Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: Under Renovation

Safe to say if you have found us here on the new blogspot page, you've noticed we are running lean and mean while we transfer content to a new address. We'll spare you all the boring details as to why we're moving and also ask you to be patient, new content may be scarce for a few days. We'll be back at full capacity as soon as we can.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Monday's Earful: Rinjo Cloudcast

With a weekend full of fantasy baseball drafts and auctions, Rinjo's Cloudcast hits all the right themes and finishes with an appropriate classic from The Replacements.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Earful: Sleigh Bells

By: David Schultz

In the glut of bands that invade Austin every year for SXSW, there are some that will have you scratching your head, making you wonder where they fall on the clever vs. stupid spectrum. One of the more unlikely spots to see one of these bands was the NPR showcase at The Parish. Yet, to close out the heavily trafficked day party was Sleigh Bells, an odd duo from Brooklyn made up of Derek Miller, a former hardcore guitarist, and Alexis Krauss, a grown up veteran of the girl group era. With a computer providing a rafter shattering drumbeat and Miller pumping out choppy, reverb heavy guitar riffs, Krauss bounced energetically about, barking out lyrics like propaganda slogans and unleashing the occasional primal shriek.

One of the undeniable breakout stars from the most recent CMJ Festival, Sleigh Bells make a game attempt to reproduce the madly innovative mix of rump-shaking beats and avant-garde guitars. “A/B Machines” needs nothing more than a bent guitar note and a nonsensical phrase and “Crown On The Ground” has a backing beat for which most rappers would trade their left gold tooth. At The Parish, too much of the work was done by the computer software, which failed Miller on a couple occasions, possibly resulting an abbreviated set. Unlike the studio, Krauss has to carry the live set, which she capably does, belting out the Sleigh Bells manifestos with the impassioned fury of a metal goddess.

I’m still not sure if Sleigh Bells is genius or noise . . . or both. I am still listening though.

They will be hitting the road with Yeasayer in a couple months and an album seems to be in the works. In the meantime, you can find various Sleigh Bells tracks floating around the InterWebs. You can also check out their SXSW set on the NPR site by clicking here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday's Earful: Warpaint

By: David Schultz

During this year’s SXSW Festival, The Royal Bangs played through the Thursday night sunset as the final act of Kayceman’s Treehouse Party atop the roof of Cheers Shot Bar. Although only dusk, two women were getting down by the side of the stage as if it were a hopping nightclub. In case they weren’t recognizable, Ryan Schaefer gave everyone a heads up: Warpaint was in the house. Drummer Stella Mozgawa and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg somewhat repeated the cheeky dance the next day at Lustre Pearl while guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman played a somewhat funky rhythm on the guitar. It was a brief respite from the reverb laden shoegaze Warpaint does so well.

With The Runaways garnering warm praise from the musical cognoscenti for not being a farcical crapfest, there may not be a better time to be an all female rock band, especially if you’ve got one fronted by blonde and brunette guitarists. Warpaint’s fuzzy melodies are a far cry from Joan Jett and Cherie Currie’s garage rock but the comparisons are unfortunately unavoidable. Much like they did on their one available EP, Exquisite Corpse, at Lustre Pearl, Kokal and Wayman lazily weaved their vocals amidst layers of guitar wash much in the same way they entwine the Mary Wells’ proclamation of loyalty in “My Guy” into their own “Billie Holliday.”

Recently signed to Rough Trade, their first full length album should be out later this year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Rinjo Cloudcast

SXSW gets you attuned to listening and accepting music you may not have heard before. Other than Soundgarden and The Jam, Rinjo's latest Cloudcast is a perfect chaser to the Texas bender. What exactly is a Gruntruck?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: U-Melt - Perfect World

By: David Schultz

A not-so-unfair criticism lobbed at jambands by those who aren’t fans of the genre is the tendency to fill up time and space with a bevy of unnecessary digressions and indulgent solos. For the less verbose, it’s called noodling. However, as U-Melt repeatedly proves, not every song that extends past the seven minute mark meanders and in the hands of talented musicians, lengthy offerings can transform into a fascinating odyssey. On Perfect World, the New York based band’s third studio release, they harness the finesse and energy of their stage performance, channeling it through a wide ranging selection of road-tested songs with the resulting work being their finest album yet.

