Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grant Lee Buffalo - Mighty Joe Moon

Smack dab in the middle of the grunge revolution came a trio from Los Angeles playing banjos and fiddling with stand up pianos, creating a very early entry in the emerging Americana market. Their sound possessed about as much dust and history as the band’s frontman would hint at in his name alone, Grant Lee Phillips.
The words that Phillips conjured also suggested an old-west motif, but the opening track to the band’s second release, Mighty Joe Moon, also demonstrated that he also studied the (then) news of the day, incorporating their narrative in the band’s pretend historical documentary.

“Lone Star Song” may resemble the big state’s penchant for self-gratification, but that’s in name alone. The real tale is a hot-off-the-presses account of the Waco Siege, in which we witnessed the worst of government fuckery, where the outcome played out like a national embarrassment each night on television. It's safe to say that neither side could claim much in terms of a victory, or as Phillips suggested,“Pray the holy wars are ending/Like the films of Hollywood."

Whether recounting ancient or recent history, Grant Lee Buffalo-the band-sounded unlike anything else during the 90’s, and unfortunately they remain lost in that decade’s pile of forgotten classics. With that in mind, Mighty Joe Moon remains that forgotten piece of archeology that begs for both rediscovery and the respect of those who now find bigger wallets from simply acclimating the same sounds and styles that GLB did before them to more “exclusive” crowds.

Not that Mighty Joe Moon didn’t have a chance to turn a few heads twenty years ago; “Mockingbirds” found some lunar rotation on MTV at one point, never mind that the strategically placed strings and Phillips’ haunting falsetto definitely should have seen the light of day for a bigger audience.

In fact, Mighty Joe Moon finds a home perfectly suited for both the most discriminating pop elitist and the campfires of Spahn Ranch. At one point mysterious and strange, Mighty Joe Moon drifts languidly into memorable hooks that even twenty years after the fact sound surreal, novel, and vital.

Grant Lee Buffalo did manage to find increasing rewards for every subsequent record they released after Mighty Joe Moon, but the sales failed to be the large return on investment that Warner Brothers were looking for, and at the end of their contract with the label, the band decided to dissolve along with the legal document.

Ultimately, the only problem with Grant Lee Buffalo was their reluctance to compromise their integrity for the benefit of their major label owners. But that makes it only a “problem” for the record company who has hard time understanding that some bands don’t work well within a creative microwave.

Mighty Joe Moon possesses tons of hooks within its gramophone jive and sepia-hued jackets. They take their own sweet time in rising, but their lingering melodies are undeniable. It’s a timeless record that goes by surprisingly fast for thirteen tracks, but their impact is something not easily forgotten.

And if you can’t find a way to market something with this kind of lasting impression, then maybe the problem is with you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

On George Jones' Death

The funny thing about regret is,
That its better to regret something you have done
Than to regret something you haven't done

I regret having never seen George Jones live.

He was on my bucket list, but good is a bucket list if you don’t follow it? George Jones has played around my neck of the woods on more than one occasion-mostly casinos-but I failed to take proper notice of these events and never got to see him.

And now he’s gone, but at 81, how much longer did I really anticipate him touring?

I Lived To Tell It All is his autobiography, and it’s highly recommended. It’s available in cheap-ass paperback, so add it to your summer reading schedule. After a while, the off-the-wagon/on-the-wagon back and forth gets a bit much, to the point where you’ll agree that 81 years was a pretty generous ride, and I suppose an enviable one if you’re like me and afraid of dying young.

Maybe he was allowed to stay with us this long because our higher power has a soft spot for remarkable voices. My guess is that boys in East Texas-particularly the ones who grew up around Jones’ childhood-were raised with the expectation that they should suppress emotion and to hide their feelings.

But with George, all of that came out in that sweet blessing of a voice. He shouldered the emotions of a lot of men, nationwide, and the songs that he interpreted spoke large for those without much of a voice, or the skills of how to express their own emotions properly.

Take a look at the number of kids who are speaking about the death of George Jones right now. You’ll find a lot of sons who remember the only cassette that their dad ever carried in the glove compartment of their car was a lone George Jones tape, probably picked up at some two-lane truck stop when they were away from home.

Over this past weekend, I heard a friend tell he nearly this same story, adding that, when he was younger, he resented George Jones because it was the only tape his old man had, which caused repeated listens. It wasn’t until he turned 30 before he understood how unfounded his resentment was, and how fucking awesome George Jones is.

I can understand that. When you’re a teenager, you think that Metallica, or Pantera, or Slayer, or Black Flag, or whatever, is the heaviest sounds on planet Earth. Then you get older and understand that cats like George Jones are much, much heavier.

Your Dad was right: if you only have one cassette in your glovebox, it might as well be a George Jones tape.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yngwie Malsteen Tour Kicks Off Tonight

He can play guitar better than you, and admit it, if you played as good as Yngwie played, you'd wear frilly pirate shirts and show off all the time too.

And two dates in the Chicagoland area!

Got Yngwie...If you can afford the ticket prices.


Finally, judging by all of the sequential dates that Mr. Malsteen appears to be doing, he will be going through a lot of boxed wine.

From the inbox:

(New York, NY) - The king of neo-classical shred guitar, legendary guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, will soon return to stages across North America for a headlining tour in support of his new album Spellbound.

Spellbound was released in December, 2012. The trek will kick off in Cleveland, OH at the House Of Blues on Wednesday, April 24th and will feature an eclectic mix of classic tracks, as well as new material from Spellbound and his previous studio album, Relentless. Please see below for the itinerary, more dates to be announced.

In other news, Malmsteen will soon add another achievement to his already impressive career: his first-ever book, the official autobiography Relentless: A Memoir. Written by Malmsteen himself, the book chronicles his journey from humble beginnings in Sweden to contemporary life as one of the world's greatest guitarists. The book will be released on Monday, May 6th via Wiley Publishing and can be pre-ordered here. Of the new book, Malmsteen commented, "I've been very fortunate to have a career with extraordinary highlights. It's been a life-long dream to document these stories. I can't wait for the release of my book so that fans can read my story in my own words." As if a new record, new tour and new book weren't enough to keep the guitar legend busy, Malmsteen is also very proud to introduce www.relentlessshred.com, his brand new guitar tutorial website. At www.relentlesshsred.com fans and players worldwide at every level can log on to learn from the master himself.

For nearly three decades, Grammy-nominated Swedish guitar icon Yngwie Malmsteen has been amazing audiences with dazzling technical speed and ability. Malmsteen's signature style of playing, which combines elements of seemingly disparate styles of music - metal and classical, spawned the now commonplace genres of heavy metal known as "shred guitar" and "neo classical" and earned Malmsteen the title "the Paganini of heavy metal". Malmsteen was the first guitarist to have his own Fender signature guitar model (even before Eric Clapton). He has graced the cover of more than 200 magazines worldwide, has won every guitar award imaginable and to date, has sold millions of records. Time named Malmsteen one of the "Top Ten Greatest Electric Guitar Players", an honor he shared with the likes of Les Paul, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. "Guitar Hero" enthusiasts know they have arrived when they are bestowed with the Yngwie Malmsteen award in the Xbox 360 version of "Guitar Hero 2". The award signifies a 1000+ note streak in succession.

