10/30/2007

Why Are We Not Surprised?


Norm Coleman protesting the Vietnam War in 1970 as an undergrad at Hofstra University. [AP Photo]

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), described by the Associated Press as "a former long-haired, anti-war student activist," who once worked as a roadie for Ten Years After and attended the Woodstock festival in 1969, led the charge against a $1 million earmark sponsored by New York senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton to benefit the Museum at Bethel Woods aka the Woodstock Museum.

"I was at Woodstock. I have been to the site of the Woodstock museum," Coleman said last week. "It's a wonderful museum. That doesn't mean the government has to pay for it."
New Releases

Platters du jour include:

LEVON HELM Dirt Farmer (Vanguard)
YOUSSOU N'DOUR Rokku Mi Rokka (Nonesuch)
WILLIE NELSON So Much To Do (Hallmark)
PET SHOP BOYS Disco 4 (EMI)
BRITNEY SPEARS Blackout (Jive)

10/29/2007

VH Rocks KC

by Francisco J. Bidó


[A dear friend, talented guitarist, die-hard Van Halen fan, and faithful "5" reader shares with us his experiences from the October 26th date in Kansas City, MO of what he calls "the best American rock band ever". We're not inclined to disagree. - KJ]

I just got back. I'm pumped man, I am freaking pumped! At the same time, I feel like I ran a marathon. Well, what really happened was that I held about two gallons of ultra cheap Bud Light beer while singing along—excuse me, screaming—to mostly Van Halen I and at least two or three tunes from every meaningful—i.e. non-Sammy—Van Halen album ever made. Here is [the setlist]—in random order. It was roughly a two-hour show, so I'm probably missing a few songs:

You Really Got Me

Unchained
Everybody Wants Some!!
Beautiful Girls
Little Guitars
Pretty Woman
Tora! Tora!
And The Cradle Will Rock...

Ice Cream Man
Atomic Punk

[Alex's Solo]
Little Dreamer
Jump
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Eruption Medley (mostly Eruption + excerpts From Spanish Fly & Cathedral + lots of improv)
Ain't Talking About Love

Panama
Hot For Teacher
I'll Wait
Dance The Night Away
Mean Street
Jamie's Crying

They opened with “You Really Got Me”, closed with “Jump” and sounded FREAKING AWESOME!!!! And the show was surprisingly energetic. No small talk—none of that ‘Hello, Kansas City’ crap and so on—it was one song after the other for two hours, non-stop, no breaks, and no one sat down from beginning to end. At least in my section.


Now, let's talk, people.


Wolfgang's harmonies sounded just like Michael Anthony. His bass playing was from the heart and he obviously had a lot of fun doing it. No complaints there whatsoever. He seems like a real good kid. He's the glue right now. I bet Eddie stays more disciplined when his kid is around—just a thought. Alex was high powered and relentless at beating the crap out of those drums. Oh, and also ultra precise. Nothing new there except that he sounds better and more impressive live than on the records. Eddie was absolutely brilliant! I had discounted him for the cheap Journey imitation synth work he did with Hagar. But tonight he was very, very aggressive—he was the atomic punk—and played with one serious killer attitude. He didn't let me down one bit.

David Lee's vocals are about 88.48% still there. Which is darn good in my opinion. He still squeaks in a credible way, has some ninja moves and handles himself very professionally on stage. For example, he would restrain [himself] every once in a while from all the kicking and jumping and purely focused and serviced the songs. I didn't hear any off key notes or falling behind the songs. He did a great job.


To top it off, this was the best produced show I've seen! And I've seen plenty. They had a ginormous stage with all kinds of lights and lasers and
a big-assed screen for background [so] the folks in the nose bleeders didn't have any problems following Eddie's tapping nuances. Back to Eddie, he plays all that stuff effortlessly and with big smile. Dang, I have problems getting past some of the intros...Anyway, I counted eight eighteen-wheelers for gear only.

That's more or less it. I can't complain. I saw the best American rock band ever. This concert is a milestone in my life...OK, I'm probably still drunk and starting that silly melancholic phase that you drunk folks go through. I’ve heard about that. Later, rock on. I'm going to bed.

PS: Add “Running with the Devil” to the list!

[Photo courtesy of van-halen.com]

10/26/2007

Heeeeere's Johnny! (one last time)

It's been 15 years since Mr. Carson retired from late night TV, so we wanted to share with you his last television appearance, which just happened to be on the show hosted by the man who many still believe was Johnny's intended Tonight Show successor. Enjoy.

And Speaking Of Nostalgia...

The Sex Pistols played L.A.'s Roxy Theatre last night as a warm up to an upcoming UK tour. Bollocks, indeed.
Double Whammy

Perhaps we were not aware we'd somehow been trapped under a rock or in a Matrix-like illusion, but what we were definitely under was the impression that the Luaka Bop label no longer existed. Well, not only is the David Byrne-founded imprint alive and well, but two members of its roster are said to be collaborating.
Brazilian psych-rockers Os Mutantes' guitarist Sergio Dias has announced he's been writing songs with countryman and labelmate Tom for the band's first album of new material in decades.
On Nov. 13th Luaka Bop will release Os Mutantes Live at the Barbican Theatre, London 2006.
What We're Listening To

CAFE TACUBA SiNo (Universal Latino)
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Crooked Teeth EP (Sub Pop)
VAN HALEN Diver Down (Warner Bros.)
DAVID S. WARE Surrendered (Columbia)
YES Close to the Edge (Atlantic)

What are YOU listening to?
Happy Birthday

Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon (49) on Oct. 27th.

