The charming lo-fi sound of Iron & Wine's past is gone and Sam 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, along with shades of Afro-pop, dub, brief hints of psychedelia, the spacey grooves of Los Lobos offshoot The Latin Playboys, and latter-day Tom Waits.
Honorary Mention: Radiohead In Rainbows, Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
FAVORITE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Drake Bell It’s Only Time (Universal)
Power pop bliss from a 21 year old star of the Nickelodeon network? You bet.
Runner up: Radiohead In Rainbows; Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Californication (Showtime)
Showtime’s new breakout series stars David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a middle-aged Hollywood Lothario who medicates his possibly career-ending writer’s block with sex and drugs, amidst the wreckage of his relationship with the mother of his devoted teenage daughter. Moody's lone novel, God Hates Us All, was turned into an allegedly lame, but quite successful big screen rom-com called A Crazy Little Thing Called Love, much to the deep chagrin of our 'hero', who fancies himself a "one hit-wonder" too busy skirt-chasing and espousing rivers of sarcasm to sit down and confront the muse. Sweet.
BEST REISSUE: Miles Davis The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony)
This six CD box set digs deep into Davis' trademark brand of funk and experimentation, regarded as both an attempt at reconnecting with a young black audience that had abandoned jazz for rock and funk, and a seminal influence on hip-hop, drum and bass, and electronica.
Runner Up: Elliott Smith New Moon (Kill Rock Stars)
BEST COMEBACK: Van Halen
The mighty VH got back with Diamond Dave and kicked some major ass in the process.
Runner up: Bob Pollard
After last year’s disappointing From a Compound Eye (Merge) the former Guided by Voices figurehead released 2 albums on the same day—Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions, both on Merge—and they were equally great.
BEST ALBUM TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR: A twofer from Eels; Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1, 1996 – 2006 (Geffen) and Useless Trinkets (Vagrant), a 50-song collection of b-sides and rarities.
Runner up: Joe Jackson Rain (Rykodisc)
BEST NEW TV SHOW: Californication (Showtime)
Runner up: Weeds (Showtime)
WORST ALBUM: Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (Roswell/RCA)
There is probably a small army of records worse than this one out there but such a mediocre release from a once promising band is just inexcusable.
Runner up: The Stooges The Weirdness (Virgin)
WORST COVER SONG: Velvet Revolver “Psycho Killer”
It must be heard to be believed. Qu'est que c'est? indeed.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC) gets cancelled
Unlike every other popular show out there with gimmicky, suspension of disbelief plots and/or story lines, Studio 60 delivered quality storytelling and writing from the great Aaron Sorkin. Is that why it got cancelled or was it too soon for another West Wing-type drama?
Runner up: Chris Cornell's second solo album was DEFINITELY NOT worth the wait; The slew of new reality shows going into production due to the writers’ strike; Guns ’N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy fails to appear yet again; Nickelback still around.
MOST UNWELCOME COMEBACK: Matchbox 20
Runner up: Kid Rock
MOST UNDESERVED HYPE: The website only release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows
Runner up: Marnie Stern In Advance of the Broken Arm (Kill Rock Stars)
MOST UNNECCESARY REHASHING: The Kanye West/50 Cent duel for the top chart spot
* * * * *
Film director Michelangelo Antonioni; British music impresario Don Arden (former Black Sabbath manager and father of Sharon Osbourne); James Brown’s longtime sidekick, the great Bobby Byrd; the incomparable Alice Coltrane; actress Yvonne De Carlo, best known for her role as “Lily Munster”; Boston lead vocalist Brad Delp; The Mamas and the Papas’ Denny Doherty; South African reggae artist Lucky Dube; Quiet Riot frontman Kevin Du Brow; Ruts guitarist/vocalist Paul Fox; singer/songwriter/producer Lee Hazlewood; vocalist Billy Henderson of The Spinners; Joe Hunter, pianist and original member of Motown Records' in-house studio band, the Funk Brothers; comedian Richard Jeni; CBGB founder Hilly Kristal; the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti; saxophonist Cecil Payne; Killing Joke, Prong, and Ministry bassist Paul Raven; jazz/Afro-Cuban saxophonist/arranger Mario Rivera; legendary jazz drummer Max Roach; opera singer Beverly Sills; composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; influential talk show host and TV personality Tom Snyder; bandleader, songwriter, musician, rock and roll pioneer Ike Turner; Factory Records founder and British TV/radio personality Tony Wilson (the film 24 Hour Party People is a semi-fictionalized account of his life); bandleader, keyboard virtuoso and Miles Davis collaborator Joe Zawinul.
Singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg, best known for the soft-rock hits "Leader of the Band" and "Longer", died on Sunday, in his home in Maine. After the release of the promising Full Circle album--his first studio album of new material in a decade--he retired from music a year later in 2004, after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He was 56.
After two months of reruns due to the Writers Guild strike, NBC's The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien will resume with new shows on the first official working day of the new year. David Letterman's Late Show is expected to follow suit. Not wanting to cross the picket line, the shows will air without writers supplying material. Considering how comedy is so much more a part of contemporary talk shows than decades ago, it's safe to assume the shows will have more guests than skits or comedic bits.
Last week Sen. Hillary Clinton dropped Celine Dion' s "You and I" from her presidential campaign appearances and replaced it with Big Head Todd and the Monsters' "Blue Sky."
Wow, hadn't heard that name in a while...we'd completely forgotten about those dudes.
Veteran thrashers Anthrax have just announced their new lead singer: Dan Nelson, from Levittown, Long Island. The 31 year old part-time singer and personal trainer was hired after contacting the band's guitarist Rob Caggiano via MySpace and succesfully auditioning for the group.
Anthrax, who reunited and toured with original singer Joey Belladona in 2006 but could not reach any further agreement with the vocalist, are currently in the studio working on a new album.
With ratings dropping for the late night talk shows and the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers still at an impasse after weeks of negotiations, it looks like Dave, Jay, Conan and Jimmy might go back to work as early as Jan. 7th. Variety has more.
Here it is from Monday night's reunion concert in London:
Good Times Bad Times
In My Time Of Dying
For Your Life
Trampled Under Foot
Nobodys Fault But Mine
Since I've Been Loving You
Dazed And Confused
Stairway To Heaven
The Song Remains The Same
Misty Mountain Hop
Whole Lotta Love
Rock And Roll
Although there is no official confirmation, both a DVD culled from the concert and future dates are rumored. Stay tuned.
- Jake Brown on GloriousNoise.com
The 52 year old singer is back in her New York City home after brain surgery last month. The procedure was due to a rare but benign condition. Cash is expected to make a full rcovery and return to the studio early in the new year to work on her first album for EMI's Manhattan Records label, and tour in the spring. All the best...
As we've stated before here and here, all the Writers Guild of America wants for its members is a fair share of the digital pie. The Hollywood studios are crying poverty or uncertainty of profit. Yet they like nothing more than to brag about their wonderful, new digital revenue streams to the media, shareholders, Wall Street, trade publications and anyone who'll listen. Except when they have to pay those who do the grunt work. You know, like writers, for instance.
Among the newbies and reissues out today are:
ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS Hard Bop [Bonus Tracks] (Mosaic)
DAVE MATTHEWS Live at Piedmont Park (RCA)
PINK FLOYD Oh by the Way [box set] Capitol
RADIOHEAD self-titled [box set] Capitol
WU-TANG CLAN 8 Diagrams [CD/DVD] (Motown)
"It was only a couple of years ago that we said, 'What's going on here?' Really, an album that someone worked on for two years — is that worth only $9, $10, when people pay two bucks for coffee in Starbucks? People never really understand what's happening to the artists. All the sharing of the music, right? Is it correct that people share their music, fill up these devices with music they haven't paid for? If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go. That's what happened to the record business."
