Thursday, April 28, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Cold War Kids

By: David Schultz

On Robbers & Cowards, the Cold War Kids’ debut album that compiled the best songs from a smattering of EPs, the California-based quartet set a baseline level for quality that may be an albatross they carry around their necks for the rest of their career. Realigning the stars and recapturing that creative spark hasn’t exactly eluded the Kids over the last couple years but nonetheless, visits from the muse that spawned “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “Saint John” have been rarer. On Mine Is Yours, the Kids aim for a higher level of musical grandiosity with mixed results. Bassist Matt Maust and guitarist Jonnie Russell show flashes of the Kids’ signature art house-chic but instead of sounding like they are hungrily straining the joists of a basement club, there’s the confidence that comes from playing within a comfort zone. Noticeably, Nathan Willett’s lyrics, once resplendent with a fine mix of blunt directness and Tarantino-style symbolism, seem to have lost their subtlety, unless “Bulldozer” is meant to be a sly self-referential comment on cliché-driven art.

Seeing the Cold War Kids last month at Terminal 5 added some insight to the band’s newfound finesse. Where once Willett, Russell and Maust prowled the stage like feral beasts let loose on stage, they now appear eminently comfortable with the space the larger stages afford them. Far from losing their edge, their time on the road, especially since the waves of blogger-mania over them are no longer at high tide, has honed the sharpness of their live performance. Instead of playing in front of an audience, they now play for them; Willett even dances with some rhythm now, his Joe Cocker mannerisms a thing of the past.

The show at Terminal 5 unfortunately postponed the Cold War Kids’ eventual debut at Radio City Music Hall. Due to the change in venue, ticket holders were offered a refund of $10 once they entered Terminal 5. This resulted in someone sitting at a table handing out money. Perhaps a sad commentary on the drudgery of any job or the failure to appreciate life’s little joys, the twenty-something young man who had this task didn’t seem to derive any happiness from spending an hour or so literally handing out free money. Then again, it’s quite possible he was just reacting to No Age’s opening set where they actively tried to anger an audience that had arrived early to see them by covering Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Radiohead

By: David Schultz

It’s no longer enough for Radiohead to simply release an album. Beginning with the pay-what-you-want pricing scheme of In Rainbows, Radiohead continues to challenge the conventional wisdom of music distribution and place into the question the need for any middleman to come between them and their fans.  With their latest, they prove there is no need for Paul Revere quality advance publicity to pave the way for a new album or that they need any other mechanism other than their own Website to sell it. As for the music itself, King Of Limbs has a hypnotic, clubby feel to it, the looping riffs as appropriate for a hair salon as an after-hours rave. At times, Thom Yorke’s warbling seems to fall just short of full articulation creating a dreamy, ethereal quality. When compared to some of the lusher soundscapes of their earlier releases, the less textured King Of Limbs could easily be confused for a leaked demo tape. Actually, that would be just like Radiohead: anyone can release a completed album, without a record company involved, why not sell the raw mixes. I look forward to relistening to King of Limbs once they finally complete it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

By: David Schultz

On the opening track of Appetite For Destruction, Axl Rose welcomed everyone to the jungle with voracious delight and carnivorous glee. On Scandalous, the second studio album for Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Lewis offers the same greeting in his signature skittishly-tight howl. In Lewis' world though, the jungle has all the elements of a happening club where he can go and find his groove. Austin, Texas stalwarts, Lewis & The Honeybears mix the brash attitude of James Brown and Little Richard with the soul of Otis Redding and the Stax/Volt all stars. This may have been de rigueur back in the Seventies when every band seemed to have access to killer horns and top-notch rhythm sections. Nowadays, it's revelatory in its brashness.

On Scandalous, Lewis & The Honeybears go on a randy tour through old school funk, soul and rock and roll. Along the way, they make stops at "Booty City," their version of the mansion on the hill and "Mustang Ranch," a stylistic sequel to "Get Yo Shit," where Lewis explores his limited purchasing power at an upscale brothel. The title track dives deep into steamy soul, ""Stop Breakin Down" is a straight-up blues stomp, "Messin,'" a slice of front porch blues and "Funny Bone" could pass for a long lost Booker T & The MGs track. They even show a penchant for fast-paced garage rock on "What Love Is." With their dedication to the songcraft from another era, Lewis & The Honeybears may have come around a generation late.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Schultz' Earful: TV On The Radio

By: David Schultz

This was written and ready to go before learning the news of bassist Gerard Smith's passing. For those who like to rant and vent before reading an entire article, read this one to the end. Earvolution's thoughts and condolences are with Gerard Smith's friends and family.

