Saturday, December 12, 2009

Concert Recommendation: That Petrol Emotion, The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY, December 12

I usually limit my concert recommendations to those in and around Boston, but I'm making an exception for That Petrol Emotion playing tonight in Brooklyn. The band arose from the remnants of the Undertones in the late '80s then went dormant after a few albums; they showed great promise and got critical praise, but their clattering rock never found a big audience. Still, they hold a place near and dear in my heart. I ripped off their look from 1987's Babble of writing on sunglasses with correction fluid; photos of me made the college paper and yearbook, but no one recognized the inspiration. 1988's End Of The Millennium Psychosis Blues captured how I was feeling at that time. The first time I saw them live, I knew all the words to their songs even more than the words to a Beatles song they covered; it's not as if "Hey, Bulldog" was ever ubiquitous like other parts of the Beatles catalog, but I certainly listened to TPE far more. I got to interview drummer Ciaran McLaughlin for B-Side Magazine; that I could cover them was a reason I loved writing for B-Side; that I had to battle another writer for the chance was why I loved our staff (The other writer got to interview the Chills, so we were even.)

Anyway, the Undertones reunited and toured a few years ago, so it was almost inevitable that That Petrol Emotion would follow suit. They were never hugely beloved, so I hope they find enough of an audience to warrant another U.S. tour that includes Boston.

That Petrol Emotion play with the Mad Scene at 7:30 tonight at the Bell House, 149 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 718-643-6510.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Concert Recommendation: Ted Leo/Pharmacists, UMass Lowell, December 4

As someone who has promoted campus concerts, I know how hard it is to spread the word beyond campus. I only found out that Ted Leo/Pharmacists are playing a charity benefit show at UMass Lowell because I'm taking a continuing education class there and flyers were posted in the music building. I saw the band open for Dismemberment plan about 8 years ago, and they made a bigger impression than the headliners, partially because "The Ballad of the Sin Eater" has rightfully become a college radio standard.

Ted Leo/Pharmacists headline Rock for Tots 2009 at Cumnock Hall, UMass Lowell on Friday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m. More information at Public tickets at

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Concert Recommendation: Nitzer Ebb, Paradise Rock Club, December 3

It's been long enough to ride the nostalgia train. Some industrial bands of the late '80s and early '90s such as KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails have just kept chugging along to varying degrees of fame. Nitzer Ebb took a long breather after interest in the genre waned, but they're back, and they're on tour, still with Bon Harris, Douglas McCarthy and Some Other Guy on percussion. Their Teutonic name and sound implied that they're German, but they're British; their moniker is the equivalent of Häagen-Dazs, foreign-sounding but meaningless. But that Teutonic sound was great, taking the spareness of synth-pop but adding an aggressive edge with hits like "Control I'm Here," (but not "Strike to the Body" by sound-alike Chicago duo Die Warzau). They honed their live act opening for the likes of Depeche Mode and working the summer festival circuit.

Catch them now before they relive the old days, opening for Depeche Mode in Europe early next year.

Nitzer Ebb play with Provocateur, DJ Chris Ewen at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617-562-8800 at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 3.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Concert Review: Art Brut, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA, October 16, 2009

I'd initially written off Art Brut for their bedsit preciousness but was finally starting to embrace them for embodying the spirit of late '70s/early '80s British punk, the inept rather than the angry strain. My interest was rewarded by their energetic performance at the Middle East last Friday. What they lack in technical competence they more than make up for in enthusiasm and bravado. Their absolute commitment to the material and the performance outweighed any bum notes.

In nod to the show's location, they opened with a cover the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner," and kept on running. These are no poets, and their songs were very literal with a focus on the mundane, an everyday existence that includes love of music and comics. Both the subject matter and the style of the backing vocals was reminiscent of the Undertones. Had they done a straight cover of "Mars Bars," those unfamiliar with the original would easily assume it was their own next to songs like "D.C. Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes."

