Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Who - At Kilburn: 1977 DVD Review

The Who - At Kilburn: 1977 DVD ReviewThe Who's Kilburn show has been the subject of debate for decades. This show was filmed for inclusion in The Kids Are Alright but scrapped due to 'poor performance' and the only artifact from this show that had surfaced, prior to the DVD release, was the inclusion of "My Wife" on The Kids Are Alright soundtrack. (Note: The live footage included in the movie was from a show in May of 1978.) I've known Who collectors who have been after this show for years as it is both Keith's second to last performance and it is also the first performance of material from the (then) forthcoming Who's Next LP.

I think the first question that most people will ask is "was the band's performance that bad that this film had to be shelved for 30 years?" The quick answer is "no" - The Who aren't playing at the highly polished, "professional" rock band level that they were when they filmed the Toronto show on their first farewell tour. The late 1977 version of The Who hadn't played live in 14 months and seemed to want to prove themselves still relevant as punk was coming onto the music scene. There are a number of mistakes throughout the performance but it adds to the concert's charm and raw power of The Who shines through.

One of the things that was always said about this era of The Who was that Keith had slowed down. While this is true, Keith hadn't lost his drumming chops. Keith gets off to a bit of a slow start but picks up speed (and confidence?) as the show progresses. Pete Townsend is amazing when he is angry and he is explosive in this show. Physically, he is all over the stage with kicks, splits and duck walks. He also knocks over a monitor cabinet, hits himself in the head with his guitar, and winds-up the audience with comments like "There's a guitar up here if any bigmouth little git wants to take it off me!". This certainly isn't the 'elder statesman of rock' side of Pete. John is his usual calm self and the cameras clearly captures his fantastic fret work on songs like "Dreaming from the Waist". Roger is simply Roger - aside for flubbing a verse to one song, Roger looks on top of his game.

Some of the highlights of the show are Keith's pushing in on Roger to sing "Tommy’s Holiday Camp", Pete and John's extended jam during "My Wife" and explosive versions of "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". Both the audio and video/picture quality are outstanding. The show was filmed in 35mm by 6 cameras and professional recorded on 16-track audio.

The second disc in this set is fascinating look at The Who filmed live the "Tommy" tour. This show was filmed at the London Coliseum on December 14, 1969 and the date falls directly between The Who's Woodstock performance and the Live At Leeds recording. Like the extended Live At Leeds CDs, the set list includes the full performance of Tommy interspersed with some lesser known numbers and R&B classics.

Track on the DVD are:
• "Heaven and Hell"
• "Fortune Teller"
• "Tattoo"
• "Young Man Blues"
• "A Quick One While He's Away"
• "Happy Jack"
• "I'm a Boy"
• "I'm Free"
• "Tommy's Holiday Camp"
• "See Me, Feel Me"
• "Summertime Blues"
• "Shakin' All Over"
• "My Generation"

According the book included with the DVD, this film was discovered in a garbage dump outside the offices of Track Records. The DVD lead-in gives the caveat that "the show was lit for the theatre, not for filming". All-in-all, the film is a bit dark and somewhat (good) bootleg-ish quality. The close-up shots are brilliant but, when the camera pans out, the the full band shots are a bit distant and grainy. The audio portion of this show though is great.

The band's performance is a night-and-day difference from the 1977 performance. Pete seems happy and talks more with the audience than I have seen him do in many years. Keith's performance is explosive - he is young, fit and rages all over his drum kit (when not making cracks at Pete). It is also nice to see John sing a few more songs than he did in the later years.

Long-time Who fans are going to want both of these shows. The casual fan may not appreciate the video quality of the 1969 show but the audio portion is still great.

The Who's Website

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fake Shark - Real Zombie! Release "Angel Lust" EP on Jan. 9th

DOWNLOAD: Fake Shark - Real Zombie - Angel Lust (MP3)

Fake Shark - Real Zombie! Release New EP, Fake Shark - Real Zombie! are back with a new EP, Angel Lust. This is a digital release that will be available on iTunes on Jan. 9th.

Angel Lust is a 'teaser' for the band's second full-length Meeting People Is Terrible, which is due out sometime in the Spring.

Taken from the band's MySpace page, here is a description of the tracks on the forthcoming EP:

Angel Lust - Disco dance rock should die. This track is rhythm heavy funkyness that can get heads bobbing and fists pumping the way disco beats wished they could in 2005.

Horses in Heaven - IDM glitchyness takes over where 'wolf is the new the' left off. Also named after a joke about quadriplegics!

Running for the Razors - The loudest track on the EP. The relentless riff may be akin to your neighbors/parents/girlfriend pounding the walls in the next room while you listen to this song at full volume!

Sestri Levante - Referencing a stucco village on the Italian Riviera, the song wisks you off to paradise and isolation, before slamming into NWOBHM-inspired riffage and closes the ep with on an epic scale.

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Jan 3, 2009, 7:00PM, Wise Hall w/ Gang Violence, Adjective
Vancouver, British Columbia (all-ages show)

Fake Shark - Real Zombie's MySpace Profile

Toy Bot Diaries 3 - iPhone Game Review (IUGO)

Toy Bot Diaries 3 - iPhone Game ReviewToy Bot Diaries 3 is an impressive entry into the iPhone gaming space as it is has both great game play and an impressive amount of detail and design in the screens.

This action/puzzle game falls into the "hero on a mission" genre and you need to guide the game's hero, Toy Bot, through six levels of difficulty. Toy Bot moves via his grappling hook and magnetic boots but one of the early-on challenges is the effect that the zero-gravity of space has on Toy Bot's movements. There is a lot of action and puzzles in the game and each level requires both skill and practice to complete. What is nice though is that the game has an "auto-save" feature so you don't have to restart a level when you die.

