6/30/2008

This Week's Playlist: Brendan Benson


[photo courtesy of Uncut magazine]

A sampling of the work of the Detroit native, a respected singer/songwriter best known these days for being Jack White's creative foil in The Raconteurs. Enjoy!

1. "Tea" from the album One Mississippi (Elektra)
2. "Sittin' Pretty"
from the album One Mississippi (Elektra)
3. "Emma J" from the album One Mississippi (Elektra)
4. "Insects Rule" from the album One Mississippi (Elektra)
5. "Tiny Spark" from the album Lapalco (Star Time)
6. "Metarie" from the album Lapalco (Star Time)
7. "Folk Singer" from the album Lapalco (Star Time)
8. "Just Like Me" from the album Lapalco (Star Time)
9. "Jet Lag" from the album Lapalco (Star Time)
10. "Spit it Out" from the album The Alternative to Love (V2)
11. "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)" from the album The Alternative to Love (V2)
12. "What I'm Looking For" from the album The Alternative to Love (V2)

Your Move, Noel

After Noel Gallagher's assertion that Jay-Z was not an appropriate performer for Glastonbury due to its "tradition of guitar music", the Brooklyn rapper took to the festival's stage this weekend, guitar in hand and singing along--we're, um, being generous--to Oasis' "Wonderwall", followed by an AC/DC-propelled version of his own "99 Problems". Yup.

It went down like this:

The Shape of Jazz (to come?)

Critic Will Layman--how apropos--breaks down the differences between American and European jazz over the ages and offers some insight on where the genre presently finds it itself and where it might be headed.

Lippi Blends

Similar in format to The Beatles' compilation Love--itself the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name--talented guitarist/producer John Lippi has put together a series of "blends" in which he segues bits from a particular artist's repertoire in a heady mix that's "far more creative than the random 30 second clips on iTunes," as the New York-based musician himself states. (Full disclosure: Lippi is a friend and musical partner in crime.)

The "blends" are about the length of an average song--aproximately 3 minutes, or so--and feature some very minimal instrumental contributions by Lippi, who simply encourages visitors to his dedicated MySpace page who enjoy the work of these artists, to "go buy the music or see them live." Currently
Beck, The Raconteurs and Paul Simon are the first three to get the "blend" treatment.

More, please.

World Music or Music of the World?

Producer/label head/author Joe Boyd returns to Morocco 40 years after his initial visit, this time to check out the Fez World Sacred Music Festival and ponders the challenges that both the music and the festivals face while trying to retain authenticity. Here's what he saw.

6/27/2008

RnE: RIP?

It is a given that rock and roll is most certainly American by birth. Also undeniable is how its seeds have taken root all over the globe, not just in other English-speaking countries, but in lands where it was morally reprehensible to enjoy or perform it. Or where it could land you in jail or worse. (Behind the old "Iron Curtain" of the former Soviet empire, for instance.) In the Spanish-speaking world,it quickly gained a fanbase early on, due to the US' close proximity to Mexico--for decades the Hollywood of Latin America--and the power of its rebellious, youth-oriented attitude.

But long before Carlos Santana first fused Afro-Caribbean rhythms with blues-based rock and roll in late '60s San Francisco, there was nueva ola ("new wave"): a hugely popular Latin American musical movement of the '50s and '60s in which current rock and roll hits were translated into Spanish--with liberties in translation frequently taken--and recorded and performed by the youth stars of the day. "Hang on Sloopy" became "Lupe"; "This Diamond Ring" was soon "Este Diamante", etc. etc.

Throughout the '70s and early '80s Latin America seemed more in tune with exploring its musical roots and as such, rock music took a back seat to native sounds and the burgeoning nueva trova protest music. But there were always bands writing and performing rock music, and in the late '80s potent scenes started popping up all over the place, with Mexico and Argentina--both with a health tradition of rock music throughout the years--at the forefront.

And then, something interesting happened: the significant influx of Latin American youth into the US brought with it the rock music of their native countries, and soon enough rock en español bands started popping up in cities with significant Spanish-speaking populations, like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, and across the state of Texas. The first half of the '90s was the scene's golden era here in the US, with homegrown acts--many of which, in a cool display of multi-culti fusion, had non-Spanish speaking, non-Hispanic members in their lineups--performing alongside big-name bands
touring the US from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Spain, among others. It was the next big thing. And then it wasn't.

So, what happened? Good question.

Depending on who you ask, that particular line of inquiry breeds a sort of Rashomon effect--named after Akira Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon, "in which a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways"--but "5"er Carolina Gonzalez, posting on her Sound Taste blog, has taken the bait and risen to the challenge of finding out why rock en español died a quiet death here in the US. (She's also touched off a bit of a shit storm in the process. Heh, heh.) Definitely an interesting read, and worth checking out. (Oh, and you'll find a [ahem] familiar blogger among those opining in the comments section.)

What's On Your iPod, Mr. (future) President?

According to published reports, Sen. Barack Obama shufles thru an eclectix mix of Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma, Sheryl Crow, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Earth Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder, among others.

We don't know whether Sen. John McCain owns an iPod or similar MP3 device--he has described himself as being computer illiterate--but we do know he enjoys Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bill Haley & the Comets, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Buddy Holly, Lauryn Hill (according to daughter Meghan), and Abba (!)

South Korea: The New Hip-Hop Mecca?

At least, when it comes to hip-hop dancers, Salon's Jeff Chang thinks so.

The Dark Knight

Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers is raving about the sequel to the new Batman franchise, which features the late Heath Ledger, as The Joker, his final film role. "If there's a movement to get him the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch won for 1976's Network, sign me up," says Travers of Ledger's on-screen performance.

About the 2 1/2-hour movie itself, Travers goes on to write, "The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination. It's full of surprises you don't see coming. And just try to get it out of your dreams." Heady praise, indeed.

The Dark Knight opens July 3rd.

Happy Birthday


Mick Jones, vocalist/guitarist for The Clash; producer for The Libertines and Babyshambles (53) on June 26th.