Freddy Feedback's bass lines gave a nod to the Fall, although Eddie Argos's voice suggested sinus infection rather than dentist's drill, as does Fall frontman Mark E. Smith's. It was an exuberant rhythm section. Mikey Breyer played his drum set standing up because he appeared too excited to ever sit down. Feedback looked like she'd developed muscle tone in her cheeks from grinning so much at the shear delight in playing in her band.

They already have their own version of "Hey, Ho, Let's Go!" in "Art Brut. Top of the Pops," which the crowd started chanting until the band returned for an encore. They obliged with "Slap Dash for No Cash," in which they self-referentially praised their own brand of ramshackle rock and roll and made a convincing argument for its value.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Get Rid of Your Stupid Band Name

A word of advice to up-and-coming bands. If your group aspires to anything greater than being a means to picking up girls at frat parties, change your stupid band name. How can you tell if your band name is stupid? If it includes reference to a living person, particularly a celebrity, it's stupid. Yes, I'm talking to you, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and the House that Gloria Vanderbilt. If it contains words that are likely to be blocked by the most rudimentary internet filters, it's stupid. Yes, I'm talking to you, Fuck Buttons. If you are overly amused by its novelty value, it's stupid. There have been plenty of bands through the years called Free Beer, and you see how far they've all gotten. If you're convinced that changing your stupid band name will make you lose your following, you are stupider than your band name and don't have much of a following to squander.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anvil Coda

I'm not a big metal fan and usually treat the press releases that hit my inbox with indifference, but this one sent shivers up my spine. It is a heartwarming epilogue to the documentary Anvil: the Story of Anvil. The film chronicled the aborted rise of little-known but well-regarded Canadian metal band Anvil. They were on brink of stardom in the early '80s, and while their contemporaries went on to great fame, that next step eluded Anvil. Bad luck, bad circumstances and bad decisions kept them from ever making it big, but founders and brothers-in-spirit Lips and Robb Reiner have kept the band going all these years. The film ends with Lips' endless optimism finally paying off as they play before thousands of rabid fans in Japan.

Well, it gets better. The interest in the band generated by the film has them opening for AC/DC on a few stadium dates, and their latest album is getting wider release. The mere fact that they have an experienced, competent publicist spreading the word is a sign that things are finally heading in the right direction for them.


Los Angeles, CA - July 22, 2009 -- Certainly one of the most feel-good rock n' roll comeback stories of recent times is that of Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. The band, considered a major influence for a generation of hard rockers including Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Guns N' Roses, was the subject of a critically acclaimed, must-see rock-doc, 'Anvil! The Story of Anvil,' directed by Sacha Gervasi. And in the process, the film has made the group (led by singer/guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner - both founding members) a household name. But the group's story will certainly not end with the film.

First up for Anvil are U.S. shows opening for Aussie rock legends AC/DC - in football stadiums. We're really excited about these shows, we've only heard awesome things about playing in football stadiums. I was with the Green Day guys last night, and they were telling me, 'Man, it's probably going to be the gig of your life'!"

And then on September 15, This is Thirteen will finally see proper national distribution on CD and vinyl via VH1 Classic Records. The CD will feature the newly recorded, never-before released bonus track "Thumb Hang." The collectible double vinyl LP boasts newly re-recorded versions of Anvil classics "Metal on Metal" and "666." The album, originally recorded in 2007 and produced by Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy), was primarily available directly from the band via their website and at their concerts.

"'This is Thirteen' is more like our first three albums," says Lips, "which represent our real identity. For many of our albums, we went on an 'integrity hunt' instead of on a 'commercial/radio hunt,' so we became extremely inaccessible to radio. This time, we stepped back and said, 'What were we originally?' And we rediscovered ourselves, I suppose." Reiner adds, "There are three tracks that in my opinion, are definitely, 100% AOR/hard rock/commercial radio tracks - 'American Refuge,' 'Flying Blind,' and 'Feed the Greed.' Catchy melodies, incredible drum feels - they just all rock."

The title track is about as classic Anvil as you can get - that slow, powerful, heavy backbeat with cool changes. The violent-sounding "Bombs Away" is, according to Reiner, "the almightiest metal track on the entire record," "Ready to Fight" is pure speed rock 'n roll - Nugent on steroids - that boasts super-heavy drumming, and "Big Business" is akin, musically-speaking, to Cream's classic "Sunshine of Your Love." And then there's the true classic, Anvil near-anthem, "Shoulda' Woulda' Coulda'," that's about living life with no regrets.

