10/31/2012

Sortaunknown

A bit of trepidation is always present when a beloved band comes out of retirement or nullifies their breakup, especially if they intend to record new music. Soundgarden is no exception.

As a unit, Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron have not released an album of new music in over 15 years. That will change on Nov. 13th with the release of King Animal, which was produced by Adam Kasper, who was also on board for the last Soundgarden album, Down on the Upside [A&M-1996].

Cool, right?

Except, the first single from the awfully titled King Animal, "Live to Rise"--which was released as a tie-in to The Avengers movie--has some nice riffage bolted onto weak verses which sound like they were leftovers from the second Cornell solo album. And the album's lead off track, "Been Gone Too Long", is kinda meh. (And let's not even get into how painfully obvious it has become that Cornell's voice is mostly shot, in so far as a classic Soungarden caliber-type performance is concerned.)

But there is hope.

"Non-State Actor", with its Louder than Love [A&M-1989] via Down on the Upside vibe, started streaming on Halloween and is quite promising. Check it out below before the stream is cut off.



10/29/2012

Gustavo Cerati: Solo

One of the major figures in the world of Latin American rock, Gustavo Adrián Cerati Clark (born August 11, 1959 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a musician and producer best known as the singer/guitarist/frontman for Soda Stereo, the legendary rock band he led for a decade and a half (1982-1997). But Cerati's own influential solo career itself--which came to a halt due to a stroke suffered in 2010--is almost as long as his tenure in Soda Stereo, and in some circles, accorded the same level of respect as his former band.

Although his career did not formally start until after the conclusion of Soda Stereo's 1997 farewell tour, Cerati's first solo album, Amor Amarillo [BMG U.S. Latin-1993], was released while he was still a member of the band--Soda bassist Hector "Zeta" Bosio co-produced the album and played on the title track--and months before Dynamo [Sony], Soda Stereo's penultimate album, saw the light of day. Despite Cerati not touring behind it, Amor Amarillo did not go unnoticed, but instead became a favorite among Soda fans, to the point that Cerati was performing songs from the album live more than a decade after its release. Among these is "Bajan" written by Argentine rock legend Luis Alberto Spinetta in the early '70s.

(Two years earlier, in 1991, Cerati collaborated with Daniel Melero on an album titled Colores Santos [Sony] under the name Cerati/Melero. The album's marked electronica-based sound, influenced not only the sound of Soda Stereo's then upcoming album, Dynamo, but Argentina's burgeoning electronica scene as well.)

Having wrapped up his commitments with Soda Stereo, Cerati began the next stage of his music career with Bocanada [BMG U.S. Latin-1999], a batch of electronic pop that firmly established him as a solo artist. Five singles were taken from Bocanada ("Puente", "Paseo Inmoral", "Tabú", "Engaña" y "Río Babel") each with a corresponding video clip. Moreover, "Verbo Carne" was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios with the London Session Orchestra, conducted by Gavin Wright.

After writing the soundtrack for the movie + bien (or Mas Bien) in 2001, Cerati released Siempre Es Hoy [BMG U.S. Latin-2002], which was expected to rock out more and rely less on electronica, but the opposite turned out to be true. More lighthearted on its surface than Bocanada, despite upheaval in his personal life at the time, Siempre Es Hoy, however, was received in a lukewarm and unenthusiastic manner.

Speculation was rampant as to the direction Cerati would take on his next release, after Siempre Es Hoy turned out to be the lowest-selling of his solo albums. One theory circulating at the time back posited his return to a guitar-driven rock sound after a decade of making electronic pop pushed him away more and more from the sound of the band that made him an international star. (Although in truth, Siempre Es Hoy was less dependent on electronics and showcased his guitar more prominently than other previous releases.)