6/26/2008

Wanna Open for Coldplay?

by "5" contributor Jeff Kent

Are you a musician? Live anywhere near the Chicago, San Jose, Philadelphia, DC, Boston, or Hartford metropolitan areas? Don't mind that Chris Martin fella too much? Boy, have Coldplay (maybe) got the gig for you!

At the aforementioned stops on Coldplay's forthcoming North American tour, you and your musical combo could very well warm up a sure-to-be-receptive crowd before the British megastars take the stage as scheduled. And all you've gotta do for the privilege is submit a YouTube video of yourself to the requisite radio station-sponsored section of coldplayontour.com and wait with bated breath for the call.

And if you do pass the audition? Why, you'll be joining the likes of Shearwater and Santogold while you're doing it. Not too shabby for a bunch of jokers putting their music on YouTube, though I'm told that's not such a bad way to go these days.

The Internet: It's Not Just for Porn Anymore

According to Digital Music News, 44% of the internet's current bandwidth is dedicated to peer-to-peer (P2P) "file-sharing", with web browsing representing less than 30% of traffic. And that P2P percentage is probably not getting any lower in the future...

6/25/2008

What We're Listening To

CARLA BLEY The Lost Chords find Paolo Fesu (Watt)
NIRVANA MTV Unplugged in New York (DGC)
MICHAEL PENN MP4: Days Since an Accident (57/Epic)
REFUSE The Shape of Punk to Come (Epitaph)
YES Relayer (Atlantic)

What are YOU listening to?

This Is Why

Frequent "5" readers know of our long-standing love for San Francisco power poppers Jellyfish, the seminal '90s cult band that gave us Jason Falkner and Roger Manning Jr.; introduced many of us to studio collaborator--and these days, noted producer and film composer--Jon Brion; and delighted us with their 2 brilliantly crafted albums Bellybutton [Charisma-1990] and Spilt Milk [Charisma-1993].

Founded by lead-singing, stand-up drummer Andy Sturmer, and keyboardist Manning--both talented songwriters and multi-instrumentalists--the band flirted with mainstream success but disbanded soon after touring behind their sophomore album.

Since then, Sturmer has made very little music of his own but has become an in-demand producer and backup singer, working with Japanese pop stars Puffy Amiyumi, as well as The Merrymakers, and The Black Crowes; Manning formed Imperial Drag with guitarist Eric Dover (who, along with bassist/vocalist Tim Smith was in
Jellyfish's final incarnation) and has played keyboards for Beck, Air, and Blink-182 (!), among others. Falkner is a respected solo artist with various critically-acclaimed albums to his credit, and has also collaborated with the aforementioned Air and The Raconteurs' vocalist/guitarist Brendan Benson.

Arguably their best song, this version of "That is Why"--originally on Bellybutton--was filmed during the Spilt Milk tour (featuring the Sturmer-Manning-Dover-Smith lineup), at their hometown's Warfield Theatre in 1993.

The Cure Rock NYC

Billboard was there--but we weren't, damn it!--for the kings of doom and gloom's final two, Springsteen-length, shows of their current tour: Friday, June 20th at Madison Square Garden, and the following evening at Radio City Music Hall.

The Cure's new album is due September 13th.

GnR Calls in FBI

California blogger Kevin Skwerl got a visit from federal agents on Monday, after his site, Antiquiet, leaked 9 alleged tracks from Guns 'n' Roses' long-awaited album, Chinese Democracy, last week. [gulp] (That's why we keep it legal 'round these parts.) The songs were not made available for download by Antiquiet, but instead offered in streaming audio. Rolling Stone has more.

The '80s: Ten Guilty Pleasures

When it comes to the 1980s, if you liked almost anything from the musical mainstream of the time, chances are you considered it a guilty pleasure. The folks at Glide magazine's Hidden Track blog have complied ten of their own from the golden age of MTV, Max Headroom, and leg warmers. And yes, they are, for the most part, quite dreadful. Proceed with caution.

6/24/2008

5 Lost Soul / R&B Classics

by Greg Casseus, "5" Contributor

[This was originally written for the 6/24/02 issue of "5", back in our e-mail newsletter days. Six years later to the day, we've decided to dig it up and share it with the larger readership we've acquired since. So pay attention to what Prof. Casseus has to say: you might learn something. - KJ]

Hello, my lovely fellow "5" addicts. It's been a while since I've done this, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be called upon to once again submit a new installment of Greg C-style geeky insider knowledge and (of course) alarmingly jaundiced opinion. This time around, instead of going on at length about everything that's clearly wrong about the contemporary music scene, I'm going to get into my archaeologist mode and polish off the bones of a dead, buried, huge, glorious beast that is sadly now extinct.

Of course, I'm talking about the glory that was soul/R&B. I won't bore you with the umpteenth reiteration of the various and sundry reasons why you're a total fool if you don't own What's Going On, Innervisions, There's A Riot Going On, Superfly, Hot Buttered Soul, Young Gifted and Black, Extensions Of A Man et. al. I've done all the obscurity-digging so you don't have to, and will present 5 soul albums that may or may not be obscure except to aficionados, but which are all guaranteed to rock your world and impress your friends as to how down you are.



5 LOST SOUL / R&B CLASSICS
(in no particular order):

JUNIE
Freeze

[Westbound-1975]


Besides being a total barrel of irreverent, on-the-one fun, this underground classic earns its spot here as an answer to Mr. Jones' recent "one-man-band" list. Walter "Junie" Morrison was a charter member of the Ohio Players and later became a key player in George Clinton's merry funk circus. In between those two tours of duty, he released three solo albums on the Westbound label, home of both the Players and Funkadelic.

Three years before that little purple guy's debut, it finds Junie playing EVERY SINGLE INSTRUMENT, and WELL. This album is soooo funky and soooo funny that it actually provides a persuasive argument for cloning, as that would be the only way for Mr. Morrison to take this funky-ass show on the road. Sadly unavailable on CD at the present time, however...