In addition to the challenge of navigating each level, there are also memory chips hidden throughout which unlock Toy Bot's memories. I haven't yet finished all the levels as the core game is challenging enough but I did get all of the chips on one level. While this feat certainly appears repeatable in other levels, you have to time your jumps and tilts just right.

This game is very engaging and has enough action that it is well worth the $3.99 cost. As this is supposed to be the final installment of the Toy Bot series, it will be interesting to see where IUGO goes next.

Koi Pond: iPhone Application Review (iTunes App Store)

Koi Pond - iPhone Application ReviewThis game is perfect...if your idea of fun is watching paint dry or the Home Shoppers Network.

I'm a fairly new iPhone user so I've ben trying to check out some of the top apps in the iTunes App Store. Koi Pond is the electronic equivalent of the mini Zen Gardens for the office. Here is another piece of junk that is probably going to be marketed as a "stress reliever".

My complaint with Koi Pond is that it really doesn't do anything. The main functionality of the app is that you can feed the fish by shaking the phone and you can also stick your finger in the water and, if you hold it real still, the fish will nibble your finger. As the main functionality didn't hold my attention - I certainly don't care that you can move the lilly pads around on the screen and manipulate the multi-layered ambient background noise.

I've shown this game to a few co-workers and almost everyone of them has lost interest in the app after a minute or two. In fact, most of them stir up the water and "scare" away all of the fish before handing my iPhone back.

Just to give a balanced perspective, here are a couple reviews that loved the app:
iPhone Savior (whose only complaint was that the fish didn't make farting noises when swimming away -- I really hope he is kidding)

The Blimp Pilots (authors of Koi Pond)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Viking Skull - Doom, Gloom, Heartache and Whiskey (Candlelight Records)

Viking Skull - Doom, Gloom, Heartache and Whiskey CD ReviewIt doesn't often happen where the title of a CD tells you everything that you need to know about the band. In the case of Viking Skull, Doom, Gloom, Heartace and Whiskey is a very accurate description of this disc.

This is a solid slab of stoner metal where the band combines downtuned guitars with a chugging bass line. Vocalist Roddy Stone has a Lemmy-style gargling with razor blades voice but the overall sound of the disc is closer to Southern metal than Motorhead. Easy points of comparison are bands like C.O.C. and Clutch.

Like all great stoner-rock bands, this disc cops some solid Sabbath-like riffs which are most evident on songs like "In Hell". Viking Skull mixes up the sound across the disc so it isn't one big pot of sludge: there is an acoustic country music intro to "Shot Down" and "19 Swords" includes some Dave Murray/Adrian Smith style guitar work. The last cut, "Drink", is the perfect closer for a disc of songs about drinking, gambling, women and more drinking. "Drink" is a piano-driven bar stomper about the joys of drink with the chorus "We have to drink, drink 'til we sh*t our pants". This isn't a deep and meaningful record (let Bono or Bob Geldof save the world) but a lot of fun.

Viking Skull have had yet another lineup change with this disc and Doom, Gloom, Heartache and Whiskey is the first album to feature the band's two new guitarists: Dom Wallace of the band Deadeye and Rich Vose of the band Gnarlkill.

The band is currently touring with Clutch and then are playing a couple of headlining shows in Cleveland, Maryland and Pennsylvania. (It still perplexes me why all these metal bands skip NYC). Viking Skull are doing a video shoot at their Jan. 4th show and have posted "we will be performing an all ages show at the Note in West Chester, Pennsylvania and also be filming a video for 'Hair Of The Dog' with Joe Frantz and Bam Margera. It's going to be kick-fucking-ass. If you want to partake in that debauchery buy a ticket at www.thenotewc.com."

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Dec 28 2008 7:00PM, Webster Theater w/Clutch, Hartford, Connecticut
Dec 29 2008 7:00PM, 930 Club w/Clutch, Washington DC
Dec 30 2008 7:00PM, Newport Music Hall w/Clutch, Columbus, Ohio
Dec 31 2008 7:00PM, Orbit Room w/Clutch, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Jan 2 2009 7:00PM, Spitfire Saloon w/Backwards Payback, Cleveland, Ohio
Jan 3 2009 8:00PM Krug’s w/Backwards Payback, Frederick, Maryland
Jan 4 2009 6:00PM, The Note (video shoot/gig) with Backwards Payback, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Viking Skull's MySpace Profile

Theo and The Skyscrapers Are Touring the East Coast with The Damned (Dec '08/Jan '09)

Theo and the Skyscrapers are Touring the East Coast with The DamnedTheo and the Skyscrapers (T.A.T.S.) are supporting The Damned on the band's current East Coast run.

T.A.T.S. is the current project from former Lunachicks vocalist Theo Kogan and the band is finishing work on their third CD which is scheduled for release in Spring '09.

T.A.T.S. tour dates with The Damned are:

Dec 29, 2008 8:30PM - The Black Cat Washington, Washington DC
Dec 31, 2008 9:30PM - The Blender Theater @ Gramercy NY, New York
Jan 02, 2009 8:00PM - Wonder Bar Asbury Park, New Jersey
Jan 03, 2009 9:00PM - Theater Of Living Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jan 04, 2009 8:00PM - Paradise Rock Club Boston, Massachusetts

Theo and the Skyscrapers' MySpace Profile

Warship - Supply and Depend CD Review (Vagrant)

DOWNLOAD Warship - "Never Been Equal" (MP3 posted on Fuse.TV)

Warship - Supply and Depend CD Review (Vagrant)You have to give major props to Warship -- with all the bitching and moaning about illegal downloading killing the music industry, Warship gave an advance copy of their debut CD, Supply and Demand, to MetalSucks.net to post for a limited time as a free download. The full length disc is no longer available but a download of the tune "Profit Over People" is still up on MetalSucks.

