8/31/2009

What We're Listening To

MARCO BENEVENTO Invisible Baby [Hyena]
FAILURE Fantastic Planet [Slash]
FASTBALL
Make Your Mama Proud [Hollywood]
LIVING COLOUR Biscuits EP [Epic]
LONGWAVE The Strangest Things [RCA]

What are YOU listening to?

Best Onion-like True Story of the Week

Five Reasons Why Jay-Z’s Attendance At Yesterday’s Grizzly Bear Show Wasn’t All That Surprising


Oh, so lame.

Ain't Nuthin' but a Bling Thing, Baby

"I went to the Def Jam tour in Manchester in the '80s when rap was inspirational. Public Enemy were awesome. But it's all about status and bling now, and it doesn't say anything to me." - Noel Gallagher

The now ex-Oasis guitarist and chief songwriter was probably referring to this nauseating spectacle.

Disney to Buy Marvel Comics for $4B

AP:
LOS ANGELES -- The Walt Disney Co. is buying Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing such characters as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and WALL-E.

Under the deal, which was announced Monday and is expected to close by the end of the year, Disney will acquire the rights to 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend Stan Lee.

Disney CEO Robert Iger said Marvel's comic books, TV shows, movies and video games amounted to "a treasure trove of content." Iger said the deal would bring benefits like the ones Disney got from buying "Toy Story" creator Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion in stock in 2006.

Police to Re-Examine Brian Jones' Death

40 years after the passing of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, British police are said to be looking into new leads regarding his death. Originally ruled a drowning accident in 1969, there has been speculation for decades that foul play may have played a role in the case, despite Jones being under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.

27 years old at the time of his death, Jones was a founding member of The Rolling Stones; a gifted multi-instrumentalist and arranger who made unique contributions to the band's sound and is also credited with coming up with the band's name.

Separated at Birth?*

Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas...



...and Poison frontman Brett Michaels?



[*Props to the late great Spy magazine. Michaels pic: h/t Xmastime.]

8/30/2009

Noel Gallagher Quits Oasis (again)

Here's the statement posted on the band's website:
Dearly beloved, it is with a heavy heart and a sad face that I say this to you this morning.

As of last Friday the 28th August, I have been forced to leave the Manchester rock'n'roll pop group Oasis.

The details are not important and of too great a number to list. But I feel you have the right to know that the level of verbal and violent intimidation towards me, my family, friends and comrades has become intolerable. And the lack of support and understanding from my management and band mates has left me with no other option than to get me cape and seek pastures new.

I would like firstly to offer my apologies to them kids in Paris who'd paid money and waited all day to see us only to be let down AGAIN by the band. Apologies are probably not enough, I know, but I'm afraid it's all I've got.

While I'm on the subject, I'd like to say to the good people of V Festival that experienced the same thing. Again, I can only apologise - although I don't know why, it was nothing to do with me. I was match fit and ready to be brilliant. Alas, other people in the group weren't up to it.

In closing I would like to thank all the Oasis fans, all over the world. The last 18 years have been truly, truly amazing (and I hate that word, but today is the one time I'll deem it appropriate). A dream come true. I take with me glorious memories.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have a family and a football team to indulge.

I'll see you somewhere down the road. It's been a fuckin' pleasure.

Thanks very much.

Goodbye.

NG

Will it take? Is this just another of the Gallagher brothers' famed internal tiffs? What is the future of Oasis? And is there an Oasis without Noel? Will this be resolved by next week? Anyone care?

Stay tuned.

8/27/2009

Milestones: Rush

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc that celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues.
- KJ
]
When it comes to veteran Canadian power trio Rush,
rock fans seem to actively reject the middle ground and invariably love or hate them, largely due to the band’s notorious instrumental dexterity, lengthy song suites, and lyrical content. We must confess that much of their early music was a formative influence on us as musicians. But while that music still holds sway with us, in recent times, and upon further scrutiny, many of the words written by long-time drummer and band lyricist Neil Peart have left a bad taste; their heavy-handed, Ayn Rand-influenced, humanist propaganda a bit much to bear.

