Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

James Blunt's latest hit is a person. Blunt, with his beauty Petra Nemcova, ran over an autograph seeker in Hollywood the other night. The "fan" seemed to have some possible injuries to his leg and foot, no doubt making lawyers all over L.A. salivate at the prospect of suing a chart topper.

Portishead, who've seemed to be in the studio as nearly long as Axl Rose (ok, not that long) performed a live short set last night. Geoff Barrow was scheduled to DJ at a club, but surprised the crowds when he and his band mates jumped on stage for a couple of songs. A message on their Myspace page indicates some 2007 deadlines for the new music. Maybe they'll get their disc out before Chinese Democracy!

MP3 and Video offerings:
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Mystery Train (mp3) / (video)
Dr. Dog (new record in stores today!): Alaska
Field Music: Sit Tight (mp3) and In Context (video)
The Old Soul: River of Daughters (video)
Lost in the Trees: I've Always Loved the Fall and Tall Trees.

If you're in NYC tonight, swing by Pennang on the Upper West Side to see Kierstin Gray. I've been a fan since May 2005 and the rest of the world is starting to catch up.

Chris Cornell, recently departed from Audioslave, is set to release his new solo record on May 1st. The disc will include a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean." No word on whether Cornell will don a white glove when performing the song.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pete Townshend Prays for Britney

Britney Spears has at least one person in her corner these days: Pete Townshend of the Who. The legendary guitarist posted a note on his blog (yes, it is really his - his girlfriend's official page links right to it) with a shout out to Britney.

Says Pete: "Dedicated Man In A Purple Dress to Britney in Long Beach. I said, 'Let's not be too quick to judge'. Roger said 'Britney? Britney who?' Like, Roger! Pullease...... read the paper." Nice to see the old boys still have a sense of humor.

Speaking of Britney, turns out she may be struggling with post-partum depression and not substance abuse as tabloids speculated. Now, that would set the stage for a comeback. After some recovery time she can go on Oprah and shed a few tears talking about it the week before the record comes out and bam...back on top.

Deep Purple Record Withdrawn

I couldn't imagine having two Deep Purple posts on the same day, but there is an update. Sony has pulled the record. It seems the band's "marketing plan" may have worked.

Actually, turns out that singer Ian Gillan, according to Reuters, says the record was released without his permission. "We've withdrawn that album and tried to find out how a member of the band was not aware of its release," a label spokesman said. Sony had distributed around 2,000 copies several weeks ago. Not exactly big numbers, but this isn't 1975 either.

Jive Slams Fake Timberlake Parties

Seems some folks are hoping to cash in on Justin Timberlake's tour by hosting some "after parties." The problem is they don't have permission to be "official" post show parties. Jive Records released a statement to warn fans of the fakes:

"It has come to our attention that there have been several announcements of official Justin Timberlake after parties or events during the FutureSex/LoveShow tour. We would like to take this time to make absolutely clear that there are no official Justin Timberlake after parties, signings or events. Any and all individuals or
venues that are promoting that Justin Timberlake will attend, sign, or perform at their after party or events are completely misleading the public. We regret that there are individuals who are willing to take advantage of Justin Timberlake's name and his fans and we hope that all these false rumors will be laid to rest."

Mp3s, News and Notes

American Idol watchers will be looking to see if there is any fall out from the latest Idol "scandal." Contestant Antonella Barba gained some unwanted publicity over last several days when half naked pictures of her surfaced on the internet. The Jersey girl is seen topless on the beach, but using her hands to cover sensitive areas. There are even shots that purport to show the Idol wannabe participating in a sex act. But, her friends say those photos are not her. The Top 10 Idol females left in the 2007 race perform on tomorrow night's show.

In tour news, Rage Against the Machine are doing some dates with the Wu Tang Clan this summer. What could go wrong there? Speaking of cops, the Police have already sold out several stadium shows in minutes. They've also added stops in Montreal, Phoenix, Arizona and Vancouver to their reunion tour.

MP3s, Video & Streaming Offerings:

Cute Is What We Aim For - "The Curse Of Curves" (Stream): Real Player / Windows Media.
Blue October (Video): Into the Ocean
Iggy Pop & the Stooges: My Idea of Fun
The Morning Benders: Damnit Anna, Last Today
Low Stars: Calling All Friends
Blonde Redhead: 23
Bright Eyes: Four Winds

Kate Moss is up for NME's "Sexiest Female" award. At least one singer doesn't like the model being included in the competition. The Gossip's Beth Ditto is quoted as saying: "It should be about music. For Kate to be up for anything to do with music is absurd." Hey, Pete Doherty did let her join his band, that makers her a musician, right? Flashback: Kate Moss pole dancing for the White Stripes.

"My Generation" Named Most Popular Teenage Anthem

"My Generation," The Who's 1965 classic in which Roger Daltrey sang that he hoped he die before he got old, was named the most popular teenage anthem of all time in a survey of 2,000 British adults. Cyndi Lauper's defining Eighties track "Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun" placed second and Alice Cooper's "School's Out" was third. The polling for youthful anthems was done to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first use of the term "teenager."

You would have to imagine a Stateside version of the same list would have to include Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run," Skynyrd's "Free Bird" and The Secret Machines' "Alone, Jealous & Stoned." Well, maybe someday for the Machines.

Deep Purple Engages In Promotion Bizarro Style

Practically every artist that's released a record since they invented the vinyl 78 has done everything within their power to persuade fans to buy their music. Opting for a different promotional tactic, classic rockers Deep Purple are pleading with their fans to not buy their latest album.

In the hopes of drumming up interest in Deep Purple's current tour, Sony BMG released NEC 1993, a double live album recorded in Birmingham, England. But, the band says it is a subpar recording. The group blames the poor quality of the performance on the fact that singer Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore were feuding with each other, their feelings affecting the music. Thus, the plea not to buy the record.

Friday, February 23, 2007

MP3s, News and Notes

While American pop culture is often trashed as being too focused on the foibles of Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton seems our friends across the pond have their own trailer park-ish entertainment. Seems like every other day a spat arises between a couple of Brit artists. Even Lilly Allen is getting in on the act with a mini-feud with Lady Sovereign who had claimed Allen only got a break because he father is a well known British comedian. Allen has responded saying her dad has offered to adopt the pint sized rapper to help her get "a leg up." This spat is on the heels of Lily's run in with one of the guys from Jet. Maybe Justin Timberlake really wasn't speaking about Britney when he cautioned certain people not to drink too much at the Brit Awards.

Speaking of drinking, Avril Lavigne has found a new way to enjoy her music: alcohol. Lavigne tells MTV "I wrote 'Girlfriend' when I was drunk!" And she also gushed: "I was wasted, when I sang 'I Can Do Better'. You can tell I'm drunk in it, I'm laughing." Who knows maybe her stuff will sound better to me if I'm drinking too...

Mp3 offerings:
The Basement: Do You Think You're Moving
Explosions in the Sky: Welcome Ghosts
Mouthful of Bees: The Now
Andrew Bird: Heretics
Winterpills: Broken Arm
John Butler Trio: Better Than (Real / Windows)
Antibalas: I.C.E.
Baby Teeth: The Simp
The Postmarks: My Little Heart

The Kaiser Chiefs' drummer has reportedly compared fans asking about their hit song "Ruby" to Kurt Cobain's suicide. Nick Hodgson is quoted as saying "It's like people going up to Paul McCartney and saying, 'So, Paul. You know your song 'The Fool On The Hill'? Who's this fool and where's this hill?' This is what we're up against. This is what Kurt Cobain had to put up with. And what did he do? He blew his head off?" Yeah, it's just like that Nick, except for the part about those guys being legends...

If you hadn't noticed, American Idol is now in the "voting" stages of eliminating contestants. The final 24 is now down to 20 after last night's episode. Already, as in prior seasons, there is talk of vote rigging. While it may or may not be rigged, there does seem to be something to the reports of flaws in the voting process. You can only text vote if you are a Cingular Wireless customer. A big chunk of Cingular customers are in the south, from where all five previous winners hail. Coincidence??

Yoko Clearing Way for Revived Beatles Track?

Paul McCartney wants one last crack (at least until another old tape surfaces) to work with songwriting partner John Lennon. Earlier reports had McCartney keen to go back in the studio to add some harmonies to a John Lennon lead vocal track of a song they wrote decades ago called "Now and Then."

The remaining Beatles reportedly considered releasing the song in the 1990s, but George Harrison apparently wasn't happy with the song. McCartney was quoted as saying "It needed a bit of reworking but it had a beautiful verse."

Now, Yoko Ono has apparently chimed in saying she doesn't mind Sir Paul resurrecting the song. Ono reportedly said "It's up to them. But no, I'm not against it." There is no report on the Harrison estate weighing in on the venture. As for Ringo, I imagine he's happy just to be possibly involved.