The whole concept of TV On The Radio headlining Radio City Music City Hall the night after the release of Nine Types Of Light, their remarkably powerful albeit understated fourth studio album, seems like an idea that would result in a candidate for one of the best shows of 2011. Despite its austere largesse, Radio City has never withheld its charms from an outright dance party and the Brooklyn outfit's apocalyptic funk and alterna-Prince soul can definitely inspire a modest Housequake. Rather than deliver a transcendent performance, TV On The Radio's 90 minute set fizzled, failing to strike any sort of left of the dial frenzy. It begs the question: just how does one of New York City's most enthralling bands fail to be compelling on its hometown’s grandest stage? What the hell happened here?

In a smaller room, Kyp Malone and Dave Sitek’s pulsing guitars and Tunde Adebimpe’s smooth vocals and confident stage sashays serve to draw the crowd into their world, bringing them into the epicenter of their aural maelstrom. At Radio City, the volume simply wasn’t loud enough to create the same effect. Rather than be amidst the music, it sat ahead, on display, transforming a packed house from participants into spectators. In that small distinction lay an impenetrable chasm that drained the night of its excitement.

When listened to with a pair of headphones, the charms of "Second Song" and "New Cannonball Blues" splendidly unfold. Without that level of engagement with TVotR's textured pastiches, you are left the awkwardness of Adebimpe reciting the self-descriptive proclamation of "Repetition" devoid of its proper context. Even the surefire raves of "Wolf Like Me" and "Dancing Choose" lost their ability to stir a visceral reaction. The problem had nothing to do with the band's performance. In fact, there is little to criticize in that respect. Jaleel Bunton has made a smooth transition from drums to bass, Malone and Sitek deftly recreate their stirring studio concoctions onstage and Adebimpe is as charismatic a frontman as you will ever see. Rather, the solution to this problem was right at Radio City's fingertips: turn up the freaking volume! That's something that should never be said of a proper rock concert. Sadly, this same show would have torn the roof off of Terminal 5. Ah, and pining for a show to take place at Terminal 5 . . . that’s one more thing that should never be said.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rock Reading: Sammy Hagar's Autobiography Is Yet Another Hit

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock
by Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin
itbooks of HarperCollins Publishers
238 Pages

Sammy Hagar doesn't care whether or not I review his book.  He has sold millions of albums with Montrose, Van Halen and Chickenfoot- not to mention his own solo efforts and side project with the Wabos.  He's played in every American city and arena worth playing.  He manufactures his own tequila, operates his own restaurants and clubs, owns a fire sprinkler company, bought-up houses and apartments in his hometown, and owned a mountain bike shop in Sausalito before 'mountain biking' was part of the lexicon of yuppies and suburbanites everywhere.  So why should I bother with a review?  For one reason only: even if you've never heard a note that Sammy Hagar has sung or played, the book represents the incredible journey of a completely self-made man who went from sleeping in orange groves as a child, to becoming an early adult on welfare and food stamps then transforming to a multi-millionaire driving a custom Ferrari.  There's also the small feat of being inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame along the way.

The Sammy Hagar story starts in Fontana, California, where he was the son of an alcoholic steel mill worker and boxer who holds the professional record for being knocked down the most times during a single bout.   His mother, who evidently had the patience of a saint, was content with providing for her children and enjoying the most simplest things in life.  If she was beaten down by numerous nights spent moving from place to place, the violence and unpredictability brought into the home by a tough, hard-drinking husband, and sleeping in a car hidden within the orange groves with her children, she apparently didn't show it.  Hagar survived his childhood without scars, somehow graduated from high school, and obtained one of his first guitars by having his friend climb through a window and steal it after Hagar had a rock 'n roll epiphany hanging outside the Monterey Pop Festival. 

The ever-driven Hagar wasn't deterred by becoming 21 and finding himself married to a woman prone to panic attacks with a young son supported by welfare and food stamps.  Like many great artists, he maintained a singular focus on becoming a successful musician.  Many would take issue with it, and some couldn't understand it.  From numerous cover bands to becoming an adherent of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona to finding his way into a band with Ronnie Montrose- one of Van Morrison's musicians- Hagar started slowly climbing up the musical ladder and never stopped, or, more accurately, simply refused to stop.