Reiner points out that the input from acclaimed producer Tsangarides (who produced early Anvil albums) was a major reason for This is Thirteen turning out the way it did. "The last four or five albums, material-wise, were all similar. We had been trying to find the direction back to the classic Anvil style and sound - it's just that the production hadn't been up to scratch. Chris was a big missing part on our past albums."

Despite some zany Spinal Tap-like parallels between Anvil and David St. Hubbins and company in the film, Anvil has always been taken seriously by metalheads, including some very well known rock stars, who praise the band in the film. "Anvil was one of those bands that just put on this really amazing live performance," said Velvet Revolver/ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, while Motorhead singer/bassist Lemmy added, "They were a great band - I always liked Anvil," and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich gushed, "These guys were going to turn the music world upside down."

So, the AC/DC dates, the release of This is Thirteen, what else can fans expect from Anvil in the future? Lips was willing to provide a hint: "Working. More recording. More gigs. More - more than ever!"

28 Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
31 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

6 Magnetic Hill, Moncton, New Brunswick CANADA

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Quadrophenia Musical

Cold on the heels of the Tommy stage musical in the mid '90s, there is now a stage musical version another Who rock opera, Quadrophenia. The show is currently touring England with hopes of landing on the West End. (I'm assuming this is the British equivalent of playing Madison and Buffalo to fine tune and road test a show on its way to Broadway.) Here's a trailer for it:

The fact that the characters sing will distinguish this from the outstanding movie. The only obvious shortcoming is "Lover Reign O'er Me." I'm a fan of the Who because I'm a fan of Pete Townshend, but "Love Reign O'er Me" is my favorite song in part because it is such a grand showcase of Roger Daltrey's vocal talents. No one can match his towering majesty on that song, and the star of this show has no option but to pale in comparison.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Concert Review: The Church, Showcase Live, Foxborough, MA, July 2, 2009

Steve Kilbey was in particularly good spirits. He praised the venue, noting that the green room was nicer than the whole gig in Detroit. And the place was swell, but it's also a little sad that the Church are playing a club specializing in nostalgia acts and tribute bands, on the far outskirts of Boston with plenty of free parking to appeal to suburb parents like me. Yes, the band got the biggest response to their '80s hits, but the newer material holds its own, especially the enthralling "Space Saviour" off their latest release, Untitled #23. Marty Willson-Piper fingers are just as nimble as ever, and he remains a psychedelic guitar demon.

They opened with "Tantalized," and its swells and delirium magically transported me back to the first time I saw them, touring in support of Heyday in 1986. I felt like I was about to lose control of my bowels. The set bridged their career although was heaviest on #23 and their U.S. commercial peak Starfish.

Steve Kilbey was fit and tanned. While Marty Willson-Piper's long hair made him look like a romantic goth in the '80s, its uniform length, flecks of frizzy gray and his beard have transformed him into an aging hippie. Peter Koppes is merely aging gracefully. The three traded duties and instruments throughout the evening. Koppes and Willson-Piper swapped lead guitar. Willson-Piper and Kilbey swapped their bass and, for some songs, a battered acoustic guitar that looked as though it were held together with electrical tape.

When they exited the stage, someone in the audience yelled out, "You're still beautiful!" While it probably was a request rather than an effort to inveigle the band to return for an encore, especially since he subsequently called out other song titles, it was appropriate sentiment. They were clearly having fun, especially churning out feedback during the two encores.