Yngwie Malmsteen North American headlining tour:

24 Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
25 Detroit, MI St. Andrew's Hall
26 Toronto, ON Phoenix Theatre
27 Hartford, CT Webster Theatre
28 Munhall, PA Carnegie Music Hall
29 Boston, MA The Wilbur Theatre
30 New York, NY Irving Plaza
3 Memphis, TN Beale Street Festival
4 Chicago, IL House Of Blues
5 St. Charles, IL Arcada Theatre
7 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
9 Anaheim, CA House Of Blues
10 West Hollywood, CA House Of Blues
11 Fresno, CA Tower Theatre
12 Ventura, CA Majestic Venture Theatre
13 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
14 San Diego, CA House Of Blues
16 Dallas, TX Granada Theater
17 San Antonio, TX Backstage Live - Out Doors
18 Houston, TX Outdoors Houston Guitar Festival

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sub Pop Announces Line Up For Silver Jubilee Show

This looks awesome.

Two things: Tad Doyle now looks like Santa Claus. And Jack Endino is still totally cool. The last time I saw him, he was shirtless and spitting beer into the crowd of a Skin Yard show. It helped. It was really hot in there.

From the inbox:

Sub Pop Records is visibly full of itself in sharing the initial lineup for our 25th anniversary celebration, the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee, to be held July 13th in Seattle, Washington. The event will feature music and comedy performances from artists from the label’s roster and beyond, both past and present.

On Saturday, July 13th, Sub Pop will present a free, all-ages concert on a stretch of Airport Way in Seattle’s historic & colorful Georgetown neighborhood—a lively cultural community that’s home to over 40 galleries, specialty boutiques, diners, nightclubs, coffee shops, art studios, and more. So far, the music lineup features Mudhoney (who are also celebrating their 25th anniversary), Greg Dulli, J Mascis, Shabazz Palaces (with THEESatisfaction), Shearwater, Pissed Jeans, The Baptist Generals, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (featuring Tad Doyle), and Endino’s Earthworm (featuring legendary producer Jack Endino) performing throughout the day, alongside local food trucks, beer gardens, at least one gallery exhibit, a record fair, and the largely unasked-for return of the Sub Pop Mega Mart as a pop-up store. Expect more bands and events to be announced soon.

We've imposed upon a few members of our extended family to help announce the event, and they did a real bang-up job. Please enjoy this very special and occasionally humorous announcement now.

While the Silver Jubilee is free, fans who make a suggested $5 donation at collection stations upon entry to the fest, will receive a limited-edition tote bag. All monies raised will benefit local charities like 90.3FM KEXP, Northwest Harvest and the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. In addition to these worthy organizations, Sub Pop is fortunate to be working with the Georgetown Merchants Association and great businesses like Georgetown Brewing Company, the Sandbox, Fantagraphics Books, Georgetown Records, Via Tribunali, Elysian Brewing Company, and the Georgetown Inn to create a one-of-a-kind event in a one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

 For more information and updates on the event, please visit http://silverjubilee.subpop.com.

Saturday July 13 Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee On Airport Way in Georgetown 10am-11pm (?)
FREE, All Ages

Music lineup:
J Mascis
Greg Dulli
Shabazz Palaces (with THEESatisfaction)
Father John Misty
Pissed Jeans
The Baptist Generals
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (feat. Tad Doyle)
Endino’s Earthworm (feat. Jack Endino)
And more TBA...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Turbonegro Prep U.S. Tour Dates

The show with Dwarves will be brutal.

The skinny from the inbox:

Turbonegro Announce Release of Live From The House Of Vans 7"
Reveal Poster Artwork For U.S. Tour In May

Turbonegro, the world's biggest underground rock-n-roll band, in connection with Vans will release a new 7" in time for their upcoming U.S. tour in May. Turbonegro Live From The House Of Vans 7" will feature two songs recorded live from the band's August 2012 performance at The House Of Vans in Brooklyn, NY.

Details about how to obtain the limited edition 7" from Vans are forthcoming.

In addition to the live 7", Turbonegro have also unveiled the tour poster for their U.S. tour in May featuring original artwork by the artist, Jack C. Gregory.

Tour Dates

May 18 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza %
May 19 - Chicago, IL - Metro ^
May 20 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre *
May 22 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades #
May 23 - Costa Mesa, CA - The Observatory #
May 24 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues #
May 25 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey !
May 26 - Las Vegas, NV - Punk Rock Bowling
% - w/ Dirty Fences
^ - w/ Mount Carmel
* - w/ Dwarves
# - w/ Torche
! - w/ Tweak Bird

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Record Store Day 2013

Shortly before the doors open. Photo courtesy of their Facebook page.
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t just more than a bit excited about Record Store Day, even when there was not a whole lot of things I noticed on the pre-sale list for 2013’s offerings that I felt I “had” to have.

But succumbing to the rare and exclusive aspect of R.S.D. is the thing that makes you mark the date on the calendar-conveniently located on 4.20 this year and further reminding you of how awesome it was to go to the record store, find a title with a double-gatefold sleeve which immediately served as your pot tray when you got back up to your bedroom.

The real joy of R.S.D. is indulging in the experience of going to a retail store devoted entirely of physical items that hold the music of your life and treating that time with care and devotion. This shit is like the Rosetta Stone for some of us, so let the luddites have their day.

The rest of you can download the shit.

I speak with no hint of cynicism or snobbery when I tell you that there is nothing like the experience of placing down your hard-earned money and buying a record. Like the 4.20 coincidence hints at: this is drug dealing. I’m convinced that that burst of scent, which happens the first moment you pop the cellophane seal possesses narcotic qualities. To the point where I’ve often caught myself grabbing a few extra whiffs before the smell dissipates and you’re left with the task of translating the grooves to memory.

The allure of the rarities also creates an environment similar to the Black Friday early risers. My place of worship-the incomparable Record Collector-always sports a line outside its entrance before it opens on Record Store Day, and like clockwork, I try to time my arrival immediately after the initial rush subsides.

I lovingly call these folks “amateurs,” because they rush the joint, grab their shit and go. It’s like fucking a girl with no hint of foreplay, and it’s wrong. Ideally, you want to grab your shit and hang out to shop for stuff you had no intention of purchasing.

But even that idyllic scenario has its exceptions.

Some collectors become so enamored with the items that they’re purchasing that they simply can’t wait to get home to listen to them. I’ll make an exception for these folks because they’re obviously junkies. Mama always told me “Never trust a junky” so best to have them adhere to the old “in-out” for fear that they’ll grab that Avenged Sevenfold vinyl right out of your hands.

And, no shit, there were Avenged Sevenfold rarities abound on R.S.D. Apparently, people take them seriously now.

The other exception are those experienced shoppers who know that to hang around a record store only means trouble. Like I said, they are drug dealers, and before you know it, you’ve moved from buying a big bag of dope to jamming condoms full of heroin up your rectum and driving back to the border at Tijuana.

I’m getting to this point, because after circling the R.S.D. center racks in the back of the Record Collector and lifting what was left from my list, I found myself mindlessly lusting after things that I don’t need at all.