You can read the rest of the Sammy Hagar book review here:

Schultz' Earful: Schultz By Southwest 2011 (Part 4)

By: David Schultz

There is a certain level of conceit in chronicling the four days and nights that comprise the music portion of the ten day South By Southwest Festival. The sheer number of bands and showcases, official and unofficial, renders any attempt to offer a comprehensive account of SXSW an exercise in futility. While some themes are universal - tired legs, sore feet, the lack of proximity to a fruit or vegetable, phenomenal barbeque - every one of the thousands of people that descend upon Austin for one long weekend in March have a dramatically different experience. Perhaps that's why SXSW stories hold interest, they are but one part of a narrative that defies being told in a single voice.

White Denim (Club Deville, Klub Krucial) Austin's own, White Denim, have always exemplified the unequaled thrill of discovery that is an inextricable cog of the SXSW experience. Four years ago, I had never heard of the band. After seeing them at Club Deville, I wanted nothing more than to hear every note they've ever played. The addition of guitarist Austin Jenkins has broadened their live sound, freeing James Petralli from having to do everything with his lead guitar. Playing the Gorilla vs. Bear showcase during the early evening lull, the tiny courtyard at Klub Krucial was beyond packed. Just as at Club Deville earlier in the week, Petralli, Jenkins, bassist Steve Terbecki and drummer Josh Block sped through an electrifying seamless set of predominately new pscyh-garage material and a thunderous version of "Shake, Shake, Shake," a phenomenal little punk rocker. Once done, no one seemed to tell them to get off the stage so they launched into another 20 minutes, blasting through songs from Exposion and Fits in a glorious outburst until a mildly irked floor manager shut them down. In a perfect world, White Denim would be the band on the cover of Rolling Stone garnering their righteous plaudits and acclaim.

The Joy Formidable (The Parish) The Welsh trio conjures up the ghosts of late Eighties/early Nineties guitar rock from that brief period between the end of hair metal and the onset on grunge when it was cool for guitarists to blend every note into waves of scree that ebb and flow with the tide. Not only was guitarist Nitzy Bryan the unquestionable highlight of the NPR showcase, she might have been the breakout star of SXSW along with the rapper from Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All that drop kicked the crowd from a speaker like he was auditioning for Vince McMahon. For their set closer, "Whirring", Bryan thrashed about, possessed by the demons of rock and roll, stealing the occasional kiss from her husband, bass player Rhydian Daffyd.

The Dodos (Cedar Street Courtyard) Hypnotic melodies underscored with strident martial beats are a perfect formula to engage an audience gathered under the stars. The addition of a bassist frees Logan Kroeber from having to carry the entire load with guitar gymnastics and looping trickery. The set unsurprisingly focused on No Color, The Dodos third studio album, its urgent tempos and gorgeous interlocking rhythmic strati doesn't hewing close to the psych-folk niche they've carved out.

Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band (Cedar Street Courtyard) The sweet sounds of soul rescued Sharon Jones from the depths of obscurity and it has done for the same for her Dap-Tone cousin, Charles Bradley. Once a member of the Budos Band, the 76-year-old Bradley had been kicking around the Brooklyn clubs for quite some time and is now getting his well-earned 15 minutes. Nattily dressed, as only befitting his age and stature, Bradley crooned in the style of Otis Redding while the Menahan Street Band evoked the proper soulful mood. Highlighting the set: a Stax-Volt interpretation of Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold."

Wild Flag (The Parish, Mohawk Patio) When Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, two-thirds of the sorely missed Sleater-Kinney, teamed up with Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole to form Wild Flag, the one given was that if they wanted a slot at NPR's annual day party, the trendsetting broadcaster wouldn't dream of turning them down. To NPR's credit, they seem to have sought out Brownstein's latest project, fair compensation for the woman who helped establish NPR's bona fides as the arbiter of critical acceptance. With only one single, "Green Tambourine," in their public arsenal, the all-female foursome, essentially gave Austin a glimpse at what can be expected in the future: a crackling-hot, straightforward rock band which ignores gender.

Smith Westerns (Mohawk Patio) Drowning pop songs in a haze of reverb, the post-adolescent Smith Westerns travel roads once paved by The Beatles but walk down the paths taken by Badfinger and the Electric Light Orchestra. Still finding their stage identity, brothers Cullen and Cameron Omori lead singer often retreat into themselves hiding behind a wall of hair like a live action version of The Way Outs. Oddly, despite playing from behind his hair, Cameron Omori kept his sunglasses on throughout the entire set. Must be bright under there.

