Saturday, June 30, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

About vacation.

From the top of The Liberty Memorial. Or as I like to call it, Loser's Leap
So we went to Kansas City. They had an exhibit on the Titanic, and since my son spent a fair amount of time learning about the topic, we thought it would be an enjoyable experience.

What it did was promote my son to Mr. Know-it-all, presenting facts before we had a chance to actually read the fact card of whatever artifact we were looking at. You’ll drop close to a Hundy on seeing this shit, so make sure you’re interest goes beyond the James Cameron movie. Even the boy exclaimed at the ticket counter that he was surprised at the cost. This and my response of “Yeah, so you’re gonna like it” caused the workers behind the counter to laugh.

Iceberg...Right ahead! Wallet...Empty!
You get a fake boarding pass when you enter, and on the pass is a name. At the very end of the exhibit, you check a list to see if you survived. Everyone died except Callista. I liked my wife’s the best: She was the wealthy spouse who spent her time in first class with her husband. When the ship started to sink, the woman was placed on a lifeboat, but became agitated when they wouldn’t allow her husband on board.

Women and children first, just like Van Halen said.

She immediately demanded to be let off the lifeboat, so that she could die as she had lived: next to her husband.

They both croaked.

We stayed at the Hotel Phillips, an old hotel from the 1930’s that has been nicely restored while retaining a bit of swingin’ Art Deco vibe. They played jazz in the restaurant downstairs every night and we swilled a bit of free wine and cheese during their 5:00pm shindig social hour.

What sucked, at least for the kids, is no pool. I took a gamble on Priceline and ended up with the only four star choice that didn’t have a pool. Luckily, there was a Marriott across the street so we hustled our way into their indoor pool so the kids didn’t think it would be an entirely worthless vacation. Because every parent knows, that shit has to have a pool, otherwise, it ain’t vacation.

Never mind that we have a family pass to our city’s municipal pools and the kids will be wallowing in chlorinated water all summer long.

Callista got to hang out in Legoland, and she did a stunning rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’” on some karaoke machine. There was a play area and most of the staff at Legoland spends most of their time picking up loose Lego pieces that the fucking monsters just leave all over the floor when they’re done rather than putting them back in the huge buckets they have everywhere, filled with various pieces.

The World War I National Museum is pretty bad assed, and the downtown area seems pretty cool.

The shitty parts were the food and the city’s most notable musician, Charlie Parker.

First, the food.

Kansas City is supposed to be known for its barbecue, and I remember my old man using a Kansas City barbecue whenever we did chicken or pork chops on the grill. So we went to what the hotel guide said was “The best bbq” award or something, and we located one of their joints while cruising around.

They scream, “How can I help you?” when you come in while letting you try to decipher their ordering system and menu items. For example, when I ordered a large potato salad, thinking it would be enough for a family of four, a huge bucket of the stuff arrived, leaving plenty of it to come back to the hotel with me so that I could smell it rotting.

The lady, who offered up a required greeting so aggressively when we came in to order, suddenly seemed put out when I changed my potato salad selection to a small.

The Gem Theatre...What a jewel,
I don’t pretend to know BBQ, but I will confess to attending a few of my hometown’s yearly barbecue festivals and know what kind of BBQ I like. The barbecue in Kansas City was not something I like.

Perhaps I’m generalizing and need to taste a few other K.C. offerings before I can place a wide net on their tangy sauce capabilities, but I started to recall that I never really liked it all that much when the old man smothered our grilling shit in Mauls sauce.

And I’m from Iowa, where we know the difference between a shitty cut of meat versus one laden in fat and gristle. For reals, I can get better cuts from my freakin’ grocer than the stuff they were serving up a their prices (“Two forks!” according to my wife’s cost analysis, which must mean that the “One Fork” selections featured nothing but tendons and digestive organs). The ham and turkey offerings just seemed like thicker cuts of lunchmeat with salty barbecue sauce, and what they considered as “hot sauce” was just the same as the original with more vinegar and pepper, Weak sauce, is more like it.

Sidewalk view of The Blue Room
We found the neighborhood where Charlie Parker used to work from, and the appropriate sections had been nicely restored. The sun was to our west at this point in the day, so the shots of my kids messing around with Charlie Parker’s huge head are a little dark.

Bring me the head of Charlie Parker
I noticed a bus full of tourists leaving what appeared to be the centerpiece of the neighborhood, a nice building with a gift show, some other touristy things including a museum for the old Negro League. I’d love to tell you about this place, but I can’t since nobody of any capacity seemed to approach us to welcome us, point out the various things that their welcome center had for us, or even gave two-shits that our white asses were even roaming around the facility like dumb Iowa hicks that we were.
But isn’t this the type of people you’re trying to get admission from? Christ, we dropped nearly a hundred dollars to see crap from an old shipwreck. We’d drop a few more if we made it to another museum that was actually staffed. My wife did notice one gentleman chatting in the food court area with a younger woman that appeared to be wearing museum attire. He must have been bushed from the previous bus tour and entranced with the young woman’s charm to assist us on our simple request for a cold beverage.

Overall, I’d visit Kansas City again as I’m sure there’s a bunch of other stuff that we missed, and we didn’t really hear a note of jazz. Not that I’m that much of a fan-I’ve spoken before about my reluctance to jump too deep into a new genre of music with so much history to it when I’m still struggling with the ever widening landscape of rock and roll-but I have a firm appreciation of it.