10/25/2007



Sly and the Family Stone Schedule U.S. Shows
by Jeff Kent

Look alive, fella: there's a riot goin' on. Funk-soul legends Sly and the Family Stone have scheduled a pair of shows--early and late--December 7 at New York City 's B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. These are the first proper gigs Stone has played in the States in quite some time, and--apart from an appearance at the 2006 Grammy Awards, a brief, troubled European tour this summer, and a couple cameos here and there--among the only chances fans of the Fam have had to see the band in the decades since their artistic apex.

The shows will feature much of the Family Stone's early 1970s lineup, including Sly, Rose and Freddie Stone, Cynthia Robinson, and Pat Rizzo. No word on whether the gigs are part of a larger tour.

Rudie Can Fail



“5”er Carolina Gonzalez’s own culture/cuisine blog, the always entertaining and informative Sound Taste, has a heartfelt entry from last week reminiscing about Joe Strummer. It includes a mention of the NYC screening of the Julien Temple doc on the late Clash frontman, The Future is Unwritten—which starts Nov. 2nd—and a video of his cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, which depicts the making of the East Village mural dedicated to Strummer. The song is introduced by Strummer’s exhortation for people to take the reins of their world and do something.

We’re not going to equate these things necessarily but, these words are hard to swallow after hearing The Clash’s music knowingly and wilfully defanged by their use in shilling jeans and luxury cars (!) in recent years. (Nissan is currently featuring “Pressure Drop” in their latest ad campaign.) And now Fender Guitars has designed the signature Joe Strummer Telecaster (see above), a replica of the ’66 model the man himself played ‘til the very end. We don't really have a problem with this, and with a $900 retail sticker price it’s not the kind of rip-off the Peter Frampton Gibson Les Paul model is—that’ll set you back almost $6K—but we don’t know how Joe would feel about this. Then again, he was alive for a few of the above advertising-sell out moments, so…

10/24/2007

Headline of the Day

Billboard’s “Muse, Chiefs, Cornell Rock For Coke Fest” takes today’s top honors.

Smiths To Reform (Not Really)

The New Music Express has taken a quote from an interview with The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr—“‘The Smiths might reform’”—to bait its readers into thinking there is a future reunion in store for the much beloved Mancunian quartet. What Marr actually goes on to say in the interview gives up the ruse: "Stranger things have happened so, you know, who knows?" Gotcha, NME.
Of course that the staunch vegetarian Morrissey has stated he’d rather “eat my testicles than re-form The Smiths” and has turned down $75 million dollar offers to tour with his old bandmates did not factor into their decision to go with this farce. Jeez.
CMJ 2007 Roundup

Not that we care much about the conference/festival but some of you do, so in the spirit of democracy here’s PopMatters’ take on the whole thing.

10/23/2007

Manu Chao Catalog To Be Re-Released

For the first time, digital versions of Chao’s solo work will be formally made available for download on Nov. 20th. In January 2008 the Nacional/Because label CD and DVD re-issues of the albums Proxima Estación: Esperanza, Radio Bemba Sound System (Live) and the Babylonia en Guagua DVD will see the light of day, all with bonus material. Chao has been touring in support of his latest, La Radiolina.
New Releases

This week’s debuts include:

RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS Follow the Lights EP (Lost Highway)
BABYSHAMBLES Shotter's Nation (EMI/Parlophone)
DAVE GAHAN Hourglass (Virgin)
SERJ TANKIAN Elect The Dead (Warner Bros)
WEEN La Cucaracha (Rounder)

Among the reissues are:

BLACK SABBATH Sabotage (Universal)
BO DIDDLEY I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 (Hip-O Select)
CAN Tago Mago (Mute)
KRAFTWERK Aerodynamik/La Forme (Astralwerks)
CURTIS MAYFIELD Soul Legacy (Charly)

10/22/2007



Elliott Smith Girlfriend Loses Claim to Estate

Jennifer Chiba, girlfriend of the late singer/songwriter lost her claim to a portion of his estate in a California appellate court case last week. She was seeking more than a million dollars due to the couple having "lived together, shared equally their earnings and property and held themselves out to the public as husband and wife," as well as an alleged promise by Smith that he'd "support [her] for the rest of her life." Furthermore, she claims to have acted as his manager/booking agent, which she believed entitled her to 15% of his earnings. (The latter claim was rebuked due to her acting as an unlicensed talent agent under California's Talent Agencies Act.)

Chiba, who was present when Smith died from two penetrating stab wounds, admitted to pulling the knife from his chest, but has proclaimed her innocence in his death; his family doubts her assertions. (A coroner's report could not determine whether the wounds were self-inflicted.) This past Sunday, Oct 21st, was the fourth anniversary of Smith's passing. He was 34.

The Sky is Blue

Music critic Sasha Frere-Jones’ "A Paler Shade of White: How indie rock lost its soul," in last week’s New Yorker has brought on plenty of commentary on the subject. We really didn’t want to chime in, figuring it to be a non-starter, but what the hell.