Okkervil River (Mohawk Patio) Along with White Denim and Black Joe Lewis, Will Sheff and the Austin-based Okkervil River seem to play the Phil Hartman role at every SXSW. Where last year saw Okkervil River accompanying the enigmatic Roky Erickson, 2011 had them previewing songs from I Am Very Far, their upcoming album. On the Mohawk Patio, playing one of their last sets of the week, Sheff led the band through a couple of the new songs but otherwise centered their set on The Stage Names, offering ragged versions of "Until It Kicks" and "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe." In contrast to the moodiness of their prior effort, the newer songs sounded reminiscent of The Kinks and revealed a harder edge to the band.

Bands that didn’t get the attention from me that they may have deserved: ARMS (Fado), Upstairs Downstairs (Belmont), Exrays (Red 7 Patio), Devotchka (Lustre Pearl), Theophilus London (Mohawk) and Violens (Red 7 Patio). It’s a long week. Sometimes, your attention wanders.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Schultz' Earful: The Hold Steady

By: David Schultz

Once hailed as the world's greatest bar band, it's been quite some time since The Hold Steady has had to carry their own gear into a basement club and cram themselves onto an insufficiently small stage to earn their keep. Even as their success dictated that they graduate to larger rooms, like those of New York City's Terminal 5 which they played this past Friday, Craig Finn still managed to deliver his fate-driven tales of brain-addled adolescence with the sweaty fervor of a devoutly committed soap box preacher. The Hold Steady may still be one of the best things going but their distance from the bars that served as their birthing ground are softening their jagged edges.

The Hold Steady may be heeding the cautionary tale Finn spins in "Barfruit Blues" where he condescendingly congratulates an old friend for remaining in the bar scene in his typically sardonic deadpan. Finn addressed the issue in an oblique manner when he pointed out his 40th birthday was just around the corner and that his world is much different than it was a decade ago when he quit his job to start the band. Once a jittery bundle of energy that spat his beat-poetry with a uncontrolled vengeance, Finn's mannerisms now seem less ad hoc and free ranging. The exposed nerve mania still survives but a story told so many times can't help but lose its urgency.

What's being lost in spontaneity is being recovered in the breadth of the performance. Tad Kubler's guitar has always yearned for arena-sized paces and the loss of Franz Nicolay has removed a bit of the kitsch factor. Songs like "Sequestered In Memphis" and "Chips Ahoy" garner a tremendous audience response and were raised lighters still the norm, they would be lifted high during "Lord I'm Discouraged." No matter that certain themes recur a bit too frequently or that "The Sweet Part Of The City," their ode to their beginnings, sounds a bit like the Little River Band, The Hold Steady will make an old soul feel young.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Rush

By: David Schultz

Not to take anything away from Neil Diamond or ABBA, the simple fact that Rush has never been considered for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame continues to be one of the organization's most mystifying head scratchers. Nearly 40 years after the release of their self-titled debut in 1974, the Canadian legends can still sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden without completely immersing themselves in nostalgia. True, the selling point to their Time Machine tour has been a cover to cover offering of Moving Pictures, their 1981 album that unleashed "Tom Sawyer" onto the world. However, the show also features gratifying material from their last couple albums and previews a pair of songs from an upcoming album that’s a refreshing take on Rush trying to sound like Metallica.

For those who unfairly lump Rush into the category of bands that have outlived their usefulness and transcended the irony of aging into the band they always feared becoming, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neal Peart might giddily join in the joke. In filmed preambles to each set and a strange coda that featured Paul Rudd and Jason Segal reprising their Rush-obsessed characters from I Love You Man, the three mine the humor to be had from lasting as long as they have on the strength of one of most ardent fanbases of all time. What keeps Rush vital is their unparalleled musicianship; they’ve spawned numerous disciples that cannot even fathom replicating the skills of the band they love. Lifeson's guitar, Lee's synth and most importantly his signature voice are instantly recognizable and, of course, Rush invented the time change. Yet, for all the musicians that profess Rush’s greatness, can you name one band that's tried their hand at following in their footsteps?

At the Garden, Peart unleashed his typically stupendous and perplexing barrage of beats and fills. Watching him work, it’s hard to believe that his right and left hands are connected to the same brain. They each seem to be working on a different beat but all to wonderful effect. Even if you aren't interested in the song, you can get lost watching Peart wail away on an uncountable number of drums. Lee also approaches the bass from a unique perspective, being one of the few bassists whose riffs aim for the mind rather than the funky gut. Having the unenviable task of following a Peart solo, Lifeson worked with an acoustic guitar slowly easing into a finely wrought version of “Closer To The Heart.”