After a long wait and some four years after the release of Siempre Es Hoy, Cerati returned with a straight up, guitar-loaded rock album, whose pre-order sales were such that the album went platinum before officially going on sale. With the arrival of Ahí Vamos [BMG U.S. Latin-2006] came the burning questions: Did Siempre Es Hoy's relatively low sales lead to a supposed reconciliation with a rock-oriented sound, dusting off the guitars, cranking up the amps and indirectly revisiting past glories? And would the album exceed or at least match the expectations it had been saddled with? Leadoff track "Al Fin Sucede"--in addition to second single "La Excepción" and "Uno Entre 1000", the latter with a chorus the size of a house--immediately confirmed Cerati's intentions to rock out and the album was promptly hailed as a return to form. Which is not surprising since at different points Ahí Vamos is reminiscent of essential elements from the final three Soda Stereo studio albums: Canción Animal [CBS-1990], the aforementioned Dynamo, and Sueño Stereo [BMG U.S. Latin-1995].

After touring behind Ahí Vamos Cerati joined his former Soda Stereo bandmates for an epic reunion tour that saw the band perform for about 300,000 fans in 22 dates--including 3 shows in the United States--before going back into retirement.

In an interview given towards the end of the previous decade, the ever pragmatic Cerati referred to the division that characterizes his fanbase: rockers on one side and the devotees of his brand of electronica on the other, and how their numbers respectively expand and contract depending on which which way the muse guides him. Well, if Ahí Vamos was made to appease the rockers, Fuerza Natural [Sony-2009] seems to have been written in pursuit of self-satisfaction. Mellow in a way not heard since Bocanada but without that album's heavy electronica vibe, Fuerza Natural leaned more towards a poppier, singer/songwriter vibe. It also includes "Cactus", a song in which Cerati once again explores his native country's folk music.

During the tour for Fuerza Natural and after a concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Cerati suffered a stroke on May 15, 2010. He remains in a coma ever since.





10/23/2012

'80s

It wasn't all what you think/remember it to be, you know?

New Releases

Among the notable releases seeing the light of day today are:

BOSTON SPACESHIPS Out of the Universe by Dawn: The Greatest Hits of Boston Spaceships [Fire]
CAFE TACUBA El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco [Universal Music Latino]
THE DOORS Live at the Bowl '68 [Elektra]
OF MONTREAL Daughter of Cloud [Polyvinyl]
THE SWORD Apocryphon [Razor & Tie]

10/22/2012

The Great Rock and Roll Swindle

Is this what they meant?

Communication Breakdown

How 'bout the press stop asking Led Zeppelin about a possible reunion and the band's answers be less pissy? OK, then.

Like Suicide?

Most of the time, we believe artists should come out of retirement only to celebrate their past achievements and not potentially embarrass themselves and tarnish their legacies with albums that were best left on the rehearsal room floor. (What's up, Stooges?) Therefore, bands we love making a comeback disc always make us nervous. Which is why the 2 new songs we've heard, plus the title of the upcoming new Soundgarden album itself has us worried. Hmm...

Stones' Setlist



In case you missed it, last week The Rolling Stones posted a pic via Twitter with a handwritten list of songs they have presumably been rehearsing for their upcoming 50th anniversary, 4-date mini tour. Obviously, this is not meant to be a complete setlist, but it gives us an idea of what they're thinking of playing. Hmm...

10/21/2012

GnR Rock The Bridge

Guns 'n' Roses wouldn't seem like anyone's first choice for an acoustic gig, but that's exactly what went down last night when the L.A. rockers performed a completely sans electric 7-song set at Neil and Pegi Young's annual benefit for the The Bridge School, which helps children with physical disabilities. (Traditionally, artists play acoustic at the benefit, which has been going on since 1986.)

And it wasn't all mellow either: rockers "You're Crazy and "Welcome to the Jungle" made the cut, the former in a funky rendition which you can enjoy below.

(Among those also on the bill were Eddie Vedder, Jack White, The Flaming Lips, and of course Neil Young with Crazy Horse.)

