How apropos that on the opening night of Chris Cornell's Scream tour in Dallas, the '90s rock god let out a bellow from his seemingly wounded ego, by incorporating not only songs from his solo years and Audioslave stint, but also more than a few choice Soundgarden gems--"Spoonman", "Rusty Cage" [see above], "Outshined", "Jesus Christ Pose", "Like Suicide", and the long lost "Gun" from 1989's Louder than Love--as well as Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".

Spin was there.

The reception to his new tracks was lukewarm, as was to be expected, but it seems like Cornell took the bait from last week's pseudo Soundgarden reunion in Seattle, where his former bandmates--guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, and drummer Matt Cameron--played a short set fronted by none other than Tad Doyle.

The Soundgarden reunion countdown clock starts...now.

A Classic Revisited: 'Clube da Esquina'

Clube Da Esquina

[EMI Brazil-1972]

Armed with solid songs and wistful, ethereal melodies, Brazilian singers/songwriters Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges assembled a cast of talented cronies—among them legendary keyboardist/arranger Eumir Deodato and virtuoso guitarist Toninho Horta, as well as Wagner Tiso, Beto Guedes and Fernando Brant—that masterfully delve into late ‘60s/early ‘70s Beatlesque pop, jazz, South American ballads, and traditional Brazilian sounds.

This is without a doubt a record of its time but one that has aged quite gracefully just the same. Highly influential in and out of Brazil
one listen and you can immediately surmise both Sting and Pat Metheny have paid close attention to this landmark albumClube Da Esquina includes the widely-covered Brazilian standard "Cravo E Canela".

One of the undisputed classics of Brazilian music, Clube Da Esquina
is still a fascinating listen three-plus decades after its release.

Highlights: "Tudo Que Você Podia Ser", "Cais", "O Trem Azul", "Nuvem Cigana", the aforementioned "Cravo E Canela", "Clube da Esquina No.2", "Os Povos".

Happy Birthday

Eric Clapton (64); Tracy Chapman (45); and Norah Jones, who hits the big 3-0; all on March 30th.



The Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hall, Me Myself & Irene) are to direct a film about The Three Stooges starring Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio del Toro. We're not kidding.


Brooklyn-born percussionist, bandleader, and renowned salsa artist Manny Oquendo has died from a heart-attack due to kidney complications.

He was 78.


Blender Bites the Dust

Music mag Blender will cease publication with its April issue, but will remain online. While some 30 jobs will be lost, a few employees--including editor-in-chief Joe Levy--will shift over to sister mag Maxim.


Three Jazz Faves: Mehldau, Moran, and Jones

We’re rockers first and foremost over here, but we’ve always held a deep, heartfelt appreciation for jazz. And frankly, our enthusiasm for a few current jazz artists is greater than it is for a lot of present-day rock music we've been hearing out there.

With that in mind, we felt like shining a spotlight on three of our current faves; the first two are pianists; the other a trumpeter.

- Probably the best known of the three for his numerous Radiohead covers, any of Brad Mehldau’s much-lauded trio recordings is a delight—and his 2006 collaboration with guitarist Pat Metheny is quite solid—but we’d like to recommend Live in Tokyo [Nonesuch-2004], a solo performance in which he clearly channels the legendary Keith Jarrett, Mehldau's original inspiration to play jazz. The almost 20 min. rendition of the aforementioned Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” is a highlight.

- Jason Moran is tremendous. And The Bandwagon [Blue Note-2003], recorded live with his trio in NYC, is a gem. His covers of Brahms’ "Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2"—one of the most sadly beautiful pieces of music we’ve ever heard within the realm of jazz—and the standard “Body and Soul” are pure genius; Moran’s own “Gentle Shifts South”—featuring sampled members of his family narrating their genealogy—is not be missed. Oh, and his reworking of “Planet Rock" is none too shabby, btw.

- He’s been called the new Freddie Hubbard in certain circles, and maybe the title isn’t his yet, but trumpeter Sean Jones sure is a contender. We’ve enjoyed his last three albums: Gemini (2005), Roots (2006) and Kaleidoscope (2007), but the just-released, The Search Within (2009)—all on the Mack Avenue label—might be the best one yet from this modern-day hard bopper. The All Music Guide calls it "exciting music more reliant on teamwork merging with a bigger sound than his previous recordings," while seeking to "attain the type of unified whole found in the best work of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Woody Shaw, or Wynton Marsalis." Sweet.

New Releases

THE DECEMBERISTS The Hazards of Love (Capitol)
SHARON ISBIN Journey to the New World (Sony Classical)
SEAN JONES The Search Within (Mack Avenue)
MASTODON Crack the Skye (Reprise)
PEARL JAM Ten [reissue] (Epic)


James and the Giant Pumpkin: No More

Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, a founding member of the band and guitarist Billy Corgan's right-hand man in the short-lived Zwan, has left the Pumpkins, according to the band's website.