CURTIS MAYFIELD
Curtis Live!
[Curtom-1971]


For his second post-Impressions solo release (after 1970's brilliant Curtis), the Gentle Genius takes his stripped-down and super-funky band into the Bitter End for an incomparable live recording that truly compares favorably with any live album of the rock era. Two guitars, bass, congas and drums, plus that wise and knowing voice, are all Curtis needs to keep you spellbound and practically applauding in your own living room.

His between-song raps are witty and loose, and songs like "I Plan To Stay A Believer," "Stare And Stare" and "Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey)" will never leave your head once lodged there. Plus the deepest version of "We've Only Just Begun" you'll ever hear. Simply a must-have, and now available on CD from Rhino.



BOBBY WOMACK
I Don't Know What The World Is Coming To
[UA-1975]


I could have picked any one of a half-dozen killer early ‘70s Womack albums, like Communication, Understanding or Facts Of Life, but lately I find I can't stop playing this one. It rocks, it grooves, BW sings his ass off (as usual), AND it's got "If You Want My Love (Put Something Down On It)" and "Superstar." Nuff Said!

Also, special mention must be given to the cover shot of Bobby, dressed in black, with big dark shades, cigarette in hand, sittin' back with a gangster lean, obviously coked to the gills, looking like the biggest badass EVER. Must have scared off many a potential buyer!



RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN
Ask Rufus

[ABC-1977]


Another case of "which-one-do-I-pick?" Basically, any mid-‘70s Rufus and Chaka will always be worth the money (especially since they're all budget-priced on CD), but this one has begun to overtake Rags To Rufus as my all-time favorite. Diverse and adventurous, it nevertheless keeps the band's fans satisfied with what they already know and love. The songs attain a new level of sophistication and the arrangements offer fascinating twists and turns.

And despite the rather prosaic title, there have been few songs as genuinely sexy and seductive as "Everlasting Love." Other highlights include "Hollywood," "Earth Song" and (ha,ha) "Slow Screw Against The Wall" featuring Ron Wood. And let me also stress that Chaka's Arif Mardin-produced solo albums for Warner Bros. such as Chaka, Naughty and What'Cha Gonna Do For Me are all completely amazing. Chaka is a total goddess, and she truly has never gotten her full due. Time to change that, folks!



ROTARY CONNECTION
Songs / Hey Love
[Cadet -1969/1971]


I justify pulling this 2-for-1 scam by reasoning that the only way to obtain these two magnificent albums on CD is as a twofer anyway. The former features psychedelic soul-rock renditions of the rock hits of the day, by the likes of Hendrix, Cream and the Band, plus the spookiest version of "Respect" you'll ever hear. RC were the Chess/Cadet label's in-house "connect-with-the-kids" rock experiment, and Minnie Riperton's glass-shattering range one of the few constants in an ever-shifting lineup.

Starting off as producer-arranger-complete genius Charles Stepney's sonic playground, they evolved into a redoubtable and utterly unique psych/orchestral/gospel/R&B/pop outfit, complete with Stepney as an actual band member. 1971's beautiful Hey Love album, their swan song, is the real reason to track this CD down. "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun," "Song For Everyman," "If I Sing A Song"--basically, the whole album is like a dream you don't want to wake up from.



HONORABLE MENTIONS:

DJ ROGERS self-titled [Shelter-1973]
AL GREEN Al Green Gets Next To You [Hi-1971]
KOOL & THE GANG Light Of Worlds [De-Lite-1974]
O'JAYS Ship Ahoy [Philadelphia Int'l Records-1973]
IMPRESSIONS This Is My Country [Curtom-1968]

All of which deserve FAR more than a measly "honorable mention," but this IS "5", so...

Stairway to (cash) Heaven

Guess it was a slow day for the markets: Condé Nast's Portfolio calculates how much loot Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have made as writers of the Led Zeppelin classic and how they can improve (!) on its staggering revenue stream.

And the Winner of the TVT Bankruptcy Auction is...

The Orchard, the noted digital music and entertainment company, started in 1997 by Sire Records co-founder, producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go Gos) and actor Scott Cohen (The Gilmore Girls, Law and Order).

Founded by lawyer Steve Gottlieb in 1985, TVT began as the outlet for Tee Vee Toons--hence the label's name--a series of albums collecting the theme songs to classic shows and commercials from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. With the success of these the label branched out into signing artists and Nine Inch Nails became the first--and for a while, the only--artist on TVT. Dealing in mostly alt-rock and subsequently expanding heavily into hip-hop, the label flourished throughout the '90s, but was forced to declare bankruptcy in February of last year after losing a $4.6 million dollar judgement in a case brought about by Slip-N-Slide Records Inc alleging "tortious, or intentional, interference with advantageous business relationships".

In a statement released to the press Gottlieb was quoted as saying, "After 23 years and 25 plus Gold and Platinum releases, I am delighted to see TVT's catalogue and roster move to a company so deeply engaged in developing the digital future of the music business." The Orchard's acquisition of TVT is due to take place on July 3rd. Gottlieb still retains ownership of the TVT Music publishing arm.

[Thanks to '5" contributor Jeff Kent for his assistance with this post.]

Quote of the Day

"I will pay VH1 $2 million to leave me the fuck alone!"

- Axl Rose's reaction to the possibility of making a quick, easy buck on a VH1 reality show.

New Releases

Among today's newbies are:

RY COODER I, Flathead (Nonesuch)
ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO Real Animal (Back Porch/Manhattan)
MÖTLEY CRÜE Saints of Los Angeles (Masters 2008/Motley Records)
LIZ PHAIR Exile in Guyville [Deluxe Edition] (ATO)
SIGUR RÓS Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (XL)

6/23/2008

This Week's Playlist: Jazz Faves

Here are ten random tracks--ranging from straight up to modern jazz; from legends to young guns--we happen to enjoy. We hope you'll check them out and enjoy them as much as we do. Cheers!

1. BRUBECK BROTHERS QUARTET "Open Door"
2. NELS CLINE / GREGG BENDIAN "Mars"
3. BRAD MEHLDAU "Exit Music For A Film"
4. JASON MORAN “Gentle Shifts South”
5. POWER TOOLS "Howard Beach Memories"
6. JOHN SCOFIELD "Time Marches On"
7. HORACE SILVER "Silver's Serenade"
8. MIKE STERN "Mood Swings"
9. RALPH TOWNER "Shadow Fountain"
10.
DAVID S. WARE "Surrendered"

RIP


[George Carlin photo courtesy of HBO.]

