Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nick Mason & Rick Fenn - Profiles

Navigating through the terrain of solo records from members of Pink Floyd should be a very rewarding experience, particularly given the member’s talents, their incredible consistency within the band structure, and-in some cases-incredibly lofty egos.

Well, everyone except drummer Nick Mason who, besides some fairly weak contributions in Ummagumma and some less than notable percussion work in the band, never really stands out as someone capable releasing original music that is anywhere near as compelling as his quiet contributions to the Floyd.
Yet, the powers that be within the band’s record company appeased the individual members with was appears to be the addition of solo contracts for each of them, Nick Mason included.

The funny thing about Nick Mason “solo” records, however, is how much he truly relies on the talents and generosity of others. So, in a sense, they’re not really his, even when he gets top billing on them.
In 1985, Mason teamed up with 10cc guitarist Rick Fenn to release Profiles, a collection of (mostly) instrumentals that are mired in dated production techniques, horrible guitar tones, and rudimentary electronic percussion that sounds more programmed than performed.

The instrumental tracks sound as interesting as the hold music you hear while waiting on the phone for a customer service department, but at least they’re not as the two embarrassing cuts where someone actually handles vocal duties.

David Gilmour gets hoodwinked into lending his voice to the tolerable “Eye For An Eye,” the albums only contender for single and only reason why any self respecting Floyd fan would even care about Profiles. To be polite, it sounds like it would find a great home on some forgotten soundtrack album.

Worse still is “Israel” sung by the keyboard player from UFO. It’s a pretty awful attempt at placing Mason/Fenn in the category of “rockers with political conviction” because that’s what superstars tended to do in the mid-80’s. The thing is, “Israel” doesn’t really identify what political stance Mason actually takes, but you know it has something to do with the conflict between the Jews and Arabs.  ”Goodbye good thing/Africa’s a lonely place” goes the chorus, which ultimately begs the question “Couldn’t have they just made this one an instrumental cut too?”

Profiles does nothing to showcase the talents of Mason and more importantly, it does nothing to demonstrate that the Floyd drummer was anything more in that band’s creative process other than the guy most trusted to fix the other member’s tea. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

John Travolta and Olivia Newton John - This Christmas

The pairing is complete nostalgia. There is no other reason that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are together for a Christmas album aside from the fact that they were both cast together in a small little movie musical called Grease over thirty years ago.

Grease has flourished since its first run on charm alone. How else can you explain the impossible plot of an Australian immigrant-who is hot off an innocent summer fling with a local gearhead-as she navigates the social landscape of high school with a collective of sexually active girls, headed by a 34-year old Stockard Channing?

As the main characters in the film, Olivia and Travolta aren’t particularly compatible on screen and their voices don’t blend together all that notably during their duets. Regardless, they have managed to become the biggest selling duet in pop history and their presence in Grease completes the film’s campy homage to 50’s B-movies, giving all of that aforementioned improbability a free pass.

How these characters managed to ride Greased Lightening up through the skies and endured for so long is pretty remarkable, so the idea of both of them returning together to perform Christmas music isn’t completely out of the realm. Unfortunately, when one doesn’t properly attend to the execution of such a reunion, what you get is a record that’s more acknowledged for its weird aftertaste than musical notoriety.

I won’t even mention the cover, because it’d be like bitching about how Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tastes nothing like a homemade batch of the gooey comfort food. This is truth in advertising, and the only thing that would make the cover of This Christmas more awesome is if Travolta sported a cheesy seasonal sweater.

As hard as it is to be polite about the cover art, I simply cannot get away from all of the tabloid overtones when Travolta takes over the resistant role of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” We’re all accustomed to Olivia’s occasional glimpses as the sexual aggressor (Shake Shack, anyone?), but to hear Danny Zuko put up a fight to Sandy’s advances thirty years after the fact makes for a perfect hushed whisper of “Beard!”

There are other laugh-out-loud moments within This Christmas that are much less juvenile, but equally surreal. Like the part during “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” when Barbara Streisand pops in for a verse for absolutely no reason at all.

Speaking of guest cameos, there are tons of ‘em. From another brake-slamming appearance (this time with James Taylor on “Deck The Halls”) to a not-so-subtle nod to the Scientology folks with some ivory-tickling from Chick Corea, John and Olivia bring a whole slew of friends to join in their Christmas spirit and it’s as sincere as you pretending to think the gag gift you get at work during your department’s holiday party is funny.

There’s octogenarian Tony Bennett who drops in for “Winter Wonderland,” if you count having your verses recorded at a completely different studio during a completely different session as “dropping in.”

