Monday, April 30, 2007

Reznor Repulsed by L.A. Celebrity Scene

Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails are out promoting their new record Year Zero. But, they seem to shun methods that certain "artists" employ to gain attention like not wearing panties or stopping by key Hollywood clubs. However, Reznor did sit down with Revolver Magazine to discuss a range of topics, including the "look at me I'm famous" aspects of Hollywood culture. Here are some excerpts:

On the L.A. celebrity scene: "I didn't go to L.A. for the culture, I moved there to be around my peers. You don't see me out, or see pictures of me shopping. I'm repulsed by it, to be quite frank."

On the option of making pop records: "When the day comes that I have to hire the flavor of the day to write my records, stick a fork in me."

On life after addiction: "When you're an addict, you feel like your problems are the biggest problems in the world. I'm not saying I can change the world, but now I feel like it's my duty as a human to try and do something."

The full interview appears in the June issue of Revolver, which is on news stands now.

A Lukewarm Hot Chip At Webster Hall

By: David Schultz

Hot Chip, is a five piece electronic dance band from London, who have laid claim to the term overseas with their eminently danceable brand of pseudo-electronic pop. Last week, they crossed the ocean for two sold-out nights at Webster Hall in New York City. The Friday night show, their second, felt like it captured a moment in time, only not an extraordinarily current one.

Hot Chip was ill served by the early starting time that comes with a headlining spot at Webster Hall. The synthesized drums and heavy electronic bass underlying every song would have been a better fit for a late-night crowd which ironically would be coming into the venue once Hot Chip concluded their set. Instead of being the focal point of a Manhattan rave, their played dance music for a crowd that didn't dance. In response to the mild reaction they were generating from the crowd, who did manage to get a nice sway going, Joe Goddard got in a subtle dig, complimenting the crowd for being "quite respectful." Getting past the debate of whether New Yorkers feel they are too hip to dance uncontrollably, part of the reason for the tepid response was the complete lack of charisma from half the band, who stood relatively lifeless while they twiddled knobs and programmed beats. The lasers that shot overhead near the end of the show prompted the loudest roar, as whatever spirit Alexis Taylor and Goddard could generate fell well short of generating a proper amount of excitement.

With all of their equipment lined up across the front of the stage, Hot Chip mixed their electronic beats with a healthy dose of conga drums, bongos and natural percussion and occasional bits of electric guitar and bass. As the band ran through some newer material before diving into selections from The Warning, the songs all started to run together as most of them sounded roughly alike. After nearly ninety minutes of smoothly crafted pop, featuring a set closing version of "Over and Over," Hot Chip closed their encore with a downbeat melodic piece that provided an interesting change of pace but showed their strength is English tinged synthesized pop.

Electronic based dance bands have always had a relatively short shelf life, usually lasting as long as it takes for audiences to grow tired of their groove. Ones that strike a collective nerve, like The Pet Shop Boys, go on to have a lengthy career rehashing old memories while others more often than not, fade quickly into obscurity. When your music is predominantly generated by computers, the person pressing the buttons needs more than a deft sense of timing to form a lasting career. Hot Chip has a couple nice beats and a keen sense of timing, but without any discernible personality, they may lack the intangibles to carry them further.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Duo Go Acoustic For Green Apple Festival

By: David Schultz
Photo by by Michael DiDonna

In a fitting start to the 2nd Green Apple Music & Arts Festival, Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, otherwise known as the Benevento/Russo Duo, kicked off the New York festivities commemorating Earth Day with two stripped down acoustic performances at New York City's Knitting Factory. Befitting a celebration of nature and the environment, The Duo went back to the basics, setting aside the electronics and laying their considerable talents bare before an eager and hungry crowd. The acoustic dimension of the performance didn't have as much of an effect on Russo's drumming as it did on Benevento's normally variegated array of instruments. Customarily surrounded by a variety of keyboards, synthesizers and other electronic doo-hickeys, Benevento's acoustic arsenal consisted of simply a piano, a toy keyboard and a xylophone.

The acoustic Duo shows were originally scheduled to take place a little further uptown at Tonic, the home to a series of improvisational performances by Benevento and numerous guests this past November that have been commemorated in an upcoming Live At Tonic release. Unfortunately, the changing landscape of New York City's Lower East Side, which has left the corpses of many iconic concert venues in its wake, claimed Tonic, despite the best efforts of avant-garde guitarist Marc Ribot to prevent its destruction.

The Duo started their first set of the evening with a healthy dose of improvisation befitting the experimental history of the Knitting Factory, with both showing off jazzy chops that sometimes get lost in their mélange of sound. In contrast to Benevento, who predominantly played piano with his back to crowd, Russo bounced and lurched behind his kit with his typical innovative skill. Though more animated, Russo otherwise seemed content to let Benevento have the creative spotlight. With a limited number of instruments at Benevento's disposal, the Duo reinterpreted "Soba" and completely deconstructed "Becky," turning the funky rave-up into a jazzy odyssey. For "Play Pause Stop," Benevento replaced the squeaks and squiggles of the song's middle section with some improvisational piano licks and in the absence of stage mikes, the audience provided the piece's hymnal vocals. In the set's most impressive moment, Benevento inventively played the opening melodies of "Sunny's Song" on the toy piano and xylophone, accomplishing the difficult task of playing both simultaneously. After all their imaginative work, they finished by playing it straight, offering a melodious rendition of George Harrison's "Run Of The Mill."

The late show featured appearances from saxophone wizard Skerik as well as the horn section from Fat Mama, an earlier project of Russo's that reformed to close the Green Apple Festivities on Earth Day with their first show in more than six years. Rather than restrict themselves within the confines of an acoustic setting, Benevento and Russo seemed to take it as a challenge, using their prodigious skills to transform a presumably serene show into a momentous event. Perhaps imagining a more sedate performance, The Knitting Factory's main room was set up with folding chairs, diminishing the kinetic energy usually crackling within a Duo show. Despite calls from some to pack up the chairs halfway through the first show, they remained in place, leaving open the question the frenzy The Duo could have inspired in a solely acoustic setting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Decemberists Orchestral Maneuverings

The Decemberists will hit the road for a series of shows playing with a full blown orchestra. The band and accompanying orchestra will do a five-city outdoor summer tour featuring the band performing with a local symphony orchestras in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago. The shows will feature new orchestral arrangements of The Decemberists' songs.

Decemberists 2007 Orchestral Tour
7.7 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl (with Los Angeles Philharmonic)
7.13 - Atlanta, GA - Chastain Park (with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)
7.14 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion (w/ Baltimore Symphony)
7.15 - Philadelphia, PA - Mann Center (with the Mann Festival Orchestra)
7.18 - Chicago, IL - Grant Park Music Festival (with Grant Park Orchestra)

If you're not in a symphonic mood you can also check out the Decemberists orchestra-free:

6.17 - Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music Festival
7.16 - NYC, NY - Central Park Summerstage (with Grizzly Bear & Land of Talk)
7.22 - Portland, OR - Edgefield Winery (Menomena opens)

Sheryl Crow Says Toilet Paper Post A Joke

Sheryl Crow was ridiculed by the Republican media outlets yesterday for suggesting that conserving toilet paper will help battle global warming (or climate change as I like to call it since it involves much more than just warming). The Drudge Report featured Crow's comments and her incident with Karl Rove well above stories like the breaking violence in Iraq that killed U.S. troops and other major issues like the Presidential campaign to poke fun at Crow in an attempt to undermine the climate change argument.

As I've said before, celebrities, for the most part, should stay out of these issues. Now, instead of having to confront science and photos of melting glaciers the Republican and conservative media outlets can focus on Crow's comments and steer the debate away from anything constructive. Its a great tactic and Hollywood and music stars continually fall for it.

Crow now says the post was a joke. But, the damage was done. Many regular "work-a-day" people are too busy to sit and watch Al Gore's film. Yes, too busy trying to pay bills, raise kids and survive to learn all the science behind climate change so they rely on sound bytes they hear and see on the news. Now the sound byte they have is that some millionaire wants you to use less toilet paper. Its great for Sheryl to lend her time to the cause to spotlight the issue. But, do everyone a favor and leave comedy to comedians and stick to the facts. The oil companies and conservatives already have enough ammo to undermine dialogue and action on climate change, there is no reason to give them more. Even if it was a joke.

Cowboy Junkies: At The End Of Paths Taken

Cowboy JunkiesBy: David Schultz

More than a decade before bands like Grizzly Bear found an audience with their calming melodies, the Cowboy Junkies were oozing lo-fi cool, drifting their way through emotionally wrought ballads sung in a haunting voice by Margo Timmins. For those who left off paying attention to the Junkies after the wave of success over The Trinity Sessions ebbed will be pleasantly surprised by their latest release, At The End Of Paths Taken. Adopting a comparatively quicker pace, bassist Alan Anton (Earvolution interview here) and the Timmins' brothers, Michael on guitar (Earvolution interview here) and Peter on drums, remove the focus from Margo Timmins' still-smoldering voice.