- Universal Music Group chairmain and CEO Doug Morris
"As one who makes a living making records for others, I have to tell ya the whole 'touring uber alles' meme is tired and deeply flawed. Setting aside the loss of a valid modern art form (the album, as distinct from it's compositions and performances), both club circuits and pay scales have been in decline for a couple decades now. While artists could make a good living touring in small clubs in earlier eras, not so today: Indie bands are doing good to make $200 in a mid-size city on a weeknight, which must cover gas, food and lodging for 3-6 people. Burger King is a better option. Touring is very difficult for bands who lack outside revenue (from album and merch sales or a day job). Even the most savvy artists with great merch and name recognition tour at their own risk: Typically only weekend shows are profitable outside major cities.
The notion of artists surviving on their live performances or touring revenue is naive and worthless. Venue attendance is weak across the country, gates are stagnant, and radio support non-existent. It's difficult to grow a following organically, requiring an investment of years and thousands of out-of-someones-pocket dollars in tour and life support. Suggesting bands give up royalties for recordings and instead rely on road revenues is ludicrous on it's [sic] face. It's a mantra chanted by people looking to validate the false morality of illegitimate file trading. It's easy to rationalize ripping off big labels, especially when their [sic] headed by douchebags who hate fans as much as they love money. But the fact remains, we need to find a revenue stream for recorded music, as venues move away from live entertainment and opportunity narrows for tour revenue."
- Mastering engineer D. Lincoln
- Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme on antiquiet.com
The ever tight-lipped Manic Street Preachers have called Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want download option/experiment for In Rainbows demeaning to music.
"Fair play to Radiohead for doing something different,” said bassist Nicky Wire to British tabloid the Daily Star. “It's certainly great for publicity but I think it kind of demeans music. Music used to be a market, now it's all gone digital. It's worrying and it seems to be the way of the world at the moment. Sales are doing well everywhere else. Cinema is doing well, video games are doing well but music isn't. The free download phenomenon is ruining the industry."
The Manics are also contemplating releasing their music on their own, once their deal expires with Sony, according to drummer Sean Moore, who further stated, "We made more money with live shows this year than in the last seven of releasing records. We want to do records ourselves. Labels are scared to move forward, we're not."
With the unorthodox release method of their most recent album acting quite possibly as a catalyst, Radiohead have entered talks with iTunes about the inclusion of In Rainbows among the digital superstore’s wares. It’s not clear whether this will affect the band’s EMI catalog, which is not for sale on iTunes, due to the band’s insistence that their albums be offered in complete form.
Meanwhile, the band has announced 16 summer dates for 2008, including an appearance at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival. These dates will take them through France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, as well. According to their management, American dates will be announced soon and dates in Asia, Australia and South Africa are being considered, depending on how much touring Radiohead plan on doing.
Oh, and by the way: after 2 months, the official pay-what-you-want download option/experiment for In Rainbows will cease on Dec. 10th. The unofficial option—ie blatant theft—will probably continue in earnest ‘til who knows when. (Our apologies to MBV.)
What do these two seemingly disparate mega bands have in common? They’ve both hired a lead singer from a respective tribute band, that’s what! Filipino singer Arnel Pineda was spotted performing Journey songs with his band The Zoo on YouTube by Journey guitarist Neal Schon and has been picked to assume frontman duties and join the band in the studio for recording of their 2008 release.
(After the departure of lead singer Rob Halford, Judas Priest hired Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens—who led the Priest tribute band British Steel—in 1996. His story was the basis for the Mark Wahlberg film Rock Star aka Metal God.)
Guess they’ve been scoping out indie kids/hipsters, huh? The R.J. Reynolds Tobbaco Co.—makers of the fauxhemian cigarette of choice, Camel Lights—have halted their advertising campaign aimed at fans at indie rock after being sued in nine states for the alleged violation of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and tobacco manufacturers. It turns out the “Indie Rock Universe” campaign featured cartoon-like drawings, which is illegal for tobacco products these days. The ad originally ran in a nine-page spread in the November 15th issue of Rolling Stone. Also, it's not clear if the bands mentioned in the spread gave their consent to appear.