The legendary and influential comedian
George Carlin died on Sunday, June 22nd, of heart failure, in Santa Monica, CA.

Carlin recorded 23 comedy albums, 2 of which--
FM & AM (1972) and Jammin' in New York (1993)--were Grammy Award-winners. He starred in 14 HBO specials, wrote three books, and appeared in several TV shows and movies, including Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Carlin was also the first-ever host of Saturday Night Live and was ranked #2 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.

He was 71.

The Grunge Rainbow

A spirited exchange popped up in the blogosphere last week, over Atlantic Monthly associate editor and blogger Matthew Yglesias' posting about Nirvana, titled "Grandma Take Me Home," where he states his impression that despite being "a much-praised and undoubtedly influential band" the Seattle trio is "shockingly little listened-to" these days.

Is this a fact? We only listen to the radio when we're driving with 2 respective friends who generally listen to homemade mix CDs or a classic rock station in their cars, so we can't really comment on this. For the record, in the last 10 years we've listened to Nevermind, on average, about twice a year, and still feel it holds up, long after the hype has subsided. The Unplugged disc has aged even better. Despite meaning to, we rarely ever listen to Bleach or In Utero--gotta put 'em on the iPod--but appreciate them both, especially the latter.

Interestingly, then and now, of our friends with similar taste in music, most who had disparaging things to say about Nirvana were--by far--white. Don't know what that means but we find it curious, nonetheless. (While in Mexico City when In Utero came out we got to experience how the kids really took to it down there. Not as much as they loved Morrissey, but that's another thing altogeter.)

Which brings us to a point often overlooked, or ignored: many Gen X-ers of color not only dug the Seattle/alt-rock of the late '80s/early '90s but also felt a sense of inclusion. Ex: Two black buddies of ours were on hand at a Motley Crue in-store signing at a NYC Tower Records in the late '80s, and as the only non-whites there, were met with confused stares by their fellow Crue fans. (The band, however, greeted them quite warmly.) Meanwhile, the original Soundgarden lineup had an Asian bassist and an Indian guitarist. And of course, there was James Iha, David Pajo, Joey Santiago, etc. etc.

A rock guitarist--and Haitian--friend of ours once said he could never relate to the hair bands on the magazine covers--or the ones with similar musical influences, whose "guitarist wanted" ads he'd answer, only to be turned down without playing a lick when they saw what he looked like--but "these other guys" made him feel welcome; like he was a part of something. After all, no one at a Nirvana concert was gonna say to him, "Hey dude, you're at the wrong show: LL Cool J is tomorrow night."

Phish Reunion Album Rumored

The citizens of the Jamband Nation are salivating over the rumored reunion of heavyweight quartet Phish and a return to the recording studio with famed producer Steve Lillywhite, who helmed the band's 1996 album Billy Breathless and is currently in the studio with U2.

Phish broke up on amicable terms in 2004; all four members have released solo albums since and have been involved in numerous outside musical collaborations, as well.

Happy Birthday



Two power pop icons: the great Todd Rundgren (above), who hit the big 6-0 on June 22nd; and Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland (61) on June 21st.

Here's Todd, in full regalia, performing his classic "Hello It's Me" on The Midnight Special in 1973:




Badfinger performing "No Matter What" on Top of the Pops, 1971:


6/20/2008

A Classic Revisited: 'The White Album'



THE BEATLES

[self-titled]
(Parlophone-1968)

This November marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most discussed double albums in the annals of popular music: The Beatles' self-titled album, best known the world over as The White Album for its austere monochromatic cover. Arguably the most influential of the band's long-form releases—how much subsequent music out there actually resembles
Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road or even Revolver?The White Album is generally recognized as ambitious and visionary, pregnant with top-notch tunes, but incredibly uneven, nonetheless. It is for good reason that respected music journalist Charles Shaar Murray once referred to it as the best and the worst of The Beatles all in one.

Included among the
90+ minutes of music, are 30 tracks across 4 vinyl sides—or later, 2 CDs—ranging from acoustic ballads, forays into hard rock/blues/proto metal, avant garde experiments and classic Beatles pop, all of varying quality and complexity; performed by both a unit clearly in flux, and individuals as band leaders with their own musical statements to make. To echo Shaar Murray's above statement, there is some wonderful, transcendent music here. As well as some sub par nonsense—even a few unworthy of filler status—that should've never seen the light of day.

This was, of course, the record The Beatles set out to make, despite the objections of their most important collaborator, über producer George Martin himself, who was not at all partial to the idea of making it any lengthier than a single album; and over the years many have agreed with him. (We do.) But, as seems to be the case with every revered double album since, no one seems to agree on a single album-length track listing. Some may argue this indeed proves the overall greatness of the record, while we are inclined to think that perhaps a lack of the necessary mettle to discard sentimental favorites is mostly to blame.

Of course, who can argue the inclusion of such gems as "Back in the USSR", "Dear Prudence", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Martha My Dear", "Blackbird", "I Will", "Julia", "Mother Nature's Son", and "Long Long Long"? But then the selection process starts getting murky and, for many, objectivity becomes hard to muster. One would think the likes of "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-
Da", "Wild Honey Pie", "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", "Piggies", "Rocky Raccoon", "Why Don't We Do it in the Road?" and "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" would be imminent castoffs for those seeking to streamline the record into a more cohesive statement. Yeah, right. Good luck with that. (To wit: the late Ian MacDonald, who wrote the must-read, chronological account of every song The Beatles recorded, Revolution in the Head, would certainly add "Helter Skelter" to the latter bunch. But we wouldn't. So there you go.)

One rarely mentioned and very important aspect of The White Album's influence is how, for better or for worse, its very nature—the sometimes maddening variety and scope of the record—can be seen as the future indie/alt-rock generation's musical ADD blueprint. This influence, which we alluded to earlier, is what leads us to consider it much more far-reaching in affixing its stamp on subsequent artists and like-minded albums, than the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road or Revolver.