In addition to a full workout of Moving Pictures, Rush cranked out FM radio staples like “Freewill” and “The Spirit Of Radio” and progressive rock instrumental opuses like “YYZ” and “La Villa Strangiato” for the throng of head bobbing fans at the Garden. The unreleased songs, “Caravan” and “BU2B,” received an added boost from pyrotechnic displays that the live warhorses didn’t require. To close the night, Rush gave a lengthy tip of the hat to their geeky, Dungeons & Dragons influenced history with a fiery “2112 Overture/The Temple Of Syrinx.” Finally, as if to show that they could, they transformed “Working Man,” their first true hit, from a guitar-oriented classic rock stalwart into a reggae tinged jaunt. Very few bands could pull the seamless transition that they pulled off in bringing the song back around to its normal form. Then again, Rush is not just any band.

Top Ten Guitar Solos by Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen was exactly what the rock ‘n roll doctor ordered to cure the Saturday Night Fever sweeping the nation during the late Seventies. When Van Halen was unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses in 1978, rock guitar playing was changed overnight.  The threat that rock would become an afterthought in the face of a changing mainstream was temporarily thwarted.   

The only downside was the creation of a pool of guitar players who, throughout the Eighties, used Eddie’s techniques as tricks rather than as a natural method to create music.  Even the incredibly gifted Randy Rhoads, who along with Ozzy Osbourne kept rock relevant despite the advent of disco and dance music, admitted that it pained him to incorporate Eddie Van Halen’s licks into his live solos just because ‘it impresses the kids.’ 

It’s nearly impossible to narrow down a list ten guitar solos by a rock legend with an extensive catalog of material.  It’s naturally a subjective endeavor; the only advantage I claim is the insight provided by my 23 years of playing experience and countless hours spent fruitlessly trying to imitate The Master before giving up and establishing my own style.

Eddie took two approaches to soloing during his career.  One was to try first, second, third (or even more) takes for solos on the studio albums.  Later, he told Bud Scoppa during a lengthy interview for Guitar World prior to the release of OU812 that different takes would sometimes be spliced together to form one solo.  “Sometimes I’ll do three solos,” said Van Halen, “and I’ll go, ‘I like the beginning of that one, I like the end of that one, I like the middle of that one.’  Whatever sounds good.  Ain’t no fuckin’ rules.  And I ain’t proud.  I don’t give a fuck if it’s in one take or not.  Whatever gets me off!” 

I have no problem with the splicing method.  After all, Eddie played all the solos himself.  And nothing can hold-up the recording process like a guitar player who is anal retentive over his solos.    It’s sometimes easy for a guitar player to tell when Eddie appeared to do something off-the-cuff, like on ‘Sinner’s Swing!’  Other times, it’s impossible to tell unless Eddie could recall himself during an interview.  Like many guitar players, Eddie would often forget how to play some of his own songs after they would lie dormant for a while.  He once admitted to having to go to a store to buy his own albums prior to a tour so that he could re-learn the material.  He also admitted that he couldn’t play covers to save his life.  What was a detriment in his early days, though, brought him great success when the band finally broke through, in large part, because Eddie Van Halen only knew how to be himself.          

1.  ‘Eruption’ (1978):  Eddie Van Halen could have thrown his guitar into a dumpster after recording this one minute and forty-two seconds of guitar wizardry and still been a guitar hero for life.  Though most well-known as the track on which Eddie unveiled his patented two-handed tapping technique to the world, to focus on that aspect alone is an oversimplification.  Everything about the track- the tone, the use of the tremolo bar, the blinding speed and precision- set EVH apart from his late-Seventies contemporaries.  The distortion coming out of the amplifiers makes the guitar work scream, which became known to guitar gurus as the infamous ‘brown sound.’  Although Eddie himself toyed with his amplifiers and guitars despite having no formal training in electronics, anyone who has studied guitar for a number of years knows that 99% of a guitarist’s tone comes from one thing and one thing alone: your own hands.  (Eddie once relayed a story about how a suspicious Ted Nugent once plugged into Eddie’s rig before a show and, to Mr. Nugent’s surprise, he discovered that his tone still sounded exactly like Ted Nugent.)  Eddie was never one who relied much on effects.  This track was probably recorded with a classic MXR phase 90 pedal and an Echoplex for delay.  The ultimate triumph of ‘Eruption,’ however, is simply how musical it sounds.  Try grabbing an acoustic guitar and playing the blinding licks in the upper register down an octave at half speed- you’ll realize that Eddie wasn’t using his ability to play at unheard-of speeds to cover-up a lack of musical vocabulary.

