Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Loren Benjamin Plays Pre-New Year Show at Rockwood Music Hall, Friday, Dec. 28th at 7pm

Loren Benjamin Plays Pre-New Year Show at Rockwood Music Hall, Friday, Dec. 28th at 7pm
NYC-based singer-songwriter Loren Benjamin, is influenced heavily by the music of the 60's and 70's, including classic songwriters like Elton John and Billy Joel as well as The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Born and raised in New York City, he consistently delivers stunning performances at many great NYC venues, including Highline Ballroom last April and BB King in Times Square earlier this month. Loren plays the guitar and the piano, and is an extremely talented and prolific songwriter, with catchy instrumentals and sensitive lyrics that touch the heart.

(Loren Benjamin's cover of Rihanna's "We Found Love", Highline Ballroom - May. '12)

Benjamin and band are playing as an acoustic trio at a pre-New Year Show this Friday at Rockwood Music Hall. Benjamin goes on at 7PM and is followed by Sophie Auster (8PM) and Jay White (9PM).

Loren Benjamin

Monday, December 24, 2012

Krokus Signs to The End Records and Announces 'Dirty Dynamite' Due Out March 5th

STREAM: Krokus - "Dirty Dynamite"

I'm always a bit intrigued when I come across a metal band who has been around for almost 40 years and I really have no clue what they have done outside of covers of the Guess Who's "American Woman" and Alice Cooper's "Schools Out". While I remember critics panning the band as an AC/DC rip-off, the title track from this new disc is a blues-rock number that sounds closer to the (London) Quireboys than AC/DC.

Krokus Signs to The End Records and Announces 'Dirty Dynamite' Due Out March 5th
For almost 40 years now, Krokus has stood for high-quality, honest-to-goodness, hand-made power rock. No other Swiss rock band sells albums and its back catalogue worldwide like Krokus. The band has already sold over 14 million records, toured the world, and received gold and platinum discs in the USA and Canada. The milestones in their rock career are dotted around the world: from Australia and the USA to Mexico, Russia, Japan, and China.

But it hasn't all been one long high: death, sickness, and internal strife have pushed the band to the brink of collapse. The story of Krokus is like no other. Dotted with highs and lows, sell-out stadium concerts and sweaty club gigs, these five musketeers of rock have outlasted trends and survived treacherous US managers, tough splits, bad deals, shady lawyers, drugs, awful fast food, endless bus trips, disco, grunge, grotesque record companies, and double-dealing advisers. (Too late guys - 'The Story of Anvil' has already been made)

Today they are back in their classic line-up plus Mandy Meyer (who briefly replaced Steve Howe in Asia) and are stronger than ever on their new album, Dirty Dynamite. The band spent a whole two years working on the new album under the watchful eye of Chris Von Rohr. "We didn't spend all that time on golf courses or tennis courts. No, we just wanted to make our best album yet, the magnum opus of the new Krokus era," says the hit producer. Guitarist Mark Kohler has this to add: "This is not just another Krokus album. I think we have definitely passed another rock milestone with this record."

To reach this goal, no expense was spared; the band booked into the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. Krokus went back to their roots, back to where it all began with the Stones, the Beatles, the Free, the Who, and the Bluesbreakers; back to where the band headlined concerts in the Hammersmith Odeon, celebrating their first international success. "The atmosphere there is very special, and we wanted to make the most of that," says singer Marc Storace. Guitarist Fernando von Arb is quick to add: "With Dirty Dynamite, we have recorded the urgently needed, dirty kind of rock that no one plays in this country."


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lissie (Maurus) Announces New Disc Will Be Out in the Spring

It has now been a year since Lissie released her covers EP, "Covered Up With Flowers", and over two years since her last studio disc so I was beginning to wonder when something new would surface. Lissie just sent out an email to her mailing list that her new disc is complete and will be out in the spring.

Señor don Lucas and I,, he's a mezcalaro,, the agave fields and production are his & his families. They produce quality mezcal I'm hoping to sell a special edition of!

Hello friends,

Wanted to check in with you all and let you know what I' ve been up to!

I finished recording my new album and hope to release it in the spring! I'm really excited about our new songs / music! I had an incredible time making the record in Topanga canyon, California and am really anxious to share!

In the meantime I'm going on a couple adventures! You can see all the photos I've been taking on my Twitter and Instagram and on Flickr.

As some of you know I love a good tequila and more recently I've developed a taste for mezcal which is also made from agave. My friend Todd has a brand of tequila and mezcal called Metl, the latter of which is made just outside of Miahuatlan, Mexico.

So, a film crew, Todd, and I have travelled down here to develop a special edition of mezcal that I can share with my fans! We'll be exploring Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Matalan, Miahuatlan, Zipolite beach, and Puerto Escondido beach!

Upon my return I'll have some great video footage to post and a link for you all to purchase my special edition of mezcal.

On Dec. 17th Eric, my guitar player, and I will head to Haiti with changing tides orphanage. This past August we played a fundraising concert that raised $18,000.00 for the orphanage and school so the founder is kindly taking us to visit and meet the kids.

We'll take 3 small acoustic guitars that Fender graciously donated with us to leave there. We hope to teach some songs to the kids as well as learn some Haitian tunes.

That trip will also be filmed so my aim is to share concert footage of the kids and us! I'm very much looking forward to it! From what I've heard, these are some incredibly special, resilient and spirited children!

So, that's what's going on! I miss you all and life playing music on the road! I'll be in your town with new music soon! Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoy the pictures from my travels!

Lissie x
Below is an audience video of a new song, "Shameless", filmed at Coachella erlier this year.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Everest Cale & Stone Cold Fox Plays Pianos on January 4th

Everest Cale & Stone Cold Fox Plays Pianos on January 4thBrooklyn roots-root band Everest Cale is celebrating the release of their "Beast" video with a show at Pianos on January 4th. I reviewed the band's debut EP a few months back (link) and thought the band's sound was comparable to artists like Kevn Kinney and Connor Oberst.

“Beast,” the titular single from the band’s debut EP, is a dark love song with a cinematic video to match. Shot in and around lead singer Brett Treacy’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment, produced by Treetop Pictures, directed by Chris Sandas and starring NY-based actress Marisol Sacramento, the video paints a picture of deception and heartbreak matching the mood of the song.

On this note, the blog MusicUnderFire noted that the song’s opening lyric “‘Cut the apple from your eye before she takes a bite,’ is more than enough to assure that you’ve stumbled upon greatness. Love is brutal and Everest Cale is explicitly descriptive of the torture."

Also on the bill is the fabulous indie-rock band Stone Cold Fox (another local band whose sound brings to mind post Brit-Pop acts like Radiohead and Coldplay) who are also touring behind their debut EP, "The Young" (link to review).

Tickets are $10 and the full lineup for the night is Basement Batman (8PM), Everest Cale (9PM), Stone Cold Fox (10PM) and Moon Furies (12AM).

Everest Cale

Friday, December 21, 2012

Phantom of the Opera: Win Tickets to the Show's 25th Anniversary Performance and Post-Performance Party

Phantom of the Opera: Win Tickets to the Show's 25th Anniversary Performance and Post-Performance Party
Enter now through January 2nd for your chance to win one of 100 pairs of tickets to the 25th Anniversary Performance of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Saturday, January 26th.

Enter directly through the contest's Facebook page.

100 lucky winners will receive a pair of tickets to the Anniversary performance, and two grand prize winners, in addition to the performance, will also receive additional passes to the exclusive post-performance party, as well as a one-night stay at the Algonquin Hotel (Exclusive official Hotel Sweepstakes Partner) and air transportation from American Airlines (Exclusive Official Airline Sweepstakes Partner) for two during the weekend of the event.

Phantom of the Opera

Railbird Posts School of Seven Bells Remix of "MIRRORs" as a Free Download

DOWNLOAD: Railbird - "MIRRORs" (Posted on Consequence of Sound)

Brooklyn-based experimental psych-rock band Railbird is excited to premiere a new School of Seven Bells remix of their recent single "MIRRORs" on Consequence of Sound. To Railbird, the remix is "A journey in three movements. Benjamin [of SVIIB] established his own dreamy world within the song, then dropped it while simultaneously playing with mood and meaning throughout." Consequence agrees, stating the Benjamin's methodically slowed down version of the original jittery cut creates a "dreamy pool of contemplative reverberation and airy synth."