At one point, I was eyeballing a sealed vinyl reissue of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, drooling over its still sealed state for the simple reason that it would bring me closer to the experience of actually being excited about getting a new Iggy Pop record, circa 1977.

It’s crazy, I know. It’s almost like my ulterior motive was to later put Werner Herzog’s Stroszek on the Netflix queue and enjoy a nice quiet evening at home, fretting how my turntable won’t allow The Idiot to keep endlessly spinning like it did when they discovered Ian Curtis’ hanging corpse.

Before I was left to my own devices, I handed Record Collector owner Kirk Walther my handwritten list, immediately pointing out the title that possesses the biggest urgency, a picture-disc single of Gonn’s 4-song e.p. Est.1966.

Gonn are from my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, and 45 years ago, they released a single “Blackout Of Gretely.” It was recorded in a studio with one microphone, and the results were sufficient for the track to get included on the wonderful Nuggets reissue that Rhino put out years ago.

I’ve written about them before, but my interest in Gonn was renewed a bit this past New Year’s Eve when I noticed that the band had put together a 50th Anniversary package at a hotel near Keokuk. The package not only included overnight accommodations at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Fort Madison Iowa, but guests also received a pair of tickets to Gonn’s 50th Anniversary performance that evening (and into the new year!), complementary champagne and party favors, plus a free Gonn 7” single.

I really wanted to go, but who watches the kids overnight on New Year’s Eve while your miles away watching a bunch of 65 year old guys playing a bunch of garage rock?
Targets acquired!

“I think we still have this one” Walther offered while stepping in to the center rack of R.S.D. goodies. He pulled out the sole copy left, reaffirming the feeling I had that I was the only record buyer gunning for the exclusive R.S.D. picture-disc edition of “Blackout Of Gretely.”

“The original copy sells for over $1,000” Kirk offered as he handed me the object of my desire. “Brother, everything else I get today is gravy!” I replied, thanking him for making my Record Store Day a success.

Here’s my complete list in no-particular order of preference, just a guide of what to look out for, providing some semblance of order until I circled the store twice before I realized the futility of it all.

That Iggy Pop record will have to wait another day.

Totale’s Record Store Day List:

Tame ImpalaTame Impala e.p.
Sold out almost immediately, which I guess should signify that these guys are officially big shit in college towns.

Pink Floyd – “See Emily Play” 7” (mono version)
Why do I even bother with these? It’s these kinds of releases that have people waiting in line before the door even opens. I already have this version on cd anyway, so this was nothing more than nostalgic jive, anyway.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - ”Hey Joe” 7” (mono version)
See above. For some reason, I’ve had a real hair up my ass thinking that I need to get the UK mono version of Are You Experienced? for no other reason than the fact that it’s available on vinyl in a reissue, and because I never had that edition. Don’t argue with my logic.

Shearwater/Sharon Von Etten – “Stop Draggin My Heart Around” 7”
Acquired! Admittedly, the end results of this live track aren’t as good as I’d hoped. It’s a bit rough around the edges, which probably means that this was something else live in the flesh, while the recorded results only prove how good the Heartbreakers are. The flip, “A Wake For The Minotaur” is where it’s at, making this purchase worthwhile.

GonnEst 1966 7” (picture disc)
Acquired! The “Blackout of Gretely” b/w “Paint In My Heart” another cut from 1966, which. according to the picture disc notes on the flip side, is featured in some movie from last year called Joint Body. No idea. There are two additional songs per side that are, evidently, new tracks recorded last year from a record called Fully Loaded. While I would hesitate at recommending such a title, the new cuts did little to get me excited about a 21st Century Gonn while not so bad that I lifted the needle off the record early. Record 215 out of 1000!

TrashmenLive At The Whiskey A Go-Go St Paul, MN 1966 7”
Sold out. This one hurt a bit and I even circled a few extra times to see if I had accidently missed this garage rock nugget.

David Bowie – “Stars (Are Out Tonight)” 7”
Put it back in the bin. “Stars” was the A-side b/w “Where Are We Now.” Since I have both versions already on CD, vinyl and MP3, I couldn’t justify the expense of the 7” that offered nothing new in return. I later saw a guy about my age clutching the last copy that I had put back. Good for him.

Chet AtkinsBlack Jack 7” (e.p.)
Acquired! Probably the second most sought-after item on my list, so go me! A pretty penny too, at $15 I half expected a complementary Gretsch guitar for the purchase price. A 4-song set of unreleased Atkins tracks, including an alternate version of “Boo Boo Stick Beat,” that infectious music bumper you hear on N.P.R.’s All Things Considered. Released by Sundaze on an old RCA logo, this big-holed single has clear red vinyl and is packaged in nifty 50’s nostalgia. Not for sale.

Superchunk – “Void/Faith” 7”
Acquired! A friend of mine in northern Minnesota sent an urgent s.o.s. to be on the lookout for this one for him. A guy navigating the record bin with his infant reached for the same section where this find was sitting out in front at the same time as I did. We both withdrew our hands at the same time and I submissively asked “Did you want this one?” Thankfully, he did not, even when I clarified that I wasn’t speaking about the Shearwater/Sharon Van Etten single. This is Record Store Day, man! Be aggressive! Besides, how would I explain to my friend “Yeah, they had that Superchunk single you wanted, but I was a pussy and gave it up to a dude holding a baby.” Clear vinyl! Great song(s) (Fuck yeah, I played it)! I’m now planning to keep this one for myself. Fuck you, Jason! Record 186 out of 1000!

Orange JuiceTexas Fever (e.p.)
Sold out. The guy holding an infant got my hopes up when he told me that he saw this on the other side of the record bin. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I knew he was only trying to distract me from the section that contained the Superchunk single above. Besides, when I finally made it to the other side, it was not the title in question, but the last Orange Juice album before they split. I didn’t want that one.

Tegan & Sara – “Closer” 12”
Don’t give me no shit about my T/S fixation. This is one of a very select breed of artists that the entire family tolerates together. The little one likes to come down to the basement, the refuge of many a domesticated male, and ask me to play a record. I figured this one, featuring remixes of Tegan and Sara’s lead-off single to Heartthrob would get the little one dancing around the room with me. Well, there’s always Men Without Hats!
On the drive home. That's my badassed 4-Runner behind the tree. Jealous?
Reissued on 180-gram vinyl. But for $25?! Fuck that noise. I put this shit back because I know I can probably find an awesome original copy for tons cheaper. I know it’s probably not Aerosmith’s fault for the pricing, but it’s so easy to hate on them. Particularly for the past 30 years of shit they’ve done.

Black MilkSynth Or Soul
Acquired! A badassed instrumental effort from this Detroit hip-hop producer, emanating from luscious cream yellow vinyl. This will get plenty of late-night spins and insure the spirit of 4.20 gets additional dates on the calendar.
Various ArtistsRough Guide To Latin Psychedelia and Rough Guide To Psychedelic Brazil
Acquired! Both of them! No idea why I placed these two compilations on my R.S.D. list, having never heard any of the artists before or experience with the songs included on these well-appointed collection. I’ll let you know how it works out.