ONJ brings out longtime musical partner John Farrar for the record’s lone original track “I Think You Might Like It.” Farrar was responsible for many of Olivia’s biggest hits, and he served as both the writer and producer for “You’re The One That I Want,” the hit single that propelled the pair into the record books.

Farrar’s latest tune for is being called the sequel to that Grease classic, and it’s hard to dispute that claim since it follows nearly the same chord progression under the guise of some light country swag.

Check out the shoes.
Clearly, I’m not the man who should be reviewing This Christmas because I’m overflowing with cynicism at every turn.

So I ask my wife, who often fills the house with a bit of Christmas singing of her own during the holidays, to offer her opinion of the pairing. Suddenly, I find her singing along with This Christmas, causing me to consider that maybe it is my jaded outlook that’s causing me to be so dismissive of this holiday collection.

When I ask her if This Christmas has caused her spontaneous outburst of seasonal caroling, she admitted that it wasn’t the quality of the songs that prompted her singing, but just the familiarity of the material.

Indeed, the selection doesn’t stray to far from the obligatory set list that every holiday record seems to cull from. Case in point: ONJ has now selected “Silent Night” for every single Christmas album she has released.

This Christmas is the perfect holiday record for anyone who has been waiting since Two Of A Kind for the return of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Beyond that, This Christmas is another run-of-the-mill collection of uninspired holiday classics featuring a bunch of questionable guest appearances and two longstanding friends who can’t seem to get away from those hallowed halls of Rydell High.

An extra star has been added for this release as all proceeds from the sale of This Christmas go to the artist’s charitable foundations.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

10 Years After The Death Of Joe Strummer

It’s been ten years since the death of Joe Strummer today, so I couldn’t help but think about him.

A few days ago, I revisited Westway To The World and I’d encourage you to do the same. If not in remembrance of Joe, at least for the fine work that director Don Letts has achieved with this documentary. It was first released in 2000, but it remains as the definitive Clash film, complete with candid interviews and telling soundbites, while conveniently overlooking the heartless Cut The Crap release.

I always seem to focus on Joe’s work with the Clash, so today I’ve decided to consider one of my favorite Strummer solo tracks, this one from his debut release Earthquake Weather.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Steppenwolf - 7

There was a moment in my childhood where I was enamored with albums based entirely on the covers alone. When I say “childhood,” I’m talking kindergarten age, the time when a young boy left to his own turntable instead of human contact begins to form realities within the cover art in front of him.
What’s concerning is the nature of those records, in terms of content, but mainly the covers themselves.
Three records stand out: Bloodrock Bloodrock 2, Alice Cooper Love It To Death and Steppenwolf 7.
Only one of those albums-Love It To Death-remains in high esteem, for reasons that I didn’t know back then. The other two have been lost to youthful admiration, seemingly selected on their easy heaviness and bitchin’ album art.
But the Steppenwolf record was lost early, and I have not been able to verify that it deserved to be forgotten since I left it in the back of my mom’s baby blue VW Beetle. I was going to bring it to show and tell at school, and on the way home I put it in the very back for “safe keeping” only to promptly forget about it for a few days. When I remembered, it was unplayable.
Fast forward to last night, when I remembered the above story and quickly downloaded a replacement copy for my long lost warped vinyl copy.
What I discovered-and this is something that I suspected before-was that Steppenwolf’s 7 is nothing like it’s menacing cover projects. In fact, it’s quite a collage of different styles, each one proficient enough to place this Canadian outfit as a credible touring act capable of stirring up enough dust on the circuit to deserve the bigger letters on the marquee.
But by the time 7 was released in 1972, the band was reaching the end of their popularity and the record seems to hint that John Kay and the boys are throwing up different styles just to see what sticks and what might take off for continued commercial success in the new decade.
For “Snowblind Friend,” Steppenwolf dig out the pedal steel and try a bit of Canadian Prairie country, telling the story of a young drifter who spent his last buck on drugs. They seem to imply that more money is coming to him on Monday-from what, the listener doesn’t know-and they admit that someone simply needs to get him on a bus home.
“He said he wanted Heaven/But prayin’ was way too slow” indicates an impatient character, and John Kay’s weary baritone nearly makes this melodramatic tale work.
And that’s the problem throughout 7; Steppenwolf nearly makes an album as worthy as their heyday, and they nearly seemed poised to take on the new decade with something refreshing.
Trouble is, they can’t seem to focus on one style long enough to grain traction. Even the gatefold sleeve is filled with identity conflict. It finds the band members donning gladiator costumes, except  Kay who is still in his biker motif.
When they start given other members the lead vocals, like “Fat Man,” things go from bad to worse. Guitarist Larry Byrom provides some ridiculous unbuttoned shirt singing, magically turning Steppenwolf into an atypical Canadian bar band who’s nightly setlist contains the FM rock staples of the day and a few of their own “Let’s go grab a beer” originals.
Of course, at six-years of age this stuff probably seemed as badassed as the dual skull cover art, but as the decade wore on and I grew older, it was probably for the best that I left this record as a relic of my youth. Because some four decades later, listening to it now reminds me how leaving it the sun’s glare was probably the most appropriate outcome for this forgotten document.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mudhoney Reappears With 'Vanishing Point'