2.  ‘Beat It’ (1982):  Eddie’s reputation was so well known even before the release of Van Halen’s 1984  that legendary producer Quincy Jones called upon him to provide a guitar solo for the opening track of what would become the best-selling album of all time worldwide, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  With the rhythm tracks already laid down by studio session veteran and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, Eddie walked into the studio and winged a two solos in front of The Gloved One himself.  He estimated during an interview with Joe Bosso in the February 1990 issue of Guitar World that the entire project took 20 minutes.  Ironically, it is this solo more than any other provides the best example of Eddie’s downright nasty distorted guitar tone.  The artificial harmonics generated at 2:52- and at 3:06 especially- howl as if the amplifiers were possessed by demons.  To an untrained ear, it sounds ‘cool.’  To the trained ear, there comes a realization that such tones are not possible in lesser hands during this time period- or even now.  (An artificial harmonic is generated by shifting the pick attack to pinch the guitar string with the pick and thumbnail simultaneously, and they aren’t always easy to generate properly.  Eddie’s use of them seems to be innate and is uncanny.)  The use of wide intervals and two-handed tapping gives the solo a sense of urgency that the track demands.  The ‘thank you’ letter that Quincy Jones wrote to Eddie afterward was signed, ‘The Fucking Asshole’ because Eddie began cursing at Jones during his initial phone call, thinking it was a prank because of a bad connection.

You can read the rest of the list here:

Ryan Adams Tour Dates Update

On the heels of announcing his next release, Ryan Adams announced the following tour dates:

June 07, 2011 - Dublin, Ireland
June 08, 2011 - Cork, Ireland
June 10, 2011 -  Stockholm, Sweden 
June 11, 2011 -  Oslo, Norway 
June 13, 2011 -  Malmö, Sweden 
June 14, 2011 -  Copenhagen, Denmark
June 16, 2011 - Lisbon, Portugal
June 17, 2011 -  Porto, Portugal
June 20, 2011 -  London, UK
June 22, 2011 -  Brighton, UK
June 23, 2011 -  Manchester, UK
June 25, 2011 -  Glasgow, UK
June 26, 2011 -  Oxford, UK 
June 28, 2011 -  Amsterdam, Holland  

Adams stated that he has been arranging acoustic fingerpicking versions of his concert standards and some other songs, which indicates that this will be a solo tour. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Schultz By Southwest 2011 (Part 3)

By: David Schultz

Gayngs (Red 7 Patio) The Wisconsin equivalent of Broken Social Scene, this soulful group of Midwesterners, which features Justin Vernon as its most notable name, were an unbilled special guest at the Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans showcase. Their all-to-brief 20 minute set, which included a cameo appearance by a fully clothed Har Mar Superstar, finished right at the point when they had just established their smooth rock groove.

Those Darlins (Swan Dive) The Darlins blasted their way through many of the tracks on their upcoming Screws Get Loose, showing a slightly more serious mindset than the boozy, bawdy raveups on their debut. Fun and freewheeling, watching the three guitar wielding “sisters” dash through their brand of three-chord cowpunk rockers makes for a great visual. With the exception of the oddly insightful “Be Your Bro,” which explores a girl’s desire to just be her guy friend’s friend, the lack of novelty that fueled their self-titled debut leaves Those Darlins without the spark that made them so attractive in the first place. Over the one hour set, the songs simply started to blend together.

Thee Oh Sees (Red 7 Patio) It almost seems a shame to confine the Thee Oh Sees in a showcase setting. The California based garage rockers have a prolific number of songs to choose from and given their penchant for exploring where they can go in a live setting, less than an hour hardly seems like enough time. A one man gang of rock riffs, John Dwyer shot off one adrenalin-pumping shot after another, often taking literal aim with the guitar and firing at will. Their late-night outdoors set was the perfect tonic for tired legs, a jolt of sonic bliss that touched at the core of what great rock and roll can offer.

Deer Tick with Jonny Corndawg (Barbarella Patio) This was not the heavily anticipated Deervana set which served as one of the closing sets of SXSW 2011. Rather, what differentiated the Tick’s midday sundrenched set from an hour of their typical Americana-tinged folk rock was the inclusion of Tennessee-based singer-songwriter Jonny Corndawg. As if born to be a part of Deer Tick, Corndawg, a remarkable songwriter, meshed perfectly with the shambling homespun stylings that have become Deer Tick’s calling card. This April, Kings County will get an opportunity to see Corndawg at length: he will take residency at the Brooklyn Bowl, playing each Monday with different set of “friends.”