Railbird released their latest EP, "Lucky", in late November which includes two previously unreleased songs, as well as "Jump Ship," a track that made waves this summer after a residency at Pete's Candy Store. The video for the song, which features guest vocals from Anti recording artist Sean Rowe and Phantogram's Sarah Barthel, premiered on Brooklyn Vegan in late August.

A limited edition run of physical copies of "Lucky" will be available at shows and online as part of a bundle that includes a t-shirt with Jisoon Park's original design.

Railbird's next show is January 25th at Rockwood Music Hall. Railbird is playing with #1 Kid (feat. members of Rubblebucket), who are making their NYC debut. Tickets are $10.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Replacements - 'Color Me Obsessed' DVD Review (MVD Visual)

The Replacements - 'Color Me Obsessed' DVD Review (MVD Visual)
Almost 22 years ago, The Replacements imploded at a July 4, 1991 show in Grant Park, Chicago. The band (which was down to Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson) left the stage and had the roadies close the set with their run-through of "Kiss Me On the Bus". The band never played or recorded again until Westerberg and Stinson reunited last year to record the forthcoming 'Replacements reunion' benefit disc, "Songs for Slim". The Replacements' music was direly important to me in the 80's but it seems a shame that the spirit of The Replacements had to die for Paul Westerberg's solo career to live.

I first heard The Replacements in the mid-80's when a friend gave me a soundboard bootleg of the band playing The Pop Shop in Cleveland in 1984 and I really didn't know what to think of the band's drunkenly slurred version of the Marine Corps Hymn segueing into Kiss' "Black Diamond". Once I heard Let It Be, it all 'clicked' and I was a die-hard fan by the time Tim rolled around. Pleased To Meet Me (the first post-Bob Stinson album) had some good songs (and the demos recorded with Stinson before his departure showed what this album could have been) but Don't Tell A Soul was a disappointing reach for the mainstream. The firing of drummer Chris Mars and the completely forgettable All Shook Down was a regrettable note on which the band ended their career. get to the point of this review, "Color Me Obsessed" is a 2xDVD set that tells the story of The Replacements through the eyes of the fans. These fans are an eclectic mix of musicians (which include Greg Norton, Grant Hart, Craig Finn, etc.), music critics and journalists, actors and 'normal' concert goers. This is where "Color Me Obsessed" differs from other bio pics as there is no footage of The Replacements or any of its members (live or interview) used - the viewer needs to rely on the 'I was there' narrative of the various fans to build a mental picture of the time and place being described.

The challenge with this sort of picture is that if you weren't around during the original run of The Replacements, you have nothing to anchor to and this film becomes a bunch of talking heads going on and on about how 'this band could have changed your life'. The fan footage is interesting, brilliant in parts but ultimately drags on a bit long. Listening to Grant Hart (who I still believe can do no wrong), Terry Katzman and Mark Trehus (both longtime label/record store owners), Jack Rabid and Robert Christgau (longtime music writers/critics) added color to the band's history. Watching Dave Foley talk about how Kids in the Hall wanted to be 'The Replacements of Comedy' or Geroge Wendt ponder whether "Here Comes a Regular" was written about his Cheers character Norm was somewhat suspect. Watching fans reminisce about how they drove to a Don't Tell a Soul era concert and made out with Tommy doesn't add a lot of value. One of the "fan" interviewees was so stalker/creepy, I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe.

The bottom line is that if you weren't already a Replacements fan prior to watching "Color Me Obsessed", this film isn't going to covert you. You might actually have a hard time making it through the "the band could have been your life" stories without any music from the band to back up these claims as the same thing has been said about the Velvet Underground, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat and many other bands where the legend of the band peaked long after the breakup.

As a long time fan (I guess I can still call myself that), I learned a few things from watching the film. Specifically, I wasn't aware that there was such a power struggle between Paul Westerberg and Bob Stinson. Insider commentary talked about how there was inherent tension from the beginning as Paul joined Bob's band and later - Bob didn't want any part of the the mainstream commercial direction that Paul wanted to take the band. Most of the people interviewed for the film seemed to agree that Bob's departure was the beginning of the end.

Overall - this narrative history of The Replacements was interesting but this isn't a film I would watch more than once every couple of years. In my mind, the video below shows the magic of the original Replacements better than any talking heads.

Getting back on point - the bonus DVD contains uncut interviews with Grant Hart, Robert Christgau, and Jim DeRogatis with Greg Kot, which run an hour each. There are also nineteen deleted scenes (same sort of stuff that is on Disc One) along with interviews with director Gorman Bechard and producer Hansi Oppenheimer.

Color Me Obsessed

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yes (band) Will Play Three Complete Albums At Show At Beacon Theatre on April 9th

Yes Will Play Three Complete Albums At Show At Beacon Theatre on April 9th
I have such the aversion to 'tribute bands' that I cringed when Yes replaced vocalist Benoît David (who fronted the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge) with Jon Davison (who fronted the Yes tribute band Roundabout). It equally seems like a bad idea that Yes is going out next year and playing three albums back-to-back that 2/5 - 3/5 of the current lineup played on. I would have loved to have seen Yes do something adventurous like play through albums like Time and a Word, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Drama or Open Your Eyes but, unfortunately, it looks like Yes wants to play it safe but...this moves the band somewhere between Moody Blues (who last released an album in 2003) and tribute band territory.
Legendary progressive rock band, Yes, today announced its upcoming North American tour, kicking off March 2013 in West Wendover, NV and wrapping up May 2013 in Detroit, MI. On this tour, fans can look forward to a totally new and unique Yes experience; the band, for the first time in its storied history, will perform three of its most popular albums in their entireties, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One. Due to performance time limits in several venues, Yes will perform two albums, The Yes Album and Close to the Edge, in their entireties.

Performing three of rock’s most renowned albums will see Yes members, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, and Jon Davison, playing Yes staples that have dramatically influenced rock music over the last four decades. Fans will enjoy long time favorites, including "Yours is No Disgrace," "I’ve Seen All Good People," "Starship Trooper," "Close to the Edge," "And You And I," "Going for the One," "Wondrous Stories," "Awaken," and more, in a completely unique format. Moreover, Yes will perform all tracks in the order they appear on their corresponding studio albums.

"These albums we all easily agreed on—they are complete works in themselves. And several of the songs have rarely been performed live," says Yes guitarist, Steve Howe. "I believe the one song we’ve never performed in concert is ‘A Venture’ from The Yes Album," states Yes co-founder and bassist, Chris Squire. Yes drummer, Alan White goes on to say, "This is a great opportunity to show the growth of Yes throughout different eras, and to once again enjoy the great memories of those times, as well as create brand new ones. We’re looking forward to performing these albums. It’s going to be fun for us, and we think our fans will love it as well."
Tickets for the Beacon Theatre go on sale Dec. 14th and ticket prices range from $39.50 - $125 (or $53.25 - $143.60 after TicketMaster fees). (Update: I was curious to see what sort of tickets were left and the Beacon/TicketMaster website shows no tickets available, at any price - I'd be shocked if the show sold out that quickly so I'm wondering if it was canceled).

For anyone who wants to see what the current lineup looks like - here is a live video from a tour stop over the summer.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)
Clifford Odets’ classic drama Golden Boy re-opened on Broadway on December 6th and Bartlett Sher (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, South Pacific) directs this 75th Anniversary production in the very same theater in which it premiered. Golden Boy was originally written in 1937 and a movie was made from the play in 1939, which marked William Holden’s film debut. In later years, the story was re-written to reflect the burgeoning Civil Rights movement and re-opened on Broadway in 1964 with Sammy David Jr. in the lead role. This 75th Anniversary production reverts back to the original story with Seth Numrich (Warhorse) in the role of Joe Bonaparte and Tony Shalhoub in the role of Mr. Bonaparte.