GnR's Bridge School setlist (10/20/12):

"You’re Crazy"
"Used to Love Her"
"Welcome to the Jungle"
"Better"
"Patience"
"Sweet Child O’ Mine"
"Paradise City"

Teenage Angst Has Paid Off Well

According to NME, CBS has picked up Smells Like Teen Spirit, described as a sitcom in which a teenager skips "Harvard and instead opts to launch a multibillion-dollar Internet company from his garage with the assistance of his sister, best friend and his 1990s indie-rock parents."

Yes, we know what you're thinking: Did Courtney Love approve the use of the title of Nirvana's most famous song? Well, song titles can't be copyrighted so, that's that. Oh, you mean...nah, we don't care to opine on someone blatantly cashing in on '90s nostalgia in the cheesiest of ways.

10/20/2012

David S. Ware (1949 – 2012)

Saxophonist David S. Ware, whom the New York Times called "a powerful and contemplative jazz saxophonist who helped lead a resurgence of free jazz in New York" and a master improviser who was probably one of the few true musical heirs of the great John Coltrane, died this past October 18th in his native state of New Jersey due to complications related to a kidney transplant.

He was 62 years old.

10/19/2012

"Letting the days go by..."

An early MTV staple widely considered Talking Heads' signature song, these days the interpretation that "Once in a Lifetime" [Sire-1981] is about the idealism of youth compromised by the arrival of midlife and its attendent ennui, holds more ground than ever. "Same as it ever was", indeed.


10/18/2012

Keith Richards: Rock's Rhythm Guitar King

It seems a bit surreal but no one under the age of 50 has known a world without Keith Richards.  
And in that half century--with and without but mostly with the Rolling Stones--the man who in many circles is considered the archetype of the modern rocker, has left an undeniable mark on the world of music and rock guitar in particular. Like his most obvious influence, the legendary rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry, Richards has created a signature style, one that has made him one of the instrumental standard bearers of his chosen genre. Widely regarded as one of rock's greatest rhythm guitarists, Keef's influence is both immensely recognizable, and seemingly ubiquitous. 

 Unlike his idol Berry, Richards was never interested in being a solo act and only became one in the '80s when his fractured relationship with Mick Jagger almost cracked, due to the Stones' frontman not being interested in making music with the band at the time.
Keef subsequently put together the X-pensive Winos, in which he shared guitar duties with noted musician and producer Waddy Wachtel and released two studio albums--Talk is Cheap [Virgin-1988]; Main Offender [Virgin-1992]--and Live at the Hollywood Palladium [Virgin-1991], before returning to the Rolling Stones.

Although his guitar was an important part of the Stones' sound during the first decade of the band, one could say that Keef's subsequent influence lies in the work he did immediately thereafter. Specifically, on the albums Sticky Fingers [Rolling Stones Records-1971] and Exile on Main Street [Rolling Stones Records-1972], iconic rock masterpieces both. However, many agree--including Richards himself--that his style was slightly curbed when he paired up with the great Mick Taylor, which made for a more uniform six-string approach, as Keef adapted to the role of rhythm guitarist while Taylor settled into the lead guitarist slot. And yes, although their roles were quite defined at the time, songs like "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from Sticky Fingers, with its bold improvisation, would probably not exist in the same manner with a different configuration of guitarists.

The arrival of former Faces guitarist Ron Wood into the Stones' lineup in the mid-seventies, gave Richards a partner with whom he could switch between rhythm and lead in an improvised and more intuitive manner; effortlessly and sometimes within the same song, like a nimble four-limbed guitarist, a musical dynamic that's been going strong for almost 40 years at this point.

And yes, Keef will bury us all.


10/10/2012

Maladjusted, Indeed

The staff at the Brooklyn rehearsal space where Morrissey and his band recently geared up for a spate of NYC shows and TV appearances (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Colbert Report) could not wait for him to leave, due to an alleged excess of prima donna attitude. Among other things, he demanded no one eat meat in the entire building while he was there; and had a fit if anyone smoked outside, in front of the building. Everyone knows Morrissey has a reputation for being difficult but, really?