I don’t know if I’d brave the idea of Kansas City cuisine, staying close to more kitschy favorites like Waffle House, which this photo documents as our kids first experience with this chain.

Like Killdozer, our kids now know the awesomeness of Waffle House
I used to avoid Waffle House, thinking that Denny’s was the shit. That is until I read a recommendation by Killdozer’s Michael Gerald in the band’s tour diary from 1990 found in Your Flesh (#19): “A day that starts at Denny’s is always a better day than one that starts at Perkins. Of course, a day that starts at Waffle House is the best day of all. It is absolutely true, especially considering the shitty order I got at the Cedar Rapids’ IHOP once that has cooled me on the entire experience.

We were back into Iowa just in time for the weekend and we immediately headed to the pool after our kid’s obligatory gathering with the neighbor kids to tell them of the experience.

This leaves Chicago as our last remaining Midwestern Cities tour and, once the kids get older, maybe a trip to Memphis to see Graceland, Sun Studios, and maybe a taste of some decent barbecue.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Flaming Lips Break World Record And Pat Themselves On The Back For No Reason

Do you realize...planned spontaneity should never be planned and is, therefore, not spontaneous?

Some garbage from the recent "triumph" of the Flaming Lips entry into the Guinness World Records. Who gives a shit? And what was the deal with the entire beef with Erykah Badu? A first, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" cover was the only thing this band could talk about. Now, whenever they reference Heady Fwends, a release so stupidly named that I refused to buy it and so obviously another pawn in the band's "Year Of Shit" release schedule that I didn't even bother to illegally download it.

But really, was there a fight between the two camps, or was this some kind of stupid publicity stunt that failed miserably? I'm serious, I have no idea and I'm too burnt on the Lips shtick that I won't even bother to look it up.

As a longtime fan for three decades, can I just say "You're losing me!"


"July 28, 2012, Burbank,CA - Viacom Music & Logo Group's O Music Awards,, and The Flaming Lips have successfully smashed the Guinness World Record previously held by Jay-Z for most concerts performed in multiple cities after a historic road trip through the Mississippi Delta region which now ranks as the most-viewed digitally driven event in Viacom Music & Logo Group history, including generating more than 43 million votes (nearly twice more than the previous record) and producing a US trending topic (#OMA).

"To be able to pick up this silly drinking book-after all, Guinness is a beer-this funny book that when I was growing up was a curiosity. To be published alongside the man who ate 22 pounds of his own boogers, beside the woman with the longest toenails or perhaps even to be published beside an individual who has had maybe 1000 cockroaches stuffed into their ears... that, to me, would be one of life's absurd joys," said The Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne.

Kicking off in Memphis on July 27,The Flaming Lips boarded a tricked tour bus, Endeavor, and played a series of shows throughout the Mississippi Delta region joined by a diverse lineup of artists including Jackson Browne, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Neon Trees,  Gary Clark Jr., Karmin, Hunter Hayes, GIVERS, MNDR, Neon Indian and more, before officially setting the new world record tonight in New Orleans.  The awards began with the Major of Memphis introducing The Flaming Lips, who played a stirring rendition of their song, "Do You Realize." Along the way, Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne road tripped with Jackass's Chris Pontius, laughed as Grace Potter sang "All Night Long" in a helium voice,  and shot fireworks off into the dark Mississippi night. Other keys moments included Big Freedia winning "Too Much Ass for TV," Neon Lips performing "Hex Girlfriend," Hunter Hayes performing "Wanted,"  and Jackson Brown talking songwriting at 16.

A slew of awards were doled out along the entire way, with the honors including Best Artist with a Camera Phone (Selena Gomez), Best Web-Born Artist (Karmin), Beyond the DJ - Most Innovative Solo Performer (MNDR), Fan Army FTW (Tokio Hotel) and Must Follow Artist on Twitter (Adam Lambert).

Throughout the entirety of the show, which was made available on all digital and mobile platforms, fans could interact and influence the activities on the bus via social media, toggle between three camera views on the bus, on the stage and the production truck and share show moments and performances with their social graph.
Preliminary numbers indicate that this was the most viewed Viacom Music & Logo Group digital driven event to date generating more than 43 million votes (more than double from O Music Awards 2 in October) and landing a US trending topic (#OMA) for most of Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

"Achieving this record-breaking musical journey has been exhausting and exhilarating at the same time," said Van Toffler, President of the Music and Logo Group. "Wayne, the Lips, all the musicians and fans that greeted us along the Delta and a sweaty tired crew made for some choice moments on this trek. Now it's time for all of us to take a long hot shower."

Fans that missed any minute of the historic road trip can go to to view in its entirety or select performances, award acceptances and other moments.
Confirmed sponsors for O Music Awards included Capital One, Honda, SK Energy, State Farm, and Starbucks® Frappuccino® blended beverages, Samsung, Virgin Mobile, Universal Pictures' TED.

Executive Produced by Lee Rolontz, Dermot McCormack and Rick Krim for Viacom. Directed by Ivan Dudynsky for Live Animals.   