Odets’ son, Walt Odets provides the perfect introduction to the play in an essay he wrote entitled “With Music I’m Never Alone When I’m Alone”: “In Golden Boy, my father, Clifford Odets, gave Joe Bonaparte two possibilities. Joe could remain a violinist or he could follow the lure of money and public adoration to become a prizefighter. He could have an authentic, fulfilled life or an empty one. It is important that the authentic path offered is a life in music.

Seth Numrich does a wonderful job capturing the inner-turmoil of an angry young man, desperate to make a name and a place for himself in the world. Bonaparte is a concert-level violinist but there is probably no opportunity for him to use this talent to break out of the Italian-American ghetto where he lives or to prove himself to his father. As such, Bonaparte, “the cockeyed wonder”, aggressively sells himself to down-and-out boxing manager Tom Moody. Once Moody gives Bonaparte his chance in the boxing ring, Bonaparte slowly moves to the ‘dark side’ in a familiar morality story. While Joe seems to be an adequate boxer, his key asset is that his opponents aren’t able to stand against his anger and rage, which manifest themselves with a mighty punch. Bonaparte continues to move down this path of no return and finally breaks after killing a man in the ring. This is Joe’s breaking point for he now sees what he has become and that the option of going back to his music is closed off to him.

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

Tony Shalhoub is brilliant in his role as Joe’s father – an uncompromising voice of right and wrong and the audience can feel his pain when Joe will not accept a violin that Mr. Bonaparte had scrimped and saved for. Given Mr. Bonaparte’s rigid morality, it is little wonder that he refuses to give his blessing to Joe to pursue a career as a boxer. The other standout role is Lorna Moon (played by Yvonne Strahovski), a self-professed “dame from Newark” who is also caught in her own moral dilemma – mistress to Joe’s manager who saved her from the streets so she feels a sense of obligation to him and her love for Joe.

Golden Boy is playing at Lincoln Center Theater at the Belasco (111 West 44th Street) and runs until Jan. 20th. Tickets are available through Telecharge and range from $37 - $122.

Golden Boy

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Asia - 'Resonance : The Omega Tour' Live in Basel, Switzerland CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Asia - 'Resonance : The Omega Tour' Live in Basel, Switzerland CD Review (Frontiers Records)
In looking at the current state of some of the bigger prog-rock bands of the 80's, King Crimson has gone on indefinite hiatus, Genesis became a pop band before going out with a whimper (and a poorly received new lead singer) and Yes is on the cusp of heading onto the greatest hits/revival circuit having replaced Jon Anderson with a second tribute band vocalist. Thirty years ago, who would have thought that Asia (who started off as AOR/pop band) would have matured with such grace and end up as the last of the great prog-rock bands?

Similar to Asia's Spirit of the Night live album which documented the band's 2009 Phoenix tour, Resonance is a 2CD/DVD set that captures the band in front of an enthusiastic audience during their Omega world tour. This show was recorded on May 4th 2010 in Basel, Switzerland and John Wetton describes the show as "Asia live on the road, in-your face and for your pleasure".

What is refreshing is that the band does a nice job of balancing material from Omega (five tracks from this disc are part of the live set) and Phoenix with the obligatory greatest hits. Even the greatest hits though get new life breathed into them as a number of these songs are reinterpreted as stripped-down numbers or extended jams. What is also a pleasant surprise is that the set includes "Go" from the post-Howe disc Astra as I've seen video bootlegs of the Payne/Downes/Howe lineup where Howe would leave the stage when the band played "Go" (and the rumor was that Howe wouldn't play on anything from Astra).

Here is how the band mixed up the set list: "Don't Cry" is John singing with just Geoff playing behind him, "All's A Chord" and "The Valley of Rocks" are songs from Steve Howe's solo albums and it sounds like he is the only one on the stage at the time and the extended version of "Don't Cry" starts with just Geoff and John before Carl Palmer fires up the drums midway through the song and Steve Howe follows right behind. Some of the other highlights are Carl Palmer's drum solo during the extended version of "The Heat Goes On" and Steve Howe playing Mandy Meyer's (Krokus) metallic licks on "Go".

The band sounds in great form - John Wetton's voice has held up well through the years and Carl Palmer hasn't slowed down so the song tempos remain crisp. Both Howe and Geoff Downes are integral contributors to the "warm sound" of the show and their melodic riffs, chords and experimental flourishes keeps the set sounding fresh. Resonance was recorded after the reunited band had been back together for four years and this show documents the sound of a band that has maintained their musical chops and aged with grace.

Asia - Resonance Track List
I Believe
Only Time Will Tell
Holy War
Never Again
Through My Veins
Don't Cry
All’s A Chord
The Valley Of Rocks
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Open Your Eyes

Finger On The Trigger
Time Again
An Extraordinary Life
End Of The World
The Heat Goes On
Sole Survivor
Heat Of The Moment


Friday, November 30, 2012

Rolling Stones - 'GRRR!' CD Review (ABKCO)

Rolling Stones - 'GRRR!' CD Review (ABKCO)
"GRRR!" is sound most Rolling Stones fans make when realizing they have to buy yet another greatest hits compilation to hear two new songs (of middling quality). If fans choose to trade up to the 'super deluxe edition' ($139.88 on Amazon), they can also get the official release of the 1963 IBC Demos along with a 1964 BBC session (both of which have been widely bootlegged and readily available for the past couple decades). With all of the economic pundits on the news attempting to forecast the country's economic direction (consumer spending, etc.) for 2013, a pure cash grab, like this box set, would seem to provide a good leading indicator.

Here is the track list for the three-disc set:
(Note: Also on Forty Licks - FL)

Disc 1:
1. Come On
2. Not Fade Away (FL)
3. It's All Over Now (FL)
4. Little Red Rooster
5. The Last Time (FL)
6. (I Can t Get No) Satisfaction (FL)
7. Time Is On My Side
8. Get Off Of My Cloud (FL)
9. Heart Of Stone
10. 19th Nervous Breakdown (FL)
11. As Tears Go By
12. Paint It, Black (FL)
13. Under My Thumb (FL)
14. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? (FL)
15. Ruby Tuesday (FL)
16. Let's Spend The Night Together (FL)
17. We Love You

Disc 2:
1. Jumpin' Jack Flash (FL)
2. Honky Tonk Women (FL)
3. Sympathy For The Devil (FL)
4. You Can't Always Get What You Want (FL)
5. Gimme Shelter (FL)
6. Street Fighting Man (FL)
7. Wild Horses (FL)
8. She's A Rainbow (FL)
9. Brown Sugar (FL)
10. Happy (FL)
11. Tumbling Dice (FL)
12. Angie (FL)
13. Rocks Off
14. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
15. It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (FL)
16. Fool To Cry (FL)

Disc 3:
1. Miss You (FL)
2. Respectable
3. Beast Of Burden (FL)
4. Emotional Rescue (FL)
5. Start Me Up (FL)
6. Waiting On A Friend
7. Undercover Of The Night (FL)
8. She Was Hot
9. Streets Of Love
10. Harlem Shuffle
11. Mixed Emotions (FL)
12. Highwire
13. Love Is Strong (FL)
14. Anybody Seen My Baby? (FL)
15. Don't Stop (FL)
16. Doom And Gloom
17. One More Shot

So - what you have with GRRR! is a huge overlap with Forty Licks but Forty Licks included four new songs to GRRR!'s two. Unfortunately, another similarity to Forty Licks is that a number of tracks on GRRR! are edited versions - which makes little sense as none of this set's three discs clock in over an hour. The one thing GRRR! has going for it is that it presents the tracks in chronological order but...the problem with this is that you can quickly hear the quality of the Stones' output in decline as you get into the second half of Disc Three.

Now for the new tracks - "Doom and Gloom" is a decent mid-tempo rocker that is somewhat in the same vein as "Don't Stop". While Jagger's vocals are immediately recognizable, Richards teases but never never throws down any memorable guitar licks and there is nothing striking from the other members of the band so this sounds more like a Jagger solo track than "the new single from the Rolling Stones". "One More Shot" is a slower bluesier number that starts off with some strong guitar licks but the song fizzles into blandness as it never kicks into high-gear (no drive, no energy, weak chorus).