Remaining NYC dates:

10/10 - Radio City Music Hall
10/12, 13 - Terminal 5

The Album: Valid or Relic?

Although its existence precedes the '60s by several decades it was not until the second half of the decade that the album became the primary vehicle for artists to disseminate their work, in so far as the realm of popular music is concerned. What's more, it's no exaggeration to postulate it was not until The Beatles released their iconic Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Parlophone-1967] that the album truly established itself in this regard.

Previously, the 45 RPM single had occupied that distinction and the album was used simply as a collection of singles by any given artist. But the arrival of Sgt Pepper's changed both art and industry, and for over 40 years albums remained the undisputed medium for both the music and its distribution.The single was still an effective format, but the album remained king of the industry and ruled thusly. Yet, for reasons that could be discussed extensively elsewhere, the single began to lose its importance and began its relegation to a minor role, courtesy of many of the major labels who moved in that direction when the compact disc replaced vinyl as the primary pre-recorded format in the '90s. (Previously, and for a relatively short time, the pre-recorded cassette was the more popular format overall.)

Coincidentally, this was the golden age of the music industry in terms of revenue. And, in pursuit of greater sales figures, the single, according to some observers, was deliberately underminded by the major labels, which would have notable consequences. Traditionally, the single had been the introduction to record-buying for teens and pre-teens and other young people with limited incomes. And with many albums hovering around $18 at that time, much of this youth sector was marginalized. However, the industry was experiencing a level of earnings never seen before and paid little attention to cultivating the buying habits of a new generation.

But with the 21st century's advances in computer technology, as well as easier and faster internet access becoming more pronounced each day, the dissemination of music via the digital realm was directly affecting the dominance of the album. The arrival of the digital descendants of the Walkman, mainly the iPod, and virtual stores like iTunes, meant that the consumer would have the option to purchase their favorite music as individual songs, if they so wish, regardless of whether these were singles or not. This is the world we live in today.

These developments have prompted major artists like Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, and Billy Corgan, among others, to consider the album a dead format from an artistic point of view, as the possibility of the consumer acquiring individual songs robs the artist of the power to determine how their work is heard, which, in artistic terms, was the album's main role. So the question is, what does this mean for the format? Will artists cease to create concept albums like Dark Side of the Moon, for example? Is the public's attention span no longer enough in this regard? Or will artists continue to make music that requires both time and effort from listeners, despite the new options available to them?

We feel it's important to take into account how the younger generation of music fans' consumer patterns and preferences manifest themselves from here on out. In other words, if consumers start their new musical adventures via albums that are considered classics of their respective genres, it is quite probable that they adopt the album as the format to absorb the work of the artist of their choice. (Provided the given artist still believes in the album as a format, of course.) On a personal note, and for many reasons, we would not like to see the album done away with as a musical statement. But we can not ignore the radical changes that have been carried out in recent years. That's why we believe it will be very interesting to witness the outcome of this particular situation and hope it is not detrimental to the music itself, or to the way its creators face these innovations, in terms of inspiration and approach. Let's see...

Mothers of Intention

Not aware if it's a common occurrence at this or any sports venue, but immediately after the conclusion of Game 3 of the American League Division Series, between the Oakland A's and the hometown Reds, at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, this is what they played over the PA as fans were filing out of the stadium:



Pretty cool, huh?

10/08/2012

Nice Guys Are Losers

According to Rolling Stone, vocalist Chris Brown was seen attending one of Jay-Z's recent Brooklyn shows in the company of former girlfriend and destination of his fists, Rhianna. Can't tell if it's worse that thousands of girls have pledged online their willingness to be on the business end of a Brown beatdown or that Rhianna may have taken him back.

10/04/2012

RRHoF Class of 2013 Nominees

Just like what songs should've been excised from a classic double or triple album, who belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of those things continually disputed, particularly by those who feel their favorites have been unduly slighted. However, these might fight themselves pleased once they peruse the list of nominees for 2013 induction. (Although Lord knows how much they'll gripe if their favorites don't get in.)

