Thursday, December 14, 2006
That is changing. After a handful of tracks together on Iggy's last album, 2003's Skull Ring, and a handful of shows, Iggy and the surviving Stooges are reuniting for a full album and tour. The Weirdness, due out March 20, was recorded by Steve Albini and features ex-Minuteman Mike Watt taking over for the deceased Dave Alexander on bass. They plan to tour, including a stop at the South by Southwest Music Festival in March.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I'm a sucker for a well-done documentary about a band I like, and loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies fills the bill. It displays the greatness of the music that I already loved. It tells me more about the personalities than I knew previously. Kim Deal is the most gracious with the fans, perhaps because, as a female musician, she's still an anomaly and therefore a role model to teenage girls. Dave Lovering is sad, in several meanings of the word, his career as a magician looking disturbingly similar to Gob Bluth's on Arrested Development. Joey Santiago is the most well-adjusted of the bunch, a committed family man who is torn about touring keeping him away from his growing brood at home. Kim's twin sister Kelley, brought along by Kim for moral support, is a fun, blunt addition, not merely a hanger-on.
The scenes where Black Francis (sorry, I just can't quite think of him as Charles Thompson or Frank Black) gets interviewed, resurrected my range of emotions about my days of doing them. On one hand, I recalled why I enjoyed interviewing him several times, especially when he offered his suggestion that if the band were to start recording again, they should really start from scratch with a new name like Vomit Squad. On the other hand, the footage of his phone interviews showed him just as disengaged as I suspected some of my telephone interview subjects were. During the first phoner, he's fiddling with an eyeglass case while talking. During the second, he's lying on his hotel bed in just his underwear, which caused a collective shudder by the audience at the Music Box.
The concert footage proved insightful, too. It reconfirmed my belief that, as wonderfully original as the Pixies' music is, the band was always short on charismatic stage presence, which may have limited their popularity as much as an inherent weirdness to their sound. But it also showcased guitarist Joey as an underrated talent. As singers and songwriters Black Francis and Kim always garnered more attention, but Joey's unique riffs are a large part of their distinctive sound.
Friday, October 27, 2006
All good things must come to an end. Philly band Sickidz (who I'd written about previously) had reunited, but now they're calling it quits again with a Halloween-themed blowout at the Khyber. Among the special guests are Palmyra Delran and Barb Dwyer, who were members of Pink Slip Daddy with frontman Mick Cancer after the Sickidz's initial demise. Mick performs with the kind of charismatic abandon that suggests that the only limit to their fame was that they only toured regionally. This should be quite the party.
Sickidz play with special guests Palmyra Delran, Barb Dwyer and Joe Ankenbrand plus Jukebox Zeroes, King of Siam The Warm Jets at the Khyber, 56 S. Second St., Philadelphia, 215.238.5888 on Saturday, October 28 at 9:00 p.m.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I mentioned this to a colleague, who tipped me off to the news that High Fidelity, Nick Hornby's beloved novel about obsessive list-compilers who wield their obscure music knowledge as a weapon against the less informed at a record shop, has been made into a musical. And just to get my competitive geekiness out of the way, I'll point out that the NPR story got one of its facts wrong. They called the musical the third incarnation of the novel, the second being the film starring John Cusack. They were unaware of the play The Vinyl Shop that was produced by a small theater company in Chicago prior to the film. The actor who played Barry in stage production was one of the Championship Vinyl customers. (I take particular music geek pride in all things related to the book since I was an extra in the movie.)
Monday, October 09, 2006
Tower Records didn't survive bankruptcy. On Friday, their assets were auctioned off. The stores are having liquidation sales.
The Music Fan
As I started to really get into music in my late teens, the record store at the mall just wasn't cutting it. My tastes were turning too obscure for what could be sold in storefront between suburban department stores. Back before you could buy anything on Amazon, Tower Records was record-buying mecca. They had everything cool. They had everything old. They were open until midnight, so I could pick up the new Nine Inch Nails on my way to Dobbs or after a show at the TLA further down South Street in Philly. Going there could be an event unto itself, a date spent browsing for new CDs.