That’s what I had on my list, but as I said before, half of not coming across as just another “amateur” on Record Store Day is spending some extra time circulating through the titles that were there before, and after, the special marketing drive ends.

I make sure to sniff around the used cd collections too, which are proving more and more to be a goldmine of good finds as people begin dropping off their cumbersome collections and Seven Mary Three titles.

Which is why I nearly wet myself when I noticed a copy of The Headless Horsemen’s Can’t Help But Shake, a title that I have-no shit-been on the lookout for the last quarter century.

The Headless Horsemen were a garage rock revival band hailing from New York City in the mid-to-late 80’s. They dressed in retro suits, but their music would fool you into believing you were listening to an honest-to-God Nuggets-era band that came and flamed with the best of them, leaving their bones to be haggled over by garage band collectors.

There’s now another outfit from the N.Y.C. area that’s using the Headless Horsemen name, this time a duo made up of Conner O’Neil and Fareed Sajan, but they are not the badassed purveyors of fine garage rock that I speak of.

Can’t Help But Shake was originally released on the now-defunct Resonance record label and adorned in kitschy 60’s attire, this is the real deal and I’ve finally found it. I originally had a copy of it on a treble-heavy eq’d cassette that’s probably at the bottom of some lost moving box somewhere, when it needs to be back in heavy rotation again.

It will be now, thanks to some extra navigating around the Record Collector, and is yet another example of why I need to spend more time in record stores, besides the requisite annual expo.
Waiting for the obligatory post-game cheeseburger  @ Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon

If anything, and this was most certainly true for this year’s event, R.S.D. gives me an opportunity to devote at least one day to this lifelong obsession, obtaining a carte blanche morning by myself and my hobby without the interference of family or people who tag along. You know, the kind of people who hover behind you, signaling the hints that they’re ready to go while you’re keeping a running tally of the growing purchase price in your head.

Speaking of, I overheard Kirk and the other Record Collector staff members taking a look at the receipts after the first wave of purchases, comparing the tallies of some of the regulars who came in when the doors opened, dropping at least a car payment at the store before they left.

It sounded like a few regulars had even traveled to places like Chicago for Record Store Day, assuring that some titles would be available (the store-as is the case every year-sometimes gets overlooked on quantity and titles in general, losing them to higher volume stores in larger cities) to their greedy little hands at the stroke of midnight.

For me, my area record store (a half-hour commute away from my driveway) was enough, and the titles I did manage to grab were enough to warrant an obligatory spin of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” before the shrink-wrap was cut open with an X-Acto knife.

Before the first inhale of that sweet, vinyl smell.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Low Release Video To "Just Make It Stop"

The new Low album sounds promising. They also put on a pretty majestic live show, so if you get a chance, do check them out.

Here's the press release for the video premier to "Just Make It Stop"

We’re pleased to share Low’s breathtaking new video for “Just Make It Stop”, the official first clip from the band’s internationally acclaimed 10th album, The Invisible Way out now worldwide on Sub Pop. The video, which has a Life After People-inspired feel, posits the band in various stages of performance, shot in extreme close-up, before organic matter overtakes each frame and harnesses the warmth and frenetic energy of the song. The clip was helmed by veteran director Phillip Harder (Low’s “Words”, “Shame” “Over The Ocean”, “Canada”) and features stop-motion animation from Britta Johnson (Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal”).

We’d also like to take this opportunity to announce that Low has added a handful of US dates to their current tour schedule, in support of The Invisible Way. The band will team up with longtime friend Mike Doughty (of Soul Coughing fame) for a short co-headline trip, beginning June 17th in Washington, DC at Sixth & I Synagogue and ending on June 21st in Philadelphia, PA’s World Cafe Live.

The pairing was inspired by a fan’s tweet, who suggested the two pair up for his “dream show”. Both active on Twitter, Low and Mike engaged in the tweet and soon decided it was high time for a rematch as both artists had toured with each other in the past (during Doughty's time with Soul Coughing).

Low frontman Alan Sparhawk says of the pairing: "We are excited to be doing shows this June with our friend Mike Doughty. We first met when his band Soul Coughing brought us on tour years ago. I had heard them. They were like nothing else going on, every piece of the picture was fresh and on the edge - crazy/deep rhythm, samples/noise, word-play and melody. Their influence and friendship over the years has been priceless and dear to us, and Mike's lyrical/vocal grace has always been a level to which I measure and aspire to. The vocal does matter and it can be awesome."

Mike Doughty offers this: "The first time I heard Low, I played before them at CBGB in 1993. I remember leaning up against the wall of the dressing room, behind the stage, and feeling their warm, huge, slow sound vibrating the building. Soon after that, I contacted their producer, Mark Kramer from Shimmy Disc, and made my first solo album, "Skittish," with an explicit mission of replicating the reverbed, dreamy sound of their earliest recordings. Low and Soul Coughing toured together a couple of years after that; we became fast friends, and I remain a massive fan."

As for Low’s aforementioned June dates are preceded by the band’s previously announced European tour, which begins on April 24th in Birmingham, UK at Glee Club and ends on May 18th in Bairritz, FR at Atabal. This includes the sold out show at London’s Barbican Centre on April 30th. Additionally, Low has also three festival dates to mention at this time: June 22nd in North Adams, MA’s Solid Sound Fest; July 20th in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival; And August 20th in Black Mountain, Wales at Green Man Festival. Please find a full list of tour dates below.

The Invisible Way was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, engineered by Tom Schick and recorded in Wilco’s studio in Chicago, IL, during the fall of 2012. The album finds Low’s majestic melancholy in full bloom yet distinguishes itself with its starker, unadorned soundscapes, layered harmonies and drummer/vocalist extraordinaire Mimi Parker singing lead on five of the 11 songs. The album tackles large issues (“the songs are about intimacy, the drug war, the class war, plain old war war, archaeology and love,” says Sparhawk) in a manner that plays a stunning counterpoint to the sublime hush of the music.

Tour Dates

Apr. 24 - Birmingham, UK - Glee Club
Apr. 25 - Manchester, UK - Central Methodist Hall
Apr. 26 - Gateshead, UK - The Sage Gateshead
Apr. 27 - Glasgow, UK - Classic Grand
Apr. 29 - Bristol, UK - Trinity
Apr. 30 - London, UK - Barbican Centre (SOLD OUT)
May 02 - Copehnhagen, DK - Loppen
May 03 - Stockholm, SE- Debaser
May 04 - Oslo, NO - Bla
May 07 - Paris, FR- La Maroquinerie
May 08 - Brussels, BE - Cirque Royal - Nuits Botanique 
May 09 - Amsterdam, NL- Paradiso De Duif
May 10 - Frankfurt, DE- Zoom
May 11 - Bologna, IT - Teatro Antoniano (SOLD OUT) 
May 13 - Barcelona, ES - Casino de la Alianca
May 14 - Valencia, ES - Teatro La Rambleta
May 15 - Zaragoza, ES- Teatro de las Esquina
May 16 - Madrid, ES - Joy Eslava
May 17 - Valladolid, ES - Lava
May 18 - Biarritz, FR- Atabal
Jun. 17 - Washington, DC - Sixth & I Synagogue*
Jun. 18 - Pittsburgh, PA - Altar*
Jun. 19 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg*
Jun. 21 - Philadelphia - World Cafe Live*
Jun. 22 - North Adams, MA - Solid Sound Fest
Jul. 20 - Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival 
Aug. 17 - Black Mountain, Wales - Green Man Festival
*w/ Mike Doughty

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Flaming Lips Release The Terror Just To Spite Jim DeRo

Dude, you're from Oklahoma. Ease up on the artsy-fartsy.
Look, I trust Jim Dero to a point but HOLYFUCKINSHIT THE NEW FLAMING LIPS ALBUM IS AVAILABLE ON MOTHERFUCKING SILVER VINYL! OH MY GAWD, THAT WOULD BE SO FUCKING COOL LOOKING! OH MY GAWD, I WANT ONE RIGHT NOW!! Um, sorry about that, but the record's gotta be shit-don't it?-if the dude that wrote your biography hates it!

