Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Earful: The Rinjo Podcast

I am unsure how this started but some time back Rinjo developed an obsession with songs that lasted 2:22. I know of no significant February 22 birthdays and unless he's been hiding it from me, there's no weird numerological fixation at work. It results in The Hives, The Len Price 3 and The Staples Singers ending up on the same Cloudcast, so three cheers for iTunes for making this simple.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday's Earful: The Kinks

By: David Schultz

If The Kinks are going to make their return anytime in the near future, Ray Davies has done his part in keeping their music alive and vital over the last few months. The 65-year-old singer won over a skeptical Metallica at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts this past October and the seminal metal rockers gave "All Day And All Of The Night" and "You Really Got Me" its biggest sound in years. Going in the other direction, Davies also released The Kinks Choral Collection, containing chamber orchestra versions of Kinks songs of varying degrees of popularity. Rolling Stone reports that Davies is now toiling away in the studio re-recording Kinks classics with notable rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. The Boss teams up with Davies on "Better Things" while Bon Jovi helps reinterpret "Celluloid Heroes." As for The Kinks reunion with his brother, who is recovering from a 2004 stroke, "It's in the works, it's all up to Dave."

FOR ALL OF JOHN LYDON'S POSTURING as an irredeemable punk, he sure understands the lucrative allure of a reunion tour. On April 16, Public Image Ltd. will play their first U.S. show in 18 years as part of the Coachella Festival in Indio, California and then produce eastward on a month long tour that will conclude May 18 at New York City's Terminal 5. The new Millennium PiL will include guitarist Lu Simmonds, drummer Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Frith.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals; The Hold Steady; Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

By: David Schultz

On June 8, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will release their self-titled third album on Hollywood Records. Their long awaited follow-up to 2007's This Is Somewhere bears the fruits of their collaboration with Mark Batson and moves the T-Bone Burnett album into the realm once occupied by Chinese Democracy and Smile. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will feature the five piece lineup that has spent the last few months gelling as a unit on tour with Brett Dennen as well as on their own. The year began with GPN causing a ruckus at Levon Helm's home in Woodstock: their appearance there last month generating such interest that they pushed the capacity to near 150%. Hopefully, once their eagerly awaited album hits we get to throw terms around like "breakout stars of the year," "one of the best albums of the decade" and "wow, I can't believe they're selling out places this big, remember when we saw them way back when." That last one may be more of an inchoate thought but won't it be fun to say.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame sits on the shore of Lake Erie, the Board of Directors persists in giving New York City all the plum events, treating Cleveland like a slovenly drunken hook-up they would rather forget. On March 15, the Class of 2010 will be inducted with Trey Anastasio being given the honor of inducting Genesis into the Hall. Wyclef Jean will induct Jimmy Cliff, Steven Van Zandt will induct The Hollies, Barry and Robin Gibb will induct ABBA and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day will induct The Stooges. You really can't argue with any of the . . . whoa, wait a second. Billie Joe Armstrong gets to induct Iggy Pop!!! Was David Bowie busy? Did someone lose Lou Reed's phone number?

ON MAY 4, FUTURE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES The Hold Steady will release Heaven Is Whenever, the latest chapter in what seems to be their ongoing dissertation on American youth culture. Maybe when they're inducted, one of the Jonas Brothers will get to give the speech.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: U-Melt @ The Bowery Ballroom

By: David Schultz

Anyone watching the final season of Lost is already intimately familiar with the topic of the Flash Sideways. After three seasons of flashbacks into the lives of the Oceanic 815 survivors stranded on the island, the storytelling shifted into showing the future and then simply went back in time to 1977. (This is much less confusing then it sounds). In dealing with a possibly parallel universe to the one in which Lost viewers have become obsessed, each castaway seems ostensibly the same, remaining recognizable in personality and demeanor, except there are subtle differences in their character. You don’t need to be a Lost fan to understand U-Melt Version 2.0 – NU-Melt if you will – it does help, though. U-Melt’s debut at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom would have been a festive occasion in and of itself. With Perfect World, their third studio album, hitting stores today, the Saturday night show served as the official celebration of its release.

In just his 5th show since stepping into the breach created by founding member Rob Salzer’s departure from the band, guitarist Kevin Griffin has already had a noticeable effect on the band. Wisely, Griffin doesn’t try to mimic Salzer’s solos or guitar style. Everything is still eminently recognizable but since it’s being filtered through a different musician with his own unique set of sensibilities, the end result is refreshing variations on familiar themes; a little less tronica in the jamtronica. Griffin’s presence was felt the most during “The Eternal Groove,” when he set the guitar aside and turned one of U-Melt’s signature tunes on its head by adding some tasty licks on the tenor sax. The new instrument also added some jazzy life to a cover of Robert Palmer’s “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On.” Griffin’s buoyant stage personality seems to be contagious: Adam Bendy, the band’s normally stoic bassist, cracked a smile or two and the band played with an extremely loose feel.

At their release party at The Knitting Factory for The I’s Mind, U-Melt debuted “Clear Light,” “Elysian Fields” and “Perfect World,” all of which appear on the new album. Three years later, those songs found their way into the setlist, which featured many of the tracks from Perfect World, their development over that time noticeable. While U-Melt didn’t offer a preview of their fourth album, they did open their second set by busting out a phenomenal cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” the opening riff getting a loud response of delightful recognition. Filling the room quite nicely, keyboardist Zac Lasher’s voice sounded remarkably strong. His confidence as a lead vocalist seems to be growing at the same rate his keyboard setup approaches Benevento-like size and complexity.