That this isn't the same old Junkies becomes clear on the opening track, "Brand New World," which finishes with a string-based groovy jam so upbeat it could constitute a hardcore pace in Junkie-ville. They repeat the formula with fine success on "Follower 2," letting the orchestral strings form the heart of the song, rather than relegate them to the background. The Canadian quartet haven't abandoned their softly rendered tunes, they have broadened the scope of what they will do with them though with Michael Timmins' distorted guitar giving "Cutting Board Blues" a nice aura.

If the music has developed a little edginess so have the vocals, even if the focus of the album centers on family. Still the chanteuse, Margo Timmins' voice still has a lingering quality but now has a slightly sassy attitude. In closing the album with "My Only Guarantee," Timmins burns a harrowing message with cheeky style, working an ode to the dysfunctional family with such subtlety that she may tangentially put the fear of God into the mind of any paranoid suitor.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gwen Stefani: Just a Girl Wanting to be a Star

I remember hearing that when No Doubt won Best New Artist at the 1997 Grammys they had already been together for nearly a decade. That turns out to be true. In this archive interview footage from 1991 a very young looking and brown-haired Gwen Stefani talks about how the band has been together for four years and that she wants to be "a star."

Gwen looks quite adorable and even though her look has changed a bit her voice hasn't! (at the end of the interview check out the chick rockin' the Amy Whinehouse hair do way back then!)

It is amazing that a band stayed together for ten years before "making it" on the big stage. Quite a lesson in perseverance.

Scarlett Johansson to Sing with Jesus and Mary Chain?

Scarlett Johansson has reportedly toyed with recording a record for awhile now and you may recall hearing this mp3 of her doing Gershwin's "Summertime." Now, NME reports that Scarlett may be doing some singing with Jesus and Mary Chain.

For the kids who may be more familiar with Johansson then the band, Jesus and Mary Chain were a seminal alt rock band from Scotland in the latter half of the 80s and were one of the few that maintained post grunge success. The band broke up in 1999, but announced a reunion tour in January of this year.

The band is set to play Coachella, but NME says they may do a warm up gig in Pomona, California on April 26th. The gig may feature Scarlett on backing vocals. That'd be interesting to hear, and of course, see. If it goes down, maybe she'll join them for Coachella?

The Brakes Stop In New York City

By: David Schultz

At the second of four Tuesday evening shows comprising the New York City segment of The Brakes' dual-city April residency, Zach Djanikian, the youthful lead singer of the Philadelphia based fivesome, won over the chatty crowd populating the Tap Bar of The Knitting Factory with a veteran trick. With the crowd chatter escalating to crudely high volumes over the course of the set, Djanikian calmly began the preface to one of the band's many roots-rock songs, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. If the noisy crowd irked him, he never let it show. Rather, using just the power of his performance, Djanikian slowly attracted everyone's attention to him, hushing the audience with nothing more than being the most compelling person in the room.

The Brakes' New York City shows fall under the auspices of Relix Magazine, who are recording the shows for a planned release on their label. Although The Brakes fit in nicely with the jammy type music you might expect from any Relix-affiliated group, their well-grounded rootsy feel fits more into a classic rock structure. The guitar duo of Matt Kass and Derek Feinberg give a powerful punch to much of what The Brakes do. Instead of taking their songs down long winding roads, they keep them relatively short, imbuing them with soul that cannot be manufactured. When Feinberg takes center stage to take lead vocals, the music takes on a harder, more traditional rock and roll edge. They can also pull out a couple of instrumental surprises such as keyboardist Adam Flicker's surprising trumpet solo.

The Brakes Photo Credit: Tibor

The Brakes' songs have a universal appeal but could easily find a market amongst the high school and college age set that could push them right into the mainstream. That's not a destiny that seems to be carved into stone. The Brakes seem like a relatively young band that's continually evolving; there's room for them to grow in many different directions. They'll learn from their mistakes too. In introducing their cover of Tear For Fears' whiney "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," they acknowledged that the song predated them. If so, they can be forgiven for reviving a song that was insufferable even when it was popular.

The weekly shows at The Knitting Factory are being termed a residency, a term that's getting thrown about quite liberally these days. The hectic touring schedules of most bands now seems to make any multiple set of appearances at a venue comparable to The Allman Brothers Band's 2 ½ week runs at the Beacon Theater or Eric Clapton's month long stints at Royal Albert Hall. The Brakes' series of Tuesday shows at The Knitting Factory and corresponding Thursday night shows at Milkboy Coffee in Ardmore, PA may not be residencies in the true sense of the word, after all, they are moving out after each performance, but if the New York City shows are any indication, The Brakes are making these venues their home.

The "residency" continues with have two more dates left at The Knitting Factory (April 24, May 1) with a show at Milkboy Coffee (April 26) in between.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Cheap Trick, who were coincidentally one of the first bands I saw in concert, maybe even the first as I can't remember if it was them or Black Sabbath, are set to play "house band" for the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 40th Year anniversary. The show will take place at the Hollywood Bowl and no doubt feature other guest artists - no word on whether Paul or Ringo will show.

Shit Disco are among the latest Scottish acts to make some noise on this side of the pond. The Glasgow group is doing well on the eMusic charts here in the States with their Kingdom of Fear release for Fierce Panda Records. You can stream the whole record on NME and check out the video for "OK" on YouTube. Also, we've got an mp3 for you as well.

Shit Disco mp3: OK

Dave Stewart is looking to make going green "sexy" - wait didn't Al Gore already do that? The Eurythmics guitarist is teaming up with Greenpeace to launch Greenpeace Records to help raise funds and awareness for environmental causes. Greenpeace's Mark Warford adds, "But it's not just a home for protest songs. It's about people who are committed to social issues but are also being artistic and getting the word out without any restrictions." Word!

BuzzSugar analyzes the hard choice of picking wedding songs. Being bachelors over here at Earvolution, that's not really our thing. But, I do like some of the classic rock choices like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. Some names even us guys can get into!

Rolling Stones: Horsing Around in Serbia

The Rolling Stones are set to play a show in Serbia. It'll be their first performance in the former war torn area. But, the choice of venues is causing a little stir (or "stir up" for pun addicts).

The Stones are set to play at a racetrack. However, the stage and concert area, according to some, are too close to the stable area where 300 or so horses reside. Concerns have been raised that the noise, vibrations and general ruckus of a large rock concert will agitate the horses.

A suggestion was raised to drug the horses to keep them calm during the show. Although some don't think that is fair to the horses and want the venue changed. T the Stones likely response will be "hey, we dope Keith to keep him calm during the show" so what's the big deal?

Of course, there is another option besides moving the venue or drugging the horses. Simply move the horses for the day. I imagine between the Stones and the promoter they can scrape together the cash to make the necessary accommodations.

Ozomatli Joins NYC Green Apple Festival

If you're in NYC this weekend, the Green Apple Festival is kicking off. Earvolution friends Licorice will be performing at The Knitting Factory, Tap Bar at 11PM as part of the Green Apple Music and Arts Festival, NYC with Mike Dillon's Go Go Jungle and The Bomb Squad.

And, if you're itching to get started earlier in the day you can get an afternoon treat at 4:30 from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals followed up by a just announced set from Ozomatli at 5:45. Both of these great acts are throwing down as part of the Earth Fair at Grand Central Terminal (on Vanderbilt Ave.).

Saturday afternoon should be just as great with sets by Zero, State Radio and Assembly of Dust. Details of these sets and the rest of the festival are available here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Norah Jones got a film career boost when it was announced that My Blueberry Nights, which is the first English language film from Wong Kar-Wai, will open the 60th Cannes Film Festival. According to IMDB, Jones stars as "A young woman [who] takes a soul-searching journey across America to resolve her questions about love while encountering a series of offbeat characters along the way." Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Ed Harris and Rachel Weisz are also in the film.

Speaking of films, Cary Brothers, a Zach Braff favorite, has a new record coming out. Who You Are will hit stores May 29th and Cary kicks off a tour in support of the record in late April. You can dates here. Check out some Cary Brothers tracks below.

Cary Brothers Mp3s: Ride & Who You Are

Since we're on kind of a film theme, I've been overlooking this Snow Patrol video from the new Spiderman movie that has been sitting in my in box for a couple days. If you haven't seen it yet, check out "Signal Fire" here. The soundtrack is out May 1st and is said to contain 14 original tracks from The Walkmen, Wolfmother, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Flaming Lips, Jet, The Killers and if you can do math, obviously a few more, including actor Jason Schwartzman performing as "Coconut Records."