What made Tower different from other chain stores wasn't just their depth of inventory but the depth of knowledge by their staff. Not only did they know and care about music, they looked like they knew and cared about music, unlike the tools at the mall stores who had to wear ties and red vests and looked like they could just as easily been selling smoked cheese logs or personalized golf towels. Members of many bands passed through their ranks of employment. When I suggested to an editor of Pulse, their in-house magazine, that they do a story of former employees who went on to greater fame as musicians, she said there were far too many, although I think Perry Farrell's name was mentioned.
Tower indirectly launched my writing career. While scouting for reading matter for a long plane ride, I hit their magazine section and stumbled upon B-Side. Unlike Rolling Stone, which I was finding increasingly exasperating, it covered nothing but music. It covered the music I was listening to such as Echo and the Bunnymen rather than Huey Lewis and the News. I was shocked to read the masthead and discover it was published locally. The record store at the mall had no interest in 'zines or local publications. B-Side was my first writing outlet.
My experience as a consumer is typical in explaining their demise. I don't have extensive time to browse record stores anymore. Amazon and Tower's own web site have taken away the thrill of the chase, so my only limitation is whether I'm willing to shell out for import prices, not whether I can merely locate an obscure album. I can download songs for instant gratification. No one has bought records at record stores in ages, but no one ever called them CD stores.
Until I worked at RollingStone.com, being a sales clerk at Tower in London was my coolest job. Yes, the pay was meager but I was surrounded by music and by people who cared about music. We sneered at those picking up Samantha Fox's record (now mercifully forgotten by most). We lauded the parents visiting from America who could actually name bands their kids liked when asking records that couldn't be found back home. David Bowie shopped there. The place was constructed with a DJ booth, although the position was cut by my second summer on staff. My mother suggested that I should try to transfer to accounting so that I could make more money, but then I would have just been a bean counter in an anonymous office when I wanted to be swimming in rock and roll.
When I returned to Wharton after my first summer at Tower, my classmates were bragging about their summer internships, working 60-hour weeks on Wall Street. I kept quiet, but thought to myself that I probably learned more as part of the working class in a foreign city, supporting myself on 100 quid a week (slang for "pounds" being one of the facts I picked up).
While I no longer have time to spend hours browsing record stores for fun, it is now part of my job, doing collection development for a public library. Tower was our favorite place to do so. I still had the thrill of the chase but more importantly the benefit of serendipitous finds. For my boss shopping for jazz and classical, the staff's in-depth knowledge was an invaluable source of recommendations. There was also the entertaining distraction of things worth a laugh even if we wouldn't buy it for the library.
Unfortunately, Tower's inability to provide sufficiently-detailed invoicing proved the death knell for our library's financial relations with them. I miss the field trips to the store because it meant heading into Lincoln Park instead of the suburbs. I miss being mistaken for Tower staff, even when carrying a baby, because I was marking a list and hauling around dozens of CDs. I miss finding out about the new Cinerama album because they were playing it in the store, even if it was followed by the horrible new Janet Jackson album. I'm saddened that a large chain employing lots of people who are there because they care about music can't survive.
The timing of the auction was particularly depressing because I headed to a conference of music librarians on Friday preparing to give a talk on collection development, and recommending Tower for their selection, staff knowledge and useful web site was part of speech. The information was already outdated by the end of the day.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Little Steven's Underground Garage is sponsoring a national tour. Need I say more than the line-up? (Also known as I don't have time to write more.) The Zombies, The Mooney Suzuki, The Woggles, Gore Gore Girls plus local act Catfish Haven. It all adds up to reason to head to the 'burbs on a weeknight.
Little Steven's Rolling Rock and Roll Show, Durty Nellies, 180 N. Smith Street, Palatine, (847)358-9150 at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 13.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Double bills don't come much more promising than this one. Two bands of rip-snorting rock and roll who put on amazing shows, in a venue just the right size to see all the dripping sweat. Come worship at the altar of the electric guitar is all its fuzzed-up glory. Marvel at charismatic frontmen. Then cry for me because I can't go.
Mudhoney and the Cynics play the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773.489.3160, at 9:00 p.m., Friday, September 1.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Unlike the Church's October, 1998 show, this one lacked the power to change my life, but it was a fine entertainment. Most notably, the band was cheerfully relaxed and informal. Where Steve Kilbey is usually taciturn, this time he was positively loquacious. The members frequently switched instruments, resulting in jokes about Marty Willson-Piper's tendency to break drum sticks. They messed around with arrangements, adding flamenco, English folk and jazz flourishes to familiar favorites to refresh them. Kilbey gave a shout-out to the recently departed Grant McLennan when the band played "Providence," by Kilbey and McLennan's side project Jack Frost.