So, indie rock is really white. No shit, Sherlock. The sun also shines during the day time, by the way. [yawn] Has this subgenre EVER been any different in this particular regard? And why should we care? Personally, we find a lot of it to be boring, pretentious, talent-lacking, hypocritical, flavor-of-the-month nonsense. What to do? We don’t listen to music/artists that fall within that description. Period. Next.

We won’t go as far as asking whether Frere-Jones actually knows about the indie rock he’s discussing—despite this particular essay and his body of reviews and articles as potential evidence to the contrary—simply because this seems like such an empty impetus for debate. And this thing has gotten way more mileage than it ever deserved in the first place, anyway. Jeez.
Title Of Upcoming Nas Album Ignites Controversy

On December 11th, Def Jam recording artist and gifted rapper Nas will release his most recent album, Nigger, with its title already causing a stir of controversy. Despite heated criticism for the usage of the word in this context from the likes of civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, fellow rapper Common has given Nas his support, stating how his colleague "is always bringing something new, bringing something for us to think about. He's one of the best ever. If it wasn't for Nas, a lot of cats, including myself, wouldn't be rhyming the way they do. So I mean, I know [there] is something behind what he's doing, he's making statements. That's something we need in hip-hop. Last Poets did it, Gil Scott-Heron did it, Marvin Gaye did it. We gotta keep making statements."

For his part, Nas has explained we wants to take the sting out of the N-word and eventually help render it meaningless. Stay tuned.
Paul Raven, RIP

The bassist whose credits include Killing Joke, Prong, and most recently, Ministry, died on Sat. Oct 20th of an apparent heart attack. He was 46. 13th Planet Records has a memorial page here.

10/19/2007

Lucky Dube Murdered

South African reggae artist Lucky Dube was gunned down in Johannesburg last night. Billboard has more. RIP.
Yo La Tengo Do Hanukkah (Again)

The venerable Hoboken-based trio will once again bring their holiday music and comedy performance to their annual 8-day residency at Maxwell's in their New Jersey hometown. Opening acts have yet to be announced. The festivities commence Dec. 4th.
Top Ten Songs with Raps in the Middle

Stylus Magazine looks at this slightly cheesy, now forgotten, minor phenomenon.

10/18/2007

New Oasis Video

The Noel Gallagher-sung "Lord Don't Slow Me Down" sounds like a nice return to form. Check it out here.
Phishing in Vegas

Vegas '96, a live, 3 CD set from Phish's Dec 6, 1996 performance in Las Vegas will be released on Nov 20th by the band's JEMP label. And as it has increasingly become the case lately, there will also be a deluxe box set version including a DVD and a 40-page photo book.

Tracklisting:

Disc One:
"Wilson"
"Peaches En Regalia"
"Poor Heart"
"2001"
"Llama"
"You Enjoy Myself"
"Cars Trucks Buses"
"Down With Disease"
"Frankenstein"

Disc Two:
"Julius"
"Sparkle"
"Mike's Song"
"Simple"
"Harry Hood"
"Weekapaug Groove"
"Sweet Adeline"
"Good Times Bad Times"

Disc Three:
"Harpua" ("Wildwood Weed"/"Cowboy's Sweetheart"/"Suspicious Minds"/"Suzy Greenberg")
"Susie Q"
What We're Listening To

CROSBY STILLS & NASH self-titled (Atlantic)
PETER FRAMPTON Frampton Comes Alive! (A&M)
NEW AMSTERDAMS Para Toda Vida (Vagrant)
OWSLEY self-titled (Giant/Warner Bros)
SMASHING PUMPKINS Zeitgeist (Reprise)

What are YOU listening to?

10/17/2007

Crappy Music Jaunt

As previously stated, we don’t care much for CMJ. But PopMatters does and has the commentary and pics to prove it.
NYC Rock and Roll Sightings

- The Verizon advertising-covered Maroon 5 tour bus, outside NYC's Madison Square Garden, where they were performing last week.

10/16/2007

"Why is indie rock so fucking white?"

Glorious Noises’s Jake Brown asks the above question in response to music critic Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece "A Paler Shade of White: How indie rock lost its soul," in the New Yorker.
The Joshua (Money) Tree

Just in time for the holiday shopping season U2 plan on commemorating the 20th anniversary of their landmark album The Joshua Tree (Island) with a re-release involving 4 different versions: a re-mastered single CD, a 2-CD set, a 2-CD/1-DVD collectible box and a double-vinyl package. Along with b-sides and rarities there will be liner notes written by the band. Nov. 20th is the release date.
New Releases

Notables among today's bunch are:

DAVID BYRNE Live from Austin, TX (New West)
EDWYN COLLINS Home Again (EMI/Heavenly)
GOV'T MULE Mighty High (ATO)
DJ SPOOKY Creation Rebel (Sanctuary Trojan Us)
UNDERWORLD Oblivion with Bells (ATO)

Re-issues include:

BUTTHOLE SURFERS Piouhgd/Widowmaker (Latino Bugger Veil)
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul (Atlantic)
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE Live at Monterey (Experience Hendrix)
LUTHER VANDROSS Love, Luther (Sony Legacy)
VARIOUS ARTISTS City of Dreams: A Collection of New Orleans Music (Rounder)

10/15/2007

Poison vs. Coldplay

One of the reasons we own an 80 GB iPod is the desire to access any piece of music we own when the mood or whim strikes us. (A profound distaste for being an unsolicited audience to other people’s conversations on the subway is a very close second.) So, this morning, on our way into Manhattan from the county of Kings, i.e. Brooklyn, we felt the need for some Coldplay and proceeded to let Chris Martin and co. guide us en route to our destination.

