4/29/2008

New Releases

Some of what's hit music stores both virtual and mortar today include:

DEF LEPPARD Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (Island)
HALL & OATES Playlist: The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates (RCA)
MUDCRUTCH self-titled (Reprise)
PORTISHEAD Third (Island)
THE ROOTS Rising Down (Def Jam)

New, Free Coldplay Single and Show

“Violet Hill” from Coldplay’s upcoming fourth studio album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, is available as a free download from the band’s website as of today.
Also free, is their Madison Square Garden show on June 23rd. (They'll be playing another gratis gig at London's Brixton Academy a week prior.) Fans are exhorted to check coldplay.com for updates and not the venue box office since no tickets will be available there.

What We're Listening To

GUIDED BY VOICES Mag Earwhig! (Matador)
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE Axis: Bold as Love (Reprise)
OWSLEY self-titled (Giant)
SPOON Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
CHRIS WALLA Field Manual (Barsuk)

What are YOU listening to?

4/28/2008

This Week's Playlist: At the Movies

Here's ten tracks from and/or routinely included in movies. Enjoy!

1. BOBBY DARIN “I’m Beginning to See the Light” (Capitol)
2. THE DRAMATICS “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” (Stax)
3. FOO FIGHTERS “Everlong” (Roswell/RCA)
4. GOO GOO DOLLS “Don’t Change” (MCA)
5. ISLEY BROTHERS “It’s Your Thing” (T-Neck)
6. DEAN MARTIN “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” (Capitol)
7. THE POSIES “Going, Going, Gone” (DGC)
8. PRINCE “Anotherloverholenyohead” (Warner Bros)
9. SIMON & GARFUNKEL “The Only Living Boy in New York City” (Columbia)
10. STEELY DAN “FM” (MCA)

Coachella Turns Purple

Prince rocked; Portishead chilled; Sean Penn preached political and environmental activisim to the crowd. Here's more of what went down over the weekend at the Indio, CA music festival.

Summer Movie Preview

If you're anything like us, you prefer air conditioning to the sweltering heat, even if it comes attached to a tropical paradise. Everybody knows that movie theatres are properly "refrigerated". However, there are times when you'd rather fry shirtless on the sidewalk than sit through 90 minutes of Joe Dirt, even if that AC is bangin'.

So, to help you plan your above 85 degree season film watching season, we direct you to the good people at PopMatters, who have put together a four-month installment of upcoming flicks, called "The Return of the Popcorn Circus", starting with movie releases for the month of May. Butter and salt, please. Thank you.

Yes, it's Camus' This Time: 50 Great Cult Books

The UK's Telegraph compiles their list "of history's most notable cult writing. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire." Dig in.

Quote of the Day


"One of the emotions I feel when I'm writing is, I'm a genius."

- The highly overrated Rufus Wainwright is obviously drinking his own Kool-Aid.

4/25/2008

Thank You, Boys

The original Jane's Addiction lineup--vocalist Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and for the first time since 1991, bassist Eric Avery--briefly reunited on stage at the first annual NME Awards USA in the band's hometown of Los Angeles. They were the recipients of the Godlike Genius Award, the British magazine's lifetime achievement recognition.

No word as to whether this performance will herald future live appearances by the beloved and influential '90s quartet. In the meantime, here they are performing "Stop" and "Mountain Song" at the event (quality is not 100%):

How To Make Your Own Judd Apatow Movie

The guys at Cracked are at it again. This time they dissect the method to creating a flick a la Judd Apatow--the man behind The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall--in 5 easy steps. Oh, it's funny 'cause it's true.

It's All in the Details

Filmmaker John Waters dislikes The Beatles because "[t]hey put Motown out of business" and the Liverpool quartet's music "led to the Monkees." This from a man who not only gave us the lame fests Hairspray and Cry-Baby, but adores Alvin and the Chipmumks, for Pete's sake. (Monkees pun intended.) Yeah, we trust that guy's taste and judgement. Details magazine has more.

Billboard Q&A: The Replacements

Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson sit down separately with the music biz/charts mag to discuss their old band, the recent reissues of their catalog, and those pesky reunion rumors.

Wesley Snipes Gets 3 Years in Jail

The action movie star was sentenced to the maximum 3 years in jail yesterday "for failing to file income taxes he insisted he never had to pay". The Associated Press has more.

4/24/2008

Radiohead Return to Conan O'Brien Show

When Late Night with Conan O'Brien debuted 15 years ago (!) Radiohead was the show's first musical guest. These days, both are huge names in their respective fields and quite eco-friendly, so O'Brien had the band back for his "green" Earth Day show. The band performs In Rainbows' "House of Cards" from a London soundstage, especially for the show. (There's of course a Kyoto conference-related jab at US president George W. Bush. Surprise.)

NME Names Vampire Weekend Best New Band

Further proof that with few exceptions--Mojo, Uncut and very little else--the British music press are just a small army of wankers, not even worthy of Spin magazine's lowly and ever-diminishing level of respect and competency: at last night's first annual NME Awards USA, lame-ass New York preppies, Vampire Weekend were named "Best New Band". Ugh. Enough with these posers, already!

You Say You Want Evolution?

Yoko Ono is suing the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using her late husband John Lennon's "Imagine" without perrmission. The filmmakers included the ex-Beatles' iconic song in their documentary, in which they claim, according to Wikipedia, "that what it calls 'Big Science' suppresses dissent from the scientific theory of evolution and portrays the theory as having contributed to the rise of the Nazi Holocaust, communism, atheism and Planned Parenthood." Ouch.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Julian Lennon, Sean Lennon--heirs to their dad's publishing--and EMI Blackwood Music Inc, seeks financial damages and the filmmakers to cease distributing, selling and promoting the movie.

Expelled hit theatres on April 18th.

The Modfather Brings About Peace (and new album)

Not exactly the Brit-Pop version of an East Coast-West Coast truce, but close enough: Paul Weller’s upcoming studio album 22 Dreams, features contributions from ex-Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, as well as Oasis six-stringers Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer. (Gallagher and Archer's "Echoes Round the Sun" is scheduled to be the first single.) The new album hits retail on June 24th.