The Church continued their tradition of having the former frontman of a '90s shoegazer band open for them. In 2006, it was Rob Dickinson of the Catherine Wheel. This time it was Adam Franklin of Swervedriver. The difference is that the Catherine Wheel were rather distinctive in the movement. But, quick, think of a Swervedriver song. Yeah, I couldn't either. Or maybe that one was by Chapterhouse. Franklin and his band built up quite a guitar-based din at times bur rather lacked for well-structured songs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stephin Merritt Off-Broadway

As a logical extension of his creating music for the audiobooks of dark-themed children's literature, Stephin Merritt is the composer and lyricist for a stage production of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, now playing in New York. Merritt is best known for his band the Magnetic Fields, but he's got zillions of off-shoot projects. (He's like a nerdy Al Jourgensen.) Under the Gothic Archies header, he performed theme songs for each of the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events audiobooks, compiled as A Tragic Treasury when the series was complete, as well as music for the Coraline audiobook. Now the book has been turned into a full fledged off-Broadway musical, so who else but Merritt could provide the music.

Coraline plays at the MCC Theater at The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014, (212) 279-4200, through July 5.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Concert Review: Nine Inch Nails, NINJA2009 tour, Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA, June 3

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Nine Inch Nails' debut album Pretty Hate Machine, but Trent Reznor and his current henchmen were hardly trading on nostalgia. They all but ignored that first album yet still had the audience enrapt. But also gone were the trappings of more recent tours, namely the heavy use of visual images as part of the overall presentation. The visuals were limited to occasional seizure-inducing strobes. They even eschewed video close-ups on the Jumbotrons flanking the stage.

Somewhat Damaged
Reznor is screaming, "Too fucked up to care anymore." I'm pondering whether Nine Inch Nails has received the academic examination it so clearly merits, and whether filling that possible void is why I should be heading back to grad school.


Appropriately addictive.

March of the Pigs
It makes fantastic use of dramatic pause. The band is in a total frenzy, especially the wild-haired drummer with primitive style resembling Lori Barbero of Babes in Toyland (thank you to my husband for that comparison). They come to a dead stop, then resume the frenzy.

Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
They manage to be both visceral and precise.

A Gary Numan cover. The staccato bass that dominates differentiated it from the band's own compositions, but they make it their own. For the first time in decades, I feel cool for having bought The Pleasure Principle in 8th grade. As the song winds down, the rest of the band backs away from their instruments to leave Reznor alone on keyboards.

The Becoming

The synthesized beats and heavy bass resemble New Order.

Reznor alternately attacks and retreats from the microphone.

Gave Up
Reznor turns "Feels" into a polysyllabic word.

La Mer
The typically taciturn Reznor hasn't uttered a spoken word to the audience but suddenly turns confessional. He gives an extended introduction about locking himself away 10 years, writing only one song and trying to kill himself. He acknowledges it is hard to go back there because it still feels haunted. While it sounds like he is only talking about the song as a metaphorical place, his explanation ends on a happier note; he is returning there to get married. The arrangement features an upright bass and Reznor on marimba.

The Fragile

Gone, Still

The Way Out Is Through
Reznor swaggers.

Reznor brings out friend-of-the-bad Dan for extra guitar punch.

The Hand That Feeds

Head Like a Hole
It took 1 hour and 20 minutes to finally get to something from Pretty Hate Machine for their traditional set closer.

This follows a brief ceremonial retreat to the wings to designate this an an encore. Even after 15 years, Reznor still makes this song sound like an open wound. It ends the set on an unexpectedly somber note.

I had incorrectly assumed that Jane's Addiction were the opening band for the tour, not co-headliners. When NIN took the stage first, my gut reaction was, "Oh, good, I can go home early." NIN and Jane's Addiction may have emerged almost concurrently, just as the awkward moniker "college rock" was giving way to alternative as a music and marketing force, and both both bands are loud, but the similarities soon end. Jane's is loud and merely busy, whereas NIN is loud and intense. With two ostentatious guitar solos and a drum solo in just their first song, JA clearly weren't drawing on punk's appreciation of brevity. NIN's early '80s antecedent was Gary Numan while Jane's Addiction's was Van Halen. I'll give Perry Farrell credit for rockin' the form-fitting gold satin jumpsuit as he strutted like a peacock around the stage. But beating the traffic backup exiting the parking lot was far more appealing than a whole set of this.