As “Sliver”, from their debut album Parachutes, flowed through our headphones we started contemplating how the band’s name—if not the group itself—has become shorthand for numerous non-flattering adjectives: fey, pasty, lame, etc. etc. etc. You would think this was, say, Antony and the Johnstons, or Rufus Wainwright people were referring to. It got us thinking how, in their heyday, the pop-metal hair farmers—Winger, Warrant, Poison et al—were accorded their fair share of derision, yet didn’t get as much grief as Coldplay do today. And how, in fact, some of these clowns are still around, albeit in a much less imposing capacity. Poison, in particular. Why the disparity? And why doesn’t anyone defend the British quartet? Surely, a coherent, articulate argument in their favor could be easily found among the pronouncements of their millions of admirers. (For the record, we like Coldplay but wouldn’t call ourselves fans.) Nope. Not that we’ve come across anyway. We were pondering this when we had a bit of a flashback.

The cover of the October 1980 issue of the late Creem magazine carried the headline Clash vs. Led Zeppelin: Controversy Continues! Inside was a spirited yet sometimes crude, sophomoric debate over the relative merits of these two bands, which had seemingly been going on for a bit at this point. Although very young at the time we’d already heard Led Zeppelin, while yet to make The Clash’s acquaintance. Nevertheless, we read the bloody exchange with perverse fascination as this was one of our earliest introductions into the world of gonzo music writing, and hell, it was funny. Which brings us to our own little slugfest.

Perhaps the impetus for initiating this particular showdown is our perpetual dislike of Poison. This could have been triggered anew by the fact that front man Brett Michaels has been once again in the public eye via that most ubiquitous example of the need to recognize Andy Warhol as a prophet: the reality show. Regardless, we want to know why a smart, world affairs-conscious Chris Martin gets the shaft over an ignoramus such as Brett Michaels. How is a guy who married and has a family with a classy, beautiful, talented actress such as Gwyneth Paltrow bested by a jerk whose idea of courtship is to audition a small army of strippers, drunks, and assorted misfits on a TV reality show? (Not to mention Coldplay bearing the seal of approval of one Noel Gallagher, a man who can be accused of being many things. "Poof", however, is not one of them.) "Unskinny Bop"? "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"? In the words of the great John McEnroe, you can't be serious!!

Van Halen, we love you. But you have so much to answer for.
Led Zep Catalog Available Online

Following in the footstpes of Madonna, on Nov. 13 Led Zeppelin, one of the last remaninig big-name holdouts in the digital download arena--The Beatles and Radiohead, for instance have yet to acquiesce--will make their catalog available via iTunes and Verizon. The New York Times has more.

10/12/2007

Zomba Sues Over Britney Leaks

Gossip website PerezHilton.com is being sued by Zomba Recording LLC for copyright infringement. The parent company of Jive Records, Britney Spears' label, alleges that the site illegally obtained and posted previously unreleased songs and demos from the pop diva's upcoming album Blackout. The amount of monetary damages pursued by Zomba has not been specified but they are said to be seeking real and punitive damages as well as legal costs.

Meanwhile, Britney's chart presence has been impressive despite her tumultuous personal life and disastrous performance at the recent MTV Video Music Awards. "Gimme More", first single from the aforementioned Blackout was #1 on the digital song charts and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Last time she hit #1 was in the '90s: her debut single, "(Hit Me) Baby One More Time", reached that mark in 1999.
What We're Listening To:

GUIDED BY VOICES Live from Autin, TX (New West)
TEENAGE FANCLUB Bandwagonesque (DGC)
TEMPLE OF THE DOG self-titled (A&M)
THE TOADIES Rubberneck (Interscope)
YES The Word is Live (Elektra)


What are YOU listening to?
Ike & Tina

PopMatters reviews--and raves about--The Ike & Tina Turner Story: 1960-1975 (TimeLife/EMI) 3-disc set, quite possibly the best overview available of the legendary outfit.
HBO's Numbers Do Not Add Up

The cable network's most talked about new series, Tell Me You Love Me; the painfully unfunny hipster humorfest, Flight of the Conchords; and the highly-praised Larry David vehicle Curb Your Enthusiasm, each have lower ratings than John from Cincinnati, which HBO summarily cancelled after one season. What gives?
Will They Carry "Low" Riders?

Target stores will feature a David Bowie-inspired men's fashion collection this fall.

10/11/2007

When It Rains: Radiohead, Café Tacuba reviews

And our record review deluge continues…



RADIOHEAD
In Rainbows
[official dow
nload-2007]

With the skittish, electronic Aphex Twin-influenced intro of “15 Step” and the krautrock-meets-Sonic Youth drive of “Bodysnatchers”, Radiohead’s heavily anticipated seventh studio album kicks off at a satisfying intensity level with more of what has become their post-OK Computer sound. However, this is an album that revels in moods and more often than not fails to return to the driving pulse which it starts off with. But sometimes it does both. And the breathtaking, “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” is a wonderful example. Further on, the haunting “All I Need”, with its hints of Massive Attack-like flourishes is probably the most straightforward Radiohead song since “Karma Police”. And yes, it’s a love song.