It would be ignoring the stress on the floorboards to ignore the weight of the 800 pound elephant of Salzer’s absence. He’s been so integral to U-Melt’s development and signature sound that it would be na├»ve not to muse over the unavoidable changes that are to come. Stasis never fosters growth though and from a creativity standpoint, change is always good. Near the close of U-Melt’s 3 ½ hour extravaganza, the band’s past and future meshed melodically as "Panacea" veered significantly into “Shakedown Street” territory. Coming from Reckoning, a decidedly Grateful Dead influenced jam fell right within Griffin’s wheelhouse and while U-Melt have never been Dead-averse, this is the most Dead-friendly I can remember hearing them. It’s just the start of the Flash Sideways that U-Melt’s going to offer their fans.

YOU MIGHT BE AS SHOCKED AS Claude Rains to find out that Internet rumors could get out of hand, run wild and gain steam. But yes, Virginia, they do. Rolling Stone magazine didn't forget to renew their domain name or run into any intellectual property issues. It appears they are just experiencing technical difficulties and will be back soon. At least that what's I read on the Internet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday's Earful: Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck @ Madison Square Garden

By: David Schultz

Linked together for eternity due to their shared Yardbirds history, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck have played together a shockingly few number of times. Whether it’s as the lead guitarist of The Yardbirds or as the featured guitarist at this October’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts, Beck usually seems to come into the picture when Clapton is out of the shot. This time last year, the two renowned guitar legends that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame on five separate occasions came together for a pair of shows in Japan, exciting classic rock lovers everywhere with the possibility that they might be contemplating taking the show around the country. Not quite a world tour, Beck and Clapton are playing selected dates in Europe and North America and last week, the two came to New York City’s Mecca, Madison Square Garden for a pair of dates.

Although a double bill, Beck essentially acted as the opener and featured guest for Clapton’s headlining set. He’s had modest successes with “Beck’s Bolero” and “People Get Ready,” Beck remains primarily an acquired taste; many more people know of and respect him than have spent considerable time listening to him. His forty-five minute opening set gave a quick glimpse into his virtuosic predilections, utilizing a string orchestra to give proper texture to his classical minded arrangements. Much of what Beck does, going from opera to the Beatles, is daunting enough to even attempt, even more impressive that Beck thinks it’s business as usual.

As if inspired by his stint last March with the Allman Brothers Band, Clapton’s portion of the show relied more on blues standards and back catalog selections than classic rock radio fodder. Beginning with an acoustic set that featured measured and by now commonplace recitations of “Driftin’” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out,” Clapton nodded towards his newfound status as adman finishing a fine rendition of “I’ve Got A Rock N’ Roll Heart” without being interrupted by Buddy Guy’s need to chat. Clapton’s arrangements didn’t venture far from their traditional framework, although “Key To The Highway” borrowed heavily from Jethro Tull’s “Someday The Sun Won’t Shine For You.” Clapton’s take on J.J. Cale’s “Cocaine” and Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff” provided the night’s most well-known moments and got the biggest reaction. It’s still puzzling that despite all the furor raised over Ice-T and Body Count’s “Cop Killer,” “I Shot The Sheriff” is still considered acceptable fare.

Much like Clapton’s shows with Steve Winwood, Clapton had no qualms about sliding into a complementary role, letting Beck take many of the leads over the last third of the show with Beck. Disappointingly, no guitar duels erupted nor were there of any memorable histrionics you might expect when two of the best guitarists in the world get together. Instead, the night went the other way, the two bizarrely nestling an unexpected version of “Moon River” amidst their heavy take on blues sounds they helped create forty years past. By underplaying the moment, the two effectively dispelled all of the mythic aspects of their pairing, depriving a fine performance of the defining jawdropping moment everyone seemed to want. It might have been the only way that these two could have left anyone feeling unsatisfied.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Earful: The Rinjo Podcast

There's a Rocky Horror Picture Show joke here somewhere. Feel free to make it at your leisure.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday's Earful: Trey Anastasio @ Terminal 5; U-Melt; Licorice

By: David Schultz

At the end of Trey Anastasio’s mammoth first set at Terminal 5 this past Tuesday, the Classic TAB went backstage, leaving the guitarist to accompany himself with an acoustic guitar. What followed were twenty or so minutes of what makes going to live shows meaningful and worthwhile. Starting with “Brian And Robert,” Anastasio played an acoustic set of Phish tunes that included “Strange Design,” “Sample In A Jar,” “Chalk Dust Torture” and “Wilson.” Anastasio didn’t do anything revelatory with the arrangements, in fact, they were relatively basic. The mini-acoustic set in and of itself wasn’t a rarity nor were any of the songs being dusted off after a period of dormancy. What made the moment so compelling and near-magical was the unanimity of purpose in the room. The sold-out crowd wanted to hear some Phish and Anastasio was giving them what they desired. The communal feeling that spread throughout Terminal 5 was palpable.