And I had no idea that Wayne and Michelle split up. Christ, who's next? Kurt and Courtney?

I'll check out the record, but I'm going to say that yeah, little tired of the traveling circus shows.

April 16, 2013 - (Burbank) - THE FLAMING LIPS  release their new album THE TERROR today; It is a very different album for THE LIPS and one that might benefit from explanation. Click here to view Wayne's point of view. In honor of the album, we have a brand new T-shirt design available via THE LIPS Official Store now. This brand new LIPS T-shirt features the beautiful Wayne Coyne along with the credo "Peace and Punk Rock," printed on an Alternative Apparel Destroyed 100% Cotton T-Shirt. In other words, this is high-end stuff. Have a peek here. These are limited and will go fast.

Just a reminder: the new albumis available as a special Direct To Consumer, Limited-Edition Silver Vinyl double-LP set, housed in a two-pocket gatefold jacket with printed sleeves as well as the CD edition. Those who have pre-ordered either edition also receive a pair of non-album  instant download tracks and should receive their packages beginning today.

Watch Wayne unwrap the vinyl gatefold edition here.

Also viewable now, is the first in a series of new, live video clips featuring songs from the album.  First in the series is "Try To Explain."  This is a particularly beautiful piece of cinematography and sonically stunning mix of the song. Click here to view.  More to follow soon.

As you know, THE TERROR is THE LIPS' thirteenth studio album and was produced by long-time collaborator Dave Fridmann and THE FLAMING LIPS and recorded at Tarbox Road Studios in Fredonia, NY and at Pink Floor Studios in Oklahoma City, OK. Much has already been said about the new album. Suffice to say that it is a bold and expressive journey that has evolved over THE LIPS' nearly 30-year tended garden of sonic delights that ebbs and flows with extraordinary splashes of light and shade, pleasure and pain, sadness and hope, and the knowledge that to expect the unexpected is half the fun of THE LIPS experience. 

Watch THE FLAMING LIPS perform "Look...The Sun Is Rising" live on the Late Show with David Letterman here.

Track listing:
Look...The Sun Is Rising
Be Free, A Way
Try To Explain
You Lust
The Terror
You Are Alone
Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die
Turning Violent
Always There...In Our Hearts

Confirmed Tour dates:
Apr 28              Kansas City, MO           Sprint Center  w/ The Black Keys
April 29             Indianapolis, IN             Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
Apr 30              Pittsburgh, PA               Consol Energy Center  w/ The Black Keys
May 2               Atlanta, GA                   Aaron's Amphitheater at Lakewood  w/ The Black Keys
May 3               Nashville, TN                 Bridgestone Arena  w/ The Black Keys
May 4               Chattanooga, TN            Track 29 w/ JEFF The Brotherhood
May 5               Memphis, TN                 Beale St. Music Festival
May 10             Napa, CA                       Bottle Rock Festival
May 16             Montclair, NJ, USA         The Wellmont Theatre
May 20             London, UK                    Roundhouse
May 21             London, UK                    Roundhouse
May 22             Brighton, UK                  Dome Concert Hall, Brighton Festival
May 24             Paris, France                 Villette Sonique Festival
May 25             Düdingen, Switzerland    Bad Bonn Kilbi
June 14             Hultsfred, Sweden         Hultsfred Festival
June 15             Aarhus, Denmark           Northside Festival
July 11              Raleigh, NC                   Time Warner Cable Pavilion  w/The Black Keys
July 12              Simpsonville, SC            Charter Amphit/Heritage Park w/The Black Keys
July 13              Louisville, KY                 Forecastle Festival
July 31              Costa Mesa, CA            Pacific Amphitheatre 
Sep 5                Isle Of Wight, UK          Bestival 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Eric Clapton - Old Sock

As some of the Boomer’s most revered artists contemplate the twilight of their careers, no less than three categories have arisen from their subsequent catalog additions.

The first type is an honest attempt at delivering records that challenge themselves, with the hope being that the record will not only be received well, but at least be formidable additions to their legacies. David Bowie’s most recent album is an example of this.

The second categories are the artists who have completely given up on making a creative statement at all during their golden years. They are content with repackaging yet another compilation, and touring in support of their catalog just to deliver the very same songs that the public expects to hear. For anyone who’s briefly glanced at REO Speedwagon’s offerings for the past 20 years will notice just how many times a band can release greatest hits records. These artists are sneaky too, making it very important to read the liner notes just to be certain that a collection of an artist’s most remembered material isn’t merely a collection of newly recorded versions. The reason for the ruse is because the artist no longer owns the rights of their original recording and they’d like to sneak a new revenue source on to their diminishing audience.

And then there’s the aged artist who spends a great deal of time, reminiscing about the music that inspired them when they were younger, those trigger points that bring up their happy times or perhaps the very songs that caused them to pick up an instrument in the first place.

Their nostalgia causes them to give their influences a go, sometimes being referred to as a “standards” record. Bryan Ferry, Paul McCartney, and (ugh) Rod Stewart have all had their careers swing by this obligatory direction, and each one has had varying success with the idea.

Eric Clapton is one of those artists who likes looking back, and he has done his share of records that focus on the music of his past. So from that angle, Old Sock-a title appropriately lifted from a conversation with David Bowie-isn’t really anything new. In fact, one could even accuse Clapton of continually playing footsie with this concept not only for the love of the music and the memories it recalls, but also because he’s quite comfortable with the subject matter. It gives him a chance to putz around the house, riffing on licks for the helluva it, scratching his balls with a pick when he gets an itch.

Make no bones about it, this is retirement home stuff. Not the “months to live” kind of prognosis, but the kind that screams “Get off my lawn!” and “Don’t be late for the early bird special.” This is a record devoid of any pretense of Clapton giving a shit, mainly from a perspective of caring about his place in today’s musical echelon. And what’s curious is how Clapton has chosen to make his voice-probably the most limited tool he has-the most prominent instrument in the mix of Old Sock.

For the guitar aficionados like myself, strong solos and fills abound, but you literally have to seek them out as Eric’s guitar and enviable tones are buried deep within this tepid offering.

For the uninitiated, you will find no answers within Clapton’s 21st record, Old Sock, and for those of us who remain uncomfortably loyal to this legendary artists, you will find no reason to stop pointing to the Beano album as the proper source for why anyone would continue to care about him 50 years after the fact.