As we mentioned before the band seem to have settled into the musical blueprint that has characterized their music over the last few albums. So no surprises there. As for the rather uncharacteristic album title,
In Rainbows, we have no official word on its origins but the music certainly evokes the mood and peacefulness that comes with that calming celestial bridge of colors.

Highlights: The a
forementioned “15 Step”, “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”, “All I Need” and “House of Cards”

[Thanks to "5"er Fico Lazzaro for his asssistance with this one. Album cover art courtesy of Stereogum.]











CAFÉ TACUBA

Sino

[Universal Latino-2007]


Rumors of an impending breakup surrounding the Mexico City pop experimentalists after the highly-lauded
Cuatro Caminos (Universal Latino-2003) have proven to be false, despite numerous solo albums, side projects and other outside collaborations. The boys are back, marking their 15th anniversary as a recording unit; so is producer Gustavo Santaolalla, who has since become an Academy Award and Grammy winner; and the welcome decision to incorporate a live drummer to flesh out their songs is still bearing fruit. All is well with the world, right? Well…

Perhaps it’s a sign of the members of Tacuba entering middle age, but regardless, Sino—which opens with a piano ballad motif (!)—is probably the most conventional and undemanding album the band has ever made. This is not necessarily a bad thing—although the rather bland nature of a few songs make one wonder who it is we’re actually listening to—but it doesn’t save the album from dragging. At 17 tracks Sino is a bout half a dozen too long, which has the unwanted effect of taking away momentum from a few stellar tracks. Not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination—these guys are way too talented to roll over and play dead—just not a very satisfying one.

Highlights: “53100”, “Arrullo”, “Cierto O Falso”, “Volver A Comenzar”

Wilco Heeds The Call

Wilco's decision to let fans vote for their favorite songs--which we previously reported--seems to have definitely had an effect on their live set lists. Shows on the band's Sky Blue Sky tour have been graced with the likes of "Two Far Apart" from their debut album A.M., among quite a few other chestnuts from their catalog. Head Wilco Jeff Tweedy credits the most recent lineup, which includes guitarist Nels Cline, for establishing the kind of comfort level that makes it possible for them to revisit the old favorites making welcome appearances in their recent live shows. The current leg of the Sky Blue Sky tour wraps up in late November with dates in Japan and Australia in early 2008.
How Emo Are You?

Go ahead, get it over with and take the test. You know you want to.
Trent Reznor Free Agent

The Nine Inch Nails website has a posting from the man himself dated Oct. 8th stating he is free of all record label contractual obligations and looking forward "to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate." Does that mean $80 deluxe box set editions of his albums a la Radiohead? Actually, it sorta does. The official NIN site has details.

10/10/2007

In Bob We Trust

ROBERT POLLARD
Coast to Coast Carpet of Love (Merge-2007)
Standard Gargoyle Decisions (Merge-2007)


Perhaps the world’s most prolific middle-aged rock and roller, Bob Pollard’s recent solo output had us missing and going back to the late, great Guided by Voices, which he fronted for 20 years and released over a dozen albums with. His solo releases—both during and after GBV—may be threatening to catch up and eventually surpass his totals with Dayton, Ohio’s favorite indie rock sons but they lacked the same sort of charm and appeal of the much beloved old combo. Until now. In a move reminiscent of another no-frills rocker, Pollard has released two albums on the same day. Those that may have come late to the party and are perhaps intrigued by the not very indie aspect of a double dose of Bob on the same day, should be made aware of two things: the inexhaustibly fertile well of his songwriting; and that Pollard may be an indie icon but his heart has always beat to the sound of classic rock.

And one of those classic rock standard bearers is The Who. Guided By Voices always bore the imprint of the British quartet’s Tommy-era influence but Coast to Coast Carpet of Love leads off with two of Pollard’s best tributes to the Mod Gods (“Our Gaze”, “Count Us In”) before settling into familiar territory, courtesy of a crisp production by long-time collaborator Todd Tobias that accentuates one of his finest batches of songs ever.

Standard Gargoyle Decisions is a different beast altogether. A lo-fi set of rockers that gets in your face from the get-go (“The Killers”) and does not let up until it’s damn well ready to, the album contains the only example of Pollard’s trademark oddly-titled songs among both of these records—the excellent “Motion Sickness Ghosts”—and is a tad more consistent in the songwriting department than CTCCOL. Glad to have you back, Bob. We missed you.
In Rainbows

We’ll have a review of the new Radiohead album tomorrow. It was made available for download from their website today. According to Billboard, Xfm Radio will premiere the album this afternoon, playing it in its entirety.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job

In "The Cost of Money", Glorious Noise’s Stephen Macaulay marvels at how musicians will be able to make a living in a looming music-will-be-free market.
Considine’s Corner

These are two of this week’s New Releases we’ve chosen to review in the inimitable style of defunct Musician magazine’s J.D. Considine’s Short Takes page.