On a personal level, while The White Album is not our top favorite among the Fabs' records—that distinction belongs to Abbey Road—it has been, however, very near and dear to our hearts from the very moment we discovered it decades ago. If for whatever reason you haven't had the chance, give it a spin. Like all of The Beatles' best work, once you put aside the myth and the hype, you'll surely understand why we're still talking about it four decades on.

[No news on whether the album's anniversary will be commemorated with a re-issue; a 30th anniversary, limited-edition, 2 CD set, designed to resemble the original vinyl release, was issued in 1998.]

Cuppa Dave

Outspoken and generally entertaining Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine has started a coffee-of-the-month club. Yes, seriously. The fearsome six-stringer has been clean and sober for a few years now, but retains one last vice. And now he wants to share it with the rest of us. Drink up!

Guyville Redux

So, what’s it gonna be—the barely concealed fixation with ‘90s nostalgia; or the need to remove from our musical palettes, the mostly sour taste left by Liz Phair’s post-Exile in Guyville releases? Like every similar situation charged with this kind of duality it’s a little of both. Which is why on the eve of the album’s 15th anniversary reissue next week, we bring you the trailer for Guyville’s accompanying DVD—“Produced and Directed by Liz Phair”, state the credits—a collection of interviews with such Chicago-area notables as Urge Overkill's Nash Kato, John Cusack, the always sweet and endearing pitbull known as Steve Albini; and Liz’s new boss, Dave Matthews, to whose ATO label she is now signed to.


Exile in Guyville (Redux)
will be out June 24th on ATO.

6/19/2008

The (very brief) Rise and Fall of 'Democracy'

Yesterday afternoon the folks at Antiquiet briefly posted on their website six allegedly mastered tracks and three previously unheard demos from the loooooooooooong-awaited Guns 'n' Roses album Chinese Democracy. The songs were loaded onto a media player in streaming audio for all the world to hear. Well, not quite.

Prompted by reps from the GnR camp, the site disabled the player almost as soon as it had set it up and apologized for the leak. Antiquiet may face legal repercussions for the unauthorized post. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, after 15 years and a supposed $13 million in recording costs, Chinese Democracy has allegedly been completed and GnR management is said to be negotiating with the band's label for a release. Not counting the covers album, The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) and the Greatest Hits compilation (2004), the band has not released an album since 1991's Use Your Illusion I and II. GnR's classic 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 15 million copies in the US and 28 million worldwide. It is the fourth best selling debut in US history.

Her Name is Suzanne

Singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega blogs in the NY Times about the "two-hit wonder" label; how her biggest hit, "Luka," came about; and dealing with the aftermath.

"As for being a two-hit wonder — well, I think it’s better than being a one-hit wonder, thank you very much."

Yes, indeed.

Record Stores: RIP?

According to a piece called "Death Knell Sounds for CDs" in the UK's Globe and Mail, "Downloading popularity is surging, and should overtake physical distribution in late 2010." Maybe we're fading dinosaurs, but we only download (paid, of course) single songs, or 2 or 3 from an album we otherwise don't like or care for. If we want an album we're buying the CD. (We just recently acquired the new Death Cab for Cutie and the SubPop reissue of Mudhoney's Superfuzz Bigmuff, as a matter of fact.) But we're no longer the majority, and we know it.

Yes, downloading is surging. (So? Vinyl is too.) Does that mean people will never walk into a store again? Dunno...You can get almost anything you want online, yet stores still function. It's doubtful brick and mortar retail outlets will completely disappear. Granted, music stores have been hit quite hard, but sometimes it's just plain greed: the two NYC Virgin Megastores, for instance, are closing down, not because they're going out of business but due to the landlord--it's the same for both--having visions of a multi-millon-dollar payoff in their eyes.


Meanwhile, the latest issue of Paste has this to say in a lengthy, and worthy, article titled "The Record Store - A Good Thing":
"People are no longer leaving their houses. They are content to wirelessly import digital music straight into nano-engineered storage devices implanted in their grey matter, and the digital revolution is killing brick-and-mortar retail. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the record store’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Just as people of faith need houses of worship in which to commune, music zealots are no less dependent on shrines dedicated to their own decibel-cranked passion. For that reason, Paste hereby celebrates the record store, bestowing superlatives on a few of America’s finest. May they live long and loud!"
[Thanks to "5"er Harold Martinez for the Globe and Mail piece. -KJ]

What We’re Listening To

MIGUEL BOSE Salamandra (WEA)
SMASHING PUMPKINS Zeitgeist (Reprise)
12 RODS Separation Anxieties (V2)

XTC The Big Express (Geffen)
YELLOWJACKETS featuring MIKE STERN Lifestyle (Heads Up!)

What are YOU listening to?

6/18/2008

Happy Birthday


The one and only Sir James Paul McCartney; and noted film critic Roger Ebert, both of whom turn 66 today, June 18th.

By the way, Paste magazine is reporting that Macca's upcoming 2-year, 100-show trek will be the last of its kind for him. The lengthy jaunt, during which he'll play some territories for the very last time, is considered to be a 'farewell tour' for this reason. Although McCartney will surely undertake smaller performance commitments in the future, it's said he's decided to scale back on his touring after this undertaking to spend more time with family, especially 4 year-old daughter Beatrice.

Oh, and in the meantime, here's our favorite: "Maybe I'm Amazed" live, from 1976. Enjoy!

6/17/2008

New Releases

This week's debuts include:

COLDPLAY Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Capitol)
JUDAS PRIEST Nostradamus (Epic)
SILVER JEWS Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City)
TEDDY THOMPSON A Piece of What You Need (Verve Forecast)
DENNIS WILSON Pacific Ocean Blue [deluxe reissue] (Caribou/Sony)

Uncle Bob's New Joint: Boston Spaceships

Possibly missing the band format, Bob Pollard has formed a new outfit, the disappointingly named Boston Spaceships. Consisting of Pollard, former Guided by Voices bassist Chris Slusarenko and Decemberists/Jicks drummer John Moen, the trio's 14-track debut, Brown Submarines--is that supposed to be a turd reference?--will see the light of day on Sept 9th, via Pollard's Guided by Voices (!) label and will be followed by various live dates.

