Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wings - Venus And Mars

It came with stickers.

Awesome stickers.

Stickers about Venus and Mars.

And I put them on the wall of my bedroom closet.

The house-which is for sale, if you’re interested-still has them. My dad converted my bedroom into an office when I moved out for the last time in my mid-twenties. Up until that point, I occasionally found myself back home during romantic break-ups, something they don’t tell you about when moving in with a member of the opposite sex.
Just like they don’t tell you about the time when Paul McCartney was acting like an AOR act in the mid-70’s, looking at peers like Pink Floyd and uttering, “Maybe Wings should contribute a space-themed album and get in on some of that Dark Side of the Moon concept shit.”

To be fair, Venus and Mars isn’t a concept album and it isn’t much of an AOR staple either as the record flows throughout various genres of the pop format-meaning that you get a bunch of rabble-rousing numbers tacked next to old-timey shit like “You Gave Me The Answer” or theme music for a British soap opera.

While generally a solid set, Venus And Mars suffers noticeably from McCartney’s laissez-faire attitude towards material. It serves more as a tour primer, extolling the values of the power of the live rock experience-essentially “Juke Box Hero” a half-decade early.

Oh, and with a little bit of drug buying according to Macca’s “The pressure mounts/You score an ounce” line, to which Foreigner’s only salt-of-the earth reference came into the hands of a “beat up six string in a second-hand store.”
So which description fits you best?


McCartney is completely at another level in terms of wealth and fame at this point in his career that any semblance of “relating” to the common man at this point shows a remarkable lack of credibility. At the same time, his stature hasn’t curtailed his ability to draft a catchy tune, which means that even nonsense like “Magneto and Titanium” man is stuck in your head like peanut butter.

True story: a co-worker at a former job could recite the entire lyrics to “Magneto” at a moment’s notice, explaining that Venus and Mars was popular among her group of girls when she was in high school, and that sometimes they acted “silly.”

Another true story: I used to walk over to the recreational building of Fillenwarth Beach’s main offices during summer vacation and play “Listen To What The Man Said” on their jukebox every morning while indulging in a game of pool.

When I bought the single after coming home from vacation, I fell in love with the b/w tune “Love In Song.”

It’s a nice ballad that remains as one of my favorite Mc Cartney tracks to this day.
But aside from the stickers, the Iron Man references and the occasional A.O.R. pandering, there are not many endearing moments within Venus And Mars to count it as one of Macca’s best. It’s a perfect place to pick up after you’ve gone through Ram or Band On The Run and one that will get you carrying on about “the crimson dynamo” when it brings up those moments of remembrance.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Singles, 45's And Under: Wilson Pickett-"A Man And A Half"

When it came to singles, I was the only one in the house that had a record player. It was a hand me down, a small portable player that could be hauled around at a moment’s notice.

It had a single speaker, a volume and tone knob.

That’s it.

It wasn’t until I started working at the swimming pool before I made enough money to buy a true component system, one that could qualify as “high in fidelity.”

I’m sorry Spanky, I had to live my own life.

My records were also hand me downs, and occasionally, my single collection would grow by huge leaps. I wasn’t sure how the records showed up, I only knew my carrying case got a little tighter inside.

I remember once that I noticed that there was a bunch of Motown and Tamla records that showed up. Previously, I only had a few Motown records, but then there were a bunch more along with a new label that I’d never seen: Tamla.

It was like someone injected a bunch of motor city soul into my music palate, just for discovery.

There was no mention of it, and I kept my mouth shut for fear that they’d disappear just as soon as they came.

One day, I noticed a bunch of Atlantic records had found their way into the record case. Now I recognized Atlantic; I had Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and played it often. I even had a pair of Yes singles, believe it or not.

In short, I was familiar with the rock roster of Atlantic.

That changed with the new titles I found with the label, the singles featured songs by such names as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and a guy by the name of Wilson Pickett.

I liked Wilson the most, particularly the track “A Man And A Half.” It was raw, as were most of the newly discovered tracks.

Again, I have no idea where they came from. It was obvious they weren’t from my parent’s stash as they pretty much switched to 8-track after I was born, placing the unit and tapes well out of reach.

I do remember one of my first memories around the age of three. Like most 3-year olds, I didn’t want to go to bed when it got dark. One night, a bunch of youngsters came over to visit and I was ushered off to bed.

Most of them had longer hair-it was hard to tell the difference between the girls and the boys.

I was intrigued.

A couple of times I simply marched downstairs in an attempt to use a bit of charm to buy a few extra minutes.

I was marched back upstairs.

I quietly made my way back to the top of the stairs and found my best strategy was just to remain silent and watch the group between the banisters.

For some reason, I think that my additions must have come from those teenagers. A quick note of the single itself shows a telling drill mark. I’m guessing that this means it’s either a promotional copy, or a cut out.

I would have lived in Shenandoah, Iowa at this time-the hometown of The Everly Brothers-and this would have been my dad’s first teaching gig. It’s plausible that, given the extremely white population, soul singles may have found their way onto the bargain bins.

I loved that little swirly thing at the bottom of the big “A.” But now, even more, I love how it was recorded at Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Note to self: I’ve got to make that and Sun Studios in Memphis a family trip destination.

And a swing through Muscle Shoals, too.

Pickett was born in Alabama, but he moved to Detroit before he started out in music. The street corners and churches gave him the pastoral grit that he’s known for.

Forty odd years later, I still don’t know who to thank for sneaking him into my record case.

Check out his badassed self here:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Amy Winehouse

I logged online to check my bank account when I noticed the Yahoo headline, “Amy Winehouse found dead.” The headline didn’t necessarily burn itself into my mind, but the by-line of “Singer was 27” did.

Another death at 27. That mythical number that certainly must have some kind of metaphysical property to attract itself to performers.

And good ones at that.

Regardless of what you think about Amy Winehouse, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of hatred you can find in the comment section of the Yahoo article where I learned of her passing. For every post of genuine sadness, there were five-times the amount of vicious ones, chastising people for liking Winehouse or simply derailing the singer as a worthless junkie.

This is one of the reasons why I go to church every week. I see people talking like this and feel defeated.

And I am seeing this more and more.

There just seems to be an inordinate amount of mean people in this world, or at least its reasonable facsimile: the internet. They seem so angry that even a moment of grief can’t stop them from hurling expletives.

Now I see our leaders doing the same thing. They tap into our more basic emotions and encourage their constituents to avoid self-censorship and speak freely regardless of the impact. All morals and respect our encouraged to fly out the window, replaced by harsh tones, as if life isn’t harsh enough already.

What the fuck?

Something gave Winehouse a special gift. It was obvious and it was of such greatness that we were looking forward to many years of hearing how this blessing would unfold.

