its way to becoming the band's most immediately recognizable hook. Sometimes fluently, sometimes jerkily, Aveiro moves with perpetual motion, making more of an effort to lightly brush the drums than wailing away.

At the start of the show, the Kids encountered a small logistical delay. In wading their way to the stage through the sea of fans, the band forgot to bring a bottle to provide the proper accompaniment to "Saint John." After Willets asked if anyone had an empty bottle, the air became filled with upturned beers as a handful of fans started to down their drinks, passing their empties up front. Once able to get the proper chain-gang clank, the Kids kicked off an hour long set featuring a healthy number of songs from Robbers & Cowards. A good number of the songs come from the points of view of various downtrodden, beleaguered or tortured souls and Willets' voice conveys their tales with unwavering naked emotion. Pianos' sound system didn't do the Kids justice, rendering some of Willets' words unintelligible.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of bands come through New York City each year, playing hour long sets at clubs like the Mercury Lounge, the Knitting Factory and Pianos. If you see enough of them, you will see a number of bands that will catch your fancy and even a few that will stir your soul. However, many times while spreading the word of our latest fascination, we know deep down that the chances of the band breaking through on a widespread, Madison Square Garden headlining level will never happen. Such lingering doubts aren't present here. The Cold War Kids have that right mix of musicianship and showmanship that can, should and undoubtedly will find a huge audience. Once signing with the exclusive Downtown Records, the band rerecorded a selection of songs from their prior EPs, essentially making Robbers & Cowards, a best-of compilation. At Pianos, the Kids showed that their creative input hasn't ceased. In offering up two new songs, "Golden Gate Jumpers" and "Every Valley Is Not A Lake," they gave every indication that their output to date may only be the tip of the iceberg. In the greater Metropolitan area, that journey will begin in April when the Kids headline a pair of shows at The Bowery Ballroom.

The Pianos gig is part of Cold War Kids' dual coast residency. Instead of spreading their magic throughout the heartland (that will happen in March after a European jaunt with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ), the Kids are hopping between Los Angeles and New York City over the next three weeks, returning to Brooklyn's Union Hall on January 17 and the Mercury Lounge (with unsigned sensation Illinois) on January 24. The New York legs will also consist of a January 18 open art gallery showing of Maust's collages at Headquarters Studio, 385 Broadway and Willets performing a January 25 acoustic set at The Knitting Factory.

For the Reverend Martin Luther King...Sing

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Justin's Warms Up With Coldplay

According to PR-Inside, Justin Timberlake listens to Coldplay right before he goes on stage. He is quoted as explaining, "I still get excited to go on stage. I stretch so I don't hurt myself...I had a rule on my last tour that I couldn't go until I heard the song 'Clocks' by Coldplay. You know the house music they play before the artist goes on stage? "It turned into a superstition because after I heard that song I felt like it would be a good show, so we could go on!"

Timberlake has just kicked off another world tour so we'll see if he keeps up with his pre-show choices remain. No word on whether Chris Martin blares "SexyBack" before taking the stage.

Bob Dylan Wouldn't Win American Idol

Is Bob Dylan the greatest American songwriter ever? I don't know, but it is certainly arguable. What I do know is that no one who's ever appeared on American Idol is even in the running. But, in a world where substance takes a back seat to watered-down, least-common-denominator dribble Simon Cowell might be right, if the quote is true, that ten Bob Dylans in the Idol finals wouldn't draw 30 million viewers. I don't know if he is right, but man I'd sure like to see it. Give me someone who can craft their own songs over karaoke any day.

Meanwhile, Dylan topped the readers poll at Rolling Stone for artist of the year. I'm wondering if Bob would prefer to be recognized by Jan Wenner or Simon Cowell? I think that's an easy question. Indeed, I'm betting more than a few Idol finalists would actually vote with Bob on this one.

BuzzUniverse: birdfishtree

By: David Schultz

The story of the modern jamband slowly building a following through ceaseless performing and constant touring has been an oft-told tale. There are usually different wrinkles, especially in the final act where our heroes ideally become huge superstars, but for the most part jambands usually create their fan base on the road, one listener at a time; rarely do they get a chance to have one built for them by a major label's crafty marketing department. For the past two summers, BuzzUniverse, the New Jersey based quartet made up of Alex Garay (guitar), Dave Migliore (drums), Greg McLoughlin (bass) and Freddy Moises (sax/flute), have adopted a "play all day to whoever is passing" philosophy at New York's Chelsea Piers. The benefits yielded from the venture are displayed on birdishtree, their second full length release.