Check out "Go For the Exit" from Brown Submarines here.

Does Suge Knight Own Stock in This?

Idolator:
Tupac Lives...in a Food Court



... in a mall in Indonesia, where they serve goat's feet in his name.

6/16/2008

This Week's Playlist: Mellow Monday

Ten tunes to help you ease into the least favored day of the work week. But this time, there's a twist: you can listen to the playlist here. Enjoy!

1. BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE "Passport Radio"
2. CAFE TACUBA "El Hombre Impasible"
3. CARDINAL "Dream Figure"
4. THE FIRE THEFT "Backward Blues"
5. DONNY HATHAWAY "Valdez In The Country"
6. RICHARD HAWLEY "The Ocean"
7. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE "May This Be Love"
8. THE HIGH LLAMAS "Frankly, Mr. Shankly"
9. ALAN PARSONS "Tijuaniac"
10. EL TEN ELEVEN "Connie"

Quote of the Day

"It might be unfashionable to say it at the moment, but Limp Bizkit had a lot of life in them when they were at their best."
- Coldplay frontman Chris Martin gives props to Fred Durst and co.

Dude, Noel Gallagher is gonna kick your ass.

The Cure - "Freakshow"

As we mentioned before, every 13th of the month brings a new single by The Cure, leading up to the September 13th release of their newest album. This past Friday was--you guessed it--the 13 of June, and so Robert Smith and co. kept their end of the bargain and offered up "Freakshow". (There's some tasty guitar work on there.)

Each single is available as a digital download, CD and in 7” vinyl. The b-side for "Freakshow" is "All Kinds of Stuff". Check it out:

Reality Bites

You all know how we feel about reality shows 'round here. And we don't have much love for the likes of Entertainment Weekly, who in our eyes not only report on, but also perpetuate the kind of climate that makes this nonsense acceptable to the masses. However, once in a while one must make exceptions, and the magazine's scathing reveiws of two of the new crapstatic examples of this lowly genre--both written by Gillian Flynn--got EW a temporary reprieve with us.

Flynn's initial reaction to Living Lohan--the brainchild (no, scratch that) the concoction of Dina Lohan, mother of Lindsay, and manager of 14 year old wannabe singer Ali--was one of "irritation turned to repulsion around the first minute, when Dina, after her morning ritual of scanning the tabloids for Lindsay's weary mug, announces, 'They'd better not start in on Ali like this.' Hey, I have an idea: Don't film a reality show in your child's fricking bedroom!"

Marginally kinder to Denise Richards' venture into 'reality', It's Complicated, she refers to the actress as now being "more famous for her bitter divorce from Charlie Sheen than her acting" (who, incidentally, sued and lost his appeal to keep their daughters off the show) and pretty much sums the up show as another boring opportunity for us to watch "a famous pampered person doing things we don't want to do either."

Ugh.

Battle of the Century (not quite)

Sports network ESPN is commemorating the 100th anniversary of what is baseball's national anthem, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", with a battle of the bands in which the artists duke it out for...um, wait for it...no purpose whatsoever. (Not even charity, guys?)

Among the 9 participating acts are latin genre-benders Ozomatli; jazzers Branford Marsalis, and John Pizzarelli, respectively; REO Speedwagon (!); Candlebox (!!); and country artist Gretchen Wilson.

Here's more.

6/14/2008

Conan O'Brien Tribute to Tim Russert

Yesterday's passing of the political commentator/NBC News Washington bureau chief/host of Meet the Press was met with many moving recollections of the man and his work. ("We lost the quarterback," said colleague Chris Matthews.) But the one that stuck with us was Conan O'Brien's simple but heartfelt tribute on his Late Night show Friday night:



Tim Russert (1950-2008), RIP

6/13/2008

Friday the 13th


[Album cover courtesy of allmusic.com]
sabbath lives!
The mighty Black Sabbath's self-titled debut was released on Friday the 13th, in February of 1970. So to commemorate such a momentous occasion—hey, any excuse to post some Sabbath and to take advantage of a cheesy 'Friday the 13th' segue—we bring you the legendary Birmingham quartet's unofficial theme song in all its doomy glory. Enjoy!

Metallica's Open Letter to the Blogosphere

In response to the band's management requesting the removal of reviews from the blogs of a handful of journalists invited to a sneak preview of the band's upcoming release, Metallica had this to say on their website:

"While we occasionally enjoy reading the various comments, rumors, speculation, reviews, gossip and all the good that the internet brings, rarely do we feel the desire/need to respond to the 'blogosphere' . . . hey, everyone is entitled to have their thoughts and opinions, right? However, once we re-surfaced on Tuesday after a few weeks on tour in Europe, we were informed that someone at Q Prime (our managers) had made the error of asking a few publications to take down reviews of the rough mixes from the new record that were posted on their sites. Our response was 'WHY?!!! Why take down mostly positive reviews of the new material and prevent people from getting psyched about the next record. . . that makes no sense to us!' So after a few rounds of managerial ear spank and sentencing everyone at Q Prime to 20 push-ups each, we figured why not take matters into our own hands and just post the links here on our site. Kerrang, Metal Hammer, The Quietus. You see, we have maintained an 'in the press' section here on Metallica.com for many years now, posting links to reviews of shows, album and DVD releases, and various other tidbits we've come across while surfing around. Some good, some not so good, but we put 'em all up . . . sort of the same way we treat our message boards on this site . . . welcoming all feedback.

So in the spirit of keeping this section current, we've put as many of the reviews of the rough mixes of the new record up here as we could find. If we missed any, let us know . . . and in the meantime, we're always adding, so peruse at your leisure."

WMG vs STP

Scott Weiland and Eric Kretz, Stone Temple Pilots’ vocalist and drummer, respectively are being sued by the Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records for “trying to prematurely end their recording contract,” according to Reuters. Basically, Weiland and Kretz are not happy with the original terms of the deal and say they will not honor the contract unless they can renegotiate. This seems fair enough, considering the band has already given the label 6 albums. But, no. This is why you guys are going down: the label “wants the group to record a seventh album and deliver up to two more if Atlantic decides it wants them”. Not cool.