The thing was, by album number two, we were already hearing how troubled she was even with such an enviable talent. The saddest thing now is realizing that we’d only get two albums that demonstrated how good she was, so quickly, and that we’d never really get a chance at hearing all of those possibilities.

Did we really want to? Didn’t we all get a kick at the defiance of “Rehab” even when we saw that she needed it? Didn’t the press always print each photo of her decline with a bit of a grin? Didn’t we click those YouTube videos just to check in to see how far she’d fallen and watch, mouths open, as the same girl who reminded us “You know I’m no good” stumble into an act that couldn’t even formulate words.

She needed our help, and we failed her. We turned her into a flawed, beehived caricature that will reach martyred status now that she’s gone. We’ll see her poster or tattoo on some misunderstood girl’s arm, right next to Marilyn’s or Billie Holiday’s. Her best work, Back To Black, will become a cautionary suicide note, causing other generations to ponder, “Why didn’t anyone step in to help! It’s all right here!”

I remember thinking the same thing about Cobain, “Why didn’t anyone help?” and it’s a question worth asking because at least it’s asking “How could we have prolonged her life” instead of the one that so many keep callously asking “Why does her death even matter?”

It matters because every death should matter to some extent, and the real question should be “Why aren’t we allowed to care about each other anymore?” And if I can’t relate to or understand the impact on someone else who has passed, at least I should have enough respect to let those who did feel the impact to grieve and mourn to the extent that they need.

The fact is that we will all make poor decisions in our life and the hope is that we’ll grow from them. Along the way, we’d like to have some amount of support..Just in case.

It seems that Winehouse-even with all of her fame and success-didn’t have that kind of support around her. It’s hard to understand that, particularly when you hear Back To Black or Frank and realize how unique and special her talents were. You automatically want to put your arm around her and say, “Stay alive! You were given a rare gift to bring hope to so many!” but it appears that this message never got through to her.

Instead, we’re left with vultures who seek nothing more than to exploit grief and attack those who wish to mourn a life more worthwhile than their own.

And we’re also left with one life-changing album, one that foreshadows her death of course, but one that also gave us that obligator document of what happens when addiction gets the best of you, recording moments before it actually does.

And from the time it was released, it was then just a five-year ride of watching it take over and destroy the life of one of this century’s most talented and promising talents.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beady Eye Announce Fall Tour And Start Press Release War With Big Brother

Did you really thing Noel Gallagher would wait a full year without shooting a cannon portside, announcing "Me too!" in the post-Oasis recordings?

The consensus is that Beady Eye is credible Oasis covers, which means that Noel will have to come up with something beyond what he's done before to make this entire Oasis split worthwhile.

My money is that this time next year, people will begin whining for an Oasis reunion.

Here's the poop:

New York, NY - July 11, 2011 - Beady Eye announce today their return to North America with tour dates this Fall. The band (Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock) will be giving fans a first live taste of their debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding in a series of concerts beginning in Vancouver, BC on November 29th, with a return stop in New York City on December 9th.

Beady Eye just wrapped their North American live debut with sold-out shows in New York, Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia to rave reviews. The Chicago Tribune was there for the band's first U.S. date and noted "You can take the band out of the stadium, but you can't take the stadium out of the band, and Beady Eye whipped through songs from its debut Different Gear, Still Speeding Saturday with the confidence of a seasoned act with nothing to prove."

Tickets for this round of North American dates begin to go on sale on July 15th. Please see below for detailed ticketing information. The band will be joined by Matt Jones on keyboards and Jeff Wootton on bass for all dates.

Fans can click here for Beady Eye's just released video for "The Beat Goes On" that was filmed during their recent performance at the Isle of Wight Festival:

Beady Eye's debut album, Different Gear, Still Speeding was released by Dangerbird Records in North America on March 1st. The album features 13 brand new songs written by the band and recorded at RAK Studios in London last fall with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews Band, The Smiths).

Upon reviewing Different Gear, Still Speeding, The Boston Globe stops the naysayers in their tracks and warns, "For all those who thought Liam Gallagher would be musically astray without big brother Noel, meet Beady Eye."

While Paste noted that Beady Eye "...sounds like Oasis returning to its less complicated roots, stripping back the heavily overdubbed layers of their curtain call, 2008's Dig Out Your Soul. Beady Eye aren't here to dick around-they're here to rock. And it would be a lie to say they've failed in that regard; this is an album of live, full-band rock 'n' roll energy, built on Rickenbacker crunch and Ludwig thump. There's no time for frills-Gallagher and company are making up for lost time."

Beady Eye was formed by three former members of Oasis, including enigmatic front man and lead vocalist Liam Gallagher. The multi-platinum and Grammy nominated Oasis sold over 70 million albums worldwide spanning seven studio albums awarded with six Brit awards, 15 NME awards, nine Q awards and four MTV Europe Music awards, just to name a few.


November 29 Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am at, and all Ticketmaster locations, Commodore Ballroom box office, and charge by phone - 604.739.7469

November 30 Seattle, WA @ Showbox Market
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am at and all Ticketmaster locations, Showbox Market box office, and charge by phone - 206.628.3151

December 2 San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
On sale Sunday, July 17th @ 10am at and all Ticketmaster locations and the Warfield box office an hour and a half prior to show time.

December 3 Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am at and all Ticketmaster locations and the Wiltern Theatre box office three hours before show time.

December 5 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am at and all eTix locations, First Ave box office, The Depot Tavern box office, and charge by phone - 800.514.3849

December 6 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave Ballroom
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am and all Ticketmaster locations, The Rave box office, and charge by phone - 414.342.7283

December 8 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 10am at, 9:30 Club box office, Merriweather Post Pavilion box office, and charge by phone - 877.435.9849

December 9 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
On Sale Friday, July 15th @ 12pm at and all Ticketmaster locations, Terminal 5 box office, Mercury Lounge box office, and charge by phone - 212.582.6600 or 212.260.4700

Friday, July 22, 2011

Noel Gallagher Announces New Album Details And Fall Tour

No idea who came up with the name, someone should smack that person.

High Flying Birds?!

That's a lame Elton John song from '73, or something.

But anyway..

I didn't bother with the press conference thing, because nobody gives a shit about when an album is released, the cover art, the track listing, blah blah blah.

I did notice that it was produced by Dave Sardy, so that's pretty badassed.

July 14, 2011 - At a press conference in London last week, NOEL GALLAGHER officially announced the release of his first solo album project since the split in 2009 of the mega-platinum UK band Oasis. NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS, the album eponymously named for Noel's current working band, will be released on November 8th in the U.S., on Sour Mash/Mercury Records.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds will tour this autumn in support of the album, dates to be announced in the months ahead. At the press conference, Noel stated that the band would be performing classic Oasis tracks along with his new solo material. "I'm proud of them and of what they mean to people," he said of the Oasis repertoire. "I'll never do a gig without playing them. They're like drugs to me."

NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS was recorded in London and completed in Los Angeles during 2010 and the first half of 2011. The album was co-produced by Noel Gallagher and David Sardy, who produced the last Oasis album, Dig Out Your Soul (2008).

Following is the track listing for the new album:

1. Everybody's On The Run

2. Dream On

3. If I Had A Gun...

4. The Death Of You And Me

5. (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine

6. AKA... What A Life!

7. Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks

8. AKA...Broken Arrow

9. (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach

10. Stop The Clocks

As songwriter, guitarist and producer of Oasis since the band's inception in 1993, Noel Gallagher was at the helm for their global success. For 15 years - from the launch of their first indie UK singles in 1994 ("Supersonic," "Shakermaker," "Live Forever," "Cigarettes & Alcohol," "Whatever") to their final shows together in the summer of 2009.

Over the course of their seven consecutive #1 studio albums - Definitely Maybe (1994), (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), Be Here Now (1997), Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000), Heathen Chemistry (2002), Don't Believe the Truth (2005), and Dig Out Your Soul (2008) - and one live double-album, Familiar To Millions (2000) - Oasis sold over 70 million records worldwide, including near 40x-platinum cumulative album sales and over 7 million single sales in the UK, and 7x-platinum album sales in the U.S. The band's second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? has sold over 22 million copies worldwide.

Oasis charted 22 consecutive Top 10 UK hits from 1995 to 2008 (including eight #1's), creating an astounding historical record. The band logged 765 total weeks on the UK singles and albums charts from 1995 to 2005, including 177 cumulative weeks for Definitely Maybe; and 145 cumulative weeks for (What's the Story) Morning Glory?.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Watson

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dead Kennedys Ask: What Kind Of Beer Do You Like, Neighbor

Got this in my email today. At first, I thought it was an old April Fools joke I forgot to open last spring.


Dead Kennedys Furious With Heineken Over Un-Authorized Use Of Music To Promote Beer

As recently reported by NME, The Guardian, AOL Spinner, NY Press, and a host of other news agencies, Heineken was forced to remove an advert which features a cover of the Dead Kennedys' 'Too Drunk To Fuck' because of complaints it would encourage binge drinking. Heineken had used the song in a commercial tie-in to promote its beer in banner advertisements broadcast via the popular music website Spotify.

Spotify had been running a series of banner advertisements, which directed users to a special "lounge style" playlist as part of a campaign for the beer Kronenbourg 1664

One of the tracks used was the Dead Kennedys' 'Too Drunk To Fuck', which attracted a number of complaints to the independent industry watchdog, The Portman Group. The complaints were then investigated and were found to be in breach of a rule which bans advertisers from "encouraging irresponsible or immoderate drinking".

Dead Kennedys emphatically deny that they ever gave Heineken permission to use the song. The band's attorneys have contacted Heineken to address the un-authorized use. Dead Kennedys have never authorized any company to use this song or any of the band's songs to promote a consumer product (let alone the consumption of alcohol) in this or any advertisement

Monday, July 18, 2011

Behold The Silly Cover Art Of The New Sebastian Bach Album

I’m going to come right out and say it.

I like Sebastian Bach.

For most of the time he’s been around, I don’t think I had a full grasp of who he was. He just appeared to be this cocky pretty-boy fronting a phony metal band who touched the public with some ridiculous idea of a kid in jail.

Then they had some god-awful sappy ballad, “I Remember You,” a song so pussy that I know of not one dude who will admit to liking it.

And anyone who does is a fag.

And as Sebastian Bach will tell you, A.I.D.S. kills fags dead.

Can you see how easy it was not to like him?!

But I’ve come around to him.

One of the reasons why I like him is because the MTV era that brought attention to Sebastian Bach in the first place is the same place where you can see firsthand that he is just a lucky sonofabitch with good pipes and the gift of gab.

He’s smart to the point where he can’t see the line of self-censorship until he’s already past it, oblivious to the controversy he’s created.

Like anyone else, he blurted out laughing seeing the “AIDS Kills Fags Dead” t-shirt, knowing that it’s funny that there are still ignorant people who actually believe something like that.

What he didn’t know was how buying a t-shirt with that statement printed on it goes a step beyond to where it stops being funny. At that point, it almost looks like you're one of those dummies because you didn't have the brains to know a t-shirt probably isn't a good thing.

He started to warm me over with continually apologizing for his poor attire, eventually culminating in a donation to an AIDS organization, right around the time he was featured in a Broadway musical.

Then he showed up as himself in the Trailer Park boys, as stoned and dumb as you want your Sebastan Bach’s to be.

It was reassuring as that time in MTV’s Super Group where Bach goes down to the wine cellar, bullshitting his way to vino expert, only to be called out for thinking boxed swill was the same par as expensive high-brow shit.

Face it, he’s like the stoner friend who’s notorious for doing stupid things, but you want him around because he's harmless and he adds to the character.

He’s a good storyteller, his heart’s in the right place, plus, did you hear that tune he did with Axl Rose on his last solo album?

Dude, that thing rocks!

And I’ll confess to bringing home Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind and quietly thinking, “Dude this thing rocks” after hearing it for the first time. To follow up their commercial debut with a heavy-as-fuck sophomore release, well sir, that takes balls.

I can’t understand how a band that can get it together and make such a dramatic act of independence can’t get it together enough to stick together.

But maybe that’s because after a while, you kind of want the guy to shut up.

Maybe that time is coming with the release of a new Sebastian Bach solo album. Below is a press release announcing the cover art and track listing of this new album.

I’m not sure how this qualifies as anything important since only a few thousand fans will care about such matters.

But I have to share the awesome cover art, which is so cheesy, it’s brilliant.

Seriously, whoever created it immediately commenced to masturbating to it before the ink was even dry from the color printer.

I’m giving Bach the benefit of the doubt on this since the guy’s got a guitar player who looks like he just skipped study hall and-from what I’ve heard-is a solid player.

Maybe its blatant juvenilia is just what it takes to get a solid performance out of him.

Press release begins now:

New York, NY) - Here it is, mothertruckers, the official track listing and cover art for Sebastian Bach's new solo album, KICKING & SCREAMING! The first single from the album will be the title track, "Kicking & Screaming"; look for it to impact at radio in mid-August. Click here for a brand new publicity image of Sebastian Bach (photo credit: Clay Patrick McBride). Please see below for the full rundown and click here to access the brand new cover art designed by Richard Villa.