Jumping over to the bonus tracks on the 'super deluxe edition':

The Stones' IBC Demos (IBC Studios, Portland Place, London, March 11, 1963) mark the Stones' first trip into the recording studio where they recorded five blues numbers with engineer Glyn Johns. My biggest complaint is that I would have expected more than 15 minutes of bonus tracks given the high price point of this set.

1. Diddley Daddy
2. Road Runner
3. Bright Lights Big City
4. Honey What's Wrong
5. I Want To Be Loved

The tracks on the 7" EP were originally recorded for the BBC's "Blues in Rhythm" program (5/9/64):
1. Route 66
2. Cops & Robbers
3. You Better Move On
4. Mona

It is a sad statement when the bootlegger outdo the major label record companies as these tracks PLUS two Saturday Club Sessions and Chess Studio, Chicago sessions were included as bonus tracks on the Russian reissues of England's Newest Hit Makers and Now!.

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" - John Lydon

Rolling Stones

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Young Things - 'Hello Love / Goodbye Sexual' CD Review

Young Things - 'Hello Love / Goodbye Sexual' CD Review
After having recently slogged through too many releases where I either couldn't figure out what the band was trying to accomplish or was simply being bored by the release, Brooklyn's Young Things' debut disc Hello Love // Goodbye Sexual goes a long way toward re-establishing my faith that there is still exciting music out there. Young Things seem to take vocal queues from Queen but combine this with soaring melodic hooks and garage-rock riffs that fall somewhere between The Killers and The Bravery and add a slice of Beatles-era McCartney on top of all this. It is a crazily compelling mix that will likely get a cooler-than-thou crowd at Mercury Lounge swaying a bit, if not dancing.

The 11-track disc (30 minutes) starts out somewhat similarly to The Bravery's The Sun and The Moon as the first track, "No One Taught You How to Fall in Love Alone", is a minute-long intro to the dark and anthemic track "All Human Life". While the intro track has a glam/Queen vibe, "All Human Life" is a fist-in-the air chant-along number with hypnotic, tribal drumming and grimy guitar riffs. Switching complete gears, the band goes from here into the urgent rock tale of suburban bliss gone awry, "Lucy Bloody Tuesday", which seems to capture elements from both The Beatles and Beck. Keeping the dance party going and never letting the listener get complacent, "Golly Gee" is a loping Brit-Pop number with clear ringing vocals from Mikey accompanied by some stiff-backed drumming. "Talking Too Loud" has a two-tone/dancehall feel and you can quickly hear the McCartney vibe being channeled on "Hello Love" and "Easy Lie". "Goodbye Sexual" is the big alt/punk-rock dance floor number with edgy, angular guitar riffs and Mikey trading off vocals with Har Mar Superstar. The disc ends with the chill-out number "A Long Time Ago Tomorrow Morning" which starts with Mikey singing out someone bottoming out backed with just an acoustic guitar.

It doesn't look like Young Things have any upcoming shows but - for anyone who needs additional music - the band has posted the Holiday EP ("Modern Christmas Music for Tomorrow's Men & Women") they recorded last year as a free download on their website.

Young Things

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary CD Review [Super Deluxe Edition]

The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary CD Review [Super Deluxe]
I'll be glad when this wave of $100 'super deluxe edition' / 'experience edition' box sets passes. Most of these releases seem like overkill and are either targeted to the 'newbie' who wants a multi-disc, greatest hits collection (plus the inevitable 'bonus tracks' exclusive to the box set) or completists who think having '50 takes' of the same song is a cool concept. The problem I have with the "super deluxe edition" of Velvet Underground & Nico is that this box seems to be targeting both the completists and the 'newbies' and, while there is some great stuff within this box, $14/disc is a steep price point.

Taking the box apart disc-by-disc, here is what you have:

Disc 1: Velvet Underground & Nico - Stereo Edition
Tracks 1 - 11 are the standard 11 studio tracks; tracks 12 - 16 are alternate takes, mixes and backing tracks. While there are some minor differences in these alternate versions, there isn't anything shocking here. These last five tracks are:
- "All Tomorrow's Parties" (Alternate Single Voice Version)
- "European Son" (Alternate Version)
- "Heroin" (Alternate Version)
- "All Tomorrow's Parties (Alternate Instrumental Mix)
- "I'll Be Your Mirror" (Alternate Mix)

Disc 2: Velvet Underground & Nico - Stereo Edition
This disc has the same 15 tracks that came out as Disc 2 of the 2002 "Deluxe Edition" of Velvet Underground and Nico (This "deluxe edition" sells for $18.05 new from Amazon 3rd party sellers or $8.99 used) and was later broken out of this set as a single disc "rarities" edition ($6.22 new from Amazon 3rd party sellers).

Disc 3: Nico - Chelsea Girl
I don't know what the record company's fascination with this release is as tracks from this disc were tacked on to the 'stereo disc' with the 2002 "deluxe edition". The issue I have is that Nico's solo material is an acquired taste - this is like getting a Yoko Ono solo CD in a John Lennon box; it really doesn't matter (except to completists) that Lennon (or in this case, various members of the Velvet Underground) played on the disc.

Given that the record company cleaned up a 2CD mono bootleg for this release, it would have been pretty cool if they had replaced this disc with a cleaned up version of Lou Reed & Nico's post-Velvet's "Bedroom Tape" or even a rehash of the Le Bataclan '72 show (with Reed, Nico and Cale).

Nico's Chelsea Girl is selling for $2.68 new from Amazon 3rd party sellers. Take a listen to the title track and see for yourself...

Disc 4: Velvet Underground - Scepter Studios Sessions & Rehearsals at the Factory, Jan. 3, 1966
This disc has both its good and bad points...the Scepter Studios Sessions are the rejected first mix of the band's VU & Nico album. It is a great raw take on these songs and "European Son" works up a head of dirgy, pre-Swans noise, "Heroin" is raw and primitive and someone sings falsetto backing vocals on "Femme Fatale" (I can't imagine either Reed or Cale taking this part but, it is unlikely it was Sterling Morrison).

The Factory rehearsals are both brilliant and disappointing. This was predominately a jam session and was allegedly recorded a week after Nico arrived in America. You can hear Reed trying to teach Nico the lyrics to "Venus In Furs" and both she and Reed take run-throughs of "There She Goes Again". What is disappointing is that these five tracks are from the same recording as an eleven-track bootleg that has been floating around since the mid-90's. For anyone curious, the bootleg has the tracks:
- Walk Alone (3:28)
- Buddy Holly jam (1:15)
- Venus in Furs/Crackin' Up (3:50)
- Blues jam (5:15)
- R & B jam (2:22)
- Run Run Run intro into Miss Joanie Lee (11:48)
- Day Tripper into Boom Boom Boom Boom (6:18)
- Heroin (6:10)
- Green Onions (5:57)
- There She Goes Again (Lou Reed vocal) (3:29)
- There She Goes Again (Nico vocal) (4:18)

Discs 5&6: Velvet Underground - Valleydale Ballroom, Columbus, Ohio, November 4, 1966
The show has been bootlegged (in its entirety) for 'forever' (vinyl bootlegs like the 1966 LP (the show's first and last song) and The Warlocks/The Falling Spikes (the rest of the songs) have been around since the 80's and the entire show was also on the more recent CD bootleg Caught Between The Twisted Stars) but this is the first time the show sounds halfway decent. The power and ferocity of the set - starting and ending with 30 minute noise pieces ("Melody Laughter" and "The Nothing Song") must have both scared the college audience and inspired many of the noise bands that followed in the 70's and 80's.

The show was recorded on a mono deck and has gone from a (bootleg grade) of VG/- to VG. It is very listenable but this isn't the sort of thing that you would play for an audio purist.

Coming back full-circle - there are essentially three discs of new material in this set. The Scepter Studios/Factory Rehearsal disc is available as part of the 2CD version of The VU & Nico 45th Anniversary Edition, along with the stereo mix of the album which includes the five bonus tracks mentioned above ($16.72 new from Amazon).

The real question is what is the value to the listener of having a cleaned-up copy of the Valleydale Ballroom show. Given that all of the other discs in this set are available outside of this set for a cheaper price, that makes the price of this box set extremely prohibitive.