But why are the brothers DeLeo—guitarist Dean, bassist Robert—not being sued?’ you ask. Well, this is where the plot thickens. The DeLeos were let out of their contract when STP broke up. But now that the band have reunited and have talked about recording an album, the label feels it’s been duped and that the breakup was a ruse for STP to get out of their contract. That’s a bit of a stretch since the band was defunct for 6 years, but we kinda see how Atlantic would be miffed at missing out on a potential moneymaker. Or what passes for one in these piracy-laden times.

Diddy, Daddy, Dilly-dally?

Will you make up your mind and stopping the cheap name-changing ploy to get press, Sean Combs?

For the record, we never stopped calling him 'Puff Daddy'. And in the 'hood we're pretty sure they never stopped referring to him as 'Puffy'.

Wahlberg Says No to Return of Marky Mark

"They asked me if I would partake and I had to decline. Part of me would love to run around and act like a fucking asshole again but I can't do that. I've got two kids. I saw something on VH1 or something about me in the '90s and I thought, oh my God, how am I going to explain this to my kids? I have a few years to think about how to finesse it but I do think about it on a daily basis."

- Mark Wahlberg on donning his ‘90s alter ego moniker and reuniting with The Funky Bunch


We’re not surprised. He's been trying to bury this part of his resume for years. And anyway, would you do it, if you had an Oscar nomination and a decent Hollywood career? (We wouldn't have done it to begin with, but hey...)

6/12/2008

Bonnaroo For Yoo Too

For those of us not making an appearance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this weekend there will be a live webcast starting Thursday at 1:30 PM. Metallica, The Raconteurs, Les Claypool and Drive By Truckers are among the many acts performing this year.

What We’re Listening To

JON BRION Meaningless (Straight-to-Cut Out)
CAFE TACUBA SiNo (Universal Latin)
GUSTAVO CERATI Ahi Vamos (BMG US Latin)
SPIN DOCTORS Pocketful of Kryptonite (Epic)
MEL TORME Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley (Verve)

What are YOU listening to?

Saddest Promo Campaign Tagline of the Year

"You Oughta Know Alanis is Back with a New Album"

'Nuff said.

The 25 Worst Sitcoms Ever

TV Crunch has 'em. Fans of Margaret Cho and Mr. Belvedere, beware.

Are We The Only Ones That Think...


...Mariah Carey's been lookin' extra cougar-y since she hooked up with--and now married--Nick Cannon? Especially since she's 2 years away from turning 40.

Btw, what is it exactly that Cannon does for a living?

6/10/2008

New Releases

Among today’s discs du jour are:

JAKOB DYLAN Seeing Things (Sony)
EMMYLOY HARRIS All I Intended to Be (Nonesuch)
MY MORNING JACKET Evil Urges (ATO)
N.E.R.D. Seeing Sounds (Interscope)
SLOAN Parallel Play (Yep Roc)

Stuntman Killed on Woo Set

AP:
HONG KONG - A stuntman was killed and six others injured in a fire while shooting an action scene in director John Woo's Chinese historical epic Red Cliff, the film's crew and Chinese media said Tuesday. The accident occurred Monday morning while filming an action sequence in Beijing, the crew said in a statement.

A small boat was set ablaze and collided with a larger boat as the filmmakers had intended, but the fire quickly raged out of control and engulfed both ships. The person killed was a 23-year-old stuntman, the Beijing News reported, citing a local fire commander.Woo, told of the news while promoting his film in Hong Kong, rushed back to Beijing, the crew said.

The crew "is deeply distraught and full of regret. They are making every effort to make arrangements for the deceased, his family and the injured crew members," the statement said.
It was the latest setback to Woo's massive production, which marks his return to Chinese-language film after a stint in Hollywood.
Red Cliff, about a well-known battle in feudal-era China, has suffered casting changes and set problems since it started filming in April last year.

Get Back, Jack

Chuck Berry--in our book, Master of the Rock and Roll Universe--has requested that Republican presidential candidate John McCain refrain from using Berry's classic "Johnny B. Goode" as his campaign's theme song. It seems the legendary musical pioneer has recently endorsed Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama.

New Kiss? It Worked with The New Monkees, right? (oh, wait...)

We've never cared for the face paint-loving, sub-par quartet known as Kiss, but we just had to comment on this: bassist Gene Simmons and band manager Doc McGhee have announced a new reality show in which the band auditions a new version of Kiss, complete with makeup, fire-breathing and yet more crappy songs.

We're speechless.

‘Reggae-Flavored’ Candie

Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader from the popular NBC show Heroes has an upcoming album in the works, due for a 2009 release. (There’s probably a rule against well-endowed, dimunitive, blonde starlets releasing albums at the same time.) The first single, “Wake Up Call”, will be out at least 4 months before the album. So? No big deal, right? Except, according to Idolator

Candie's…has announced it's taking over "the majority of the cost" for Heroes star Hayden Panettiere's single "Wake Up Call," which will be released on Aug. 5. The song will be aggressively marketed by the fashion company, which … [is] described as ‘reggae-flavored,’ which makes me think Ace Of Base, which makes me think of an atrociously hooky song blaring from radios in the hottest month of the year. And thanks to its presence in the ad campaign, "Wake Up Call" will probably blare whether or not it's actually popular. You've been warned.’

Yikes! It’s “Wannabe” all over again.

6/09/2008

This Week’s Playlist: Not an Apple in Sight

Here are ten tracks, doctor themed. Medical and otherwise. Mostly otherwise. Enjoy!