KICKING & SCREAMING will be released on September 27th via Frontiers Records in North America and September 23rd in Europe and is produced by Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Shinedown, Atreyu, Filter). The album will be available in three separate configurations: jewel box CD, deluxe digipak with bonus track and bonus DVD and double LP gatefold vinyl. The recording features young virtuosic guitarist Nick Sterling and drum pro Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Riot, Iced Earth), as well a guest appearance by noted guitarist John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie) on "TunnelVision".

Sebastian Bach has sold in excess of 20 million records worldwide as lead singer with his former band, Skid Row and as a solo artist. Far from just being a multi-platinum recording artist, the singer/songwriter/actor/entertainer has expanded his career over the past decade to include episodic television with a 5-season recurring role on the CW's hit series "Gilmore Girls", starring roles on Broadway ("Jekyll & Hyde", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") and national touring companies ("Jesus Chris Superstar"), and has appeared regularly on MTV and VH1.

Sebastian Bach KICKING & SCREAMING track listing:

1. Kicking & Screaming
2. My Own Worst Enemy
3. TunnelVision (featuring John 5)
4. Dance On Your Grave
5. Caught In A Dream
6. As Long As I Got The Music
7. I'm Alive
8. Dirty Power
9. Live The Life
10. Dream Forever
11. One Good Reason
12. Lost In The Light
13. Wishin'

Bonus tracks:

1. Jumpin' Off The Wagon - only available on the physical CD/DVD editions
2. Ain't There Yet - iTunes exclusive

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Low Can You Go: A Week Of Bassists Behaving Badly

Is it just me, or has the week in music been dominated by the zany behavior of bass players?

First of all, and I’ve struggled whether or not to even mention this for fear of reprisal and for worry that I may demonstrate a change in my hostility towards the band Kiss-I nearly broke down watching an episode of Gene Simmon’s Family Jewels, the one where he returns to Israel for the first time in 50 some years.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, evidently Gene hasn’t been with his Father in that amount of time either, supposedly because he was still upset that his father "abandoned" he and his mother. You could probably be a Freshman Psych major and figure out that Gene has some major daddy issues resulting from this.

The irony is that their divorce culminated with Gene’s mom moving to America and, as any major dude will tell you, the rest is history.

So while the split prompted both his rise to fame and an unhealthy resentment towards his father, it made for a homecoming narrative that had Gene meeting new members of his family while rekindling some lost memories of a country that he left when his mother packed it up and headed to N.Y.C. for a new life with her song.

The Israeli homecoming made for some stunning television, particularly when you see Gene meet his step-brothers and sisters. It culiminates when they nudge him towards considering that his father wasn't all that bad as his resentment made him out to be. All of this comes rushing out when you see/hear Gene break down at his father’s gravesite, finally realizing that he may have squandered a relation with his dad because of some poorly conceived perceptions.

For the first time in my life, I saw Gene as something more than just a money-grabbing opportunist and understood the origins of his misogynistic ways. None of this made Gene’s faults right, just explainable. And in typical Gene fashion, he was back to his huckster/fuckster ways within the first few moments of the next episode.

Gene’s no dummy, so you’ve got to believe that the hugeness of the event-the fact that Gene actually expressed emotion and vulnerability for the first time in front of his fans, that this episode and real event would be leading towards some kind of revelation. An epiphany that would add a new dimension to his character as he gets ready to slide into retirement.

Yet like a dummy, he can’t let it happen. He can only squander a golden opportunity to make him more likeable to a wider audience, something he and his brand desperately need as his/their relevance a quickly diminishing year after year.

And Gene, unlike Paul who views his Kiss character as some kind of aging Broadway character who will continue the role until he physically can no longer do it, is all about revenue stream. So why he didn’t seize this moment of human vulnerability and create a new revenue stream of redeemed family man who’s finally found that commitment to family after fucking 10,000 skanks in the past forty years.

It’s 2011 dude, we all threw up a bit when we saw you in that homemade porn with that blonde chick who wouldn’t even kiss your ugly ass or take off her flip-flops. Hang it up and be a man, because you’re already ten times as lame as you made out your old man to be.

And then there’s the former bassist from Queens Of The Stone Age-Nick Oliveri-who proved this week that not only is he drug-fueled crazy, he’s drug-fueled and gun-totin’ crazy! At least that’s they described it when Oliveri got into a fight with his old lady of such epic proportions that the SWAT team was called to his home and a standoff ensued.

I remember once when the cops were called when my ex-wife and I got into a fight a few months before we got divorced thanks to her father who didn’t seem to grasp the idea that she was trying to beat my ass, not the other way around.

I’m really not sure what’s going on with Oliveri’s ordeal other than to hope that he’s not such a pussy that he thinks that beating up a woman is a “tough” thing to do, but do I need to remind you that Josh Homme kicked Oliveri’s ass out of Q.O.T.S.A. for doing the exact same thing?

I’ll leave it up to you to determine if you think that Josh was the bitch in those events.

Finally, there the dude from Coheed and Cambodia who threatened to blow up a Walgreens if they didn’t front him some Oxies last week.

After showing the pharmacy assistant his Smartphone with the words “I have a bomb!” and “Gimmie all your good pills!” they gave Mike Todd (he goes by "Mic", but as his actions demonstrate, it’s going to take more than dropping letters from your first name to make you cool, dude) a bottle of Anacin and told him to get the fuck out, to which he did.

To further demonstrate how uncool the bass player from Coheed and Chlamydia is, he hailed a cab and told the cabbie to drop him off at the tour bus at the Comcast Center where his band was scheduled to open for Soundgarden in just a few short hours.

The cops originally wanted to arrest Chris Cornell for that piece of shit Scream album, but the pharmaceutical companies reminded them that these little heroin Chicklets are pricey, and we can’t be just giving them away to every prog-metal bassist with a smart phone.

One look at his mug shot and you can’t help but feel sorry for the dude, I mean, just look at him. His life is fucked and it’s all because he crossed paths with a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company who’s created a country of junkies under the pretense of “pain management.”

On a much lighter note, there was one bassist who managed to remind us that it’s possible to be cooler than the three other bassists combined and still play the instrument without much pay or recognition, but rather for the sheer passion of it.

Kira Roessler was a former bass player with Black Flag and former spouse of Mike Watt. She also has a ten-and-a-half inch cock.

Dos, the on-and-off again collaboration she does with her ex-husband wife is preparing for a new album and, as a result, Kira was recently interviewed by the Village Voice. She talks about her past, accurately defines the meaning of punk rock, and graciously provides her humble insights to her instrument of choice that is frequently neglected and dismissed.