Over the course of three plus hours, Anastasio stretched out solo material like “Drifting” and “Night Speaks To A Woman” and Phish-TAB hybrids like “First Tube” and “Gotta Jiboo.” He even included a remarkable faithful cover of Dire Straits’ “Sultans Of Swing,” which received a phenomenal jolt from the horn section of Jen Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. At the end of the second set, Hartswick managed to steal the show, letting loose on “Black Dog,” her voice coming closest to Robert Plant’s preternatural howl then he has in decades. Still, the star of the show was the man whose name topped the marquee. Anastasio remains an enthralling guitarist, possessed of that rare ability to bring a crowd wherever they want to go. Songs that went five minutes, could have gone ten, those that went ten could have gone twenty. His is a rare and often undervalued gift.

For all of Terminal 5’s faults, it can be a tremendous room when the vibe is right and it takes a jamband crowd to make that happen. Aloof hipsters can’t generate the feel, if a truly collective moment happened in their presence, their ethic wouldn’t let them participate as it would make them part of the crowd. Younger crowds can’t do it either; forced eagerness kills the mood like Lenny handling rabbits. Jamband crowds get it right, whether through conscious recognition or an innate feel, they appreciatively dive right in and embrace the occasion. For those who don’t understand, being part of a crowd willing to briefly shut out the worries of the world and share their excitement over hearing a song may seem like a silly concept. Those who have experienced it, like those at Terminal 5 this past Tuesday, will tell you that it can revitalize the soul.

U-MELT WILL CELEBRATE THE RELEASE of Perfect World, their third studio album, with a CD release party this Saturday night at the Bowery Ballroom. It will be their debut at New York City's finest venue and for many, the first opportunity to see and hear the band with Kevin Griffin, their new guitarist. The stars seemed aligned for a special evening. At the CD release party for The I's Mind at the now transplanted Knitting Factory, U-Melt played "Clear Light," "Elysian Fields" and "Perfect World," three songs included on Perfect World, for the first time and the crowd engaged in an epic glow stick fight.

ON TUESDAY NIGHT, Licorice will play a late-night, after-hours gig at Sullivan Hall as part of the post Furthur festivities at Sullivan Hall. Let's face facts, if you're going to see Furthur on a Tuesday night, you weren't planning on working the next day anyway. Jerry Garcia always compared Grateful Dead fans to Licorice fans. He may have been talking about the candy but then again, people have always thought Garcia to have supernatural abilities. Maybe he saw the future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Baroness; Torche

By: David Schultz

Rock from the South encompasses more than oversized guitarists with long hair singing songs about the heartland and being tied to the whipping post. It’s also the home of death metal and a region where Black Sabbath and Judas Priest still hold sway over impressionable adolescents. (So I’ve heard. It’s been years since I’ve been in the area). Hailing from Savannah, Georgia, Baroness aren’t speed metal freaks that preach doom and gloom; they also couldn’t be farther from the genteel upper class elite depicted in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Guitarists and lead vocalists John Baizley and Peter Adams aren’t holding back on their vocals. The fury and commitment are front and center but they aren’t trying to sound like they’re channeling Beelzebub with every syllable.

The Blue Album, Baroness’ latest effort, rewards anyone who can ignore genre classifications long enough to listen to the album’s sprawling epics. Baroness doesn’t betray the promises made with song titles like “A Horse Called Golgotha” and “Oe’r Hell And Hide.” For better of for worse, Led Zeppelin’s inordinately influential mystical Middle Earth side rears it phantasmagorical head throughout the album. However, guitarists John Baizley and Peter Adams, bassist Summer Welch and drummer Allen Blickle aren’t belching dragon grok. Rather than follow some variation of the scorched earth, take no prisoners philosophy, Baroness finds the framework of the progressive rock era and Emerson, Lake & Palmer theatrics more their style, exhibited a firm control of where they want to take the music and the listener.

For the present, Baroness are overseas in Australia. They will return for an appearance at Coachella and then head out for an extensive tour of America opening for Mastodon. You can listen to a stream of The Blue Album by clicking here.

A LITTLE CLEANER SOUNDING, Torche, who hails from Miami, Florida, pounds out unrelenting hard rock in a manner that would have scared people back in the Eighties. (It’s fascinating to listen to Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden now and think back to a time when this type of music made people worried about the state of youth culture). Rick Smith’s ultra-accelerated drumming and Jonathan Nunez’ bottomless bass send Meanderthal, Torche’s 2008 full length effort, careening at top speed like one of those mogul specialists whose elastic knee joints defy reality. On the record, the dual guitar blasts of Steve Brooks and Juan Montoya cascade with near-shoegaze determination, finding its natural level on the finishing coda of “Fat Waves.”
A lot of what I know about Torche may be outdated. Although guitarist Juan Montoya has left the band, they have continued on as trio and will spend much of the Spring on tour with Coheed & Cambria. Whether they sound the same now as they did as a four-piece shouldn’t keep you from checking out Meanderthal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: Small Black; The Walkmen

By: David Schultz

Small Black, one of the bands that created quite a stir for themselves at last year's CMJ Festival in New York City, has accepted their birthright as a hot, buzzed-about band and signed with Jagjaguwar, a label that knows a thing or two about good music. On April 27, Jagjaguwar will release an remixed, remastered and expanded version of the Small Black EP, adding "King Of Animals" and "Baby Bird (Part 2)." The band will be growing too, bringing in a new rhythm section before hitting the road for a four week North American jaunt with Washed Out and Pictureplane that will bring them through Austin for SXSW 2010. Although the name is reminiscent of Steve Albini's thunderous Big Black, the sound couldn't be more different. Check out "Despicable Dogs," the track that should be earmarked for what passes as a lead single these days.