More New Releases

It wasn't just Replacements reissues; these also debuted this past Tuesday:

BLIND MELON For My Friends (Adrenaline)
ELBOW The Seldom Seen Kid (Polydor)
THE FEELIES Crazy Rhythms (A&M)
STANTON MOORE Emphasis! On Parenthesis (Telarc)
TOKYO POLICE CLUB Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek)

4/23/2008

Metallica's Record Store Day Adventure

The local Bay Area NBC affiliate reports on Metallica's Record Store Day appearance at Rasputin's, this past Saturday, to commemorate the release earlier in the week of the band's classic albums Kill 'em All, and Ride the Lightning on 180 gram vinyl. Pretty cool.

Soon (but not soon enough)

The US edition of British festival All Tomorrow’s Parties will take place Sept. 19-21 at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, N.Y and will be curated by none other than the reformed My Bloody Valentine, who will also perform. (Some half-dozen other MBV dates in the US have been announced but not confirmed.) Also, the Don’t Look Back part of the event—in which artists perform a classic album of theirs in its entirety—will include Built To Spill [Perfect From Now On], Tortoise [Millions Now Living Will Never Die], The Meat Puppets [Meat Puppets II] and Thurston Moore [Psychic Hearts]. (We like that last one, but classic? That’s iffy at best.)

Shellac, Mogwai, and Polvo are among the other acts on the festival bill.

Ramones Drummer Loses Royalties Lawsuit

Richie Ramone (Richard Reinhardt) who played drums for The Ramones from 1983-1987 has lost a lawsuit contending he was owed in the vicinity of $1 million dollars in digital royalties for the six songs he wrote for the group: "Smash You", "Somebody Put Something in My Drink", "Human Kind", "I'm Not Jesus", "I Know Better Now" and "(You) Can't Say Something Nice". ("Somebody Put Something in My Drink", from the Animal Boy album, is a particular favorite of ours.) The presiding judge ruled that the wording "now or hereafter known" included in the contract referred to future formats, as well as phonographic records, and thus, the contract covered the digital domain.
One question: Who represents the Ramones estate? With 3/4 of the original Ramones now deceased (that would be Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee) do original drummer Tommy Ramone, and long-standing drummer Marky Ramone have a say? Or is it the individual estates of, primarily, Joey and Johnny the ones in charge? Just curious...

Repent, The End is Near (reason # 972)

Reality TV hosts are now eleigble for Emmy nominations. A new category was created by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and will be presented at the 60th annual Emmy Awards in September.

Quote of the Day


It’s not hard, it turns out, to forget Sarah Marshall. The problem is remembering her.”

- from David Denby’s review of Forgetting Sarah Marshall in the New Yorker magazine, April 21, 2008.

What We're Listening To

BATTLES Mirrored (Warp)
MIRACLE BRAH Plate Spinner (Not Lame)
MICHAEL PENN MP4 (Days Since an Accident) (57/Sony)
THE RACONTEURS Consolers of the Lonely (Third Man/Warner Bros)
TV ON THE RADIO Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope)

What are YOU listening to?

4/22/2008

Happy Earth Day!

And so, we give you...a great band once called Earth: the legendary Black Sabbath, performing their signature song from their 1970 self-titled debut. Enjoy!

Reunited, And It Feels So…hmmm

In the last few years bands as diverse as Gang of Four, Killing Joke, The Pixies, The Police, Stone Temple Pilots, Wire, etc. etc. etc. have been jumping on the reunion bandwagon. Some to cash in, relive old times or to rekindle a creative partnership; whatever the reason may be. But here’s the thing: at least stay away long enough to miss you.

According to their record company’s press release, beloved Argentine rockers Los Fabulosos Cadillcas will reunite and work on a new album and tour extensively, “following a six-year hiatus”. How do you ‘reunite’ after just “a six-year hiatus”? Especially in this era of three years between albums being the norm. Fellow Argentines Soda Stereo reunited last year, a decade after their 1997 farewell tour, and while the news of their re-teaming was a nice surprise, it didn’t feel like they’d been gone that long. Bands shouldn’t be able to reunite unless 15 years have passed. There, we’ve said it. Otherwise, it feels like a cheap marketing ploy, regardless of the intent.

Pajo's Dead Child

Pitchfork chats with noted indie rocker David Pajo about his new metal outfit Dead Child.

Mattingly, P.I.

Legendary New York Yankee and current Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Don Mattingly is being considered for the lead in the upcoming Magnum, PI movie. We shit you not.

Well, we had Matthew McConaughey lined up initially, but Magnum, P.I. traditionalists raised a real stink about the mustache issue. It turns out Matthew can’t actually grow one,” producer Shel Burnstein told the dubiously-monikered Serious Sports Network, earlier this month. “The similarities between [Actor Tom] Selleck and Donnie are almost eerie. Their mustaches, I mean – they don’t actually look that much alike otherwise, but the near-identical ’stache is a big hit around Hollywood.”

Furthermore, SSN states that “McConaughey in the starring role drew scores of protests from mustache lovers everywhere. The American Mustache Institute was especially vocal.”

We shit you not.

Production for the movie would begin after the current baseball season, since, according to Bernstein “a mustache like that is worth the wait, especially if we can get [Dodgers manager Joe] Torre to play Higgins.”

The Onion
just got served.

New Releases

It's all about the reissues today. And one artist in particular:

THE REPLACEMENTS Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Stink EP [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Hootenany [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)
THE REPLACEMENTS Let it Be [deluxe reissue] (Rhino)

4/21/2008

This Week's Playlist: 1969

Undoubtedly, 1969 was a big year for popular music. Here's a smattering. Enjoy!

1. BEATLES “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (Apple)
2. BLIND FAITH "Can't Find My Way Home" (ATCO)
3. DAVID BOWIE “Space Oddity” (RCA)
4. JOHNNY CASH “A Boy Named Sue” (Columbia)
5. CROSBY, STILLS & NASH “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (Atlantic)
6. THE GUESS WHO “Undun” (Buddha)
7. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE “Crosstown Traffic” (Reprise)
8. KING CRIMSON "21st Century Schizoid Man" (Atlantic)
9. LED ZEPPELIN “Whole Lotta Love” (Atlantic)
10. B.J. THOMAS "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" (A&M)
11. THE WHO “I’m Free” (Decca)
12. FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” (Bizarre/Reprise)

Weezer Single Climbs Billboard Chart

Two months in advance of the album that includes it, new Weezer single "Pork and Beans" has hit #19 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. The track will be available digitally on April 24th; the upcoming "red" album is due for release on June 24th. Meanwhile, "Pork and Beans" is streaming at the band's site. What do we think of the song? We're gonna echo the guys at Glorious Noise on this one:

"Whatever. The song kinda sucks anyway. Don't bother. Fuck 'em."