Half a lifetime later, Clapton continues to execute at his own pace, either admirably choosing to paint his late-career records with brief glimpses of his prowess, or foolishly lettings his talent-and, more tellingly, his heart- squander on his path of comfort, seemingly learning nothing from the moral of Robert Johnson’s story: every day is a sacred opportunity to use the talents that the devil so desperately wants to get a hold of.

Clearly, Clapton no longer feels the need to prove anything regarding his talents, but he really should feel the need to prove something, like an inherent desire to release an album based on creative need instead of treating it like an obligation. Old Sock isn’t really a bad record. It’s just, as its title suggests, the work of a well-worn performer who’s quickly becoming forgettable because everything he's been doing for the past decade is beginning to sound the same.

If it weren’t for the guest stars that obediently show up when Eric calls, we wouldn’t be able to tell the records apart. There was the one he did with B.B. King, the one with J.J. Cale, and then there’s this project, a record that taps all of the usual suspects. The supporting cast lists everyone from Paul McCartney to Chaka Kahn, yet throughout Old Sock the mood remains an unthreatening retirement village, where feedback and drummers who speed up every now and then are viewed with generational despise.

After a while, you begin to wonder why. Why must we live through an artist’s own nostalgia if they are only going to provide their own hazy re-telling of the music? Have we gotten to a point where we’re now required to hear Clapton once again tackle his favorite reggae tunes, now with the added benefit of him sounding not just white, but old and white? Explain to me again why I’m supposed to feel excited about having to endure another entry in Clapton’s long decent into middle of the rock schlock.?

Towards the end, Old Sock grabs a few handfuls of saccharine when Clapton asks his young daughters to provide the background to the original “Every Little Thing.” It transforms the song into a cute ball of proud papa schmaltz, until things get uncomfortable. Almost immediately, you’ll want to tear down the “Clapton Is God” graffiti of lore and replace it with the more accurate “Clapton is Dad” proverb.

Old Sock is the soundtrack to your lame family reunion this summer, and Clapton has become that annoying third uncle who keep emailing you the same generic plea to come visit this year. As Old Sock’s title reminds you, “I’ve got better things to do. Like laundry.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

David Bowie - The Next Day

It has been ten years since the last David Bowie album, a distance that was pronounced enough that I paused for some personal reflection. It was the kind of reflection that ends up putting an entire decade into perspective, a vast journey that seems forever ago, but feels like it just happened yesterday.

The record was Reality. It’s an album that I’d recommend, with the disclaimer that much of its appeal for me is based on very personal associations. I’ll save the specifics for a proper review.

If you’ll recall, the fears of a retirement were valid considering Bowie had a heart attack towards the end of the run of the massive supporting tour for Reality. It would have been a tragic end to a career influential beyond words. Reality may be a decent late career offering, but it certainly isn’t one that’s worthy of being the last studio statement of a hugely vital catalog.

For me, reality was a crumbling marriage. When Reality was initially released, the façade of my marriage was still in tact. By the time the Reality tour was wrapping up, I had quit my managerial job of eight years, separated from my wife shortly afterwards and then proceeded to spent a good deal of time living out a suitcase.

Luckily, that suitcase ended up in the parking lot of an arena where Bowie stopped for a show. The concert was great, but the therapeutic quality of the event itself made the entire a personal milestone for me.

Reality meant it was time to move on.

Ten years later, I’m married again. It’s a better fit. Two children take up a large portion of my life, and both are blessed with a love for music, even if it’s not quite up to my standards. For example, neither of them have any idea who David Bowie is, or show any desire to learn anything about him. A connection was made when they discovered that they both know the words to a Bowie song (“Changes”) thanks to the placement of it in one of their animated movies they watch.

The way music is consumed is vastly different from the year that Reality was released. In fact, one of the complaints about the new David Bowie record was how unnecessary it really was. Music circa 2013 is single-driven. To suggest that anyone wants to listen to an entire album is presumptuous.

Before a note was heard, he was already being chastised for failing to recognize that nobody cares about a new David Bowie record. Suddenly, a man who was always considered to be part of pop culture’s cutting edge was now showing his age by sticking by a format seen as passé to the “experts” of such matters. A new record would be met with the requisite attention and then fall by the wayside. Unless a cash cow greatest hits tour is in the works and the Labyrinth dude sings “Fame,” then we all need to get over this David Bowie obsession.

The ammunition grew larger after the languid lead-off single “Where Are We Now?” was released to an unsuspecting audience on Bowie’s 66th birthday. This hugely underwhelming teaser also did little to ease the collective sigh of disappointment that came with the “No more tour, probably forever” announcement.

The seeds of discontent firmly entrenched, the next shock came with the first images of the cover of David Bowie’s twenty-forth record. It’s a controversial repackaging of 1978’s Heroes, the title crossed out and David’s stoic pose covered with a white box. In the middle of the white space, the words “The Next Day” identify this sacrilegious piece.

It would be a struggle, wrestling with the fear that The Next Day would be as pointless as the indicators suggested, verses the loyalty that one possesses with an artist of this caliber.

Suddenly, a savior appeared. Its form came in a video, a format that Bowie certainly has experience with, but with no network to support an outlet for such an endeavor, what exactly is the point?

The point is this: the video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is a stunner. I sat in awe the first time I saw it, from a YouTube stream of the video while at a friend’s, each one of us in minor states of inebriation where David Bowie videos become points of strange occurrences and mild hallucinations.

In fact, a quick burst of N2O had me floating in a most peculiar way, and the next thing I know, it was time to leave the capsule and promise an imaginary Bowie-head that I would indeed purchase The Next Day on the first day of its release.

It just so happens that this purchase happened to be the vinyl version, which just saw the light of day last week-about three weeks after the album’s true release date.

The decision was more of an appreciation of the cover art. As controversial as it is, it’s a remarkably bold decision. I wanted the bigger package to absorb the artist’s choice, and I’m wonderfully taken by the gatefold layout.

I also love the way The Next Day is sequenced. The record has purpose and varying stages of high and low tides. “Where Are We Now?” for example, is positioned as the first song of side two-a critical position, and one where the song suddenly takes on a different role, it’s themes more detailed and prevalent. It now ranks as one of my favorite songs on the record, a huge turn from my initial reaction of ambivalence.

In case you’re wondering, the three additional tracks tacked on to the end of the vinyl version are noticeably of lesser quality than the rest of the record. They sound completely out of place in terms of the sequencing, but I have a strong suspicion that any one of the trio (“So She,” “Plan” and “I’ll Take You There”) would get picked out in a line-up, no matter where these also-rans ended up in the order.
Beyond these leftovers, the traditional sequence of the 14-song album is wonderful, but it’s more pronounced and it reflects The Next Day’s consistency much better.

The Next Day is the best record since whenever. There are notable commercial moments (“Boss Of Me” “Valentine’s Day”) that provide pop music with some much needed cleverness. There are hints of David’s Berlin era (“Dirty Boys” “Love Is Lost”) while other cuts touch on different Bowie creative peaks. With that being said, this is firmly a late-career product-themes of time and age flow throughout the record-that works very hard at making sure the self-reflection that ten years can provide were duly noted and properly executed.