It wasn’t always this way. On their self-titled debut [Mercury-1974]—with original drummer, the late John Rutsey—vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson started things off with a non-pretentious slab of hard rocking Zeppelin-Sabbath-Cream-influenced tunes that would continue on follow up disc Fly By Night [Mercury-1975], which marks the arrival of the aforementioned Peart. With third album Caress of Steel [Mercury-1975], the band started augmenting their hard rock with prog rock tendencies and defining the sound by which they are best known, giving way to a trio of solid releases: the concept album 2112 [Mercury-1976], A Farewell to Kings [Mercury-1977] (home of fan favorite and concert staple “Closer to the Heart”), and Hemispheres [Mercury-1978].

The ‘80s were interesting times for Rush, as they found themselves influenced by many of the sounds and production techniques of the era. At the dawn of the decade they streamlined their approach a bit by incorporating shorter, radio-friendly songs (perennial favorite “The Spirit of Radio”, as well as Freewill” and “Entre Nous”) to 1980’s Permanent Waves [Mercury] and 1981’s Moving Pictures [Mercury], the latter catapulting them to the top of the US charts courtesy of “Tom Sawyer”, “Limelight”, “Red Barchetta” and the instrumental “YYZ”. (It remains their biggest selling album here in the States.)

Soaking up a more contemporary vibe, Signals [Mercury-1982] bore a distinct Police influence—most noticeably on the tracks “New World Man” and “Digital Man”—along with Lee’s more prominent use of keyboards, developments which ended up severing their ties with long-time producer Terry Brown, who was opposed to Rush’s shift from more progressive-leaning pastures. This approach was continued and expanded upon with 1984’s Grace Under Pressure [Mercury], which went Top 10 along with its predecessor.

Not that they were wrong to want to experiment but perhaps the boys should’ve listened to Brown a bit: their next two albums—Power Windows [Mercury-1985], and Hold Your Fire [Mercury-1987], respectively—while housing a few solid tunes, lacked the consistency of past records and featured sounds and production that have clearly dated them. For 1989’s Presto—their first for new label Atlantic Records, after 15 years recording for Mercury Records—Rush shifted back to a more aggressive, guitar-based approach. By this time, however, the band’s mainstream appeal had started to diminish, and over the last 20 years its sonic allure has been of interest almost exclusively to its legion of hardcore fans.

Aside from a 5 year hiatus beginning in 1997—mostly due to the tragic death of Peart’s daughter, and later, his wife succumbing to cancer—Rush have continued to tour and record, and in 2008 made their first American television appearance in over 30 years
on The Colbert Report, as well as a cameo in the comedy film I Love You, Man.

Seemingly maligned and beloved in almost equal measure—their fans have been referred to as “the Trekkies/Trekkers of rock”—Rush have managed to sell more than 40 million albums worldwide, 25 million of those in the US alone. Although eligible for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1999 they have yet to be honored in this manner, in spite of their longevity, sales, and influence on such diverse bands as Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, King's X, Audioslave, Porcupine Tree, and Dream Theatre. One thing is certain: fans of adventurous, instrumentally dexterous, progressive hard rock are sure to find much within the band’s massive catalog that rings close to their hearts.

Recommended:

Fly By Night [Mercury-1975]
2112 [Mercury-1976]
Permanent Waves [Mercury-1980]
Moving Pictures [Mercury-1980]
Signals [Mercury-1982]

"Talk About a Revolution, um, Revision"

It was bound to happen: amidst all the recent Woodstock nostalgia lies hair band-loving rock critic Chuck Eddy's list of substitute artists for the landmark '69 concert festival. Oh, and it's a doozy.