I love Mark Arm so much that I once tried to grow hair like him.

I don't have hair anymore, but I still love Mudhoney, and by default, I still love Mark Arm.

It is my opinion that Mudhoney are far more influential that you believe them to be and that the band's only downfall is their wonderful single-mindedness, in much the same way that a band like The Ramones or AC/DC are fairly linear in their own creativity.

With that being said, I suppose the band's narrow focus is the reason why their only approaching album number nine in a quarter-century long career that had them practically inventing a new sub-genre (along with Melvins) only to watch a bunch of upstarts take over the sound and parlay it into financial security while these originators stood on the sidelines with thin wallets and better records.

Hopefully, some of that unfair neglect will turn around with a new album and documentary, both of which the press department of Sub Pop records (where Arm is apparently employed in the warehouse) have detailed in their promotional email that follows.

Mudhoney is gearing up to release their 9th album, Vanishing Point, on April 2, 2013 through Sub Pop. Mark Arm spoke with SPIN  earlier this week about the recording of the album, and shared touring plans and what fans can expect from the album (see interview December 11).

In related news, the long-awaited, much-anticipated, and really very good documentary film I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney is now available on DVD. The film, directed by Ryan Short and Adam Pease, follows the band's nearly-25-year career, from their early beginnings in the Pacific Northwest through the band’s most recent world tour. I’m Now includes testimonials from friends, music industry veterans, and musicians such as Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil, Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman, as well as many, if not all, of the members of Mudhoney. Í’m Now is available on DVD and as a streaming rental at It’s also available on Sub Pop’s site here.

In further evidence that Mudhoney is assuredly, right about now-ish, finally reaching their “tipping point,” !K7 Records recently released Mudhoney: Live In Berlin, 1988 on DVD. The footage, filmed by a professional camera crew at 1988’s Berlin Independent Days festival and only recently rediscovered, captures Mudhoney’s first-ever performance on foreign soil. Playing as representatives of Sub Pop to a crowd of curious punters, critics and members of Europe’s independent music community, the show was also the first grunge gig in Europe, laying essential groundwork for the genre’s subsequent global domination. You can find more information on the documentary here.

25 years in, Vanishing Point decisively affirms that, even in an age where only the newest of the new can survive (and even then, only for a few weeks at best), Mudhoney still have plenty to say and more to offer. These are songs written from the rare vantage point of a band who went through the rock n’ roll meat-grinder and not only lived to tell such a tale, they came out full of the wisdom and dark humor such a journey provides. Vanishing Point is filled with dread, psychoanalysis and Nuggets-on-fire riffs; the sort of real, uninhibited rock music that is harder and harder to locate these days. With Vanishing Point, Mudhoney makes it easy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats

So I’m guessing that when Frank was working on Captain Beefheart’s magnum opus, Hot Rats was the album that he was working on for himself.

I don’t pretend to know squat about Zappa beyond what I read in his autobiography and what I learned from Sheik Yerbouti. As a friend once told me, “Every town has a big fan of Frank Zappa.” And I’ve discovered that he was right on. So to anyone who knows their shit about Zappa and is reading this, I’d like to apologize for the assumptions here. Feed us the real story in the comments.

It appears that Zappa is really earning his chops as a guitarist here, and Hot Rats displays his notable talents in supreme fashion. You start to hear bits of an individualized tone crop up within the grooves, particularly on the mindblowing solo for “Willy The Pimp.”

There’s a sense of his compositional sense showing fruit on Hot Rats, particularly on “Son Of Mr. Green Genes” where horns, jazzy keys and, yes, more ridiculous guitar solos to make more ridiculous Zappaphiles.
Fair warning, there are clarinets, but the fact that I can appreciate them while otherwise despising that instrument is noteworthy.