Traffic delays caused me to miss all but the last song by opener Street Sweeper Social Club, aka Tom Morello's new band. Morello used his tremendous charisma to exhort the whole audience onto their feet, even alluding to Rage Against the Machine lyrics, acknowledging, "There's always someone saying, 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me.'" Once everyone had arisen, the guitar-heavy band used their chops to earn the response. Morello is unlikely to match the heights of Rage again, but he is still impressive in working up a crowd. It's always good to see someone use their intelligence and talent for good, not evil.

Friday, June 05, 2009

So Long, Jimmy Sturr

The New York Times just reported that the polka category is being cut from the Grammy Awards.

The main outcome is that I and anyone else who follows the Grammy Awards closely while be forced to find a new punchline to replace Jimmy Sturr. The category has only been awarded since 1986, but polka "star" Sturr has won 18 times. In the presentations I have given on how to buy music for libraries, he was the prime and comedic example of why buying every winner in every category isn't necessarily a good idea. I'll need to find some new material before my next talk.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Concert Review: Lady Sovereign, Paradise Rock Club, May 3

Lady Sovereign has been upstaged quite a bit since being dubbed "Feminem" and making a splash with Vertically Challenged just four years ago. M.I.A. has come to the forefront for British female hip-hop. Other female British artists have become more newsworthy for some combination of blue-eyed retro soul, MySpace success or substance abuse problems. Still, she drew a sizable crowd to the Paradise on Sunday night.

DJ Annalyze worked the crowd for an extended stretch before Lady Sov and her drummer took the stage. The petite rapper worked the stage, striding from one end to the other and occasionally mugging for the many fans armed with cameras and camera phones. However, she did chide one person near the stage, "Would you please stop texting." She didn't mind the technology as long it was focused on her.

While a few of her songs are undeniably great -- "Love Me or Hate Me" and "Random" were fun for riling up the crowd -- there was nothing to suggest that she's an artist for the ages. For all her energy, she didn't bring enough to her performance or material that was truly outstanding.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Concert Recommendation: Sickidz Tribute to Lux Interior, Triton, Philadelphia, April 26

It was obvious from watching Mick Cancer when he fronted Pink Slip Daddy that he owed a debt of gratitude to Lux Interior. I have only fond memories of a New Year's Eve bloody nose when my face got in the way of his boot as he went airborne during a Pink Slip Daddy performance at the Khyber Pass. As I learned more Philly music history, I found out that Mick and his first band, Sickidz were friends, not just fans of the Cramps, which Mick documented so beautifully shortly after Lux's death:

Sickidz will be honoring the late Mr. Interior in Philly on Sunday. The event will feature the music of the Cramps, a showing of their infamous concert at Napa State Mental Institute, never before seen video footage and shared recollections.
A memorial service of Crampsong will be performed by The Sickidz.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to in Lux's memory.

Sickidz play Tritone, 1508 South St., Philadelphia, 215–545–0475, at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 26.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The A's: Back in Print

Back when radio stations reflected local tastes and interests, there were regional hits. Philly had a string of them, acts who made waves nationally but made a huge splash locally. Before Tommy Conwell, the Hooters and Robert Hazard, there were the A's. Their albums just predated the birth of the CD, and they have never been on CD until now. Get your fix of "A Woman's Got the Power."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not Just What I Needed

Greg Hawkes, keyboardist of the Cars, has released a solo album, The Beatles Uke. It is exactly what the title suggests, Beatles songs played on the ukulele. I recognize that the Beatles are the most important band in the history of rock and roll, but I really wish he'd performed Cars songs instead. I have nothing against the Beatles, but I've had enough of them. There is far worse music that could be overexposed, but their music is ubiquitous, and novelty interpretations have, quite simply, lost their novelty. Among the collection at the library where I worked were Beatles songs performed as jazz, reggae, lullabies and children's music, on cello, by German heavy metal and classical choral groups and even by Looney Tunes characters. Give it a rest.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Demise of the CD

What happens when CDs disappear as a commercial product? That was the question addressed at a plenary session at the recent Music Library Association annual conference held in Chicago, "What’s Next? The Compact Disc as a Viable Format in the Future of Music Libraries." Greg MacAyeal, Assistant Head of the Music Library at Northwestern University, assembled a panel that made it clear that this is inevitable although not imminent. The shift to music distribution as downloads has few notable shortcomings, but those are being addressed. One is the degradation in sound quality compared to CDs. The other is that standard metadata for popular music doesn't work for classical, where the "artist" could be the composer, conductor, orchestra name or soloist, and track names make little sense on their own, such as "adagio" as a single movement in a symphony. But two panelists made particularly strong points about the importance of a physical format from the artists' and libraries' perspective.