In other Flaming Lips news, the band is currently putting the finishing touches on their new studio album due later this year. More details to be revealed shortly. In the meantime, don't forget to pick up THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS, which is now available on physical CD and through all digital retailers. Released on June 26th, THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS just may be their most adventurous recorded experience to date. The album contains the band's unique and experimental collaborations with a diverse cross-section of heavy friends from every corner of the musical cosmos, including vocal and musical assistance from such disparate playmates as Yoko Ono, Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Ke$ha and many more. A new track recorded with Aaron Behrens of Ghostland Observatory is exclusive to the CD and digital versions and was not included on the vinyl edition.  "

The track listing for THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS is as follows:
1.  "2012 (You Must Be Upgraded) "(w/ Ke$ha, Biz Markie & Hour Of The Time Majesty 12)
2. "Ashes In The Air" (Featuring Bon Iver)
3. "Helping The Retarded To Know God" (Featuring Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros)
4. "Supermoon Made Me Want To Pee" (Featuring Prefuse 73)
5. "Children Of The Moon" (Featuring Tame Impala)
6. "That Ain't My Trip" (Featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket)
7. "You, Man? Human???" (Featuring Nick Cave)
8. "I'm Working At NASA On Acid" (Featuring Lightning Bolt)
9. "Do It!" (Featuring Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band)
10. "Is David Bowie Dying?" (Featuring Neon Indian)
11. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (Featuring Erykah Badu)
12. "Girl, You're So Weird" (Featuring New Fumes)
13. "Tasered And Maced" (Featuring Aaron Behrens of Ghostland Observatory)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flaming Lips Attempt World Record Today

Do you realize you're getting on my nerves?
Steve Hyden does a good job documenting his diminishing feelings towards the band The Flaming Lips. I could relate, to some extent, but I think a lot more favorably of Embryonic than Hyden appears to. At the same time, we're looking at over a year of sub-par recorded documents, exploited by the black humor of Wayne Coyne's fancy.

On the back cover to the band's debut album, Hear It Is, there is a picture of a human skull, decked out in food like egg yolks for eyes and spaghetti for hair. The idea now, it seems, is to fork over a large chunk of change to actually buy a human skull, egg yolk and spaghetti replica. And don't forget to use it before the expiration date.

I spoke to similar feelings myself, but I have to confess that I'm leaning more towards the Hyden camp thanks to the band's new attempt at getting into the Guinness Book of World Records.

If anything, can anyone else imagine the smell of Wayne Coyne midway through this attempt? That alone should be cause enough for disqualification.

What good will come of this, musically or artistically? To demonstrate this weird assertion of power-testing the limits of himself and his fellow band members-does not point well to the same logical reality that nobody would ever choose to be at work for over 24 hours.

A bit of a surprise for me was that Jay Z is the current record holder.


June 20, 2012 - (Burbank, CA) - Actual set times and details can now be revealed for the The Flaming Lips upcoming quest to break the Guinness World Records® title for the Most Live Concerts In 24 Hours (Multiple Cities) during the groundbreaking and Webby Award winning O Music Awards, part of the Viacom Music Group, which includes MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo networks., a digitally driven event that celebrates and honors the artists, fans and innovators impacting digital music culture.   
As previously reported, June 27th, will begin the kick-off the O Music Awards which will play out across all our screens and linear networks absolutely LIVE as the world's first 24-hour award show unfurls as it happens. This historic bus ride will traverse the Mississippi Delta, in which two-time O Music Award nominee and multiple Grammy winners THE FLAMING LIPS board a "The Endeavor" tour bus and blaze a path across the region in an attempt to break the world record currently held by Jay-Z.    
Along the route and throughout the show, O Music Awards will feature a series of 8 concerts (one in each city) for fans to participate and support THE FLAMING LIPS on as they attempt to crush the record. Each O Music Awards concert will feature an eclectic mix of artists including Gary Clark Jr., Neon Indian, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Grimes, Hunter Hayes, GIVERS, New Fumes and others to be announced will play a full set before THE LIPS take the stage for an unforgettable mini-set filled with many surprise collaborations and guests. Tickets on sale now and can be purchased through the individual venues listed here. Partial proceeds from the show will be donated to VH1's Save the Music Foundation. Can't get a ticket or make the show? No worries. The entire show will be streamed live on and accessible on all platforms including mobile and tablets.

During the 24 hour live stream, 24 awards will be presented to winners. Fans can vote now up until the show via in a wide assortment of categories that include Must Follow Artist on Twitter, Best Online Concert Experience, Most Adorable Viral Star, Fan Army FTW, Best Music App and Digital Genius Award. Over 25.1 million votes have been cast since voting kicked off on May 23rd, the most of any previous O Music Awards to date.

Show times and details as follows:
June 27   Memphis, TN    Handy Park (Doors 3:30pm)
New Fumes & The Flaming Lips

June 27   Clarksdale, MS    Ground Zero Blues Club (Doors at 6:30pm)
Gary Clark Jr & The Flaming Lips:

June 27   Oxford, MS   The Lyric (Doors 8:30pm)
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals & The Flaming Lips

June 28   Jackson, MS   Duling Hall (1:00am)
Neon Indian & The Flaming Lips:

June 28  Hattiesburg, MS   Benny's Boom Boom Room (6:30am)
Hunter Hayes & The Flaming Lips

June 28   Biloxi, MS   Hard Rock Casino (9:45am)  Neon Trees & The Flaming Lips

June 28   Baton Rouge, LA   Varsity (12:30pm)
GIVERS & The Flaming Lips

June 28   New Orleans, LA   House Of Blues (4:00pm)
Grimes & The Flaming Lips

Confirmed sponsors include Capital One, Honda, SK Energy, State Farm, and Starbucks® Frappuccino® blended beverages.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saint Vitus - Lillie 65

The running joke with Saint Vitus’ 1986 record Born Too Late was that it confirmed what everyone already knew about the band. It’s like someone stumbled across a lost tribe of the Sons of Silence motorcycle club where downers was part of their food pyramid and the only music they had was an 8-track of Masters Of Reality that played on an endless loop.