One of those rare albums that rewards repeated listens, the intricate arrangements found on Perfect World reciprocate the care given by discerning ears. There is hardly an insignificant note or wasted ruffle. Whether it’s the Floyd-like mechanics at the conclusion of “Disclaimer” or the dystopian swirl into which “Question Matters” briefly dips its wings, there’s no escaping the fact that these are carefully constructed epics. The progressive rock minded twists and turns of “Elysian Fields,” one of their many electronica-jam opuses, the earthy, jazzier circuits of “Panacea” and the multi-tiered “Green Paper Society” show off Zac Lasher’s brilliance at forming compelling soundscapes with his bevy of keyboards, Rob Salzer’s wizardry as an electrifying guitarist, Adam Bendy’s mastery of weaving deceptively complex bass lines into the mix and George Miller’s remarkable versatility to shift the mood from pacific jazz to pulsing untz with a single beat of the snare drum.

For lengthy stretches of Perfect World, U-Melt rewrites guidelines set forth long ago by progressive rock pioneers like Yes and Genesis. Amidst the prog-electronica, U-Melt shifts gears with “Pura Vida,” which has a synth hook as good as anything produced by MGMT and Hot Chip, “Clear Light,” which stripped of it’s psychedelics might be a strangely compelling show tune and the title track, which in a perfect world would catapult them onto radio stations across the country. For years, “you have to see them live” would be the caveat for jamband apologists for uninspiring studio fare. No such rights need be reserved with Perfect World.

Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

If he was from Venus, would he feed us with a spoon?
If he was from Mars, wouldn't that be cool?
Standing right on campus, would he stamp us in a file?
Hangin' down in Memphis all the while.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song?
I'm in love with that song."

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.
Feeling like a hundred bucks, exchanging good lucks face to face.
Checkin' his stash by the trash at St. Mark's place.

I never travel far, without a little Big Star

Runnin' 'round the house, Mickey Mouse and the Tarot cards.
Falling asleep with a flop pop video on.
If he was from Venus, would he meet us on the moon?
If he died in Memphis, then that'd be cool, babe.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday's Earful: SXSW

By: David Schultz

Earvolution's jaunt down to Austin, Texas for the 2010 South By Southwest Festival tallied up more than forty bands over the four days. If you are a music fan, this is your Nirvana. Sadly, it ended right as I got my legs under me and standing for 12 hours a day no longer seemed to have any effect.

Having been unable to travel to Austin in 2009, I was most struck by the change in the approach you have to take towards the day parties. The "unofficial" events are no longer the optimal opportunities to venue shop and catch bands that you might have missed on another night. In past years, you could pretty much skip around Red River Street and Sixth Street without any worries about being stuck in unwieldly lines or fear of missing any more than the opening verse of two of a band's set. No longer. Practically any day party of interest became packed to capacity within the first hour and remained that way for the entirety of the day. The allure of SXSW is no longer a secret and more people than ever are flocking to Austin; demand has surpassed supply and the limited size of the venues which makes the event so special can only hold so many. Lines outside Emo's, Mohawk, La Zona Rosa, Cedar Street Courtyard and Beauty Bar extended around the block and moved at glacial pace throughout the day. Unlike the night, when having a badge gives you the ability to flit about town, the strategy for the day parties now seems to be: choose one, arrive early and plant roots.

The other rude surprise was the weather which turned bitterly cold . . . well, at least downright chilly on Saturday. All the outdoor showcases lost a bit of their allure as cold winds and 40 degree temperatures presented a legitimate disincentive for standing in a converted parking lot. Having left the house with a short sleeve linen shirt, I ended up buying an off-color Texas Longhorns sweatshirt as a matter of survival. Hook 'em Horns!

MOST ARCANE OLD-SCHOOL SWAG: cassette tapes of Free Energy's debut album Stuck On Nothing. It's bigger than my iPOD.


"I am coooooold. I am coooooold. It's my birthday and I am sooooo God-damned cooooold." Rachel Williams of san Francisco's Sleepy Sun giving the most factually accurate soundcheck of the week, Saturday night at Encore Patio.

"Oh, me? I prefer an evening in, a nice bath and a good book. Sleeping 12 hours a day; it's better than being awake. Sometimes you fly." David Tattersall of The Wave Pictures, taking the piss out an attention whore's proclamation that she's been drunk and without sleep for the last five days.