THE WALKMEN SIGNING WITH FAT POSSUM RECORDS is another match between a fine band and a label that knows not to meddle with what seems to be working. The Walkmen will return to an undisclosed different studio with Chris Zane to record their follow-up to the marvelous You & Me. On March 3, the band will play MOMA's Opening Night Armory benefit show and return to New York for an April 1 show at The Bell House in Brooklyn, where they'll feature songs off the new album. They will likely bust out the new material in Austin as well as they, along with Spoon, will be part of NPR's March 17 SWXW opening night showcase at Stubb's.

WHO SAYS AGING PUNKS AND HEADBANGERS DON'T READ? On the New York Times Book Review's Non-Fiction Hardcover best sellers this week, Ozzy Osbourne's I Am Ozzy sits at #2 while Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, places at #8.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doug Fieger (1952-2010)

When you gonna give me some time, Sharona?
Ooh my little pretty one, pretty one.
Ooh you make my motor run, my motor run.
Gun it comin' off the line Sharona
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a dirty mind. Always get it up for the touch
of the younger kind.
My my my i yi woo.

M M M My Sharona

Come a little closer huh, ah will ya huh.
Close enough to look in my eyes, Sharona.
Keeping it a mystery gets to me
Running down the length of my thighs, Sharona
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a dirty mind.
Always get it up for the touch
of the younger kind.
My my my i yi woo.

M M M My Sharona

When you gonna give it to me, give it to me.
It is just a matter of time Sharona
Is it just destiny, destiny?
Or is it just a game in my mind, Sharona?
Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a dirty mind. Always get it up for the touch
of the younger kind.
My my my i yi woo.

M M M My Sharona

Monday's Earful: B.B. King & Buddy Guy @ The United Palace

By: David Schultz

B.B. King, the legendary blues musician, had every right to be seated upon on a throne at the United Palace. With Lucille resting comfortably astride his now ample girth, a microphone just within reach of his left hand, King soaked in the adulation from a room filled predominantly with people who became enamored with King well into and long after the apex of his 60-plus year career. Whenever King played Lucille in the manner that has inspired and influenced countless numbers of guitarists and belted out the blues in his unmistakable voice, the timelessness of rock and roll permeated the theater. Sadly, over the course of King’s 90 minute set, those moments were rare.

At 84-years-old, it’s completely unrealistic to expect King and play like its still 1969 and to critique a musician for no longer being the young man he once was goes beyond the boundaries of rational journalism. Nonetheless, premium prices were charged for the King/Guy double bill, thus raising expectations that you might get full versions of “Every Day I Have The Blues” and “The Thrill Is Gone” and not the small samplings that were played. Instead of a 90 minute set of the classic blues, the United Palace received an audience with the King. If the locale were the intimate dinner club in Times Square that bears his name, the ease with which King interacted with the crowd and his band and his twenty minute discourse through “You Are My Sunshine” would have been charming. At the Palace, New York City’s third-largest venue behind Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, the gaps between the King’s sporadic signature guitar solos and bursts of the blues were to big to ignore.

Buddy Guy’s opening set was at the opposite side of the spectrum. Full of energy and attitude and dressed like an NBA superstar at a club, the 73-year-old guitar hero who created the blueprint for the power trio sound and invented tricks that Jimi Hendrix would borrow to great notoriety strutted around the theater with the cocksure confidence of the master bluesman. During an all-too-short 60 minute set, Guy regaled the Palace with all that makes the blues accessible and enjoyable across such a broad spectrum. At its core, the blues is the music of the common person, dealing with simple issues of money (the lack of it), women (who’s next) and being the baddest cat in the room. Not many play it or live it like Buddy Guy.

After showing off a delicacy with the guitar, playing so quietly that the audience hushed to hear what he was doing, and making his signature stroll to play and sing amongst the crowd, Guy finished with a little history lesson. The first couple verses of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” served as the blueprint for what “this cat from England” did when he formed Cream. Hitting the proper falsetto, Guy offered up a couple verses of “Strange Brew” before taking things to its natural conclusion, a stormy snippet of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” King may have had seniority but Guy should have headlined the show.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday's Earful: The Rinjo Podcast

Rinjo finishes culling through the Best of 2009. With every Cloudcast, I find one or two new bands, this week it's Big Boss Man. So come on Rick, listen to the Cloudcast. (Yes, it has Future Of The Left too).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday's Earful: Eric Clapton; Bruce Springsteen; The Strokes

By: David Schultz

Eric Clapton's Third Crossroads Festival will take place on June 26 at Chicago's Toyota Park. All profits from the event benefit the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, the rehab facility center founded by Slow Hand. For those who aren't familiar with Clapton or his facility, its where Britney Spears spent a day back in 2007 when she toyed with cleaning herself up. This year's show will feature by The Allman Brothers Band, B.B. King, Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Randolph and Buddy Guy, who have all played with Clapton over the past few years. ZZ Top, John Mayer and Sheryl Crow will be on hand as well. Perhaps this is what Buddy Guy's calling Clapton about in that T-Mobile ad.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN MADE A POINT of removing his name from a lawsuit brought by ASCAP against Connolly's Pub & Restaurant that alleges that the New York City chain of pubs infringed on the copyrights of The Boss and others by failing to obtain a public performance license. These lawsuits are brought often and ASCAP didn't unfairly or wrongly bring Springsteen into this fight but given the bad PR, Springsteen's reps asked that he no longer be associated with this specific suit. On the surface, this seems right in line of Springsteen's constant fight for the little guy. Ben Sheffner of Slate looks beneath the facade and wonders if Springsteen's abstention from this fight does more damage than good.