Well, actually, we've got nothing against Weezer, so we'll agree with the first half of the above.

Allman Brothers Cancel Beacon Shows

The Allman Brothers' annual run at New York's Beacon Theatre has been cancelled to allow for Gregg Allman's recovery from hepatitis C treatment. This year's 15-dates had been originally scheduled for March but had to be postponed due to Allman's illness. "New York's a second home to us. We love playing there and are as disappointed as anybody not to be able to get there this time," Allman said. The shows have been added to their 2009, 40th anniversary tour.

Happy Birthday



Our favorite king of gloom and doom, Mr. Robert Smith (49); today, April 21st.

Do it for the Kids, Slash: Quit Now

With the departure of vocalist Scott Weiland, off to front the reunited Stone Temple Pilots this summer, Velvet Revolver is rumored to be setting up auditions via their website. Really? What guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan should be doing is making plans to rejoin Guns 'n' Roses and exterminate the painful mediocrity that is Velvet Revolver. Right?

4/18/2008

How Low Can You Go?

As far back as we can remember, we’ve always been fond of a fat, well-rounded, bottom end. And the low-frequency sound of a bass, too. Ha! This is one of the main reasons we were never sold on The White StripesMeg White’s dismal drumming a VERYCLOSE second—and as much as we respect Stripes antecedent Flat Duo Jets, we liked them best with a bass player, too. (By the way, we’re down with Local H, in case you were wondering.) The Stripes’ immense popularity has brought quite a few similar acts out of the woodwork. So, as you can imagine, it has been, at the very least, with mild apprehension that we’ve listened to a series of bass-less duos and trios over the last few years, and have mostly avoided them whenever possible. This week was not one of those times.
On Wednesday and Thursday night, The Late Show with David Letterman, featured Gossip and The Black Keys, respectively. Not bad.

We’d never heard of Gossip, which features a very large front woman who’s not afraid to shake her booty to the primal but fun groove created by the guitarist and drummer that round out the trio. Nice, but nothing to write home about. On the other hand, we’d not been unimpressed by The Black Keys in the past, and last night, the raw, blues-informed vibe of the Ohio duo’s “I Got Mine” even got Dave and resident bandleader Paul Shaffer into it. (See video clip below.)

Good stuff. Still needs a bass player, though.


Blood and Thunder: Into the Void: John Darnielle on Sabbath, Extreme Metal, and Indie Rock

Self-explanatory, huh? Darnielle of lo-fi, folk rockers The Mountain Goats explores the depths of metal and the tenuous relationship between mainstream, old school and indie followers of the heavy stuff. He also talks about his recent book on Black Sabbath, Masters of Reality, and the path that led him to it.

No, Not Camus'


[The Stranger album cover courtesy of allmusic.com]

1977's The Stranger, the album that many consider to be Billy Joel's finest moment, will get the the deluxe reissue treatment on July 8th. Columbia Records plans to release two versions: a two-CD set and a two-CD/single-DVD package. The extra disc consists of the previously unreleased "Live at Carnegie Hall 1977", recorded on June 3rd of that year, prior to the sessions for The Stranger. The DVD includes video clips and a 1978 hour-long appearance on the BBC's "The Old Grey Whistle Test", which allegedly only aired once. Chuck Klosterman's gotta be ecstatic.

RIP

Danny Federici, long-time keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, died last night after a three-year battle with melanoma. He was 58.

Tomorrow is 'Record Store Day'

As we stated previously, Sat. April, 19th is being commemorated as "Record Store Day", a show of support for 'Mom and Pop' shops all over the country. Artists as diverse as Metallica and Stephen Malkmus will be doing in-stores, performing, or releasing special editions/pressings of their music available only at participating stores. Here is a list of shops involved in the day's festivities.

Today's NY Times has a piece on "Record Store Day" and how lack of music sales have decimated some 80 local shops across town.

4/17/2008

Huey Lewis and the Foos

"Ladies and gentlemen, on the harmonica, Mr. Huey Lewis and the Foos!"
First it was "YYZ" with Rush, now this. They're gonna revoke Dave Grohl's alt/indie membership. Ha! What say you, Pitchfork? Interestingly, the Foos never seem to do this sort of thing here in the US. (Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush joined Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins in Toronto; the Huey Lewis jam was in Osaka, Japan.)

Is 'Smooth Jazz' Dead?

Will Kenny G finally get a day job? PopMatters' Will Layman ponders the inevitable.

Happy Birthday

Jazz fusion keyboardist/soundtrack composer Jan Hammer (60); The Buzzcocks' leader Pete Shelley (53); author/notorious music geek Nick Hornby, and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa (both 51); Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan, (44); Liz Phair, and noted drummer Matt Chamberlain (both 41); rapper Redman (38); all on April 17th.

4/16/2008

I Would For You: Jane Says, Reunite


[Jane's Addiction's classic lineup, l-r: drummer Stephen Perkins, frontman Perry Farrell, bassist Eric Avery, guitarist Dave Navarro. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.]

For the first time--since headlining Lollapalooza's maiden voyage in 1991--the original Jane's Addiction lineup, including long-estranged bassist Eric Avery, will reunite in Los Angeles on April 23rd. The occasion: NME's inaugural awards ceremony, during which the band will be bestowed with the "God Like Genius" award, in recognition of their contributions to alternative rock. It has not been confirmed, as of yet, if the band will perform.

Avery's impressive solo album, Help Wanted, was released last week on indie label Dangerbird.

What We're Listening To

DOUG GILLARD Salamander (Big Takeover)
KING CRIMSON Red (EG)
DAVE NAVARRO Trust No One (Capitol)
SPOON Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
SUN KIL MOON April (Caldo Verde)

What are YOU listening to?

Touch Me, I'm Rich

As part of the celebrations to commemorate Sub Pop's 20th anniversary, the revered indie label will put out--yes, you guessed it--deluxe reissues of some of their seminal releases, starting with Mudhoney's Superfuzz BigMuff on May 22nd. The following will be performing live during other festivities linked to the anniversary:
Comets on Fire, Foals, a one-off Green River reunion, The Helio Sequence, Iron & Wine, Low, and the aforementioned Mudhoney, among others.