There has been some conjecture out there regarding Chamberlain's departure, including the drummer's influence on the band's new material, which was largely ignored by concertgoers on the most recent Pumpkins tour. We're not buying it. If there's one thing we've learned over the years, is that an egomaniac like Corgan was not going to let anyone influence his music. Not Chamberlain, not anyone. Chamberlain's contribution was his distinctive drumming, which was an integral part of the band's sound. (He's on every single one of the Pumpkins albums except 1998's Adore.) That's why Corgan brought him back into the fold, even after firing him for his once heavy drug use and its collateral damage. (Jonathan Melvoin, RIP.)

Without Chamberlain, Corgan should finally lay the Pumpkins to rest. To replace him and continue using the name would be a huge mistake. Yes, we know: what about Robert Smith, or Axl Rose, for that matter? Well the former is a different situation altogether; and as for the latter, do we really need to rehash the loss of the Appetite for Destruction-era lineup?

Let it go, Billy.

Best Cover of the Year

Yeah, this early. But we're gonna call it: underground rapper P.O.S. tackles Pearl Jam's "Why Go?" from the Seattle band's debut album, the newly-reissued Ten [1991-Epic]. We're giving this one a ten.


SXSW (brought to you by...)

The following quote can be found atop the homepage of the South by Southwest festival website:

"In its 22 years, SXSW has grown from a tiny music festival in the Texas capital into a massive, unavoidable media beast..." - National Post, 3/13/08

How true.

We remember watching a piece MTV did on the burgeoning festival in the late '80s. That year it featured up-and-comers National People's Gang, The Jody Grind, Snatches of Pink, Chickasaw Mud Puppies and many more. But one thing we recall vividly is a member of Poi Dog Pondering talking about how great it was that SXSW was a cool, little festival; in contrast to New York's now-defunct New Music Seminar, which had become too unwieldy in his opinion. Ah, how times have changed.

We've felt rather blasé about the Austin-based festival for a few years now. It just doesn't seem like a place for non-established artists to get much of a fair shake at trying to get the word out, and more like a vehicle for a parade of well-known acts to raise their profile or gain some "indie cred". Then we heard Metallica just played for an "intimate" crowd of 2100 at this year's edition. Jeez.

Not only has SXSW gotten way too big and corporate but Metallica's presence surely signals the festival has jumped the shark. Just ask Lollapalooza.


Milestones: The Cure's 'Disintegration'

It’s not uncommon for a mainstream audience to be most familiar with a cult artist’s least representative musical statement. (Sadly, more people know Jane’s Addiction from the dreadfully cheesy “Been Caught Stealing” than “Ocean Size”, “Mountain Song”, “Stop” or “Three Days” combined.)

Fortunately for The Cure, this is not the case. As it turns out, the masses showed up for what is widely considered to be the band’s artistic peak.

Released the year Cure guru Robert Smith turned 30, Disintegration [Elektra-1989] was the result of quite a predicament: Smith was feeling the pressure of attempting a definitive musical statement as he approached a personal milestone, while in the midst of redefining the band’s sound by purposely casting aside the ‘one-dimensional gloom merchants’ tag they had been saddled with in the past. That their record company feared the finished album would be commercial suicide, surely didn’t help things one bit.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see how those fears were unfounded. But at the time, the band had come off a run of poppy, hit singles—"Let's Go to Bed", "The Lovecats", "In Between Days", "Close to Me", "Why Can't I Be You", "Hot Hot Hot" and of course, "Just Like Heaven"—and this new record was infused with a melancholy and darkness more in line with their notorious 1982 album Pornography. (Smith is said to have reacted to his looming birthday and The Cure’s new-found fame by isolating himself from the band and indulging in LSD at the time, which is seen by many as a catalyst for the sound and mood of the songs written for Disintegration.) Yet, The Cure’s two previous albums The Head on the Door [Elektra-1985] and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me [Elektra-1987], with their respective, newly expanded musical palettes pushing the band into previously uncharted waters, can be easily recognized as a blueprint.

By adopting the consistency and sensibility of the former album, jettisoning the indulgences of the latter—while retaining its majesty—and toning down the overt ‘happy’ pop elements of both, Smith was able to reach his lofty goal of crafting his band’s magnum opus, as it were. Disintegration not only became their crown jewel, artistically and commercially, but is also third in a four-album run—which includes Wish [Elektra-1992]—deemed as The Cure’s pinnacle and featuring a now-regarded classic lineup with Smith, Porl Thompson (guitars), Simon Gallup (bass), and Boris Williams (drums) at its core. Most notably, Disintegration is the middle part of a trilogy of albumsPornography and Bloodflowers [Elektra-2000] being the other two—which Smith feels best represent The Cure's output.

At its best, The Cure's music can be perceived as the aural equivalent of slashing your wrists or simply the soundtrack to heart-breaking longing and despair. Take your pick, but we mean both as a compliment of the highest order. Admittedly, an album like Pornography can be seen as a more effective vehicle for that bleak sense of anguish, but Disintegration has the advantage of also providing an alluring, seductive feeling of catharsis that is at the core of its appeal. Which is why, as long as there are alienated, heart-broken teenagers—regardless of physical chronology—Disintegration will live on. (We don’t exactly agree with South Park’s Kyle Broflovski, but we clearly understand why he was once moved to proclaim, "Disintegration is the best album ever!")

Highlights: “Pictures of You”, “Closedown”, “Fascination Street”, “The Same Deep Water as You”, “Untitled”.