Warship emerged from the "ashes" of From Autumn to Ashes and is the collaboration between vocalist/drummer Fran Mark and guitarist Rob Lauritsen. Rob and Fran started writing together at the end of FAtA and the two of them played all the instruments on Supply and Depend.

While Warship's debut disc sounds like a logical outgrowth from 2007's Holding A Wolf By The Ears, Supply and Demand is harder and more aggressive than any past work from FAtA. Mark uses very little clean vocals and predominately sings with a scream or a yell. The music is also harder than FAtA as Warship uses doom and metalcore-style guitar riffs combined with rhythmic bass/drums sludge to add to the intensity of Mark's vocals.

What still remains from FAtA is a strong sense of emotion in the music. In listening to the new disc, you get a clear sense of Mark's rage, anger and disillusionment. In a recent interview with RockMidgets.com, Fran Mark said that the themes in Supply and Depend are "Corporate control over public opinion. The uneven distribution of wealth. Working yourself to death to make another man rich. Putting your faith in that which does not exist because when bad things happen in your life it's easier to say "Gods will" than to accept that you f**ked up and brought such plagues upon yourself, and death. Death is something I had seen a lot of while working on this album."

Warship started playing live shows late this year and the band's next area show is January 17th at Fin’s Pub in Oakdale, Long Island. For their live set, Fran and Rob are playing with bassist Darren Simoes (from The Bled) and drummer Greg March.

The new CD, Supply and Demand, is available with limited edition poster for $10 from Vagrant's online store.

Warship's MySpace Profile

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lair of The Minotaur - War Metal Battle Master DVD Review

Lair of the Minotaur - War Meral Battle Master DVD ReviewSouthern Lord is releasing the first DVD from Lair of the Minotaur in January. The disc contains the uncensored video for "War Metal Battle Master", the edited version of the video (as shown on MTV Headbanger's Ball) and a behind-the-scenes featurette and interview. Rounding out the disc is an additional 45 minutes of live footage that was filmed at various tour stops between 2004 - 2008.

For anyone who hasn't seen the "War Metal Battle Master" video - the story line sums up some of the reoccurring themes in LotM's metal attack. The video opens with the quote "These men were fighting in warlike harness, behind them awaited the bloody Keres, dragging the wounded away and satisfying their souls with human blood." The video includes sword fighting, blood spattering and naked women dragging the wounded away to chew the flesh from their bones. While all of this is happening, LotM is laying down a blast of in-your-face metal beats.

Check out the trailer for the DVD and you will get the feel for the action.

The Behind-the-Scenes footage and interviews are interesting as they are fairly short (and don't drag on like a VH-1 Behind the Music episode) and you get a real sense for what the images that vocalist Steven Rathbone wanted to capture and how Monica Bailey (makeup artist) and director Gary Smithson realized this vision.

The video also contains 10 live tracks filmed at various locations in the US and Europe between 2004 - 2008. The band's live songs are hard and brutal and the intensity of their playing seems to have grown over the years.

The live tracks are:
* Horde of Undead Vengeance / Los Angeles, CA / Nov 2007
* Ultimate Destroyer / Nantes, France / June 2007
* Black Viper Barbarian Clan / Chicago, IL / Apr 2008
* Carnage Fucking Carnage / New York, Boston, Baltimore, Providence, Richmond, Buffalo, Cleveland / Apr 2006
* Juggernaut of Metal / Indianapolis, IN / Dec 2005
* Hades Unleashed / Vienna, Austria / July 2007
* Behead the Gorgon / Nantes, France / June 2007
* Caravan of Blood Soaked Kentauroi / Youngstown, OH / May 2005
* Burning Temple / Chicago, IL / Oct 2004
* The Wolf / Indianapolis, IN / Mar 2008

Most of these tracks were filmed with one camera, from either on stage or right in front of the stage. This isn't a high-gloss production but you really come away with a sense of the power of a LotM show.

The DVD also comes with some great original art by Orion Landau. Relapse Records is offering an exclusive t-shirt with this cover art on the front (and the phrase "Heavy F*cking Metal" on the back. This disc is a great companion piece to the LotM's War Metal Battle Master CD that was released earlier this year. The band rages hard on stage and the live tracks are a solid cross-cut of songs from the band's past CDs.

LotM are playing tomorrow night (Dec. 26th) at the Pearl Room in Mokena, IL as part of the "Holidays of Horror" show.

Lair of the Minotaur's MySpace Profile

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

John Joseph and the Cro-Mags Play the Knitting Factory on Dec. 28th

John Joseph & the Cro-Mags are playing the Knitting Factory on December 28thJohn and crew are playing a Cro-Mags jam at one of the last nights of the Knitting Factory. John will be playing with Mackie, AJ (from Leeway), and Craig (from Sick of It All). Also on the bill is Wisdom in Chains, Laws of Gravity and Trapped Under Ice.

Tickets are $15 and doors are at 5:30PM.

The Homosexuals - Love Guns? EP Review

The Homosexuals - Love Guns? EP ReviewAfter a 20+ year silence, principal songwriter Bruno Wizard has reactivated The Homosexuals and the band just released a limited edition 10" EP. The new EP, Love Guns?, is limited to 300 copies and it was released on Serious Business Records. (Click on the EP cover to go to Serious Business' site)

Where this gets really interesting is that Bruno Wizard has hand-written a story across the entirety of the 300 pieces, with a sentence, a fragment or a few words appearing on each copy. Fans can compare their unique inscriptions, upload photos, and piece together the entire story at www.thehomosexualsloveguns.com. According to Serious Business' site, this first pressing is almost sold out.