Life got mundane for these Earthmovers, so they picked up some instruments and proceeded to break down those Sabbath riffs into their most basic elements, slowing down the tempo until the entire thing sounds like it’s in death throes. 

There was no such thing as “doom metal” back then. Instead, Saint Vitus looked like an out-of-touch bunch of stoners who perfected a faithful reproduction of drop D horrorshow and blatant Sabbath worship.  

Their records-wonderfully out of place on the hugely influential SST label-all sounded like they were recorded on barely working studio equipment with anything above 10 kHz not even registering because of the primordial ooze of guitarist Dave Chandler selfishly taking over everything else in the mix with motor oil cans of fuzz.

As you can probably guess, Saint Vitus were never appreciated as much as they should have been during their original tenure. 

By the time of their second decade, the fruits of their labors began to show in the work of their young admirers, but with Saint Vitus’ sonic quicksand being a decidedly acquired taste, they limped through changes in vocalists while remaining embedding in their underground status. 

It’s been seventeen years since their last album, Die Healing, a swan song featuring the band’s original vocalist Scott Reagers that seemed to end the band’s legacy on a high note. 

We’ve seen a reunion of the original members since that time, and we’ve witnessed the tragic passing of original drummer Armando Acosta. What we haven’t seen is a return of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, and the line-up that some fans consider to be the band’s peak. 

In fact, you’d have to go back even farther than the last album since we last heard Wino front Vitus. It was a series of live shows and the addition of new drummer Henry Vasquez that prompted the creative spark that brings us Lillie: F-65

The curious title comes from a particular downer that guitarist Dave Chandler enjoyed back in the day, no doubt fueling the incredible slow tempo that is at vital to this band as the sludge it hermetically seals inside each measure.

For me to instruct novices to begin with Saint Vitus’ earlier catalog would be a disservice to how good Lillie: F-65 really is. Within seconds, Chandler’s guitar picks up exactly where it left off nearly two decades ago, still as primordial as ever.

New drummer Vasquez speaks the same language as the late Armando, but he beats the skins in such a way that it’s tough to gauge if he’s paying tribute to his predecessor or trying to hammer nails into the coffin of his legacy. He’s heavier than Armando while unmistakably fitting into the line-up better than anyone else who may have applied for the position.

Add these two forces together and you’ve got an album of such stunning aggression that you’d be forgiven if you view Sabbath’s own reunion with ambivalence. With nothing to gain, Saint Vitus seems to pride itself on proving how little they’ve moved their metal glacier from its original placement and how even the most rudimentary arrangements can reign as the heaviest element on metal’s periodic table.

The album’s last two selections serve as the highlight of this wonderfully brief effort. At only a hair over a half-hour, “Dependence” is a seven-minute cautionary tale of excess, complete with over two minutes of ear-damaging feedback to drive back anyone hoping for a bit of compromise.

The next song takes it even further, doing away with any resemblance of melody and ignoring any need for lyrics. “Withdrawal” is nothing more than two of layers of Chandler’s feedback, one of which pans back and forth between channels like a turret gun aiming for survivors.

There aren’t any, when it comes down to it, except for the members of Saint Vitus themselves who not only survive, but add to their legacy with Lillie: F-65. What is remarkable is how they do it: tapping into the fountain of youth of the same formula that once had them labeled as born too late. 

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cat Power Releases "Ruins" Single

"Is it rolling, Bob?"

Dinosaur Jr. and Fucked Up gigs approaching, Morrissey announcing he’s playing the same spot Buddy Holly sang his last song, a brilliant new Spiritualized album, man, this is a great time to be alive.

And the icing on the cake is the announcement of a new Cat Power album, with the prerequisite teaser track/stream to get you all hot ‘n bothered found here.

To be honest, I was already hot ‘n bothered when I saw the artwork, featuring a Chan with short hair. It removes about ten years off her, and briefly hinted at the possibility that she would revert to her unpredictable ways, those years when any sudden movement spelled danger.

But a spin of “Ruins,” that aforementioned snigglet of what’s to come, quickly demonstrates that Cat Power is continuing down a path of accessibility and mainstream acceptance, while giving long time fans like myself just enough bizarre to make us yell “You go girl!”

Because I think it’d be a hoot to hear this thing on whenever kids congregate for popular music these days, particularly the part when she begins rattling off all the places she’s been to during the support tour for The Greatest.

And every single place she’s been to has been fucked in one way or another, culiminating in one large clusterfuck of destruction that’s slowly eating away at our planet.

“What are we doin’?” she asks during the chorus. “We’re sittin’ on a ruin” is the honest answer. So hell yeah, go on and preach that shit, sister Chan.

I gave it three immediate spins-one right after the other-and can clearly hear how this thing began, its origins clearly high the in the mix. But when the overdub chorus finds Chan singing harmony with herself, it’s pretty clear that she’s using her full capacities.