One of the things she mentions that struck me-mainly because I felt the same way when I saw footage of Watt playing with the re-formed Stooges-is how Watt is becoming a better bass player because he’s finally beginning to play bass differently than he has throughout his career. I say “beginning” with the understanding that it’s now going on a good decade or so, but you get my drift. His skills as a bassist are very much recognized and they would have remained that way had he not played an additional note or changed in the way that he played.

But he has changed the way he played.

The gig required it.

And sometimes doing something outside of your comfort zone is the most frightening thing you can do, and the fact that Watt has done that very thing only means that he’s getting better at his craft.

The interview with Kira is a very enjoyable read. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she reminds us that punk rock wasn’t/isn’t about a set of rules (there are none!) and how, at its core, punk rock is about the community.

At the end of the week full of the worst of the low end, it was great to finally come across some good news from someone who’s reached rock bottom.

In a good way, of course!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bee Gees - Cucumber Castle

The making of the Bee Gee’s Odessa was a tumultuous one for the Brothers Gibb. Working on vague sketches of a nautical concept album, the band eventually lost direction-or interest-in the theme itself, and found themselves navigating a strange sea of artistic freedom.

The journey helped them create some of their most exciting music to date as they tiptoed outside of the pop song structure. But it also created some tension within the family unit.

The stress of creating Odessa got to be so much that Robin felt slighted when he noticed that his roles as both a performer and arranger was diminished. After its release, he left his two other brothers in an attempt to become the focal point. The resulting album, Robin’s Reign, was neither the artistic or commercial success as he intended and the break nearly caused his two other brothers to consider solo efforts as well.

Ironically, it was his twin, Maurice, that convinced his older brother Barry to consider a project that manager Robert Stigwood tossed around as a last ditched effort to cast the now-duo Bee Gees in a multi-media special that called for a new album and a television special called Cucumber Castle.

If the idea of the Bee Gees as a duo sounds disheartening, then the project title should do the trick. And if you take a glance at the cover art, Barry and Maurice dressed in medieval garb looking out in the distance with some glazed look on their face that screams “What the fuck are we doing here?” you can only assume that the music spawned from this project would be quite dreadful.

Amazingly though, the Brothers Gibb manage to overcome adversity to the point where their musical chops are so professionally honed that Cucumber Castle the record not only shines as a forgotten gem in their catalog, it could easily rank in the top five releases of their impressive output.

Right out of the gate with the opener “If I Only Had My Mind On Something Else,” you can hear Barry and Maurice picking up right where they left off with Odessa. And while the attempt at conceptual continuity is gone, they continue down a path of lush orchestration and expansive arrangements, willing themselves to push forward in grandiose fashion, like the inner turmoil and drama never happened.

They weave in and out of genres with such confidence that it’s hard to believe their biggest success was at least a half-decade away. The reality was that they were already a decade into the business, but for the rest of us still catching up with the Bee Gees, Cucumber Castle demonstrates no patience for the naive.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the same could be said for its visual companion.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bee Gees - Odessa

It’s hard to convince anyone at how great the Bee Gees really were because of three words: Saturday, night, and fever. But the reality is that there are two vastly different eras of the band, the Beatle-inspired early years and the band’s more famous disco period. The former made them occasional chart visitors while the latter made them superstars. For half a decade in the 70’s, there was barely a moment where you wouldn’t hear a song by or featuring the talents of the Brothers Gibb. And when it wasn’t them, their younger brother had a few chart toppers to consider.

I grew up in a time where it was socially encouraged among rock circles to despise disco, and for a while, I dutifully voiced my disdain for the genre. I’ve since come to terms with that premature dismissal, but I remember how hard it was during that time contending with my love of early Bee Gees albums.

Prior to Saturday Night Fever, I had amassed a few of those original albums and enjoyed them immensely. But when the band became fixtures for the gold medallion crowd and when the “Gibb Sound” seemed to be on every other song on the radio, I purged those initial records and for years forgot how wonderful they were. I recently began to pull some of those early Bee Gees albums back out and there’s one that stands out as the best of the lot and is prime for (re)discovery.

Spread apart two vinyl sides and packaged in soft red felt, Odessa was intended to stand alongside other definitive statements like Sgt. Pepper, Tommy, Disraeli Gears, etc., but nearly forty years later, it gets barely a mention when experts compile their lists of essential albums of that period. What’s more, Odessa can easily best many of those albums in terms of scope, execution and sheer timelessness.

Indeed, one of the first things you’ll notice about Odessa is how eloquently arranged it is. While nearly every one of the album’s seventeen tracks is layered with strings, horns, and a wide array of instrumentation, none of them is marred with period-novelties or studio techniques that immediately tie it to the year of production. While Odessa gets ready to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, it sounds like it could easily have been crafted last week.

Throughout the double record, the Gibbs incorporate elements of chamber-pop, progressive rock, psychedelia, and country-rock all woven together with their unmistakable harmonies. It’s a glorious ride, and one in which you ponder why they didn’t go on to explore similar territories with subsequent albums.

The answer lies in the reality that Odessa was the one effort that nearly broke the brothers apart. With such a large effort to undertake, there were also large egos to contend with. Barry, who became the main focal point during the band’s disco period, had yet to establish himself as the de-facto leader. In fact, it was younger brother Robin who voiced their most notable songs during this period. The power struggle that ensued during the production of Odessa caused Robin to consider a solo career (mainly instigated by management) leaving Barry and Maurice to one Bee Gees album (Cucumber Castle) without him.

A year and a half later, Robin rejoined the fold and the rest is history.

But the real history is the Bee Gees that you haven’t discovered, the period when the Bee Gees were really a band (yes, they even had a regular drummer and guitar player) and they considered their competition to be the likes of The Beatles and other luminaries.

So why didn’t Odessa propel them into higher notoriety? A lot of the reason lies on the decision to release such a lofty project so late in the game. It’s interesting to consider that as the decade was coming to a close and other artists had already logged their artistic proclamation a year or two prior, the Brothers Gibb were finally getting around to their creative statement. Perhaps we can attribute the poor timing to the initial public indifference towards Odessa.

But now that Rhino records has given it new life with a deluxe reissue, and since we’ve all had well enough time to reconsider how good some of the Bee Gees material is, there’s no reason why Odessa’s brilliance should continue to be overlooked.

This review originall appeared in Glorious Noise.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Glen Campbell's Final Album "Ghost On The Canvas" Out Next Month

I watched the documentary to Simon & Garfunkel's 40th Anniversary of Bridge Over Troubled Water-which was awesome, btw-and was completely oblivious to the fact that the musicians behind that epic release were none other than L.A. finest session players, The Wrecking Crew.