Judas Priest Concept Album

The Birmingham metal gods are releasing a double disc concept album based on 16th century prophet Nostradamus. Seriously.

Money Changes Everything

Despite past internal acrimony of the most bitter kind, Motley Crue are touring behind a new studio album; the original lineup's first in over a decade. And why not: their 2005/2006 road trip grossed more than $45 million. Even the staunchest of enemies would extend the olive branch over that kind of loot.
Oh, yeah, the new album is called Saints of Los Angeles. (Which would be Saints of the Angels, in Spanish. Ha!) Release date is June 17th.

4/15/2008

Paul Simon, Thief? (and "The World's Biggest Prick"?)


[Paul Simon courtesy of RollingStone.com]

Just in time for his Neil Diamond-like reappraisal by a generation of hipsters, an interview with Los Lobos' Steve Berlin has resurfaced, in which the saxophonist accuses Paul Simon of outright theft–-and more-–during the sessions they collaborated on for Simon's landmark Graceland album.

"I have plenty of recollections of working on that one [Graceland]. I don't know if you heard the stories, but it was not a pleasant deal for us. I mean he [Simon] quite literally–-and in no way do I exaggerate when I say–-he stole the songs from us...The guy was clueless...He's the world's biggest prick, basically."

"It was ridiculous. [On the second day together with Simon in the studio] I think David starts playing 'The Myth of the Fingerprints,' or whatever he ended up calling it. That was one of our songs. That year, that was a song we started working on By Light of the Moon. So that was like an existing Lobos sketch of an idea that we had already started doing. I don't think there were any recordings of it, but we had messed around with it. We knew we were gonna do it. It was gonna turn into a song. Paul goes, 'Hey, what's that?' We start playing what we have of it, and it is exactly what you hear on the record. So we're like, 'Oh, ok. We'll share this song.' A few months later, the record comes out and says 'Words and Music by Paul Simon.' We were like, 'What the fuck is this?'

We tried calling him, and we can't find him. Weeks go by and our managers can't find him. We finally track him down and ask him about our song, and he goes, 'Sue me. See what happens.'

Classy. (We've also heard first-person accounts about Simon's less than pleasant undertakings in the past.) If the above is true, they should've sued Simon, just on principle alone. Here's the entire interview.

New Releases

Newbies and reissues out today include:

CAN Monster Movie (Mute)
DLG Renacer (La Calle/Universal)
MICKEY HART At The Edge (Shout! Factory)
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE My Bloody Underground (A Records)
MARILYN MANSON Collector's Box (United States/Koch)

Whatever Happened To Protest Music?

Beggars Can Be Choosers' Mark McDonald asks where are today's songs of protest and lists a few of his all-time favorites.

Word to Your Mother

As many of you may have heard, Robbie Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice, was arrested for domestic violence last week. So how does this particular KTLA "newscaster" go about reporting this item? Well, by segueing into her own version of "Ice, Ice Baby" complete with backup dancers. This is soooo painful to watch, not to mention incredibly inappropriate, but we can't keep it to ourselves, we obviously need to share it with all of you:


Detroit Rock City? Not for Radiohead

Are Thom Yorke and co. not fond of the Motor City venues? They haven't played there since 1997. Why not?

Gene Wilder: Role Model

Author, and of course, comedian extraordinaire Gene Wilder speaks to fan Alec Baldwin about comedy, writing, and walking away from Hollywood, on Turner Classic Movies' Role Model, which airs Tuesday at 8 PM EST. Check your cable listings.

So Much to Answer For

Tapes 'n Tapes, Vampire Weekend, and Crap Your Pants, um, Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah are all on XL Recordings. Just sayin'...

Star Trek Opening Further Postponed

Yes, now Paramount has pushed it from May to Summer 2009 in the hopes of turning out a blockbuster. Some more updated details here.

2008 Festival Guide

Dunno how to properly spend your concert festival-earmarked cash? PopMatters' Mitchell Bandur can help you decide which ones are worth your while this summer.

ACL Lineup

Among the artists scheduled to perform at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Sept. 26-28 are:

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Spiritualized, Beck, Foo Fighters, Gnarls Barkley, N.E.R.D., David Byrne, the Raconteurs, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, John Fogerty, Roky Erickson, the Black Keys, Del the Funky Homosapien, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, José González, Erykah Badu, Manu Chao, the Mars Volta, Antibalas, and more.

Oh, and those flavor of the month losers are also on the bill...

The Cosby Rap

None other than Bill Cosby himself is working on a hip-hop album, Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency. No, he doesn't fancy himself an MC, he's involved as executive producer and has a hand in the writing, hopefully dropping some knowledge on us with a few dope rhymes...Anyway, according to Billboard, Cosby is working with "longtime musical colleague Bill 'Spaceman' Patterson and Patterson's partner Ced-Gee." (Patterson's credits include Miles Davis and Mariah Carey, is a long-time Cosby collaborator.) Ced-Gee is best known as a founding member of Ultramagnetic MCs.
The album is tentatively scheduled for an early May release.

4/14/2008

What Year is This?


[Nada Surf's Matthew Caws courtesy of redboy.com]

NADA SURF / SUPERDRAG

4/11/08 - Terminal 5, NYC

About halfway through their 90 minute set, Nada Surf vocalist/guitarist Matthew Caws announced, "Contrary to popular belief, we enjoy playing this song. And now we'll enjoy playing it for you." With that, bandmates Daniel Lorca (bass) and Ira Elliott (drums) joined him by launching into "Popular", the 1996 MTV hit that once threatened to bury them in the black hole that is one-hit wonderdom, before their 2003 comeback with album number three, Let Go, breathed new life into their career.

And on this full-house homecoming--probably their largest headlining audience to date--they seemed to be keenly aware of this fact: 10 of Let Go's 12 tracks made the set list; twice as many as current album Lucky in fact. Regardless, the Brooklyn trio--augmented by Calexico multi-instrumentalist Martin Wenk--was in fine form, making the most of an evening in which they were joining their 1996 tourmates and fellow Elektra Records signees Superdrag for a bit of heady mid-90s nostalgia.

Since they
reunited last year, the original Superdrag lineup--John Davis (vocals, guitar), Brandon Fischer (guitar), Tom Pappas (bass, vocals) and Don Coffey, Jr (drums)--has been performing a set culled largely from the band's first two albums, Regrettfully Yours (1996) and Head Trip in Every Key (1998), as well as some John Davis solo tracks.