"The acid I took before the set is just starting to kick in. Not condoning it. Just stating a fact." Joel Morales, near the end of Dios' set at the Filter day party at Lustre Pearl.

AH, THE BAND NAMES: While Austin's own Black Cock may be narrowing down their target audience with an overly descriptive band name, others were less informative.

Earvolution's favorites:
Gay Witch Abortion (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Hyperpotamus (Madrid, Spain)
Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! (Scafalidi Foligno, Italy)
The Hong Kong Blood Opera (Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico)

IN THE PAST, my trips to SXSW have been encapsulated in lengthy Schultz By Southwest posts. Frankly, for as interesting and fascinating as they are (in my clearly unbiased opinion), they are too long. Instead, SXSW 2010 thoughts and opinions will show up in several Earfuls over the next few weeks. As they say on the network TV, stay tuned.

For a brief taste, check out This Is Somewhere, the fantastic Grace Potter & The Nocturnals fan site. While in Austin, I acted as a their (self-appointed) special SXSW correspondent.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Earful: Tom Morello SXSW Redux

By: David Schultz

The Jail Guitar Doors USA SXSW showcase tonight at The Ghost Room on 4th Street looks like it will only consist of one late night set. However, it seems to include Billy Bragg, Wayne Kramer and Tom Morello all playing together. Three years ago, I got my first taste of The Nightwatchman and it was revelatory 

Later that evening over at Stubbs Ampitheater, Tom Morello stole the show and 99% of the crowd in attendance never knew it occurred. Starting on Stubbs' interior basement stage within seconds of Badly Drawn Boy closing his set on the main stage with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Morello, formerly of Audioslave and past and presently of Rage Against The Machine, played an impassioned half-hour acoustic set chilling in its political acuity and directness. Making reference to the appearance of Slash at his set at The Parish the night before, Morello immediately informed the intimate assemblage that this evening it would be just be him, The Nightwatchman, before tearing into his six song set. Like an even more pissed off Johnny Cash, Morello previewed songs from his upcoming album, One Man Revolution, and resurrected "Guerilla Radio” for those who won't be able to "scale the walls at Coachella." In song, Morello gave voice to the economically disadvantaged and politically disenfranchised with lyrics calling for the President to drown the next time a Southern levee breaks. Pity George Bush that his leadership has awakened the slumbering beast that is Rage Against The Machine. If Morello's performance at Stubbs is any indication of the fire fueling the upcoming reunion, Rage Against The Machine are about to become the most dangerous band on the planet.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday's Earful: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals SXSW Redux

By: David Schultz

Tonight, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will close out the Americana Music Association's SXSW showcase at Antone's on Fifth Street in Austin, Texas, previewing songs from their upcoming Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Three years ago, on my first trip down to Austin, GPN was previewing material from This Is Somewhere. Here's what I had to say back then:
The evening concluded at the Cedar Street Courtyard with Grace Potter & The Nocturnals warming the slight evening chill by previewing selections from their upcoming album This Is Something. The winsome Potter, fast on her way to becoming the sexiest, hippie goddess in rock, led the Nocturnals through a rootsy, soulful set punctuated by guitarist Scott Tournet's increasingly killer guitar solos, Brian Dondero's finely honed bass and Matt Burr's straightforward, powerful drums. Rather than try to put into words the extent that the Vermont natives conquered SXSW, let this tale suffice. In the 21 years that I have been attending concerts the one thing that I have always ached to see, but never have, is a true encore. Without fail, once the planned encore ends, every crowd immediately shuffles off like lemmings, leaving the very intoxicated and consciousness-expanded few to scream fruitlessly for more. When Potter and the Nocturnals finished their set, few left the Courtyard. Even though the curfew had passed, the band upstairs and the power turned off, the crowd howled for more. Potter came back to the stage, seemingly questioning whether they could heed the request for "one more song" only to be told no. Over the protests of the venue's staff, Tournet came running down the stairs with an acoustic guitar and he had Potter played a brief but rollicking "Mystery Train." With Potter spilling her whiskey while she bopped and sang next to Tournet, the two played what has to be every musician's dream – a true encore. In talking with Matt Burr after the show, he said that it's every band's desire to kill at SXSW. Well, Potter & The Nocturnals didn't kill at SXSW – they devastated it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: St. Patrick's Day Redux