THE FIERY FURNACES Widow City (Thrill Jockey)
Hipster pin-up and her brother release latest snooze fest. [yawn]

KID ROCK Rock n Roll Jesus (Atlantic)
With Skynyrd and Seger filling in for Abraham and Moses, right? We’d rather be atheists.

10/09/2007

Strawberry Fields Forever

As is custom, fans of the late John Lennon will congregate in New York's Central Park Strawberry Fields Memorial today, on what would've been his 67th birthday. Oh, and by the way...
Happy Birthday

Singer/songwriter Sean Lennon (32) today, Oct. 9th.
New Releases

Among today's debutantes are:

FATBOY SLIM LateNightTales (Thrive)
DEBBIE HARRY Necessary Evil (Eleven Seven Music)

ROBERT POLLARD Coast to Coast Carpet of Love (Merge)
ROBERT POLLARD Standard Gargoyle Decisions (Merge)
ROBERT WYATT Comicopera (Domino)

Re-issues include:

STANLEY CLARKE Children of Forever (Polydor)
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER Brain Salad Surgery (Shout! Factory)
THE GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA Out of the Cool (Verve)
MOBY GRAPE Wow (Sundazed)
THE ISLEY BROTHERS I'll Be Home For Christmas (Def Soul Classics)

10/08/2007

Quote of the Day

"The bands who get hurt by free file-sharing are [bad] bands. The good bands are going to do fine...Now the Internet has made it easier for people to be discerning and decide what they want to pay for."

- Spoon frontman/guitarist Britt Daniel.

And a growing number of them, Mr. Daniel, decide that ALL music, good or bad should be free. Not good, sir. We sure don't feel comfortable with people increasingly viewing music as disposable as chewing gum. I'm pretty sure you feel the same way. Otherwise, you'd have a day job. Right?
NY Rock and Roll Sightings

- Peter Gabriel at the AES convention.
- Yo La Tengo holding court at Commonwealth Bar in Brooklyn
- James Iha, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist; Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz; along the Bowery, in the East Village.

10/05/2007

Beaming

IRON & WINE
The Shepherd’s Dog
(Sub Pop-2007)


How appropriate that Sam Beam was a film professor. Talented musicians who know their way around film bring with them lessons about space, dynamics and balance, qualities that have always been present in the music of Beam’s alter ego Iron & Wine.

Despite not being a household name, millions of people have heard the hushed vocals and plaintive acoustic guitar that have made up most of I&W’s recorded output. His cover of The Postal Service’s “Some Great Reward”—also featured on the Garden State soundtrack—was part of a recent M&M candy ad campaign, with the increased, subsequent interest in I&W reminiscent of what a Volkswagen ad did for the late Nick Drake a few years prior. The cover was also, arguably, even better than the original—itself a modest hit—raising the I&W profile a bit more along the way.

As Beam’s unaccompanied acoustic guitar and whispery vocals gained more acceptance outside indie rock circles, he decided to expand his sonic palette. The Woman King EP (Sub Pop-2005), with its breathtaking title track, was definitely a statement of purpose. Beam wasn’t abandoning his sound; he was just making it richer.

And that’s exactly what he’s done on his highly-anticipated, third full-length release, The Shepherd’s Dog. Like on Woman King, the charming lo-fi sound of the past is gone and Beam’s trusty acoustic is joined here by banjos, accordions, upright bass, horns, assorted percussion, female backing vocals, acoustic and electric piano, and some electric guitar. (Kudos to producer Brian Deck for a masterful job keeping the album’s numerous sounds balanced and its flow effortless.) But Beam has truly branched out not only instrumentally but musically, as well: shades of Afro-pop, dub, brief hints of psychedelia, the spacey grooves of Los Lobos offshoot The Latin Playboys, and latter-day Tom Waits, permeate the surroundings without being too obvious; it’s clear to anyone familiar with his music that Beam is a man who knows how to channel his influences and make them his own.

It’s a sheer delight that thoughtful, imaginative music such is this being made these days. And that Iron & Wine’s prolific output and adventurous spirit practically guarantees we can look forward to much more. Sweet.

Highlights: “Lovesong of the Buzzard”, “Carousel”, “House by the Sea”, “Innocent Bones”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)”
Keepin’ Up With The Joneses

Gotta hook up the family, right?


Well, Brooklyn’s favorite former corrections officer, the one and only Sharon Jones, backed by her Dap-Kings—who recently lent some of their mojo to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”—will be at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem on Saturday, Oct 6th. She and the band are touring behind the recently released 100 Days 100 Nights album.

Speaking of Brooklyn, it’s too bad we’re boycotting supporters of developer Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards/Brooklyn Nets Arena project, since the list includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music. That’s where our buddy, former Captain Beefhart guitarist, Gary Lucas will be performing tonight with his noted avant rock ensemble Gods and Monsters. But we are quite fond of Mr. Lucas and his music, so if you go, we won’t hold it against you.
Gods and Monsters’ lineup currently features former Modern Lovers bassist Ernie Brooks and Television drummer Billy Ficca. G&M alumni include the late Jeff Buckley and Matthew Sweet. Which brings us to…
Happy Birthday

Power pop singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Matthew Sweet (43), on Oct. 6th.
Minnesota Woman To Pay 222K For Illegal Music Sharing

30 year-old Jammie Thomas has been convicted of copyright infringement for illegaly sharing 24 songs on a Kazaa account. She's been ordered to pay $222,000 in damages. A bit harsh? Perhaps. But in the past those in the same predicament have paid no more than $5,000. Plus, people have to learn somehow that all music isn't free. Does this kinda thing sour those defendants on buying music in the future? How cares? It doesn't seem like they were buying any to begin with. The L. A. Times has more.