No New Guns N' Roses For March 6

Fans of Eighties hard rock have had a rough week. Following the announcement that the David Lee Roth led version of Van Halen would not be hitting the road for their much ballyhooed tour, it was quietly announced that the March 6 release of Guns N' Roses fabled Chinese Democracy has been postponed - again (although there is a track called "Better" floating around that is reportedly a leaked recording from the Chinese Democracy sessions).

Del James, part of Axl's crew, posted this "encouraging" report, however, on the band's official website: "There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along."

At this rate, the new bands like the Cold War Kids will go on to a lengthy, successful career, break up and reunite years later for a tour where Wikipedia 6.0 members get first crack at tickets before the world hears Axl Rose's magnum opus.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

I don't know why Britney Spears checked into rehab and don't know if Anna Nicole Smith was murdered, but I do know that while much of the pop culture world is focused on these two stories there is some music being made worth checking out!

SXSW announced its official lineup yesterday and as always have some great bands lined up to play. Their official shows include Iggy Pop and the Stooges and scores of other great bands starting Wednesday evening March 14th. But, if you get into town early be sure to check out the Earvolution day party at Emos with our own impressive line up as well. It's free - and with free beer for those of age!

Jackson Browne and music magnate David Geffen have jumped on the Barack Obama train. They were part of a star studded fundraiser for the Illinois Senator's Presidential campaign that took place in Hollywood last night. The admission price must have been astronomical! Just once I'd like to see a Presidential candidate have a beef-n-beer or spaghetti dinner for like $5 at a local fire hall or something. I know, I know...that'd be toooo democratic for our version of democracy.

The band Saving Jane are the latest group to embrace the Web 2.0, fan participation craze. They are inviting fans (or anyone I guess) to submit artwork for their upcoming record tentatively titled One Girl Revolution. And, since it is a tentative title you can even suggest a new one. If your concept is chosen, the band will list your name in the credits and some other gifts. Details here.

Illinois, a band from the greater Philadelphia suburbs, is putting out a new EP this spring on Ace Fu Records called What the Hell Do I Know?. They are set to hit the road in March in support.
MP3: Screen Door

The VH1 Rock and Roll Poker tournament will air on VH1 classic on March 14th. Players placing bets this year include Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Ace Frehley of Kiss (without makeup), Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Sully Erna from Godsmack and Scott Ian of Anthrax. Looks like the Texas Hold' em fad is still going strong or Scott Ian needed another excuse to be on a reality show!

Brooklyn's The Subjects released a new record yesterday called With the Ease Grace Precision and Cleverness of Human Beings. The title alone is worth a mention. Check out the mp3 and decide if they pass or get a failing grade?
MP3: I Could Never Tune

Arcade Fire Frontman Takes on U2, Oasis

Arcade Fire front man Winn Butler lashed out at big bands like U2, Oasis and The Rolling Stones. Speaking to NME Butler implied that these big acts "force feed their music to fans."

Butler reportedly said: "It's not like we shun success, but at the same time we don't want to shove it down people's throats. In the UK there's this kind of rock star competition." The Gallaghers of Oasis certainly feel they're in a competition given the way they mouth off, but I don't think the Stones and U2 fit into that same mold.

I love it when rock stars talk about other rock stars "selling out" or trying to be too famous (like this guy didn't know he'd get tons of exposure for making these comments). Butler is a somewhat admitted hypocrite here. If he truly didn't like music to be marketed to fans he wouldn't have his band on one of the most successful labels who focus on marketing his music to fans. Yes, they are a good band and are putting on good shows, but lets drop the holier than thou attitude.

Guns N Roses Reunion?

Are Guns N Roses the latest band to get reunion fever? If Pink Floyd, even for one show, and The Police can do it, perhaps Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven could as well? A MySpace page that claims to be the "Official" Steven Adler page has posted a purported conversation with the original GNR drummer indicating at least some wishes for a reunion of the original lineup.

The site has the following quotes attributed to Adler:

STEVEN: I saw Axl, talked with him from, shit, what was it? 10 or 12 at night to 8 in the morning, we talked. We resolved a lot of fucking shit!

FANSITE: What was that like? That must've been weird!

STEVEN: It was wonderful! Just wonderful. I was the same happy-go-lucky person that I've always been to him, and he enjoyed it. Dude we talked 'till 8 in the morning!

FANSITE: Wow.

STEVEN: It was at The HardRock, when he played there.

FANSITE: Did you see the show?

STEVEN: Yeah…three people in his band all look like Izzy! I told him it sucked, I was kidding. I said "You know the five of us have to get back together! That's when it will really fucking take off again! Nothing will be bigger. It would be the biggest reunion ever in history".

FANSITE: What did he say?

STEVEN: You know how he is. He just grinned and giggled a little bit. Everybody in his band came up to me, "You're the greatest fucking drummer! We tell Axl, 'you gotta get the band back together'!" That's what they said to HIM! It was wonderful! Dude, let me call you back! I'm not ignoring you, dude! You're one of my top best friends, man! You've never done anything to hurt me! I'll call you right back!

FANSITE: No problem, man! But real quick, what else is goin' on?

STEVEN: Um, I've been talking with Izzy. I've been talking with Slash. 20 years, dude, since Appetite came out. Axl's record is supposed to come out, in what, a few months?

FANSITE: Yeah, hopefully.

STEVEN: Izzy wants a reunion. I know what I need to do. Before anything happens, me and Chip (Z'Nuff) have been talkin' about doing a world tour. I'm so sorry, I know it made you feel really bad that I haven't answered the phone, things have been hard on me lately. I miss ya, and I will talk to you later!


Is this just wishful thinking of a somewhat forgotten drummer hoping to regain the magic (and there was magic!) from 20 years ago? Adler's relationship with Slash goes back to childhood so it is possible that some "healing" could occur. Or, maybe not. Axl does have a special place in the ego hall of fame. I guess we'll have to wait and see - but hopefully not as long as people have been waiting for Chinese Democracy.

Van Halen Not Back On?

The Van Halen reunion may be short lived. CMU Daily is reporting that the "official" announcement of the Van Halen reunion came before a deal was actually done. Earvolution spoke with someone in the Eddie Van Halen camp when the story first broke on Billboard and other large outlets. As we said then, those outlets jumped the gun a bit because no deal was signed. However, not long after, the same source issued an announcement to TMZ confirming the reunion tour. Now, CMU Daily is reporting that sources are saying that no deal is finished yet.

Of course, anyone who has been following the Van Halen saga over the years has to expect some sort of drama with these guys. I'll reach back out to the EVH camp and see I can give an update later.

Coldplay Caught In Chilean Conundrum

A little less than two years after their performance with Richard Ashcroft at Hyde Park as part of the Live 8 concert to raise awareness for the concept of African debt relief, Coldplay has inadvertently brought attention to income inequities in South America. After learning that tickets to their concerts in Chile cost $160, more than a quarter of Chile's average monthly wage, Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite band issued an apology, maintaining they were ignorant of the high cost of their tickets.

"We just found out how expensive they are and would like to say we are sorry," said frontman Chris Martin. "We didn't know beforehand." Admitting the embarrassing nature of the situation, especially in light of Coldplay's support of fair trade for developing nations, Martin explained, "When you are a famous band, a lot of things happen that you don't know about."

Martin's rationalization seems oddly reminiscent of that offered by Kathie Lee Gifford when the news broke that her clothing line was made in Honduran sweatshops, eh?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Earvolution.com SXSW Day Party

Earvolution will be kicking off things during South By Southwest music week with an early "unofficial" day party show at Emos on Wednesday March 14th. If you're getting into town that day you'll want to stop by for a great show and some free beer! We'll post more information on each band as we get closer to the date, but our line-up will be as follows:

5pm We are the Fury - (WMG/East West) "Think Guns N' Roses meets Bowie meets reckless abandon." (Entertainment Weekly)

4pm Jealousy Curve (Indie) - Built national buzz from appearing on Dane Cook's "Tourgasm" soundtrack and touring with bands like the All American Rejects.

3pm Pawnshop Roses (Earvolution Records) - Recently won the YouTube Cingular Underground Contest and even got some face time on Good Morning America. First band on the brand new Earvolution Records label.

2pm Wes Hutchinson - His "Things we Need the Most" was the featured song in MTV's hit series Laguna Beach and you can check him out on Billboard's "Underground."

1pm The States -Recently won the grand Prize in the rock category for the song "Blackjack" in 2006 John Lennon songwriting contest. "The States could be setting themselves up for indie rock greatness based on their bright debut." (Independents Only).

12pm Joshua James - Joshua recently brought down the house at the Sundance festival and is one of the artists to watch this year.

The Jam To Tour UK Without Weller

Although they will do so without lead singer Paul Weller, British rockers The Jam will reunite for their first UK tour in more than 25 years. The 21st Century version of The Jam will consist of original members Bruce Foxton (bass) and Rick Buckley (drums) with Russell Hastings (vocals) and David Moore (keyboards/guitar) replacing Weller.