The record is warm, inviting, and a little uncomfortable in certain moments. The dirge “Heat” ends the record, with a particularly haunting refrain of “My father ran the prison.” It’s unsettling enough to warrant an additional listen, and with each one a new reason to rank The Next Day as a golden years milestone becomes apparent.

In short, I’m glad that I survived the last ten years to see another David Bowie record, and it’s good enough to hope the next one comes a bit sooner.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lou Reed - The Blue Mask

I wouldn’t say that my group of friends in high school was excited about the prospect of a new Lou Reed album, but the praise that The Blue Mask received in Rolling Stone magazine certainly got our attention. It wasn’t every day where the mag gave an album 5 stars.

That high praise got a friend of mine to march down to the record store in the mall and fork over the money for Lou’s comeback album.

The reality was that this “comeback” merely meant the artist fulfilled his contract with Arista and found himself back at the same label that supposedly was so bad that he unleashed Metal Machine Music on them. The Blue Mask was Reeds first record for RCA in a long time, and it actually sounded like he may have offered them something of worth. Whether or not The Blue Mask is truly the “return to form” that so many Reedophiles consider it as is another matter entirely, but let me get back to my friend’s immediate reaction to it shortly after opening up the shrink wrap.

Keep in mind that he’s probably around 18 at the time-a senior in high school-and I’m a lowly freshman at the sheltered age of 15.

Less than a week after buying it, my friend calls with an update and is obviously very critical of this record. He begins making whining noises, mewling on about how Reed is turning into a sad, old baby-boomer who’s still hung up on Camelot and pretending to go straight, as the title to one song (“Average Guy”) suggests.
My friend offers me the copy for The Blue Mask for $2, a huge discount from what he originally paid for it not less than seven days prior. He was that insistent on getting rid of the record and I was one that simply could not pass up such a bargain.

There must have been something that those critics in Rolling Stone knew that my friend simply didn’t.

It was the first of many lapses in judgment regarding the magazine’s critical perspective.

Admittedly, for years I coddled this record, repeating the misconception that The Blue Mask was indeed worthy of Reed’s most undisputed work. I understand now-after years of follow-up spins and considerations-that most of my own opinion is tainted by the low, re-purchase price I was provided, and the fact that the $2 spent on The Blue Mask purchased two incredibly good Lou Reed songs, “The Gun” and the title track, “The Blue Mask.”

You should go to ITunes or some other digital outlet and fork over the two bones that it takes to acquire those awesome entries.

You can forget about the rest of The Blue Mask and you can ignore any claims to the contrary that his 1982 release is anything but another half-assed creative statement.

Sure, Reed picks up his guitar with much gusto and he sounds very inspired at certain points, but when you compare “Coming of Age Lou” against “Coming of Middle Age Lou” you suddenly begin to notice a stunning revelation: Even aging cultural icons can get unwittingly boring as the year’s progress.

The band he works with on The Blue Mask is riddled with contradiction. It’s the first album that features bassist Fernando Saunders, who later sticks around for every single shitass Lou Reed record released since then. Notice how I didn’t say, “every single Lou Reed record released since then,” just the shitty ones.

Saunders offers up incredible proficient readings through an incredibly irritating fretless bass, that farts, burps, and gloats through Reed’s placid take on settling down. Guitarist Robert Quine also makes an appearance here, which is admittedly the only thing that saves The Blue Mask from another release that’s truly worthy of anger and ridicule. His playing is near brilliant in some places, and the amount of respect he shows Reed with his restraint, speaks vastly about his character.  Some of the tones that Quine unleashes-particularly on the title track-are things of wonder. Aside from Sterling Morrison, this remains Reed’s most vital guitarist, and his under usage of Quine remains one of Lou’s most unforgiveable offensive. But he’s all over this record, saving The Blue Mask from the trash heap.

Lyrically, Reed offers such musings as “I love women, I think they’re great” (“Women”), he lazily details the plight of alcoholism with such exclamations as “Oooh wee! Son of a B!”(“Underneath The Bottle”) and strangely offers to put his hat into the presidential ring while foggily remembering the assassination of President Kennedy (“The Day John Kennedy Died”), providing the historically inaccurate claim that our 35th president was shot in the face.

The real tragedy with The Blue Mask is how Lou’s primary muse-his (then) wife/manager, Sylvia-inspires some of the most pedestrian lyrics of his career. He waxes on how he’d like to offer a choir of castrati before making love to her and apologizes for jerking off to girlie mags. At one point, Reed even gives his own fag-era a hetero whitewash, with “Heavenly Arms.” As the last word on the record, Reed declares, “Only a woman can love a man,” which is surprising coming from a guy who spent a good amount of words on the subject when he was younger, and with a lot more tolerant eye.

For the chorus, he sings her name-full on-over and over.

Make no mistake, The Blue Mask isn’t worthy of the retrospective Mick Rock cover because it shares nothing in common with that era. This is “average guy” Lou, and it goes without saying that the more vanilla he becomes, the blander his work ends up.

The Blue Mask marks the end of a pretty abysmal late 70’s career slide, but pointing yourself in the right direction is not the same as actually accelerating out of the rut. There is evidence that the engine is still capable of speed, but you’d be surprised at the number of times you catch Reed just riding the breaks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Police - Outlandos d'Amour

They say that band’s first records tend to be appropriate forecasters of how decent they will become. After all, the theory suggests that a band has their whole life to work on their debut album, paving the way for the “sophomore slump” and the frightening prospect of a new direction for record number three.

With that being said, one would expect The Police’s debut effort, Outlandos d’Amour to be something of an important moment. Their legacy was affirmed through their music, the band’s natural leader has enjoyed the coveted one name only status, and the songs they left us resonate well after the years when they were active.

Outlandos d’Amour doesn’t show any of this. At all. There isn’t one song out of the ten within it that would qualify as a stand-alone classic. It was the band’s growing catalog of great material that suddenly brought the additional focus to their debut and with that added exposure the nods to the obvious highpoints (“Roxanne,” “Can’t Stand Losing You” “Next To You”).

Great songs, for sure, but if the band ceased to exist after this first record-a distinct possibility given this rock era’s legacy of one-and-done bands, and given the members mutual hatred of each other-would we give as much attention to this late 70’s gem as we do now, thanks to the enormous wake that records like Ghosts In The Machine and Synchronicity provided it.

Fuck no. And let’s not forget that Outlandos has some really lazy material on it. I mean “Masoko Tanga?” What the fuck?! You can’t just record a nifty little jam you threw down at a rehearsal and get to call it a song, do you?!

While we’re at it, let’s also admit that “Be My Girl-Sally” is just godawful. Sting brings a song to the table, which is essentially just a chorus repeated over and over, while guitarist Andy Summers writes a completely un-amusing tale about a blow up doll, failing to recall that Roxy Music opened and closed the door on that shit with the invincible “In Every Dream Home A Heartache.”

As a matter of fact, side two of Outlandos is pretty much all filler, aside from the killer opener.