THE STROKES NEW ALBUM MAY be here by the end of the summer. Just in time to steal all of The Soft Pack's momentum.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Bonnaroo 2010; Radiohead; MTV

By: David Schultz

Superfly Productions announced the lineup for the 2010 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival which will take place June 10 through June 13 in Manchester, Tennessee. Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band and Kings Of Leon will headline this year's event; not as inspiring as the last couple lineups that featured the likes of Springsteen, Phish and Metallica. The Festival will also feature The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side Of The Moon, the costumed scare-tactics of GWAR, actors moonlighting as musicians (She & Him, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, Tenacious D) and the normal cast of jamtastic characters and buzzed-about up-and-comers.

ON JANUARY 24, FORMER BONNAROO headliner Radiohead did their part to raise money and awareness for those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, playing a benefit show at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. Admission to the intimate-for-Radiohead went via auction and reportedly raised close to $600,000. Web In Front has the audio and is making it available as a Podcast.

THE M NO LONGER STANDS FOR MUSIC. MTV finally bit the bullet and admitted that they would rather find the new Snooki rather than the new Madonna. Thirty years ago, the network changed the music industry and made image a dominant factor in a band's success. If you saw the dimwit dwarf from Jersey Shore try to interview Phoenix, you already knew it was time to eulogize the dead. Pour one on the ground. The Real MTV is Dead. Long Live The Real MTV.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: Yeasayer; U-Melt; BuzzUniverse

By: David Schultz

Two years ago, Yeasayer's debut album All Hour Cymbals had bloggers all atwitter in their usual state of excitement and at SXSW, every one of their numerous sets, including one at the NPR showcase, had lines streaming down West Sixth or Red River. They surely didn't rush back into the studio to capitalize on the success. Quite the opposite, they seemed to let the buzz fade before trying to get it going again. With Odd Blood, their long-awaited follow-up, Yeasayer treads lightly between well-crafted melodious pop and visionary Brooklyn-proper originality, never committing to either camp.

Anand Wilder, Chris Keating and Ira Wolf Tuton seem to have enjoyed their time in the studio: "The Children" seems to make use of a spare Auto-Tune and, like many bands will this decade, show that they were paying attention to what Animal Collective has been up to the past couple years. Much like Vampire Weekend's second effort, Yeasayer will knock a few noses out of joint by doing something different. Odd Blood does keep your interest, even when they flirt dangerously with the Eighties power ballad motif.

Jon Pareles wrote an interesting feature on the band and the new album for the Sunday Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times. In discussing their new direction, they try to put the whole thing into perspective:
“When you read about a Bob Dylan or David Bowie making a new-sounding record after they made one that was popular, or even loved by a couple of people, people were really mad,” [Keating] said. “Then it’s only in hindsight that it was cool. It’s cool to keep moving.”
U-MELT HAS ADDED DATES TO their upcoming Perfect World tour, including their first proper swing through the West Coast. The trek begins later this month in the Northeast with their February 20 album release celebration at the Bowery Ballroom being the show to highlight. On March 24, U-Melt visits the South - three shows in North Carolina and one in Atlanta - before heading west where they will visit Winston's in San Diego (April 2), The Mint in Los Angeles (April 3) and The Connecticut Yankee in San Francisco, CA (April 4) before covering most of Colorado. U-Melt thrives on stage so if they are in your town, you do not have anything better to do that night. Get the full slate of tour dates by clicking here.

BUZZUNIVERSE WILL ALSO BE MAKING new friends in the Spring, making their first venture to the Midwest. The New Jersey based band will be bringing their progressive and eclectic brand of music to Cleveland, Ohio on April 15, Indianapolis, Indiana on April 16 and Kalamazoo, Michigan on April 17. They'll return to New York City for an April 30 gig at the Ace of Clubs (w/ Leroy Justice) to celebrate Willie Nelson's birthday. Check out BuzzU's full Spring schedule by clicking here.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday's Earful: Galactic; Tea Leaf Green; The Who; Frank Sinatra

By: David Schultz
Tea Leaf/Galactic Photo: Jeremy Gordon

On the eve of the Saints’ first ever Super Bowl appearance, New Orleans’ funkmeisters Galactic brought a bit of the French Quarter to New York City this past Friday night, packing people into the spacious Terminal 5 for a wild night of Mardi Gras-tinged reveling. A guest laden night, Galactic received tremendous infusions of energy from Corey Henry, an ebullient trombonist who served as the de facto ringleader for the night. Henry hardly limited himself to the stage, halfway through the show, he took to the jampacked floor, which parted in Biblical fashion and allowed him to stroll over and play from atop one of the bars. Cyril Neville lent his voice to the predominantly instrumental band, his years of experience bringing even more of the Bayou to NYC.