It works because everything here has been rehearsed to death, tweaking every performance to ebb and flow to allow listeners the ability to grasp at just how good Zappa was at finding top-notch performers, and then finding more of them when the first ones moved out of the line-up.

About 10 years ago, I started hedging towards the Zappa catalog tentatively, asking friends who seemed to be long in the tooth with his work where to begin. I started throwing out albums that struck me with just their cover art, records that grabbed me visually whenever I came across them in someone else’s collection.

Hot Rats fits that category, and I remember the response that it was an instrumental work caused me to move somewhere else. I wish I hadn’t done that now. There is so much being said within those notes of Hot Rats that it makes a claim for repeated listening, ones where those fortunate enough to be a part of it will find new discoveries and chart the record as a period of great heights for the man.

The drag isn’t that those Zappaphiles were on to something beyond what the rest of us would understand. Instead, it's that we squandered the all of that time we could have been listening right along with them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandy Hook

It puzzles me why, some thirty-two years after John Lennon’s death, we’re still struggling with the issue of gun violence and in taking a clear path towards becoming better at this thing called humanity.

Not that Lennon was a saint, but he clearly is an example of someone from a less-than-ideal upbringing can break the cycle of those limitations and become better than anything that was expected of him.

The point worth taking is that Lennon was able to achieve far more than his expectations, and even with those achievements he was able to see a more righteous path for everyone, if we all just imagined it for three minutes in our day.

That song is a sacred sacrament. It’s not something that I particularly want to hear every day, but it’s something that I want to live. I want to imagine that we can live in a world where violence is an option that’s just a little bit harder to choose.

I want to make sure that those parents with children who have mental health issues are able to address them professionally, without having to worry about the costs involved. Because, to me, that’s a hell of a bargain compared to the lives of twenty children.

I want to make sure that those individuals who own guns are trained how to use them. I want them to make sure they’re secured when they’re not in use, so that individuals who shouldn’t be around them have no access to them. And I want them to have to work hard and be heavily regulated whenever they’re considering weapons that go beyond general protection of their family or possessions, or assist them with hunting for game or sport.

I feel that respecting my rights to feel safe in this country trumps the assertion of whatever interpretation that someone has of the second amendment. We were under the very real threat that another country could walk right into our neighborhood when those were written. Now, the threat could be living right next door, with enough high powered weapons to dismantle another country.

It’s 2012. When can we move away from this ridiculous wild west perception of our country and backwards mentality that people should be able to fend for themselves when dealing with a family member who has significant mental illness? If we can’t see the benefit of managing these two things that seem to intersect with every fucking mass shooting we have to endure, then how can we ever imagine "a world that lives as one?"

Much to Bill Maher’s chagrin, I’m going to pray for those forced to endure this needless tragedy, and I’ll probably hug my children a bit longer tonight too. Because both of these actions go beyond the politics of this tragedy and they’re in addition to the aforementioned frustrations of why my country can’t wrap its head around doing the right thing. If we’re ever going to move forward, we need to have a government that lays a clear path to having higher expectations of how its citizens are required to live.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Men - Open Your Heart

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned during the resurgence of punk rock music during 2012, it’s that the additional attention has very little to do with the genre breaking out of its sleepy slumber. Instead, there is a collective group of artists that use the format for its own outline, play to it with faithful abandon, and then begin adding on different elements to demonstrate that punk rock music does not have to sound like a monochromatic narrative.

In fact, if there’s one thing that the purveyors of punk rock have glaringly forgotten until late is how the most notable and acknowledged artists did not hesitate to incorporate honest, raw emotion into their output. Because without that level of raw feeling, the music only assimilates the genre rather than motivate it.
Which is exactly what The Men have done with their third release, Open Your Heart. And while the album title might suggest that the raw emotion they present is done with empathy and tenderness, the reality is much different.

The band flows in and out of various touch points, occasionally nodding to old Spacemen 3 and Buzzcocks records while paying close attention to the ever-revolving dynamics of Fugazi during a few moments of guitar interplay.

The result is something that's wonderfully respectful of the path that's brought them here while remaining incredibly fresh and, most importantly, just a whole lot of fun.

“I want to know what’s in store” they ponder on the wonderful seven-minute “Oscillation.”

That makes two of us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Frank Black - Frank Black

The most favorable thing about Frank Black’s debut solo album is that it doesn’t stray too far from where the Pixies last offering, Trompe le Monde. Maybe that’s why people such as myself got more hot and bothered with The Breeders’ early efforts because they actually presented something different when compared to Kim Deal’s former band, and that difference was surprisingly well exececuted.