For some of you who may not remember, Mr. Glen Campbell was a member of The Wrecking Crew and it wasn't too long ago that Mr. Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Details of his final album and tour were released last month, and the recent S&G doc reminded me that I should probably let those who may be interested in Glen's final release may want to take note.

The last Glen Campbell album of newly recorded material-Meet Glen Campbell-was a fine one, and the final record of new material in Glen's career is shaping up to be a good one too.

The album title is a song by Paul Westerberg and Glen covers it on the album.

Here's the media release from June 22:

Surfdog Records has announced the upcoming release of Ghost On The Canvas, the remarkable new album from the legendary Glen Campbell. The album - which marks the iconic singer/guitarist/songwriter's final studio recording - arrives everywhere on August 30th.

Ghost On The Canvas sees Campbell capping his brilliant career with one of his most moving and energized works to date, a powerfully emotional song cycle that sees him accompanied by a truly dazzling line-up of songwriters and musicians. Among the tunesmiths contributing original songs to the collection are such modern luminaries as Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Robert Pollard, and Teddy Thompson, backed by a roster of players that includes Chris Isaak, Dick Dale, Billy Corgan, Brian Setzer, Rick Nielsen, Roger Manning, and The Dandy Warhols. The album is produced by Julian Raymond, who also co-wrote a number of new songs with Campbell.

Campbell will celebrate the new album as well as his extraordinary five-decade-plus career with a valedictory Worldwide concert tour, dubbed "The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour." A complete itinerary will be announced shortly.

Sadly, Campbell was recently diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. The multiple Grammy Award-winner discusses his health and his long career in an exclusive interview with People, available on newsstands now as well as via

For more than fifty years, Glen Campbell has been among popular music's most successful and significant artists, a multi-talented superstar who can rightfully be declared a living legend and a true American treasure. The Arkansas-born Campbell took up guitar at an early age and in 1958, relocated to Los Angeles where he immediately became an in-demand session musician. He joined forces with the legendary Wrecking Crew, a group of session players whose work can be heard on a stunning range of recordings spanning from the 1960's thru the seventies. The Wrecking Crew played with such artists as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis Presley, and most famously, Phil Spector, with whom they helped create the famed "Wall of Sound." In 1964, Campbell was invited to become a touring member of The Beach Boys, playing bass and singing falsetto harmonies, then later contributing guitar to 1966's seminal Pet Sounds.

Campbell achieved his first major success as a solo artist with "Gentle On My Mind," which proved a crossover smash upon its 1967 release. He followed it that same year with "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," marking the first in a string of collaborative hits penned by renowned songwriter Jimmy Webb that also includes such classics as "Wichita Lineman," "Where's The Playground, Susie," and "Galveston."

In addition to hit singles, Campbell also released a remarkable run of gold and platinum certified albums, including 1967's Gentle On My Mind, the first of seven consecutive collections to hit #1 on Billboard's "Country Albums" chart. Among them are full-length favorites like 1967's By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell and the 2x-platinum certified Wichita Lineman (both released in 1968), and 1969's Galveston.

As if his musical career weren't enough, Campbell also drew acclaim as an actor and TV personality, with credits that include 1969's True Grit (earning him a Golden Globe nomination as "Most Promising Newcomer") and four seasons as host of CBS' The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. The highly rated variety series saw Campbell joined by a spectacular assortment of stars - including John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, and Cream - while also introducing some of country music's greatest artists (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard) to a wide national audience.

1975 saw the release of Campbell's biggest crossover triumph, "Rhinestone Cowboy," which earned RIAA gold certification while topping both Billboard's "Hot 100" and "Hot Country Singles" charts. Two years later saw Campbell repeating the feat with the gold certified, #1 smash, "Southern Nights," marking his fifth-ever country chart-topper as well as his seventh on Billboard's "Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks" tally.

Though Campbell's life has taken many difficult turns, his faith and family have long enabled him to keep pushing forward, both as a touring superstar and acclaimed recording artist. In 2008, he united with Ghost On The Canvas producer Julian Raymond for one of the most unique albums in his canon, Meet Glen Campbell. The album found Campbell putting his inimitable stamp on songs by such artists as U2, Green Day, Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, and Jackson Browne, supported by members of Jane's Addiction, Jellyfish, and Cheap Trick.

Over the course of his astonishing career, Campbell can lay claim to six Top 20 albums and 21 Top 40 hit singles. His track record as one of country music's greatest stars includes 27 Top 10 country classics spanning 22 years, as well as nine #1 country albums.

Campbell has also received a stunning array of honors, beginning in 1967 when he made history by winning multiple Grammy Awards in both the Country & Western and Pop categories: "Gentle On My Mind" was honored as "Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male" and "Best Country & Western Recording," while "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" was named "Best Vocal Performance, Male" and "Best Contemporary Male Solo Vocal Performance." The following year saw Campbell earning yet another Grammy when By The Time I Get To Phoenix was named "Album of the Year" - the first country album to win the top award. What's more, "Gentle On My Mind," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," and "Wichita Lineman" have all since received the "Grammy Hall of Fame Award."

Among Campbell's many other honors are seven Academy of Country Music Awards (including "Top Male Vocalist" and "Album of the Year" in both 1967 and 1968), three American Music Awards (celebrating "Rhinestone Cowboy" and the album that bears its name), three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, two Country Music Association Awards, and the UK's Q Award for "Q Legend." In addition, Campbell has received the Academy of Country Music's prestigious "Pioneer Award" and has been inducted to both the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the Musicians Hall of Fame (honoring his membership in The Wrecking Crew).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Minerva Lions - Great Strides Priestess & Queen

There’s probably dozens of different tags that you could place on Minerva Lions’ sound, but none of them would probably stop you to take notice of this Brooklyn unit.

Thankfully, they’ve cut things short out of the gate with a brief e.p. that’s full of hypnotic psychedelic folk to the point where you actually should stop and take notice.

You can hear the tape hiss and live production of what sounds like Déjà Vu inspired with vocalist Jared Samuel coming across as an even stoner David Crosby.

Give him credit though, he’s working the keys-sometimes achieving freak flag fly levels-while Crosby just kind of hung out in the harmonies until it was his turn to do “Almost Cut My Hair.” Yes it’s true, the e.p. has more in common with Laurel Canyon than it does with the gritty streets of Brooklyn, and that’s by no means a bad thing.

Great Strides, Priestess, & Queen captures the band in the middle of finding their live fluidness while capturing their hints of enormous potential. Their melodies are beneath those moments of discovery, but after a few listens you can hear where the songs are headed.

And that’s kind of a good thing-hearing this material as it’s being discovered by the creative components performing them.

So fuck the tags placed on Great Strides, Priestess & Queen, give it a listen before they move on to perfecting the late-night magnetism that they’re already well qualified at delivering.