Hayes Carll (ACL Live/Moody Theater) Bringing his country vibe to the new Austin City Limits theater, Carll’s set as part of the Lost Highway 10th Anniversary revue drew heavily from his recently released KMAG YOYO. The spectacular acoustics of the venue served Carll well. A gifted songwriter with a knack for creating nifty turns of a phrase with an occasional humorous twist, it was one of the few SXSW venues where you could understand the lyrics. Carll didn’t quite transform any of his songs into a live pieces. No matter, “Another Like You,” brought Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn interplay into a new century and “One Bed, Two Girls” had a bawdy yet homespun charm.

Big Boi (Mohawk Patio) After wandering into an N.E.R.D. set at Stubbs three years ago, my snobbery with respect to live rap and hip-hop vanished forever. Having spent the day at the MOG party, it made little sense to leave before catching the headliner, who attracted a mighty line full of people that were ultimately turned away. Running through OutKast’s greatest hits that weren’t “Hey Ya,” Big Boi had new rhymes to drop on the crowd. More fun than watching Big Boi and the Dungeon Family prowl the stage was checking out the crowd which had more women writhing and grinding than most fathers would care to imagine. I can’t ever recall seeing the Mohawk Patio that packed or its audience as enthralled. High comedy resulted once the show ended. Despite the sound guy yelling at them to get the f#&k off the stage cause they had run long, Big Boi’s sidekicks and second bananas refused to leave the stage, persuading DJ Swiff to cue up one of their tracks and shamelessly imploring the crowd to keep cheering for Big Boi, who had clearly left the building.

Coming soon: Part 4 Where I finally stop mining SXSW 2011 for material.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ryan Adams to Release Limited Edition 7" Vinyl on 4.16.2011

Ryan Adams announced through his Pax Am label that he will release four additional outtakes from the Cardinology sessions via two 7" records on April 16 for Record Store Day.  This limited edition package will include one yellow and one orange record, a Spacewolf mini-poster and photographs.  The four tracks are:
1.  Go Ahead And Rain
2.  Invisible Red
3.  Your Name Is On Fire 
4.  Future Sparrow

Adams' last CD release was also a compilation of outtakes from the Cardinology sessions entitled Cardinology III/IV that garnered good reviews.  

Monday, April 04, 2011

Schultz' Earful: Schultz By Southwest 2011 (Part 2)

By: David Schultz

The Antlers (The Parish, The Stage on 6th) The Antlers anchored the NPR showcase with a set consisting of their upcoming album, Burst Apart, in its entirety. On Hospice, their breakout album, The Antlers blindsided unexpected listeners with a turbulently emotional song cycle centered on the analogous elements of a hospice worker’s relationship with a terminal cancer patient and the narrators own failing relationship. Hearing a new album performed live isn’t the best forum for deciphering lyrics; it is a great opportunity to gauge its visceral impact. Peter Silberman’s achingly operatic, oftentimes wordless vocals deserve comparison with Jeff Buckley and Burst Apart’s lush and gorgeous reveries are beauties to behold. After catching a bit of another set at The Stage on 6th, which changes names each SXSW, it’s clear that The Antlers can be equally compelling in short doses.

North Mississippi Allstars (Stubbs) For four days, parking lots, garages, bars, restaurants and bike shops are populated with music fans angling for a glimpse of bands whose greatest plaudits are the word of mouth platitudes most often found on the Internet. Given the proportionately low number of established rock stars to the fledglings in training, the modest number of folks that came to see the North Mississippi Allstars on Stubbs’ indoor stage seemed to be anathema to the proceedings. Luther Dickinson has played an indispensible role in making the Black Crowes a vital and relevant entity over the past three years. An undesirable effect of his work with the Robinsons has been the absence of the Allstars over that time period. With a new album Keys To The Kingdom on shelves, the intimate Stubbs stage made for a phenomenal venue to see Dickinson ply his craft.

Screaming Females (Red 7) Marisa Paternoster may look barely big enough to pick up the guitar she’s wielding without tottering over. Once she straps it on, she takes a back seat to no axe slinger, shredding like the mightiest of guitar players. In the capable hands of bassist King Mike and drummer Jarrett Dougherty, the New Jersey power trio feed their need for speed by ramping up the tempo of each song, laying down an implicit challenge to Paternoster to match them along the way.