Kicking off their high-energy, hour-long stint with fan favorite "Garmonbozla", the boys from Tennessee did not disappoint one bit and had no problem winning over the New York crowd with their rockin' show and Southern charm. (
They warmly acknowledged the evening's vibe of brotherly love between the two bands by dedicating "True Believer" to Caws.) Yes, they played a bunch of their best loved tunes, including "Do the Vampire" and their big hit "Sucked Out". But who expected otherwise? Glad to have you back, gentlemen.

What Year is This? (part 2)

Supergrass will join the Foo Fighters on the road this summer for some US dates. Here they are:

July 9 Seattle, WA
July 10 Portland, OR
July 14 Morrison, CO
July 15 Morrison, CO
July 17 Oklahoma City, OK
July 19 Kansas City, MO
July 20 St. Louis, MO
July 22 Grand Rapids, MI
July 23 Indianapolis, IN
July 25 Cleveland, OH
July 26 Pittsburgh, PA
July 29 East Rutherford, NJ

Give the Drummer Some!

Late Night with Conan O'Brien's musical director, drummer Max Weinberg, talks to the OC Register about his other gig.
Weinberg is said to be making the move to Los Angeles when O'Brien takes over for Jay Leno as The Tonight Show's host next year.

New Sun Kil Moon Album

The first four tracks from Mark Kozelek's latest Sun Kil Moon release, April ("Lost Verses", "The Light", "Lucky Man", "Unlit Hallway") can be heard in their entirety at the band's MySpace page.
The CD version of April, on Kozelek's own Caldo Verde Records, is out now and contains 4 bonus tracks. (They are alternate versions of the album's "Tonight in Bilbao", "The Light", "Like the River" and "Tonight the Sky".) Upcoming tour dates can be found here.

This Week's Playlist: NYC Rocks!

A grab bag from some of our fair city's best and brightest. Enjoy!

1. THE BEASTIE BOYS “So What'cha Want?” Check Your Head (Capitol)
2. CHOCOLATE GENIUS INC “Amazona” Black Yankee Rock (Commotion)
3. HELMET “Speak and Spell” Size Matters (Interscope)
4. LONGWAVE “Wake Me When It's Over” The Strangest Things (RCA)
5. THURSTON MOORE “Patti Smith Math Scratch” Psychic Hearts (DGC)
6. NADA SURF “All Is a Game” The Weight Is a Gift (Barsuk)
7. RADIO 4 “State Of Alert” Stealing Of A Nation (Astralwerks)
8. JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION “Calvin” Acme (Matador)
9. TV ON THE RADIO “The Wrong Way” Deperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go)
10. UNSANE “This Plan” Occupational Hazard (Relapse)

The 50 Greatest Sketch Comedies of All Time

Nerve and IFC's list is a fun, nostalgic romp sure to provoke ample discussion among comedy geeks. For the record, we believe #2 to be deserving of the top spot, hands down; no.s 12, 15 and 18 should have placed higher and #20 shouldn't even be on the list. (Visual clips available whenever possible.) Check out the list here.

4/13/2008

(Duh!) Quote of the Day


"
There's not a joke within a hundred miles of his act."

- Comedian
Andy Kindler on internet-spawned phenomenon and comedic favorite of the Aberzombie + Bitch crowd, Dane Cook.

4/11/2008

American Fool: In Defense of John Cougar Mellencamp

By Josh Norek

[VP of alt-Latin indie Nacional Records; MC for the Latin/Jewish rap crew Hip Hop Hoodios; co-founder of the Latin Alternative Music Conference; attorney; former publicist; and more importantly, long-time "5"er, Norek contributes to our fair blog a post "about an Indiana artist who was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [who] deserves your attention and...your money. All he asks is that you put your Williamsburg/Silver Lake/DF hipster-ness aside and give him a fair shake." You've been warned. - KJ]

The first album I ever purchased was a used cassette copy of John Cougar Mellencamp’s American Fool at the Slingerlands Elementary School student sale. It was 1982 and the massive drumbeats and farm boy swagger of “Jack and Diane” were thoroughly rocking my second grade world. An early infatuation with Mr. Cougar began one snowy day several months prior when school was cancelled and I spent the entire afternoon glued to the MTV in our basement. At some point, a scruffy guy in a leather jacket from Indiana appeared on the screen. Sure, the Hell’s Angels he rode motorcycles with looked vaguely menacing, but then the singer flashed a goofy grin, harkened the viewer to “make it hurt so good,”and did a soulful strut across a run-down diner parking lot. My musical DNA was altered forever.
Many groups captivated my MTV-addled mind in the elementary school years. While I was spellbound by the big hair and hook-filled synth-pop of Duran Duran and Kajagoogoo, these highly stylized acts were still too otherworldly and exotic to personally relate to. In early ‘80s upstate NY, the local industrial scene was not so much “Manchester underground” as it was Schenectady General Electric.


My ensuing love affair with heartland rock was a rollercoaster ride marked by various highs and lows. One particularly bleak moment was a failed attempt as an eight year old to enter the MTV “Pink Houses” contest (the prize being an actual pink house in Bloomington, Indiana with Mellencamp performing at the winner’s moving-in party.) My mom quickly dashed those dreams, admonishing that “we’re not moving to Indiana, and you’re not getting a pink house!

Mellencamp
also got me in trouble in other ways. Although I came from a comfortably middle class background, at sleep away camp I was “the poor kid” who hailed from a small town outside of Albany, New York that nobody had ever heard of. Rockin’ the boombox with albums like Scarecrow, the 1985 classic about the plight of family farms during the Reagan era, was not exactly the best way to endear oneself to wealthier bunkmates. Some of the brats from Beverly Hills and Westchester would pick on me and call me a hick, but what did they know? Certainly I was keeping it more real with John Cougar than the campers from the 90210 who didn’t see the irony of blasting N.W.A.’s “F*** tha Police” on end. (Early pre-Rodney King childhood observation: “Um, aren’t the police who your parents call when they see a person of color standing in front of their Bel Air gated communities?")