By: David Schultz

The start of this year's SXSW Festival coincides with St. Patrick's Day, the beer-fueled celebration of all things Irish. Along with pints of Guinness, shots of Jameson and bites of corned beef and cabbage, there's a lot of great Irish music that goes along with the holiday. If you're in lower Manhattan, I would recommend going to Ulysses on 58 Stone Street to see The Canny Brothers Band whose set starts at 8:00 p.m. Here's what we said about their debut album:
Although every band wants to have a fresh and new sound for their debut album, it’s not uncommon to look back to prior eras: for Hot Fuss, The Killers looked back to the Eighties; on Wolfmother’s debut they immersed themselves in Seventies hard rock and heavy metal. On their self produced, self-titled debut, The Cannys one up everyone by looking back to another century, bringing a selection of Irish folk ballads and pub songs into the 21st century.
Staying focused on the Emerald Isle, here are links to our reviews on The Swell Season at Radio City Music Hall, Bell X1 at the HighLine Ballroom and U2 at Giants Stadium.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: White Denim SXSW Redux

By: David Schultz

The music portion of the annual South By Southwest Festival kicks off tomorrow with bands from all over the world descending on Austin, Texas to participate in the industry's greatest boondoggle. Beer and BBQ abound and you don't need to be in anyone from Pitchfork's Rolodex . . . er Blackberry to participate. If you are a true music fan, SXSW is like Disneyland only instead of "It's A Small World" you get White Denim. The Austin trio was one of the many bands I've discovered while in Austin. As I said back in 2008:
White Denim, one of the more talked about bands at this year’s SXSW, finishes out the night at Club de Ville, combining with the White Rabbits to create an indie-rock version of Puff Daddy’s White Party. The Austin based trio of guitarist James Petralli, bassist Steve Terebecki and drummer Joshua Block have been blowing people away over the past few days and have become a destination band for anyone not familiar with the local scene. When I got off the plane four days ago, I had never heard of White Denim; by the end of their set, I wanted to own everything they had ever recorded. Such is SXSW and such is the awesomeness of this band. White Denim distills everything that is great about the blues and garage style rock and roll, strips it down and condenses it into its purest essence and offers it up in highly concentrated doses. At Club de Ville, Petralli broke a string in the middle of their second song and announced that they would then try to play every song they knew that didn’t require him to use the string. If they sound that good with 5 strings, I can only imagine it gets better with 6.
There are also some near misses. Earlier that day, I caught a memorable set by San Francisco's Built For The Sea.
The second biggest surprise of the week (after White Denim) awaited me on Bourbon Rocks’ patio: Built For The Sea. Fronted by the adorable Lia Rose, Built For The Sea is the indie-rock equivalent to Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Rose moved between her keyboards and guitar, working nicely off of the prodigious wall of indie-fuzz being produced by Jon Latimer, Daniel McKenzie and Eric Kuhn. Their self-titled 2006 debut album doesn’t give you any idea of how effective this quartet is as a live band, coming nowhere near displaying BFTS’s sonic heft. Had I heard the album before seeing them, I don’t think I would have bothered to catch their set. Either they had to dull their sound down for the studio or BFTS has made phenomenal strides over the last two years. My explanation of Built For The Sea isn’t going to do justice to their live sound, which truly was captivating. I’ll just leave it that this is one of the bands I’m looking most forward to seeing again.
I never did see them again. Unlike White Denim, who have taken off, especially overseas, Built For The Sea's Web site still promotes a show that took place more than a year ago and I can't find any new music from them anywhere. Oh well. That Bourbon Rocks set was still one of my favorite.

To read the entire Schultz By Southwest column from 2008, click here.