Just last January, Weller played a three night, sold-out set of shows at New York City's Irving Plaza, which featured one night primarily devoted to The Jam, another dedicated to Style Council and a third focused on his solo material. If the success of those shows are any indication, people are eager to hear The Jam one more time.

"Paul Weller has a fantastic solo career and is one of the UK's most talented songwriters," said Buckley. "Paul is always welcome to join us for the reunions, but until then, we've got a new tour and a new album to do." Their 20 date tour will mark the thirty year anniversary of the release of their seminal album In The City.

Sirius XM Merger Should Pass Antitrust Scrutiny

Yesterday Sirius and XM Satellite Radio announced a "merger of equals" to form a single $13 billion dollar company. The new company will also now have 14 million combined subscribers and consumers might now be able to get specialty radio from Howard Stern, Nascar, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Dylan and Major League Baseball from a single satellite provider. The merger's "single satellite provider" result, upon a cursory look, will raise some concerns of monopoly and general antitrust issues. However, it should be obvious that the companies do not simply compete in the "satellite radio provider" market, which is a critical question under the antitrust laws.

While antitrust is a complex body of law, there are some general principles that shed some light on what antitrust regulators (either the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice) will look at when considering the merger. Generally speaking, regulators look to see whether a combination of merged companies will "substantially lessen competition" in "any line of commerce in any section of the country." The first quoted phrase refers to what is known as "market power." But, before regulators can assess market power, they must first determine what the market actually is. Market definition can be hotly contested and typically, as noted, includes both a product and a geographic component. In this case, given satellite radio's nationwide coverage there likely won't be much wrangling over the geographic aspect. What will see some legal jujitsu is the product definition of the market.

Foreseeing potential arguments against the merger, XM and Sirius announced their view of the relevant market in their merger press release stating "in addition to existing competition from free "terrestrial" AM and FM radio stations "as well as iPods and mobile phone streaming, satellite radio will face new challenges from the rapid growth of HD Radio, Internet radio and next generation wireless technologies." Thus, XM and Sirius say the product here is all radio and all media listening devices, including iPods. While there is an interesting academic argument as to whether iPods should be included in the market definition, it probably shouldn't be relevant to the final question of approval.

There is no doubt in my mind that the market should not be limited in this case to just "satellite radio providers" and should include all forms of radio. Indeed, terrestrial stations now brand themselves as "free radio", which is an implicit admission that they compete with the pay subscription model of satellite. As we know, traditional radio has some very large corporate players who will make it nearly impossible for the newly merged companies to "substantially lessen competition" in the radio market. While admittedly oversimplifying the legal analysis for this confined space, I nonetheless contend that once regulators acknowledge this economic reality there should be little hindrance to approving the merger from an antitrust perspective.

Beyond the FTC or DOJ antitrust review, there is another regulation obstacle at the Federal Communications Commission. That is something outside my former practice area so I won't comment on that hurdle. However, it is clear that the companies believe they can overcome any objections under FCC rules or they would not have otherwise announced their agreement.

Now, if this does get approved and prices don't rise for a device or subscription, I'd seriously think about signing up. I've hated having to choose between the two and to date have declined to do so. Combined they have a strong enough line up, which will likely continue to expand, to at least consider a subscription.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Counting Crows Duritz Starts Label

Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz has started his own label, Tyrannosaurus Records. The first two acts signed are the Chicago-based indie-punk-pop band Blacktop Mourning and and Brooklyn rapper Notar.

He is quoted as saying, "The talent of Notar and Blacktop Mourning just blew me away and I wanted to be a part of their evolution." Duritz produced and appears on four tracks on Blacktop Mourning's No Regrets, which is set for a May release. Meanwhile, Duritz and the Crows are finishing up recording new material and will play this year's Jazz Fest in New Orleans on May 4th.

Radiohead's Yorke Responds to Gallagher

By now most people realize what a blowhard, asshole Noel Gallagher is and simply ignore his seemingly weekly rants about either how great he is or how bad someone else is. One of his latest targets has been Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

Gallagher felt the need to criticize Yorke's stage show that sometimes incorporates political messages. He's also quoted as a saying "I never went to f****** university. I don't know what a paint brush is, I never went to art school."

On Radiohead's "Dead Air Space" blog, Yorke responds simply and elegantly:

"i did. it taught me to respect other artists."

Seems Noel should take some of his own advice and put a sock in it and stick to writing and playing pop songs.

Arcade Fire Preach The Neon Bible At The Judson Memorial Church

By: David Schultz

Whether the Arcade Fire are ready for it or not, with next month's release of Neon Bible, the follow-up to their critically beloved 2004 breakthrough hit Funeral (an Earvolution top 10 that year), the delicate art-rockers from Montreal, Canada are poised for even greater success. Without major label support, the indie-superstars, led by Win Butler and his wife Regine Chassagne, stumbled forth from the Great White North and captured the imagination of many fans with their descriptive lyrics, humble charm and eclectic mix of instruments. The world seems to be their oyster, if they can only stay out of their own way. Already they've presided over the inadvertent release of the wrong advance track from the new album and Neon Bible has already been leaked well ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, Internet maladies did nothing to diminish the excitement over the Arcade Fire's fiercely anticipated five night residency at New York City's Judson Memorial Church. With no tickets available after the initial sale, crowds braved hellacious weather to line up hours before each show to purchase the limited number of tickets made available each night.

Besides falling in line with the thematic structure of their upcoming album, the Arcade Fire's occupation of the JMC also fell in line with the band's status as emerging purveyors of thoughtful, passionate reveries. Long a sponsor of the arts, the Judson Memorial Church has progressively supported a wide-ranging array of music and artists, hosting theater, dance and avant garde performances since the sixties. Before eager crowds that included a nightly smattering of celebrity sightings, Butler and his cohorts essentially played the same set of songs each night, though they did change the order. Preciously dressed in unstylish button-up shirts and thrift store wares, the Arcade Fire took the stage on Thursday night to the recorded strains of "Black Mirror" before claiming their right to the Judson stage with all the disheveled charm they could muster.

Playing underneath a neon replica of the album's emblematic tome, Arcade Fire previewed a number of songs from Neon Bible, creating their own chapel within the church while they nicely reproduced Funeral and Neon Bible's layered arrangements. As the room wasn't designed for concerts of this magnitude, especially Arcade Fire's amalgamation of guitars, keyboards, strings, horns and drums, the sound was a tad muddy. However, the venue's cozy confines didn't require much, if any, amplification.




Likely stemming more from familiarity than a difference in quality, "Haiti," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and "Rebellion (Lies)" received a bigger response than the Neon Bible material. A rockabilly beat underscores "(Antichrist Television Blues)," the horns and strings push along "No Cars Go" with a furious new wavy bent and "Keep The Car Running" bounces right along. Slower pieces like "Windowsill" and "Neon Bible," provided a nice change of pace, moodily contrasting with the more upbeat material. The soft spoken Butler politely kept thanking the crowd between songs, continuously introducing the band and making sure the few hundred in attendance knew they were from Montreal. He traded vocals with his wife throughout the evening: Butler's voice providing an off-kilter aura while Chassagne's vocals sometimes fought with the music, running more towards punky new wave.

Musically, no one from the Arcade Fire steps forward to steal the show. Quite versatile, they switch instruments every couple songs or so, often requiring a scorecard to keep track of their whereabouts. Without any virtuosos in their mix, Arcade Fire's whole greatly surpasses the sum of their parts. Working with the Church's modestly sized space, Butler led the group through a briskly paced seventy-five minute set. For the haunting "My Body Is A Cage," the horn section strolled up to the Church's balcony, providing the brassy undertone from the rear of the crowd; for their finale, they ambled to the middle of the crowd, for an acoustic, unamplified rendering of "Wake Up." As they finished a number of their European shows by leading the crowd to the streets, there were minor expectations of a similar finish in the adjacent Washington Square Park. If there were any plans of concluding outside, they were scotched by the snow and sleet that greeted the Arcade Fire's arrival. But, in finishing within an arms' length of their fans, using a megaphone for a microphone, the "band of the people" still found an original way to cap off a show at one of the stranger Metropolitan venues.

Audioslave Out; Rage Against The Machine In

Citing "musical differences," Chris Cornell announced that he would be leaving Audioslave, effectively breaking up the band formed by himself, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, after the splits of Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine.

Don't weep too long for the former Rage Against The Machine musicians, Cornell's announcement comes on the heels of the news that Zach de la Rocha would be rejoining his former radical rebel rousers to headline Coachella in Indio, CA in late April.

Thus proves Newton's third law of music dynamics: for every band's breakup, there is an equal and opposite band's formation.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Britney Goes Bald

Image from KABC via TMZBritney Spears has shaved her head, folks. Why is this important or post worthy? Well, in the grand scheme of things it's not, of course. But, as I've said before Google loves Britney!