Not that Black is any slouch, but we came to expect great things from the guy that composed the vast majority of all those Pixies songs that we just beginning to lament.

I suppose you could complain at the lack of diversity with Frank Black, but why bother. There was a real possibility that Black was going to break out into the mainstream, and that possibility seemed to allude him with The Pixies. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and just let the muse sneak out a hit or two, but I’d be hard pressed to find it here.

Los Angeles,” the great opener here, came the closest, with its full scale video and extra promotional push that’s usually provided to a critical darling that’s just about to test the waters alone. With the drums way up in the mix and guitars punching out of every speaker, there was a chance that this song could have taken off, but like many good songs in the age of grunge, it was not meant to be.

“Hang On To Your Ego” is a telling cover as newly recruited keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman came from Pere Ubu, a band who’s frontman (David Thomas) was a huge Beach Boys fan and would often incorporate an occasional nod or line into one of that band’s originals. Feldman gives Black a wide birth, but all Frank can do is play it legitimately and with respect.

But rock radio and its fans weren’t interested in old Beach Boy tunes at the time, which makes cuts like “Fu Manchu” and the awesome “Parry The Wind High, Low” such great possibilities. Even the Ramones worshipping “I Heard Ramona Sing” cut got buried after Elektra cut the gravy train to any more singles, leaving Frank Black to wallow in obscurity, becoming nothing more than an interesting curio for those seeking out the output of the post-Pixies creative forces.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michael Schenker Releases Temple Of Rock - Live In Europe DVD

I have to admit that Temple Of Rock is a real letdown, but the idea of watching Michael Schenker shredding alongside Herman Ze German, Pete Way, and Rudolph Schenker is intriguing. Here's the details on Michael's new dvd:

Michael Schenker Temple Of Rock - Live In Europe 
to be released on January 15, 2013

Assault Attack!!
Inakustik will release Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock: Live in Europe on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and Limited Deluxe Edition, on January 15, 2013 in North America. This essential live rock'n'roll release includes songs performed live in Tilburg, The Netherlands in May 2012, plus songs performed at London's 2011 High Voltage Festival.

At the ripe age of 15, after a very early start in his professional music career recording his first album with the Scorpions and after joining UFO age 17, Michael Schenker focused exclusively on lead guitar and pure self-expression. The second chapter in his career was focused on experimenting and developing his expertise on a more musical and personal level. With excellent musicians, friends and fans from all over the world, this live recording is part of this celebration. Michael Schenker sees his music as a building block in the construction of the Temple Of Rock. "The Temple Of Rock is almost finished," explains Michael Schenker. "The foundation was laid in the 60s by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, and Cream. In the late 70s, the pillars were then built by bands like UFO and AC/DC.

By the 80s it was further reinforced by the likes of Judas Priest and the Scorpions, and many other influential rock bands. "There's not much new left to expect, but I am glad to be a part of this temple," says Michael. "It's unbelievable fun and an honor to share a stage and make music with some of the world's best musicians."

A concert from Tilburg, the Netherlands was recorded in May 2012 that noticeably distinguishes itself from previous releases due to the line-up that includes Michael Schenker (lead guitar), Doogie White (vocals), Herman Rarebell (drums), Francis Buchholz (bass) and Wayne Findley (rhythm guitar, keyboards).

In addition to this Tilburg concert, fans can experience extracts from London's 2011 High Voltage Festival with Michael Voss (vocals), featuring awe-inspiring guest appearances from Schenker's friends and musical companions including his brother Rudolf Schenker (The Scorpions) who plays rhythm guitar on "Rock You Like a Hurricane", "Hanging On" and "Doctor Doctor", UFO's Pete Way who plays bass guitar on "Doctor Doctor", and vocalists Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey), and Doogie White, who jointly sing on "Doctor Doctor".

All in all, there has never been such extensive and high quality material from Michael Schenker for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Into The Arena
Armed And Ready
Another Piece Of Meat
Hanging On
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Coast To Coast
Assault Attack
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
Lights Out
On And On
Let It Roll
Shoot Shoot
Rock You Like A Hurricane
Rock Bottom
Doctor Doctor

Michael Schenker (lead guitars)
Doogie White (lead vocals)
Herman Rarebell (drums)
Francis Buchholz (bass)
Wayne Findlay (keyboards, guitars, backing vocals)
Michael Voss (lead vocals, guitar - Special guest on 'Hanging On')


Armed And Ready
Another Piece Of Meat
Rock You Like A Hurricane (ft. Rudolph Schenker)
Hanging On (ft. Rudolph Schenker)
Doctor Doctor (ft. Rudolph Schenker)

Michael Schenker (lead guitars)
Michael Voss (lead vocals, guitar)
 Herman Rarebell (drums)
Wayne Findlay (keyboards, guitars, backing vocals)
Elliott Dean Rubinson (bass)

Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar on Rock You Like A Hurricane, Hanging On, Doctor Doctor)
Pete Way (bass guitar on Doctor Doctor)
Jeff Scott Soto (vocals on Doctor Doctor)
Doogie White (vocals on Doctor Doctor)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jah Wobble and Keith Levine Release Yin & Yang

I have to confess, I wasn't very blown away from what I've heard so far.

I mean, this should be a glorious pairing judging by their incredible work together on Metal Box and a few criminally overlooked gems from the debut ("Analisa" anyone?).

But hey, judge for yourself and read the clippings from the new Jah Wobble and Keith Levine pairing:

Jah Wobble and Keith Levene

Yin & Yang Available on December 11

The first collaboration by Public Image Limited founding members since the landmark 1980 album Metal Box

Due for release on Cherry Red Records (via MVD in North America) on December 11, Yin and Yang is the first full-length collaboration by PIL founding members Jah Wobble and Keith Levene since the landmark 1980 album Metal Box. Below, Jah Wobble spills the beans on the making of the album.

"I reunited with Keith a couple of years ago. He was off smack and keen to play again. We had a bash in a rehearsal room and it went well. To start with I got him to play on three tracks of the album, (Psychic Life) that I was making with Julie Campbell (Lonelady). Since then we have performed 'Metal Box in Dub' live.

These shows were very well received. As far as I was concerned he was back and on top of his game again. I thought it would be a good idea to go and record some new material. I wasn't sure what we would come up with. As we proceeded, in a very relaxed fashion, the realisation dawned on me , that we were making music that was linked to psychedelic music (especially the British variety), of the swinging sixties through the mid seventies that we both would have been exposed to when we were young. (Albeit our stuff has a spiteful post modern edge to it, I must admit it was a good, (if rather juvenile), laugh referring to myself, (and the listener) as a c*** , as well as eulogising about my beloved Jags and Staffs in the mist of a psychedelic onslaught).

Bands such as Hawkwind and the Pretty Things spring to mind. Our 7/4 version of George Harrison's 'Within/Without you' reminds me of Cream, in its wild approach and execution. There are elements of Americana in 'Yin and Yang' as well. Check out the Keith's acoustic work on the dubby Appalachian flavoured 'Strut' . Likewise listen to the Southern States R&B of 'Mississippi', especially the baptist church organ of the multi- talented Jonas Persson. But my favourite track is the moody instrumental 'Back on the Block', just listen to the controlled anger of Keith's electric guitar.

When Keith and I performed Metal Box In Dub I invited my regular trumpet player Sean Corby along. I knew that he would help inject an element of 'Electric period Miles' into the mix. Not long after we had finished recording Metal Box back in 1979 I heard Miles Davis's 'Dark Magus'. Well, it absolutely blew me away. Talk about cathartic moments. Since then I had dreamed of introducing trumpet into compositions such as 'Graveyard' and 'Memories'. Sean steals the show on 'Fluid', my old friend 'Little Annie' does the same on 'Vampires'. Marc Layton-Bennett, my regular drummer, plays like a demon throughout. The track 'Understand' features Nathan Maverick on vocals. He is the singer that we employed to handle vocals on the Metal Box in Dub performances. I was determined to get him to help write a song for this album. And the boy did good. He really reminds me of someone. Just can't quite put my finger on who it is."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pissed Jeans Share The Honey(s) Hole

Here's the skinny on the new Pissed Jeans album:

Pissed Jeans will release their stellar fourth album, Honeys, on CD, LP, and digitally through Sub Pop Records on February 12, 2013.

The album, which features the single “Bathroom Laughter,” along with stand-outs “Health Plan,” “Loubs,” “Vain in Costume,” and “Teenage Adult,” was recorded by Grammy-nominated producer Alex Newport at Milkboy Studios in Philadelphia. Please find a full track list below.