I smiled when she began mouthing the drum beats in the middle of the track, first high hat and then bass drum, a sneaky moment that’s lost on most casual listeners. So yeah, the weirdness is there. You just gotta listen for it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beach House Announce Frightened Eyes 2012 Tour

Some of you may be fans of Beach House, and you may find the press release below of value.

I always get them confused with Sleigh Bells or Mates of State, so I'm leaving it up to you to sort it out.

"Sub Pop Records and Beach House are pleased to announce the "Frightened Eyes" 2012 tour, in support of Bloom, the Baltimore-based band’s critically acclaimed new album. The tour will begin September 13th in Richmond, VA at The National and close on November 19th at Paradiso in Amsterdam, NL. 

Visit for presale tickets to shows on Beach House's "Frightened Eyes" Tour (North American concert dates are on sale Wednesday June 13th at 10am).
The band’s extraordinary new video, directed by Allen Cordell (who also directed Beach House's video for "Walk in the Park”), for Bloom's lead single "Lazuli,” also debuts today. 

Beach House is currently wrapping up a run of European dates, which ends on June 9th in Porto, PT at the Primavera Festival. The band will then resume US touring on July 1st in San Diego, CA at the House of Blues and wrap up with a sold-out performance on July 23rd at Central Park’s SummerStage. Highlight performances also include July 13th in Louisville, KY at Forecastle Festival and July 15th in Chicago, IL at the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Beach House will return to Europe for a short run of festival and club dates, beginning August 24th in Katowice, Poland at Tauron Nowan Muzyka Fest and ending on August 31st in Dorset, UK at the End of the Road Festival. A complete list of Beach House tour dates is below

In further exciting news, Beach House will make their second national TV appearance for Bloom on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on July 24th (@ 12:30pm ET/11:30pm CT)."

Tour Dates (Buy tickets here)
Jun. 07 – Blarritz, FR – L'Atabal
Jun. 08/09 – Porto, PT – Primavera Festival (evening)
Jul. 01 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues*
Jul. 03 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre*
Jul. 06 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen *
Jul. 07 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater *
Jul. 09 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom *
Jul. 10 – Lawrence, KS – Liberty Hall *
Jul. 11 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant *
Jul. 12 – Memphis, TN – Inglewood Hall *
Jul. 13 – Louisville, KY – Forestcastle Festival *
Jul. 15 – Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Music Festival
Jul. 17 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue *
Jul. 18 – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom *
Jul. 19 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues Tickets  *
Jul. 20 – Columbus, OH  – Newport Music Hall *
Jul. 21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre *
Jul. 23 – New York, NY – Central Park Summerstage
Aug. 24 – Katowice, PL – Tauron Nowan Muzyka Fest
Aug. 26 – Paris, FR – Rock en Seine
Aug. 27 – Groningen, NL – Vera
Aug. 28 – Duisburg, DE – Grammatikoff
Aug. 29 – Frankfurt, DE – Das Bett
Aug. 31 – Dorset, UK – End of the Road Festival

Frightened Eyes 2012 Tour
Sep. 13 ­– Richmond, VA – The National
Sep. 14 – Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
Sep. 15 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
Sep. 16 – Atlanta, GA – Variety
Sep. 18 – New Orleans, LA – Tipitina’s
Sep. 19 – Houston, TX – House of Blues
Sep. 20 – Austin, TX – Emo’s East
Sep. 21 – Dallas, TX – Palladium
Sep. 24 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto
Sep. 25 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
Sep. 28 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
Sep. 29 – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theatre
Sep. 30 – Portland, OR – Roseland
Oct. 01 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
Oct. 05 
– Boise, ID – Egyptian Theatre 
Oct. 04 – Seattle, WA – Showbox @ The Market
Oct. 07 – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater
Oct. 09 – Minneapolis, MN – First Ave.
Oct. 10 – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theatre
Oct. 11 – Chicago, IL – Riviera
Oct. 13 – Toronto, ON – Kool Haus

Oct. 15 – Boston, MA – Wilbur Theatre
Oct. 16 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Oct. 17 – Washington DC – 930 Club

* w/ Wild Nothing

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

44 Crash: The End Of Virility

Part two:

My favorite Suzi Quattro song comes from her first era, during that time she was latched on to the British Glam movement while floundering in obscurity here in the states.

She recorded some good tracks during her go in Great Britian, and one of my favorites is “48 Crash,” a charming ode from a young Suzi poking fun at the middle age men who are reaching the end of their sexual virility.

According to Suzi’s source, a man’s sex drive begins to take a nose dive, to the point where they become increasingly disinterested in sex, as apposed to the female gender which tend to have the exact opposite.

Miss Quattro, who endured a lot of advanced by creepy old guys, used the song to call out such behavior. I use the song in another manner, A reminder to the fact that I’m now a few years away from the age Suzi declares when I should be sexually dying.

I wasn’t worried about my sex drive, thank you very much, but starting around my 40th birthday, I began to notice various changes within my body, specifically the way I felt in general. With children and office work, my world became very sedentary. I was no longer active-gone were the 10 mile daily bike rides and eating healthy. Everything became whatever was quickest to get to the next day.

In this change, I completely stopped caring about going to the doctor. My wife was aware that early on in our relationship, I was regularly taking high blood pressure medication and something for cholesterol too. With two kids behind us, she noticed that I was no longer taking those medications. She also noticed that I never bothered to obtain a physician when we moved here, and that it was years since I’d even entered a doctor’s office.