One day after reports of her entering rehab, Britney hit an LA tattoo parlor with her new do. This looked worked for Sinead O'Connor, but then again, she lost it and her career went down the tubes.

Is Britney heading in the same direction, but for different reasons? All signs point to yes. But, you don't need a magic eight ball to see that, just look at the cue.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gnarls Barkley in Sports Illustrated?

The Grammy winning Gnarls Barkley aren't on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition like Beyonce, but the trend setting duo did manage to make it into the hallowed pages normally reserved for the likes of Heidi Klum and Elle McPherson.

Gnarls appears in a photo shoot with supermodel Jessica White. Luckily for us the boys aren't wearing bikinis. Pics here.

Other musicians getting the swimsuit treatment include Jimmy Buffet, who appears with Brooklyn Decker, Kenny "I'm Not Gay" Chesney (with Marissa Miller who also does a nice body painting tribute to the Stones) and Aersosmith with the amazing Bar Refaeli.

News and Notes

Rock legends Rush are set to release their new album, SNAKES & ARROWS. The record, which will be released on May 1st, was recorded in the fall of 2006 with Grammy Award-winner Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) and Rush co-producing. The album's first single, "Far Cry," is expected to hit rock radio in mid-March. The band will also announce dates for a North American tour in the coming weeks.

Buckcherry, of "Crazy Bitch" fame, is embracing Web 2.0 and asking fans to make a video for their next single. Buckcherry and ArtistDirect.com announced an open call to fans to create their own video for the next single, "Everything" asking them to upload homemade videos to YouTube by March 9th. The winner and a friend will receive round trip airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets and VIP access to the Buckcherry show in London.

Earl Greyhoud has released some new tour dates. I can't wait to check these guys out live. Dates include gigs with State Radio (tonight @ the Bowery Ballroom), the Slip, Apollo Sunshine and Dirty On Purpose.
Video: S.O.S.

A band I have seen live worth checking out is Brooklyn's Pela. I caught them in Philadelphia last summer and was quite impressed. They have a new cd coming out on Great Society records and starting this week will stream a different song each week from the record on their site.

And, in the quote of the week, Yoko Ono has reportedly expressed concerns that her career was hurt by marrying John Lennon. Yes, you read that right...her career. Ono reportedly said: "John was laughed at for being in love with me. And I think I was discredited as an artist." Ok then...this is too easy a target so we'll just let that stand on its on.

Experience Hendrix: Vodka Unauthorized

Experience Hendrix, L.L.C, founded in 1995 by Jimi Hendrix's father issued a statement saying that they are "in no way involved in licensing or marketing of a Hendrix branded vodka as some have suggested or assumed."

CEO Janie Hendrix commented, "We are concerned that there is a perception that we have, in some way, sanctioned this and would like it known that we have neither issued a license nor do we endorse the use of my brother's likeness and name in this manner." She also noted, "As a matter of strict policy, we would certainly never participate in promoting an alcoholic beverage. We regret that there are some who don’t have the facts straight in this matter and have erroneously concluded that Experience Hendrix has played some role in the promotion of this product."

The vodka is distributed by "Electric Hendrix LLC", which according to a company website includes "Jimi's brother Leon Hendrix, Jimi's drummer Buddy Miles, and other friends and family members of Jimi Hendrix." Electric Hendriz CEO Craig Dieffenbach has been aligning himself and the company with various stars, including Maria Carey, Seal and Heidi Klum to promote the brand.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gore Announces Live Earth Concerts

Al Gore is on a roll. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi and Snoop Dog are among the artists already linked to the "Live Earth" concerts Gore and friends are putting on to bring awareness to the climate change crisis. Rumors of such an event have been circulating on the web and Gore announced an already impressive lineup that is bound to grow.

In addition the acts above, promoters announced that they've also enlisted the Foo Fighters, Paolo Nutini, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, John Mayer, Corrine Bailey Rae, Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Fall Out Boy, Mana, Keane, Kelly Clarkson, Korn, Ray LaMontagne and many more. I have no doubt other big names will join the roster as we near the July 7th planned date.

The concerts will take place in Sydney, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai, China; London, England; Kyoto, Japan; Johannesburg, South Africa; and a U.S. city to be named later. Philadelphia, which did a great job hosting Live 8, will likely be on the consideration list, particularly with Gore's close relationship with PA Governor Ed Rendell.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anti-Valentines Day Playlist

because we all can't be happy....

"Love Stinks" - J. Geils Band

"Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" - Motley Crue

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" - Paul Simon

"That Woman's Got Me Drinkin" – Shane McGowan and The Popes

"She Hates Me" - Puddle of Mudd

"I Used to Love Her" - Guns 'N Roses

"Two Days In February" - The Goo Goo Dolls

"Divorce Song" - Liz Phair

"How Do You Sleep" - John Lennon

"Piece Of My Heart" - Janis Joplin

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lee Hazlewood: Cake Or Death

By: David Schultz

After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Warren Zevon set to work creating one last album. With The Wind, Zevon took one last inspirational curtain call before his death in 2003, even offering a poignant yet whimsical cover of "Knockin' On Heavens Door." In response to being diagnosed with terminal renal cancer, singer/songwriter/producer Lee Hazlewood utilizes a similar sense of perspective and humor on his latest and final album Cake Or Death. Best known as the songwriter behind Nancy Sinatra's most famous hits, Hazlewood also had an influential career as a singer, releasing the majority of his albums in the 60s and 70s.

On Cake Or Death, Hazlewood approaches his final bow with dignity and grizzled wit. The uncomplicated music runs the gamut of country-blues to cabaret to orchestral. Befitting an album that takes its name from Eddie Izzard's routine involving the unlikelihood of a Church of England Inquisition, Hazlewood keeps the mood rather light. On "Fred Freud," he cures psychosis with classical music and in a Southern drawl dissertates on what constitutes a "White People Thing." His cracked baritone occasionally slipping into a redneck growl, Hazlewood looks backward, returning the original melody of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," and working once again with Duane Eddy. Known for crafting exceptional songs, Hazlewood's last album not only has some bluesy riffs ("Baghdad Nights") and surf rock rolls ("The First Song Of The Day") but also features some lovely melodies ("Please Come To Boston"). In singing about "the old man ready to go" on Cake Or Death's final track, "T.O.M. (The Old Man)," Hazlewood caps off his swan song with a simple but effective final epitaph.

The Police Reunion Tour

The Police confirmed their reunion tour after months of informed speculation. The Police, of course, played the Grammys on Sunday and kept the ball rolling with a rehearsal and press conference at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles yesterday announcing a world-wide tour starting in May.

Sting made no efforts to check his ego when talking about getting back together with his old mates. During yesterday's press conference, Sting commented "If you'd asked me the day before I made this decision, I would have said, 'You're out of your mind. My head is somewhere else. I woke up one morning about three months ago and this light bulb went off in my head: I'm going to call Andy and Stewart and tell them we should tour." I'm sure Andy and Stewart are thrilled the world still revolves around Sting.

The tour kicks off May 28th in Vancouver and will include an appearance at this year's year's Bonnaroo Festival on June 16th. All dates and tickets are available here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dixie Chicks Sweep Grammys

The Dixie Chicks took home an impressive five Grammy Awards last night after surviving a few years of death threats and radio boycotts. The Red Hot Chili Peppers scored four wins and Rick Rubin, who produced both the Chicks and the Chili Peppers had a big night as well. Gnarls Barkley took home two awards, although I thought they deserved at least one more.

Carrie Underwood and Mary J. Blige also had 3 wins and Christina Aguilera took home a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. A shocked John Mayer also won for Best Pop Vocal Album for Continuum.

A star may have been born among the big names present last night. Robyn Troup won the "My Grammy Moment" contest and got to perform a duet with Justin Timberlake. Troup was quite impressive and looked like a seasoned performer. Robyn won by submitting an online video that was voted on in the weeks up to and during the Grammy telecast.

Of course, the show opened with a nod to the past and the near future as a newly reformed Police opened up the show with their classic Roxanne. Sting and crew are expected to announce a world tour today.

Grammy.com has a complete list of winners.

Speeding Ahead With Rose Hill Drive: The Earvolution Interview With Nathan Barnes

By: David Schultz
[Photos from RoseHillDrive.com]

Snowy, crunchy Boulder, Colorado brings to mind the Rocky Mountains, the Flatirons, liberal-minded, nature-conscious people and quite possibly Mork & Mindy. Given the legions of rootsy bands that call the city home, Rose Hill Drive, an incendiary threesome steeped in the traditions of hard-driving classic rock, cannot help but stand out from their laid-back hometown brethren. A power trio in every sense of the word, Rose Hill Drive has built their following on concert-goers not only eager for bassist Jacob Sproul's often-literary lyrics but for the sonic assault brought by drummer Nathan Barnes and Jacob's brother, guitarist Daniel Sproul. Already a bit of an underground sensation, Rose Hill Drive is in the process of emerging into a much more identifiable entity. The self-titled Rose Hill Drive hit stores in August and while on tour in support of their debut, the group attracted the attention of Pete Townshend, ultimately leading to a coveted slot opening a number of shows for The Who. With the Sproul brothers delayed due to some typically snowy Colorado weather, Nate Barnes recently spoke with Earvolution by phone about Rose Hill Drive's relatively rapid ascent, the recording of their explosive debut album and their new found friend, Pete Townshend.