While Bruno has a new band playing behind him, the new five track EP stays true to the musical legacy of The Homosexuals. The EP is book-ended by by two art/noise pieces. The second track, "Slow Guns", is an authentic return back to the sound of late 70's British punk. This tune sounds like something that could have easily come from The Saints or The Damned's songbook. The next song "3AM (Pink Pony)" is a slow burning pop song that sounds somewhat akin to Magazine. The last tune, "Don't Touch My Hair", is more of a dance number that switches gears between disco and dub.

The Homosexuals have been playing some dates around NYC these last few weeks with the most recent being a set at Webster Hall this past Saturday night.

Jolie (from PunkCast) filmed the band at a show at the Cake Shop last year and here is the video for the song "Astral Glamour".

The Homosexuals' MySpace Profile

Monday, December 22, 2008

Philadelphia's On Mono Are Playing The Annex on Jan. 10th (Psychedelic, Drone)

On Mono Play The Annex on Jan. 10thPhiladelphia's On Mono are playing The Annex on January 10th with Law of the Sea, Dead Stars and Dujeous.

On Mono is a six-piece psychedelic/alt-rock outfit out of Philadelphia whose music is reminiscent of The Doors, The Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3. The band recently released their debut EP, "Turn Out The Lights", which is available from CD Baby. The Philadelphia Weekly described On Mono as "Velvets-inspired drone and acid-psych that shimmers like a primal thrum on the back of your eyelids".

On Mono's MySpace Profile
The Annex

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines) and Tamaryn Re-Release "Silent Night" as a Special Holiday Download

Brandon Curtis (Secret Machine) and Tamaryn Release Holiday Song for CharitySecret Machines front-man Brandon Curtis and vocalist Tamaryn have re-released their 2006 collaboration on the German Christmas classic "Silent Night" as a free download, with the option to make a donation to the charity Safe Horizon. Safe Horizon is the nation’s leading victim assistance organization. Their mission is to provide support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.

Brandon Curtis said "[w]e originally released it in 2006 as a little Christmas gift of our own, on MySpace. Tamaryn and I were both performing in New York at the time, and we were looking for an opportunity to work together on some music...It started with this story which Tamaryn had written: A pastor looks down from a hill and meditates on a peaceful blanket of snow. From beyond the heavens he hears the sound of angels singing; a leader is born in silence, no fireworks or roaring crowds a child of sovereign blood first hears. Everything quiet, calm and otherworldly, the angels continue to sing, their romantic illuminations so powerful that one trembles upon seeing them and recognizes the dawn of grace."

The story behind the song's inspiration gives way to the importance of giving back to those in need during these trying times. The suggested donation should be within everyone's reach and range from .99 cents to $5.00.

To download the song and donate to Safe Horizon, go to The Secret Machines' website.

The Secret Machines' MySpace Profile
Tamaryn's MySpace Profile

Johnny Cash: Christmas Special 1978 DVD Review

Johnny Cash: Christmas Special 1978 DVD ReviewFor his 1978 Christmas Special, Johnny Cash moved the taping of the show to Los Angeles. It may have been the Hollywood influence but the show feels a bit more staged than it did in previous years or the year that followed.

Johnny plays a more eclectic mix of material on this show than he did in previous years. He opens the show with "Christmas Can't Be Far Away" and the other songs include "Ballad of a Teenage Queen", the brilliant "Sunday Morning Coming Down", "Fourth Man In the Fire", the forgettable "I Will Rock and Roll With You", "You're A Part of Me" and "The Greatest Cowboy of Them All".

It is the special guests and the canned dialogue that make this disc not as strong as it possibly could be. I had considered myself a big Steve Martin fan but his "Wild and Crazy Guy" sctick just doesn't seem to have aged well. I also found musical guest Rita Coolidge a bit too "adult contemporary" for my taste. What is really missing though is Johnny's warmth and personality don't come through as clearly as it does on previous shows. Johnny's all-star tribute to Elvis Presley (1977) is simply classic and his performance of "Five Foot High and Rising" (1979) is moving. Johnny just seems to be out of his natural element on the 1978 Special.

Johnny Cash fans are going to want to own all four volumes but the casual fan may be better served starting with one of the other years.

Johnny Cash's MySpace Profile

Willie Breeding Is Having a CD Release Party at Public Assembly on Jan. 2nd

Download: Willie Breeding - "Cheap Vodka Rain" (MP3)

Kentucky transplant Willie Breeding is releasing his first full length disc, Cheap Vodka Rain, early next year and the CD release show is January 2nd at Public Assembly in Williamsburg.

Willie released his debut EP, "Grey Skies", in 2006 which one reviewer described as "the Gram and Emmylou dynamics of the songs blow you away with the feeling and immediacy of it all." Willie has recently been touring with Marah and Christine Smith and Dave Peterson both play on Willie's new CD.

The Continental and Thomas Bryan Eaton are playing with Willie. Tickets are $5.00 and the music starts at 8:30PM.

Willie Breeding's MySpace Page

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hanson Brothers - It's A Living CD/DVD Review (NoMeansNo)

Hanson Brothers - It's A Living CD/DVD ReviewFor more than twenty years, The Hanson Brothers (the long-running alter-ego of NoMeansNo) have been keeping the spirit of The Ramones alive.

The band's latest release, It's A Living, is a live album that was recorded in Coaldale, Alberta (which, according to the band, is "home to Canada's french fry cartel and a notable stop on the arm-rasslin' circuit"). The band blasts through 27 songs in just over an hour with guitarist Tommy Hanson keeping the pace with his Dee Dee-ish calls of "1-2-3-4". Like past Hanson Brothers releases, the songs are predominately about girls, hockey and beer. There is the continual stage dialogue throughout the show about "putting the cabbage in the bag" (and I have no idea of what that means) and there are some bits of a funny radio show interview with Tommy.

The live arena is where the Hanson Brothers wit really shows and fans of past releases (along with fans of The Ramones, The Queers and many of the Asian Man Records bands) would do well to pick up this release.