Side 1 is where it’s at, and it’s a tight race from start to finish. Yep, even the Stewart Copeland co-penned “Peanuts” stands out as one of the most punk rock songs the band ever committed to wax. But does that suggest that punk was even in the band’s radar at this point in their early career? Hardly. Even “Peanuts” ends up being about Rod Stewart, and for anyone who immediately remembers Sting’s pairing with old Rod (and Bryan “Waking Up The Neighbors” Adams) should immediately erase any further speculation about the band’s punk rock credentials. Hell, Summers was in the Animals, for christsakes!

That alone should point out how fortunate this Frankenstein of a band was to hear something within these very tentative first offerings and say “We can be better.”

They were. With every album. And I would agree that they ended with their most accomplished effort.

The elements were here within Outlandos d’Amour, but they certainly weren’t heard yet.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mudhoney - Vanishing Point

I subscribe to this Twitter feed called “Shit Mark Arm Says,” at least I think I did at one point; there were some great, random quotes from the Mudhoney vocalist, but then the activity kind of dried up and the next thing you know, there’s a new Mudhoney record out.

And how is that new Mudhoney record?

Well, that new Mudhoney record-number nine, if you’re curious-continues to represent all that is good with rock music, in much the same way that you’re reassured every time that Motorhead or Slayer releases a new album. You know exactly what to expect because there’s no need to fix a formula that’s perfect right out of the box.

Vanishing Point offers no new direction, there is no change in their production qualities and there’s nothing to suggest that this record ranks as one of the band’s finest moments.

Yet none of that really matters, as Vanishing Point could very well be the most required record of the year, on the blind faith that it’s going to kick the shit out of over half of the albums released in 2013.

Besides, Vanishing Point offers an extra quarter century to its cynicism and the band still ranks as one of the most dangerous bands in Seattle, even though they’re doing it in a part-time capacity these days.

Yes, the day jobs are required for the benefits, but the band exists for another benefit: a therapeutic reality check that reminds us how these gentlemen have always been there for us, rolling their eyes a muttering the truth under their breath.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Because there are some of us who remember a time when Mudhoney ranked above Nirvana in terms of sheer ass-kicking ability, and Vanishing Point does the nearly impossible task of suggesting that they can still do it again, never mind the fact that their win comes with the understanding that they’re also pretty much the last band standing.

They’re doing it for about the same audience levels too, but Mudhoney is big enough to mock that fact with the lead-off track, “I Like It Small,” using the adjectives they’ve heard before (“intimate settings…limited appeal”) as the verses and those old Stooges records as their endearing guide.

So how is that new Mudhoney record?

Perhaps an actual quote from a Mark Arm tweet is appropriate: 

"I turned another one gay."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Note To Self: Buy New Mudhoney Record Today

Aw shit, the 'honey have a new one in record stores today.

Who's gonna send me a promo copy? Huh? Sub Pop?

Well how about if I post your promotional email, will that do it?

I'm such a whore for Mark Arm.

Mudhoney’s Vanishing Point, the band’s excellent 9th album, is out today on CD, LP, and digitally worldwide via Sub Pop.  The 10-track album is led by the singles “The Only Son of the Widow from Nain” and “ I Like It Small”, along with highlights “What to Do with the Neutral,” and “Douchebags on Parade.
Mudhoney have also premiered a hilarious (& claustrophobic) new video for “ I Like It Small” with SPIN.com. The clip, directed by Carlos Lopez (Unnatural Helpers, The Intelligence), takes it cues from the song’s lyrical content (“Intimate settings”; “Dingy basements”) and sees the band in a practice space that becomes increasingly cramped, when suddenly all hell breaks loose. SPIN says of the clip, "We used to be a print publication, but we didn't do very well at that, so we gave everyone copies of Esquire instead.”

Mudhoney will tour in support of Vanishing Point by having extended its North American and European tour schedule for 2013.  In April and May, the band has 6 U.S. shows to mention: April 12th in San Francisco at Slims; April 13th in San Diego at the Casbah;  April 14 in Los Angeles at The Echo; May 10th in Boston at The Paradise; May 11th in Brooklyn at Music Hall of Williamsburg; and May 12th in New York at Bowery Ballroom. From May 21st-June 10th, the band will embark on their previously announced European tour, which includes a string of UK dates with label mates METZ.

Mudhoney will hit the road again in mid-July and also on Labor Day weekend, with another series of shows:  July 19th in Denver at the Underground Music Showcase; July 20th in Minneapolis for the Bash 13 Fest; July 21st in Milwaukee at Turner Hall;  August 30th in Detroit at Magic Stick; August 31st in Chicago at Mayne Stage; September 1st in Montreal at Il Motore; and September 2nd in Toronto at Lee’s Palace.  

And beginning September 23 in Washington, DC at U Street Music Hall, Mudhoney will kick off a 10-date tour that currently ends on October 2 in Atlanta at The Earl. Along the way, the band will perform at Memphis’ Goner Fest on September 27th.  
Please find a complete list of Mudhoney tour dates below.

And last but certainly not least,  we’d  like to take this opportunity to share the news that Mudhoney will perform on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on July 9th.  

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.

Tour Dates

Apr.12 - San Francisco, CA - Slims
Apr.13 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
Apr.14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
May 10 - Boston, MA - The Paradise
May 11 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 12 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
May 21 - Düsseldorf, DE - Zakk  
May 22 - Amsterdam, NL - Melkweg
May 23 - Bielefeld, DE - Enger
May 24 - Copenhagen, DK - Loppen
May 25 - Leipzig, DE - Werk 2
May 26 - Berlin, DE - Festsaal Kreuzberg
May 27 - Hamburg, DE - Fabrik
May 28 - Warsaw, PL - Stodola
May 29 - Prague, CZ- Lucerna Music Bar
May 30 - Zagreb, HR -  Pogon Jedinstvo
May 31 - Firenze, IT - Viper Theater
Jun. 01 - Lausanne, CH - Les Docks
Jun. 02 - Winterhur, CH - Salzhaus
Jun. 03 - Frankfurt, DE - Zoom
Jun. 04 - Brighton, UK - Concorde  2*
Jun. 05 - Glasgow, UK - ABC*
Jun. 06 - Newcastle, UK - Newcastle Academy  2*
Jun. 07 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Academy 2*
Jun. 08 - London, UK - HMV Forum*
Jun. 09 - Bristol, UK - O2 Academy Bristol*
Jun. 10 - Birmingham, UK - HMV Institute - The Library*
Jul. 19 - Denver, CO - Underground Music Showcase (Goodwill parking lot)
Jul. 20 - Minneapolis, MN - Bash 13 Fest (Grumpy’s)
Jul. 21 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall
Aug. 30 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
Aug. 31 - Chicago, IL - Mayne Stage
Sep. 01 - Montreal, QE - Il Motore
Sep. 02 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace
Sep. 23 - Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall
Sep. 24 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
Sep. 25 - Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall
Sep. 26 - Nashville, TN - Third Man Records
Sep. 27 - Memphis, TN - Goner Festival
Sep. 28 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada
Sep. 29 - Austin, TX - Mowhawk
Sep. 30 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
Oct. 01 - New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks
Oct. 02 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
*w/ METZ