At 24 years old Barnes is Rose Hill Drive's eldest member, but only by three months. Although the excitement over his band's success can't be disguised, Barnes hardly speaks with wide-eyed wonder or youthful exuberance, exuding a confidence not always typical of a twenty-something at the beginning of his career, regardless of their field. A healthy amount of Barnes' aplomb surely arises from the close-knit nature of the band, which formed while the Sprouls and Barnes were still in high school, a fact that should give hope to every teenager toiling away in their parents' basement or garage. "I knew Jake and Daniel from going to the same school," explains Barnes of the band's origins. "We had mutual friends. One of my really good friends was their former drummer. I replaced [him] which was kind of a sticky situation but it all blew over."

Photo by Lisa Siciliano


Most high school bands don't survive graduation much less get to play shows outside of their hometown. "We were all on the same page," explains Barnes of the band's post-scholastic existence. "I went to community college for about half a semester, but that wasn't what I wanted to be doing; Jake too. That's not where our heart was or what we wanted to be doing. We wanted to be playing." Both Jake and Barnes withdrew from their respective colleges and Daniel followed their lead, making the risky call to drop out of high school. The glamorous rock and roll lifestyle didn't come immediately. "We all just got jobs and starting working."

With jobs waiting tables available for the Sprouls at their mom's breakfast spot, Barnes found a job at a bread store. Adopting a philosophy of accepting gigs whenever and wherever they arose, Rose Hill Drive played as many shows as they could. In time, the bookings started to increase, wreaking havoc with their day jobs. "None of us ever made a conscious decision to quit our jobs. It was more like we were getting tours and shows and realizing 'I can't keep my job anymore,'" said Barnes of the American dream of departing the 9 to 5 working world. "We eventually got to the point where we couldn't hold jobs." Before they were old enough to legally get into a bar, Barnes and the Sprouls were full-time musicians.

From the outside it may look like Rose Hill Drive are an overnight success story, but Barnes seems quite nonplussed by such appearances. "You could look at it that way," Barnes explains. "We've been getting our own shows since high school, so we've been building it for about seven years. In the past couple years, we've gotten more recognition, as well as put our first album out." As for "quick success," Barnes couldn't disagree more. "We've definitely put a lot of years and a lot of time into this."

In cutting their teeth around Boulder, Rose Hill Drive built a following by offering an alternative to the jam rock scene. "The jam scene here is more a college scene or a college age scene," he carefully explains. "I never really got into that kind of stuff. In high school, we'd go to see rock bands when they came to town but we weren't going to the clubs just to go." Barnes understands Rose Hill Drive's appeal within the jamband scene during that time. "We definitely stuck out in our home town. We were one of the only bands doing what we were doing and managed to tap into that fan base, which has also been beneficial cause those are the people that keep coming to shows, recording and sharing them. They spread the word and we kind of developed an underground following by being appealing to that scene. I think it's been good for us."

Barnes boils down Rose Hill Drive's initial success with jamband audiences to a shared love of the art of the live performance. "They like it because we definitely just play together on stage and it will go places," said Barnes. "We'll play stuff we haven't played before, kind of just a free thing as opposed to playing this song off our record and that song off our record; we kind of string everything together and change things up. I think it would be incredibly boring if we did the same thing over and over again. I think that's what people latch on to: the freeness and the improvisation of what we do on stage." This past New Year's, Rose Hill Drive definitely changed things up, opening both year-end shows at the Boulder Theater with an entire run through Jimi Hendrix' Band Of Gypsys. In tearing through the album Hendrix recorded with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox on New Year's Eve 1970, Rose Hill Drive did more than pay homage to a classic recording: they rendered it with such skill and dexterity that it doubled as a resounding declaration of Rose Hill Drive's emergence as a potent force to be reckoned with.

Photo by John Davisson


Years of playing bars, clubs, arenas and festivals have given Barnes a good sense of Rose Hill Drive's allure. "I think there's two different kinds of people that go to shows," he explained. "I think the jamband scene goes to see a show - a whole show - and feel the energy coming off the band and to be a part of something really cool. I think a lot of the people that go see mainstream bands go to hear 'that song' or just want to hear them play the songs off 'that record' and if they stray from that then they don't really get it." Barnes senses the mix of both types of fans in their current audience. "I think the fact we have the first kind of fans at our shows is really cool for us. We do have a few of the other types of fans: hopefully, we can turn them on to the fact that there's more to a show than hearing the band just play 'that song.'"

In recording their debut album, Rose Hill Drive opted for a different tack than other bands with devoted live followings that strive to duplicate their show within the studio. "We didn't want [the album] to sound like we sound live because the record is a whole different art form," said Barnes. "I think it's kind of silly when people say that just want to capture what they've done live on their record. We definitely wanted to capture the vibe of us playing together; all the basic tracks were done at the same time, the drums, the bass and the rhythm guitar tracks." Although they didn't try to replicate the feel of their live show, the stage workouts the songs have endured greatly helped Rose Hill Drive deliver them in the studio. "We've played some of those songs live for probably about nine months to a year. They've each developed their own thing from playing them in concert. I don't think we did any more than four takes for any of those songs," said Barnes with a mixture of amazement and pride. "We were ready. We had been waiting a long time to be able get in the studio and record. We came fresh off the road and went through preproduction with our producer and co-producer about a week before. We had a game plan: we just came in there, got the sounds we wanted and blazed through it." Some bands may struggle in the studio, worrying over getting things just right: not Rose Hill Drive. "We did most of the basic tracks in the first couple days; the rest was going back over and adding overdubs and layering things, which I think is a really cool thing to do. You don't want it to sound overproduced, but you have the opportunity to create different sounds than you do live."

Realizing you only get one chance to create your debut release, RHD gave the project a good deal of forethought. "We wanted to make sure it flowed on record and wasn't just a collection of songs," said Barnes. "The order of the songs was really important to us. We were really conscious of making it a cool, flowing thing rather than random songs thrown together. We were also conscious of making the songs complete songs." Main songwriter Jake Sproul populates Rose Hill Drive's music with dramatic confrontational scenarios and detailed characters with a little more depth than those normally found within your typical rock song, often creating the hard-rock equivalent of a Spaghetti Western. Without diminishing Sproul's contributions, Barnes doesn't discount his or the younger Sproul's efforts towards the literary scope of the tunes. "Jake wanted [the lyrics] to stand up to how good the music was," explained Barnes. "I think the lyrics are about something, they mean something they're not just random words thrown together that sound cool."

Photo by Andy Welch and Justin Kreutzmann Undoubtedly, Rose Hill Drive's biggest exposure came when Pete Townshend and Rachel Fuller invited the band onto their In The Attic podcast. After opening a festival headlined by The Who, Rose Hill Drive caught the eye and ear of the legendary guitarist. "It was just a total shock to me," said Barnes. "We were kind of hanging out and then Brian, our manager, came up to us and asked if we wanted to be on Pete's podcast." Having grown up fans of The Who, surely they had time to compose themselves before going on the air with the icon. "Yeah, we had maybe 30 minutes," laughed Barnes. With hardly time to reflect, they quickly found themselves being interviewed by Townshend while trying to not be starstruck by the whole situation. "If you look at the video, you can probably see that in our eyes. We were all pretty blown away by the whole thing," Barnes said with pleasant humility. "We grew up watching The Kids Are Alright, Live At The Isle Of Wight and the Woodstock videos, listening to Tommy. They are a huge influence of ours. It was pretty surreal to be in the same room doing a show talking about our band with him."

Showing little trepidation, Rose Hill Drive played the acoustic medley that comprises the center of Rose Hill Drive. From that initial appearance, the band struck up a fruitful friendship with Townshend, who's nearly as old as all of Rose Hill Drive combined: they've become frequent guests on the In The Attic podcast and will once again open a handful of shows for The Who on their current American tour. One of the highlights for RHD occurred this past September at Chicago's House Of Blues when Townshend joined Rose Hill Drive for one of their anthems, "Raise Your Hands," as well one of his, "Young Man Blues," one of Barnes' favorite songs. "A really cool sequence of events that ended up with a really cool outcome," sums up the marveled Barnes.