Finally, I agreed for our fifth anniversary that I would visit a doctor and begin a new relationship with the medical community. I would get the once-over, obtain the necessary prescriptions, and continue on like nothing every happened between the seven years or so since my last visit to a physician.

Within minutes of this initial consultation, I was being urged to go to the hospital emergency room. By the time another test was complete, the doctor was asking me to contact my wife to have her take me to the emergency room immediately. “And this is how is ends” is what I kept thinking, reaffirming a previous premonition where everything moves along swimmingly until the moment I seek health care only to be declared after entering the sterile medical facility.

After EKG’s, echocardiograms, MRI’s and a litany of prescription medicines, I am still alive with the incredible weight of middle age sitting on my shoulders. I was reminded of something that my grandmother told me a few years before she died, “This getting’ old stuff is for the birds!” and now completely understand her confounding dialogue.

It is for the birds, the 40’s suck ass, but I’m told under good advice from my mother that it kicks ass again when you turn 50. Speaking of, old mom now views my wife as a saint for getting me to the doctor to begin with.

The irony is that the results of my poor lifestyle has made me a dependant of the pharmaceutical industry. And all of the nonsense and expense of just getting to a point of treatment has made me realize that anyone who isn’t behind some kind of health care reform-including the minor shuffling that the SCOTUS will be dismantling here in a few days-is completely retarded.

Who are these opponents? What kind of fantasy world do they live in that some kind of reform is in order, and to rely on the free market to simply adjust themselves after years of enjoying a gangbang of profits and unchallenged regulation.

And this is coming from someone with insurance. As fortunate as this is, my company is dropping our traditional insurance programs for some low cost health savings plans that help eliminate my company’s costs while driving up mine. There is no chance that my compensation will increase to adjust for these additional costs and there’s not a lot of confidence that these newly acquired ailments will not be treated as some kind of preexisting condition with another provider.

Humble Pie was right.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Baker's Dozen Rock Stars With Bad Teeth

 Shane McGowan (The Pogues)

 John Lydon/Rotten (Sex Pistols/P.I.L.)

Freddy Mercury (Queen)

Shaun Ryder (Happy Mondays)

Chrissy Amphlett (Divinyls)

Layne Staley

Iggy Pop

Keith Richards

Big Mama Thorton

Sonny Boy Williamson

Amy Winehouse

Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult)

Pete Doherty (Libertines)

Stop Breaking Down: The Corrosive Traits of Soft Middle Age

It starts with a Buster Bar, of all things.

That delicious, frozen ice milk treat on a stick, loaded with hot fudge and Spanish peanuts, one of which ended up breaking off a piece of my dental work. It was at this point where my hatred of the Dairy Queen Corporation began. “Why must you make such delicious goodies?” I asked, knowing very well that it had been over seven years since I had last seen a dentist.

I hate ‘em.

But who doesn’t, right? Unless you’re married to one, then I don’t think it’s off the mark to say that the dentist industry is probably the most loathed group in the country. But we have no idea how to fix our own teeth-the best we came up with is tying a string to the doorknob and the other to your aching tooth, slamming the door to complete the extraction. So we’re stuck with these asswipes who tisk tisk at the fact that high fructose corn syrup is eating away our teeth and gums while charging us $250 for “scaling and cleaning” all of those years of Skittles living around your gum line. The price doesn’t include the nearly $200 in toothbrushes and “prescription” mouth rinses they want you buy, making the entire new dentist office more like a retail space, pushing these add-ons and revenue makers during a time when you just want your tooth to get fixed.

This was all detailed for me when I met who can only be described as the Finance Director, as she handed me a bunch of brochures about payment plans and installment options. I saw that there were some interest rates above 20% and felt bad for anyone who had to get assfucked like that just to get their grill tinkered with.

My story is this: I fucked up when it came to dental insurance. For years, my wife was our family’s complete provider of health and dental insurance. Her plan was better than my company’s, so we were content with the benefits of her insurance.
Early last winter, my wife lost her job. I hastily contact my company’s employee relations department and did the obligatory “lifestyle change” paperwork that granted me the ability to get their shitty insurance.

I looked at the price of the health insurance and considered how over half of our annual income would be cut and with prices like the ones I was seeing in the monthly deductions column, it looked to be a thin year economically.

So I left the dental insurance blank.

Fast forward to that Buster Bar eating incident which led my wife to declare, “That’s what we have insurance for!” in the most innocent way, that I knew what would come next would make me look like a moron.

I should tell you that my hatred of dentists is justified. They were with me throughout my life, a result of the nice, soft Swedish teeth of my Mother’s side, where dentures became fixtures on nightstands.

I got a metal chair throw at my face when I was in high school and it split my two front teeth. The week after that incident, I got mono. I’m pretty sure that my dentist would have definitely picked up my germs if he didn’t practice Dr. Lister’s methods

I got my wisdom teeth removed when I was 14, discovering that when you take more than the prescribed number of codeine pills your oral surgeon advised, it made it virtually impossible-regardless of what your girlfriend did-to maintain an erection.

And most recently, I got a large chunk of my mouth tweaked up a bit, cosmetically erasing the chair damage on my chompers and capping up a few problem kids. Hell, I even donated an extra $200 for a Zoom whitening treatment based on their meek sales pitch.