The CD is a dual-disc and comes with a DVD of Johnny Hanson's guide to home brewing. While the Hansons are pretty funny to watch in everyday life (go find a copy of Slap Shot or Strange Brew for similar points of comparison), the brewers guide is pretty informative. After watching this video (and the price of beer going up over this past year), I started looking at the prices of home brew kits.

The Hanson Brothers just completed a brief U.S. tour (though there were no East Coast dates) which finished last night in Victoria, BC. There are some great pictures from the tour posted to the Alienated in Vancouver blog.

The Official NoMeanNo Forum
The Hanson Brothers MySpace Profile

Serious Business Records Hosts Free Party Tonight @ Webster Hall

Serious Business Records Hosts Free Holiday Party Tonight at Webster HallThis is going up a bit late but hopefully people can still make it out...

Serious Business Records is hosting a free holiday party tonight at The Studio @ Webster Hall. Doors are at 7PM and the show runs from 8PM - 11PM. Nine bands are playing and the highlight of the bill is the reactivated Homosexuals.

Here is the full list of acts:
The Homosexuals
Benji Cossa
The Unsacred Hearts
Secret Dakota Ring
Rocketship Park
The Octagon
Jack & The Pulpits

Check out this live video from The Homosexuals live set at Piano's, which was part of Serious Business' CMJ Showcase.

The Homosexuals/Bruno Wizard

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sugar Red Drive: NYC Press Interview 12-09-08

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with Sugar Red Drive who is a hard rock band out of upstate New York. The band has been together for a little over a year and they just finished recording their debut CD, which will be out in early 2009.

The band has a hard-rock/arena-rock sound that is comparable to a number of the alt-rock bands that started out in the 90's (Collective Soul, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, etc.) There are a couple of advance tracks from the forthcoming release streaming on the band's MySpace profile.

Sugar Red Drive doesn't have any shows currently scheduled but the band will be back on the road after the New Year. Check Sugar Red Drive's MySpace profile for updates.

Joe Perry Releases "Run Rudolph Run" as Free Holiday Download (Aerosmith)

Everyone seems to be getting into the holiday spirit...

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry recently posted a free download of the holiday tune "Run Rudolph Run". Joe also posted a video of him recording the song in his home studio, The Boneyard.

"Run Rudolph Run" was made popular by Chuck Berry in the 50's and, since then, has been covered by a wide range of artists which have included Lynyrd Skynyrd, Keith Richards and Hanoi Rocks.

Joe Perry's Website

The Priestess and The Fool (Meredith Dimenna & Brian Grosz) Play Parkside Lounge Tomorrow Afternoon

The Priestess and The Fool Play Parkside Lounge Tomorrow AfternoonYou can get your Christmas cheer on in the middle of the day tomorrow as The Priestess and The Fool are playing the "Ugly Holiday Sweater Jamboree" (we are talking Cosby sweaters here).

According to Brian Grosz's MySpace page, 15 bands are playing the Jamboree. The show starts at 2PM and admission is FREE. Some of the other musicians include Alex Walker, Christian Zucconi, Matt McIntosh, Dave Harris, Emily Zuzik and Dorie Vance.

The Priestess and The Fool released a free downloadable EP of holiday covers are few weeks ago. One of the standout tracks is a cover of the Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York". Here is the complete track listing:

1) “Ride on, Santa, Ride On”
(Stan Kenton Orchestra featuring June Christy)

2) “There Ain't No Hole in the Washtub”
(Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas)

3) “Fairy Tale of New York”
(The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl)

4) “Baby, It's Cold Outside”
(Frank Loesser)

5) “Mele Kalikimaka/Waters of Babylon”
(Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters/Traditional)

The Priestess & The Fool's MySpace Profile

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

PopStar Guitar (for the Wii) Game Review

PopStar Guitar for Wii Game ReviewPopStar Guitar is XS Games' first foray into the virtual band music video game space. There are a couple of unique twists to this release that could make this title a big hit for the holidays.

The first is that the game is targeted at the Tween/Tween demographic - the music is from artists like Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers and Fall Out Boy. I hadn't really considered this but when I played Guitar Hero with my pre-teen but artists like Social Distortion, Pearl Jam and Guns N' Roses mean very little to her. Even though, I've never heard of half of the acts on PopStar, my daughter spent hours focused on the game and built up her skills/points so that she could get to play Miley Cyrus' "See You Again". There are 60 songs in total so it doesn't look like this game is going to get old quickly.

PopStar Guitar for the Wii Game ReviewThe game controller also further differentiates PopStar from its competitors as the concept is that you are playing an air guitar. The game comes with an "AirG" peripheral that attaches over the remote and the nunchuck is used to "strum" the guitar. These controllers seem a bit more flexible and forgiving than the Guitar Hero guitar, which is good for a younger user.

Similar to other virtual band/music games, the user gets to form and customize their band, there are multiple male and female characters and there are three levels of difficulty. Earning points and building skills allows you to unlock new venues, songs and solos and videos of your band in Studio Mode.

All-in-all, both the music and game play seems very relevant to this teen/tween age group and it added a high level of enjoyment for my daughter. It is definitely worth checking out if you have kids in this age bracket.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Up The Empire has a CD Release Show at the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday, Dec. 17th

Download Up The Empire - It's Alright (For Now) (MP3)

Up the Empire Play CD Release Show at Mercury Lounge on Dec. 17thBrooklyn's Up The Empire has a new EP, Loose Ends, coming out on Tuesday and the band is playing a CD release show at The Mercury Lounge on Wednesday with Ford & Fitzroy and The Bon Savants.

Loose Ends is the first set of new material since the band went to a three-member lineup following 2007's Light Rides The Super Major. The four tracks on the new EP are melodic, neo-psychedelic guitar-rock, which contain elements reminiscent of The Church and U2. Fittingly, Up The Empire closes the EP with a cover of Dinosaur Jr.'s "Feel The Pain", which has been a part of the band's live set for the past year or so.