Velvet Underground

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fear (Lee Ving) - 'The Fear Record' CD Review (The End Records)

Fear - 'The Fear Record' CD Review (The End Records)
Well...I've done a side-by-side comparison between The Fear Record and Fear's - The Record (the 1991 Slash/London CD version) and here is how the two compare.

To start with the obvious differences, the Slash/London contain the single "Fuck Christmas", which was recorded during the sessions for The Record but wasn't issued until after the record was released. The Fear Record contains re-recorded versions of all fourteen tracks that were originally on The Record but most of the tracks run a few seconds longer than the original versions (though there is nothing noticeable added, so not a big deal). What is somewhat strange is that the tracks have been re-ordered on The Fear Record but there doesn't seem to be a discernible reason for this.

Here is what is different about the music...the sound of the The Fear Record is noticeably louder and a lot more 'dense' instrumentation has been added. The Record has a clean sound but there isn't much of a bottom end where there is a big bottom end on this new disc. What is also very noticeable is that original guitarist Philo Cramer's clean, angular guitar lines have been replaced by more metallic riffs and the drums on this new disc aren't quite as crisp sounding as the original recording. Lee Ving's voice has held up well over the years and the vocals are pretty comparable between the two recordings.

What this disc reminds me of is The Meatmen's 1988 'farewell' album We're the Meatmen...And You Still Suck!!! where these 'later period' guitarist Stuart Casson added a much more metallic edge to the music than the studio discs with his predecessor Brian Baker. All-in-all, The Fear Record isn't a bad disc - it just isn't different enough for anyone to want to go out and replace their copy of The Record.

Check out the 2012 lineup of Fear and you will get a sense for what the differences on The Fear Record sound like.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughan - 'The Fire Meets the Fury: The Radio Broadcasts 1999" CD Review

Let's start with the obvious questions - this disc was not recorded in 1999 but in 1989, on the final dates of Stevie Ray's tour with Jeff Beck. This disc is also not a 'bootleg' but a copyright gap CD where (if I understand the UK laws correctly) artist permission is not needed to reproduced radio broadcasts that are more than twenty years old. As such, the disc is readily available through and third-party sellers have this disc available for an affordable price on

This disc was originally broadcast on King Biscuit Flower Hour and was bootlegged shortly after the broadcast under the title Last Farewell. The track list and locations are:

1)The House Is Rockin'
3)Look At Little Sister
4)Texas Flood
5)Leave My Girl Alone
6)Wall Of Denial
- Live at Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 28, 1989
(Note: There is a 7-track limited edition vinyl version of this show that recently surfaced and is available for sale at the major UK retailers. The additional track is "Let Me Love You Baby".

8)Cold Shot
9)Life Without You
11)Voodoo Chile
- Live at McNichols Arena, Denver, Colorado, November 29, 1989

While there don't appear to be any videos online from these particular shows, below is a live version of "Life Without You" that was recorded a few nights earlier.

As the music on this disc was originally broadcast on FM radio, the sound quality is perfect. Audio purists may want to note though that a 1989 radio broadcast can't quite compare to today's uber-digital multi-track recordings.

Fans of Stevie Ray are sure to appreciate this recording as I don't think there are any other commercially available recording from this tour and Stevie Ray sounds great. This tour showcased a revitalized and re-energized SRV who had recently shaken off drug and alcohol addictions and he talks a bit about how he is glad to still be standing during the 12+ minute version of "Life Without You". The other lengthy jam on this disc is a 11+ minute version of "Voodoo Chile", which closes the disc.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Guillotine Riot: Porno-Punk Band Plays Fontana's on Nov. 28th / Recording New Album w/ Steve Albini in the Spring

Guillotine Riot: Porno-Punk Band Plays Fontana's on Nov. 28th / Recording New Album w/ Steve Albini in the Spring
I've read too many band bios that read something like the following - 'Timmy and Tommy were best friends since childhood and formed a Bright Eyes tribute band in high school. The duo started writing their own music (which Timmy's grandmother said sounds better than Bright Eyes) and moved to New York to make it big. Thus far, the duo has played legendary clubs like Sidewalk Cafe and Arelene's Grocery (where THE STROKES got their start!!)'.

To that point - Guillotine Riot's bio (below) is refreshing....and what is even better is that the band has the musical chops to back up their outlook on life.  The songs on the band's new album (available as a free download) range from a cover of The Misfits' "Horror Hotel" to the angelic "Flower" (which is a song about total debauchery). 


Guillotine Riot plays Fontana's on Wednesday, Nov. 28th along with Shattersound and Erica Glyn. Cover is $7 and Guillotine Riot go on at 11PM.

Guillotine Riot

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cotton Club Parade: A Celebration of the Music of Duke Ellington Made an Encore Return to City Center for a 6-Show Run

Cotton Club Parade: A Celebration of the Music of Duke Ellington Made an Encore Return to City Center for a 6-Show Run
Broadway musical Cotton Club Parade opened for a limited six-show run at City Center earlier this month. The show is an exhilarating celebration of Duke Ellington's four year residency at the famed Harlem nightclub which started in 1927, "when the joint was jumping with revues featuring big band swing and blues, dancers, singers, comedians and novelty acts".

Jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis serves as the musical director and he and the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars orchestra provide the musical backdrop and the rhythmic heartbeat for this recreation of the Cotton Club’s floor shows.

This show marks the Broadway debut of Glee’s Amber Riley and, while she stays within her "Mercedes Jones" comfort zone when belting out "On the Sunny Side of the Street", her rendition holds its own against Ella Fitzgerald's earlier version. Other stand-out vocal performers were Joshua Henry (who is also part of the cast of Porgy and Bess), who served as the show’s narrator and tour guide for this evening’s trip though uptown Harlem, and torch singer/vamp (and Tony award winner) Adrienne Lenox. Henry has a strong singing voice (and he delivered a particularly delightful version of "I've Got the World on a String" - a snippet of which can be seen in the video below) and his narration, which he mixes with quotes from Langston Hughes' "Montage of a Dream Deferred", helps paint the picture of Harlem in the 1920's. Lenox serves as a counter-point to Henry's narration about the glories of the night and she nails Sippie Wallace’s “Women Be Wise” along with the sultry "Go Back to Where You Stayed Last Night".

The dancing was what kept the audience riveted as it ranged from from formal to tap to free-form. The tightly choreographed, limb-popping dancing of Jeremiah “Supaman” Haynes and Andrew “Dr. Ew” Carter was simply phenomenal and the duo’s showcase number was “Hottentot”. Both the music and dancing came together on the full cast tour de force finale “Freeze and Melt”.

The night that I was in attendance, the show looked to be at capacity so...if Cotton Club Parade comes back for a second encore next year, I wouldn't wait to get tickets as you might otherwise miss out on what The Times called a "thrilling 90-minute celebration” that “made period jazz come to life with a focused intensity and rhythmic savvy".

Cotton Club Parade

Monday, November 19, 2012

Joshua James - 'From the Top of Willamette Mountain' CD Review ( Intelligent Noise)

Joshua James - 'From the Top of Willamette Mountain' CD Review ( Intelligent Noise)
Folk/Americana artist Joshua James spent five years touring the world in support of his first two discs, 2007’s The Sun Is Always Brighter and 2009’s Build Me This. In early 2011, he headed back to Utah, and, during this extended stay at home, James took to vegetable gardening, raising goats and chickens, and developed a heightened connection to the living things around him. Ultimately, his home and burgeoning farm were deemed ‘Willamette Mountain,’ a namesake that came to James in a dream. Both figuratively and literally, Willamette Mountain serves as a daily reminder of the simple beauties that can so easily be overlooked. “We’ve got a few acres, goats and honeybees,” he says, “it’s a place for reconnecting with nature, and for letting go of everything else.” It was here that James bore the songs compiling his newest album, appropriately titled From The Top Of Willamette Mountain.

The album artwork contains a number of hand-drawn photos of Willamette Mountain though James notes on an inside panel "i am not real". In James' "imaginary place where anything and everything was possible", he tells vivid narratives of hope and redemption, salvation and damnation and good and evil. The disc was produced by The Shins' keyboardist Richard Swift (who also produced Damien Jurado) who captured the immediacy and intimacy of James’ live performances.