10/04/2007

Buena Vista Social Club



Last month was the 10th anniversary of the release of the Ry Cooder-produced Buena Vista Social Club album, one that, both here in the US and abroad, sparked a mainstream wave of interest in old school Cuban music; gave much-deserved exposure and revitalized the careers of musicians that had been largely forgottensome of whom have, sadly, died in the years sinceand sold more than 5 million copies in the process. Not bad for an album that came about by accident.

As it turned out, the Paris-based African musicians Cooder was to record in Cuba were not able to make it in time to participate in the already booked recording sessions, so with the invaluable assistance of respected Cuban bandleader/musician Juan de Marco Gonzalez—who was working on his own tribute to the golden era of Cuban music with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars
many of these still-vital artists were located and recorded what for many non-Spanish speakers—and a newer generation of Latinos—became a great (re)introduction to Cuban music from back in the day. (Those African guys must've been really pissed afterwards. Jealous, too.)

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cooder upon the album’s release and were invited to the premiere of the Wim Wenders documentary that bears the album’s name, and still marvel at the wonder of the music and the performances, not to mention how 10 years have flown past.
Our favorites include: the lead-off track, the legendary Compay Segundo’s “Chan Chan”subsequently covered by noted Mexican prog-rockers (!) La Barranca; Ibrahim Ferrer’s heartfelt rendition of the classic bolero “Dos Gardenias”; and the hawaiian/son hybrid “Orgullecida”.

Salud, caballeros!
Bill Gates Doesn't Own An iPod

But he knows "a lot of people who’ve got them, and I’ve had a chance to use and play with them,” he told the New York Times. Of course, these folks are probably not
formally linked in any way, shape or form with software giant Microsoft, who are unveiling next month the second edition of their own competing MP3 player, Zune, with a revamping of its related cyber infrastructure.

The 45th Annual New York Film Festival

Check out PopMatters' initial take on this year's edition here.
Green River To Reunite

Britain's New Music Express has announced the seminal Seattle band, whose members went on to play in Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and Mother Love Bone, will reconvene next year to mark the 20th anniversary of the legendary Sub Pop label. The news was broken to the media by Green River/Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. No word yet on the participation of other former or current Sub Pop signees.


Can they get Soundgarden on that bill? Please.
What We're Listening To

GUSTAVO CERATI
Bocanada (BMG US Latin)

NADA SURF
Let Go (Barsuk)

ANDY PARTRIDGE
Fuzzy Warbles [selected tracks from Vol. 1, 7, 8] (Ape)

PEARL JAM
Ten (Epic)

PAUL WELLER
Wild Wood (Universal)


What are
YOU listening to?

10/03/2007

VH Live!



Blabbermouth has video footage from the second show of the Van Halen reunion tour, this past Saturday, Sept. 29th in Greensboro, North Carolina. (It's fan-filmed quality so don't get your hopes up.) "Running with the Devil", "Somebody Get Me a Doctor" and "Panama" are briefly featured.

[Thanks to "5"er Caplis for the heads up.]

OK, Computer

As we reported on Monday, Radiohead is releasing their new record, In Rainbows, on their own next week. And like all things Radiohead, this interesting development has gotten blown out of proportion, with the musical blogosphere awash with pronouncements of an impending Earth-shattering paradigm shift. OK. Let’s review: A hugely successful band with millions of fans decides to forgo traditional distribution routes and release their highly anticipated album via their own website. Cool. But, where's the risk in that? It may be a novel concept but not very much in the way of being groundbreaking, since the latter requires at least some form of peril. And if you're Radiohead there's very little threat of that.

This is the thing that we don't understand: people harping about how the digital domain will make record companies as we know them obsolete. And how the internet is the great equalizer. If the former is in regard to labels disappearing because people would rather download for free than pay for music then, sure, they'll disappear. As for the latter, what many don't understand is that, being an unknown artist and having your music online without any promotional push is like back in the day having your CD in every single Tower Records, but no one knew it was there. Will well-intentioned blogs pick up the PR slack? What if these gatekeepers don't like your music for whatever reason? And God forbid you have musical talent but limited technical aptitude, otherwise you better find some way to pay for that recording engineer.

The DIY artists which many refer to as the great examples of the digital revolution’s impending supremacy, are further proof of our position. These are, mostly, artists whose former major label liaisons may not want anything to do with them. But they’re betting that if a small fraction of the millions or hundreds of thousands that bought their records are still interested in what they have to offer, they can DIY and make the kind of money they probably never saw with Sony, etc. How can an unknown compete with what marketing people refer to as a "brand"?