Up the Empire's new disc will be available through The Cougar Label's online store starting on Tuesday and you can also pick up a copy at Wednesday's show. Tickets for the Mercury Lounge show are $10 and Up The Empire take the stage at 11PM.

Don't skip Ford & Fitzroy's set (they play at 9PM) as they have a great new disc, Canyons (which was also released on The Cougar Label).

Up The Empire's MySpace Profile
Up The Empire's Website

Johnny Cash: Christmas Special 1979 DVD Review

The Johnny Cash Christmas Special 1979 DVD ReviewThe good folks at Shout! Factory have partnered with the County Music Hall of Fame to release Johnny Cash's Christmas Special from 1979.

I was just reading an Op-Ed piece in the current issue of AdAge that described the current state of TV programming as "[r]eality TV and 'dumbed down' writing". It also doesn't seem like there has been a good Christmas show/special made in years. Cash's Christmas Specials are a warm, well-produced series of songs, biographical narrative and comedy sketches. Johnny has an obvious rapport with both his guests and the audience which makes for enjoyable watching.

For the 1979 Christmas Special, Cash and his family return to Nashville. There isn't a lot of excess dialogue on this program and, aside for Andy Kaufman's comedy sketches, the focus is on the music. Johnny sings a number of classic country and Christmas songs, both solo, with June Carter Cash and with his guests. The musical guests this year were Anne Murray and Tom T. Hall (not knowing who he is, I had to look up his bio...Tom T. Hall is an established country balladeer/singer who has also written songs for Johnny Cash, George Jones, Waylon Jennings and many others).

The show starts off with a brief comedy sketch by Andy Kaufman. Andy stays in his Latka character for most of the show but he does do a killer Elvis impression ("That's When Your Heartaches Begin") that is well received by the Nashville crowd.

Here is the complete list of performances:

Opening - Andy Kaufman Comedy Sketch
(Ghost) Riders In The Sky - Johnny Cash
Five Feet High And Rising - Johnny Cash (includes family recollections from Ray and Roy Cash)
You Needed Me - Anne Murray
That Christmasy Feeling - Johnny Cash & Anne Murray
The Ballad Of The Harp Weaver - Johnny Cash
That's Why You Have To Be You - Tom T. Hall
Johnny Cash/Tom T. Hall Medley:
Country Is/Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine/The Year That Clayton Delaney Died/I Love/Country Is
If I Were A Carpenter - Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
That's When Your Heartaches Begin - Andy Kaufman
Christmas Is - Tom T. Hall
Back Up And Push - June Carter Cash
Christmas Wishes - Anne Murray
Let There Be Peace On Earth - Johnny Cash

Click on the DVD cover to go over to Shout! Factory's online store.

Johnny Cash's Website

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive CD Review (Vagrant Records)

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive CD ReviewSince this disc was released in July, The Hold Steady's music and Craig Finn's lyrics have been debated ad nauseam across Internet. I don't think that I can add anything new to the debate but I too will have Stay Positive on my "Best of 2008" list. I would expect Stay Positive to be a turning point release for the band and catapult them from the larger halls into the arenas. (The ascendency path is similar to Kings of Leon, who are headlining Madison Square Gardens next month).

A lot of the reviews that I have read compare The Hold Steady to Bruce Springsteen. I made the same comparison at first but, after a few listens to the disc, now I'm not so sure that this comparison holds. I haven't kept up with the last handful of Springsteen releases but I'm left with the impression that he has moved away from the detailed narratives/stories of his early work. Going back to The River, Nebraska and earlier, I always found Springsteen's stories to be tales of redemption and his characters as 'beautiful losers.' This isn't the case with The Hold Steady....Craig Finn's narratives are one part Flannery O'Connor and one part Catholic guilt. He tells tales of drugs, murder and people who have lost their way while the band plays anthemic/sing-along arena rock.

For fans (or the uninitiated), live performances of five of the songs from Stay Positive are available as a free download on AOL's The Interface. The band also recently released a promo video for the song "Stay Positive".

STAY POSITIVE - The Hold Steady

This disc caught me out of left field and I've probably played it a dozen times over the last few weeks. If The Hold Steady keep on their course "their sing along songs" will become scriptures for a legion of fans.

The Hold Steady's Website
The Hold Steady's MySpace Profile

Bugs In The Dark Play The Delancey Tomorrow Night (Dec. 13th)

Bugs In The Dark Play The Delancey on December 13thArt-punks, Bugs in the Dark are headlining a show tomorrow night at The Delancey. Bugs have been playing shows in support of their full-length debut CD, Grand Avenue, which was released earlier this year.

In a recent review, Impose Magazine said "Bugs in the Dark can do what all those post-punk revivalists did five years ago by prettying up the raw material of their era of choice, which for these guys is early 90s alternative/noise."

Tickets for tomorrow night's show are $7 and the band takes the stage at 11:30PM.

Check out Bugs in the Dark's latest video, "Paranoia", (from Grand Avenue).

Bugs In the Dark - Paranoia from Alex Terrazas on Vimeo.

Bugs In The Dark's MySpace Profile

David Rogue is Playing The Bitter End Tonight (Dec. 12th)

David Rouge Plays The Bitter End on Dec. 12thI got turned on to David Rogue through one of the MPFrees in the NY Post. David is a singer/songwriter who cites his influences as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. David plays stripped down rock with sort of a country flair and, as you would expect with these sorts of influences, his music has sort of an edge. David just released his debut CD, The Arrival, in September.

David is playing tonight at The Bitter End with Studio E, The Embracers and SIUGeneris and tickets are $10.