This and this is what the spread/campaign looked like.
Recently, veteran music writer Dave DiMartino spoke to Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones about their upcoming Dec. 10th London reunion show/tribute to the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun in London, and what it is to be part of one of the most enduring and beloved rock bands of all time. Check it out.
Also: Dave Grohl, Scott Ian, Wyclef Jean, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Satriani and other celebrity fans weigh in on what Zeppelin meant to them.
This past Monday night Bravo aired its most recent episode of the 13-time Emmy-nominated series Inside The Actors Studio, with special guest Golden Globe nominated and renowned actor John Cusack. Host James Lipton asks the quite private actor about growing up in Chicago, his long-time friendship with Entourage star Jeremy Piven, and why he almost didn't take the role of Lloyd Dobler in the 1989 hit Say Anything. Sorry we missed it. If you did too, check the Bravo website for future airings.
Pixies bassist and head Breeder Kim Deal in VenusZine:
"The new Breeders record is scheduled to be released in April 2008. There are 13 songs. Mando Lopez is still on bass, Jose Medeles on drums, Kelley Deal, my evil twin, on guitar and vocals, and I'm playing guitar and vocals.
The songs are just songs. But for instance, one song Kelley and I did live. She played stand-up bass and I played acoustic guitar while we sang. Steve Albini taped it live like that. Yet another song has Kelley playing bass and Mando playing rhythm guitar. I'm playing the lead and Kelley and I are singing throughout. On song has Mando playing a lead guitar which Albini then backward masked. One song has three, count 'em, three basses on it..."Stay tuned.
THE WEBB BROTHERS
Sons of legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb ("MacArthur Park", "Wichita Lineman", "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"), Jimmy and Christiaan—who have since added younger brother Justin to the mix—played the Chicago club circuit extensively before going the same route as Jimi Hendrix, Chrissie Hynde and The Strokes: conquer Britain first, then return home as heroes. While things did go rather smoothly in the U.K. (a deal with WEA International; a slot at the Reading festival; hooking up with producer Stephen Street of Smiths and Blur fame), the homeland has not been as kind to the Webb siblings: here in the U.S. they remain virtual unknowns with this full-length release long having languished as a record store bargain bin staple.
The critically lauded Maroon is undeserving of such neglect, for among other things, its catchy, sophisticated pop occasionally suggests a cross between Ben Folds and latter day Flaming Lips (especially on the last third of the album). Lyrically, the Webb Brothers have a finely developed taste for the bittersweet: the hauntingly beautiful "All The Cocaine In The World" takes a "God Only Knows"-type motif and marries it to such musings as "All the cocaine in the world / can’t bring back the girl" (which incidentally, are the song’s entire lyrics). Other highlights include the shoulda-been-a-hit "I Can't Believe You're Gone"; "Are You Happy Now?" and "Marooned".
Engaging and rewarding, Maroon may be just one more in a long line of hidden gems out there, but its dreadful commercial fate does not diminish its power and beauty one bit. Hands down, this is one of our favorites from the current decade. Or any other, for that matter.
[Maroon album over courtesy of allmusic.com]
Anyway, in terms of recorded music the pact’s been broken –the personal connection between the artist and the listener. MP3 has dismantled the intended shape of an album. And then everything is leaked, everything is stolen. So I play live, it happens in the moment, if I do a new song I might never play it again, and if you’re not there you fuckin’ miss it… "
- Elvis Costello, Mojo magazine, Dec. 2007
We're just going backwards, people...