BuzzUniverse packs a lot on the disc, showing a deft proficiency in a few different styles. Don't get turned off by the squonky horns or the first couple verses of the opening track, "Hour," after a shaky start it evolves into a wonderful groove with the Moises-led horns finding the proper niche. Moises' saxophone and flute provide many of the birdfishtree's finer moments. For the most part, BuzzUniverse works in the horns quite well, avoiding the traditional riffs that many funk bands fall back on like a crutch. They also deftly incorporate Moises' flute, especially on the "Sparkling Path," a pleasant flute and guitar instrumental with Garay.

While there's a lot of quality material, birdfishtree could do with some editing and a tighter presentation. The straining "Mama Down Blues" drearily slows down the pace and the middle of the disc bounces wildly. While the mountain hoedown feel of "Up The Mountain" and the Stones' "Miss You" era groove of "All Of My Friends" stand well alone, they seem mismatched placed next to each other. "Suspicious Activity" and "In The Sun" aren't unenjoyable, but as their reliance on more traditional funk grooves comes across as uninspired.

If anything, birdfishtree is slightly weakened by an uneven presentation that dilutes the wide-ranging talent of the band. BuzzUniverse gives a nice relaxed Sixties-era feel to "Earth Is Moving" and McLoughlin's rumbling bass fuels "Down Low" with a sinewy, smoky blues feel, giving it significant muscle. On "Changes Of Love," they share a bouncy riff with Garay handing it off to Moises on flute as they segue into a cover of the Marshal Tucker Band's "This Ol' Cowboy."

Like most stories worth hearing, birdfishtree makes up an interesting early chapter in what will surely be an eventful tale.

Dispatch Sells Out MSG

Shortly after becoming the first unsigned band to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden, reuniting jamband trio Dispatch announced a second show at the storied venue. The two summer shows, which will take place July 13 and 14 will serve as benefit concerts with the proceeds from ticket sales going to charities fighting disease, famine and sociual injustice in Zimbabwe. Chad Urmston, Pete Heimbold and Brad Corrigan's last announced performance as Dispatch drew over 100,000 to the Hatch Shell in their hometown of Boston, MA. Urmston currently fronts State Radio while Heimbold and Corrigan (a/k/a Braddigan) are pursuing solo careers.

The first sell-out is notable as tickets were made available solely to Dispatch's MySpace friends. An hour before tickets went on sale, the band sent a bulletin to their myspace friends containing the "pre-sale" password.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Next Up on Celebrity Boxing: Tommy Lee vs Kid Rock?

By now we've all heard the claim that Kid Rock, with the help of some bodyguards, went to a hotel room to confront Tommy Lee. Gee, I really hope it wasn't over Pam Anderson. Can you think of a worse chick to fight over? Anyway...the reports had Kid knocking on the wrong door and looking like an idiot waking up a family in the middle of the nght. Turns out he "may" have been set up.

Star Magazine "reports" (not the quotes):

Pam was spotted cuddling with tough guy actor and long time friend Chuck Zito at Tao, but left in a limo with Tommy shortly after 1am. And, a source tells Star, the former Motley Crue drummer made sure Kid knew about it. "I heard he sent one of his roadies over to Jet to taunt Kid," says a source. The roadie told the Detroit-born rocker that if was "looking for [his] wife she's with Tommy. Happy New Year!" says the source. "He gave Kid a suite number. Kid had steam coming out of his ears. He said, 'That mother is long overdue for an a**-kicking!'"

But when Kid stormed into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, he got a big surprise – as did the startled family whose door he hammered on! He had the wrong suite number – the focus of his anger was actually a floor below!" Star's source thinks it was no accident: "I think Tommy totally set him up to look like a fool!"
Those zany rockers...sounds like these boys are angling for slots on the Surreal Life.