O.A.R. announced details of their upcoming new album, "Live From Madison Square Garden." The two-CD set is a live recording from January 2007 and will hit stores on June 5th. Catch a preview of the disc here. As expected, the band will be touring extensively this spring and throughout the summer.

XM Radio has extended it's relationship with Bob Dylan for another season. Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" where he plays songs related to a theme - hence the name - wrapped the first season yesterday and will return in September. In case you've missed, XM will air a "Theme Time Radio Hour" marathon during Memorial Day weekend, broadcasting every episode from the first season, beginning May 26 at 6 p.m. ET on The Village (XM 15).

Arcade Fire's Win Butler Fine After Surgery

Anyone who's read Blender's cover story on Canadian sensations Arcade Fire already knows of the sinus and bronchial problems that have plagued lead singer Win Butler for the past two months. During a brief respite in their promotional blitz for Neon Bible, Butler underwent a successful operation to relieve his symptoms.

Through the band's Web site, Butler addressed the situation. "Just wanted to let you all know that the surgery was successful and I am recovering nicely. I will probably start singing again this week some time to try and get ready for the shows in North America," writes the singer. "It has been a blessing in disguise to be forced to stay at home and read, and sleep and I have even started work on some new songs."

Willy Porter To Return To NYC's Canal Room

Willy Porter will be returning to New York City next week, as part of a larger North East tour, playing The Canal Room on Tuesday April 24. The Wisconsin guitar wizard's last appearance at The Canal Room was a formidable pairing with Toad The Wet Sprocket's Glen Phillips. For this year's show, Porter will share the bill with Brian Vander Ark, lately of The Verve Pipe. Porter's live shows are always wonderful affairs, so if you are in the Metropolitan area treat yourself to a marvelous performer.

To make it easy for you, purchase tickets here.

Florida Governor Contemplating A Pardon For Jim Morrison

Charlie Crist, Jeb Bush's successor as governor of Florida is reportedly "seriously considering" pardoning dead rock star Jim Morrison for his 1969 conviction for indecent exposure. Refusing to let sleeping dogs or deceased singers lie, the Doors Collectors Magazine petitioned the governor and may have the Republican politician questioning the legality of the possibly "bogus" accusations. Ray Manzarek reiterated Morrison's innocence, saying that he only pretended to expose himself at Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium. "He taunted the audience," said the Doors' keyboardist. "'I'm going to show you! I'm going to show it to you!' Then he took his shirt off, held it front of him like a bullfighter's cape, [and] wiggled it around as if there was something going on behind it."

Rather than have his legal team looking into the proprieties of the convictions of inmates sentenced to death or looking into updating the State's beleaguered voting system, Crist announced that they will review the 38 year old conviction to determine whether they will clear the long-dead singer's name.

Who knows, if Jim is cleared maybe he'll come out of hiding in Oregon for the ceremony?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

It's Wednesday so many in America are wondering if Sanjaya will survive another week on American Idol. I'm not one of them, but there is something about Sanjaya and Idol that Google likes so hey why not pander a little, eh? I did get an interesting email from the folks at who designed the site to influence the vote and "make an otherwise dull season more interesting and perhaps see if Simon Cowell will really quit." Now, that would be interesting.

Slash spoke out on the fun of getting together with Axl and the original GNR crew: "I'm not saying never. You know, I was saying it would be a good idea to get, just for a couple of shows, to get the original STP and the original Guns N Roses just to do a couple of shows for the fun of it." I'd like to see it, but would be very gun shy about buying tickets given Axl's habit of showing up late and pulling out of shows altogether.

Devo is apparently still whipping it. The band is on tour in Europe and has added a show at the London Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday June 19th. Tickets go on sale Wednesday April 18th. For the kids, here's "Whip It" from the YouTube archives.

Speaking of Youtube, the Zimmers - the world's "oldest rock band" - yes, even older than the Rolling Stones - are burning up the tube with their take on the Who's "My Generation." The lead singer is 90 and the "band" includes 99 and 100 year olds. The song is produced by Mike Hedges (U2, Dido, Cure), the video shot by Geoff Wonfor (Band Aid, Beatles Anthology). And, yes, these "elders" even have a MySpace page. Very cool.

Mp3 Offerings:
The Mother Hips: Grizzly Bear
White Shoes & The Couples Company: Tetang Cita
The Roadside Graves: West Coast
The Shins: Australia
Thrushes: Aidan Quinn

A look around the blog world shows BuzzSugar featuring Feist as track of the day with "1,2,3,4." LiveMusicBlog takes a look at Hype Machine Radio and the whole internet radio royalty issue. Stereogum gives the low down on the Urban Outfitters tour with the Klaxons, Annuals, Tapes 'N Tapes and many more. And, Sonic Itch is rockin' out to Explosions in the Sky.

Tea Leaf Green is ready to set sail on the "Rocks Off Concert Cruise" leaving from NYC on June 3rd. The show is just one on many TLG are doing in continued support of their latest release, Rock 'n' Roll Band. Complete listing of dates here.

The Noisettes, who have been on tour with TV on the Radio, release their full length What Time Is It Mr. Wolf? in the U.S. today. The band will play on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on April 30th and is set for some June dates with Bloc Party. Meanwhile, you can check out videos for "Don't Give Up" & "Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit)."

Libertines Reunion Shortlived

Carl Barat reportedly shot down any hopes of a long term Libertines reunion. After his appearance with former band mate Pete Doherty raised hopes of further collaboration, Barat appears to be set on continuing with his current band Dirty Pretty Things. Barat is quoted as saying "Are they any plans for any more reunions? Not really. I'm really into the new stuff I'm writing."

Perhaps Barat realizes that Doherty, while showing signs of getting his act together, is not completely out of the woods. Reports show Doherty's touring has actually lost money during the last year. In fairness to Pete, some of that, if the reports are accurate, is due to gig cancellations of the past and not necessarily indicative of things to come. Of course, having a millionaire supermodel girlfriend like Kate Moss isn't a bad fall back position in the event things don't pick up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rock Plaza Central: Are We Not Horses?

By: David Schultz

Rock Plaza Central proves the point that the Arcade Fire hasn't cornered the market on heartfelt, literate indie-rock from the Canadian provinces. The Toronto natives' latest release, Are We Not Horses?, a quirky collection of off-beat catchy songs teems with ambition. Breathing life into the fading form of the concept album, Rock Plaza Central's latest is a futuristic western about robotic horses who think they are real, Sure, it's a bit derivative of Blade Runner, but in the hands of Chris Eaton, Are We Not Horses? reaches the same captivating levels of its cinematic counterpart. The lofty narrative structure isn't a stretch for Eaton, who's already published two novels, which makes two more than Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger have written combined.

Right from the outset, Eaton draws you into his world with the empathic "I Am An Excellent Steel Horse." Prominently using banjo, accordion, violin and trumpet, Rock Plaza Central churn out unlikely anthems like "My Children, By Joyful" and zippy hoedowns like "08/14/03." Eaton gives voice to Rock Plaza Central’s mechanical beasts in a hurried, twang that crackles with pathos, getting the same scratchy soul out of his voice as Jack White. The nontraditional arrangements sparkle: "Fifteen Hands" benefits from Fiona Stewart's sparse, jittery violin; "Are We Not Horses?" places its existential angst on top of Donald Murray's urgent mandolin and the trumpets on "Our Pasts, Like Lighthouses" blend seamlessly into the guitars and Eaton's voice.

Eaton's creative storyline provides another level upon which to enjoy Are We Not Horses? Even without the unifying theme, Rock Plaza Central's created an offbeat opus that will make it even harder for the next group of idiosyncratic Canadians who try to conquer America.

Gilby Clarke Quits Rock Star Supernova

It appears that guitarist Gilby Clarke will be cutting bait and leaving the contrived "supergroup" Rock Star Supernova. While no explanation has yet to be given, surely miserable record sales and a mocked, maligned and ill-conceived major venue tour couldn't have been the best incentive program for a lasting career opportunity.

Although lead singer Lucas Rossi remains optimistic, it can only be a matter of time before Tommy Lee realizes the hopelessness of continuing on with his reality TV creation and sends the skunk-haired former fry cook into the world to fend for himself. At least bassist Jason Newsted had the good fortune to injure himself before their winter tour that played to half-filled arenas nationwide.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tom Morello at your Open Mic?

Seeing Tom Morello playing acoustic on the intimate, indoor stage at Stubbs in Austin during SXSW week was an incredible experience. But, it turns out I wasn't experiencing a very unique moment. Morello apparently plays small rooms a lot and half the time doesn't tell anyone - he just shows up. Particularly, on open mic nights.