SPIN, who spoke with Pissed Jeans’ singer Matt Korvette about the recording of Honeys, raved: “Listeners will have the opportunity to take in yet another electrifying helping of Korvette’s very distinct, some might say sobering, dispatches from beyond the cubicle to address both ‘crippling pet allergies’ (‘Cathouse’), a ‘blistering fear of going to the doctor’ (‘Health Plan’) and more…Honeys is arguably their most muscular and direct effort yet…”

Pitchfork premiered the first single, the aforementioned “Bathroom Laughter” as a “Best New Track,” and said, “…the rage boils over in typical fashion on leadoff track ‘Bathroom Laughter.’ It isn't easy to ascertain, exactly, what has captured the animus of Mr. Korvette this time around, as the band rips through an impossibly scuzzy, breakneck punk romp that reimagines previous single ‘False Jesii Pt. 2’ hopped up on gas station coffee”

More on Pissed Jeans Honeys:

The songs on Honeys are direct without being obtuse, evocative without being vague, and personal without being indulgent. They also rock like nobody's business. Do yourself a favor and forget all the claptrap you've heard about other bands delivering the goods. If you want bloodthirsty, you’ve got it… Sean McGuiness makes other rock drummers look like one of those dimwit longhairs with an involuntary smile playing a bongo by himself on the lawn behind a store that sells rain sticks. With a bass that bass that sounds like a train filled with stolen shopping carts crashing into an orchestra pit, Randy Huth doesn't waste a note. Bradley Fry doesn't look like a guitar hero; he looks a nice guy who would volunteer to help you reformat the drive on your laptop. But if he looked like he sounds he'd be wearing a necklace of human heads and even his reflection would turn you to stone. Matt Korvette screams out observations on the tedium and absurdity of adulthood, delivered in a fashion similar to the way people must sound when being waterboarded. Sometimes the band sounds like hearing yourself being bashed over the head with a snow shovel… (read more at Sub Pop).

Pissed Jeans Honeys Tracklisting

1) Bathroom Laughter
2) Chain Worker
3) Romanticize Me
4) Vain in Costume
5) You're Different (In Person)
6) Cafeteria Food
7) Something About Mrs. Johnson
8) Male Gaze
9) Cathouse
10) Loubs
11) Health Plan
12) Teenage Adult

Monday, December 3, 2012

Harry Nilsson's The Point DVD Released

There's so much more about Harry Nilsson that I've yet to discover, and now the list gets longer.

Evidently, besides a really bad vampire movie (or so I'm told, since I've never actually seen it), Nilsson also released a kid's cartoon, a sampling of which is below.

A friend of mine once went as Nilsson circa '73 for Halloween and pulled it off remarkably well. He showed me the picture and had me guess who he was. He said that not a lot of people remembered or knew who Nilsson was, which is a damn shame if you've ever heard Aerial Ballet.

Here's the poop:

Harry Nilsson's The Point: The Definitive Collector's Edition out now
via MVD Entertainment Group

The animated classic returns to DVD with over 25 minutes of bonus features!

Directed by Academy Award-winner Fred Wolf, The Point tells the story of Oblio, a round-headed boy living in the land of "Point," where everything and everybody has one. Oblio, along with his trusty dog, Arrow, is banished to the Pointless Forest. The tale is narrated by Ringo Starr and includes songs written and sung by Grammy Award-winner Harry Nilsson. The definitive collector's edition.

Track Listing

Me And My Arrow
Everything's Got 'Em
Poli High
Think About Your Troubles
Life Line
Waltz Are You Sleeping?

Bonus Materials Includes Four Never-Before-Seen Bonus Featurettes:

Who Is Harry Nilsson?
Pitching The Point 
Making The Point 
Legacy Of The Point

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tegan and Sara Release New Video for "Closer"

So it seems that the new Tegan and Sara album Heartthrob is going to be more of the same electronic bent as Saints, an album that I wasn't all that fond of.

I doubt that I'll do the knee jerk purchase like I did last time-which was only done because the album before it, The Con, is just so friggin' awesome.

The new one?

Not so much, IMO.

As Tegan and Sara attempt to inexplicably move towards the mainstream, the less interesting and unique they become.

Here's the record label's enthusiastic version:

Tegan and Sara Release Official Video for "Closer"
Heartthrob Out January 29th
Available for Pre-Order Now

Tegan and Sara just released the official video for their piping hot single,"Closer." The video premiered on, who glow "it's become clear that Tegan and Sara are indeed readying some of their most accessible and interesting material in years." Truth!

"Closer," off of their upcoming seventh studio album, Heartthrob (out January 29th on WBR), initially premiered on and proved to be internet gold, peaking at #1 on Hype Machine's "Most Popular" chart that same week.

Tegan and Sara offered fans another taste of what they can expect on Heartthrob when they posted a stream of another new song, "I'm Not Your Hero" and just recently released the cover art and track listing for Heartthrob.