Obits (Beauty Bar Patio) Comprised of veteran rockers from indie bands of yore, the Brooklyn based Obits serve up serious helpings of psychedelic based guitar rock. With the capability to echo the Velvet Underground at their most locked-in groove, Obits are what happens when the garage that the band forms in also contains a couple high-precision vehicles, Focusing on their upcoming release, Moody, Standard and Poor, Rick Froberg kept his howl somewhat in check, letting his and Sohrab Habibion’s guitars speak the loudest. Commendably, they stayed true to SXSW’s ethos, braving a couple urgent requests for “Two Headed Coin” in favor of their new material.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (Beauty Bar Patio) If pop music sounded more like this New York based group, it wouldn’t get such a bad rap. It doesn’t hurt that Kurt Feldman and Christoph Hochheim of the Depreciation Guild give the PoBPaH a nice little shoegazy twist. For the most part though, they keep the mood bright and bouncy. Focusing on Belong, the album that would land them a spot on the Late Show with David Letterman stage, the Pains were the undeniable headliners at the eMusic party.

Lia Ices (Red 7 Patio) She had the unfortunate slot after Suuns. No one heard her over the ringing in the ears. Tinnitus can be a bad bad thing.

Nico’s Gun (Belmont) An interesting mix of Disco Biscuits electronica with New Jersey attitude, Nico’s Gun definitely had the crowd at The Belmont on their feet and dancing, a sight not seen all that often at SXSW.

Colin Stetson (The Parish) Merrill Garbus may have summed up the creative saxophonist’s set quite appropriately when she commented on the difficulty of taking the stage after someone has just made the impossible possible. Playing an array of saxophones that ranged from bass to tenor, Stetson’s fifteen minutes were a remarkable display of ingenuity. Using a looping machine to help set a mood, the well-vetted touring musician offered an engrossing variety of tribal rhythms counter synched with avant-garde riffs and bleats that would make John Zorn take notice.

Khaira Arby (The Parish) The queen of Malian desert soul who’s known as the Nightingale of the North transformed the downtown Austin club hosting the NPR showcase into a genuine West African throwdown. Warbling in a high pitched voice that didn’t differ mightily from TuneYard’s Merrill Garbus’ distinctive yodel while her band contributed lilting African melodies, Arby had the crowd moving joyously in rhythm. At the end of the set, Arby separated her percussion globe into hemispheres, dropped her microphone inside one half and contributed a unique beat pattern while bobbling and juggling the modified drum.

Augustana (Rusty Spurs) It’s astounding that a band that can fail to capture your attention in the middle of March can show up on The Tonight Show just one month later. Catch them tonight to see if my inattention was unwarranted.

TV On The Radio (Mohawk Patio) When Prince envisioned a party at the end of the millennium, he had a group like TV On The Radio in mind as the house band. Populating their set with the apocalyptic funk from their prior efforts like “Dancing Choose” and “Golden Age,” they also previewed their upcoming Nine Types Of Light, which will not fail to disappoint the growing number of TVotR fans. One of the more interesting aspects of the band was on display well after their set. With Big Boi enthralling a packed house at Mohawk, Tunde Adebimpe casually emerged from the VIP porch and began filming the rapper and the crowd from a variety of different angles. Those who recognized Adebimpe began to have calm discussions with the singer and anyone who asked to take his picture also had to pose for one for him. Adebimpe seemed interested in taking in the surrounding scene just as much as anyone else, if not more.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears (ACL Live/Moody Theater) An Austin mainstay of SXSW, it doesn’t seem like a festival without checking on Lewis & The Honeybears. As a frontman, Lewis mixes the showmanship and soul of James Brown with the pyrotechnics and flash of Little Richard and adds a dose of Curtis Mayfield soul. As part of the Lost Highway 10th anniversary celebration, Lewis & The Honeybears opened the celebration at the new ACL Live/Moody Theater, an absolutely glorious venue that I can only imagine will look stunning on television. The first half of the set focused on the recently released Scandalous and saw Lewis & The Honeybears playing their ferocious blend of rock and soul. Using their live staple, “Sugarfoot” as a bridge, Lewis turned the stage over to The Relatives, who stole the show with their old school coordinated dance moves, matching suits an undeniable soul.

The Rinjo Cloudcast

By: Rinjo Njori

After my "non-celebration" of the holiest day to an atheist Irishman I felt like I might as well nail myself into the coffin. So, check out Les Elite, Ocean Colour Scene, a new track from the Fleshtones and a long overdue and overlooked new track from Urge Overkill. Peace and Guiness!

on iTunes, here.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!