Music on this new disc ranges from minimalistic, rustic Americana to reverb-laden 60's pop to dark-hued, full-bodied folk numbers. The disc starts out with the rustic "Mystic" where James' lyrics tell the tale of finding a little woman who had "the color of the city and the fire of a country flame" but James later laments "I sold you for a cigarette / I hope you'd sell me off for less". James shifts gears for the next track, "Queen of the City", which is the album's first single. This is an upbeat, electric number which James describes as a "'me n’ my dog' song" which he wrote after a late-night drinking session, alone at home with his dog. The song contains the line "My dog ain’t nothin, he ain’t nothin like my lover". James takes the tempo back down on the next cut, "Surrender", which is a striped-down piano waltz. Toward the middle of the disc, James heads in a more traditional Americana direction but mixes things up with "So I Did" - a shimmery, echo & reverb laden 60's pop number which sounds like it could have come out of The Zombies back catalog. The disc's strongest cuts are "Ghost in the Town" and "Holly, Halej", both of which have a "Dylanish" full-band sound that could easily attract fans of more mainstream acts like Wilco and Mumford and Sons.

Joshua's next show is at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on January 17th (Tickets).

Joshua James

Stone Cold Fox - 'The Young' EP CD Review / Show at Bowery Electric on Dec. 7th

Stone Cold Fox - 'The Young' EP CD Review / Show at Bowery Electric on Dec. 7th
Stone Cold Fox formed last year but the band has an immediately recognizable sound that is rooted in the post Brit-Pop sound of the bands of the late-90’s. Vocalist Kevin Olken has a distinctive and emotive voice and the band plays intricate and atmospheric indie-pop, which easily leads to comparisons to bands like Coldplay, The Walkmen and early Radiohead.

Stone Cold Fox’ was formed last year by Kevin Olken and Ariel Loh and the duo’s acoustic bedroom project morphed into a full band group. The band’s debut EP, “The Young”, was released earlier this year and the disc has a mature sound (especially for being a debut disc) so you could easily convince your friends that Stone Cold Fox was a contemporary of the aforementioned bands. It is with good reason that Filter Magazine called the band “the new band that you all should know”.

The disc starts with the melancholy “Pictures” which is carried by Olken’s vocals for the first minute of the song before the full band kicks in and drives the song toward its big melodic chorus, which include strong vocals harmonies. The next cut, “American”, is a more upbeat number with a faster tempo and this song could be a big radio hit if this disc hits the right ears. “Father Spirit” is another standout cut with its repeating guitar riff and strong rhythm section pushing the song forward. The disc ends with the chill-out number “Wild Cats”, which prominently features Olken’s vocals with minimalist instrumentation (which sounds to include strings).

In an interview with Pop’stache, Kevin describes the lyrical themes of the disc as an “album…about coming of age. ”American” does place that theme in America specifically, but the other songs are really more about nostalgia for a loss of home. I wrote these songs in my last year of college and that is really the “coming of age” period I was thinking of. I think the “graduating college period” is a really important stage in development that I wanted to dive into. You feel you can’t go back home but you don’t have a new home to go to.

Stone Cold Fox premiered some new songs live last month and the band is heading back into the studio later this month to start recording this new material. Below is a (presumably) new song, “Graduation”, from the band’s CMJ show at Trash Bar.

Stone Cold Fox plays Bowery Electric on December 7th along with At The Moment, Alex Vans and These Animals. Advance tickets are $8 and doors are at 6:30PM.

Stone Cold Fox

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sacred Reich - 'Live at Wacken' CD/DVD Review (Metal Blade)

STREAM: Sacred Reich - "Surf Nicaragua" (From Live at Wacken)

Sacred Reich - 'Live at Wacken' CD/DVD Review (Metal Blade)
It has been 15 years since Arizona political-thrasher Sacred Reich released their last disc but that changes on November 20th, when Metal Blade releases a DVD/CD of the band’s performance at Wacken in 2007. Live at Wacken was recorded on the band’s very brief 20th Anniversary tour with this show taking place at the Waken Open Air festival on August 4, 2007, in front of 60,000 metal fans.

Sacred Reich’s last studio disc, Heal, came out in 1996 and AllMusic called the disc the “finest Sacred Reich offering of the '90s, if not their entire career”. Unfortunately, like a lot of bands of that era – Sacred Reich seemed to get lost in the grunge-induced major label feeding frenzy (the band recorded Independent for Hollywood Records) and the post-grunge collapse. When asked about the band’s post-reunion set list and future plans, vocalist/bassist Phil Rind said in a interview with Lords of MetalWe will focus on the older songs. We don’t have any new material, so sorry, no new songs. Hopefully we won’t suck! (laughs)…We have all moved forward from the band days and Sacred Reich is not the priority it once was. I really don’t see a new record in the future.

To Phil’s point, the set list from Live at Wacken comes primarily from the band’s first three discs – Ignorance (1987), "Surf Nicaragua" EP (1988) and The American Way (1990). The band sounds in great form at this show and sound like they are enjoying themselves. Phil gives a shout-out to thank the fans for their support and to Destruction, who were also on the bill at Wacken in 2007 and had played with Sacred Reich on their first trip to Europe. Highlights of the show are guitarist Wiley Arnett's shredding guitar work, the slow burning "Who's To Blame", "War Pigs" - where the audience sings the first verse and the blistering show finale "Surf Nicaragua".

Live At Wacken track listing:
01. The American Way (from The American Way)
02. Administrative Decisions (from Ignorance)
03. One Nation (from "Surf Nicaragua" EP)
04. Love… Hate (from The American Way)
05. Ignorance (from Ignorance)
06. Crimes Against Humanity (from The American Way)
07. Who's To Blame (from The American Way)
08. State Of Emergency (from The American Way)
09. War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover) (from "Surf Nicaragua" EP)
10. Independent (from Independent)
11. Death Squad (from Ignorance)
12. Surf Nicaragua (from "Surf Nicaragua" EP)

For anyone looking to catch up on Sacred Reich’s back catalogue, Metal Blade Europe issued Sacred Reich’s first two discs as a 3CD set entitled Surf Ignorance, which includes bonus tracks (including a cover of Judas Priest’s “Rapid Fire”, with Rob Halford on vocals). American Way was reissued on Displeased Records a few years back and this reissue also has bonus tracks.

While Sacred Reich is only playing sporadic live shows, the band played a short run of shows in Europe earlier this summer as part of a brief 25th Anniversary tour. The band also has a few US shows scheduled over the next few months.

Sacred Reich Tour Dates

Sacred Reich

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nathan Xander (Indie-Americana) Plays an Early Show at Mercury Lounge on November 19th

Nathan Xander (Indie-Americana) Plays an Early Show at Mercury Lounge on November 19th
"'s sad, haunting, beautiful, universal and lingers in your brain... Nathan Xander's songs are simple but smart, sparse but with space and definitely get to the heart of matters of the heart." - Reglar Wiglar

'Indie-Americana' probably isn't an accurate label (but I couldn't come up with anything better) as this isn't the 'rustic alt-country twang' of many of the artists who occupy the Americana genre. Xanders' new self-titled disc is moody and haunting and has more in common with artists like Chris Isaak, though he doesn't go down the 'Roy Orbison path' as Isaak did. I hadn't heard of Nathan Xander prior to receiving an email about Monday night's show and was planning on posting something quickly and getting back to work on some other projects but found myself getting drawn in by his new disc which should translate well to the live stage, given the intimacy of Mercury Lounge.

The show at Mercury Lounge starts at 6:30PM which is the listed time for both doors and Xanders' set time. Water Liars take the stage at 7:30PM and advance tickets are $10.