Reznor: Ticket Scalping 101

It's not just Chris Cornell's dreary new album that the Nine Inch Nails honcho has an opinion about: a recent post on the NIN website has Trent Reznor's thoughts on the unseemly "re-selling"/scalping issue.

TicketMaster has essentially been a monopoly for many years - certainly up until Live Nation's exclusive deal [with them] ran out. They could have (and can right now) stop the secondary market dead in its tracks by doing the following: limit the amount of sales per customer, print names on the tickets and require ID / ticket matches at the venue. We know this works because we do it for our pre-sales. Why don't THEY do it? It's obvious - they make a lot of money fueling the secondary market. TicketMaster even bought a re-seller site and often bounces you over to that site to buy tickets (TicketsNow.com)!

NIN gets 10% of the available seats for our own pre-sale. We won a tough (and I mean TOUGH) battle to get the best seats. We require you to sign up at our site (for free) to get tickets. We limit the amount you can buy, we print your name on the tickets and we have our own person let you in a separate entrance where we check your ID to match the ticket. We charge you a surcharge that has been less than TicketMaster's or Live Nation's in all cases so far to pay for the costs of doing this - it's not a profit center for us. We have essentially stopped scalping by doing these things - because we want true fans to be able to get great seats and not get ripped off by these parasites.

I assure you nobody in the NIN camp supplies or supports the practice of supplying tickets to these re-sellers because it's not something we morally feel is the right thing to do. We are leaving money on the table here but it's not always about money.

Being completely honest, it IS something I've had to consider. If people are willing to pay a lot of money to sit up front AND ARE GOING TO ANYWAY thanks to the rigged system, why let that money go into the hands of the scalpers? I'm the one busting my ass up there every night. The conclusion really came down to it not feeling like the right thing to do - simple as that.

Pretty righteous. Read the whole thing here.


Smashing Pumpkins Get the Nintendo/Super Mario Treatment

Rumored Brown/Rihanna Duet Recorded Post-Incident

According to the folks at Idolator, this generation's Ike and Tina, Chris Brown and Rihanna have recently recorded a song together. News of the duet was confirmed via publicist by the song's producer Polow Da Don. This comes after the infamous beating Brown gave Rhianna a few weeks ago, which has been tabloid fodder since.

Now, if they have in fact reconciled, as has been reported, why is anyone surprised they've recorded together? There's a bigger problem at-hand than a post-beating, musical collaboration, folks.

What's Up with That, iTunes Store?

Since when does Apple's music supermarket have a "What We're Listening To" feature on their main page? Sound familiar?

LAMC Returns to NYC for 10th Anniversary

Known for its mix of industry panels, artist showcases, movie screenings, and free concerts in both Central and Prospect Park,
the Latin Alternative Music Conference is celebrating their 10th anniversary, and will reconvene once again in NYC, from July 7th-19th, offering a reduced registration fee for all attendees.

Past performers include Café Tacuba, Manu Chao, Davíd Garza, Jumbo, and Kronos Quartet.

Happy Birthday

Wolfgang Van Halen, bassist for the band that bears his last name--and that of dad Eddie and uncle Alex--turns 18 today, March 16th.


Milestones: Pat Metheny's 'Zero Tolerance for Silence'

Zero Tolerance for Silence

Fifteen years ago Geffen Records released one of the most controversial albums ever recorded by an established artist. A huge departure from the melodic jazz to which he had accustomed his large following, legendary guitarist Pat Metheny shocked listeners with Zero Tolerance for Silence, a distorted, noisy, dense solo guitar record, which to this day remains a singularly unique and much debated part of his catalog.

Although Metheny has denied purposely making this record as a fuck-you to Geffen--it was the last record of his contract with the label--many firmly believe that's exactly what it is. We don't ascribe to that theory--in part, because it was recorded two years before it saw the light of day--and have always considered it to be an example of an artist simply confounding expectations; a piece of music that reflected his creative perspective at that point in time. More importantly, we've embraced the album as the aural equivalent of a deep howl; the soundtrack to a dark night of the soul, if you will.

The artist himself told Guitar Player magazine there was no ulterior motive at work and that "the record speaks for itself in its own musical terms....and that was exactly what it was intended to be." This hasn't stopped critics and fans alike from asking Metheny to disown it, which he has refused. But it's not like there was no precedent for this kind of music in Metheny's previous work--Song X [Geffen-1985], his collaboration with the great Ornette Coleman, comes to mind. Of course there are quite a few who disagree with the naysayers, among them Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore who praised Metheny and called him "a master" on a sticker affixed to the album's cover during its original run. (It is currently out of print.)

Often compared to Lou Reed's equally contested Metal Machine Music [RCA-1975], Zero Tolerance might be deemed by many to be be an unadulterated noisefest. But it deserves a fair shake and should be judged on its own merits. And for those up for a challenge and willing to cast aside preconceived notions of Metheny's music, Zero Tolerance for Silence will be one hard but ultimately satisfying listening experience.

[Cover art courtesy of Allmusic.com]


The Real Spinal Tap

Anvil are a Canadian metal band who've been together for 30 years and have yet to rise above the crappy club circuit, with a lifetime of battle scars and mishaps to prove it. This is their story.


Live, Baby, Live: Raconteurs at Glastonbury

"Level" from their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers. Yeah.

Reznor Disses Cornell's 'Scream'

Nine Inch Nails' main man Trent Reznor, posted his thoughts on Chris Cornell's new album Scream via Twitter:

“You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.”

We find the whole Twitter phenomenon to be ridiculous—what is it, micro-blogging? the online equivalent of phone-texting?—but if it's going to become the home of 20-words-or-less record reviews, it's only fair that J.D. Considine—whose infamous pithy reviews of Yes' Big Generator ("Just say no") and the self-titled debut from prog supergroup GTR ("SHT") in the now-defunct Musician magazine, are legendary in certain circles—should get some monetary compensation.

Head Scratching Moment: Gavin Rossdale

The former Bush frontman is on the road this spring, with two months of US dates at pretty decent-sized venues. We're wondering how this is possible. Now, before you label this as another cheap shot at Gwen Stefani's hubby, let us assure this is not the case. It's just that with a bad economy and Rossdale not having a hit since Bill Clinton was president, we can't seem to figure out how he can tour at this level. Hmm...

Friday the 13th

[Album cover courtesy of allmusic.com]

"We thought 'We have two days to do it and one of the days is mixing.' So we played live. Ozzy was singing at the same time, we just put him in a separate booth and off we went."

- Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.

The mighty Black Sabbath's self-titled debut was released on Friday the 13th, in February of 1970. So, taking advantage of any excuse to simultaneously post some Sabbath and go for the cheesy 'Friday the 13th' segue, we bring you the legendary Birmingham quartet's
unofficial theme song in all its doomy glory. Enjoy!

Michael Jackson Sells Out 50 London Shows

Questions of relevancy aside, the man can still draw a crowd: more than a million tickets for the 50 show, London residency of Michael Jackson's upcoming farewell tour This Is It!, have sold out, according to the BBC.

The shows will take place at the O2 Arena, and will break the previous record for shows there: Prince's 21-night stand, in 2007.


Warner Bros Revisits its Musical Past

Similar to the 1990 Elektra Records 40th anniversary collection Rubaiyat--which featured its then-current roster covering favorites from the label's past--Warner Bros released Covered, A Revolution In Sound this week, to commemorate its 50th anniversary. (We've only heard the closing track, Madonna's "Borderline", which is given a predictably psychedelic re-working by The Flaming Lips.) Unlike the multi-disc Elektra collection, Covered is a 12 song, single CD release.

Aside from the numerous artists that would inevitably be missing from this kind of tribute, we gotta wonder why there's no Prince or Van Halen on here (and why the former didn't cover track #3); and is track #7 some kinda joke?

Tracklisting as follows:

1. "Just Got Paid" - (originally recorded by ZZ Top) Mastodon
2. "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles" - (originally recorded by Captain Beefheart) The Black Keys
3. "A Case Of You" - (originally recorded by Joni Mitchell) Michelle Branch
4. "Here Comes A Regular" - (originally recorded by The Replacements) Against Me!
5. "More Than This" - (originally recorded by Roxy Music) Missy Higgins
6. "Into The Mystic" - (originally recorded by Van Morrison) James Otto
7. "Like A Hurricane" - (originally recorded by Neil Young) Adam Sandler
8. "You Wreck Me" - (originally recorded by Tom Petty) Taking Back Sunday
9. "Burning Down The House" - (originally recorded by Talking Heads) The Used
10. "Midlife Crisis" - (originally recorded by Faith No More) Disturbed
11. "Paranoid" - (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) Avenged Sevenfold
12. "Borderline" - (originally recorded by Madonna) The Flaming Lips with Stardeath And White Dwarfs

MBV US Tour Dates

In addition to their Coachella set, shoegazer kings and queens My Bloody Valentine, will perform a handful of dates in the US next month. Unfortunately, for those of us on this side of the country, the shows will all be held west of the Mississippi, damn it.

4/18 - Indio, CA [Coachella]
4/21 - Austin, TX
4/22 - Dallas, TX
4/24 - Denver, CO
4/27 - Seattle, WA

Star Wars Stage Production to Make London Debut

Although it sounds like a bad Saturday Night Live skit, Star Wars: A Musical Journey is indeed a real, live stage production that will debut in front of a 17,000-strong London audience next month.

According to Rolling Stone, the show will feature "an enormous LED screen, classic films scenes and, of course, John Williams' landmark score," performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir while a "re-edit of all six movies into one 90-minute narrative" is shown on the big screen.

Further European and American dates have yet to be announced.

Are We the Only Ones Who Think...

...the guitar/drums duo has become as much of a rock cliché as the chick bass player was a decade ago?


Pedro: The Movie

On April 1st, MTV and the Logo network will air a movie about the life of Pedro Zamora, a cast member on The Real World: San Francisco who died of AIDS in 1994, at the age of 22.

We gotta be honest, while Zamora--the first openly gay, HIV-positive man on TV--was an activist, educator and inspiring figure to many, we still feel kinda weird about a movie made about a reality TV star.
Yes, he was obviously more than that, but there are many other worthy, HIV-afflicted, activists/educators/role models whose biopics aren't going to be made any time soon.

Here's the trailer:


Brooklyn-born manager/promoter/producer/record executive Ralph Mercado, a towering figure in the world of Latin music--particularly salsa--for the last 40 years, passed away on March 10th after a prolonged illness.

He was 67 years old.


Wave Goodbye




A few months ago, before this album's scheduled release dated was pushed from late 2008 to March '09, we had the following to say about it:

We don't care if Timbaland used to go record shopping with Mark Arm, roadied for Tad, or cooked up smack with Layne Stayley using one of Artis' spoons, he has helped Chris Cornell squander whatever fan-based goodwill he had left. Period.

Gen-X, you now have your own version of Rod Stewart. [shudder]

We stand by that review, but now on the occasion of its actual release we thought we'd amplify our response to this monstrosity.

In certain circles, Creedence Clearwater Revival's swan song, Mardi Gras [Fantasy-1972] is considered the worst studio album ever released by an artist of certain significance. Well, now it clearly has stiff competition. With Scream, Chris Cornell has unequivocally tossed his hat into this rarefied ring, but at least he's battling it out with legends, huh?

Much has been written about the former Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman's solo outing number three, produced by noted modern day R&B producer Timbaland. It's almost universally negative. And while whatever defenders this record may have will want to blame a close-mined audience for the backlash, it's a bit more complicated than that, even if there is a tiny sliver of validity to their position.

You see, back in 1999--yes, Cornell's been a solo artist almost as long as Soundgarden were around--his debut album Euphoria Morning was met with modest sales and the disappointment of quite a few of his former band's followers, who were obviously expecting a retread of Superunknown [A&M-1994], or something. We praised the album, found it to be a natural progression from the work he'd done with his previous band, and noted how those who were surprised by it had not been paying attention to the evolution of Cornell's songwriting over the last few Soundgarden records. So, yeah, there is something to the people-can-be-intolerant-to-changes-in-an-artist's-musical-path argument. But after Carry On, 2007's mediocre followup to Euphoria Morning--with its limp, misguided cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"--all bets were off.

Of course, a collaboration between a grunge-era icon and the likes of Timbaland was gonna raise eyebrows; that's a given. But it's not the portended and now-realized car-crash outcome of the album that's worriesome--it's the steps taken there. It's the emptiness of Carry On, the touring with Linkin Park; working with Timbaland without a substantive artistic goal; the joining of forces with the likes of Justin Timberlake and John Mayer; and finally, the clumsy symbolism of smashing a guitar--his former musical self?--on the cover of this new album; all of which come across as the acts of man hell-bent on burning, no, blowing up the bridges to his past. Yes, nostalgia can be deadly for an artist wanting to move forward, but was THIS really the best alternate route?!

In the end, the problem is not at all that Cornell chose to make a contemporary R&B record, it's that Scream is assembly-line, Pussycat Dolls/Britney Spears-type tripe of the most uninspired kind. Perhaps if he'd chosen to further explore the inklings of old-school R&B found on "When I'm Down" and "Wave Goodbye", from Euphoria, we might've gotten something interesting this time. Instead we're left pondering the motives and intentions of a major talent, one who is perilously close to dismantling years of hard-earned popularity and acclaim over baffling decisions and half-assed musical attempts at reinvention. Forgive us for the melodrama, but in these times of musical bankruptcy it's a tough blow to witness someone of this stature pointlessly fritter away a career of note for some ill-conceived stab at who knows what. Talk about a mid-life crisis...

Strike two, man.

Whose Side is Phish On?


Police Seize more than $1m from Phish Fans

HAMPTON, Va. – Some Phish fans are leaving Hampton a little lighter than when they arrived for the band's weekend reunion.

Police said Monday they confiscated about $1.2 million in illegal drugs and more than $68,000 in cash from concertgoers. Authorities also arrested 194 Phish fans during the three-night celebration of the band's return to the stage after a nearly five-year absence.

Most of the arrests were for drug possession, use and distribution, police said.

Tourism officials had estimated 75,000 fans would be coming to the coastal Virginia city. Nearly 200 law enforcement officers worked the weekend event, with the Vermont-based band picking up the tab.

You guys paid for the narcs? Bummer, dudes. [heh, heh]


With or Without You

We promised you a review of U2's latest album, No Line on the Horizon. Sorry, not gonna happen. It's not that we feel it doesn't deserve our time and effort. Au contraire, mes amis. It's just that Shawn Amos, from the music blog at Get Back, has perfectly encapsulated what we have to say about the subject at this point in time.

I don't want to talk about the merits of U2's new album, No Line on the Horizon. It sucks. It's genius. It's boundary breaking. It's pap. Read the magazine or blog of your choice to get the opinion that matches your own preconceived notions. There's an opinion for everyone, and there's a bit of wisdom in each.

The album is not the point. U2 keeps moving. THAT is the point. And there is a difference between moving and just going. The Stones "go." They are moving on inertia.

Every time U2 comes back, we get a chance to rally around something. It's nearly impossible to rally around anything these days except tragedy. Remember when we ALL came together around a band and an album? We gathered together to celebrate each other. The band was there, but they weren't the point. WE were the point. Now we huddle in a million tribes around subgenres, chat rooms, message boards. We sit alone with our cynicism and convince ourselves that nothing is cool, nothing is right, and nothing is worth celebrating. We don't move. We barely even go anywhere.

But U2 keeps moving. They dare to get out, wear their hearts on their sleeves, and demand to be the next big thing. How many dudes pushing 50 have the balls to say, "I'm going to be the next big thing"? There are a million young dudes all standing in line to be the next big thing. They're taking your job, your girl, your place at the bar. The place for dudes pushing 50 is at the back of the line next to the dump bin of Rolling Stones vinyl.

Not so, says U2. Life begins anew each day when we decide to open our arms in front of the crowd that loves to hate. They lead with joy and believe that they can still matter. Maybe they don't. Maybe everyone is laughing behind their backs. In front of their faces. Maybe U2 will have the last laugh. Maybe the album sucks. But who cares? Who else do you know who works this hard in their forties? Except Obama. That guy is definitely busting his ass.

oh, and one more thing...

The naysayers have been blaming No Line on the Horizon's drop in first week sales vis-a-vis the last couple of albums (aprox. 500,000 for NLOTH; 800,000 for 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) on "Get on Your Boots" being a weak first single. Sure it's no "Beautiful Day" but U2 have released more tepid debut salvos: "The Fly", "Numb", or "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", for instance.
Yes, that last one was from a soundtrack, but you get the point.

But all this talk about a singles-driven marketplace makes it unavoidable for us to see the irony in how technology has affected the music business in a way no one bothers to mention. In other words, the relevance of singles over albums; artists signing all-inclusive deals (recording, management, touring, merchandise)...it's staring to look like the '50s all over again.

One of these days some artist is gonna find themselves face-to-face with the 21st century version of a-Cadillac-in-lieu-of-payment-for-their-work scenario. Let's not kid ourselves: the major labels as we know them may perish, but the bloodsuckers will reinvent themselves and make it happen somehow. Soon. Just you wait.

Give it Away, Now

This past weekend, indie hip hop crossover act Mongrel gave away copies of their debut album via British newspaper The Independent, making them the first "name" artist--the band is comprised by members of Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles--to give away their debut album for free before before it hits retail. (The album, Better than Heavy, will be officially released this week in the UK.)

Stay tuned.


Are We the Only Ones Who Think...

...now that former SNLer Jimmy Fallon is hosting a talk show--after a desultory attempt at a movie career--the even less funny Andy Samberg might get his own show in the next couple of years?

Watch out, Carson Daly.


Late Night Friday: Letterman; Fallon

We actually don't have an answer as to why--except that we just plain forgot to watch--but we missed the last night of U2's five-night stand on Late Night with David Letterman (as well as Jimmy Fallon's Friday night show). We've since learned they played new single "Get On Your Boots"--which we happen to like; sorry haters--to close out their week of performances.


Favorite Reader Comment of the Year (so far)

Next time I see "The Cougar" listed in 5, it better be about Mellencamp! - Josh Norek, Los Angeles, CA.

Peter Case Medical Expense Fund

Singer/songwriter Peter Case, former leader of The Plimsouls needs help paying the mountain of bills related to his recent open-heart surgery. Case, who had no health insurance, is said to be recovering nicely from the January operation.

Donations can be made here.

Guess Whose Album They're Talking About?

Rolling Stone:

"...the...singer returns next week with his most unlikely offering. Produced by Timbaland and featuring contributions from John Mayer and even Justin Timberlake...throwing down the guitar (as the cover art symbolically depicts) in favor of continuous dance grooves and hip-hop beats."

If you answered Chris Cornell, we regret to inform you that you are sadly and unfortunately...right. Mayer? Timberlake?! Man...

NIN / Jane's Addiction Tour Dates

Here's the first batch:

05/08/09 - West Palm Beach, FL
05/09/09 - Tampa, FL
05/10/09 - Atlanta, GA
05/14/09 - Albuquerque, NM
05/15/09 - Phoenix, AZ
05/16/09 - Chula Vista, CA
05/18/09 - Las Vegas, NV
05/20/09 - Irvine, CA Verizon
05/22/09 - Mountain View, CA
05/24/09 - George, WA [Sasquatch Festival]
05/26/09 - Englewood, CO
05/27/09 - Kansas City, MO
05/29/09 - Chicago, IL
05/30/09 - Noblesville, IN
05/31/09 - Clarkston, MI
06/02/09 - Toronto, ON
06/03/09 - Darien Lake, NY
06/05/09 - Camden, NJ
06/06/09 - Holmdel, NJ
06/07/09 - Wantagh, NY
06/09/09 - Columbia, MD
06/10/09 - Burgettstown, PA
06/12/09 - Charlotte, NC

Phish Reunion to Produce New Album

Vermont's favorite jam-band sons, Phish, seem to be quite serious about this reunion of theirs: the band are said to have demoed some 20 songs and are looking for an independent label to release an upcoming album. Guess their deal with Elektra ran out, huh?

Peter Tork Has Cancer

Best known as the bassist for '60s pop idols, The Monkees, actor/musician Peter Tork has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma, which affects the tongue and the neck. Prognosis is said to be good for the 67 year-old.

Not only were The Monkees the first band we ever followed, but one of our favorite tunes of theirs was the first song Tork ever wrote: "For Pete's Sake", the closing theme song during the second season of The Monkees' TV show, sung by bandmate Mickey Dolenz and featured on the band's controversial third album, Headquarters.

All our best to Peter Tork. A speedy recovery to you, sir.

Late Night Thursday: Letterman; Fallon

David Letterman welcomed the always funny Jon Stewart--who's celebrating his 10th anniversary as host of The Daily Show--and members of the World Baseball Classic's Team USA to read the Top 10 list; U2 was both on the couch for an interview and closed out the show with a stirring version of "Beautiful Day", which paid tribute to The Ramones, quoting "Rock and Roll High School" and "I Remember You" in it coda. (Letterman also mentioned the Irish rockers would be performing a song exclusively for the studio audience after Late Night's taping. Very, very cool.)

Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon jumped into night four's opening monologue rather harshly and without pause; Ludacris performed with The Roots (who recently spoke to Rolling Stone about their new late night gig).

Jacko's Final Curtain Call

A final run of concerts at London's 02 Arena, beginning July 2nd, has just been announced by Michael Jackson. Promising to perfom fan favorites, the self-titled King of Pop has implied this will be his final hurrah. Jackson hasn't played live for a concert audience in over a decade.

New Releases

This week's debuts include:

NEKO CASE Middle Cyclone (-Anti)
RAUL MALO Lucky One (Fantasy)
PRODIGY Invaders Must Die (Cooking Vinyl)
U2 No Line on the Horizon (Interscope)
MARTY WILSON-PIPER Nightjar (Second Motion)

Plus, here's a few we're looking forward to:

ISIS Wavering Radiant (Ipecac) [May 5]
Crack the Skye (Warner Bros) [March 24]
: Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian (Warp)
[April 14]

Rollins on the Radio

Punk icon Henry Rollins will host a radio show on Saturday nights, from 6-8 PM, on Los Angeles' KCRW 89.9 FM, beginning this March 7th.

Cool, but what's up with The Rollins Band, Hank?

That's It, Then

A Stanford music professor finds his students prefer the sound of MP3s to higher fidelity sources.


Wayne Coyne Needs to Shut the Fuck Up

Why does it seem like Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has decided to become a dick in his old age?

First, it was his infamous treatment of 2002 tourmate Beck--truth be told, he put the Lips in front of the biggest audiences they'd ever played for at that point--who according to Spin, Coyne considered to be "overwhelmed with being famous and being cool or whatever. So I started fucking with him." Nice touch.

He's been yapping about that tour for years now. "So I started fucking with him" doesn't really sound like he was trying to make the best of the situation. Why didn't Coyne just avoid the guy when he wasn't dealing directly with him--we're pretty sure he and Beck weren't joined at the hip 24/7 on that tour--and move on. Jeez.

Fast forward to 2007: in the UK's Guardian, he proceeds to rag on Nirvana's Nevermind calling it a "a poisonous, pernicious influence" and disparagingly compares it to Nickleback (!) while assuming newcomers to the 1991 classic will wonder "What are these drug addicts going on about?” Which is pretty rich coming from a guy whose band’s key musical ingredient is someone who was a raging junkie for a decade.

An appearance at a 2008 festival in Mexico elicited this choice remark from Coyne:

We recently did a festival...and fucking Nine Inch Nails and Stone Temple Pilots were worried about our confetti getting on their little guitar setups. And I'm just like, "Who gives a fuck?"


Now, we weren't there and obviously don't know what exactly went down with NIN and STP, but personally, when we perform live we make sure to get all our crap--gear and otherwise--off the stage for the next band, just out of respect. And, trust us, we're not playing on the same bills as international stars who expect a certain level of professionalism, but it's a courtesy we extend and welcome in return, so there you go. Coyne, meanwhile, needs to make an issue of it and poke fun at easy targets. (We can just imagine Spin readers gushing, "Ooh, he's so cool, sticking it to the big, bloated, rock star prima donnas.") Whatever.

The most recent object of Coyne's scorn are The Arcade Fire, who he skewers in a recent piece in Rolling Stone's "Smoking Section".

We don't care for The Arcade Fire, but Coyne's shit-talking has become a real turn-off. We recommend he leave the trash talk to Noel Gallagher, who's better at it and and actually has a sense of humor. Instead, he should be concentrating on making a decent followup to that crappy At War with the Mystics album and put to rest being the one-man TMZ he's kinda become lately.

Enough, already.

Late Night Wednesday: Letterman; Fallon

Double duty for U2 on their third night in a row appearing as the musical guest for the Late Show with David Letterman: early on they participated in a self-referential Top 10 list (in which guitarist The Edge took an unscripted jab at Sting) and they closed out the show with a rendition of "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" from their new album, No Line on the Horizon.

Jimmy Fallon's monologue was OK; The Roots were great. Musical guest was Crap Your Pants, um, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Suffice to say, we didn't stay tuned for that nonsense.


Question of the Day

Is there a music blog out there with a nastier comments section than Brooklyn Vegan's? Seriously. We're all about lively, dissimilar, potent, back-and-forth exchange, but c'mon.

PS: This is not a dig at the blog itself. It's just that a bunch of the people commenting on there really need to step back and chill for a bit. Jeez.

Late Night Tuesday: Letterman; Fallon

U2 performed possible second single "Magnificent" from the newly-released No Line on the Horizon album on their second of five consecutive nights as David Letterman's musical guests; Jimmy Fallon, who is slowly settling in at his own show, had the very-warmly received Tina Fey as his first guest. The Roots, were as usual, great.

Happy Birthday

A trio of low-end rumblers: bassists Chris Squire of Yes (61), jazz man Kermit Driscoll (53), and Jason Newsted (46), formerly of Metallica; plus singer/songwriter/Lemonhead Evan Dando (42); all on March 4th.


Late Night Monday: Letterman; Fallon

U2 began their week-long stint on CBS' The Late Show with David Letterman, wrapping up the first night with a spirited performance of "Breathe" from their new album No Line on the Horizon. Gotta say, there's a reason why these guys have been around almost 30 years. It's simple math, really: tunes + star power. The best salesmen have nothing going on without a product to sell, but few out there, aside from the beloved Irish quartet, can bring a crowd to its feet and revel in the joyous celebration of a communal experience while backed by just an OK song.

Which got us thinking, if U2 were a brand new band we'd wager quite a few of the too cool naysayers always jumping at the chance to knock Bono and co. on a regular basis, would be falling in line as the breathless sycophants they show themselves to be whenever some lame-ass, flavor-of-the-month-blog-band arrives on the scene.
(You know who you are.) But we digress...

Meanwhile over at NBC, the debut of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon got off to a good start, as far as we're concerned. (We'll leave the minutiae to the TV critics.) And that is: his monologue wasn't bad; and The Roots were great. (As was their first-ever comedy bit with Fallon.) Hopefully, the known-to-be hyper host will chill somewhat and find a comfortable groove and succeed in his new job.
No, he was never our guy but he is Conan's successor and we don't want him to fail.

It Was Only a Matter of Time

We always thought of actress Vivica A. Fox as a talented, beautiful, classy lady. Then she started dating rapper 50 Cent and dressing like she was auditioning for one of his videos. So we're not one bit surprised Fox is hosting...this:

Looks like TV Land got tired of just showing Green Acres reruns, huh?


Why We Love Dino

All Things Reconsidered: R.E.M.'s Monster

Pop Matters' Ben Schumer's attempts to give the much-maligned 1994 album a critical face lift. Unfortunately, Schumer seems a lot more concerned with nostalgia and fawning over the record than he is with objectivity, and may fail to change minds regarding Monster's bargain bin/punch line status.

On a personal note, Schumer's piece did prompt us to re-listen to the album. Upon a couple of spins we immediately remembered why it is one of a handful of discs we actually returned to a record store shortly after purchasing it: Monster isn't the train wreck it's been purported to be over the years; it just sucks. Period.

Why? - Weezer Possible Opening Act on Blink 182 Reunion Tour


Robert Reams Radiohead

Forget about Kanye West's recent--and narcissistic, as usual--attack on Radiohead. Of more importance is what Cure frontman Robert Smith had to say last week about the Oxford quintet's 'pay-what-you-wish' approach to their most recent studio album In Rainbows:
"I disagreed violently with that. You can't allow other people to put a price on what you do, otherwise you don't consider what you do to have any value at all and that's nonsense.

If I put a value on my music and no one's prepared to pay that, then more fool me, but the idea that the value is created by the consumer is an idiot plan, it can't work."

Old fogey who doesn't get it or principled artist? What's your take?

Readers' Choice: Worst Comeback Albums

After 34 years, expectations for The Stooges' return to the studio were quite high. Unfortunately, the Steve Albini-produced The Weirdness (Virgin-2007) turned out to be not only a blemish on the influential Michigan band's recorded legacy, but with the death of guitarist Ron Asheton in January 2009, the final word on it, as well.

The late, great Miles Davis, after retiring from music in 1975, did not release a studio album for next 6 years, but once he did he continued recording for the next decade until his 1991 passing. While his final batch of studio recordings have their defenders--they're mostly hit-or-miss--sadly, his first salvo from the comeback trail was probably the worst of the lot: the incredibly sub par The Man with The Horn (Columbia-1981), which, for sentimental reasons, we happen to enjoy for the most part, but will readily admit to its bland mediocrity. (The title track is just beyond lame.)

Obviously, we've been thinking about the subject lately and were wondering what albums you guys would put in the same category as The Weirdness and The Man with the Horn. Some of you have made your feelings clear on Guns 'N' Roses' latest, Chinese Democracy, and the rumored upcoming Sex Pistols album, so the inclusion of those two would not be a surprise. (Even though the existence of the latter is hypothetical at this point.) What about Big Star's In Space? Or perhaps Pink Floyd's The Division Bell?

So have at it, people: what worthy artist do you feel squandered the opportunity to return to the good graces of their followers by culminating a prolonged absence with a major dud?