For the 2007 column, which includes the tale of Earvolution inadvertently Shanghai-ing the Sub Pop showcase at Emo's Lounge, click here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday's Earful: The Allman Brothers Band Residency Redux

By: David Schultz

Last Thursday, The Allman Brothers Band kicked off their 2010 residency at The United Palace. Like most years, the residency overlaps with the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. However, the core fans of the Allmans likely have no interest in a music industry boondoggle light on classic rock. However, your humble narrator is down in Austin for the week, thus thoughts on prior residencies will have to suffice this week. Last year's run at the Beacon Theater marked the band's 20th anniversary at the venue. Amongst my thoughts back then:
If Sergio Leone were to make The Good, The Bad & The Ugly in modern times, Eli Wallach would tell Clint Eastwood that there are two types of people in this world: those who know that The Allman Brothers Band residency is a sacred event and those who are too ignorant to know better. . . .
As with most years, the Allmans' invasion of the Beacon sounded a testosterone laden siren call. Women who were looking for slightly overweight, highly intoxicated men in their forties or fifties with fading hairlines, vintage tie-dyes and a love of proper classic rock could have rummaged the Beacon’s aisles like a sale at Filene’s Basement. While the residency attracted its fair share of female guests, the shows were likely the only ones in recent memory where the women could waltz by a bathroom line of nearly a hundred guys and walk right into a nearly vacant ladies room. . . .
Overshadowing the elder Allman as well as the rest of the band, Derek Trucks’ presence on stage no longer needs to be qualified by facts like “miraculous guitar prodigy” or “Butch’s nephew.” Trucks has matured and developed into a force of nature and in trading licks at the Beacon with the likes of Eric Clapton, Trey Anastasio and Buddy Guy, edged his way onto the mantle of this generation’s preeminent guitarists. At every show, Trucks and Warren Haynes played off each other so compatibly that it hardly mattered what song they were playing, they crafted something new and entertaining at every turn.  . . .
Over the course of 15 shows in a three week span, the Allman Brothers Band engaged in a little rock and roll revivalism that went beyond reawakening interest in the Southern rock stalwarts back catalog. By showcasing the blues as a vital and living entity, the Allmans recharged and enlivened interest in the whole genre. If you managed to attend more than one show and not feel the need to acquire some old blues recordings, you weren’t paying close enough attention.
For the entire article on the 2009 residency, click here. Do likewise for coverage of the 2007 and 2006 residencies. Don't strain yourself looking for 2008: it's lumped in with articles on the 1994 World Series and Michael Jackson's This Is It shows.

Friday's Earful: SXSW

By: David Schultz

Next week, Earvolution will be down in Austin, Texas for the annual South By Southwest Festival. Rather than place the site on hiatus, I am taking a cue from the major television networks and throwing the Earfuls into reruns while I spend the week assessing how ridiculous I look in a Stetson and acclimating myself to breakfast burritos.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday's Earful: The Rinjo Cloudcast

I love a Cloudcast where I get to hear a bunch of music I wouldn't otherwise have heard. Rinjo's got it right: this is a worthwhile 33 minutes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Backyard Tire Fire; God Street Wine

By: David Schultz

After choosing a lifestyle that had him on the road for long stretches of time, Bob Seger lost the forest for the trees, cataloging the downside of being a world famous rock and roll star on “Turn The Page.” Fellow Midwesterners Backyard Tire Fire travel down some similar highways on Good To Be, their fifth studio album. Seger saw the glass as half empty; Tire Fire’s Ed Anderson not only sees the glass as half filled, he finds it a fine source of inspiration. Over the virile bluesy beat of “Roadsong # 39,” Good To Be’s opening track, Anderson sings of the allure of the musician’s life with his customary blunt eloquence, surveying the scene at the end of a hard night’s labor with a slight buzz and ringing ears, he finds rock and roll Manna amidst the sweat and the smoke. This is rock and roll played by a band that loves everything about it.

In entering the studio with Steve Berlin, Anderson, his brother Matt and drummer Tim Kramp have found a producer that can harness the their feral growl without losing their band-next-door geniality. An unfairly unsung songwriter, Anderson excels at capturing moments and feelings with a pithy empathic wit. “Brady,” a song about a kid in Amsterdam with too much money and too much time, bounces along with an apropos sense of giddy enthusiasm and “Estelle” could sit comfortably amidst anything from the Tom Petty collection. Once again, the greatest bar band in the world proves they can tear it up in the studio.