Among Mr. Eddy's picks: Dionne Warwick instead of Melanie; The Velvet Underground as a substitute for Jefferson Airplane: the Joe Cuba Sextette in lieu of Santana; The Supremes over Janis Joplin; The Archies should've replaced the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Funkadelic rather than Jimi Hendrix, among many, many others.
In fact, he's got alternates for every act that was on the bill. Jeez.

At least he didn't find a way to mention Poison in his post...

See for yourself here.

Milestones: The Residents

[Our series of posts on albums, movies, etc that celebrate significant anniversaries this year continues. - KJ]

For decades now, the musical enigma that is Bay Area underground legends The Residents have created an enormous body of work shrouded in anonymity and secrecy, while enjoying the support of a loyal, unwavering fanbase, starting with their official debut album, Meet the Residents [Ralph], released in 1974.

If you've even been curious about these guys, there are numerous sources out there for you to learn more about The Residents and their music, with more info and commentary than we could ever attempt in this space. However, we thought we'd steer you towards a couple of albums that are worthy initial forays into their strange, wacky world.

Because of the uncompromising and somewhat impenetrable
nature of their music, many have recommended their 1980 release
The Commercial Album
[Ralph]—a collection of songs of little over a minute each, meant as a commentary on ad jingles of similar length being the actual, true American music—as a good starting point for those unfamiliar with The Residents' brand of avant garde pop.
We don't disagree, but Glorious Noise's Todd Totale makes a strong case for Duck Stab [Ralph-1978], an album of "streamlined songs that housed a large amount of disturbia in such as small amount of time," and "a fine place to start."

If Captain Beefheart, Brian Eno, latter day Tom Waits, and left-field pop experimentalism are your cup of tea, you are probably already acquainted with The Residents. If not, the two albums mentioned above can be your ticket to embarking on a whole new bizarre and whimsical adventure. A word of caution: tread carefully, for this music is most assuredly not for everyone.

8/26/2009

RIP

Ellie Greenwich, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, who co-wrote such '60s pop classics as "Be My Baby" and "Leader of the Pack" among many others, died on Aug 26th of a heart attack at
New York's St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital where she was being treated for pneumonia.

The Brooklyn native was 68 years old.

Brendan Benson on Letterman

Here's The Raconteurs' vocalist/guitarist Brendan Benson's appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman performing "Whole Lot Better", the lead-off track from his just released solo album My Old Familiar Friend [Echo/ATO].

8/24/2009

Any Recommendations?

Through the magic of cable TV we have been able to catch up with a bunch of noteworthy, somewhat recent films we had no desire to see in a movie theatre. (The last time we made that particular trek was to see The Simpsons Movie. Enjoyed it, by the way.)

Boy, are we ecstatic we saved that admission price: viewing the lame, desultory, pointless likes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hamlet 2, The Promotion, Superbad, Tropic Thunder, and The Rocker--the latter wasn't too bad, especially the soundtrack--does not elevate our faith in the current purveyors of comedy cinema. That's quite a few hours down the drain, people. Ugh.

(By the way, the last good movie we saw of any genre--aside from
the aforementioned quite agreeable big screen debut of the first family of imaginary Springfield--was the incredible Children of Men.)

We do not envy film critics. Theirs is a thankless job. We sat through a half a dozen clunkers and emerged distraught; what if we had to watch these kinds of crappy movies every single day as they do? Suicide would be oh so welcome.

8/19/2009

What We're Listening To

AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB The Golden Age [Merge]
CROSBY STILLS & NASH self titled [Atlantic]
HALL & OATES Private Eyes [RCA]
LIZ PHAIR Exile in Guyville [Matador]
THE PRODUCERS You Make the Heat [Portrait/CBS]

What are YOU listening to?

How 'bout a Fatty?

Fans of the HBO's show Entourage know that guest star Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos) is dating the portly go-fer known as Turtle (actor Jerry Ferrara) both on the show and in real life. No big deal.

But c'mon, if you're going to interview an actress and ask her whether or not beautiful women date fat dudes, shouldn't you be aware beforehand that SHE IS ACTUALLY DATING ONE? This isn't quite as embarrassing as when that film student asked John Cusack about his role in American Beauty, (he's not in it, you bumbling knucklehead) but really, who's doing your research?