The set list included significant time devoted to Tea Leaf’s loose jangly side, notably “My Bastard Brother” and “Let It Go,” an increasingly powerful version of guitarist Josh Clark’s “Carter Hotel” and the groove heavy “Sex In The 70s.” It also contained quite a few new songs like “Training A Cloud” and “Germinatin’ Seed,” always a fine sign for an evolving band. For those who weren’t familiar with Tea Leaf Green before Friday night, their opening set was not the best introduction to the San Francisco based foursome. In their element, Tea Leaf Green masterfully builds off the excitement of the crowd, patiently letting the music evolve. A fair number of people arrived early to catch TLG but the cavernous warehouse known as Terminal 5 can make a sizable crowd feel sparse. Although hey had a little more than an hour to work with, they never seemed to find that zone that TLG fans rave about.

No such criticism could be leveled to Clark and keyboardist Trevor Garrod’s sit-in with Galactic. Following the advice of PT Barnum, the collaboration gave the people what they wanted. In the days leading up to the show, the fans got to register their votes as to what songs they wanted to see as part of a combined effort. After a fine version of Marvin Gaye/The Band’s “Don’t Do It,” a song that makes the occasional appearance at TLG shows, Garrod tore the house down on a lengthy take on The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” At Tea Leaf shows, Garrod will occasionally emerge from behind his keyboards and get the crowd going with some endearingly neo-coordinated jumps and exhortations. For the Stones cover, Garrod tapped into some unknown spring of energy, took center stage and belted out the song like a bona fide rock star. It was undoubtedly one of the cooler rock star moments Garrod’s had in New York City.

Due to weather conditions, Galactic postponed their Saturday night show in Washington DC, which kept them in New York long enough to at Brooklyn Bowl for a post-Super Bowl throwdown. If the gleeful response Henry received to his “Who Dat” chant on Friday night was an indication, I can only imagine the enthusiastic reaction it brought during last night’s victory celebration.

SO WHAT DID WE LEARN from The Who's performance at the Super Bowl? 1) The Who Sell Out wasn't irony; it was foreshadowing. 2) Roger Daltrey can no longer belt out "Baba O'Riley" like he did 35 years ago . . . or any other song for that matter. 3) Who medleys are unssatisfying. 4) CBS knew not to put a fake crowd near Pete Townshend. 5) None of the above was as surreal as Grizzly Bear scoring a Volkswagen ad that features Stevie Wonder playing Slug Bug with Tracy Jordan.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST: Super Bowl 45 Halftime show = Billy Joel.

I HAD ALWAYS BEEN UNDER the impression that when anyone plays or sings Frank Sinatra's version of "My Way" in a bar, that meant that there would be no more fun to be had in the establishment. Old men were welcome to sit at the bar and nurse their whiskeys but all other fun loving folk should disperse and find other places to seek frivolity. In the Philippines though, singing "My Way" - and not the Sid Vicious version - apparently starts riots. Who knew? Don't believe me: read here.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday's Earful: Big Head Todd & The Monsters; Red Baraat

By: David Schultz

Big Head Todd & The Monsters make a point of doing something special for their annual hometown show at the Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Denver, Colorado. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Midnight Radio, their landmark sophomore effort, and to commemorate the occasion, Big Head Todd will play the album in its entirety when it headlines Red Rocks on June 5. On the strength of Midnight Radio, BHT found themselves a national audience and became mainstays on the traveling H.O.R.D.E. festival, the jamband response to Perry Farrell's Lollapalooza that set the stage for today's modern festival circuit. While songs from Midnight Radio have long populated Big Head Todd's set lists, a straight run through, to my knowledge, has never been done. To hear them finish the set with "Ann Arbor Grandfather" and "Elvis" would fall into that priceless category.

A COUPLE YEARS BACK I had the opportunity to interview Todd Park Mohr for before one of his shows at the Bowery Ballroom.

LAST WEEKEND, I ENDED UP at La Poisson Rouge for the CD release party for Chaal Baby, the debut album from Red Baraat. The predominantly horn based nine piece band mixes New Orleans style jazz-funk with Indian Bhangra in a pretty interesting fashion. Bandleader Sunny Jain gives the band its traditional Indian sound with the double sided dhol, the deep booming drum nearly inextricable from the Bollywood dance scenes being shown behind them. When they touch on the Indian rhythms, Red Baraat is a pretty interesting little band; when they focus on the brass-styled funk to its exclusion, they don't quite hold the excitement.

IMPOSE has a really good article on the current relevance and importance of Pitchfork. It's worth reading.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thursday's Earful: Cold War Kids @ Terminal 5

By: David Schultz
Photos: Jason Fuiman

At the close of the Cold War Kids’ New York City set this past Friday night, lead singer Nathan Willett sat down at his keyboard and began to pound out the opening chords of “We Used To Vacation.” As has been their custom for years, guitarist Jonnie Russell wails away on a loose cymbal perched atop a speaker cabinet in between shakes of a maraca until the fervor of the song sends the cymbal crashing to the ground. In the lounges and clubs that the Kids have long outgrown, the tale of regret and prayer for redemption made for a wonderfully intimate experience. At a sold-out Terminal 5, with nearly 3000 people singing along, the effect was simply overwhelming.

Willett. Russell, bassist Matt Maust and drummer Matt Aveiro may not be entirely house trained once the house lights dim but they no longer prowl the stage like untamed feral beasts. (Not that Aveiro ever did from behind his drum kit). While this may be a symptom of them having more room on the bigger stages, it’s also illustrative of their maturity. Making fine use of the space, the larger set allows them to incorporate elements of Maust’s artwork, a significant component of their image, with video screens showing images derivative of the bassist’s photography. They also manage to work in some new sounds, most notably the Beck sounding fuzzy organ tones on “Audience,” one of the fine tracks off Behave Yourself, their recently released EP.