Bonus points for the Talk Talk cover.

Stream half of the ep here.

Minerva Lions @ Relix HQ [5.17.11 - NYC] from Lost Pilot on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And My Mind Goes Back To A Girl I Met Some Years Ago...

Oh 38 Special, there’s a “special” place in my heart for you.

You were part of the very first concert I ever saw-an event that I am currently working on a piece for as it just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the show. An anniversary that I thought I should capture as it also managed to make me feel old.

Wild Eyed Southern Boys was the album.

It’s the one with “Hold On Loosely,” a song-along with the gem “Rockin’ Into The Night” from their previous album-that I thoroughly enjoyed back in the day.

That’s right. I was stoked that I was about to see 38 Special.

At the same time, there were a couple of things I thought was stupid about the band even at the tender age of 14.

One was a song called “Back Alley Sally” from Wild Eyed Southern Boys.

It’s stupid. And it reminded me of a joke that I heard a classmate tell me and some other friends in the 6th grade. I’m not going to tell you the joke, because it’s not funny. It involves a prostitute by the name of “Sandpaper Sally” (hence the comparison to “Back Alley Sally”) and the scabs she possessed.

My stomach is churning now, which I believe is the intent of the “Sandpaper Sally” joke: to not necessarily funny in the sense of a traditional joke, but to be so gross to the point where the humor lies in the person telling it, because it’s funny to see people on the verge of vomiting I guess.

The other thing that I hated about Wild Eyed Southern Boys was the cover. It was a pathetic cartoon depiction of a woman wearing short-shorts walking up to the bar while the scraggly members of 38 Special ogled her figure.

Why don’t I just show you the cover rather than describe it.



And even at 14, I knew it was dumb.

It’s probably why I never bought another 38 Special album ever again, even though I did kind of dig that “Teacher, Teacher” song from some dumb movie and that one that goes “What if I’d been the one to say goodbye.”

At work, we have a gentleman around my age that sits in my department and sings for a country rock band. He loves the sound of his own voice, so that means he breaks out in song on a daily basis.

Another co-worker recently came up and advised me that this gentleman had recently had a photo shoot with his band, and that they were trying to “recreate some cover by 38 Special.

Now the person that told me this didn’t have the foggiest notion of what album cover it was for, but I did.

I knew immediately.

And I will share it with you now.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Loudon Wainwright III - T Shirt

I’d never heard of Loudon Wainwright III before one summer afternoon when I was riding my JC Penny five-speed bike back home from my friend’s house.

It was only about five or six blocks away, and being eleven years old meant that every block was passed with great detail. There could be loose change afoot, an un-smoked pack of cigarettes, or the occasional cassette lying about.

On this day, I spotted something blue in the gutter.

It was an 8-track tape of Loudon Wainwright III’s T-Shirt album. It bore the blue Arista record logo. It’s strange, but even then I had an opinion of record labels, and Arista Records certainly wasn’t one that I took seriously.

The only thing I knew them from was the label that brought us such favorites as Barry Manilow, so this Loudon Wainwright character must be equally shitty. After all, who would throw out a perfectly good 8 track?

The awesome Craig record player in my bedroom could also play 8 tracks, of which I had a couple-but the majority of my collection was vinyl.

T-Shirt was in such poor shape from its time in the gutter that I almost didn’t play it for fear that it would get tangled up in my player. I finally relented, figuring that a broken 8-track player wouldn’t be missed much.

Besides, I couldn’t pass up a chance at hearing a free album.

It played fine, or at least as fine as an 8-track can play and I was surprised at enjoying what I’d heard.

It wasn’t until later when I made the connection that this artist was the one responsible for “Dead Skunk,” a novelty song that I vaguely remembered hearing on the radio a few years prior to my 8-track discovery.

Much of that was because T-Shirt was different than Wainwright’s folk, singer/songwriter period. Arista had evidently dolled Wainwright up to become a more rock oriented singer/songwriter artist, something certainly designed to spice up Clive Davis’ still young upstart label.

And while I now understand how divisive this album must have seemed to Wainwright fans at the time and, yes, I can completely hear the difference in quality between this and his earlier material, with no reference point available, T-Shirt sounded pretty good for a found record.

It started with “Bicentennial,” a sarcastic view of our country’s 200th birthday which was taking place at the time of T-Shirt’s release. My discovery of the record came after the bicentennial, and I didn’t quite get the sarcasim at that age. All I knew was that Wainwright declared Jack Ruby to be wonderful in the song, and I couldn’t understand why he thought so highly of the dude that assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald.

You can probably guess why I was more of a fan of “Dead Skunk” at that age.

I also didn’t get the references to Shakespeare, (then) New York City mayor Abe Beame, and recently deported South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Van Thieu, all of whom were featured in various songs in T-Shirt.

I did like the song about Charlie Manson (“California Prison Blues”) and I totally dug the cautionary drug tale funk of “At Both Ends.” I still think that song would be a great cover song for some band who wouldn’t have a problem singing the line “Who needs love? Who wants romance? I wanna eat your underpants!” with a straight face.

But the highlight is the bombastic “Prince Hal’s Dirge,” an epically delivered ode to drunken belligerence complete with the good advise of “If I vomit, keep me off of my back.”

I followed Wainwright’s advice on that one many years afterwards.

I also tried to keep in touch with T-Shirt as best as I could, or at least until the 8-track player/stereo was pitched for a more appropriate component system. It remained elusive until I began recalling various lines from this long-forgotten album.

Are there better places to start with for a glimpse of Loudon Wainwright III’s talents?


But for me, my experience started with this discarded record presented for free on an obsolete format.

It sounded good enough to keep searching his catalog, which is saying something about Wainwright.

Even when people think he’s not good enough, he’s still better than most.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bill Callahan - Live In Iowa City

Bill Callahan
Live At The Blue Moose, Iowa City, Iowa
June 30, 2011

Last week in Iowa, a woman was found dead in the cattle field, her toddler Granddaughter was found safe by her side.

At first, the authorities thought that maybe an over-protective cow had killed her, thinking that the woman was going to harm her calf. The newspaper reports mentioned how rare a death like this was, but exclaimed surprise and relieve that the huge beast had spared the little one.

A few days later, the husband of the woman revealed that an autopsy proved her death was caused by a stroke-not the cow-and that his wife would have wanted him to clarify this as it would have troubled her if she thought people worried about the disposition of cows.

Bill Callahan refers to this same topic in a song on his latest album, Apocalypse, so I felt the need to relay the story to him after his performance at the Blue Moose in Iowa City on Thursday night. There was no opportunity to engage with Mr. Callahan. In compliance with his desire to be a sepia toned mystery man, Bill left the stage as quickly as he entered it, saying very little in between but packing a deep, resonant punch with each song in his 90 minute set.