Looking forward to their upcoming stint of shows with The Who, they plan to build on the pragmatic approach they adopted when they previously opened for them. "We came up with a thirty minute set that would put across what we do so people can get an impression of what we're about," he explained. "I think we probably did 3 or 4 songs. We didn't try to cram a lot of songs in there. We just wanted to do what we do. It's a much more intimidating setting: you're in an arena, you have a huge sound system and only a half hour." Did opening for The Who mean people recognized Rose Hill Drive? "People definitely had no idea who we were," deadpanned Barnes before chuckling. "We were kind of nervous," he said of the daunting effort. "The band that had been on tour before us [Peeping Tom] had been booed off stage several times but Rose Hill Drive was a much better fit for The Who."

Knowing his history with respect to bands formed by siblings, Barnes knows the pitfalls that could lie ahead, but isn't overly concerned. "I'm pretty fortunate cause they get along really well," he said with a bit of a laugh. "You hear about bands like Oasis and the Black Crowes: that the brothers hate each other and there's all this tension. I feel pretty fortunate that it's not like that. We're not blood brothers but we're all pretty much brothers cause we spend all our time together and know each other so well. I think it's the best setup as far as having a lot of creativity. There's unspoken communication between the two of them and they're always on the same page; it makes for a really creative environment." If the two are at odds, does Barnes become the tiebreaker? "Usually I don't find myself in that position," he says with a lighthearted relief that bodes well for Rose Hill Drive's exceedingly bright future.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bloc Party to Play Rock Werchter Festival

While various internet sites are wondering if Bloc Party will cancel their current UK tour due to reported respiratory problems ailing drummer Matt Tong, the band seems to think not as they've announced a new gig.

Bloc Party announced they are confirmed to play this years Rock Werchter Festival in Belgium. The festival runs from June 28th to July 1st. Tickets are expected to go on sale February 27th.

The band is also set play at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas on March 15th.

Gore to Announce Climate Change Concerts?

Reports are swirling that Al Gore, who is nominated for an Oscar for his An Inconvenient Truth documentary (see trailer here), is set to announce a series of concerts aimed at drawing more attention to the growing climate crisis. The event is reportedly set for this coming July 7th and may include concerts in as many as seven cities including London, Washington DC, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Kyoto.

Gore was expected to make an announcement today in London. However, Gore and Sir Richard Branson did make an announcement about a $25 million dollar prize to foster new methods of combating climate change. There are no reports about a concert at this point in time.

Anthony Kiedis on Becoming the Rolling Stones and Watching Porn

Anthony Kiedis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are nominated for six Grammy awards, including Album of the Year. Kiedis sat down with Blender magazine to discuss the Grammy nominations and a few other topics. The current issue hits news stands on February 13th.

On being recognized by the recording industry: "It"s a thrill to hear that the two years we dedicated to making this record mattered. But the ultimate moment of joy and approval happens the minute we write a song. It's the minute Chad hears something in John's playing and I start hearing a melody - and then by the end of the day we have a song."

On becoming the next Rolling Stones: "They've made great music, but they don't seem like something I'd like us to be. They don't seem to have a real band unity. I don't know that they enjoy the process as much."

On his addictive personality: "When I finally got a computer, I discovered this limitless world of pornography. And I realized the feeling that I was having was like the feeling that I used to get when I'd go score drugs. I actually had to make a commitment to myself to stop,"

On his musical taste: "The majority of the music that I love comes from people who are in rebellion against the physical part of their lives. Joey Ramone, for instance. But I think the two go together great. There's something absolutely freeing about being able to turn your body into a whirling dervish. There's a reason why people have danced for 20,000 years. Dancing gets the attention of the spirits."

Howling At The Moon: Cat Power At The Hiro Ballroom

By: David Schultz
[Photo by Larry Mortenson]

Cat Power is demented.

Brilliant talents, like those who are mentally touched, have been known to march to the beat of a different drummer. Perhaps the portion of the psyche dedicated to stereotypical social exchanges becomes overpowered by the creative spirit. Maybe the mental mechanism that filters the interesting thoughts from the bizarre gets set towards a different level. Possibly, they just think their every thought is equally fascinating. Whatever the cause, Cat Power seems completely and entirely demented and it made for a fascinating case study this past Monday night at New York City's Hiro Ballroom.

Playing under stage lights dimmed to the same level as the Hiro Ballroom's Japanese paper lanterns, Power played the venue with the same casualness as if she'd invited the audience into her living room. With most of the Hiro occupied by devoted followers seated cross-legged on the floor, Power held court before a captivated audience that hung on her every word.

In between songs, Power took lengthy interludes, some more than five minutes in length, in which she spoke to the audience in a style that could be generously described as "free associative." Her ramblings ran the gamut from blunt, sometimes scatological, matchmaking attempts, bewildering references to her pets, mystifying cries for friends and guitarists somewhere in the audience and nonsensical gibberish that rivaled Jodie Foster's portrayal from Nell. More endearing than pretentious, Power's commentary made the intimate Hiro Ballroom even cozier as she truly let her guard down bringing the audience into her world, if only for a couple surreal hours.

When not seated at the piano, Power slowly paced the stage, her performance drawing all of its power from her voice. Backed with just a fuzzy, languorous electric guitar, the bare and sparse backing instrumentation left it to Power to carry each song with her vocals, which she did with stunning results. The audience remained respectfully quiet throughout the performance, creating an eerie calm that suited the mood. The effect had the same evocative quality of the Cowboy Junkies at their mellowest. While not exactly upbeat, Power's time at the piano provided the evening's most spirited music as she touched on "Living In Bars" and "The Greatest." In interpreting material like Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You To Long" and "These Arms Of Mine," Smokey Robinson's "Tracks Of My Tears," and other standards, Power hardly adhered to the song's traditional structure, filtering it through her own musical processor. In adhering closest to "House Of The Rising Sun," she gave the Animals' classic a haunting quality.

The same things that make Power ripe for ridicule are the exact same things that make her so appealing to her fans, who seem eager to be a part of her world and the focus of her attention. Anyone wanting to show their with-it-ness refers to Power as Chan, her real name. In referring to herself in the third person for a good portion of the evening, Power does nothing to quench those hipster fires. Possibly all you need to know in order to get a sense of Power's core fan base is the fact that she sold out the Hiro Ballroom on Super Bowl Sunday. Her people aren't fascinated by Colts or Bears, they just want Cat.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Has Died

Former Playboy Playmate and "Reality" television star Anna Nicole Smith died today in a Florida Hotel Room. Smith collapsed at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood, Florida around 2:00 p.m. Bodyguards performed CPR and paramedics rushed to the scene. The EMTs attempted to revive Smith on the scene. However, she was pronounced dead around 3:45 p.m.

David Granoff, Anna's former publicist, told MSNBC that he was "sad, but not shocked" by Anna's death. Meanwhile, TMZ reports that Anna's recently born daughter was not with her when she collapsed and that the child is being cared for in the Bahamas.

So, by this point some of our regular readers will be wondering how Anna is connected to the music news we normally post about. Well, in this time of rampant speculation and the tabloid feeding frenzy over how she died, we'll take a different road and skip all that and remind you of Anna's connection to the music scene.

Anna's Top 5 Musical Moments

5 - In 1993, Smith appeared Bryan Ferry's video for "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." (In 1997, Smith appeared in the video for Supertramp's "You Win, I Lose" but I couldn't find a link)

4 - Smith recorded a version of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" it was released in France and on at least one occasion lip synhced during a night on the town.

3 - In 2004, Smith appeared in the video for Kanye West's "The New Workout Plan."

2 - Anna at Live 8: Here "barely there top" caused organizers to file suit against the buxom blonde.

1 - Anna at the MTV Awards in Australia in 2005 where she dropped her top to reveal two very large MTV logos.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Jim Morrison Vocal

Perry Farrell is working on his new record that will be released later this year. The record, Woman in the Window, will include a track that features a previously unreleased Jim Morrison vocal. The song will also be used as the theme song for Global Cool, an organization which is dedicated to raising awareness of the global climate crisis.

The Doors will also be honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and will finally get a Hollywood star. It is hard to believe they are just now getting a star. 2007 also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Doors' self-titled debut. Later in the year, their sophomore record will also celebrate the same birthday. Strange Days was released in October of 1967.

Mp3s, News and Notes

Apple is making news on two fronts this week. They settled with the Beatles and now Steve Jobs is pointing the way toward a bit of a ceasefire in the inoperability wars among mp3 player manufacturers. But, in like most wars, Apple won't drop their weapons first. He does say that he thinks major labels abandoning the DRM system is the best way to get a "truly interoperable music marketplace." But, the country of Norway seems to think Jobs is passing the buck of blame off to labels.

Music Rising announced the sale of ten Epiphone Music Rising guitars signed by U2's The Edge. All proceeds will benefit Music Rising which raised funds for Gulf Coast area musicians. The group is now expanding with grants for musical instrument assistance to churches and schools in the region.