NINETIES ERA JAMBAND God Street Wine will reunite for a pair of benefit shows at the Gramercy Theater in New York City. On July 9 and July 10, they will raise money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a charity endorsed by their longtime stage manager who was diagnosed with MS in 2004. Well before the announcement, Hidden Track has tirelessly kept the memory of the band alive with their God Street Wednesdays. This may be the only news that can derail the wire-to-wire Phish coverage.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: The T.A.M.I. Show & Movie Time

By: David Schultz

The T.A.M.I. Show, the 1964 documentary featuring performances by The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and The Rolling Stones, has made its way on to PBS. Recently tabbed by David Fricke as “The Greatest Rock Concert Film” ever made, the film makes perfect DVR/Tivo fodder so you can fast forward through the pledge drive and tote bag breaks. (Apocryphal, but c’mon). As Sting mentions in "When The World Is Running Down," this is the one tape Sting has in his VCR. For good reason, the James Brown footage is just that damn good. The story has always been around that The Rolling Stones thought the biggest mistake of their career was thinking they could follow The Godfather of Soul. Finally seeing Brown sizzle through "Night Train" does nothing to dispel the myth. It's stunning to believe that this all took place at the Teen Age Music International show. Anything that had that moniker nowadays would be such a moronic lip sync fest full of  disposable pop stars in the 14th minute of fame. The T.A.M.I. Show is a slice of rock and roll at its inception and should be required viewing.

Chuck Berry who’s also featured in The T.A.M.I. Show, has his own documentary floating around the nether regions of the cable universe. In Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, Taylor Hackford, the director of Ray, focuses on the preparations for a 1986 concert at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, Missouri to celebrate Berry’s 60th birthday. Filmed almost a quarter century ago, it features a fascinating round table between a now-deceased Bo Diddley, a now-incoherent Little Richard and Berry discussing the good-old-days in a calm, unembellished manner. It also features Berry going into a slow burn as he instructs an increasingly irritated Keith Richards on the correct way to play “Carol.” All of originators of rock and roll know what gets a crowd going and the concert footage, especially “Little Queenie,” captures Berry doing just that.

Howlin’ Wolf, one of Berry’s label mates from Chess Records, is the appropriate subject of Don McGlynn’s 2003 documentary, The Howlin’ Wolf Story. Popping up sporadically on Ovation, this one is a must DVR as it’s riddled with lengthy commercial breaks. The black and white footage from Wolf’s TV appearances, reminiscences from peers like Hubert Sumlin and Wolf’s own voice from archival footage make this worth the time. Among the voyeuristic moments, footage of a gathering of old blues musicians that gets a little edgy when Son House has too much to drink and, to Wolf's consternation, becomes a bit of an irascible and annoying presence in the room.

Beyond The Sea, Kevin Spacey’s biopic of Bobby Darin, falls at the other end of the spectrum. Using nearly all of the musical biography staples mocked in Walk Hard, Spacey fails to make Darin captivating or show why his career was worthy of the feature film treatment. The actor’s version of “Mind Games” blew people away at a 2001 John Lennon benefit, overshadowing many of the actual musicians on hand that night. He doesn’t recapture that glory in his embodiment of Bobby Darin. Stay away from this one and just watch The Usual Suspects again.

Although none of them play a note of music, rock stars dominate Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 gabfest Coffee & Cigarettes. Consisting of conversations between smokers sipping Java, the offbeat director gets the most out of his musical actors. Meg White says more in her one scene with her brother/husband/houseboy Jack and a Tesla coil than she has in a decade on stage. The GZA and RZA, who are the only ones in the film to neither light up or imbibe caffeine, more than hold their own in their absurd interlude with Bill Murray as they convince him to gargle oven cleaner as a homeopathic remedy. The piece de resistance is Iggy Pop and Tom Waits engaging in an uncomfortable conversation in which Waits consistently rebuffs all of Pop’s overtures of friendship while they both chain smoke their way through a found pack.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday's Earful: The Allman Brothers Band; John Mayer

By: David Schultz

The 2010 Allman Brothers Band has been fraught with change. After 20 years (give or take a residency) at the Beacon Theater, the Allmans were forced to move the event uptown due to a conflict with a Cirque du Soleil booking. The Banana Shpeel spectacular was scheduled to begin a multiple month run in early February. Ironically, with Shpeel's opening date being pushed forward to March 17, the Allmans might not have had to relocate. Adding injury to the insult, an "unforeseen family emergency" has resulted in the cancellation of the residency's last 5 nights, reducing the ABB's United Palace run to 8 nights beginning on March 11.