Fast forward a few years. Before I was conscious that ‘Rock en Español’ was an actual genre with a storied history in Latin America, I translated and performed “Pink Houses” as “Casas Rosadas” in 8th grade Spanish class. Encouraged by the newfound attention from classmates and friends--particularly of the female variety--I eagerly added additional anthems from my musical heroes (usually of the Mellencamp/Petty/Springsteen mold) to the bilingual song canon: “Jack & Diane” became “Juanito y Diana,” “Free Falling” was “Libre Cayendo,” etc. A chance experiment with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” as “Hielo Hielo Bebe” led me to the conclusion that rap en español was far easier to perform than rock, since almost every word ended with an “a” or “o” and could be more convincingly rhymed. A decade later this observation would allow me to tour parts of the globe as MC for Hip Hop Hoodios, but still, credit is due to the Indiana knight for inducing these post-ethnic excursions in the first place.

Nearly three decades after scoring the American Fool cassette for twenty five cents, being a John Cougar fan hasn’t gotten any easier. Co-workers chortled when they heard I paid seventy five bucks for tickets to my Mellencamp/[John] Fogerty dream bill. Spoiled camp mates from the Westside of LA who called me a hick have been replaced by a fiancee from East LA who calls me a hick. That’s OK, though. It takes a certain type to appreciate the redneck liberal genius behind rock staples like “Authority Song” and “Pink Houses".

I still remember seeing Mellencamp’s clip for “Small Town” in fourth grade and thinking he made the video just for me. Music video shot in an unremarkable, all-American looking small town? Check. Gratuitous shots of kids playing little league baseball? Check (the video happily coincided with the apex of my short-lived career as a shortstop for the General Electric-sponsored team.) Real life video extras who looked like they visited the bar more often than the gym? Check. The video was shot in Indiana, but it could as well have been any small town in the rust belt economy spanning from the Midwest all the way east to Albany.

This writer has no beefs with the Arcade Fires and Bright Eyes of this world--he’s heard that some people even enjoy listening to them. Let the hipsters mock The Cougar all they want, but he just shuffled his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is still pissing vinegar into the GOP punch bowl more than thirty years after his debut. To paraphrase another fine Indiana poet, the late Kurt Vonnegut: Here’s to many more years of pissing, Señor Mellencamp. And so it goes.

Mets Pick Rick Astley Song (NOT!)

The New York Mets baseball team has been "rickrolled". The team let their fans vote on what song they wanted to hear during the late inning stretch at home games and pranksters took the opportunity to take '80s Velveeta-approved, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, to the the no.1 slot. Despite some 5 million votes, Mets spokesperson Jay Horowitz warns, "If you're betting, I wouldn't bet on Astley", referring to the song's chances of obtaining ultimate approval from both the team and fans. Um, how 'bout "Together Forever", guys? No?

Coldplay vs NyQuil?

A dubious distinction: A survey in England finds Coldplay to be the respondents' fave band to fall asleep to.

"We are increasingly relying on slow, sleepy music and unchallenging books to take our minds off the pressures of modern living...Coldplay...seem to hit just the right spot among Britain's insomniacs."

Ouch.

You Know It Was Only a Matter of Time...

...before Feist appeared on Sesame Street singing "1, 2, 3, 4", right? The Canadian songstress will perform her big hit on the venerable children's show in an upcoming but already taped episode. Will she duet with "The Count"? Stay tuned.

Q&A: Liz Phair

Ms. Phair talks to Billboard about her upcoming studio album; the reissue of Exile In Guyville; and why she's not too crazy about certain 'blow job queens'.

4/10/2008

And Then There Were Three

Tales from Progressive Rock Oceans or The Young (and not so young) Person's Very Brief Guide to Genesis, King Crimson, and Yes

No other sub-genre of popular music—with the possible exception of fusion jazz—has been more reviled than progressive rock. Frequent target of the punk rock movement of the late '70s—which coincided with prog's lowest point musically—for its almost album-length songs, seemingly interminable solos, and perceived air of pomposity, the music had its heyday during the first half of the same decade. Despite being considered in certain circles the musical love that dare not speak its nameeven for contemporary artists who are clearly indebted to itan undeniable prog rock influence has recently popped up in the work of a few of the hip bands out there: The Mars Volta definitely have some King Crimson in 'em; Sigur Ros surely own a few Yes albums; and Radiohead are clearly not oblivious to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Not to mention a legion of math-rockers and the unabashedly prog Dream Theatre, Porcupine Tree, and Spock's Beard, just to name a few.

At their best, leading lights of the genre such as Genesis, King Crimson, and Yes—as well as Emerson Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and a host of others—expanded the boundaries of rock with elements of jazz, classical and experimental music, aided by the necessary instrumental virtuosity and vision to pull it off. Sure a lot of it was a tad overblown, but when it clicked it could be downright transcendent and often magical.

The three bands featured here all released their debut albums in 1969, went through major upheavals in 1974, were at some point signed to Atlantic Records, and shared at different times the services of legendary drummer Bill Bruford. A founding member of Yes, and a pivotal figure in the classic King Crimson lineups of the ‘70s and ‘80s, he is arguably the genre's single most revered instrumentalist.
(He never recorded in the studio with Genesis but performed on stage with the band, and is featured on the live Seconds Out and Three Sides Live albums. Bruford also released some highly acclaimed prog rock albums of his own: Feels Good to Me, One of a Kind, and Gradually Going Tornado. He also happens to be our favorite all-time drummer, hands down.)

While Genesis was always quite popular they seemed to catch more flack than any of their art-rock contemporaries. The live performance of their signature work, the two disc concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway [Atlantic-1974], was derided by many for the theatrics employed by lead vocalist Peter Gabriel in bringing to life the numerous characters that populate the story. (The album itself was heralded as an extraordinary work.)
On the other hand, when they decided to scale down the length and complexity of their songs on …And Then There Were Three [Atlantic-1977]—its title a reference to the band being reduced to its core members, vocalist/drummer Phil Collins, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford, and keyboardist Tony Banks—Genesis was met with accusations bordering on duplicity and sedition: “…this contemptible opus is but the palest shadow of the group's earlier accomplishments," was Rolling Stone’s take on the album that became the blueprint for their massive success in the ‘80s. Before they got all Lite-FM on us, the Collins-led Genesis had a couple of decent albums towards the end of their run. Duke [Atlantic-1980] is definitely one to seek out.