He reportedly says, "We would be on these Audioslave arena tours and on a night off, I would look in the local paper and find an open-mic night, go down there completely anonymously, sign up, wait my turn and sing a couple of songs. The experience was terrifying to be naked with just an acoustic guitar."

In addition to doing some Rage Against the Machine reunion gigs, Morello has his Nightwatchman acoustic tour out on the road, including some upcoming dates withe Ben Harper. Can him acoustic if you can and keep an eye out, you just might see him at your local bar.

Squeeze Reunion Tour Announces US Dates

Some form of Squeeze will be touring America this year. The lineup of the band has fluctuated a bit over the years, but the dates in America will be led by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook who've remained the heart of the band over the years. The band will play Guilfest, also featuring Madness, in the UK in July before coming to America later in the year for a dozen shows. For the younger set, check out classics like "Black Coffee in Bed" and "Tempted" to get a flavor of what the band is all about. Both appear on The Essential Squeeze that hits UK stores at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, former Squeeze keyboardist Don Snow, now performing as Jonn Savannah, has laid down some piano licks on two tracks for the forthcoming Pawnshop Roses cd, Let it Roll.

Raw Power: Iggy Pop & The Stooges Light Up Manhattan

Iggy PopBy: David Schultz

Only ten minutes into The Stooges' set at New York City's United Palace Theatre, Iggy Pop flung himself into the crowd with a remarkably spry stage dive. Two minutes later, he crawled like a dog along the theater floor while original members Ron Asheton (guitar), Scott Asheton (drums) and recent addition, Mike Watt (bass) pounded out the primordial crunge of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Hitting the stage with wildly spastic energy, Pop had every reason to get all his signature moves in early: efficiency can be a plus when you are nearing 60 years old.

The sight and sound of old punk rock bands attempting to recapture their old glory can be a recipe for disaster. For Iggy & The Stooges, the ages on their birth certificates couldn't have been verified by listening to them on stage. The Stooges sound as fresh and powerful as the scores of bands influenced by their late-Sixties, early-Seventies material that predated the furiously aggressive punk rock era. The Stooges' show thrived on raw power, even if the set list didn't include any songs from Raw Power.

Hardly a warning against the lasting evils of heroin, Pop looks like he's in phenomenal shape. Shirtless the entire show, Pop animatedly bounded about the stage looking nothing like a rocker nearing AARP status. With his wiry, muscular frame and long hair, which he flaps around with abandon, he could easily pass for Anthony Kiedis' father. Pop not only slithered and snaked his way across the stage, he practically shimmied out of his pants. As the show carried on, Pop's head of steam faded and by the end of the show he simply stalked the stage, throwing his arms about in a semi-coordinated dance and occasionally trying to keep his pants up.

The Stooges' constructed their set list primarily from their 1969 self-titled debut, Fun House, their 1970 follow-up and the recently released The Weirdness. The Ashetons and Watt provided a serious aural assault: Ron Asheton pounded away viciously on his guitar while Watt, the former Minuteman, rapidly ran through multiple bass riffs nearly drowning out Scott Asheton's drumming. Halfway through the set, saxophonist Steve MacKay joined the madness, providing some jazzy, dissonant sax to "Fun House" and some of the newer material. They held back "1969" until the encore but otherwise ran through their back catalogue, including all but one song from Fun House, in the early parts of the show. By the time they featured their more recent material, the songs simply started to run into each other, sounding all the same.

The spirit of The Stooges' ethos crosses generational lines which were represented by the mixed crowd that came to see them at the inconveniently located United Palace. The healthy number of Baby Boomers, content to relive a few memories without exerting themselves too physically, remained near the back of the theater while the more rambunctious once-and-always punk rockers moshed, waved their hands in the air and crowd surfed amidst the troublesome confines of the seats.

The punk rock that The Stooges gave birth to thrived on an impending sense of danger, wild releases of energy which resulted in wild slam dancing; one's physical safety couldn't always be presumed. Iggy & The Stooges brought that sense of trepidation to the United Palace. After Pop opened the floodgates by inviting the crowd up from the floor during "Real Good Time," the stage teemed with people. Many just waved their arms overhead, happy to part of the show, others dancing merrily at the back, a few rambunctiously flailed about. Woefully ill prepared to handle the situation, security had a hard time clearing the stage during the ensuing "No Fun" with some resorting to roughly manhandling people while Pop & The Stooges kept on playing. Not everything goes though at the punk rock show: one fan's misguided attempt to remedy the lack of space by throwing his chair at Iggy after ripping it out of the ground expectedly met with disapproval from security who quickly placed him under arrest.

A renovated movie theater that currently houses Rev. Ike's ministry, the gorgeous United Palace Theatre, which has just recently started accepting concert bookings through Bowery Presents, is miserably equipped to handle the shows of the size and scope they've booked. Compounding minor inconveniences like mislabeled rows and unlabeled seat numbers, the ushering staff remained relatively incognito leaving some people wandering aimlessly as they looked for their seats or baffled as to which unmarked chair might be theirs. The failure to turn on the air circulation system before The Stooges took the stage resulted in a stifling atmosphere only matched by the frigidity when the temperature dropped precipitously once the air kicked in. Once the Stooges finished the night with a steamrolling version of "Little Electric Chair," the crowd proceeded to the exits only to be bottlenecked as there were too few exits to properly handle the capacity crowd.

Refusing to let age slow them down, Iggy & The Stooges pulled out many of their old tricks. If the seventy-five minute set had any deficiencies, The Stooges masked them with volume, intensity and speed. Older fans got a satisfying dose of nostalgia and those too young to see The Stooges in their prime got to see and hear one the true forefathers of modern-day rock and roll. Fortunately for everyone, Iggy left the peanut butter at home.

James Morrison

James Morrison, who could be this year's James Blunt, is driving the ladies wild with his soulful acoustic stylings. Particularly, in Scotland. However, the Scottish lasses may be a bit too aggressive for Morrison.

The singer and recent Brit Award winner is quoted as saying "They are totally lethal. I nearly got raped. It was full on, mental. They have some big women in Scotland, very big women, and when they set their sights on a target they go for it. I was that target."

I wonder if Shirley Manson or KT Tunstall can verify Morrison's take on the Scottish girls?

The States Return To The Stage

After a couple of killer sets in Austin during SXSW week, including the Earvolution day party at Emos, The States made their return to the New York concert scene this past week with a wonderful set at The Annex. Previewing material from The Path Of Least Resistance, The States - guitarist Chris Snyder, bassist Previn Warren and drummer Joe Stroll - whetted appetites for their upcoming release.

Check out "Charm Offensive" from the new album and a couple tracks from their debut, Multiply Not Divide, at their Myspace page. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Lily Allen took a page out of the Amy Winehouse playbook and pulled out of a show at the last minute last night. Concert goers in Brooklyn were already in the venue when they learned that Allen wouldn't perform. Luckily, the heavily hyped Klaxons were there as guest DJs and filled in the suddenly awol Brit.

Pete Doherty apparently confirmed his engagement to Kate Moss at a London gig Wednesday night. During "An Evening With Pete Doherty" show he reportedly dedicated the tune "What Katie Did Next" to "my beautiful fiancee Kate." Awww how sweet. A more interesting union to report, however, is that Doherty was joined onstage by Carl Barat and the pair ran through a dozen or so Libertines songs. I'd like to see more of that. Maybe Pete has turned a corner?

Mp3 offerings:
Elvis Perkins: While You Were Sleeping
Dr. Dog: Worst Trip
Backyard Tire Fire: Downtime
Fields: If You Fail, We All Fail
Assembly of Dust: Telling Sue

Adam Duritz is releasing an album he made back in 1989 with his former group The Himalayans. The group had recorded the record, but then Duritz's side project, the Counting Crows, took off and the record never came out - until now. It even includes the original version of "Round Here", which was such a big hit for Counting Crows.

Are Nickelback stealing from themselves? BuzzSugar is buzzing about the Canadian rockers' song similarity and managed to listen to two Nickelback songs at the same time. Check out what they heard here.

Guns 'N Roses postponed some Japanese shows due to bassist Tommy Stinson sustaining a hand injury. Stinson apparently fell down a flight of stairs. While there is a setback, the overall world tour will continue as shows set for South Africa at the end of the month are expected to go off as planned. Maybe Axl Rose can take advantage of this break in touring to do some work on Chinese Democracy?

McCartney to offer "Pizza and Fairytales"

Beatles enthusiasts and music historians have spent much time talking about the feud between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. There was even a movie about it and some have speculated, in what may be a case of too-late wishful thinking, that the pair were on the verge of settling their differences and possibly collaborating again when tragedy struck in December of 1980.

One of the more notable stories to emerge from the former Beatles post-breakup relationship is that Lennon once told McCartney his music lacked substance and was all "pizza and fairytales." That had to put a dent in the old ego. Nevertheless, the two did seem to manage a cordiality right up until Lennon's death.