Rob Dickinson, former lead singer for the Catherine Wheel, has a solo album and is, only slightly facetiously, recasting himself as a sensitive singer songwriter. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, he struggled mightly with his desire to recreate the thunderous wall of sound his old outfit generated.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Now I've got a toddler son who is both crazy about trains and will request that I sing even the shortest snippet of a song again and again. When he was enthusing about a train when we were driving recently, I sang the one-line chorus of Ozzy's "Crazy Train," which I had to fake in parts, "We're going (mumble mumble) rails of the crazy train." He demanded, "Again," over and over. I obliged a few times since he is irresistibly charming. Then I tried switching to "I've Been Working on the Railroad," but he responded, "Crazy Train," and continued to request it. So I broke down and borrowed an Ozzy CD from the library so I could play him the whole song, which I've already done twice, much to his delight.
I've decided to use "Crazy Train" as the starting point for a mix CD for him, "Train Tracks." I'll fill it with lots of songs about trains, especially ones that are not obviously appropriate for a toddler, like "5:15" by the Who and Love & Rockets' "Kundalini Express." I'm just following the High Fidelity definition of true selfless love: when you make a mix of songs the other person will like instead of what you think they should like, although I'll still skip "Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Dumbing Up, the follow-up to Egyptology, is finally coming out in the US, a mere six years after its UK release. World Party mastermind Karl Wallinger is releasing it on his own label Seaview. More details about the project, the band's recent history and upcoming US tour dates are at http://www.worldparty.net.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The full press release is at:
Saturday, April 08, 2006
When did it become normal for your average 35-year-old New Yorker to (a) walk around with an iPod plugged into his ears at all times, listening to the latest from Bloc Party . . . (f) decide that Sufjan Stevens is the perfect music to play for her 2-year-old, because, let’s face it, 2-year-olds have lousy taste in music, and we will not listen to the Wiggles in this house;Not to get defensive, but I'm 40, not 35, and have Bloc Party on my iPod. As for the Sufjan Stevens observation, it's not my fault if neither my 22-month-old nor I liked the Sharon, Lois and Bram CD from the library but we both enjoyed the Clean Anthology. Here I was thinking that I'm probably the only mom my age with young kids who actually has an opinion on Deerhoof (They're wretched; their artiness exacerbates their basic musical incompetence.) when it turns out I'm just part of a larger demographic shift.
That said, I don't fit the full stereotype. I may be into music and into sharing my favorite music with my kids (It was so convenient to stop at Target and get NIN's With Teeth the day of release since I needed babyproofing supplies, too.) And I may be style-conscious, but I don't live in jeans or spend the kind of money they're talking about on clothes.
On the flip side, it is possible to find fun kids' music that isn't insipid. We've had to balance it with Ben Vaughn, P-Funk, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane, but Wiggleworms Love You has been a huge hit with my toddler.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I was never a fan of Black Sabbath, but at this point I must acknowledge that they have been hugely influential on an entire genre of music. The Sex Pistols recorded only one studio album, but its impact was utterly cataclysmic. I'm not convinced that Miles Davis is rock and roll, but he was one of the greatest innovators in music. Blondie has it all going in spades. But Lynard Skynyrd is a two-hit-wonder that did little to advance rock and roll, and they had a habit of endorsing racial segregation.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Especially after hearing that Jill Sobule is opening, I was crushed that I won't be able to attend this show. For those who have somehow missed him over the years, Billy Bragg is the world's leading punk-inspired romantic, socialist folkie. While his music and his shows are filled with leftist opinion, his humor, approachability, genuine concern for others and self-deprecation make him palatable whatever one's political leanings. I've never come across another artist who makes a habit of emerging after his shows just to chat with fans. Billy is touring in support of a new box set that collects much of his early work.
Casual observers might dismiss Jill Sobule as a one-hit novelty act for "I Kissed a Girl," but she is a wry songwriter with a gift for catchy melodies and an eye for unexpected subject matter. For example, her last album, Underdog Victorious, offered a sympathetic ode to '60s sex symbol Joey Heatherton.