1. THE BEATLES “Dr. Robert”
2. BLOW MONKEYS “Diggin’ Your Scene”
3. JACKSON BROWNE “Doctor My Eyes”

4. DR. DRE "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang"
5. DR. JOHN “Mama Roux”
6. LITTLE FEAT “Rock and Roll Doctor”
7. MOTLEY CRUE “Dr. Feelgood”
8. ROBERT PALMER “Bad Case of Loving You”
9. STEELY DAN “Dr. Wu”
10. PETER TOSH “Bush Doctor”

Police Make MSG Their Final Stand

A month after declaring they’d play a last ever show at an undecided New York City location to benefit local public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW New York, The Police have announced the venue and—surprise, surprise—it’s Madison Square Garden.

The show is scheduled for Aug. 6th—with opening act The B-52s—and tickets go on sale this Saturday, June 14th. The twist: tickets can be obtained only as donations to the aforementioned stations and will be available for “$150, $350, $500 and $750. There is also a $5000 package featuring access to soundcheck, and a $2000 combo with prime seats and a private pre-show party,” according to Billboard. A future broadcast and/or CD/DVD release has not yet been confirmed.

Viva el Internet

Will Coldplay save its label's parent group, EMI, from possible financial demise? Or more importantly, is the new album any good? Well, the band's latest, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, won’t be released until June 17th. But in the meantime you can head over to I Heart Music, check out the hotly-anticipated, Brian Eno-produced batch of songs and formulate your own opinion.

(By the way, that first single—and title track—sounds a little too musical theatre-ish to us. Just sayin’…)

AC/DC Goes Wal-Mart Route

Following in the retail exclusivity footsteps of the likes of The Eagles and Genesis, AC/DC will offer its upcoming album solely to Wal-Mart shoppers. Produced by Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Bruce Springsteen) the currently untitled album is due for release in the fall on Sony’s Columbia Records imprint. The band has not released a studio album since 2000’s Stiff Upper Lip.

Wal-Mart only, huh? How the mighty have been de-fanged…

Somebody Loves the ‘90s (more than we do, obviously)

Time for those of you over the age of 30 to do a double take: Blues Traveler, Collective Soul and Live, will hit the road together this summer. Yup, that's right. And we thought the Nada Surf/Superdrag bill was a nostalgia trip!

Page and Jones join Foos Onstage; Grohl Creams Pants

Doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers pay thousands of dollars to join rock and roll fantasy camps and jam with mostly has beens for a week. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl gets to play London’s iconic Wembley Stadium and have legends like Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones join his band onstage for two songs. Some guys have all the luck...

On Saturday June 7th, during the Foos two-night stand at
Wembley(!), Grohl returned to his former instrument, stepping behind the kit while drummer Taylor Hawkins belted out “Rock and Roll” alongside the mighty Zep's respective guitarist and bassist. Grohl returned upfront to sing the Led Zeppelin II album track “Ramble On”

In March, Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee joined Hawkins on stage in Toronto for a run through the Canadian trio’s classic instrumental “YYZ” and a few weeks later the Foos were joined on stage in Japan by Huey Lewis who jammed with them on harmonica. And now, 2/3 of the surviving Led Zeppelin.

Why couldn't any of this happened when the Foos were good?

20 Questions: Thomas Dolby

PopMatters makes a few direct inquiries into the current state of affairs of the pop musician turned sonic innovator.

Zohan vs Borat (and The Big Lebowski)

A few inconvenient comparisons are made between Adam Sandler’s latest on-screen persona Zohan, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat, and the Jesus Quintana character from The Big Lebowski, in S. James Snyder’s "Something Familiar About the Zohan?" piece in Time magazine.

We happen to detest practically everything Sandler touches so there’d be no sadness on our part if this were to finally prove what we, and many others, have known all along: that he is a crass, talentless hack who got supremely lucky. Surely there is a real comedic talent taking Sandler’s place on the Tuesday night, 7:45 PM slot at, dunno, Yuk-Yuks in Fresno; just the kind of thing that fuels an atheist's beliefs.

6/06/2008

Metallica, Put that Internet Down Before You Hurt Yourselves Even Further

It turns out that some London-based music journalists got an official preview of the upcoming Metallica album this past Wednesday. Cool. But here’s the kicker: despite not having signed non-disclosure agreements and giving the album mostly good reviews—one of which praised it as a return to form—the writers were asked by the band’s management to take down their posted comments on the album. Huh?

OK, guys? Listen...we defended you to the bitter end during and after the whole Napster fiasco because we thought you were on the side of righteousness. Because it was common knowledge that you’d been generous and gracious to your fans over the years, and that just because you’d made a good living you weren’t obliged to give away your work for free to please some misguided, freeloading, pseudo-utopian-thinking college kids, who’d later become greedy investment bankers the moment they got out of school. But this is ridiculous. C’mon! What the hell are you guys smokin’ anyway?!

How to Save the Majors (Maybe)

Former Beastie Boys manager Ian Rogers has a few ideas for the EMI braintrust that could be applicable to other roaming dinos left, namely, individually making each label under the company umbrella a dedicated purveyor and marketer of similar kinds of music and artists.

"What do Daft Punk, Meat Loaf, KoRn, and The Stooges have in common from an audience perspective? How is there any efficiency in the same marketing team working all of those records (and scads of others just as unaffiliated) in the past year?"

Hmmm…

Rogers’ got some more ideas right here.

By George, He’s Back

On July 10th, DJ/tabloid fodder/former Culture Club frontman Boy George will embark on a US/Canada concert tour for the first time in a decade. No word yet as to whether there are any notable sidemen/women joining the Boy’s road band.

Dates are as follows:

7-10 Aspen, CO
7-11 Las Vegas, NV

7-12 San Diego, CA
7-13 Anaheim, CA
7-15, 16 Los Angeles, CA
7-18 San Francisco, CA
7-21 Vancouver, BC
7-22 Calgary, AB
7-23 Edmonton, AB
7-25 Pompano Beach, FL

7-26 Orlando, FL
7-27 St. Petersburg, FL
7-29 N. Myrtle Beach, SC
7-30 Washington, DC
8-1 Glenside, PA
8-3 Atlantic City, NJ
8-5 Westbury, NY
8-7 Chicago, IL
8-10 Toronto, ON
8-12 Montreal, QC
8-14 New York, NY
8-21 Austin, TX
8-22 Houston, TX
8-23 Dallas, TX