The Academy Is...will release their new record, Santi, in April. The record is produced by Butch Walker (All-American Rejects, Hot Hot Heat).
Streams: "We've Got A Big Mess On Our Hands" Windows / Real

The Barenaked Ladies tapped into the YouTube talent pool and got the creators of favorite YouTube videos like "Diet Coke and Mentos" and the "Evolution of Dance" to recreate their "YouTube moment" for the new BNL "Sound Of Your Voice" video. The video premiered on BNL's website. Their Barenaked Ladies Are Men hit stores this week and comes loaded with "UMIXIT" software and the multi-tracks to three songs ("Another Spin, "Angry People" and "One and Only"), allowing fans to re-mix, re-edit and re-create the BNL originals. BNL appears on Letterman on February 22nd.

Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records will put out the new record, Brand New By Tomorrow, from Money Mark. Mark, besides the Beastie Boys, has collaborated with Beck and Jack Johnson in the past. The record hits stores February 27th.
Mp3s: Pick up the Pieces & Everyday I Die A Little

Ozzfest Free in 2007

Sharon Osbourne, since no one would be able to understand Ozzy, announced yesterday that Ozzfest 2007 will be free to fans. Instead of selling tickets they'll sell sponsorships.

"For the last few years," says Sharon, "ticket prices have steadily climbed as artists demand more and more money for summer tours. We certainly want everybody to make money, however we also want the kids to be able to afford to come out and have an incredible experience. If we continued with the traditional touring festival model, we would have no choice but to raise ticket prices again this year."

Well I am curious to see how this works. It'd be great if it did and there were more sponsored shows with free tickets. There are already many sponsored shows that still have high ticket prices, so it'll be interesting to see how they pull this off. Will they have Subarus and Fords on the infield for you to peruse as you make your way to the stage? Or will Ozzy bite the head off of a viagra-stuffed bird? Tune it...should be interesting.

Backyard Tire Fire: Vagabonds and Hooligans

By: David Schultz

Following the creative vision of former Brother Jed guitarist Ed Anderson, Backyard Tire Fire's third studio album, Vagabonds and Hooligans, nimbly avoids genre classification. While the alt-country application wouldn't be unfair, especially given the Drive-By Truckers feel of certain tracks, by successfully working the borders and diving into country, blues, Southern rock and indie-rock and finding their commonality, Backyard Tire Fire has found something fresh and new within each one.

Skillful in apologetic oops-I-got-drunk country, Vagabonds and Hooligans moves beyond simple expressions and honky-tonk country, falling more within the mold of their recent EP, Skin and Bones. The well produced album contains intriguing depth: nothing seems as simple as it appears. On the opening title track, Anderson sings of the troublesome visions in his head over a lovely acoustic guitar melody, leaving the backing violin to move between complementary accompaniment and subtle John Cale style trepidation. Similarly, on "Apparitions," BTF introduces a slight sense of unease in such a manner that it gives the song a pleasing edge rather than an unnecessary distraction.

The rhythm section of co-founder Tim Kramp on drums and Matt Anderson, Ed's brother, on bass make Backyard Tire Fire's mélange work. On "Black Dog," they provide the framework for Ed's blistering road-house style guitar work and create the perfect sense of camaraderie on the gloriously ragged "Get Wise." On the tender songs, BTF channels the endearing scruffiness of The Band and on "Wrong Hand," they create a southern-blues epic that could be mistaken for a Black Crowes track circa Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Able to work outside the alt-country confines, "Undecided" comes from the laissez-faire disinterest of Pavement era indie-rock and "Corrine," with its well-placed organ, dates back to the post-grunge 90s when Stone Temple Pilots and Live ruled the world.

To say that Vagabonds and Hooligans is a hard album to pin down should be taken as a compliment. Much like their recent set at B.B. King's, Backyard Tire Fire can comfortably work within many different genres without seeming scattershot or unfocused. Rather than finding a genre to confine themselves within, on their latest, they seem to be finding a recipe which should allow them to grow.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Guns 'N Roses may or may not be putting out Chinese Democracy any time soon, but Axl Rose's former band mate Gilby Clarke is doing double duty on the new release front. Clarke is, of course, part of the Rock Star Supernova train wreck. But, he's also got a new self-title solo release. As someone else said, any man who has "dealt with Axl Rose's ego, Michael Jackson's eccentricities and now the proliferations of Tommy Lee" deserves at least a listen.
Streams: "Black" & "Cure Me...Or Kill Me"

Despite the indie rock dominance, "metal" will be represented at this year's SXSW festival. Louisville rockers Devil Child (you can't get much more metal than that name!) whose EP is out today will be playing at the Cold Sweat/Buddyhead showcase on Thursday, March 15 at The Blender Balcony.
Mp3: "Never Bet the Devil Your Head"

To go to the near opposite end of the music spectrum, for those who like their music a little more laid back you can check out Licorice at the Blue Note in NYC as part of the club's Late Night Groove Series. Licorice takes the stage at 12:30am.

Speaking of going from one extreme to another, punk ground breaker Tommy Ramone is now pickin' bluegrass. Yes, the Ramones original drummer (and manager) is now part of a blue grass duo called Uncle Monk with Claudia Tienan. "We are doing what feels natural to us," says Ramone. "We are making use of string-band instrumentation along with alternative rock flavorings. We're drawn to the classic simplicity of string-band music, but at the same time we are deeply involved with the aesthetics of indie music. There is a similarity between punk and old-time music — both are home-brewed as opposed to schooled. Both have earthy energy. And there is a certain cool in old-time music that is found in the best alternative artists."

Child Bite was recently featured on NPR's Open Mike. The Michigan indie experimentalists position themselves as a "combination of punk vigor and avant-garde ideals." Judge for yourself...
Mp3s: Bone Sleep and Broach for Two.

Romeo + Juliet...10 Years Later

Did you recall that Radiohead was on the soundtrack for Romeo + Juliet starring Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes? I didn't. But, luckily the music industry is around to try to suck every penny from the fans remind us of such history. Apparently, it is the 10th year anniversy of this release and someone at a label thinks we should be celebrating this commemoration. They've added some new songs to the original soundtrack and hey, they've got Zach Braff in their "top 8" so there must be something cool and relevant about this, right?

Stream "Talk Show": Quicktime or Windows

Gnarls Barkley Haiku Contest

Tired of bands doing the same old promo contests? Like their music, Gnarls Barkley is doing things a little differently than the rest of the pack. Instead of ticket, cd or t-shirt giveaways Gnarls wants you to express yourself in their Haiku Contest. Wait...their what?? Yes, Gnarls is either attempting to expand the cultural bounds of music consumers or having a bit of fun with their fans. Either way, enter your Haiku here.

Maybe throw them off a bit and have your theme be related to this spoof:
Gnarls Barkley: "Gravy"

Keller Williams: Dream

By: David Schultz

Over the past decade, Keller Williams has carved himself a nifty little niche as an incredibly creative and inventive live performer. On Dream, his ninth studio album, the man affectionately referred to as the one-man jamband doesn't try to go it alone, choosing to get by with a little help from his friends, including the String Cheese Incident, Bob Weir, Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten. Williams' penchant for looping machines and rotating between various instruments loses it appeal without the accompanying visual. Wisely, Williams doesn't even try to bring his stage show into the studio, working hard to create songs that can stand on their own without the use of any gimmickry.

On stage, Williams showcases his ingenuity, on Dream, Williams features his guitar proficiency, matching licks with banjo great Bela Fleck on "People Watchin,'" and guitar academician Fareed Haque on "Cookies." Williams works in a few of his customary guitar rolls that coast up and down the scale, but also stretches his guitar work to match prodigious masters like Haque, Charlie Hunter and Steve Kimock. His guitar makes up for his limited vocal range, which on past albums tends to manifest itself in a hushed monotone. Although he reverts to the style on "Celebrate Your Youth," and "Ninja Of Love," which features a similarly flat effort from Michael Franti, Williams works admirably to stretch his vocals as well as his guitar.

Intricate guitars plus serious guest stars could be a recipe for pretentiousness but the album's liner notes allieve any worries over Williams' ego: he seems just as amazed as anyone to have assembled Dream's all-star array. Plus, he deflates any astronomical illusions over his technological acumen in describing his amazement over recording with Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten and Jeff Sipe without ever being in the same room.

Williams' finger-plucking guitar style, though entertaining, can wear thin over the course of a few songs. In that sense, the inclusion of the wide array of guest stars gives Williams numerous interesting foils to play off of and keeps Dream from retrenching the same old groove. There's some straight-forward rock on "Play This," an "appeal" for radio airplay as well as some country on "Sing For My Dinner." On the latter, Williams joins his musical cousins String Cheese Incident for a lengthy tune that rotates between up-tempo bluegrass and sweaty, bluesy jamming. While Williams hasn't created a transcendent masterpiece with Dream, he has concocted his most varied, accomplished work to date.