Nathan Xander

Joshua James Premiers Video for "Queen of the City" from 'From The Top Of Willamette Mountain' (Intelligent Noise)

DOWNLOAD: Joshua James - "Queen of the City"

(Photo: Jake Buntjer)

Joshua James Premiers Video for 'Queen of the City' from 'From The Top Of Willamette Mountain' (Intelligent Noise)
From The Top Of Willamette Mountain (released Nov. 6th via Intelligent Noise) is a collection of 11 songs that hone James' singular voice and further establish him as a formidable artist. Sweeping album opener "Mystic" immediately sets the tone with its evocative dynamics and soul-searching lyrics, while "Surrender" is a classic, early '60s pop waltz through existential angst, and "Wolves" moves from a sparse beauty to a symphonic gale. "Doctor, Oh Doctor" highlights the album's softer contemplations and the gently swinging title track, "Willamette Mountain", name-checks James' farm in rural Utah, where he's learned to live off the land and appreciate a simpler pace. Innovative yet with an intimate, familiar feel, From The Top Of Willamette Mountain marks a time of transition and acceptance, a deeply personal record about finding one's center in a world of differences.

James was raised in Lincoln, NE but now resides in American Fork, UT, at the foot of the Wasatch Mountain Range. He has spent the majority of the past five years on the road, as a headliner and with artists including The Swell Season, Ben Harper, and Ani DiFranco. His previous albums The Sun Is Always Brighter and Build Me This both reached #1 on the iTunes Folk Chart, as well as earning 'Best of iTunes' album honors in their respective years of release.

Having recently returned from touring the UK, Ireland, and Europe ("It's touching, involved and eminently likeable, but best of all, it's quite brilliantly and complexly fully formed. Let's hope someone rushes him back" - GoldenPlec), James will play two shows in Provo, UT at Velour on November 28th and 29th to celebrate the album's release. 2013 US tour dates will be announced soon.

Joshua James Tour Dates:

James will also have two songs, "Coal War" (off 2009's Build Me This) and "No Milk Today," featured on the upcoming official FX series soundtrack Sons Of Anarchy, Vol. 2, which will be released November 19th via Columbia Records. The soundtrack can be pre-ordered now via iTunes.

Joshua James

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - 'Yin & Yang' CD Review (Cherry Red Records)

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene - 'Yin & Yang' CD Review (Cherry Red Records)
Jah Wobble described the impetus behind this new album (and reunion with original PiL guitarist Keith Levene) by saying "I reunited with Keith a couple of years ago. He was off smack and keen to play again. We had a bash in a rehearsal room and it went well. To start with I got him to play on three tracks of the album (Psychic Life) that I was making with Julie Campbell (Lonelady). Since then we have performed ‘Metal Box in Dub’ live. These shows were very well received. As far as I was concerned he was back and on top of his game again. I thought it would be a good idea to go and record some new material."

Given Wobble and Levene's history, Yin & Yang's dissonant rhythms, rumbling bass lines and squalling, atonal guitar riffs will come as no surprise. Some of the surprises are Wobble's free-form spoken word lyrics (shades of John Cooper Clarke and Genesis P-Orridge) on "Ying and Yang" and "Jags & Staffs", a complete deconstruction of George Harrison's "Within You Without You" which leaves the piece sounding like a Psychic TV number and the upbeat, Southern-tinged 60's pop song "Mississippi", which is a "Jack Kerouac" travelogue with big Beach Boys-style harmonies.

Other numbers like the instrumental "Back on the Block" bring out both the sound and anger of the early PiL numbers and "Understand"/"Understand Dub" take PiL's reggae/dub influences one step further. Interestingly, "Understand" features Nathan Maverick who sang the PiL numbers at the Metal Box in Dub shows but, on this track, there is no trace of Lydon's howl. "Fluid"/"Vampires" (note: the tracks run together) take PiL's core sound and adds a free-form jazz element. Wobble said "When Keith and I performed ‘Metal Box In Dub’ I invited my regular trumpet player Sean Corby along. I knew that he would help inject an element of ‘Electric period Miles’ into the mix. Not long after we had finished recording ‘Metal Box’ back in 1979 I heard Miles Davis’s ‘Dark Magus.’ Well, it absolutely blew me away. Sean steals the show on "Fluid", my old friend ‘Little Annie’ does the same on "Vampires". Marc Layton-Bennett, my regular drummer, plays like a demon throughout."

Wobble describes this disc as "linked to psychedelic music (especially the British variety), of the swinging sixties through the mid seventies that we both would have been exposed to when we were young. Bands such as Hawkwind and the Pretty Things spring to mind." From my perspective, Yin & Yang sounds like a logical extension of PiL's Metal Box and the songs hold up well after repeated listens.

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene

The Doors - "Live at the Bowl '68" CD Review (Rhino)

The Doors - 'Live at the Bowl 68' CD Review (Rhino)
"What the world needs now is another folk singer
like I need a hole in my head." - "Teen Angst" by Cracker

Over the last decade, there has been overabundance of archival live material from The Doors so the key question with this release is whether the world needs yet another Doors' live album.

While the other Doors live albums have all been previously unreleased (commercially), Live at the Bowl has an interesting heritage as this July 5, 1968 performance was originally released as a 22 minutes / seven track mini-album in the late 80's and appeared to be just a teaser for the fourteen track VHS recording of the same show. This new release takes the show to 66 minutes / twenty tracks but there are a couple of caveats that need to be noted. First is that listing twenty tracks is somewhat deceiving as some of these tracks are spoken word/poetry interludes within a song ("Horse Latitudes", "A Little Game", "The Hill Dweller") and other tracks are just song snippets: "The End (Segue") is a nice intro to "The End" but certainly not a stand-alone track, "Light My Fire (Reprise)" is just a few brushed keyboard notes as the band moves into "The Unknown Soldier" and "The Wasp (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)" never gets past Morrison's spoken word intro before going into "Hello I Love You". Lastly, audio purists may cringe that Morrison's vocals on "When The Music's Over", "The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)" and "Hello I Love You" weren't recorded due to technical difficulties so vocals have been cut in from the Absolutely Live recordings.

On a positive note - the band sounds in top form and the recording is crystal clear. The 'sonic brilliance' immediately caught my ear and the separation between the individual instruments and vocals allows you to clearly hear every note and every nuance. Each of the band members have their moment to shine and Morrison, for the most part, stays on point and delivers spot-on vocals without heading into any of the ragged, free-form rants that made some the band's other live albums (Live in Pittsburgh 1970 comes immediately to mind) sound like complete train wrecks. This isn't a 'by the books' recording though as the band adds some great improvisations and flourishes to the songs. Morrison apparently took LSD before going on which seemed to kick in toward the end of the set and he seems to have some fun with "Unknown Solider" and god only knows if he truly confused a grasshopper and a moth during the free-form section of "The End".

(Note: this are old YouTube video which, given their age, have to be from the original release of "Live at the Hollywood Bowl". This new release is supposed to look infinitely better.)

Getting back on point to my opening question - this album offers something different to Doors' fans so it doesn't look like a "cash grab" rehash. Most of the recent Doors archival material has been from the band's 1970 tour and I couldn't find any shows in the band's Wikipedia discography that were from 1968. Lastly, the sound quality is amazing...if the LA Woman reissue sounded this good, I might have written a different review.

The Doors

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Heiress: Three Upcoming Performances Will Include Post-Show Q&A With Cast (moderated by Karen Holt - O Magazine)

The Heiress: Three Upcoming Performances Will Include Post-Show Q&A With Cast (hosted by Karen Holt)
The Heiress is the story of Catherine Sloper, the shy and sheltered daughter of a prominent New Yorker. Caught between the demands of an emotionally distant father and the attentions of a passionate young suitor, Catherine must navigate the terrain of love and regret, desire and duty, a chance for happiness and the burden of fortune…as only an heiress can. The broadway production was “suggested by” Henry James’s 1880 novel Washington Square, and was adapted for the screen for the 1949 film starring Olivia de Havilland.

After three upcoming performances, Karen Holt, Contributing Editor of O Magazine, will moderate a Q&A with cast members to talk about the art of adaptation and the play’s literary roots. These Q&A discussions will take place after the Nov. 20th, Dec. 4th and Dec. 11th performances. (Click on any of the hyperlinked dates to buy tickets)

The Heiress

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Hounds Below (x-Von Bodies) Play Rock Shop Tomorrow (Nov-14) and The Delancey on Friday (Nov-16)

After Detroit garage rockers The Von Bodies broke up last year, vocalist/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer wasted no time in making The Hounds Below his next full-time project. Moving from garage rock to post-punk, All Music called the band's debut disc Light Me Up in the Dark (released last month) "a meeting point between The Cure, early U2, The Pixies and a number of other bands of similar vintage".