I’ve dropped a lot of money into my teeth, and I felt I deserved a reprieve from them. So for the past seven years I’ve stayed away from anyone trying to jam their fingers in my mouth.

But as I began to spit out little bits of dental work onto the palm of my hand, I knew that my tension around these people who have to but put aside for a quick visit.

I chose my current dentist because of feedback from some of my wife’s coworkers. It’s a relatively new location, but it’s clear on the other side of town, which is a pain. The good news is that there are plans for an expansion that would include a location much closer to me, which makes me look like a proactive motherfucker.

By the time I’m done with the inordinate amount of xrays, it was on to my free exam which I assumed would also entail a quick repair of my damaged tooth.

The dentist, a soft-spoken Indian with translucent white teeth, began to politely advise me on proper dental hygeniene, a similar script to all of the other dentists who told their own versions of Flossing 101.

Except this one is a bit firmer in his approach, suggesting that it won’t make sense to initiate a treatment plan if I’m not going to follow it. I found his bedside manner a little off-putting but then again, everything he was saying was the truth.

Much to my dismay, part of what he was saying was “There ain’t nothin’ I can do for your fuckin’ tooth right now.” as he rattled off a litany of dental issues which was later confirmed by the aforementioned Financial Director to the tune of over $7,000.

She also was kind enough to suggest the Iggy Pop option, which would entail removing a large portion of my ivory and replacing it with what Martha “The Big Mouth” Raye once called “dentures.”

I went with a less dramatic option, the good old crown replacement which means my existing teeth will be whittled down into utilitarian stubs while artificial caps will be gently sealed on top of them.

Now this is the same approach I took less than a decade ago, but according to my new dentist, I’ve managed to fuck those up already.

Who to trust?

And who to pay? That seven large figure is out of pocket, but the financial lady has assured me that she can find me some discounts even without using their Rent-A-Center payment plan. I decide to start the treatment plan but spread it out over the course of a few years to give me time to keep my cash flow in check until I get back on my dental plan during open enrollment.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mark It: The First Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover Of The Summer

It was the Robins Roundup tonight.

For those of you not familiar with this small town of about 2,000 residents, they throw a yearly event in the town’s lone city park where people bring their lawn chairs and gather around the shelter house to eat, play, listen to music, and watch fireworks.

My family is not residents of Robins, but our house borders its city limits. And since the fireworks would probably keep all of us from sleeping anyway, we hit their festivities on what was the first official day to my summer vacation.

"We've got a small boy up here who misses his mommy...Now here's some Skynard!"
It all started by noticing the event would be featuring Loose Neutral, a classic rock cover band from Marshalltown. The members all look to be in their middle ages, probably refugees from previous cover bands. They featured a female lead vocalist who took many of the tunes under her wing, even when female artists didn’t originally sing them. She held her own pretty good, providing some needed grit during “Highway To Hell” and she let the drummer handle all of the lost kid announcements in between songs.

It was a nice and free way to start of my holiday, as we prep the van and head down to Kansas City.

Queue the Beatles’ song.

So far, it’s been brilliant. I put in a nice day at work on Friday and turned on my “Out Of Office” assistant for the duration. When I come back, I’ll have a week left at my old gig before I start with a new department in the same company. This is the part where I lay on all of the frustration of my company and how shitty the compensation for my aforementioned effort is. But that would just be basking in the boring negativity of everyday existence, wouldn’t it.

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, or whatever it was that Lennon said, and right now the plan is to visit Kansas City for a while. It’s about six hours from my home and it’s been over 30 years since I’ve been there. I don’t care for the Royals and as an old school Raiders fan-before they sold out Oakland and moved to L.A.-I am still plagued with the bitter rivalry of the Chiefs for me to give two shits about the city.

This is where it’s up to the city to change my perception. It worked for Omaha.

The drive home from work on Friday was flawless. I remained in the left lane all the way on the interstate home, speeding on cruise control, no less, all the way to my exit on the north edge of town. The thirty minute commute took only twenty as a result, hitting the breaks twice to avoid the speed cameras just before the Cedar River bridge.

I haven’t told the kids where we’re going, choosing instead to leave it a mystery, offering only one clue per day during dinner time when they ask. The first clue was “The state we’re going allows you to purchase fireworks legally.” If they only put their minds to it, they’d remember that it was only two years ago we visited St. Louis, stopping for fireworks on the way home just before hitting the Iowa border.

I suppose it doesn’t help that Wisconsin also allows you to buy fireworks too, and since we went to Milwaukee for holiday last year, it explains why they keep thinking we’re going back there.

But tonight’s clue, “This state was home to one of our U.S. Presidents,” still didn’t bring them closer to solving. That just made them think it was Illinois.

Today’s trip preparation also meant that I updated the kid’s playlist on my IPod. The kids are old enough that a lot of the previous songs are now too “childish” to play, Gone are the Laurie Berkner tunes, the Yo Gabba Gabba, and even the Hannah Montana.

These have all been replaced with Top 40 hits, which meant that I had to take a trip over to Billboard to figure out what the hell kids are listening to these days.

Here’s what I discovered.