Monday, February 05, 2007

White Stripes To Record Again?

Given the success of Jack White's "side project" The Raconteurs there was some speculation that perhaps Jack wouldn't do further recordings with Meg White as the White Stripes. Stories circulating on the net now say otherwise. Reports have the Whites close to a new record deal.

Warner Brothers is reportedly close to signing the duo to a one record deal. No word on when the said project may commence but the deal could garner the Whites a $3-4 million dollar guarantee. Not a bad haul in today's market before selling a single disc. Although I have no doubt that if the Stripes can recapture their former magic they'll move some units.

Princely Super Bowl Show

Prince seemed to go out of his way last night to remind people he can play guitar. I didn't time it, but it seemed that a third or even a bit more of his Super Bowl half time set consisted of guitar solos. When you're a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer you can get away with that and the Purple One proved his chops. Early on I started thinking he was doing some ode to Hendrix and sure enough he later covered All Along the Watchtower, which I know is really a Dylan song but Hendrix's version is probably more well known. Extra kudos to Prince for covering Proud Mary and morphing Watchtower into the Foo Fighters' "Best of You."

In case you missed it: Part 1 and Part 2.

Reality Check: Rock Star Supernova Flames Out At Radio City Music Hall

By: David Schultz

In the liner notes to Devil Without A Cause, Kid Rock claimed, "If it looks good, you'll see it. If it sounds good, you'll hear it. If it's marketed right, you'll buy it. But . . . if it's real, you'll feel it." Apocryphal as it may be to introduce an article on Tommy Lee's Rock Star Supernova with a Kid Rock quote, it bears relevance towards the Motley Crue drummer's super mess of a "supergroup" that came to play Radio City Music Hall last Wednesday.

Playing in front of a light show worthy of a group named after the cataclysmic explosion of a star, Rock Star Supernova sure looked good. Although probably not what Kid Rock meant, pairing Lee, former Metallica and current Voivod bassist Jason Newsted and Gilby Clark, a tangential Guns N' Roses guitarist, with Lukas Rossi, an unknown singer who went from fry cook to "Rock Star" overnight, sure sounded like a good idea. With CBS devoting 2 hours of prime time summer programming each week towards the band's search for a lead singer, the marketing couldn't have been more skillfully orchestrated. But in the end, despite the application of the "reality show" nomenclature, Rock Star Supernova isn't real and whatever anyone felt at Radio City last week, it wasn't the feeling Kid Rock described.

A large part of the problem stemmed from the simple fact that but for being on network television, this band had no business playing the cavernous Radio City Music Hall. After numerous weeks of telling their slate of potential lead singers that they had to earn their right on stage, Rock Star Supernova hypocritically headlined Radio City with nothing to their credit but a failed self-titled debut album and an inflated sense of entitlement. In starting at the top, Supernova leapfrogged a number of steps in getting to such a grand stage. As opposed to working their way to Radio City, it seems to be assumed that the name recognition earned from appearing on TV justifies their appearance. As Rock Star Supernova had no history before the reality show, their appeal as a concert attraction roughly falls into the same category as other TV creations like The Monkees or The Partridge Family.

Ideology aside, the project has also been besieged with logistical difficulties that placed the project's foresight into question. As the show entered into its final stages, Supernova, a relatively obscure punk trio from California whose biggest claim to fame was the inclusion of one of their songs in Kevin Smith's Clerks, waged a successful battle to reclaim their name. Apparently, no one affiliated with the reality series checked out whether the name was available. After demonstrating their ownership and continued use of the Supernova name, a California District Court ordered the reality show creation to change their name, resulting in the clunky Rock Star Supernova appellation. To further compound matters, shortly before the beginning of the band's tour, bassist Jason Newsted suffered a torn labrum, shelving him for the duration.

Taking the stage with former Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt in Newsted's stead, Rock Star Supernova did little to improve on their sub par cache of songs. Despite access to Radio City's excellent sound system, the band was mixed horribly with Rossi's vocals practically unintelligible throughout the night. However, the sound wasn't the worst of the band's problems. Essentially, Rock Star Supernova is a competent band with lousy songs; even their selection of covers worked horribly. The Ataris already beat them to their thrashy rendition of Don Henley's "The Boys Of Summer" and with an all female string section, they offered an absolutely dreadful version of The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony." While Rossi threw everything he had into his performance, the other members of the band seemed to be going through the paces. Guitarist Gilby Clarke tossed off a couple nice guitar riffs but was otherwise unmemorable, Colt seemed pleased to play on a big stage one more time and Lee acted like he couldn't wait to get to the post-show party and play "rock star." Lee's drum solo, which had great potential, fell flat. Instead of a full-out arena rock drum solo, he and Colt took the solo in a hip-hoppier direction draining it of any coherence or enjoyment.

Rossi's heartwarming rags-to-riches story gives Rock Star Supernova its silver lining. Even though his prancing and posing bordered on goofy, it seemed sincere and Rossi's clearly enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. Halfway through the show, Rossi took center stage with an acoustic guitar, getting a couple minutes to play Radio City Music Hall on his own before fellow contestant Toby Rand joined in on vocals. Given Rock Star Supernova's minimal long term prospects, a bittersweet aura loomed over Rossi's solo performance: it defies logic that the Canadian singer will ever have a bigger moment and if this is the apex of his career, the downward ride on this roller coaster is about to begin.

The booking of the band into Radio City Music Hall demonstrates that there were lofty expectations for Rock Star Supernova. With ushers passing out ticket upgrades at the door so that the lower seats wouldn't be conspicuously empty, the optimistically half-capacity show came dismally short of a sellout. However, in looking at the glass as half full, the fact that anyone bought tickets at all illustrates the vast marketing power of the airwaves. Dana Carvey used to describe this allure as the "Grapefruit Factor." Assume someone created The Grapefruit Network, devoting its entire programming to simply showing a single grapefruit for 24 hours a day. Although the ratings would be abysmal, people would know of the grapefruit and if it appeared at the mall, someone would walk by with their spouse, point at it and say, "Look, it's that grapefruit from TV." Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rock Star Supernova, your 21st Century grapefruit.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Van Halen Reunion Official

David Lee Roth will rejoin Van Halen for a tour. As I noted before, media outlets jumped the gun a bit. But, the same source I spoke to the other week now has confirmed to TMZ that the Roth reunion is official. Now the only question is how long will it last?

Eddie Van Halen is at least optimistic. He tells TMZ: "It feels like a whole new beginning to be back with Dave and to be playing with my brother and my son. We look forward to going on tour."

Of course, original bassist and very good backing vocalist Michael Anthony will not be on the tour. All this should make for a very interesting Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Mp3s, News and Notes

Snow Patrol won four awards at Ireland's Meteor Music Awards last night. The lads won Best Live Performance, Best Irish Album, Most Downloaded Irish song, and Best Irish Band - beating off competition from The Divine Comedy, Humanzi and The Frames. Justin Timberlake was named "Best International Male" and Lily Allen was named "Best International Female". Scissor Sisters scooped the award for "Best International Group" and "Best International Album" went to Arctic Monkeys for Whatever People Say I am, That`s What I'm Not.

Mariah Carey is showing off her boobs on the cover of this month's Playboy. Yep, we don't care much either. But, anytime you can put "Mariah Carey", "Playboy" and "boobs" in your post there's a good chance the google gods will smile in our direction.

Billy Joel, Keith Richards and Elvis made Blender's list of rock's worst drivers. Apparently Richards used to have a "napping while driving" habit. Hopefully he sticks to limos these days.

Arcade Fire has now joined Fall Out Boy as the latest indie rockers to duke it out with security guards. NME reports that front man Win Butler scuffled with a security guard after a recent gig when the band wanted to play one more song...in the venue's foyer. In an era where concerts have gotten shorter, I've got to tip my hat to this guy for going the extra mile to give fans something extra to remember.

Philadelphia's Dr. Dog have caught the national media's attention with their upcoming release. High praise is coming from no less than Rolling Stone and GQ (what, GQ reviews music?) and CREEM Magazine. We All Belong drops on February 27th, but you can check out Dr. Dog's video for "My Old Ways" on MTV.com starting today and on MTV2 "Subterranean" on Sunday, February 4th.
MP3: Alaska

Death Cab for Cutie frontman, Ben Gibbard recently wrote a blog entry about The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill (a collection of unreleased recordings from Neal Hemphill's Sound of Birmingham and Hemphill Studios) on his MOG.com page, calling it "the best soul music you've most likely never heard."
MP3: "Groove Me Mamma" by Eddie Steele.

You may remember Andrew Douglas Rothbard from his vocal work in Sub Pop rage-rockers Pleasure Forever. After the group disbanded, Andrew disappeared from "the scene" to work on his solo material. His album Abandoned Meander was on Aquarius Records' top ten of 2006.
MP3s: Bull in the Dell, "High Upon Love" & "Indigo"

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!