An uncanny masterpiece” is what The Who’s Pete Townshend called In the Court of the Crimson King [Atlantic-1969], and very few have dared disagree. (Omar Rodriguez-Lopez probably has its tunes memorized.) The debut album by master guitarist Robert Fripp’s ever-changing ensemble of players—among them, one Greg Lake, soon to be of Emerson Lake & Palmer—is breathtaking in its fluidity and scope. From the fearsome, hard rocking, free jazz-influenced “21st Century Schizoid Man” to the majestic title track that closes the album, this is one for the ages. The eighth and final King Crimson album—or so it was thought of at the time—Red [EG-1974], is an economical, stripped down affair that alternates between heavy proto-metal guitar riffs (“One More Red Nightmare”, the title track), soft pastoral soundscapes (“Providence”) or both (“Fallen Angel”, “Starless”). A fan favorite.
After a 7-year hiatus, Fripp formed a new King Crimson with stunt guitarist/drummer Adrian Belew and bassist Tony Levin—in addition to the returning Bill Bruford—and released the new wave-influenced Discipline [Warner Bros-1981], a landmark album that managed to evoke the spirit of the band’s past and point to its future, while keeping its feet firmly in the present. Truly ahead of its time. (Just ask Primus.)

The most popular and enduring of the prog rockers had their first major crossover hit in 1971 with “Roundabout” but the following year they released what may consider the pinnacle of the genre, Close to the Edge [Atlantic-1972]. Featuring just three songs—on the original vinyl, the side-long title track plus side two’s sublime “And You and I” and the pseudo funky guitar and organ workout of “Siberian Khatru”—the album featured Yes’ classic lineup: vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and, of course, Bill Bruford on drums. Even the non-prog friendly folks at Pitchfork call Close to the Edge "an essential document of just how powerful prog could be when focused." It’s probably safe to say you don’t like progressive rock if you don’t dig this one.
The studio release following Close to the Edge has the distinction of being one of the most debated albums in the annals of rock music: Tales from Topographic Oceans [Atlantic-1973], an ambitious, symphonically-conceived, four-song, double LP mostly written by Anderson and Howe and inspired by their interest in Eastern religions. Yup, sounds dicey. And in fact, it is. Lead off track “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” holds up during its entire 20 minute length, but the rest of the album’s shining moments are quite few and very far between. Considered by some as the nadir of prog rock, Tales is in essence another classic example of a double album that could’ve been singularly improved by slimming it down to one. Still, it's got people talking and arguing about it some 35 years later.
Yes always had a strong underlying current of pop sensibility no matter how complex and elaborate their songwriting. Which is why the contemporary pop smash that was 90125 [Atlantic-1983] was not much of a surprise: they simply inverted the formula with great results both artistically and commercially. This is the one with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, by the way.

Where are they now?
Genesis reunited in 2007 for a summer world tour after a ten-year hiatus. A new studio album is “very unlikely” according to Phil Collins.

Albeit with a different set of musicians—as always, led by Robert Fripp—King Crimson has not stopped touring and recording since their 1981 reformation. (The Crimson vaults have been bursting with numerous live albums released by Fripp’s own DGM label on both CD and digital download. These include both classic performances and recent shows as well.)

Yes had been on hiatus since 2004 but in early 2008 a summer world tour commemorating their 40th anniversary was announced. Titled “Close to the Edge and Back” it will feature Oliver Wakeman—son of Rick—on keyboards, in addition to Anderson, Squire, Howe, and drummer Alan White (1973-present).

What We've Been Reading

Nueva York: the Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs
Carolina González and Seth Kugel
(St. Martin's Griffin)
Yes, a big chunk of it is about food—not that there's anything wrong with that—but the authors often go out of their way, literally, to check out a few off-the-beaten-path music venues and night clubs; and the section titled "The ABCs of Latin Music" is an on-point, 5 page summary/primer that should be read by anyone interested in learning the basics of "ñ" music. Another worthy section, "Latino New York: Now on DVD or in a Bookstore Near You" is self-explanatory and highlights a few overlooked gems from the worlds of film and print. Bottom line: these guys truly know their stuff. (Full disclosure: We are friends of the authors and did some minor research for the book.)
An informative and entertaining read that captures the essence of Latino NYC in its many and diverse manifestations, this is the rare guide that is indispensable for both natives and newcomers alike.
Highly recommended.

Totally '80s or Middle-Aged Lollapalooza?

from Billboard:

The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Dead Or Alive, A Flock of Seagulls and Naked Eyes will tour this summer as part of the inaugural '80s-themed Regeneration Tour, scheduled to begin August 1 at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix.

4/09/2008

If 6 was 9 (Slight Return)

In his book Confessions of a Record Producer, music biz insider Moses Avalon—not his real name—wondered if the box of cereal was merely the bait to entice you into buying the toy inside. For many artists—established and otherwise—touring is more and more, from a financial standpoint, about the selling of merch. (Btw, the instances of people not paying, say, $15 for a CD but shelling out that much and even more for a vinyl version of the same is growing every day.) And because touring and its ancillary monies are where the cash is, any artist signing a record deal these days surely has to give up a slice of their merch revenue and maybe even a piece of their touring income. Welcome to the 1950s!

It’s been rumored that Warner Bros will make available online their entire out-of-print catalog. There's a lot of that music people want and would gladly purchase directly from them, and since no printing or advertising costs would be involved, it could also offset a portion of lost revenue from piracy. More importantly, from their current standpoint, they’d have much more control of the product in the marketplace.
Which brings us to what a record store-owning friend told us last year: he theorized that if the majors wise up they will find a way to cut out the middleman—iTunes, eMusic, etc—and sell directly to the consumer in whatever digital format we want. "You want Bob Dylan? Come to sony.com. We got him exclusively."

U2 Prepare Reissues

Overseen by guitarist Dave Evans aka The Edge the reissue of the first three U2 albums, Boy (1980), October (1981), and War (1983), expanded, remastered and newly available on 180-gram vinyl and 2 CD sets, now has a release date: July 22nd.

The band is currently in the studio working on a new album for a tentative 2009 release and a tour to follow. (Hurry up, boys: Live Nation is counting on that touring cash.)

Billyburg Douchebaggery at its Finest

Matthew Dear got his hard drive stolen in the middle of his set while DJing at Galapagos, in Brooklyn's uber-hipster Williamsburg section. Brooklyn Vegan has more. (The comments section for this one is priceless.)