David Rogue's MySpace Profile

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Automatic Children Play Trash Bar Tomorrow Night, Dec. 10th

Automatic Children Play Trash Bar in Williamsburg on Dec. 10thAutomatic Children are premiering new material from their forthcoming CD at their show tomorrow night at Trash Bar. The band have said that they will play seven of the ten songs from the upcoming disc.

This upcoming CD follows Automatic Children's debut EP, "It's Not Me, It's You", which was released late last year (see review). In addition to the new disc, the band have announced plans to release a limited edition vinyl 7" of "Solitude" and "Coming Over Me".

On the bill tomorrow night with Automatic Children are Emergency Party, the Monte Vista and In India. Automatic Children take the stage at 9PM and tickets are $6.00.

Here is a live video from Automatic Children's show at Rockwood Music Hall last January

Automatic Children's MySpace profile

Vans Warped Tour '07 DVD Review

Vans Warped Tou '07 DVD ReviewIt seems hard to believe that Warped Tour has now been running 13 years. The original Lollapalooza Festival was supposed to be the indie-festival benchmark and it faded away in about half this time. This DVD documents the Warped experience from the 2007 Tour and mixes live footage with interviews from a number of bands.

The DVD is fun to watch as it is a good representation of the Warped Tour experience, from both the band and the audience member perspective. The camera crew uses a multi-camera set-up but the shots have a loose feel so the viewer can appreciate the experience without the footage feeling like an over-produced music video.

The bands are a nice eclectic mix of current fan favorites, old guard punks, and new up-and-coming bands. The interviews are fairly intersting and the age difference between the bands shows - Killswitch Engage talks about how they couldn't do the tour in a van and you have bands on the opposite end of the spectrum, like The Almost and Escape The Fate, who seem like they just climbed out of the van. The footage gives you a good perspective on the bands, their live set and what they are all about.

In addition to the main program of live footage and interviews, there are two additional tracks on the disc. The first track allows the watcher to access the long-form interviews, which run about 3 -6 minutes per band. (There are only interview snippets included with the live footage as part of the main program). The second track features additional live footage from the tour.

Here is the complete list of live performances:

Avenged Sevenfold - "Almost Easy"
Bad Religion - "Honest Goodbye"
Chiodos - "The Undertaker's Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable", "Baby, You Wouldn't Last a Minute on the Creek"
Circa Survive - "In the Morning and Amazing"
Coheed and Cambria - "The Running Free"
Fishbone - "Behind Closed Doors", "Forever Moore"
Killswitch Engage - "Rose of Sharyn", "My Curse"
Pennywise - "Straight Ahead", "Pennywise"
Pepper - "Ashes", "Your Face"
The Starting Line - "Direction", "Island (Float Away)"
Sum 41 - "The Hell Song"

The hightlights for me are both of Killswitch Engage's live songs (and "Wall of Death") along with Coheed and Cambria, Pennywise, Fishbone and Bad Religion's performances.

If you want to get an inside look at what Rolling Stone called "America's most successful festival", check out this DVD. It will only be another couple months before Warped '09 starts up.

Warped Tour's Official SIte

Monday, December 08, 2008

Letters to Cleo Return With A Show at Bowery Ballroom on Thursday, Dec. 11th

Letters to Cleo Reunite for a Brief 4-Stop Tour
After breaking up in the Summer of 2000, Letters to Cleo are back for a short four show run through Los Angeles, Boston and New York. The band played The Roxy in Los Angeles last month to strong reviews and they are playing the Paradise tonight and tomorrow in Boston. Thursday's show at the Bowery Ballroom is the last night of this brief tour.

In a recent interview with singer Kay Hanley, she said “we decided early we would not be interested in making any new records as Letters to Cleo...[w]e are all only in it for the fun of it. We’re all so busy with other things; we’re only in this for kicks."

The band is selling a "new" disc at the shows entitled When Did We Do That?, which is a collection of demos, unreleased tracks, and soundtrack cuts from films like "The Craft" and "10 Things I Hate About You."

Tickets for the Bowery Ballroom show are $20 and the band is playing with The Cassavettes.

Letters to Cleo - Here and Now

Letters To Cleo's Website
Letters To Cleo's MySpace Profile

Sunday, December 07, 2008

AC/DC Live: RockBand Track Pack Review (XBOX 360)

AC/DC Live: RockBand Track Pack ReviewAC/DC Live RockBand Track Pack is a fun run-through of the band's 1991 concert at the Castle Donington Festival (note: this is the same concert that was released on DVD in 2007). The band was touring on the Razor's Edge CD at the time and their 18-song set is a nice mix of (then) current and Bon Scott-era material. As this show was professionally filmed, the sound quality of the set is excellent.

Here is the tracklist for the set:
01) "Thunderstruck"
02) "Shoot to Thrill"
03) "Back in Black"
04) "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"
05) "Heatseeker"
06) "Fire Your Guns"
07) "Jailbreak"
08) "The Jack"
09) "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
10) "Moneytalks"
11) "Hells Bells"
12) "High Voltage"
13) "Whole Lotta Rosie"
14) "You Shook Me All Night Long"
15) "T.N.T."
16) "Let There Be Rock"
17) "Highway To Hell"
18) "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)"

Like the new AC/DC CD, Black Ice, this Track Pack disc is sold only as a stand-alone through Wal-Mart. The game can be played outside of RockBand but I would suspect that most people will import the songs into RockBand (for which there is a download code inside the package). As a stand-alone game, the functionality is somewhat similar to RockBand I and there is limited functionality available outside of being able to play the concert straight-through using the pre-generated band characters. While the tunes themselves can be a workout, you are going to need to import the songs into RockBand for World Tour, online play and to customize and equip the characters.

If you are an AC/DC fan, this game becomes a "must have". My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen the band's likenesses used for the characters.