1.)    Every hit song in America has to have someone “featured” on it.
2.)    Beyond the Top 20, everything is just country crossover hits. When I was growing up, these were the spots filled by bands like Icicle Works and General Public. Wha’ppen?
3.)    Once your song reaches the Top 40 in America, it stays there forever. Shit like Adele and that party rockin’ in the club tonight song are still getting airplay and still selling. It takes such an effort to reach the Top 40 in today’s age that’s like a long tail browbeating. And fuck me, that goddamn Kelly Clarkston song (“Stronger” #19 last week) had to start life in a shitty car commercial with that nobody Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel network, how sad is that?!
4.)    My kids know these songs, man. I struggle to comprehend how, but then it dawns on my that my wife lugs these little shits around all the time, pumping the local Top 40 station in between errands. My nine year old son heard me arranging the playlist and goes “I know that song!” Before two long, my five-year old daughter walks in and starting singing along as well. I’ve lost.

The playlist craps out after about two hours, which means that I’ll have plenty of time to embrace my own musical whims, forcing my kids to retreat to the dvd player and my wife to her Kindle.

Hey, I never got control of the music controls when I was a kid.

They’re lucky they have an old man that’s nice enough for a two hour playlist.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls

By now, everyone reading this review has heard about Alabama Shakes, or to be more direct, everyone has heard the hype of Alabama Shakes rather than hearing a goddamn note.

I’ll admit to sneaking a peek at them just to get an idea of who the hell we’re contending with, because everything on paper looked a little too good to be true and we really shouldn’t get to hot ‘n bothered about shit that was done as good as it could get generations ago.

That’s the draw of American music. We have short attention spans here in the United States, so forgive us if we’re shooting our wads at some bullshit new flavor while we’re completely ignoring how good Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin were back in the day.

Then, some upstart devotes their entire existence to those records, reminding us that while we were all discussing Lana Del Rey’s SNL appearance, the band Alabama Shakes were sweating in some dump of a rehearsal space, channeling all of those good American influences before becoming darlings at whatever hipster music festivals their managers could get them booked on.

So we’re finally provided with the debut, and yes, it’s awesome. Better yet, it’s recorded just like those old records you’re forgiven for forgetting.

However, Boys & Girls won’t be remembered in twenty years for its adherence to the past. Instead, it will be remembered for what it should be: a brief shot of American music that’s been appropriately rehearsed and impressively executed thanks to the talents of vocalist Brittany Howard.

The backing band-and that’s exactly what they are-should be commending for coming to the realization that their role is one of support, laying off as needed and bringing it back home when it’s time to. They’re not too tight, not too loose, and they know that just hearing Howard sigh, moan, or fucking breathe is more powerful than any bit of solo spotlight or professional chops.

Because they’re gonna get better with age, and they may even face a moment where Howard leaves for greener pastures just like Janis Joplin did with Big Brother. Why waste more time building on the nuances of their dynamics and synchronize their routines more than when they’re as good as we need them to be right now?

Spring echo guitars pluck out rhythms before drummer Steve Johnson even picks up the sticks. A plain background piano adds appropriate colors to several songs. And kudos to guitarist Heath Fogg-my nominee for best rock name of the year-who deserves an award for keeping on the restraint when he could have easily fell into the Sam Andrew trip of trying to outdo who’s obviously the star of this outfit.

I keep bringing up these Joplin references when I should clarify something: Alabama Shakes are better than Big Brother, and that includes when Janis was their frontman.

Howard can wail just as good as Joplin, but she uses the tool sparingly. She possesses a much wider range, and when she pulls out a showstopper like “Be Mine,” it’s a myriad of emotions. In one instance you can hear an exuberant “Whoo hoo!” after a particularly soaring declaration, only to be followed by a terse “If they want a fight, then they started fuckin’ with the wrong heart” that could scare the bejezus out of the biggest of troublemakers.

Joplin had a stunning jab, but Brittany Howard has a better sucker punch.

That’s the beauty of Boys & Girls. It’s a record that’s easy to dismiss based on what you’ve read, but it will land a righteous blow after your first listen. And hopefully the intimidation Ms. Howard and associates provide on their debut will be enough to remind us all how we should always have a band like the Alabama Shakes somewhere on our radar, and not just when some publicist’s pen reminds us of the power of American music.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SpokAnarchy! To Be Released On DVD

This looks promising:

SpokAnarchy! is a feature-length documentary about the rise of the punk rock scene in the conservative and culturally barren 1980s of Spokane, WA.

The history of the punk rock movement is well known, less served is the story of punk in the smaller, out-of-the-way cities and towns, where challenging the dominant mainstream culture was even more daunting, and often downright dangerous.

Before MTV, the Internet and cell phones, Spokane seemed a long way from anywhere. A small group of bored teenagers banded together to make art and music and live a lifestyle that tested the social and moral boundaries of conservative America.

Out of this unlikely burg a decade's worth of undiscovered music and art erupted, by the likes of whom went on to be in noteworthy and underground bands such as TOOL, Motorcycle Boy, Sandy Duncan's Eye, Stompbox, Cattle Prod, artists and performers like T.J. Wilcox and Zamora the Torture King, and even Charlie Schmidt, Keyboard Cat's creator!

This coming-of-age story becomes a coming-of-middle-age story as the scene's survivors take an unflinching look at their past and how their lives were shaped by those years of music and mayhem.

The film was two years in production with over 50 interviews shot in New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Astoria, Seattle, and Spokane. Interviews are coupled with archival footage and with a soundtrack that draws on a decade's worth of undiscovered music