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

What We're Listening To

ERIC AVERY Help Wanted (Dangerbird)
NADA SURF Lucky (Barsuk)

STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS Real Emotional Trash (Matador)
SUPERDRAG Last Call for Vitriol (Arena Rock)
YES Tales from Topographic Oceans (Atlantic)

What are YOU listening to?

4/08/2008

Junot Who Won the Pulitzer?


Our buddy Junot Diaz, that's who. His novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction yesterday. Congrats, man. Now we can brag we're friends with a Pulitzer Prize winner. (Probably not gonna get us chicks or free drinks, tho...)

Oh, and Bob Dylan got one, too: a "Special Citation in Music" for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." Wow, if that doesn't sound like it was written by one of Zimmy's star-struck boomer fans...

Quote of the Day


It was lame. Like Williamsburg [Brooklyn]. But in Texas.”

- from a conversation about this year’s SXSW, overheard on the NYC subway.

Latin Grammys on the Skids?

From airing on CBS and being hosted in New York, L.A and Miami, this year the 9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will be on Univision and taking place in Houston. Will cable access and Fresno be too far behind?

Celebrate Brooklyn! Announces Partial Lineup

For those of you in the NY metro area, the annual Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series in Prospect Park has performances lined up by Medeski Martin and Wood, Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, Salif Keita, Gilberto Gil, Philip Glass, Miriam Makeba, Beth Orton, and a Hal Wilner tribute to Bill Withers, among those already confirmed. This is their 30th summer season and on June 12th, they'll celebrate it with an opening night gala and concert with none other than Isaac Hayes. And it's free. More info here.

New Releases

ERIC AVERY Help Wanted (Dangerbird)
THE BREEDERS Mountain Battles (4AD)
NICK CAVE & the BAD SEEDS Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (Anti)
JOHN COLTRANE The Impulse! Albums: Volume 2 [5 CD Box Set] (Verve)
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER Come and See the Show: The Best of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Shout Factory)


[Click on above links to listen to entire album.]

4/07/2008

Heaven's In Here: Tin Machine


[Tin Machine cover art courtesy of allmusic.com]

TIN MACHINE

Tin Machine [EMI-1989]
II [Victory-1991]
Live: Oy Vey, Baby [Victory-1992]

After his groundbreaking and highly varied work in the ‘70s, David Bowie started the ‘80s by following the noted Brian Eno-produced album trilogy—Low, Heroes, and Lodger—with Scary Monsters, arguably his last classic album. He would end the decade that brought him deserved superstar status (via the blockbuster Let’s Dance album, in particular) by choosing the one option this chameleon-like artist had yet to embrace: to become an equal member in a four-piece rock band. It was also the last time Bowie would find himself ahead of the musical curve.

Joining forces with American co-hortsstunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the former Todd Rundgren rhythm section comprised of Sales brothers Tony and Hunt, on bass and drums, respectivelyTin Machine debuted with a self-titled, raunchy, bluesy, heavy-hitting record that deftly quotes and insinuates elements of the previous 25 years of guitar-based rock music. (We’re looking at you, Reeves.) It not only earned positive reviews but also predated the raw, unadorned music that followed in the wake of the Seattle-based grunge explosion of the early ‘90s. Loaded with gems, the album rocks hard (“Heaven’s In Here”, “Under the God”, “Pretty Things”, “Video Crime”, the title track) but doesn’t forsake catchy melodies for power (“Baby Can Dance”, the Who-influenced “Bus Stop”) and includes one of Bowie’s most beautiful love songs: the trippy, near-psychedelic “Amazing”, as well as quite a few instances of social commentary. (The cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” does not improve one bit on the original, but then again it wasn’t much to begin with.)

Surprised and baffled by Bowie’s new band and the perceived shift in his seemingly established aesthetic, a few detractors were aghast: noted critic Ira Robbins of the Trouser Press Guide called it “blunt, vulgar, violent, ephemeral and derivative” and accused Bowie of using Tin Machine as an excuse “to revisit his past under cover of an autonomous timeline (thereby escaping accusations of regression)”. All of this may or may not be valid, but in the end, like all albums ultimately do, Tin Machine speaks for itself. And the quite pleasing, roaring sound it makes comes across loud and clear.


After a long and storied career, it’s safe to assume that one other thing Bowie did not foresee encountering was the possibility of a sophomore slump: Tin Machine II is both a tad under-cooked and a little more commercially-inclined than its predecessor, consequently falling short of the debut’s power and consistency. It is in no way a dud, however: “Baby Universal” is a catchy rocker; first single “One Shot” was a minor hit that could’ve easily been on Scary Monsters; the majestic balladry of “Amlapura” is a welcome change of pace, reminiscent of “Amazing”; and closing track “Goodbye Mr. Ed” is arguably the best thing on the album. (The hidden track “Hammerhead” is not bad, either.)

As if Gabrels’ six-string firepower wasn’t enough, the band brought along British rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Armstrong to augment their live sound (on stage Bowie stuck to singing and occasionally playing saxophone), which can be appreciated on Oy Vey Baby, its title a cute pun on U2’s 1991 comeback album. It must be stated here that despite its inspired moments (“Amazing”, “Goodbye Mr. Ed”, and the 12-minute “Heaven’s in Here”) Oy Vey is not the place to start when inquiring about Tin Machine; for the most part, it fulfills the simple function of demonstrating how the band sounded live. A worthy purchase if the band's studio recordings strike your fancy, though. (Fans of guitar heroics are sure to find much to like.)

It has been said that Bowie’s core audience never embraced the band and allegedly made their distaste quite known. (The pinnacle of this dissatisfaction was evident when the band’s roadies actually resorted to wearing t-shirts that read "Fuck You, I LIKE Tin Machine.") For whatever reason, Bowie considered the experiment over and resumed his solo career shortly thereafter, bringing along Gabrels on a partnership—including Tin Machine—that lasted over a decade.
Definitely worth checking out, this brief detour—Tin Machine lasted a mere 4 years togetheris recommended to those interested in the various incarnations of The Thin White Duke. Some of it, after all, is amazing.

Availability: Tin Machine has since been remastered, while II and Oy Vey, Baby are currently out of print. (II is actually a quite sought after collectible, especially the American version with the uncensored album cover.) Bowie hinted in the mid-90s something about the possibility of releasing a box set's worth of the band's unreleased material, including what was to be Tin Machine III, but has remained mum on the subject since.