Apogee Records: Stages 2

By: David Schultz

The jamband scene has delightfully become quite varied and splintered since the whole genre could be encapsulated by the Grateful Dead or Phish. Where the jamband term once brought to mind a neo-hippie style derived from jazz improvisations that featured lengthy solos, it now can't be so narrowly defined.

In recent years, jambands have simply become a difficult animal to categorize: Railroad Earth and the Yonder Mountain String Band have a bluegrass tinge; Particle and the Disco Biscuits opt for a rave-like electronic vibe, Tea Leaf Green derive their sound from their California roots and Umphrey's McGee brings the lofty goals of the progressive rock era into the 21st Century - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. In this wide ranging "post-jam" universe, improvisation still rules but the term now best signifies a band that thrives in a live environment and has found a way to build a meaningful relationship with their audience.

As it's usually impossible to get a sense of a jamband from just one song, the "genre" doesn't lend itself to compilation form in the same manner as pop music is wedded to the Now That's What I Call Music series. With their Stages compilations, Apogee Records has found a clever way to introduce new jambands to their prospective new fans. Rather than selecting just one song to represent the band, they treat each artist like fine wine, giving them room to breathe by allotting them significant time to get their sound across. On Stages, Apogee featured emerging bands like Umphrey's McGee, Particle and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey; on Stages 2, Apogee once again picks up their crystal ball compiling more than 2 hours of music from 7 up-and-coming post-jam bands.

The Brakes and Licorice, co-headliners of the Stages 2 release party, get the most time and offer a nice contrast in styles. The Brakes' selections focus on their songs as opposed to their jamming. They they end "After The Storm" at a point where some other bands would springboard into a long instrumental. In contrast, Licorice, features their skillful musicianship, showing their impressive range, going from neo-avant-garde in "What's Your Status In London" to jazz on "Swisher." When combined with U-Melt's relatively short (for them) version of their eminently danceable "Schizophrenia," the first disc offers a treasure trove of good tunes.

The second disc is a bit spottier, containing some well-played but clichéd jams. Signal Path's selections spotlight their electronic-style songs and contain the disc's brightest moments. Green Lemon's reggae-infused "Desire Is A Gun" plods but their lengthier "Flight Of Manwe" does soar. On "Oblique," Bump gives a glimpse of what would have happened if an eighties Breakfast Club-era band decided to jam. Focusing on their horn section, (and adding the Addison Groove Project's horn section on "Free Time"), Akashic Record offers a good smattering of seventies-style funk. It's well done but too similar to what many other funk-based bands are doing.

If you're not already predisposed to the whole "jamband scene," Stages 2 won't make you a convert. However, if hearing musicians doing their thing in a live setting already appeals to you, Stages 2 provides a nice introduction to some new grooves for the New Year.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sloan: Never Hear The End Of It

By: David Schultz

In an era when many Canadian collectives last just as long as it takes to finish their latest project, the longevity of the Nova Scotian band Sloan truly bears noting. Since forming in 1991, Sloan has remained relatively unknown in the United States while becoming quite renowned in their native country. While sales of their 1994 album Twice Removed, were disappointing in the US, mostly because Geffen Records failed to properly promote it here, Canadians bought it and periodically name it the best Canadian album of all time. After the apathetic Geffen dropped them, Sloan founded Murderecords, their own label, on which they've released their subsequent albums.

Once again finding US distribution through Yep Roc Records, Sloan's latest, Never Hear The End Of It, makes it way to the American marketplace this Tuesday. Sloan packs the album with thirty songs that cover wide ranges of power-pop, echoing George Harrison's post-Beatle solo material. On paper, this seems like it should be a jumbled mess; on record, it's not.

Packed with a plenitude of songs, the album doesn't seem artificially stuffed. Sloan moves quickly through the tunes and seamlessly run many of them into each other without torturing the segues. Although there are relatively few songs that could be termed filler, each has a riff, hook or verse that will stick with you; very few of the songs fail to carry their weight. If anything, once your ears perk up to a song, Sloan finishes it up and moves on to the next.

The four members of Sloan, Chris Murphy, Andrew Scott, Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson, share the songwriting duties, with the result being a variety of different styles, which the veteran rockers make work. They handle bright Sixties-style Brit-Pop on "Who Taught You To Live That" and "Light Years," Ferguson and Pentland offer some thrashy guitar on "HFXNSHC" and match the scorned vibe of "Ill Placed Trust" and Pentland's "Listen To The Radio" could be Canada's version of Coldplay's "Yellow." They're able to toss off some great lines too. In "Someone I Can Be True With," the ideal girl is described as "someone to hear Husker Du with/someone not to watch The View with."

