5/18/2007

Weekly News Roundup

Bo Diddley Up And Walking After Stroke

Siren Festival Lineup Announced


Keith Richards Autobiography Deal Rumored in the Works

Smashing Pumpkins Announce US Residencies


Starbucks plans big launch for McCartney album

5/17/2007

Guess What Year
[Thanks to "5" contributor Jeff Kent who sent us this excerpt from a very prescient 1984 interview with the late Frank Zappa in the pages of Digital Audio Magazine. - KJ]

Speaking of videos, what do you think about the possibility of distributing digital music on the cable TV systems?
Well, actually, I made a proposal and tried to raise some money to do that exact thing--with a couple of extra wrinkles. I almost managed to do it, but the problem we came up against is the bit stream rate on the cable. It's too slow.

But if you can put it onto a VCR, why can't you put it through a cable channel?
It's a matter of quantity -- how much time. What are you going to do, just send it down the pike in real time?

Why not?
What I had proposed was a computerized data bank system. You could dial up a number to order a digital album, pay with your credit card, and you'd have it. Just plunk it onto your Sony PCM-F1 or whatever. The system would have to operate faster than real time, otherwise you just couldn't distribute enough music. But the facilities to do that don't exist. To send an album down a wire in real time is possible, but that means everybody has to listen to the same thing at the same time, so it's just like radio.

It gets to be a matter of scheduling, but it's a way of distributing music and charging people.
So you send something down the line digitally, and it gets played back on little tiny speakers in a little tiny room where they can't turn it up enough to have it do anything with the volume, and then what have you got? You just reduce the hiss for everyone. You still have to squash the bandwidth to get it through all of that stuff, so it's really kind of preposterous. See, if everybody in the country had a chance to listen to music on the monitor system we have in this studio, and could hear what things really are supposed to sound like, it would be a different story. But people get accustomed to what they hear it on -- and what they hear it on has been EQed to their taste. They turn the bass up, then turn the treble up, and it totally deforms anything that was originally on the record anyway.

5/14/2007

5
Written, Directed and Produced by Kiko Jones
A Ballsy Production


Just reviewed an important upcoming release and thought we'd share it with you now, instead of waiting to put a whole issue together. Yeah, we're trying to get used to it, too.
-KJ

* * * * *
* * * * *

WILCO Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch-2007)
It always seemed that while Wilco’s breakthrough album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was nothing short of a defiant statement of purpose on various levels, its Radiohead-meets-Whiskeytown sonic landscape may have been a bit much for the fans that had embraced their earlier country-rock records. Sure, the band—basically Jeff Tweedy and whoever else is in the room, it seems—didn’t spring this on them overnight, but one always got the impression that those who had come late to the party were the ones enjoying the most cake. Wilco rocked out on a couple of tunes but toned down the added noises and textures on Yankee’s follow-up, 2003’s A Ghost Is Born. After a live album that demonstrated—sometimes, painfully—how much of a studio construct Yankee was, Tweedy and co. have gone back to their roots with a sparse, mostly mellow record that recalls the sprawling fan favorite Being There (1996). Think of Sky Blue Sky as a concise, better written Being There, with little or none of the power pop elements of Summerteeth, the experimentalism of Yankee, or the kraut-rock affectations of Ghost, but with some of Neil Young’s Harvest-era influence, as well as some Eagles-approved harmonies, touches of old school soul, and latter-day Sonic Youth clean guitar workouts. (This is also the first album with avant jazz guitarist Nels Cline on board, who shines on a breathtaking solo towards the end of “Side with the Seeds”.)
Has Tweedy had his fill of experimentation and returned to safer roots/country-rock ground for good? No one can predict that, especially not about a band that has consistently made a different record each time out. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to sit back, enjoy this batch of Tweedy’s latest and ponder the future. Theirs and ours.

Highlights: “Either Way”, “Impossible Germany”, “Side with the Seeds”, “On And On And On”.

* * * * *
* * * * *

5/02/2007

5
Written, Directed and Produced by Kiko Jones
A Ballsy Production


First, a couple of firsts: We've never published before on any day but Monday; and this is our first post of new content on the site. In keeping with the blog-like nature of our surroundings we'll no longer have a set schedule (ie. Mondays) and just post whenever we have ready and available content. Cool?

Enjoy,
-KJ


AS WE WENT TO PRESS:
- This year’s Lollapalooza will be held once again in Chicago’s Grant Park the weekend of Aug 3-5. Among those confirmed to appear: Pearl Jam, Daft Punk, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Muse, Iggy and the Stooges, Modest Mouse, Interpol, My Morning Jacket, Satellite Party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Snow Patrol.

- Former American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis has landed a role on CBS's daytime soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. He debuts on May 15, playing a music producer.


WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO:
BLITHE Verse Chorus Verse (Alias)
MASSIVE ATTACK 100th Window (Virgin)
STANTON MOORE III (Telarc)
LIZ PHAIR Exile In Guyville (Matador)
SUN KIL MOON Ghosts of the Great Highway (Jet Set)

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

* * * * *

DINOSAUR JR. Beyond (Fat Possum-2007)
Unlike their contemporaries The Pixies, the notion of a Dinosaur Jr album at this late date is not all that surprising, considering they didn’t seem to be gone for a decade and a half like Frank Black and co. even though the band’s last record in fact dates back to 1997. But despite his attempts at retiring the name and soldering on as J Mascis and the Fog, the band’s de-facto leader was always perceived to be Dinosaur Jr, especially after bassist/vocalist/songwriter Lou Barlow’s messy split from the band. So, at some point, the name was bound to be recovered and put back into use.
However, the triumphant 2005 reunion and subsequent tour by the notoriously dysfunctional original lineup—including drummer Murph—put a surprising and unexpected spin on the situation. If this lot had managed to somehow inter the proverbial hatchet, then a new album by the trio was definitely not out of the question. And not far off as it turns out.