But, McCartney apparently never forgot the remark and is now reportedly using the phrase as a song title on his upcoming release Memory Almost Full. The record is due out in June.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut 1922 - 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle
A fish pitched up
By the angry sea,
I gasped on land,
And I became me.

He was enchanted by the mystery of coming ashore naked on an unfamiliar
island. He resolved to let the adventure run its full course, resolved to see just
how far a man might go, emerging naked from salt water.

It was a rebirth for him:
Be like a baby,
The Bible say,
So I stay like a baby
To this very day.

Grinderman: Grinderman

By: Rinjo Njori

"Don't believe the hype . . . it's a sequel" should be the mantra for today's indie rock scene. Far too often critical praise or hype surrounds a few tracks from an album and neglects the overall body of work that is the album. Grinderman is getting that treatment and in this case it's a crime. If you believe the hype then Grinderman, Nick Cave and the 3/4 Bad Seeds, sounds like the second coming of the Gories. Granted they do dip their toe in the collective blues-fueled garage rock maelstrom, but for all intents and purposes this is all Abattoir Blues and none of The Lyre of Orpheus. In other words, Cave and the Seeds have found a natural extension of their last album.

Taking their name from a Memphis Slim song, Cave and The Seeds have become Grinderman. This includes "sleazing" up their image (check out Cave's handle bar mustache, the grubby sophisticate look, etc.) and pushing the limits with their music and lyrics. They run the gamut from hardcore blues punk ("No Pussy Blues") to more typical Cave songs ("Go Tell The Woman"). The hype has definitely been inspired by the first two tracks. "Get It On" and "No Pussy Blues" are part spoken word, part song. Each opening with Cave's mantra which is then backed up by the rest of the band. The lo-fi rumble on "Get It On" sits comfortably at the back of the song as the piano and drum provide the percussion and drive for the song. The whole band singing back up recalls 50s R&B. "No Pussy Blues" fits so perfectly with Grinderman's perceived image with Cave endlessly ranting and raving about his inability to close the deal. What starts out as earnest advances quickly descends into psychosis. This is beautifully matched with musical chaos that recalls The Gories and The Dirtbomb's Horndog Fest.

"(I Need You To) Set Me Free" will definitely attract Afghan Whigs fans, perfectly blending Black Love's darkness, with the more soul drenched moments of 1965. I found myself wondering if Greg Dulli was singing back up. Even the bass line sounds suspiciously like John Curley. The most "by the numbers" garage influenced track is the organ driven "Honey Bee (let's fly to Mars)." The song retains much of the punk intensity inherent to the garage punk resurgence of the early 00s, but adds a little more. There are even some psychedelic flourishes in the song that beef up the song significantly. "Man in the Moon" and "Electric Alice" are more aligned with the more recent output from Cave and the Seeds. The intensity is still in the song, but it's more psychological than the brute force exhibited in other tracks.

The only real drawback to this album is that it works so well as an album and chances are most people will only hear the singles. In this single track fueled music society most people will miss the highs and lows of Grinderman. The whole album experience gives this project from Cave and the Seeds a whole new dimension that this non-Cave and Seeds fan absolutely loves. Chances are though most people will Get it On with the No Pussy Blues and Fly to Mars with their Honey Bee. In other words they will follow the hype and not this fantastic album.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Klaxons Interview

Klaxons guitarist/vocalist Simon Taylor, whose band just played a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom last night and have several more U.S. dates lined up for the coming weeks, chatted with Radar Online on how his band plans to keep our attention "before moving on to the next big thing." Some excerpts include:

How they get the audience to dance: "I don't think there's anything you can specifically do—whatever you tell an audience, they will just do the opposite. If someone tells me to dance, that's the last thing I feel comfortable doing."

Thoughts on being the leader of "New Rave": "We kind of toured the world and people wanted to start this non-existent genre, and we told them we're not a part of it and we don't give a fuck about it. We just toured Europe for a month and we were like in this bubble. We didn't really live anywhere, musically, and it's enough to make us all go mad, but it's something that we found quite exciting, too."

On Britney Spears: "I'm more excited about Britney than anything. We did a TV show with Bloc Party yesterday, and I'm not sure how much of the truth [singer, guitarist] Kele was telling us, but he was saying that he heard one of the new Britney Spears tracks, and it was life-changing. So that's more exciting to me."

Read the full interview here.

A Revival Of Faith: Cold War Kids Sell Out 3 Nights At The Bowery Ballroom

By: David Schultz
Photo via CWK MySpace Page.

The Easter holiday celebrates rebirth and a renewal of faith. In line with the holiday, Cold War Kids' three-night sold-out run of shows at New York City's Bowery Ballroom spanning Good Friday through Easter Monday served to restore anyone's flagging faith in rock and roll, providing a veritable feast for any soul starved for substantial musical sustenance. Before their sets, the physically unimposing Cold War Kids easily blended with the crowd, attracting very little attention while they mingled with friends. Once on stage though, they change identities, shedding their relatively mild-mannered, unassuming personas and transforming into possessed supermen.

It's hard to imagine this band playing with more passion or conviction. They are as serious as a heart attack. Over a weekend's worth of shows, not once did any one of the Kids crack a smile on stage. Whether he's ripping off guitar riffs, banging away at a stray cymbal or howling some manic backing vocals, Jonnie Russell continuously wreaks havoc on the stage. Bassist Matt Maust matches his intensity and the two tirelessly prowl the stage in an effort to prove the concept of perpetual motion. When Nathan Willett breaks free from the mike or the piano and joins them in bounding frenetically about the stage, their fervor infects the crowd. If Matt Aviero weren't anchored to the drum kit, often using a maraca and anything else at his disposal as a drumstick, he would surely be moshing with them as well.

When Willett takes to the piano, he brings a combination of raucous cabaret and Randy Newman style storytelling. Relating hard-luck tales of vagabonds and scoundrels from their appropriately titled debut album Robbers and Cowards, CWK offered a pair of relatively new songs which they previewed during this winter's New York residency. In introducing "Every Valley Is Not A Lake" and "Golden Gate Jumpers," Willett gave a little insight into the stories or scenarios underlying the songs. If Green Day can move from a self-flagellating ode like "Longview" to a conceptual classic like American Idiot in ten years, look for Cold War Kids to craft a thematically-tied, modern-day masterpiece to sit alongside Who classics like Tommy and Quadrophenia.

The maturation of the band has been illuminating to watch as they are developing genuine concert set pieces. Maust's opening bass line from "Hang Me Up To Dry" gets instant recognition and a rowdy response and Willett gets a lot of help voicing the words of his apologetic alcoholic in "We Used To Vacation." Tom Waits' mournful "Dirt In The Ground" has become a poignant lead-in to the hopeless antipathy underscoring "Hospital Beds" In contrast to the understated backing on lap steel on restrained numbers like "Robbers" and "Pregnant," the members of Delta Spirit and Tokyo Police Club helped close the weekend shows with anarchistic glee. Returning to the stage with drums, bottles, cookie sheets and anything else they could grab, the opening acts provided the rowdy chain-gang percussion for "St. John." The chaotic backing gave new purpose to the vocals: Willett barking out the white-boy rap verses with fierce precision and Russell, straining at the confines of playing piano, hitting the high-pitched background vocals with impassioned zeal.

Cold War Kids' Bowery Ballroom shows were a pure blessing for all who could get their hands on the rapidly disappearing tickets. As some bands grow and play larger rooms, their effect gets lost in the spacious venues. As their SXSW set at La Zona Rosa proved, CWK are more than ready for bigger rooms. Heaven help the band brave enough to slot Cold War Kids as their opening act on a stadium tour, they are going to have a hard act to follow.

Mp3s, News and Notes

A Lily Allen parody is buzzing around the internets and apparently it has even struck a chord with Ms. Allen herself. The tune "LDN is a Victim" parodies Allen and some of her crew on the London music scene. Allen doesn't seem amused and a comment was left by her MySpace profile saying "So what if w'ere (sic) middle class? Just cause your mum was too lazy to get her fat ass up off the sofa and make some cash . I shouldn't be able to make tunes yeah? (which is more than you're doing by the way.)" Someone a bit touchy?

Ozzy Osborne has reportedly enlisted Britney Spears producer Kevin Churko to polish up his latest record Black Rain. Ozzy apparently thinks the record will be some of his "darkest work" is quoted as muttering: "I just thought there's so much f**king bad news, the only way I can release it is to put it in a song." The disc hits stores May 22nd.

The NY Post says Jessie Malin "is the successor to Lou Reed's crown as the lord of The City's underground." Be that as it may, Jessie is popping his head above ground in a couple of weeks for "Storytellers" type gig at the Apple Store Soho. Talk about a walk on the wild side...

In between listening to their Tom Waits and Neil Young records, Backyard Tire Fire are set for a busy spring tour and then summer playing just about every major festival. As a bit of preview check out some live video: Blood on the Strings and Crack Alley.

Speaking of great live music, the Pawnshop Roses will hit the main stage of Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre on May 10th for a cd release party for Let it Roll the band's full length debut on Earvolution Records. Ok, I'm a little biased, but you'll definately want to check this out! As a sneak peak, I've put the title track in the mp3 offerings below.

Mp3 Offerings:
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Ah Mary
Pawnshop Roses: Let It Roll
The Hold Steady: Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Medeski and Martin: Crustaceatron
The Brakes: Hotel Lobby

Billy Martin and John Medeski of Martin, Medeski and Wood fame put out a new cd called Mago on Billy's own Amulet Records. It is in stores now and you can check out the video for the single "Crustaceatron" here.

Neil Aspinall, one of a few "Fifth Beatles", stepped down from Apple Corps after reportedly becoming upset with the policy direction of the Apple board. Apple politely wished Aspinall well stating "had been with John, Paul, George and Ringo for a spectacular 40 plus years, during which he played an indispensable role for the four. He was there since the inception of the band in Liverpool and has meant so much to the Beatles' family for all these years and still does." But, Aspinall is quoted as saying he didn't like the way the band's legacy was being turned into a "cash cow." No worries for Apple, as McCartney is still around to assist in the milking.

New Music from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

A highlight of my SXSW week was catching the late night set by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. In addition to previewing some great new material that'll be out on their new release this summer, they delivered, as Schultz said, a rare "true encore" with a killer acoustic, no microphone version of Mystery Train (you can even see me up front in the photo on the right from the show, I'm just to the right of the guy on the left side who is holding up the video camera). That alone was worth the trip to Austin!

Hot off the presses we've got our hands on a couple of tracks from the forthcoming record. One we must keep to ourselves for now, but we're happy to share "Ah Mary" with you today as a sign of sweet sounds to come from GPTN.

The band is also adding to their spring show list, by contributing to "Seven Days for the Earth" with a special benefit show on April 15th at the Big Picture Theatre in Grace's hometown of Waitsfield, Vermont. The Lowell Thompson Band from Burlington will be sharing the stage with GPTN. If you can't make that one, be sure to catch them soon, you won't be disappointed.

Sufjan Stevens boring?

Sufjan Stevens has been an indie god for so long now I sometimes forget how it happened. One thing is for sure, once an "it" artist reaches deity status it is sacrilege to not heap praise upon them at every turn. But, a lone music fan dared to speak out against the winged darling.

Stereogum posted a link to a new track called "Barn Owl, Night Killer" from what may be either an upcoming bird or New Jersey (or both) themed record. In the comments, someone writes "Is it me or is Sufjan Stevens getting boring?" Of course, the writer is aware of the scorn that will come their way so they couch their questioning with an approving "I really love the stuff he does, but everything is really starting to sound REALLY similar."

Blasphemy? Or is someone here a prophet of new indie gospel? Wake me when the song is over and we'll hunt this Judas down.

New video from We Are The Fury

We Are The Fury, who rocked our SXSW day party at Emos, had their new video featured by Yahoo's "Premiere Page." The boys from Toldeo also grabbed some nice ink from Penthouse: "This band doesn't waste any time. Press play and they're off with glammed-out, Rolling Stones-influenced rock. Instead of trying to placate the masses they focus on writing instant dance-rock classics that T.Rex would sanction." Word...that's why we were psyched to have them play our bash! Now You Know is the first single from Venus, which hits stores in May. If you look closely, you may recognize Fargo & Natalie from the first season of Janice Dickinson's Modeling Agency.

Is Rush a guilty pleasure?

Rolling Stone inexplicably ranked Rush the #1 "guilty pleasure" band, beating out the likes of Poison (who some would say are the prototype guilty pleasure) and Kelly Clarkson. I always thought Rush was comprised of fairly accomplished musicians, something I can't say for every band on that list. Perhaps Rolling Stone let one of the interns compile the list without consulting some of the old heads on staff?

Anyway, those ready to sink their teeth further into the guilty pleasures that Rush can deliver will want to check out Grammy-award winning Producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) discussing the making of the new Rush record Snakes + Arrows. And, for the truly indulgent tour dates are on their website.

Okereke slams Pete Doherty

Kele Okereke of Bloc Party seems to have taken a page out of the Lily Allen book of self promotion. Just weeks after proclaiming Oasis is overrated, Okereke has apparently picked a public feud with the "bad boy rocker" image of Pete Doherty (ok, he's more idiot than bad, but some people depend on these cliche's so who am I to disappoint?).

Okereke slammed Doherty for drug use and hits out at the genius tag some have placed on Kate Moss' flame. He's quoted as saying "it's easier to be a misfit or a dropout than be a genius and actually create something." Taking the rant directly to the Babyshamble singer he quipped "Someone like Pete Doherty, with his drug taking and refusal to adhere to a traditional lifestyle, makes people think that his art is more relevant because he's a f**k up."

No doubt Okereke will later claim the pair are buds.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Live Earth Lineup Revealed

Live Earth organizers announced that the Police, Roger Waters, Fall Out Boy and Kanye West will be among the headliners for the U.S. set of the 7-continent, 24-hour concerts taking place on 7/7/07. The U.S. show will be at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and tickets go on sale Monday, April 16 at 10 a.m. EST.

"We hope the energy created by Live Earth will jump start a massive
public education effort," Live Earth Co-Chair Vice President Al Gore said. "Live Earth will help us reach a tipping point that's needed to move corporations and governments to take decisive action to solve the climate crisis."

The U.S. show will also feature Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Smashing Pumpkins and KT Tunstall.

Meanwhile the London Live Earth set at Wembley Stadium will have the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Madonna, Bloc Party, Keanne and others. Additional shows will be at Sydney's Aussie Stadium; Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach; Johannesburg's Cradle of Human Kind; Tokyo's Tokyo Stadium and a to be determined location in Shanghai, with lineups coming later.

The Allman Brothers Band Back At The Beacon Theater

By: David Schultz
Photos, as linked, via

For classic rock fans, The Allman Brothers Band's annual residency at New York City's Beacon Theater has replaced the ground hog's shadow as the true sign that spring is around the corner. With changing set lists, notable guest appearances and a returned focus on the blues-based rock and roll that sparked Duane and Gregg Allman's original passion for music, The Allman Brothers Band uses their considerable legacy as a springboard rather than a crutch, producing concerts that have routinely had fans scrambling for tickets for fear of missing something memorable. For the 2007 residency, it took the ABB a while to kick start their engines, but by the time they entered the final week of their 20 night, 15 show stay at The Beacon, the enduring generation-spanning collective finally hit their stride.

Enduring road warriors, The Allman Brothers Band has survived by remaining kinetic, bringing in younger musicians over the years to keep the band's sound and energy fresh, working the right balance of reverence for the past with eyes securely on the road lying ahead. Each capable of headlining the Beacon on their own, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes maintain their own identity while keeping alive the guitar work of their predecessors, Dickey Betts and Duane Allman. Without ever resorting to emulation, Haynes and Trucks comfortably play within the Allman Brothers' iconic guitar repertoire while making space for their extraordinary improvisational skills. Playing the fluent organ rolls immediately identifiable with The Allmans, Gregg Allman doesn't undertake the folly of engaging the younger axemen in any skills competition. Instead of matching blues riffs with his guitarists, he gives them voice with the smooth yet tortured sound that marks the Allmans' most potent material.

Like last year, the Allmans focused their shows on keeping the blues alive, incorporating many R&B numbers into the set lists and screening classic clips of old bluesmen and women from the Forties and Fifties between sets. At this year's March 27 show, the Allmans again dove deeply into the blues with both feet but in foregoing much of their back catalog became entrenched in a morass, missing the spark usually taken for granted during their Beacon runs. After toying with "Spoonful" through the majority of the first set, Col. Bruce Hampton arrived on stage for a full-blown rendition ending their hour long fascination with the otherwise sludgy riff, finally putting it out of its misery. The selections did provide a wonderful showcase for Trucks and Haynes, but even their continuously remarkable work couldn't enliven an otherwise moribund show. In contrast, nine days later, whatever catalyst was needed had found its mark, fomenting the right chemistry and placing the right stars into alignment.

The Allman's 2006 shows featured a recreation of Live At The Fillmore East and numerous guest appearances which have become a trademark of the Beacon residencies. Gracious and inviting hosts, the Allmans topped themselves each night with high-profile, talented guests that included blues legends Hubert Sumlin and John Hammond, classic rock veterans Peter Frampton and Gary Rossington and future legends Ben Harper and Robert Randolph. At the outset of this year's residency, it looked as if 2007 would be a friends and families affair with Susan Tedeschi (Derek Trucks' wife), Devon Allman (Gregg's son), Kofi Burbridge (Oteil's brother) and members of various ABB side projects comprising the more recognizable visitors.