8/16/2009

RIP: Jim Dickinson

Producer/musician Jim Dickinson, whose four decades in the music business includes his work with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Mudhoney, and Big Star, among many others, died on Saturday Aug. 15th of recurring heart and intestinal bleeding problems.

Dickinson, who was recognized as one of the architects of "the Memphis sound", was also the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson, of The North Mississippi All-Stars.

He was 67 years old.

8/14/2009

Woodstock: 40 Years Later

This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair, held on Aug 15-17, on the farm of Max Yasgur, in Bethel, NY.

For better or for worse, there will be no official concert to mark the occasion--we were hoping the Prospect Park idea would take off--but, as expected, there are plenty of write-ups and blog posts with either celebrations of nostalgia, or critiques of the current state of youth and music to be perused thru. The latter, of course, will just fuel more of the boomer fatigue that many born in the '70s have been decrying for a while now.

And while we may understand how they feel, the truth is, the boomers set the bar for popular culture pretty high in the second half of the 20th century and none of us have come even close since.

In any event, we just wanted to give props to a seminal moment in popular music history, one that Rolling Stone once deemed to have been one of "50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll", and a pretty cool concert, after all.

"...[T]he important thing that you've proven to the world is that...a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!"
- Max Yasgur addressing the crowd at Woodstock, Aug. 17, 1969.

8/13/2009

RIP: Les Paul

Guitarist, inventor, and of course designer of the Gibson electric guitar that bears his name, the legendary Les Paul died on Thursday, August 13th, of complications from pneumonia.

As owners and players of his namesake guitar and beneficiaries of
the multi-track recording techniques he invented, we can't help but feel keenly indebted to this musical giant. Thanks for everything, sir.

Les Paul was 94 years old.

[photo courtesy of smokestacklightnin.com]

8/11/2009

Why Didn't We Think of That?

The lagging sales of recorded music is of no surprise to anyone these days, but one particularly successful commercial tie-in of the past seems to be especially hurting: the movie soundtrack album.

We briefly touched on this subject a while back, but a comment made on a recent Idolator post regarding soundtrack sales had a great proposal which not only caught our attention but made us wonder why this hasn't been adopted as a widespread practice:

"The record labels should make physical albums available for purchase at the movie theaters where the films are being played. This is a long overdue concept and I think that its just one example of how labels need to be more proactive with their marketing."

Um, yeah. It's a way better idea than selling albums at Starbucks, for instance. But would it be too little, too late at this point? Maybe. But with record sales being pretty lean it's a suggestion definitely worth looking into.

Thankfully, It Wasn't The Shins

Worth reading is Jake Brown's "John Hughes Changed My Life" post, a tribute to the late filmmaker over at Glorious Noise.

We Give Up, It's Over: Perez Hilton, Music Mogul

Obnoxious gossip blogger and music industry neophyte Perez Hilton will be heading his own record label, Perezcious Music, which will be distributed by Warner Bros. Let that sink in for a bit.

So, what's next? Will Kathy Griffin be curating Sundance?

These are indeed the worst of times...feel like that Longwave song right about now.

8/10/2009

Them Crooked Vultures Sure are Secretive

The new supergroup formed by Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, just played their debut gig this past weekend at The Metro in Chicago.

Calling themselves Them Crooked Vultures, the trio are rumored to be recording an album in Los Angeles to be released in October.
The
Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot praised their live maiden voyage calling TCV's brand of hard rock "something fresh, invigorating and just plain nasty." Like Chickenfoot, right? (Sorry, just kidding.)

Oh, and none of the tracks have been leaked to the internet. Yet.

8/06/2009

RIP: John Hughes

John Hughes, the writer/director of the classic coming of age comedies Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, suffered a fatal heart attack on August 6th, while visiting family in New York City.

He was 59 years old.