Billy Bragg and Jill Sobule play the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773.489.3160, at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 20.
Monday, March 13, 2006
As David Gedge wrapped up the Wedding Present's set last night at the Double Door, he commented that it was past their bedtimes and probably the same for some of the audience, too. Amen. I was conflicted all evening, wanting them to play forever but also needing to get home and to sleep. And praying that I wouldn't go into labor in the middle of the concert because I'm incredibly pregnant, was enjoying the show so much and it would be a logistical nightmare to get home.
This wasn't only joke about the age of the band. He introduced, "Go Out And Get 'Em Boy!" their first single from 1985, by noting that the song was older than their current drummer. Judging by the drummer's (Charlie Layton?) youthful appearance, Gedge may not have been facetious. The set list drew songs from throughout the band's history, including a few Cinerama numbers since Gedge pointed out that the line-up for the two bands is now the same. While it was a blast to hear "Brassneck" and "Click Click," the latter enabled by female bass player's Terry de Castro providing backing vocals, it was an unexpected disappointment for them to exclude "Interstate 5," the haunting lead single off their latest album, Take Fountain.
All in all, the band were in fine form, starting with opening number "Corduroy," since Gedge dove in trying to saw his guitar in half with just his bare hands and a guitar pick. No wonder I still love this band.
Monday, February 20, 2006
- Only one song by any artist.
- I didn't bother to note the album if it didn't matter to me, especially if I knew I'd be copying it from a compilation.
- No songs that I'd included on previous mix tapes or CDs that I'd made for myself.
- When in doubt, choose a song that evokes memories of a particular person or event.
- Remember that there is no one, perfect answer. For example, I couldn't go wrong with either "London Calling" or "Police on My Back" in lieu of "The Magnificent Seven," my ultimate Clash selection.
- I picked songs that reminded me of the deaths of both my grandmothers but neither of my grandfathers.
- I started to develop taste in music in about 1979 or 1980. Anything on the list from 1979 or earlier that's cool is probably something I discovered after the fact. Anything cheesy is probably what I loved at the time, and there's no point in being embarrassed about it now.
- A bunch of musicians made the list twice:
- Joe Strummer - Clash and solo
- Mick Jones - Clash and Big Audio Dynamite
- Pete Townshend - The Who and solo
- Karl Wallinger - The Waterboys and World Party
- David Gedge - The Wedding Present and Cinerama
- Most of the members of the Undertones and That Petrol Emotion
- Justin Harwood just missed on making the list twice; although a member of both the Chills and Luna, he wasn't in the frequently-shifting Chills line-up when they recorded "Pink Frost."
- I don't even want to think about how much of my favorite music is now out of print, so I'm glad to own what I do.
A, You're Adorable
An Emotional Fish – An Emotional Fish - Celebrate
Animotion - Obsession
Armstrong, Louis - What A Wonderful World
Babes in Toyland – Fontenelle - Bluebell
Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy – A Peak You Reach
Bats – Silverbeet – Sighting the Sound
Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty - Intergalactic
Belle & Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister – Me and the Major
Big Audio Dynamite – Rush
Blondie – Rapture
Bowie, David – Ziggy Stardust – Suffragette City
Bragg, Billy – Workers Playtime – Valentine’s Day Is Over
Buzzcocks – Operators Manual – What Do I Get?
Cars – Cars – You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
Catherine Wheel – Ferment – I Want to Touch You
Cave, Nick & the Bad Seeds - Tender Prey – The Mercy Seat
Chameleons - Strange Times - Swamp Thing
Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4
Chills – Kaleidoscope World - Pink Frost
Church – Starfish - Reptile
Cinerama – Disco Volante - Wow
Clash – Sandanista! – The Magnificent Seven
Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head – The Scientist
Cope, Julian – 20 Mothers – Greedhead Detector
Costello, Elvis – (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
Culture Club - Karma Chameleon
Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me – Why Can’t I Be You?