IN CASE YOU ARE MY FATHER or have been living in a pop culture cave for the last week or so, you've been briefed on the comments John Mayer made during his interview with Playboy magazine. It would be an understatement to say that the interview has caused some controversy. The New York Times review of Mayer's recent Madison Square Garden concert consisted primarily of dissecting the guitarist's every move in light of his racially charged comments. Rob Tannenbaum, one of my favorite music journalists - and not because he's family - conducted the interview with Mayer. He recently discussed his perceptions of the interview and the resulting overreaction with Ann Powers on the Pop & Hiss music blog of the L.A. Times. It's well worth reading as Tannenbaum places the entire situation within a rational social and racial context. He even broaches the subject everyone's pondered since the negative publicity started.
If it's OK, first let me answer a related question you didn't ask: Mayer wasn't "drunk" during the interview, as many people have written and presumed.
Read the interview by clicking here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday's Earful: Leroy Justice

By: David Schultz

Leroy Justice will be in Woodstock tonight, opening for Ireland's Hothouse Flowers at the Bearsville Theater. For those not familiar with the area, this would be the venue that's not located in Levon Helm's home. Last night, the Justice warmed up the Flowers' crowd at the HighLine Ballroom, proving the pairing of the two bands to bit of inspired genius. Getting used to the big stages after playing the Brooklyn Bowl with Assembly of Dust, Justice offered an impassioned, leisurely set, letting songs like "Mickey," "Temporary Cure," "Out To Sea" and "Revolution's Son" unfold. Making their hour on stage a slice of 1973-style classic rock, they broke up the set with their Let It Bleed era acoustic rocker "Bathroom Wall," featuring some fantastic slide guitar from Brendan Cavanaugh.

After Woodstock, the Leroy Justice/Hothouse Flowers combo will play one more gig, March 11 at the Fairfield Theater in Fairfield, CT. On March 14, the first off-day of the 2010 Allman Brothers Band residency, Justice will play BB King Blues Club & Grill as part of a benefit for The Allman Brothers Band Museum. The Jamie McLean Band, Lingo and Yonrico Scott from the Derek Trucks Band will also be on the bill.

Leroy Justice will remind you why you love rock and roll. Why deprive yourself of that?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday's Earful: The Rinjo Cloudcast

In the world of fictional bands, The Electric Mayhem are to The Rolling Stones what The Banana Splits are to The Beatles. (This should be worth something on the SAT). Going in reverse, here is Part 1 of the 2:22 Cloudcast series which contains the theme song from The Banana Splits, one of the greatest songs in the history of music.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wednesday's Earful: Blues & Lasers; Bonnaroo

By: David Schultz

The second album from Blues & Lasers, Scott Tournet's Delta blues side-project that features fellow Nocturnals Benny Yurco and Matt Burr, bassist John Rogone and drummer Steve Sharon, is at the mastering stage and is on schedule to beat the new Grace Potter & The Nocturnals album into the stores (or whatever passes for one these days). The band is targeting April 15 as a release date for the CDs (give or take a week or two) but are aiming to have it available for digital download by the end of the month. If their set at the Brooklyn Bowl served as a preview, get excited for what's coming.

Early last year, I interviewed B&L for jambands.com. Check it out by clicking here.

COMPILATIONS FROM BONNAROO always tend to be eclectic collections and now they support a cause. Music For Action, a partnership between Bonnaroo, HeadCount, the NRDC Action Fund and JamBase, is willing to give you a 17 song album of live tracks if you help them pester Congress and news outlet to do something about climate change. Best of Bonnaroo features My Morning Jacket covering the Velvet Underground's "Oh Sweet Nuthin'," a portion of The Decemberists' rock opera The Hazards Of Love and Grateful Dead standbys from Phil Lesh & Friends and Bob Weir & Ratdog. It also has live cuts from jamband stalwarts like moe., Phish, The Disco Biscuits and the Dave Matthews Band as well as non-traditional festival fare from Pearl Jam, Wilco and Raphael Saadiq. Download the album and get the political info by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday's Earful: The Rolling Stones; Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; Alan Parsons