This year's parade of guests kicked off with the return of Bernard Purdie and Jerry Jemmott for a Wednesday night run through Derek & The Dominos "Anyday." Last year's appearance of the King Curtis alumni provoked unrestrained glee from the band, especially bassist Oteill Burbridge, and their 2007 sit-in was just the first of many. Thursday's show featured a cavalcade of guest guitarists, including Vince Esquire, who more than held his own with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks on "One Way Out" and "Statesboro Blues" and Luther Dickinson for "Done Somebody Wrong." Dave Mason, formerly of Traffic and presently looking a bit like Sergeant Slaughter, appeared during the first set for covers of "All Along The Watchtower" and "Feelin' Alright" with Leslie West joining in later to belt out "The Sky Is Crying" and "Crossroads" with a soulful bluesy howl. Over the weekend, the ABB's guests ran the gamut from old friends (Johnny Winter, Jimmy Vivino) to classic rock dinosaurs (Peter Frampton, Vanilla Fudge's Carmen Appice) to the sublime and bizarre (former New York Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams and American Idol champion Taylor Hicks).

The triple headed percussion of Butch Trucks and Marc Quinones and Jaimoe still packs a wallop but the burden isn't evenly carried. Even as his 60th birthday nears, Trucks thrives off of Quinones, playing with the same possessed spirit as the younger percussionist, with both covering for Jaimoe's predominantly lethargic drumming. While Jaimoe occasionally perked up, he played as if he's developing a technique comparable to rhythm guitar. The portion of the second set devoted to Oteil Burbridge and the percussion section unnecessarily dragged the show down, turning 5 minutes of worthy material into 20 minutes of wasted momentum. A fine sideman, Burbridge's scat sections simply didn't fit amidst the heavy blues and southern rock.

In 2006, The Allman Brothers Band had New York City abuzz with excitement over their renaissance at the Beacon Theater; a feat they were unable to repeat this year. As each residency had been building on the last, perhaps the resounding success of the 2006 shows resulted from a set of circumstances that may never be duplicated, making any expectations of a similar feat unfair and impossible to meet. However, measured on its own the 2007 residency produced a treasure trove of amazing music which will resonate in the Big Apple for many months to come. At least until The Allman Brothers Band comes back in 2008 and does it all again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Generals & Majors

Generals & Majors are the latest in a long line of New York City bands keeping alive the three chords and a cloud a dust style of bands like The Ramones and The Stooges. Since playing their first show last fall, they've gathered steam, attracting a healthy crowd to Crash Mansion on the City's Lower East Side this past Friday for their guitar heavy performance.

If guitar riffs are your thing, check them out on their Myspace page or if you're in Manhattan check them out May 24th at The Annex.

Forty Years Ago Today: Bob Geldof To Supervise All-Star Sgt. Pepper's

Taking time out from his constant vigil to save the world, Bob Geldof wants to turn people on to The Beatles one more time, marking the 40th anniversary of The Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by organizing an All-Star cast to re-record the album. The tracks will be recorded at London's Abbey Road studios by Grammy winning Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick using analog equipment common to the era in which the Beatles recorded. Oasis, Travis, The Killers, The Fratellis and Razorlight are already on board and Geldof will try to get a little help from his friends and persuade U2 contribute a track. Once completed, the new Sgt. Pepper's will debut on BBC 2 set for some time in June.

The editor of this humble site has no doubt that one of the Oasis boys is not only likely to demand to re-record the entire record themselves, but also claim their output is better than the original.

Great White Seeks To Dismissal Of Claims Holding Them Personally Liable For The Station Tragedy

Claiming that they had no personal knowledge or responsibility for the ill-fated pyrotechnics display that ultimately caused the deaths of 100 concert-goers at The Station, Great White's Mark Kendall, David Filice and Eric Powers, have asked a Federal Court judge to dismiss the lawsuits brought against them by the those injured and killed in the February 23, 2003 tragedy.

The survivors and families of those who lost their lives in the Rhode Island fire have not been entirely enamored with the legal system in the aftermath of this catastrophe. In October of 2006, they expressed outrage over the plea bargain that resulted in club owner Michael Derderian serving four years in a minimum security prison while his brother Jeffrey received a suspended 10 year sentence in return for 500 hours of community service. Daniel Biechele, Great White's tour manager is currently serving a ten year sentence after pleading guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Another Week, Another Beatles Related Lawsuit

EMI has brought suit against their cleaning company, Crystal Services, for allegedly throwing out rare Beatles photographs worth well over $1 million. The discarded memorabilia, which had been kept in an office in Manchester Square in London, included the only surviving copy of the photo used for the Please Please Me album cover and 452 transparencies and negatives.

The suit alleges that despite placing the photos in cardboard boxes clearly marked "Not Rubbish - Do Not Remove," that "the cleaner removed the photographic material and disposed of it placing it for compaction in a waste compactor and collection by refuse collectors." EMI further claims that Crystal admitted fault, informing EMI that the cleaner was inexperienced and had only just been hired.

Crystal denies any admission of fault, stating that the employee who made those statements was incapable of making any admissions as he had no personal knowledge of the incident. The cleaner reportedly no longer works for the cleaning company having resigned in the aftermath of their error.

The lesson here kids is when you see Beatles memorabilia lying around corporate offices, let it be...just let it be.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Hear They’re Big In Sweden: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives Plays Over New York City

By: David Schultz
Photos from TSOOL MySpace Profile.

Relatively unheard of in America, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives are quite big in their homeland of Sweden where they've been churning out slick pastiches of pop for more than a decade. Finally cracking the American markets in the fall of 2002 with their wonderfully crafted Behind The Music, they finally found a Stateside audience, snagging a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album in the process. With their crisp melodies, catchy hooks, Beatles-derived psychedelia and penchant for moody piano ballads, T.S.O.O.L. sounds somewhat like a pop-minded version of The Stone Roses. Without a current album to promote, their last being A Present From The Past, a collection of B-sides and outtakes, that has yet to be released in America., The Soundtrack Of Our Lives came to New York City's Mercury Lounge for what appears to be a one-off show while they record their latest album.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives looks like they've mixed and matched from different eras. Hefty lead singer Ebbot Lundberg looks like a cross between Bob Seger and (a thinner) John Goodman; Mattias Barjed could have been the fifth member of Stillwater, or at least Billy Crudup's stunt double; his counterpart on guitar, Ian Person, had an natty, pressed Eighties new-wave thing going and with his stylish chapeau, drummer Fredrik Sandsten dressed like he was about to anchor a Sixties-style skiffle band. Despite the varying dress, the band is quite unified in their sound. Although they may try to give the appearance of letting things fly, their show is very polished and T.S.O.O.L. knows exactly what buttons to push with their audience.

On Wednesday night, Soundtrack Of Our Lives treated the sold-out Mercury Lounge to two sets: opening with an inappropriately titled acoustic set and finishing by going electric. The term "acoustic" must mean something different in Sweden as T.S.O.O.L.'s version consisted of the entire band sitting down and guitarists Ian Person and Mattias Barjed rotating the use of an acoustic guitar while everyone else played electric instruments. During the "acoustic" set, T.S.O.O.L. showed a remarkable ability to build songs to satisfying crescendos with a style that seemed refined in its ability to appear off-the-cuff. They did not tailor either set for the American audience. While they touched on "Mind The Gap," "Surround Sister" and "21st Century Ripoff" from Behind The Music, they primarily mixed older material from their European albums with some newer songs likely to appear on Origin vol. 2. Much of the non-Behind The Music fare sounded like modern day Sixties-era psychedelic pop. Sandsten's drumming moved from strictly setting the beat to tribalesque tom toms and Martin Hederos' organ passages transformed the cellar-like space of the Mercury Lounge into a cathedral, going from dirge-like sincerity to a Moody Blues style dreamy atmosphere.

Ebbot Lundberg's blunt-edged voice started to fade as the evening went on but he seemed to keep enough in reserve to show an interesting range. Keeping himself well modulated for the up-tempo numbers, Lundberg soared into the higher pitches of "Broken Imaginary Time" hitting notes that seemed beyond his ability. On the Merc's modest stage, Lundberg's girth made him a dominating spectacle as he bounded about the stage, jumping into the audience during the electric set's conclusion. The formidable guitar duo of Barjed and Person create an impressive wall of sound, merging together well. During the electric set, Person remained quite restrained, leaving the rock star moves and gyrations to Barjed and Lundberg. By design, T.S.O.O.L.'s poppy guitar licks dominate, but bassist Kalle Gustafsson-Jerneholm carried a great number of the instrumental passages with some intricate work. Gustafsson-Jerneholm might be the hidden treasure in this band of fine musicians; he not only propelled many of the songs along, the jams that closed them out often rested squarely on his bass lines.

The Swedes contribution to the musical landscape tends to runs towards disposable but enduring pop like Abba, Ace Of Base and whoever writes those Britney Spears songs that stick in your head long past their expiration date. Especially on stage, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives pack a much stronger punch then any of their Swedish brethren. Though cleaned up a bit on their albums, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives plays with a raw emotion that they can't quell. With the guitar lines battling behind Lundberg's straining voice in explosive bursts, you get a sense of what The Kinks might have been like if they were Swedish and bereft of sibling rivalry.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mp3s, News and Notes

Eddie Vedder and Red Hot Chili Peppers will headline the third annual Hullabaloo Benefit for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, which RHCP Flea co-founded in 2001, to raises funds for the SCM and for providing scholarships to low-income students. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, April 21st and will be available only over the web.

DC is getting ready for its annual Six Points Music Festival. Lots of good stuff on tap for that, including a show on Friday April 20th at the Velvet Lounge featuring Justin Jones, Wes Tucker and the Skillets, The Junior League and Sean McArdle.

I caught a good set from the Astral Lounge last night at the Troc in Philly. I'm really liking their song "Country Deceiver" - and our very own Earvolution alum Jim McCoy is on guitar. Mountain Man was also on the bill. Any time you've got some jazz trumpet backing up a few string pickers you've got an interesting combination. Definitely going to check out both acts again soon.

Mp3 Offerings:
The Walkmen: Lost in Boston
Shitdisco: OK
Joseph Arthur: Diamond Ring
The Muggabears: Goth Tarts
Land of Talk: Speak to Me Bones

Justin at Live Music Blog notes that Umphrey's McGee has added a slew of tour dates to their schedule. He also points to a podcast the band put together that gives some insight into their new record The Bottom Half. Click over to LMB for a preview track too.

The Rapture, who drew a large crowd at SXSW, will team up with label mates Shiny Toy Guns, on a 21 city US tour kicks off in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on April 21, and ends up in Burlington, Vermont on May 23. Look for them on the road, meanwhile, check out some vids: The Rapture "Pieces of the People We Love" and Shiny Toy Guns "You Are The One".

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pete Doherty and Kate Moss Documentary?

Pete Doherty and Kate Moss are reportedly filming a documentary of themselves that will be pieced together from video diaries like this one floating around YouTube. Kate does her part to draw interest by wearing a see through dress and Pete plays a little diddy with Kate chiming in here and there.

In the middle of the tune, Kate adds "Sonny and Cher we're not." True, but as I've said before they may be the new Sid and Nancy. Although, it appears they'll document their own adventure. These guys are clearly just one crazy night away from Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson territory. Bring it on!

Richards Didn't "Snort" Father After All

Keith Richards set the internet abuzz the last couple of days after telling NME that he snorted some of his deceased father's ashes with a line of cocaine. The Rolling Stones guitarist was quoted as saying, "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. ... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Richards is reportedly confounded that people actually believed the story. His manager now tells MTV that the comments were made "in jest." Apparently, Richards doesn't realize that in the new millennium if something appears on the internet, then its true.

Railroad Earth Pulls Into New York City

By: David Schultz

Bluegrass music has always had a tight grip on the heart of rural America, suburban as well. Even though it traces its origins back to the traditional music of European countries, bluegrass joins jazz as a distinctively American form of music. For all its historical weight though, bluegrass has been a genre slow to adapt and incorporate elements of other forms of music. While bluegrass has made inroads into certain areas of rock, pop and even rap, it has been slow to reciprocate. Until recently, that is.

Over the last decade, a "newgrass" movement seems to be afoot, challenging many of bluegrass music's preconceived notions. Keeping the focus on acoustic instruments and using folk and bluegrass rhythms as a springboard, newgrass bands like Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth are pushing the boundaries of the time-tested genre while retaining a healthy respect for it. This past weekend, Railroad Earth, one of the bands leading the charge of this expansive trend, came to New York City this past Saturday, playing Irving Plaza, soon to be known as Fillmore New York.

Steeped in Americana and folk, Railroad Earth's sound takes as much from old-timey O Brother Where Art Thou bluegrass as it does from the Grateful Dead, a link that became quite pronounced when they were joined by Amy Helm and Fiona McBain of Ollabelle for a cover of the Jerry Garcia Band's "My Sisters and Brothers." Railroad Earth's willingness to deviate from the norm kept the pacing of the set fresh. One of the drawbacks to Mike Gordon's Ramble Dove bluegrass marathon last May was the lack of variation, a trap Railroad Earth avoided by continuously changing tempos. The evocative Eighties-era imagery of "Warhead Boogie" drew a great response as did the loping, bouncy gaits of "Long Way To Go" and "Elko," but slower, more traditional numbers like "Mountain Time" and "Walk Beside Me" failed to enthrall. The night's heaviest and most interesting passage occurred during the locomotive intro "Head" with violinist Tim Carbone and the rest of the band "making the train sing" before breaking into the rambunctious ode to mind expansion.

Carbone, who looks like he may have been separated at birth from Robert Plant's younger brother, gives Railroad Earth its traditional country flair. During the Irving Plaza show, Carbone demonstrated how entwined he is with the band's sound. When not engaging in instrumental duels with mandolinist John Skehan, Carbone gave a sense of playfulness to songs like "Elko," a homespun twang to "Old Man And The Land" and a true authenticity to the foot-stomping "Fiddlee."

Anchored at center stage for the entire show, guitarist Todd Sheaffer led the band through a set that touched on many of the high points of their 2006 live album Elko. Sheaffer handled all of the lead vocals with the soft touch of a folk storyteller, never rushing his delivery. Sheaffer kept his banter with the audience relatively brief, if not slightly misguided. Having heard that Irving Plaza will soon be renamed Fillmore New York, Sheaffer acknowledged that they were playing one of the last true Irving Plaza shows. Expressing a benign ignorance of the Live Nation corporate presence now lurking behind Bill Graham's creation, Sheaffer playfully decried the hippies he believed to be taking over the venue.

With Sheaffer, Skehan and Carbone putting on quite a show, Andy Goessling rotated through an impressive array of instruments with quiet aplomb. With an acoustic arsenal at his disposal, Goessling moved from banjo to lap steel to a Dobro showing a deft skill on whatever he touched. Drummer Carey Harmon on drums and standup bassist Johnny Grubb provided an understated rhythm, remaining unobtrusively in the background causing some of Grubb's strong bass lines sometimes getting lost.

Railroad Earth hails from New Jersey, a State more likely to breed rootsy rockers like Bruce Springsteen or rowdy hard rockers in the mold of Bon Jovi. Perhaps it's the logistical and ideological distance from bluegrass and country's origins that provide the proper perspective to challenge the traditional sound. Using solely acoustic instruments, Railroad Earth derives a rich, full sound, achieving the oftentimes difficult task of getting a resonant sound from an amplified acoustic guitar. Although able, Railroad Earth never let the evening devolve into a simple hoedown: it would have been too simple, and any band that takes their name from a Jack Kerouac poem isn't a band looking to take the easy path.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Alanis Parodies the Black Eyed Peas

Alanis Morrissette has lovely lady lumps and shows off her hump, her hump, her hump, in a brilliant parody of the Black Eyed Peas "My Humps." Some of the kids don't seem to get it, but most are recognizing what the Alanisized version is going for here - nicely done Ms. M!

The Walkmen, Kaiser Chiefs Spring Fling

NME presents the Walkmen and the Kaiser Chiefs for a dozen spring dates in the U.S. The mini-tour will also feature the Annuals on the first half dozen shows and the Little Ones on the other six.

Dates include:
April 6 - Philadelphia (Electric factory)
April 7 - Washington DC (9:30 Club)
April 9 - Boston (Avalon Ballroom)
April 12 - New York (Roseland Ballroom)
April 17 - Montreal (Spectrum)
April 18 - Toronto (Kool Haus)
April 20 - Chicago (Vic Theatre)
April 21 - Minneapolis (Trocaderos)
April 24 - Vancouver (Commodore Ballroom)
April 25 - Seattle (Showbox Theatre)
April 26 - Portland (Crystal Ballroom)
April 27 - San Francisco (Warfield)

The Walkmen: Louisiana
Kaiser Chiefs: Angry Mob
Kaiser Chiefs: Ruby

Following their dates with the Walkmen and Kaiser Chiefs, the Little Ones will head across the pond for the NME new music tour with the Rumble Strips, Pull Tiger Tail, and Blood Red Shoes.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!