We applaud Radiohead on this way of doing business. Surely many will be paying close attention to it. Most especially the labels who want to eventually circumvent the likes of iTunes and have, for instance, the Universal website as the exclusive source for all Motown. (Warner Bros is supposedly doing it with their out of print music at this point.) Brave new world, indeed.
Exit Music (For a Customer)

A poignant reminder of why the knowledgeable record store clerk can never be replaced.
San Carlos

Carlos Santana must be vying for sainthood. I truly commend him for exhibiting a desire to give people the benefit of the doubt and letting them into his world, hence his collaboration of a few years back with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger. But again? Why? Their new deal is called "Into the Night". Sheesh
Man King

Pitchfork interviews Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine who is currently touring behind his recently released The Shepherd's Dog album.

10/02/2007

Not a Blunder, But Lacking Some Thunder



VARIOUS ARTISTS Heavy Metal (Rhino)
Defiant in its stance, in terms of both relevance and intrinsic general attitude, heavy metal has seen and done it all: underground phenomenon, outsider soundtrack, mainstream chart-topping cartoon, vital and influential art form…you name it. Which is why its story needs to be told by those who truly know and understand where it’s been and what it’s done, making the folks at Rhino Records prime candidates for the job.

Arguably the kings of the re-issue, Rhino offer up this 4-cd box set of that never-a-critical-darling-but-we-don’t-care rock subgenre with much riding on it. Unfortunately, like most good-intentioned endeavors, the nature of the beast—in this case, the business of licensing tracks for compilations—rears its ugly head. So, what that boils down to is this chronologically compiled set—which ends in the early ‘90s, and omits the likes of Helmet, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, among many others—has no Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith
, AC/DC, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe or Guns N' Roses. We understand how inflexible some of these artists and/or their labels can be when it comes to having their songs appear in these kinds of comps, but perhaps Rhino should’ve gone the extra mile to secure music by the above. (Maybe they did.) Or at the very least added a decent selection of tunes from the last 15 years, in the hopes of making this box a bit more comprehensive. After all, if you’re going to leave out some of the very greats you should give us something more to counter the inclusion of Cinderella, Poison, and Lita Ford.

As it stands, Heavy Metal comes across like a studded version of those K-Tel comps of yesteryear: not much in the way of classics and missing many of the hits, but a workable, general summation of the music at hand. Sadly, for a box set dedicated to metal's history, that’s just not enough.
Christmas in March

The Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars movie--its 'making of' partially shown in the Lips doc The Fearless Freaks--is due for release in Spring '08, according to frontman Wayne Coyne, who directed the flick. The band plan to work on the follow up to their 2006 album At War With the Mystics once Christmas on Mars is out. The movie has been in the works for over five years.

21 to 7

No, that's not a new song by the second most successful American band of all time. It's how Canadian singer/songwriter Feist's "1, 2, 3, 4" has climbed up Billboard's digital downloads chart, aided no doubt, by the catchty tune being feautured in Apple's ubiquitous campaign for the new iPod nano. Nice to see indie rockers make good. (Feist is a former member of the Broken Social Scene band/collective.) Wait--she's on Interscope. Nevermind. Good for her, though.

10/01/2007

New Releases

It's old-timer's day out there. Among the discs du jour are:

BOB DYLAN Dylan [2007 3 cd edition] (Columbia/Legacy)

JOHN FOGERTY Revival (Fantasy)
PJ HARVEY White Chalk (Universal/Island)
MICK JAGGER The Very Best of (WEA/Rhino)
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Magic (Sony)
Happy Birthday

Policeman Gordon Matthew Sumner aka Sting (56) on Oct. 2nd.

Paranoid Androids

Having voluntarily let their Parlophone/Capitol/EMI contract lapse, Radiohead will forgo traditional distribution for the release of their newest album, In Rainbows, and on October 10th make it available for digital download via their website. The price? That's up to you. The band expect fans to name their price. Whether not safeguards are in place for, say, people only willing to contribute pennies to the band's coffers, is another story.

On Dec. 3rd In Rainbows will be released in "disc box" format --featuring the album on CD and double-vinyl, with a second disc including seven additional songs, photos, artwork and lyrics, all encased in a hardback book and slipcase for $75--with a conventional cd version coming out next year.

Track listing:

"15 Step"
"Bodysnatchers"
"Nude"
"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"
"All I Need"
"Faust Arp"
"Reckoner"
"House of Cards"
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place"
"Videotape"

Bonus disc:

"MK 1"
"Down Is the New Up"
"Go Slowly"
"MK 2"
"Last Flowers"
"Up on the Ladder"
"Bangers and Mash"
"4 Minute Warning"
What We're Listening To

JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things (Atlantic)
BILL LASWELL Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub (Island)
LIZ PHAIR Exile In Guyville (Matador)
ELLIOTT SMITH XO (Dreamworks)
XTC Oranges and Lemons (Virgin)

What are YOU listening to?
New Interpol Video

Glorious Noise has it...if you're into that sorta thing.
CMJ

The annual masturbatory musical experience once known as the College Music Journal Music Marathon and Film Festival hits New York City in 2 weeks, Oct. 16-20. This is a wonderful opportunity to catch the over-hyped, up-and-coming stars of 2008 in an over-crowded room filled with music biz types and their +1s, while more deserving bands with no industry machinery behind them play the Tuesday at 1 AM slot for the bar staff and that drunken girl no one wanted to date rape. Great!
There IS Hope (maybe)

As we previously reported, there is concern over the significantly lower sound quality in digital music files and the iPod itself. But this audio geek says firmware may be the answer. Let's hope so.