The warehouse atmosphere of Terminal 5 – which in the biggest clusterfuck in the history of lists ranked #3 on Pollstar’s ranking of the 100 greatest venues – provided a fine milieu for Maust’s resounding bass lines and Russell’s precise guitar riffs. Cold War Kids can sound like the coolest, slightly demented, cabaret band with many of the songs moving untraditionally forward on Maust’s bass, permitting Russell to insert concise hit-and-run solos, like on “Something Is Not Right With Me.” They can also hit U2-like grandeur with songs like “Welcome To The Occupation” and the soaring highs of “Dreams Old Men Dream” match the wizened images of the song.

Fully rounded bass and surgically incisive guitar licks notwithstanding, the increasingly confident lead vocals of Willett, who sings his unguarded, literate lyrics with an urgency and passion matched by few, may be the most compelling aspect of the band. An idiosyncratic group, their covers are usually rare and often quite diverse, spanning from remarkably adept Sam Cooke adaptations to slight appropriations of Tom Waits. With the help of an impromptu horn section made up of Elvis Perkins In Dearland’s Nick Kinsey and Wyndham Boylan-Garnett (at least that’s who it seemed to be), they offered up a powerful version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See The Light” that saw Willett wring every bit of the song’s yearning. Of course, as long as there were guests on stage capable of making some noise, they careened into a raucous version of “St. John,” the prison gang chant that typically brings down the house.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: USA For Africa - 25 For Haiti; Broken Social Scene

By: David Schultz

Twenty-five years ago, Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie helped organize the original USA for Africa session which brought together the biggest names of the 80s and Dan Aykroyd to record “We Are The World,” a benefit song inspired by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” This past week, the two along with Wyclef Jean brought together an A-list of today’s music scene and Nicole Richie to re-record the tune to benefit those affected by the Haiti earthquake. Notwithstanding the fine sense of symmetry and nod to history involved in calling it “We Are The World – 25 For Haiti,” given that the new Supergroup reportedly includes the likes of Celine Dion, Fergie, Enrique Iglesias, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Jason Mraz, Akon, Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West,, Nicole Scherzinger, Katharine McPhee, Miley Cyrus, Pink and The Jonas Brothers, it’s really no surprise that they assembled talent couldn’t write an original song of their own, or at least one without sampling.

NORTH OF THE BORDER IN CANADA, another Supergroup of sorts has reformed. On May 4, Broken Social Scene will release a new album on Arts & Crafts, the first under the BSS moniker since 2005. Featuring anchoring members Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin and Andrew Whiteman, the new album will also have guest spots from alumni like Leslie Feist, Jason Collett and members of Stars and Metric, including Amy Millan and Emily Haines. Starting in May, the collective will hit the road making American stops at The Fillmore in San Francisco (May 1), Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles (May 3) and Webster Hall in New York City (May 7).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tuesdays Earful: The Giraffes @ The Mercury Lounge

By: Rinjo Njori

In a perfect world every band would be as interesting and engaging as Brooklyn's The Giraffes. Sure you can call them punk metal, but live this band ceases to fit into any genre: a brew of vintage Soundgarden grunge, hints of System of a Down folk flare, and classic Blue Cheer blues metal. Guitarist Damien Paris pulls more licks out of his guitar than all three guitarists in the current incarnation of Guns N' Roses. On some songs it would be fair to say he attacks his guitar but ably pulls together the lead and rhythm. Bassist Jens Carstensen and drummer Andrew Totolos don't' so much as look at each other over the entire hour long set. Rarely, if ever, do the two miss a beat. Totolos probably matches the intensity of Paris, but Carstensen sways and grooves through each song that gallop along with sudden breakdowns. Bringing it together with constant beer in hand and a devilish grin is thew towering Aaron Lazar. All the charisma of TSOL's Jack Grisham with a vocal style that quickly brings to mind Alice In Chains' Layne Staley. For a lead singer that barely moves around the stage, one thing is abundantly clear: he owns the crowd. That beer in hand not only is for him but also most of the crowd eagerly leaning into the stage. Quickly sucking down half the beer between verses, he showered the rest on the crowd and quickly re-filled.

Most of The Giraffes' Saturday night after-hours set was filled with songs from 2008's Prime Motivator and 2005's The Giraffe, including "Prime Motivator," "Sickness," "Million Dollar Man" and the scary "Louis Guthrie Wants Me Dead." There might have been a new song or two and with props given to Bea Arthur, a brief detour into Carole King's "Thank You For Being A Friend." Notably absent was the fantastic "Man U" and Lazar's slightly creepy mustache, but the Giraffes could not be accused of leaving the audience short changed. The show itself becomes a mild frenzy: an economical "pit" formed from time to time and the band didn't waste the good stuff (a bottle of whiskey) on a shower, they passed the bottle around. The crowd endured, but the band took as good as it gave. At the end of the night you didn't see a "show". A "metal band" didn't go through the motions. This was not just another band from Brooklyn. The crowd at the Mercury Lounge got to see The Giraffes turn it up to eleven. Here's an approximation of The Giraffe's live show, minus their patented beer shower.