By: David Schultz

Despite the remarkable longevity of the band and the chart topping success of "Start Me Up," there is a prevailing wisdom that The Rolling Stones ceased to be a vital cog in the classic rock machinery once they embraced disco and recorded "Miss You." Subscribers to that dogma have cause to rejoice. It's become common corporate practice to cull together outtakes and B-versions and add them to a new and remastered special edition release as an enticement to consumers to purchase an album/CD they likely already own. However, when that album is Exile On Main Street and Mick Jagger has found some tapes in his basement, perhaps a little rejoicing might be in order. The May 18th re-release of Exile will feature unreleased songs entitled "Dancing In The Light," "Plundered My Soul," "Pass The Wine" and "Following The River" as well as alternate takes on "Soul Survivor" and "Loving Cup." I'm not a Rolling Stones bootleg enthusiast but to my knowledge those tracks haven't been leaked in some form or fashion over the last 35 years.

THIS SPRING, TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS will release Mojo, their 12th studio album and first in 8 years. The former Wilbury and his band will then spend the summer trekking across the United States on an extended North American tour which will feature Crosby, Stills & Nash, My Morning Jacket, Drive-By Truckers, ZZ Top and Joe Cocker as openers. (Don't misread that as thinking all five artists are appearing on the same bill. It's not a Petty Festival). If you are a member of the Highway Companions, you can get your tickets on Wednesday, March 3. If not, you will have your chance on Monday, March 8. Because the first taste is always free, you can listen to "Good Enough," the first single from Mojo by clicking here. The "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" guitars at the end are well worth hearing.

IF YOU ARE READING THIS because The Stones and/or Petty tickles your musical fancy, then you will be excited to know that Alan Parsons has a new live album coming out March 19 in Europe and April 6 in the USA. Eye 2 Eye - Live In Madrid captures a May 14, 2004 show at the Playa Mayor in Spain and contains "Games People Play," "Damned If I Do" and "Sirius," a staple of every NBA pre-game. There seems to be a supporting tour but to see it, you need to be in Israel, Slovakia, the Czech Republic or Russia.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday's Earful: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears @ The Bowery Ballroom

By: David Schultz

In the days before the wave of political correctness swept across the language of popular culture, there was a whole subsection of music referred to as black music. Billboard even had a chart dedicated to the genre. If the term was used nowadays, it would apply to wide swaths of rap and hip-hop. In the days when the term was in use, it applied to soul, R&B and the blues. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are as much of a “black music” band as any from that era. Within their songs, the soulful horns of The Bar-Kays, the pain in the heart felt by Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, the aching tortured blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, the flash and cockiness of Little Richard, the blaxsploitation funk of Curtis Mayfield and the sheer brilliance of James Brown live on. Of course, with the exception of Lewis and one of the saxophone players, the entire band is white.

Last Thursday night, Lewis & The Honeybears played a sold-out show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom, pulling in a sizable crowd despite the raging blizzard that shut down Gotham the next morning. Much as he does on Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is, the band’s full length debut on Lost Highway Records, Lewis offered up the emotionally unguarded sentiments that underlie the blues. In a voice that bears a slight resemblance to Chris Rock and an attitude derived from James Brown, Lewis confronts lack of money on “I’m Broke,” the need and desire for female companionship on “Sugarfoot” and “Big Booty Woman” and the fear of losing a good woman no matter how many times you screw up on “Get You Shit.” The Honeybears rank up there with the best bands of any era: there’s no song that a horn section can’t make better and when Lewis ramps up into roadhouse raves like “Bobby Booshay,” they kick into another gear.

It’s become commonplace at most shows for there be a level of chattiness amongst the crowd. If you go to enough shows, you get attuned to drowning it out. For Lewis’ set at the Bowery Ballroom, it was too loud to ignore. A combination of hipsters who were present because the bloggers told them they were supposed to like Lewis & The Honeybears and drunken frat boys hoping to howl along with misguided glee at Lewis’ “Bitch I Love You” seemed to dominate the crowd that braved the weather to get to the show and their incessant chatter overwhelmed and at times drowned out Lewis. During “Get Yo Shit,” one of Lewis’ wittiest and humorous songs, his tale of frustrated reconciliation became lost within the din of the self-involved audience, depriving it or any other song of any sense of resonance. Casting pearls before swine, Lewis played a fine show before a predominantly uninterested audience.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!