The artists nominated include the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Albert King, Kraftwerk, the Marvelettes, the Meters, N.W.A., Randy Newman, Procol Harum, Public Enemy, Rush, and Donna Summer.

And where the hell is Yes? Unbelievable. (Sorry, couldn't let it pass...)

Oh, and instead of New York City or Cleveland--site of the RRHoF itself--the induction ceremony gala will take place in Los Angeles on April 18 of next year and will be broadcast on HBO at a later date.

Dying for Your Art

Not to diminish in any way, shape or form the deaths of Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., and other rappers who fell victim to violence, but the so-called East Coast-West Coast feud at its most vicious could not hold a candle to the numerous, frequent and often gruesome deaths of artists in the world of narcocorridos.

Due to close relationships with prominent members of the Mexican drug cartels--whose adventures are extolled in narcocorridos, hence the narco part--in recent years, a significant chunk of artists involved in the subgenre, which comes from the norteño folk corridos, have met untimely deaths, rumored to be at the hands of rival drug gangs who target these artists out of spite and/or jealousy.

According to Wikipedia, those murdered include, Valentín Elizalde; Sergio Vega; Sergio Gómez, lead singer of Chicago-based Duranguense band K-Paz de la Sierra; Gerardo Ortiz; Javier Morales Gómez, singer for Los Implacables del Norte; members of Tecno Banda Fugaz, and Los Padrinos de la Sierra; trumpeter José Luis Aquino of Los Conde; record producer Marco Abdalá, manager Roberto del Fierro Lugo, Jorge Antonio Sepúlveda, Jesús Rey David Alfaro Pulido; Nicolás Villanueva of tropical group Brisas del Mar; and four members of Los Herederos de Sinaloa, among others.

In addition, assassins made a concerted effort to kill lead singer for Zayda y Los Culpables, Zayda Peña, who despite not being a singer of narcocorridos or having any criminal affiliation, was allegedly targeted for being the daughter of a Mexican prosecutor.

Yikes!

10/02/2012

Linda Must Love This One, Too

Few, if any, songwriters have been covered more than Sir Paul. And while there have been some choice reinterpretations, Macca probably digs this one more than many of the others. He should, anyway.

Happy Birthday

Former Policeman Gordon Matthew Sumner aka Sting (61).
Enjoy these two great live performances ten years apart:

"Roxanne" (arguably, the definitive version) at The Secret Policeman's Ball [1981]




"The Wild, Wild Sea" on his 40th birthday, appropriately enough, in Los Angeles [1991]




10/01/2012

Thought of the Day

This article on Grizzly Bear got us thinking...if music is to no longer become a possible path out of poverty for rockers, will we see a future in which only rich kids make rock music?

While Their Guitars Gently Weep

Frequently trotted out as some sort of consolation prize/silver lining, stats showing interest in learning an instrument and, by extension, in music itself, where supposed to be the mitigating factor in the continuously bleak saga of dwindling numbers for pre-recorded music sales. But it turns out the recession of the late '00s--from which we have not completely recovered--put a significant dent in instrument sales. So, despite their large market share, Fender Musical Instruments--makers of the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, respectively--have not been immune to the downturn.

Hector Lavoe (Sept. 30, 1946 - June 29, 1993)

Redux

Let's keep it short and sweet: after a prolonged absence "5" is back. Why? Well, it would surely benefit--or at least make it cool--to have some interesting story or grand epiphany behind it, but no. The truth is, we found there was no point in posting commentary, reviews, etc. on a regular basis elsewhere, when the ideal forum was just sitting there; in a way, pointlessly cybersquatting. And, obviously, we could use the hits way more than some monster social network site. So, "5" is back.
To our old readers, welcome. Again.
If you're new to "5", we hope you find our opinionated musings and occasional snarkiness to your liking. Stick around, it'll be fun. - KJ