Cynics – Living Is the Best Revenge – Revenge
Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Back Yard – Bitchin’ Camaro
Deee-Lite – World Clique - Groove Is in the Heart
Depeche Mode – Speak & Spell – Just Can’t Get Enough
Detroit Cobras – Hey Sailor
Echo and the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain – The Killing Moon
Ernie – A Sesame Street Celebration – Rubber Duckie
Fall - I Am Curious Orange - New Big Prinz
Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry - Going Out of My Head
Fatima Mansions – Viva Dead Ponies – Blues for Ceauseseu
Fine Young Cannibals – Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny, Come Home
Folds, Ben, Five – Ben Folds Five - Underground
Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers - Little Red Light
Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax
Gang of Four – Damaged Goods
Godfathers - Birth, School, Work, Death – Birth, School, Work, Death
Grease – Summer Nights
Hitchcock, Robyn & the Egyptians – Respect – Wafflehead
Hives - Vene, Vidi, Vicious - Declare Guerre Nucleaire
Hoodoo Gurus – Stoneage Romeos – I Want You Back
Hunters & Collectors - Human Frailty – Throw Your Arms Around Me
Imperial Teen – What Is Not to Love – Yoo Hoo
Inspiral Carpets – Life – Commercial Rain
Interpol – Antics - Evil
INXS – Shabooh Shoobah – Don’t Change
Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy – Just Like Honey
Joel, Billy - Just the Way You Are
John, Elton – Philadelphia Freedom
King and I - Getting to Know You
Love & Rockets – Lift – R.I.P 20 C.
Luna – Bewitched – Friendly Advice
Lush – Lovelife - Ladykillers
Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs – Papa Was a Rodeo
McLean, Don – American Pie
Ministry – A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste – Burning Inside
Moby – Play – Honey
Mooney Suzuki - Electric Sweat - In a Young Man's Mind
Mudhoney – Mudhoney – You Got It
Muppet Movie – Rainbow Connection
Nena – 99 Luftballons
New Order – Temptation
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral – I Do Not Want This
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Numan, Gary – Pleasure Principle - Cars
Ocean Blue – Ocean Blue – Drifting, Falling
O'Day, Alan - Undercover Angel
Partridge Family – Partridge Family Album – Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque
Pixies – Doolittle – Debaser
Police – Reggatta de Blanc – The Bed’s Too Big Without You
Pop Will Eat Itself – Cure for Sanity – Dance of the Mad Bastards
Pop, Iggy – Lust for Life
Pretenders – Brass in Pocket
Push Kings - Macy, Macy
R.E.M. – Document – It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Radiohead – Kid A – Optimistic
Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away
Reed, Lou – Magic and Loss – No Change
Replacements – Tim – Kiss Me on the Bus
Reunion – Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)
Romantics – What I Like About You
Salt-n-Pepa - Push It
Screaming Blue Messiahs – Bikini Red – Big Brother Muscle
Siouxsie & the Banshees – Peepshow – Peek-AYBoo
Smiths – Meat Is Murder - How Soon Is Now
Sobule, Jill – Pink Pearl – One of These Days
Sonic Youth – Goo – Kool Thing
Soul Coughing - Ruby Vroom – Down To It
Springsteen, Bruce – The River - Cadillac Ranch
Stone Roses – Stone Roses – This Is the One
Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free - Fit But You Know It
Strokes – Is This It – Barely Legal
Strummer, Joe – Streetcore – All in a Day
Talking Heads – Fear of Music - Life During Wartime
Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair - Shout
That Petrol Emotion – Babble – Swamp
The The - Infected
Therapy? – Troublegum - The Knives
Townshend, Pete – Slit Skirts
U2 – War – New Year’s Day
UB40 – Labour of Love – Red Red Wine
Undertones – Teenage Kicks
Vaughn, Ben – M- Motor Vehicle
Village People - YMCA
Violet Femmes – Violet Femmes – Add It Up
Waits, Tom - Bone Machine - I Don't Want to Grow Up
Waterboys – This Is the Sea - Whole of the Moon
Wedding Present – Bizarro - Brassneck
Who - Quadrophenia - Love Reign O'er Me
Wonder Stuff – Eight-Legged Groove Machine - Unbearable
Wonder, Stevie - Songs in the Key of Life - Sir Duke
World Party – Egyptology – Love Is Best
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Make your own Fall Out Boy jokes.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
However, I'll hold off on the Wedding Present baby t-shirt for the new kid since my son has never had a strong reaction to the band's CDs, not the way he has with the Ramones, which warranted the purchase of his Ramones shirt.