The murdering cattle story was meant to be an ice-breaker, to gently rib Callahan’s notion that the cattle within “” were really out to get him. Mainly, I wanted to see if our little Midwestern news story would be able to crack a smile from this stoic troubadour.

With matching jacket and slacks, Callahan looked the part of a wrinkled Ryan O’Neil character in Paper Moon without the mustache and without the hat that would merely mess up Bill’s enviable head of hair. His band, drummer Neal Morgan and guitarist Matt Kinsey also donned jackets with wearing what appeared to be a dark brown corduroy one that was completely out of place on a day when Iowa saw temperatures reach the mid-90's.

Callahan announced his primitively arranged partners around the third song in, but you could tell that he was signing the paychecks. Callahan would make eye contact with his guitarist Kinsey whenever it was time to return to the chorus or to wrap things up.

He’s also that man in charge in terms of melody, song structure, and lyrics. He rarely adheres to any formal arrangement, other than keeping things simple in terms of chord progression and delivering words in a deep baritone which often falls into a sing/speak execution.

From what I heard, Bill covered the entire Apocalypse record in addition to “Sycamore” from his debut solo release and other older tracks that seemed to generate the most response from the audience. Strangely though, the crowd seemed to response very positively to “America!” probably my least favorite cut on the new record and, admittedly, it did sound better on stage than on record.

He worked from a worn acoustic, finger picking strings and strumming repetitive chords. Matt Kinsey worked from a Gibson SB, occasionally creating layers of echo and delay from a small arsenal of pedals at his feet while he sat on a folding chair.

“Small” was the key with drummer Neal Morgan who had nothing but a hi-hat, snare, floor tom and a ride cymbal to work with as he alternated between his hands, brushes, and softly utilized drum sticks. From my vantage point, I could see he was bare foot while he kept time with his small bass drum.

Callahan’s emotionless voice was haunting if you allowed it, or an opportunity to speak with your neighbor as a few Thursday night residents decided to do, seemingly uncaring that their conversations could have been more appropriate in the bar in the next room.

Callahan seemed use to such insensitivities and even forgave us at the end of the set enough to ask “So, what do you want to hear?”

A plethora of indecipherable requests began making their way to the stage as Callahan told one audience member “I don’t want to do that one” before he simply turned to his stage mates and picked a song from his catalog and began to play.
Nobody complained, and he added another pair of songs before quickly walking off stage, through the crowd and towards the door, like he was afraid of what the herd might do to him.

And while the cattle may indeed be the least of his worries, it’s good that he still views them with trepidation.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

My cubicle at work sits across from the area printer. It’s less than six months old and it’s always breaking down, so I’m accustomed to people opening up the compartment doors in frustration, following the “remove paper jam” instructions on the LCD screen, sighing in frustration while we wait for the repairman to fix the issue on this $25,000 piece of shit.

Last week, a co-worker was waiting for his print job and he walked over to me while listening to his iPod. He knows I’m a music fanatic, so he approached me to show the album cover image on what he was listening to.

It was the new Bon Iver album and he was about seven tracks into the new release.

“Have you heard this yet?” he asked.

“Not yet, but I’ve heard it’s really good. How is it?”

“Dude, it’s awesome. I just downloaded it over lunch.” He offered.

“Yeah, I noticed that it’s been getting good reviews.” I replied back, stopping short of mentioning that Bon Iver was on my list of current releases that I’d planned on reviewing.

I try not to talk too much about what I do in my off-work time. It just sounds like I’m pimping my efforts, and history has taught me that when I start talking about music, I usually reach a dead end of pointless references or trivial information that only lead to clouded stares and the obedient nodding of people pretending they understand me.

Like when I suggested to this co-worker that, if he liked Bon Iver, he should check out the new Fleet Foxes album.

I knew that after the acknowledging “Oh yeah?” and after the quick walk back to his cubicle, the recommendation would be all but forgotten.

After hearing Bon Iver for the first time after that workplace encounter, I wonder if the same would be true for that co-worker. Would the record be held in such high esteem a few years from now, or would it-like I’m starting to believe after a few spins of it-simply be forgotten in the collected masterpiece pile next to Cookie Mountain, Contra, or any number of recently praised efforts.

Look, I’m guilty of it as the next reviewer and I’ll admit that there may be highly marked reviews from yours truly that will be forgotten in years to come. But I review these efforts on the way that I feel, not on what you or Pitchfork or anyone else thinks. And I can’t see many people giving two-shits about Bon Iver in a few years from now.

It’s certainly striking a chord with people now, and I can somewhat understand it. There is a unique mood throughout Justin Vernon’s second album and it’s projected with such confidence that you can help but think Vernon himself feels Bon Iver has a certain amount of significance.

Briefly, at least for the first few songs, I was resigned in believing that maybe he and everyone else was right.

But as the album progressed, the magic faded. What started as an overly layered attempt at maturation turns into a forgettable collection of songs with limited bits of melody. It’s a shame in a way, as the opener “Perth” is such a wonderful song that it sets the bar so high for the rest of the record.

From there, the album slips down, track by track, until the closer “Beth/Rest” not only brings the designation of being the worst song on the record, but it also jeopardizes the record from becoming a complete joke.

The song features mid-80’s Chicago keyboards over dated guitar tones. To ensure that Vernon doesn’t come across as a complete Peter Cetera worshipper, he’s filtered his vocals through a cheesy autotune device.

It’s embarrassing, and it taints the entire effort with a cloud that questions both Vernon’s abilities as a producer and the integrity of his creative muse. I don’t know if this an attempt at being ironic or if he truly appreciates the yacht rock boat he’s steering.

“Beth/Rest” will most certainly create dialogue between those who want to argue its merits and question those who ridicule it to see if it’s their own prejudices that prevent them from admitting its greatness.

To do that, do we have to start revisiting all of those 80’s Chicago albums and Kenny Loggins soundtracks to see if they were indeed more influential than those noisy Sonic Youth records? It’s a ridiculous notion to put the blame on hipster attitude. Those records were bad for a reason, and to suddenly pretend that someone is bold for using similar techniques is a copout in itself.

This was lame music twenty-five years ago and it’s still an embarrassment. And to end an album that has its heart set on becoming both progression from the primitive beginnings of its predecessor and an intentional “masterpiece” is incredibly naive.

I can’t find a correlation between that naïveté and any amount of braveness that the people throwing accolades on this record are managing to find. Instead, all I can hear is the lingering aftertaste of that closing track and any hint of positive recognition that will have me returning to Bon Iver any time soon.