The album itself? Basically picking up where 1988’s Bug left off, Mascis, Barlow and Murph mine the territory they know so well—where Neil Young, hardcore, and guitar ballads meet and mingle. That’s not to say Beyond is as raw and in your face as the records this lineup once made. More like the spirit and vibe of those early records tempered by the latter-day Dinosaur Jr. aesthetic. Which means it’s varied, hard-rockin’ and quite welcoming. Who ever thought that last adjective would ever be used in a review of anything ever done by J Mascis?


THE NOISETTES What’s the Time, Dr Wolf? (Vertigo/Universal-2007)
You guys know how we hate hype. “Best Live Band in Britain.” “Billie Holiday fronting the White Stripes.” The Noisettes have garnered these accolades and more. The thing of it is, they are not off the mark. We witnessed the band’s fiery performance of “Don’t Give Up”, the leadoff track from Dr. Wolf on Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show recently, and it made a hell of a case for both of the above. But even a cursory listen through the album’s 11 tracks is enough to realize that they are indebted to various and more varied influences than Jack and Meg. For starters, vocalist/bassist Shingai Shoniwa and drummer Jamie Morrisson are an exciting rhythm section. Guitarist/vocalist Dan Smith has a knack for making simple lines and riffs quite memorable, and the band as a whole is practically defined by an electrifying chemistry. This latter component is quite important, for without it they’d be hard pressed to pull off the Yes-meets-punk-rock of “Scratch Your Name”; the jazzy, acoustic folk of “Cannot Even (Break Free)” and the PJ Harvey-goes-gospel of “Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit),” let alone do it convincingly. What’s the Time, Dr Wolf? is not only an impressive debut album but one that is sure to reach the upper regions of every year-ending, best-of list of any critic and/or music magazine worth its salt. And every fan of fun, cool, interesting rock and roll, too.

(PS: Hello, Black Rock Coalition? Why don’t you set up a fundraiser with TV On The Radio and these guys? That would be one hell of a show AND pump up your coffers. Think about it.)


Under the Radar:
DOUG GILLARD Salamander (Pink Frost/Big Takeover-2004)

The former Cobra Verde/Guided By Voices guitarist’s solo debut takes a page from his stint with the latter and his collaborations with head GBV Bob Pollard on this impressive collection of indie pop/rock tunes that rivals anything else out there in the same vein. Gillard has a pleasant voice and his knack for capturing a good melody and the deft, complimentary guitar playing that has made him an in-demand sideman—not to mention playing every instrument on all but three tracks—are utilized to great effect on Salamander. Definitely worth seeking out.


THE LEMONHEADS / VIETNAM – Southpaw - Park Slope, Brooklyn – 2/23/07
Packing a dozen and a half songs in exactly an hour, this was probably the most precise and concise sets by a name act—and a notoriously loopy character as Evan Dando—we’ve seen in a while.
No drunken ramblings, minimal between-song patter, and no “Mrs. Robinson”; after all, this was an old ‘90s mainstay reclaiming its turf with a kick-ass set in a house packed with the faithful, not bandwagon riders that joined the fray on the heels of the Simon and Garfunkel cover that brought the band added mainstream notoriety. Going through approximately half of the tracks from their recent self-titled comeback album (no “Poughkeepsie” though) and a healthy smattering of their catalog (the absence of “The Outdoor Type” was keenly felt, however) Dando, and a top-notch rhythm section—Vess Ruhtenberg on bass and drummer Devon Ashley from The Pieces—quite easily held the enthusiastic, sold-out crowd’s undivided attention throughout. An energetic version of “Alison’s Starting To Happen” and a heartfelt “It’s A Shame About Ray” as a final encore, were among the night’s many highlights.

Current “it” band Vietnam was a notable mismatch with the headliners’ infectious punk/power pop. Their warmed over Canned Heat-wannabe grooves and distinct lack of energy or vibe did nothing to bolster the band’s current darling status. And we’re being generous.


NEW RELEASES:
This week’s arrivals include Dave Alvin Live from Austin, TX (New West); Tori Amos American Doll Posee (Epic); Joan Armatrading Into the Blues (429); Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Baby 81 (RCA); Anjelique Kidjo Djin Djin (Razor and Tie); Rush Snakes and Arrows (Atlantic); also, the original soundtracks to Dirty Dancing [20th Anniversary Edition] (RCA-Legacy); and Spiderman 3 [Music from and Inspired by] (Warner Bros), respectively.

* * * * *
* * * * *
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Former Smashing Pumpkins bassist, D'Arcy (39); guitarist/songwriter/producer Ray Parker Jr. (53); on May 1 st. Prescott Niles, bassist for The Knack (53); artist manager and music impresario extraordinaire, Miles A. Copeland III (63); on May 2nd.

* * * * *
* * * * *