Having mastered the art of power-pop, the best tracks on Never Hear The End Of It, explore Sloan's heavier side. In contrast to the more polished fare, there are occasional short interludes into Eighties-style garage rock, including Chris Murphy's heavy bass rumbling through "I Can't Sleep" and "Something Wrong" with delicious menace. While any thirty track album could do with some trimming, very few of the songs on Sloan's latest die on the vine.

Townshend & Winwood To Pay Tribute To Jim Capaldi

On January 21, classic rockers Pete Townshend, Steve Winwood and Paul Weller will honor their departed friend Jim Capaldi at the Dear Mr. Fantasy show at The Roundhouse in London, England. Capaldi, best known for his stint as Traffic's drummer in the 70s, lost his battle with stomach cancer nearly two years ago. The show, which will feature music from Traffic as well as Capaldi's solo career, will benefit the Jubilee Action Street Children Appeal. Bill Wyman, Joe Walsh, Gary Moore, The Storys and others will also appear.

Johnny Marr To Tour With Modest Mouse

With lead singer Isaac Brock calling Johnny Marr a "full-blown member of the band," Modest Mouse has announced that the former Smiths guitarist will join Modest Mouse on the upcoming tour. Marr, who has also played with The Pretenders and The The has been working with Modest Mouse on their soon-to-be-released album, We Were Dead Before The Shop Even Sank.

While awaiting the new album, you can whet your appetite with a sneak-preview of Dashboard.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hall Of Fame: Class of 2007

One year after commencing the most ill-conceived talk show in the history of commercial radio, David Lee Roth received some uplifting news: he and his fellow members of Van Halen will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007. Van Halen's induction will include both Roth and Sammy Hagar. Given the heated animosity that has developed between the two lead singers as well as bassist Michael Anthony and the Van Halen brothers, this should be interesting to say the least.

Joining Van Halen in the Class of '07 will be Patti Smith, R.E.M., Grandmaster Flash & The Funky Five and The Ronettes.

The Pierces At The Mercury Lounge

By: David Schultz

Since coming to New York City, Southern siblings The Pierces have become fixtures on the New York City acoustic club circuit. Originally hailing from Alabama, the attractive sisters, the blond-tressed Catherine and the brunette Allison Pierce are definitely easy on the eyes and not that hard on the ears either. While they could easily vamp it up on stage and still draw a crowd, The Pierces make their music, which is part country - part folk/part pop, the focus of their show, not their sex appeal.

Having recently finished a European tour with Catherine's fiancée, Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., The Pierces returned to New York for a set at the Mercury Lounge, one of Playboy's recently-named Top 10 concert venues. Given that they have two prior albums' worth of material and an upcoming release, The Pierces ran through a disappointingly short, half-hour long set for the packed house. Catherine primarily handled the lead vocals with Allison accompanying on electric mandolin or guitar. Both have strong voices and they create some lovely harmonies together. Backed by a four-piece band, The Pierces were more raw and earthy than their polished studio work, reminiscent of The Indigo Girls, would lead you to believe.

The Pierces also showed themselves to be more complex than they appear to be in their latest video. "Boring," a jaded party-girl song expresses a post-modern ennui that is a bit misleading as to The Pierces' true nature. If your only exposure to The Pierces is from that song, you would imagine them to be blasé, Paris Hilton-quality spoiled brats. At the Mercury Lounge, they seemed nothing like the stuck-up ladies that voice the song. Unlike "Boring," which they played with a bit of a bemused smirk, most of The Pierces' songs, like "Go To Heaven," have a tender, if not mysterious, heart. Displaying a breezy attitude and slight Southern accents, they joked with the audience about forgetting to create a set list and called out songs to the band. If anything, the extreme brevity of their set robbed them of the chance to truly enthrall; their set concluded just about the point the crowd got settled.

The New Year seems poised to be a big one for The Pierces: their third album Thirteen Tales Of Love & Revenge will be released on March 20th by Lizard King records.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!