This week there's a bunch of reissues out there just in time for gift giving. Among them:
DAVID BOWIE The David Bowie Box [Box Set] (Sony)
JAMES BROWN The Singles, Vol. 4: 1966-1967 (Hip-O Select)
NICK DRAKE Fruit Tree [3CD/1DVD] (Fontana/Island)
N.W.A Straight Outta Compton [20th Anniversary Edition] (Priority)
THE TEARDROP EXPLODES Peel Sessions Plus (Mercury)
Morrissey Sues NME For Defamation
Moz and the New Music Express are at it again. This time the former Smiths frontman is seeking legal action after he was criticized by the music magazine for allegedly stating in an interview with the publication that he would not return to England because it had lost its identity due to higher immigration levels unlike Germany or Sweden. (After a stint in Los Angeles, Morrissey currently resides in Italy.) He later clarified his statement maintaining that it wasn't immigration but expense and pressure that keep him from moving back to the UK.
During the '80s and '90s Moz was accused of racism due to ambiguous lyrics in the songs "Bengali in Platforms", "National Front Disco" and "Asian Rut", as well as his 1992 performance at London's Finsbury Park [see above] in which he draped himself in the Union Jack—commonly associated with nationalism and the British far right—and used a photograph of two female skinheads as a backdrop. After this performance the NME stated Moz had "left himself in a position where accusations that he's toying with far-right/fascist imagery, and even of racism itself, can no longer just be laughed off with a knowing quip".
On the other hand, the singer's defenders bring up his—predominantly Mexican—Latino following which he has embraced wholeheartedly; his criticism of the rise Austrian far-right politician Jörg Haider and his signing in 2004 of the explicitly anti-fascist Unite Against Fascism statement, are also cited. As for this new fracas, Morrissey's lawyers are already pursuing legal action against the NME for defamation. The magazine has declined to print a retraction or apology.
[NME cover courtesy of Wikipedia.]
[Starting with John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" last week, this series of random postings will be about songs around the 10-minute mark in length that we highly enjoy. Thus, the title for the postings.]
One night in 1988, while listening to the radio in the wee hours, we heard what we unmistakably thought sounded like Jane's Addiction, that band we'd read so much about and were more than curious about finally listening to. We were right: it was their signature tune "Jane Says" and even though this mostly acoustic song did not resemble the art/funk metal that characterizes most of their recorded output, it got us hooked and then some.
As we became enamored with both Nothing's Shocking (Warner Bros-1988) and Ritual de lo Habitual (Warner Bros-1990), the one aspect of the band's various and ear-grabbing sonic details that most impressed us was how Dave Navarro's alternately textured and fiery, virtuoso guitar playing seemed to be the missing link between the Robert Smith/David Ash contingent and the Eddie Van Halens of the world of rock guitar. In a way, we found it to be a kind of continuation of Jimi Hendrix's futuristic approach to both the instrument and the music.
And the best example of this is Ritual's "Three Days" (10:48), a prog-rock influenced masterpiece about a love triangle, that shows off Navarro at his very best. (Check out the 2-minute, six-string fireworks starting at the 4:43 mark and later at 9:37.) Our boundless appreciation for this song is such that quite a few times we've spent more than three days listening to it non-stop. Indeed.
(Kudos to bassist Eric Avery and drummer Stephen Perkins, for their playing throughout, especially the former for the hypnotic bassline that anchors the song's first of three parts.)
[Ritual de lo Habitual cover courtesy of Wikipedia.]
Like punk, emo has become a big deal in the last few years. But something funny happened on the way to the bank: Imagine if the history of rock music—particularly punk—were revised and rewritten, with The Ramones and The Sex Pistols excised from the canon and replaced with Blink 182 instead. This is the parallel that can be drawn to current emo. SDRE is rarely brought up these days—let alone Rites of Spring or the aforementioned Fugazi—despite an absence of little over 5 years past; meanwhile third rate, watered-down posers get to be pseudo avatars. You could say that emo went form being The Cure-on-steroids to Air Supply with distorted-guitars, spiky hairdos, and some of the whiniest, lamest lyrical content heard in recent times. And no, we're not talking about Joan of Arc or Jets to Brazil; more like fratboy favorites Jimmy Eat World and that small army of makeup covered wusses that have unfurled the emo banner as their own. Jeez.
Here's the sad, sad proof of Pickler's ignorance: