Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Clash Bio to Come Out...Written By The Clash!

Holy sweet Jesus, how cool is this going to be??? I stumbled across the blurb below in a daily guilty pleasure, Page Six of the NY Post, and was just going to write on Topper Headon's comment. But when I dug further to find out who the "them" is in "written by them," I found that it's a true bio put out by Strummer, Jones, Simonon, and Headon that's out in the UK tomorrow, here in the States next month. Hope it's as cool as it sounds!

DRUMMER Topper Headon forgives the Clash for firing him at the height of the band's success. "I was out of control. I remember being sick on Buddy Holly's grave, which didn't go down too well. I was a Keith Moon fan - you know, 'Live fast, die young,' and I lost the plot completely," Headon says in the new book titled "The Clash" and written by them, due next month. "On the tour of the Far East, I was standing in a lift with Joe [Strummer] and he's saying: 'How can I sing all these antidrug songs with you stoned out of your head behind me?' " (NY Post)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Myspace Founder Out to Revolutionize the Music Industry

I, for one, would love it if this infringed on Live Nation, break up their monopolistic hold a little.

THE founder and CEO of MySpace, Chris DeWolfe, is out to revolutionize the music industry - and make some money. MySpace, which has so far relied heavily on advertising revenues to make bank, will now pocket a percentage of every song sold - and in "phase two," when it starts selling concert tickets and merchandise, it will receive a cut of those as well. But DeWolfe says he's not out to infringe on Live Nation's business. "Most of our concerts are sponsored - and Live Nation pays big money for big-name acts," he said Friday. "We're just distributing through the Internet." MySpace is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Post. (NY Post)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Show Review: Monolith Festival @ Red Rocks, Denver, CO--Day 1

With over 1200 photos to edit, text to write, and legs that are no longer wobbling from running the many, many flights of stairs to get from stage to stage, I'm finally getting around to reporting on the coolness (literally and figuratively) that was the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks in Denver, CO.

Now, I'm from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains so I thought I knew mountains. But nowhere on the NYS Thruway is there a view quite like the one I saw ahead of me as I barreled up I-70W towards the Morrison exit for Day 1 of 2-day festival. The amazing Colorado mountain ranges sat in the forefront of the brightest blue sky, a picture so perfect it was like it had been Photoshopped. If I'd not been running so late (overslept and more shite Google Map directions), I would have pulled over and shot pictures of it, it was that breathtaking. And this wasn't even Red Rocks!

Which btw, was pretty mind-blowing. All these naturally-placed red sandstone monoliths, angled just so, it's like an American version of Stonehenge. And in the middle of it all is a BIG concert amphitheater and multiple parking lots and a visitors center, none of which you initially see as you pull in, because these rocks aren’t just big, they’re GINORMOUS (history of Red Rocks). I gotta tell you, it was a little surreal knowing I was going to see rock shows in the middle of all that.

I arrived, so that was one challenge down. Then, I had to adjust my NY-paced stride to the high altitude (things like walking up inclines or flights of stairs definitely left you winded), so challenge two down. Challenge three, finding the stages that were indoors, was a bit tougher as some festival planner thought directive signs to stages weren’t as important as signs to hemp ice cream or a pay-for-oxygen booth apparently.

1. The Morning Benders
Fortunately I was able to catch at least one song of Berkeley, CA's Morning Benders by the time I found the "Rock Room Stage;" unfortunately, that one song was their last song. Somewhat of a bummer as I had enjoyed *hearing* their live set enough that I wanted to *see* their live set too. That one song didn't disappoint though. They brought the coagulated sounds of British pop and California sunshine as nicely in person as they do on record.

I made a mental note to request the VU song from their great record of covers when I interview them at their DC show October 12th.

(Two of the Morning Benders during Blitzen Trapper. More photos of The Morning Benders set here.)

Dammit Anna_The Morning Benders

2. The Muslims
I had scheduled an overview appointment to get skinny of the Dell Dome shortly after The Morning Benders set, but I was able to catch a few songs by The Muslims on my way. These guys may dress like Vampire Weekend but they were all about testing the sound barrier of everyone's earplugs with their super-energetic hard driving punk-pop.

I think Jon Behm over at Culture Bully summed them up the best:

Pretty music is nice. Sometimes though, what you need is the rock 'n' roll equivalent of a spirited bar fight. In those instances, lately I have been turning to San Diego band The Muslims.

"Spirited bar fight," yup sounds about right.

(More photos of The Muslims set here.)

Extinction_The Muslims

3. The Dell Dome
Billed as a "self-expressive arts studio" and a place to discover new music, the Dell Dome's exterior was designed by artist Mike Ming. Ming also designs specialized Dell laptops, skateboards, and the like.

(Artist Mike Ming)

(Mike Ming-designed skateboard display.)

Ming is one of the 4-5 artists that Dell has involved with the Dome as it makes the festival circuit (Monolith was its fifth this year). Additional artists will be joining shortly for a collaboration with Project Red.

(The start of Ming's painting that he was working on inside the Dome.)

Activities inside the Dome included free screen printing on attendees’ clothing, rock star hairdos, and temporary tattoos ("There's always a wait for those," said my guides Lee and Lisa).

(Two brave souls getting rock star hairdos.)

Other cool activities allowed individuals to create a "mix tape" with 20 or so free downloads that was emailed (mixes can also be created here), and to partake in meet and greet interviews with artists.

(Devotchka's Shawn King and Tom Hagerman during one of the artist interviews in the Dell Dome.)

3. Blitzen Trapper
I'd heard a lot about Blitzen Trapper but not seen or heard them, so I did some reading beforehand. One phrase I found was "experimental folk rock." Seeing them myself, I didn't hear much in terms of "experimental" so much (unless by “experimental the author meant combining indie pop with folk (like pre-electric Dylan folk) and rock (ala classic, southern, and cock rock)). But the "folk rock" part was definitely accurate...think big guitar sounds with a harmonica and rock howl (which lead singer Eric Earley was great at). The "Rock Room Stage" was a rather small room but BT packed the peeps in (including two of The Morning Benders and two of the Vampire Weekend kids). A great rendition of "Wild Mountain Nation" made the crowd lose it altogether, and they did quite a few tracks from their new release Furr, out this week.

(More photos from the Blitzen Trapper show here.)

Wild Mountain Nation_Blitzen Trapper

4. John Vanderslice
Before I made the long trek down the 230 amphitheater stairs, I stopped for a few minutes to check out the bright daylight settings of the bad ass Nikon D80 I was sportin by shooting some of the John Vanderslice set. I wasn’t left with any big indelible impression of his music (and I’m normally a sucker for a fiddle in an indie band) but I did manage to get some nice shots, so I had that going for me. Which is nice.

(More photos from the John Vanderslice show here.)

5. Cut Copy
Cut Copy didn’t do much for me when I went to review their opening band, The Black Kids, here in DC awhile back. But as I stood up at the top of the amphitheater seats, waaaay above the main stage as they played, I thought to myself, "Hey, they aren't half bad!" Maybe Cut Copy is just like a set of bagpipes, maybe they're just better heard over a hill and far away.

So Haunted_Cut Copy

6. Scratch Track
I swung down to the acoustic stage to see this two-piece called Scratch Track before The Fratellis show (with a stop off at the stinky media tent for a bottle of water with a cap. Red Rocks, for whatever reason, sells bottles of water without their caps. Odd...) Scratch Track is comprised of a soul singer who doubles as a human beat box, and a guy playing acoustic guitar. They were a different sound and they made it work (and that stuff isn't typically my cup o' tea). I mean, how often do you get to hear a good acoustic rap version of "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News at an indie rock fest? Exactly, so you couldn’t help but give them props.

(More photos from the Scratch Track set here.)

Shaker_Scratch Track

7. The Fratellis
Other reviews of the Fratellis performance at Monolith weren't stellar, saying that they were kind of blah, not too exciting, etc. I, however, didn't think they were so so bad. True, it could have been the high altitude messing with my brain, but I thought they had a great wall of poppy sound, more Liverpudlian than Glaswegian, that bounced nicely off the rocks that framed the back of the main stage.

Or maybe I was just more entertained watching their cuckoo-bananas drummer, Mince...the guy was a total maniac on the drums. Picture Ringo's feet fused with Keith Moon’s body.

Me digging them this time was kind of funny as I hadn't been so impressed when I saw them before at Webster Hall with The Airborne Toxic Event. Although it could have also been that I was just blinded by Jon Fratelli's excellent taste in shirts to notice much else (he was sporting the exact Dublin Sound shirt by Worn Free that I'd been planning to buy that very week).

(More photos from the Fratellis set here.)

Chelsea Dagger_The Fratellis

Still to come for Day 1...A Place to Bury Strangers, Vampire Weekend, The Night Marchers, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, Silverun Pickups, and Devotchka.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

World Class Fad: The Child Ballads Play NYC on Thursday

(Photo by Piper Ferguson)

The Child Ballads, a great little band out of DC, doesn't play live very much, so you kids in NYC would do well to head out to Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn on Thursday for their 9 pm show. You may recall the name of TCB's lead singer/songwriter, Stewart Lupton, as the lead singer of that little group from the 90s who influenced, well, everyone called Jonathan Fire*Eater. Lupton's new band has a vastly different sound than JFE, more stripped down and folky (read my review of their EP here), but Lupton's still one of the most enigmatic frontman you'll see performing today. Plus, his song lyrics will make your IQ shoot up 50 points after just one listen and who couldn't use getting just a little bit smarter hmm?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Wilco/Fleet Foxes Covering Dylan if You Promise to Vote

Everyone's in the spirit of giveaways this week it seems. If you pledge to vote in November's presidential election, Wilco will send you a free download, er, "audio postcard," of them performing Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" with the Fleet Foxes from a Bend, OR show in August. Not a bad deal for doing something you already plan to do right?

Such tumultuous times. And in the spirit of giveaways that seem to be sweeping the nation, we've got something free for you. No it's not a pile of cash (sorry) but rather an audio postcard of sorts from a summer's night in Oregon with our friends the Fleet Foxes & a lovely Bob Dylan tune. All we ask is you go to http://wilcoworld.net/vote/ and click the "I pledge to vote in the 2008 Election" button. If you can spare it, we also encourage you to consider a donation to Feeding America http://www.feedingamerica.org/ . Happy listening (and please feel free to pass this email along to friends, family members, etc.).

Shout Me Out: TV on the Radio "Dear Science" (Vinyl) and Poster Giveaway

“I like pop music,” Kyp Malone said in a telephone interview. “I also like the sound of a dying refrigerator. I can listen to that for an hour and a half if I’m in the mood.” (Read this rest of this really excellent piece on TV on the Radio and their new record, "Dear Science" here.)

TV on the Radio/myspace are funny, wicked smart, and a serious force to be reckoned with live. I caught them last week at the Monolith Festival, and was absolutely blown away, both by them and lead singer Tunde Adebimpe's amazing dance moves. I'm here to tell you their long awaited new record, Dear Science, in stores today, will be on everyone's best of lists for this year, you can count on it. So what better way to start giveaways here at Between Love and Like than with some goodies from this eloquent and fabulous band?

I am giving away a nifty vinyl copy of "Dear Science, as well as a poster that Tunde Adebimpe designed specifically for the record's release.

If you are interested in either, please leave the following in the comments:
* Which item you are interested in (vinyl or poster)
* How you discovered TV on the Radio

Contest ends Thursday.

A video for one of the first songs off the record, "Golden Age" is below. It's a song with a pop sound reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" and 70s David Bowie, coupled with funk undertones from that paisley place in Minneapolis. Where the dancing cops are from, however, that's anybody's guess...

The NY Times Article/Interview with TV on the Radio

This piece with TV on the Radio was in the NY Times recently and provides some really interesting insights on both the band, their outlook, and their new record, Dear Science, which is out today.

Keeping It Indie but Thinking Big Thoughts
Published: September 19, 2008

ONE day in July construction next door damaged the outside wall of Dave Sitek’s Headgear recording studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s the studio where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and Mr. Sitek’s own band, TV on the Radio, made albums that drew international attention to Brooklyn rock just a few years ago.

Those were the indie days, when TV on the Radio was passing out homemade discs at cafes, and band members squeezed bits of recording time between hours spent at day jobs. Over the past five years TV on the Radio has made its way steadily up the circuit, from independent to major label, from local clubs to international tours, while its music has grown ever more ambitious. Those ambitions are bohemian ones: packing a world of ideas into each song while ignoring both commercial imperatives and ingrown hipster cachet.

Tunde Adebimpe, the singer who started TV on the Radio with Mr. Sitek, unabashedly describes its music as art. When the band moved from the independent Touch & Go label to Interscope Records, one of the stipulations of the contract was that “there would be no involvement from the label on the creative end,” Mr. Adebimpe said. As the recording business loses its ability to create blockbusters, the band’s self-guided, self-sufficient approach looks like a practical survival strategy.

On Sept. 23 TV on the Radio follows its widely praised 2006 album, “Return to Cookie Mountain,” with a magnificent third album, “Dear Science,” (the comma is part of the title). The songs are vertiginous, full of cantilevered rhythms and synthetic sounds, yet openly catchy. Mr. Adebimpe and Kyp Malone sing about war and technology, environmental damage and racism while also invoking pleasure and hope.

The songs are pensive but ultimately joyful. The album starts with “Halfway Home,” an elegy tucked behind a peppy nonsense-syllable chorus, and it ends with “Lover’s Day,” a celebration of sex: “Yes of course there are miracles/Under your sighs and moans.”

Often a song starts with stark, kinetic drumbeats, only to thicken and evolve with layer upon layer of counterpoint. The band’s sound is “representative of the human experience,” Mr. Sitek said. “You have your first introduction to sound and hearing, and then you learn a language and then you learn to confuse yourself with that language, and then you’re left with this euphoric, slap-happy, I’ll call it aging twilight consciousness where you’re just befuddled at the human experience and all of the things you’ve accumulated with no direct guideposts or instruction manual.”

In an era of disposable downloads and ring tones “Dear Science,” is a coherent collection of songs made for repeated listening. “If you’re going to reach for it, reach all the way for it,” Mr. Sitek said. “Albums like ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Thriller’ and those kind of records, you had to reach far above the din of cynicism and modern living to get to that place, against all the odds. The industry used to support that kind of record making, and just because the marketplace of the industry doesn’t support it now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try for it.”

But the album was made on a local scale: in Mr. Sitek’s studio, with a horn section borrowed from the steady-gigging Brooklyn Afrobeat band Antibalas. “I think the album as a format is dying,” Mr. Sitek said. “To do an album of this magnitude, just in terms of the sheer number of things that had to be done and the amount of musicians involved and the amount of studio hours spent — if we didn’t have my studio, who knows? We could have been really in debt for the rest of our entire beings.”

TV on the Radio has held on to the experimental spirit of what was briefly, before landlords and tourists noticed, a neighborhood of low rents and high creative density. “You could go out on a Saturday night and go to eight different places and see eight different bands, and they would all be interesting — really interesting,” Mr. Adebimpe said. There was a feeling, he said, that “I have to keep making stuff that I like so I can keep hanging out with my friends who make stuff that I like.”

Back in 1997 Mr. Adebimpe — at the time a filmmaker doing stop-motion animation, with a day job at Film Forum — and Mr. Sitek found themselves as roommates in a Williamsburg loft, which led to a musical partnership. “It just became apparent very quickly that we were going to be friends,” Mr. Adebimpe recalled in an interview at the Verb Cafe in Williamsburg, “because his room was full of all this musical equipment with nothing but a mattress, and my room was full of paints and video equipment and nothing but a mattress.”

Soon they took on collaborators: Mr. Malone on guitar and vocals, Jaleel Bunton on drums and Gerard Smith on bass. “We bullied everyone else into the band because we didn’t want to go through it alone,” said Mr. Sitek, whose main instrument is guitar. All the band members are in their early 30s.

The four-inch dent in the studio wall is the latest iteration of what’s already an old story: the continuing gentrification of Williamsburg. The members of TV on the Radio all still live in the neighborhood, watching bodegas being replaced by fancy restaurants and boutiques. In one song on the new album, “Dancing Choose,” Mr. Adebimpe sings at near-rap speed:

Angry young mannequin

American apparently

Still to the rhythm

Better get to the back of me

Can’t stand the vision.

A high-rise apartment building is going up next door to Mr. Sitek’s studio — actually two studios, since Stay Gold, where TV on the Radio made “Dear Science,” is in the rooms next to Headgear. “They build one skyscraper, and skyscrapers get lonely,” Mr. Sitek said in his three-pack-a-day rasp, lighting up in the alley alongside his favorite Williamsburg club, Zebulon. “So then they call their friends and more skyscrapers come, and they throw a party. And the next thing you know there’s a skyscraper blogging about the skyscraper scene in Williamsburg.”

Early on, TV on the Radio benefited from the talent-spotting and reputation-building of the indie-rock blogosphere. But eventually the band felt typecast. “I’m done with cool,” Mr. Malone said. “I’ve been done with cool for years.”

Mr. Sitek said: “We always wanted to reach a lot of people. We never wanted to be obscure. I think it was just hard for us to get a handle on how to make the kind of music we make and how to describe it. And it started to be misunderstood that we were trying to do some kind of weird art-house-rock obscure thing. But that’s not it at all.

“In our minds these songs are that simple. We needed to get a lot of stuff out of our system, but it wasn’t in opposition to something. We weren’t like: We want to make this giant complicated thing. It’s just we had five different people with completely different perspectives, trying to make all of our ideas fit into one thing.”

“Dear Science,” is both an extension and a turnabout of TV on the Radio’s past work. Nervous energy and apocalyptic scenarios filled the band’s 2003 EP, “Young Liars” (Touch & Go), and its first two albums, “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes” (Touch & Go) in 2004 and “Return to Cookie Mountain” (Interscope) in 2006. The songs on those albums contemplated the aftermath of Sept. 11, the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. The lyrics were surreal and allusive, arriving in dense art-rock productions that melded looped drumbeats, doo-wop vocal harmonies, atmospheric noise, guitar dissonance and improbable pop hooks.

“I like pop music,” Mr. Malone said in a telephone interview. “I also like the sound of a dying refrigerator. I can listen to that for an hour and a half if I’m in the mood.”

There’s still a deep streak of dread on the new album. Its title, “Dear Science,” includes the comma because it was the salutation of a letter Mr. Sitek posted on the studio wall while the band was working on the album. Mr. Adebimpe said it was written “in a kind of kid’s handwriting on yellow notebook paper.” The letter was addressed to Science itself, demanding that it “fix all the things you’re talking about” or shut up.

But through much of the album there’s a counterpoint of hope. “It’s hard to tour the apocalypse,” Mr. Adebimpe said. “For me the point of songs, the point of getting that stuff out, is getting it out and trying to put it in a place so it’s not eating you alive.”

For this album, Mr. Sitek said, “I didn’t want anything to be misunderstood, and I didn’t want anything to be cloudy in an unintended way.” He continued, “We were unpeeling these layers between us and what we thought was absolutely stunning and beautiful, and not so depressing this time.”

Though the album has angry moments, much of the music tilts toward major chords and willfully upbeat choruses. “The age of miracles, the age of sound,” the song “Golden Age” insists over a beat that echoes the heyday of Michael Jackson, “Well there’s a Golden Age comin’ round.”

Mr. Malone, the song’s main writer, said: “I’m starting to realize that I don’t want to just write jeremiads, even though the times kind of call for them. With ‘Golden Age’ I was trying consciously to create a utopian world inside a pop song. I don’t think that three minutes of music on a commercial record is going to bring paradise, but I feel like there is power in music and power in our words and power in what we put out into the world."

After his interview Mr. Adebimpe walked with a visitor past Stay Gold studios. On the sidewalk was Brian Chase, the drummer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who are finishing an album there with Mr. Sitek producing. Could Mr. Adebimpe drop by later and overdub some whistling on a song? Sure he could. For a moment Williamsburg seemed like the bohemian neighborhood it had been — at least for a little longer.

Correction: September 21, 2008
An article on Sept. 7 about the band TV on the Radio misidentified the owners of Headgear recording studio in Brooklyn. The owners are Alex Lipsen, Dan Long and S. F. Norton; the studio is not owned by Dave Sitek, a member of TV on the Radio. (Mr. Sitek owns Stay Gold, a studio in the same building.) The article also misidentified a recording studio used by the band Liars. It has recorded with Mr. Sitek at Hickory Lane studios, not at Headgear. And the article misstated the cause of damage to the building that houses Headgear. The external wall was damaged after concrete was poured against it; it was not damaged by a bulldozer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Show Review: Monolith Festival VIP Party, Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO (9-12-08)

After a week of TX hurricane mayhem at the secret government job, I'm finally sitting down to relay the rocktastic goodness that I witnessed last week at the Monolith Festival, which took place a mile above sea level in Denver, CO. Though the festival itself didn't officially start until Saturday, I flew in Friday, picked up this guy and this guy, and after a bout with bad directions, we finally found our way into Denver an hour or so later, heading right for the Bluebird Theater for the Monolith Festival VIP Party with Cloud Cult.

What an incredibly interesting and innovative group, a true phantasmagoria of sounds for the ear and sights for the eye. Onstage, with one shoe on and one shoe off, you'd think the lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa was acting out a fairytale not just singing about them ("Fairy-Tale"). But it just added to the eclectic and colorful stage show that Cloud Cult has as the backdrop to their string-filled lush pop songs.

Minowa plays acoustic guitar and a megaphone at times, ala Tom Waits. There is a cellist (Sarah Young), a violinst (Shannon Frid), a drummer (Arlen Peiffer), and a bassist that doubles as a trombonist (Shawn Neary) who make up the music portion of this very tight six-piece collective. The other two, Connie Minowa and Scott West are, I kid you not, painters who create full individual canvases during the course of each Cloud Cult show. At the end of the show, they then auction off the paintings as "they can't take them on the plane," said Minowa. The work is stunning, as is the speed at which the painter Minowa (wife of the lead singer/songwriter) and West work, because in addition to painting during the show, they also step in as back up singers on a few songs.

Having walked in knowing nothing of Cloud Cult or their music, I will tell you I'll be seeing them again...and you should too. (See upcoming tour dates, including CMJ in NYC, here.) When a good band performs live, it is an opportunity for them to fully express themselves to the audience in ways that a two-dimensional recording cannot always convey. Cloud Cult is a band that knows this and works it to the max.

See the rest of the BL&L photos from this show here.

Pretty Voice_Cloud Cult
Take Your Medicine_Cloud Cult

Friday, September 19, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure: Silversun Pickups @ SXSW 2006

(Photo by Greg Perez)

If you've read Between Love & Like for awhile, you know that the whole Silver Lake, CA music scene and I fell deeply in love at SXSW last year via these guys. One group that has been reigned at the helm of that scene, regardless of what the author of a snotty review has to say is Silversun Pickups. (By the way Mr. Cohen, you could use an editor in addition to a fact checker as I think the word is flagship not flasgship.)

At the Monolith Festival in Denver, CO last weekend, I got the opportunity to catch the Pickups live, kind of rarity these days as they finish up their new record. You kids going to the Austin City Limits Festival next week, be sure to hit the AT&T Stage at 4:30 pm on Sunday, trust me. The Pickups and A Place to Bury Strangers were my two favorite shows of the two days and 60 bands who played at Monolith. (Look for my review and links to the 1000 photos by the end of this weekend.) Like I went out the next day and bought the Pickups' Carnavas for the drive back to Red Rocks, I was that impressed.

Thus, it was exciting to see this podcast from today's post over at Web in Front, a podcast of a Pickups' show from SXSW 2006. Knowing WIF's owner Travis, it's great quality, so take your lazy eyes on over to Web in Front for a download.

Check out my shots of the Pickups from the Monolith Festival here.

stellastarr* Announces Fall East Coast Tour

NYC-group, stellastarr* has been in the studio finishing up their third album, due out next year. The band recently played their first show in over a year with The Kooks and Illinois in NYC's Central Park , but they're doing a few east coast dates in November and early December. Cities on the tour include, Boston, Washington, DC, and a five night run at Piano's in NYC.

stellastarr* Fall East Coast Tour
November 5th: Great Scott, Boston, MA
November 9th: Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
November 10th: Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA
December 2nd-6th: Pianos, NYC, NY

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick-Like: Monolith Festival, Day 1

Ok, I'm bone tired but wanted to give you a glimpse of the Monolith Festival:

1. I took about 987685675675 pictures. I think I really like taking pictures.

2. If you ever come to Red Rocks, that whole mile above sea level thing really takes the wind out of you (literally) when walking anywhere uphill. That's no bull.

3. I met and became friendly with a consortium of cool fellow music writers like this guy, these folks, this gal, and this guy. Hey guys!

4. I wound up talking with Jon Fratelli, lead singer of the Fratellis, about how cool Worn Free shirts are (he was sporting the one I've been planning to buy).

5. Devotchka put on an incredible performance. No aerialist this time but she would have been frozen solid (Denver=damn cold at night).

6. Best show of the day? A Place to Bury Strangers out of Brooklyn. Their recorded stuff I listened to in advance I wasn't too thrilled by (sounded a tad too electronica-like for seeing live), but their live show, with the energy, intensity, and frantic pace was insanely good to watch. Remember what I said about a a passion for music? These guys have it and slap you around with it. (And there aren't any synths or computers involved, it's just them). Silversun Pickups ran a very close second.

More tomorrow! With pictures and such!

Friday, September 12, 2008

On the Topic of Monolith...."The Winning Side," The Airborne Toxic Event

Heading off to the Monolith Festival in Denver this afternoon to see over 60 bands over two days. Bands I'm excited to see include The Whigs again, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, a group I hear puts on an amazing live show, and the large amount of East LA bands that are playing like The Airborne Toxic Event.

If you bought a copy of The Airborne Toxic Event's self-titled debut album via Itunes, a bonus track called "The Winning Side," was included. Having received my version hardcopy, the first I'd heard this song when the band opened their DC show with it. A catchy little track about a dark subject (Iraq), it employs all the things that Airborne does best: a fast and driving drum beat, catchy guitar riffs, and smart lyrics you can visualize.

They did not do a video for this song during their acoustic song series, videos they released of each track off their record performed acoustically around Los Angeles. But here is the acoustic version of "The Winning Side", "brand new even to them," at an CA in-store performance last month.

(The Airborne Toxic Event plays the Monolith Festival this Sunday, as well as assorted dates across the country opening for The Fratellis.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Adventures of an East Coast Kid in Denver....

Been gearing up for covering the Monolith Festival in Denver this weekend....be covering lots of super cool kids out of the Silver Lake, CA area, among others, so check back!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Seen Your Video: The Waterboys' "A New England," "A Man is in Love," and "Fisherman's Blues"

I got the urge to listen to The Waterboys today because I'd seen Delta Spirit last night and the voice of DS's lead singer Matthew Vasquez reminded me a lot of The Waterboys' Mike Scott. I first discovered The Waterboys after finding The Best of the Waterboys: 81-90 used in high school. I promptly fell ass over tea kettle in love with "A New England," an interesting testament to Thatcher's 1980s England,"A Man is in Love," one of the prettiest love songs ever, and "Fisherman's Blues," which rocks a mean fiddle. Mike Scott may seriously need an updated hairdo but the man can still sing these three like no one else.

The first two were recorded at Pavilhão Municipal de Gaia in Portugal, 3/14/08, and the last, a late 80s appearance on "Tube UK."

"A New England"

"A Man is in Love"

"Fisherman's Blues"

The Best Summation of the Replacements I've Heard in a Very Long Time...

My friend AdamAnnapolis is that kid that you're always glad is in your life because he's so quirky and funny and whip-fucking-smart. If you weren't already a music snob in high school or college but had half a brain, he was the kid you looked to because his music taste was always so poignant and interesting. Adam and I discovered we were each other's doppelganger a long time ago because we share so much in common it's like we were from the same embryo. Which is great but also scary (especially because he finds WWF so exceptionally interesting).

One thing we long ago bonded over was The Replacements. As I mentioned, he's ridiculously bright, so I'm not at all surprised he posted the following synopsis of the 'Mats so beautifully. Adam claims that I can capture the essence of live music shows in print well but damn Adam, let me say here publicly that you've captured the essence of the Replacements, and Westerberg especially, in a way I could only dream of doing. Kudos friend...

What Made the Replacements Great
They sound like these angry bratty asshole kids, a gang of 4 suburban disaffected youth who don't even seem to know, care or take seriously that they rock pretty hard.

The lead singer seems like a particular prick.

You want to hate him, and as much of a dick as he comes off, every so often, you hear a song he's written, and he somehow has captured things you've felt your whole life, and never were able to articulate.

And then, he rips your heart out with a seemingly endless string of the most emotion filled beautiful ballads you've ever heard.

And so you love the little shithead exactly FOR being the shithead... who is secretly a genius.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sound and Vision: My Interview with The Weather Underground

(Photo by Andy Tenille)

What do you get when you mix a cool band of four from the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles with a cool interviewer, a big couch, and a very people-friendly dog? Why a fun interview between myself and Harley Prechtel-Cortez, Ryan Kirkpatrick, Diego Guerrero, and Soichi Bagley of The Weather Underground of course.

However, I'm not sure that "interview" is the right word for it. I mean, ok, following their show here in Washington, DC I asked them questions about their band and they gave answers. But in reality it was more a friendly discussion amongst five people (and one ham of a dog) in the wee small hours of the morning about, well, everything: from the reason for Prechtel-Cortez's hyphenated and long last name to commentary on Los Angeles and its music scene; from a modern-day movie casting of “The Sun Also Rises” to who ranks higher, the Rolling Stones or The Who. It’s laid back, it’s a little sloppy in the camera work (this being the first time I used Mac’s iSight feature as a camcorder), it includes a dog’s obsession with a squeaky toy...and it's a charming laugh-riot. These are definitely four guys you'd want at your next dinner party.

The best part is that you truly get a feel for the personalities of each of these musicians. Razor-sharp smart and utterly hilarious, they’re a band of guys who are talented and serious artists but also incredibly grounded-no stereotypical haughty LA rock band here. They’re as tight off-stage as they are on, and it’s obvious they aren’t friends just because they’re in the same band; they’re friends because of who they are and the kinetic energy they share with each other. It’s a camaraderie that was wonderfully refreshing to witness.

The Weather Underground Interview, Part 1

The Weather Underground Interview, Part 2

The Weather Underground was generous enough to provide me with a currently unreleased track that they often end their shows with called "Leap Into the Void." This version, with Prechtel-Cortez alone on piano, is "a sort of minimalist Spiritualized gospel style version, the kind of stuff i'm usually a big sucker for," Prechtel-Cortez said.

Leap Into the Void (unreleased piano-gospel version)-The Weather Underground

Read my interview with The Weather Underground's Harley Prechtel-Cortez here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sound and Vision: My Interview with Harley Prechtel-Cortez of The Weather Underground

(Photo by Andy Tennille)

The Weather Underground is a great 4-piece band out of the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. When I saw them for the first time here in DC back in June, I described them as follows:

The Weather Underground plays rock music that is tinged with the influences of folk, soul, punk, gospel, and Latin, the latter making sense as lead singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Harley Prechtel-Cortez is very tied to his Guatemalan heritage (more on that later). But I'm not talking Gipsy Kings imitators here, I'm talking “the Strokes meet a mariachi band meet Otis Redding,” or “The Cribs meet Hank Williams meet Bono, with some Sandinista-era Clash" thrown in for good measure. The neat thing about listening to this band is that each musician's piece is really interesting and creative separately, so that when they pull it all together it becomes one amazing sound. (full DC review, NYC review)

I had the great pleasure of conducting two interviews with The Weather Underground, one with the group as a whole and one with Prechtel-Cortez alone. The full band one, which posts tomorrow, was conducted after their DC show, and can be summed up in one word: hilarious. It's definitely a funny interview, but it also shows just how charming and comical these guys are as individuals, as well as how close they are as friends.

As one would imagine, we missed some things or wound up on tangents so late in the evening, so Prechtel-Cortez and I sat down a short time later to recap, which is what you'll see below. Not only did we tie up some loose ends from the previous interview, but I think we also captured some interesting insights about this enigmatic and whipsmart frontman (he was a budding rapper as a little kid! He lived in the same neighborhood as the Ramones!), the ways that he and the band approach their beautifully crafted songs, and the influences that permeate both. Prechtel-Cortez is a gentleman's old soul in a 20-something's body whose writing and intellect bridge the two realms perfectly in a very unique way.

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Two More Releases from Westerberg

Paul Westerberg, you just can't ever guess what he'll do these days...after a 4-year quiet, he releases a 43:55 mish-mash mashup of long and short song snippets called "49:00" in late July (our review on it here), then a week or so later came 5:05 in early August, which contrary to initial belief was not the remaining time from "49" but something new altogether.

Now, a couple weeks after that come two more MP3s called "Finally Here Once" and "3oclockreep." Info sent to me on it is as follows:

The two MP3s are "Finally Here Once", which is one song, and
"3oclockreep", which is 20 minutes long and includes lots of overlapping stuff and a couple of distinct songs. It also includes an outtake from the sessions with Tom Waits that produced "Date To Church"**. Said outtake includes Tommy, Paul and Tom Waits trying to figure out the words to "if Only You Were Lonely" and Tom Waits doing some of "We Know The Night". That must have been some night!

Downloading both tracks will cost you $3.99. If for some reason you only want to buy one of the tracks, you can get them individually as well ("3oclockreep" for $3.00 and "Finally Here Once" for $0.99).

"3oclockreep" (Approx. song title/length):
01 Tell 'Em All, Go to Hell 2:49
02 Mash of Outtakes 0:44
03 It's Ridiculous, Everybody Wants to Be Famous 2:53
04 Only Excuse Is 2:15
05 You're Still Mine 1:05
06 If Only You Were Lonely [Mats in Studio with Tom Waits] 1:00
07 Studio Ramblings [Mats in Studio with Tom Waits] 1:15
08 We Know the Night [Mats in Studio with Tom Waits] 3:06
09 Lowdown Monkey Blues [Mats in Studio with Tom Waits] 5:08

**If you don't know "Date To Church", it was previously released on a Sire CD sampler called "Just Say Mao" in 1989, part of their "Just Say Yes" series. And it will be included on the upcoming Sire reissue of "Don't Tell A Soul" (out next month!).

(Editor's note: It was also included on a great bootleg of various 'Mats tracks called Beat Girl that while expensive, is worth every. single. penny. Highly recommended.)

You'd do well to get them sooner than later as "49" and "5:05" were only available for a very short time then poof!, they were gone like a cold beer on a hot day. Both tracks can be purchased here.