Lazar is one of the more fascinating front men leading any type of band, his demeanor perfect for cozy intimate venues like the Mercury Lounge. Much like Hannibal Lecter's pulse didn't speed up when he bit off someone's face, Lazar seems his most comfortable while in the midst of the maelstrom. The beer comes flying at his own calm instigation, he politely descends the stage to mosh and thrash with the crowd, he finds the sweat coming of Paris' forehead a subject of fascinating interest and offered up the best literary criticism of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness that I've ever encountered - he ate page after page. I didn't follow Rinjo into the mosh pit - he's a braver man than I.  (Schultz)

Editors Tour Dates

Editors are in the U.S for a string of tour dates before heading back home to England in March. They kick off in Seattle on February 5th and The Antlers will join them for several stops in the states:

Feb 8 The Warfield Theatre San Francisco, California
Feb 9 House of Blues San Diego, California
Feb 11 The Wiltern Los Angeles, California
Feb 13 Ogden Theatre Denver, Colorado
Feb 15 Vic Theatre Chicago, Illinois
Feb 16 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, Ontario
Feb 17 Il Motore Montreal, Quebec
Feb 18 House of Blues Boston, Massachusetts
Feb 19 Terminal 5 New York, New York
Feb 20 The Trocadero Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb 21 930 Club Washington DC, Washington DC

Full list of Editors US, UK and European tour dates here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday's Earful: Dave Matthews Band; Phish

By: David Schultz

THE CONCERT FOR HAITI TELETHON album isn't the only way you can use the power of the download to help out Haiti. The Dave Matthews Band has put together an EP of live tracks entitled The Haiti Relief Project. The 5 track EP doesn't contain live versions of Matthews' hits, rather it includes a 2004 recording of "Cry Freedom," a 2007 solo version of "Butterfly" and 2009 takes on "Out Of My Hands," "Lying In The Hands Of God" and "Dive In." The EP is available for $5 at the DMB site (click here) and the proceeds will go to their newly formed Bama Works Haiti Relief Fund.

AS PART OF THEIR LIVEPHISH set of archival releases, the jamband titans will release their November 19, 1992 show from the Ross Arena at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. The mp3s are $9.95 and the FLAC files are $12.95 and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts through the Partners In Health and the American Red Cross. The show is notable for the live debuts of "Axila" and "Fast Enough For You" and a sit-in by Gordon Stone. The night also marked Phish's first attempt at the Big Ball Jam, where the crowd controlled Phish by knocking around four giant balloons with each one corresponding to a different member of the band. I saw them do the Big Ball Jam a couple days later at a gym in SUNY Stony Brook. I won’t profess a knowledge I didn’t have; I had no clue what they were doing and thought they were copying Jethro Tull’s penchant for lobbing balloons on the crowd at the end of a show. It’s a cool visual concept which might lose something in a purely audio context.  Download the show through LivePhish by clicking here.

THE FIRST EDITION OF THE GUITAR DEN with RICH CASELLA will make its Web based debut tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Casella's Web site. Each week, the talented New York based guitarist will take a song and break down its structure including fingerings and progressions. Making it more of seminar than a forum, there will be a live interactive chat going on during the live Webcast. First up on The Guitar Den will be Paul Simon's "Kodachrome." If you're reading this after 8:00 p.m., don't fret, the Webcasts will be saved for posterity.

Bon Jovi Dashboard Confessional Tour Dates

Bon Jovi will fire up their steel horse for the Circle Tour that kicks off in a couple weeks. The veteran road warriors will do many of the first leg dates with Dashboard Confessional opening. Before the Bon Jovi tour dates, Dashboard will perform on Jimmy Kimmel live February 12th. For Bon Jovi, the Circle Tour begins February 11 in Hawaii and is set to go well into the summer.

February 24 - Arena - Phoenix, AZ
February 26 - Honda Center - Anaheim, CA
February 27 - Honda Center - Anaheim, CA
March 2 - Arco Arena - Sacramento, CA
March 4 - Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
March 6 - MGM - Las Vegas, NV
March 8 - Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
March 9 - Qwest Center - Omaha, NE
March 11 - Intrust Bank Arena - Wichita, KS
March 12 - People's Court - Des Moines, IA
March 13 - Fargodome - Fargo, ND
March 15 - Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO
March 17 - The Palace - Detroit, MI
March 18 - Kool Haus - Toronto, ON
March 19 - Bell Centre - Montreal, QC
March 20 - Bell Centre - Montreal, QC
March 22 - Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel - Providence, RI
March 23 - Wachovia Center - Philadelphia, PA
March 24 - Wachovia Center - Philadelphia, PA
March 26 - Nokia Theater - New York, NY
March 27 - Starland Ballroom - Sayreville, NJ
March 28 - Webster Theatre - Hartford, CT
March 29 - Verizon Center - Washington DC
April 6 - House of Blues - Chicago, IL
April 8 - House Of Blues - Boston, MA
April 10 - Northern Lights - Clifton Park, NY
April 13 - BOK Center - Tulsa, OK
April 15 - Phillips Arena - Atlanta, GA
April 16 - House Of Blues - Orlando, FL
April 17 - St Pete Times Forum - Tampa, FL
April 18 - Bank Atlantic Center - Fort Lauderdale, FL
April 21 - Sommet Center - Nashville, TN
April 22 - Time Warner Cable Arena - Charlotte, NC

Full Bon Jovi tour dates here.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!