Official Heartthrob Tracklisting:

1. Closer
2. Goodbye, Goodbye
3. I Was a Fool
4. I'm Not Your Hero
5. Drove Me Wild
6. How Come You Don't Want Me
7. I Couldn't Be Your Friend
8. Love They Say
9. Now I'm All Messed Up
10. Shock To Your System

**Deluxe Version includes bonus tracks "Guilty as Charged," "I Run Empty" and "Closer" Official Music Video

The girls just returned from the UK on tour in support of The Killers, played a sold out show at Bowery Ballroom in NYC, and performed "Closer" on The Late Show with David Letterman. They will be kicking of additional US dates with the band on November 29th.

For a full list of upcoming dates, see below.

Confirmed T&S Tour Dates:
w/The Killers:

Nov 29 - 1st Bank Center - Broomfield, CO
Nov 30 - UCCU Center - Orem, UT
Dec 1 - Knitting Factory - Reno, NV *
Dec 3 - Pacific Coliseum - Vancouver, BC
Dec 4 - Kitting Factory - Spokane, WA *
Dec 5 - Theatre of the Clouds @ Rose Garden - Portland, OR
Dec 7 - 91x WREX The Halls - San Diego, CA *
Dec 8 - Live 105's Not So Silent Night - San Francisco, CA *
Dec 10 - KJEE Winter Round Up - Santa Barbara, CA *
Dec 13 - Susquehanna Bank Center - Camden, NJ
Dec 14 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Dec 15 - Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON
Dec 16 - Metropolis - Montreal, QB
Dec 17 - Agganis Arena - Boston, MA
Dec 18 - Patriot Center - Fairfax, VA
Dec 20 - EMU Convocation Center - Ypsilanti, MI
Dec 21 - UIC Pavilion - Chicago, IL
 *without The Killers

Saturday, December 1, 2012

XTC - The Big Express

By the time XTC’s The Big Express was released, I was already a fan, chomping at the bit to absorb all of their catalog to see if it was as good as Black Sea or English Settlement. The trouble was, their records were not always available in my neck of the woods, so a rare visit to a Tower Records presented me with a chance to get The Big Express (albeit on a pricey Virgin import) as well as score a cheap cut-out of the band’s second release, Go 2.

It would take me all of the way back to Iowa to listen to it-cd players still weren’t readily available-and it would take me even longer to get used to the record’s polished production and the fact that drummer Terry Chambers had left the fold and was replaced by a dude who didn’t even get membership privileges.

Not that the album proceeding this one was a drum pounding effort (which may explain why Chambers left) but The Big Express was being billed as a return to form and a polar opposite of the soft arrangements that wrecked Mummer.

Sonically, The Big Express is a harder album that its predecessor, but not in the drums and wires way of XTC of old. While the arrangements may be a tad heavier-and heavy handed in some cases-this is still a record of enormous pop zeal and quirky arrangements just like in years past.

The album title and a few tracks suggest an almost steampunk approach to the lyrical content, with references to trains, industrial centers, and blue collar dreaming. What it doesn’t hint at are the nearly embarrassing references to the cold war and the continuous fear of nuclear annihilation. It’s here that Andy Partridge gets a bit preachy, claiming concern for the kids while lambasting the parents for not doing enough to change the course of nuclear proliferation.

In “This World Over,” he tells the story about a father taking the kids on a hike of London’s rubble-supposedly the result of war-and fielding questions about “What was London like?”

In “Reign Of Blows,” he states that “Joe Stalin looks just like Uncle Sam,” never mind the chord progression sounds like a Rolling Stones outtake, complete with some pretty tepid harmonica work.

When he lays off the preachy politics, Partridge scores easily. On the tremendous. “You’re The Wish You Are I Had” he recalls XTC’s wonderful sense of playfulness within the melodies. Andy must have worked himself into hyperventilation spitting out the steam engine tempo of the closer “Train Running Low On Soul Coal,” furthering the tradition of the band’s tradition of ending things on a strong note.

Guitarist Dave Gregory and Colin Moulding are critical in keeping The Big Express from running off the rails thanks to some top notch performances, including three positively great tunes from Moulding. While Partridge make consistently produce some of XTC’s best closing moments, Moulding shines with his opener “Wake Up” and he displays talent beyond his own pop upbringings with the jazzy “I Remember The Sun,” complete with stand up bass and Gregory’s fretwork.

While certainly not one of the band’s required listening efforts, The Big Express does point the ship in the right direction once again, paving the way for even more rewarding records in their impressive catalog.