Electric Touch: Review of Self-Titled Debut CD (Justice Records)

Electric Touch - Review of Self-Titled CD (Justice Records)Coming across like a less-mopey version of The Killers or The Bravery, Electric Touch has spent a lot this year on the road playing high-profile festivals and creating a lot of buzz. The band formed just over a year ago and spent this year playing SxSW, ACL, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo Music Festival, V Festival in addition to touring with The Fratellis. The band's self-titled debut came out at the end of the summer on Justice Records.

Electric Touch's CD is a solid piece of 80's new-wave crossed with 90's indie-rock. The band is composed of three Texans (guitarist Christopher Leigh, bassist Ross Dubois, and drummer Louis Messina) and a British transplant (frontman/guitarist Sane Lawlor). The band has a distinctive sound as Lawlor has a tendency to sound a bit like late-period John Lenon (thinking specifically of Lenon's work with Cheap Trick) and the band's rhythm section falls somewhere between Cheap Trick and a more aggressive version of Duran Duran. Producer Chris Smith (Meat Puppets, Built To Spill, The Dandy Warhols) adds a clean feel to the band's sound where the vocals and instruments are equally highlighted and he also gives the disc a "big rock/arena" sound.

This is one of those CD where, if you like one of the cuts, you'll likely enjoy the whole disc. While the band's sound is consistent across the disc's ten tracks, none of the tunes are repetitive and Electric Touch's debut is engaging from end-to-end.

Six of the disc's ten tracks are streaming on the band's MySpace page (link below) and here is the promo video for "Live In Our Hearts".

Electric Touch just finished an East Coast tour and are currently playing a few shows around Texas. Upcoming tour dates are:

Dec 8 2008 8:00PM, Scout Bar, Beaumont, Texas
Dec 9 2008 8:00PM, Scout Bar San Antonio, Texas
Dec 10 2008 8:00PM, Dos Amigos, Odessa, Texas
Dec 12 2008 8:00PM, Warehouse Live w/ The Secret Machines & Perry Farrell, Houston, Texas

Electric Touch's MySpace Profile

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Throbbing Gristle Release Ltd. Edition LP of Live Performance of 'Second Annual Report'

Throbbing Gristle Release 30th Anniversary Live LPAs much as I would love to own this on LP, I don't think Santa is going to be bringing me a $200 record this year.

Throbbing Gristle recently released a special limited edition live LP in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the band's first album, The Second Annual Report. This LP is limited to 777 copies and it was recorded at Throbbing Gristle's live demonstration at La Villette in Paris on 6th June 2008 at which they performed a reinterpretation of The Second Annual Report.

This album is pre-framed in high-quality white gloss acrylic with an easy access clear window for removal of the record/sleeve and ready to hang. Purchasers of this record will also receive a special 'black' extended CD version, which includes extra tracks that would not fit on the vinyl format. In addition, all buyers of the framed edition will have access to a free digital download of the extended version and a PDF booklet of text and photos.

If it wasn't such a bad economic time, I'd be all over this. Instead, I'll probably buy this on iTunes for $10.

Throbbing Gristle's Website

Monika H. Band - Live @ Rockwood Music Hall, November 19, 2008brellas We Slept CD Review

While I enjoyed Monika H.'s latest CD, Disguised as Umbrellas, We Slept (see previous review), the band's live show is extraordinary. I caught the band's live set at Rockwood Music Hall a few weeks ago and was blown away.

The musical structure of the live set was a cross between the downtown jazz of artists like John Zorn and the free-form experimental sounds of artists like Robert Fripp and Throbbing Gristle. As seemingly spontaneous and unpredictable as the music was, there was a clear sense of structure beneath the complex intertwining of the instruments and Monika's voice.

At Rockwood, Monika was playing with a full brass section and the song arrangements were fairly different from that on the new CD. Check out some of the videos that I filmed at the show:

Monika H. Band - Rockwood Music Hall 11/19/08

Monika H. Band - Rockwood Music Hall 11/19/08

Monika H. Band is playing Southpaw on December 16th along with Viva and Nation Beat. Tickets are $10.

Monika H. Band's MySpace Page
Monika H. Band's Website

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bugs In The Dark Host Video Screening Party Tonight at Floyd NY (Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn)

Bugs In The Dark Host Video Screening Party Tonight (12/2) at Floyd NYBugs In The Dark are hosting a video screening party tonight at Floyd NY (131 Atlantic Avenue) for their latest video "Paranoia".

"Paranoia" comes off of Bugs In The Dark's Grand Avenue CD which was released earlier this year and the video was directed by Alex Terrazas. There is no cover charge tonight and cheap drink specials. The video is showing every hour on the hour, from 9PM to 2AM.

Bugs In The Dark's Website

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Bronx Release Facebook Game - Free Download When You Win

The Bronx Release Flamingos Attack Game on FacebookLos Angeles punk rockers The Bronx are back with a new disc, The Bronx (III), which was released a few weeks ago on White Drugs/Original Signal Recordings.

I don't think The Bronx have been out on the East Coast since their tour a few years back with Lifetime but the band was just in town for a packed-to-the-gills show at CMJ. Check out the CMJ staff blog for pictures and a review.

The band just released a Facebook Game, Flamingos Attack, where the user has to get the punk rock kid to the venue and avoid getting pecked to death by flamingos. "They may be beautiful, but FLAMINGOS are also deceptively treacherous creatures. Not only are they the dirtiest bird in existence and have bad smelling poop, but they also have an innate desire to rip the heads off innocent, god-fearing punk rock kids who simply want to see their favorite punk rock band, THE BRONX, perform one of their amazing live shows. "

The game is amusing and only takes a minute or two to play. Once you get the kid to the venue, you get a free download of The Bronx new single, "Young Bloods".

The Bronx's MySpace Profile