Last time through, The Hounds Below were supporting The Cribs so they played the not-so-intimate Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg. This time around, the band is touring with Pomegranates and you can see them up-close and personal. The tour is stopping at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn tomorrow night (Tickets are $10) and The Delancey on Friday night (Tickets are also $10).

The Hounds Below released their self-produced full-length debut, You Light Me Up In The Dark, on October 9 through Slimstyle Records. Though a debut from a band that only solidified its lineup this January, You Light Me Up In The Dark is a fully-formed record. The Michigan four-piece blends melodic rock, a post-punk sense of urgency and the balladeers of yesterday, mastering the art of mature indie-pop while still winking at youth’s never-ending need to wave a flag of revolt. The result is a modern love letter to the masses that manages to paint a canvas of hope detailing wasted days and blurry nights.

Made up of Jason Stollsteimer (Vocals/Guitar), Skye Thrasher (Guitar), Mathew Hofman (Bass) and Griffin Bastian (drums), The Hounds Below is full of glaring guitars backed by energetic percussion and Stollsteimer’s ability to project Detroit’s unique personality through his lyrics. Initially conceived as a solo project in 2009, Stollsteimer was approached by friends to open as their bands came through the Michigan area. “I love playing live as much as I love writing songs so I would assemble a few friends to back me up and do the show,” says Stollsteimer. This quickly led to high-profile shows through the Midwest with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Airborne Toxic Event, The Heavy, The Black Angels, and The Raveonettes.

The youthful enthusiasm of the other guys and the power of a full band really left their own creative footprint on the songs,” says Stollsteimer. “It’s updated our sound quite a bit and we’ve written many new songs.” One of the earlier songs that is still in the band’s repertoire is “For You And I,” which Stollsteimer says glibly is about “a general distrust in something larger. You can figure it out from the lyrics.” Playing close to the vest, Stollsteimer’s lyrics are most often inspired by fantasy or from observation of his friends, including their lost loves or their relationships.

The Hounds Below

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aimee Mann Posts Video for "Soon Enough" from "Charmer" (Superego Records)

Aimee Mann Posts Video for 'Soon Enough' from 'Charmer' (Superego Records)
The long awaited new album from Aimee Mann, Charmer, is available now on Superego Records. Influenced by what Mann calls the “super pop” of the 70s and 80s, the album is her first release since 2008’s celebrated @#%&*! Smilers, which the BBC called “undeniably beautiful.” Of Charmer, her eighth studio album, Mann comments, “I’m fascinated by charming people and the whole idea of charm. It's hard to remember sometimes that there is usually an agenda behind the act of being charming, and that is what I'm most interested in. Is someone’s charm being utilized just to try and entertain people, make them feel special and interesting, or is there a more sinister purpose behind it? Sometimes I think ‘charm’ can just be another word for ‘manipulation.’” The album also includes a duet with James Mercer of The Shins on “Living a Lie,” which Mann and Mercer will perform together on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” November 19.

The new video for the track “Soon Enough” is out now—directed by Ben Berman and features appearances by Tim Heidecker (who also co-wrote the song with Mann), Michael Penn and Emily Procter.

Charmer was produced by longtime friend and band member Paul Bryan and recorded with Ryan Freeland (Ray LaMontagne, Bonnie Raitt) at Stampede Origin in Los Angeles. Bryan joins Mann on the album, among many other friends and collaborators including J.J. Johnson, Jebin Bruni and Jamie Edwards. Mann wrote all of songs on the album, though two, “Living a Lie” and “Soon Enough,” are collaborations with Paul Bryan and Tim Heidecker, respectively.

Aimee Mann was in town during the storm and had to cancel her show at Bowery Ballroom but below is an audience video from her show at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

November 09 - Cincinnati, OH - 20th Century Theatre
November 10 - Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
November 11 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
November 13 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
November 14 - Chicago, IL - Park West
November 15 - Chicago, IL - Park West
November 16 - Stoughton, WI - Stoughton Opera House
November 17 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue

Aimee Mann

Friday, November 09, 2012

Queen - "Hungarian Rhapsody" CD/DVD Review (Eagle Rock)

Queen - 'Hungarian Rhapsody' CD/DVD Review (Eagle Rock)
With the flood of “deluxe edition” reissues and archival releases over the last few years, I’m convinced that most major labels don’t have a clue about the artists on their label or the demographic that they are attempting to target as many of these releases look like poorly designed cash grabs. With all the great Queen archival material that has been “floating around” as bootlegs over the last few decades, who thought releasing a full-priced DVD/CD set of Queen’s show in Budapest, Hungary from July 27, 1986 was a good idea…especially since this show took place just over two weeks after the well documented (and cheaper priced) Live at Wembley Stadium show?

Those who didn’t grow up in the era of stadium rock may not know this – but stadium rock show were highly polished, heavily rehearsed productions. With any stadium rock band, there are just minimal differences in the set and stage banter on any given night of a tour. Given this – you may be wondering what’s the difference between Live at Wembley Stadium and Hungarian Rhapsody. In short – the key difference is that the Budapest show features what is probably Queen’s only performance of the Hungarian children’s song “Tavaszi Szél Vizet Áraszt”. Unfortunately – the record company already released this song as a bonus track on the reissue of Live at Wembley so…there really is nothing new here. Completists may grumble that I’m (intentionally) ignoring the DVD Bonus Feature “A Magic Year” but there is similar ‘behind the music’ footage on Live at Wembley (both are amusing to watch once but not much more). My other reservation is that the DVD portion of Hungarian Rhapsody doesn’t include the full show (lost footage, blah, blah, blah).

On a positive note – Freddie Mercury was a brilliant front man and he is one of the few singers who could hold a full stadium in the palm of his hand. For anyone who has only been exposed to Queen through the dreadful ‘Queen + Paul Rodgers’ or ‘Queen + Adam Lambert’, you really owe it to yourself to see one of these two video from Queen’s final tour (with Freddie).

Major labels rarely listen to the fans but long-time fans should try to put pressure on the label to release one of the brilliant pro-shot live shows from 1981.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Heiress (Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens) Opened on Broadway on Nov. 1st

The Heiress (Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens) Opened on Broadway on Nov. 1st
Seeing The Heiress in previews was one of the last things I was able to do before Sandy hit...the show opened at The Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) on November 1st and this limited run engagement closes on February 10th.

The show runs two hours and forty-five minutes but the time passes quickly as the play tells the story of naive and socially-awkward heiress Catherine Sloper (Jessica Chastain) who struggles to balance the demands of an emotionally distant father (David Strathairn) and the attentions of a passionate and persuasive gold-digger (Dan Stevens). Catherine must grow up painfully quickly to navigate and survive the demands of both of the men in her life. This production marks 17 years since the celebrated play was last seen on Broadway. The Heiress is based on the classic Henry James novel Washington Square and became an Academy Award-winning film.

The Heiress (Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens) Opened on Broadway on Nov. 1st
All of the scenes take place in the parlor of the Sloper home - a beautiful home on Washington Square - and the setting is exquisite in its beauty and its attention to detail. Chastain is introduced early on as being somewhat witty around her meddling Aunt Lavinia (Judith Ivey) and painfully awkward and shy (to the point of hiding in the pantry when guests are over) around both her father and visitors.

Sloper's father, the neighborhood doctor, has no time and little use for his wall-flower daughter and blames her for the death of his wife during child birth. After one of his many impatient encounters with Catherine, he begs his sister to "help [Catherine] be clever". Given the nature of this relationship, it is little wonder that Catherine falls hard for aggressive suitor Morris Townsend. Accidental house guest Townsend pursues Sloper throughout the course of the first act and his motives, while suspect, aren't necessarily clear at first. Townsend's motives are ultimately revealed when he betrays Sloper's love and trust and ultimately breaks her heart. With this heartbreak, Sloper is forced to mature quickly and the curtain falls with Townsend getting his 'just deserts' and Sloper becoming as hard and emotionally distant as her recently deceased father.

This is a brilliant and bittersweet play that brings a dose of gritty realism to the holiday season.

The Heiress