Chicago-based classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine discussed one circumstance in which a CD is invaluable: after her concerts when she heads to the lobby to sell music and meet her fans. The selection of her releases offers a starting point for conversation as she helps them chose one to buy, and they get a souvenir of the event when she autographs their purchases. The physical item is a tangible memento with immediate gratification that they can listen to on the way home. If she only signed postcards with pictures of their albums, the autograph wouldn't be an intrinsic part of the thing, and the music cannot be an impulse purchase. Fans may forget to go to the web site later to purchase downloads. If nothing else, she brought up the unexpected point that even classical musicians work the merch table, not just indie rockers in grubby clubs.

D.J. Hoek, Head of the Music Library at Northwestern University, drove home the unique aspect of this changing distribution scheme as it severely affect libraries: licensing agreements. More and more releases are available only as downloads, not physical items. While CDs are sold without restriction on who can use them, standard licensing agreements limit downloading to "end users." Since libraries are not end users themselves, no library can add these to their collections. He gave the notable example of Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic's recording of  Berlioz's Symphonie Fantasique which just won a Grammy for its producer and garnered another nomination for itself. According to the terms from the label that released it, Deutsche Grammophon, one of the largest classical labels, it may only be downloaded by "end users." So while this is a culturally important work, no library can fulfill its most basic mission of collecting and providing access to this material. Because libraries are such a small portion of the market and our activities could be perceived as cutting into potential sales, they are in a poor position to ask for special dispensation. But without change, it will become impossible for libraries to preserve our culture.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Elvis F**king Christ Has Left the Building

I'm utterly baffled by the news that Lux Interior, lead singer of the Cramps, has died. This is inconceivable to me. I understand that people are mortal. I can accept the passing of Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer, and millions of others who have gone before their time or well past their sell by date. But Lux struck me as, well, inhuman. He regularly produced gallons of sweat while performing, without any evidence of dehydration. (John Doe still earns my nomination for sweatiest man in rock, though, because he does it in natural fibers while Lux favored sweat-causing synthetics.) More impressively, he threw up on the stage in the middle of performance at the Reading Festival in 1991, understatedly announced, "I feel much better" and just kept on singing. If nothing else, I thought that level of commitment would keep him going forever, but he had a preexisting heart condition.

I'm currently consoling myself listening to Tim Napalm's tribute on Woody Radio, but I'll need to fire up Fiends from Dope Island tomorrow if Tim doesn't get to it before I fall asleep, just to hear "Elvis Fucking Christ."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Console Organ for the '00s

This looks like an SNL parody, but this really is straight-faced video from Microsoft Research for Songsmith. As a former usability specialist, I shook my head in disbelief at the line, "Microsoft, huh? So it's pretty easy to use?" As a former intellectual property paralegal, I was surprised that their legal department let this out with a © where a ™ should be, even if it's for a fictional product.

The gist of it: you sing into your computer's microphone, and the software creates backing music with customized effects, all of which sound like the console organs that used to be demonstrated and sold in malls. To get a sense of the results, someone ran David Lee Roth's vocal track for "Runnin' With the Devil" through the program.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Godfathers Tour Cancelled

The Godfathers U.S. tour has been cancelled except for just a single date for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre show in Chicago on February 14. They announced bluntly that it was for economic reasons, even though the Middle East, intended host of the February 11 show, claims it is due to illness.

Damn, if I had the money, I'd sponsor the tour. But as the band said themselves, "I want everything. I want it now."

Here's the official word.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Godfathers Reunion

The Godfathers have reunited with the original line-up for a US tour supporting the reissue of their debut album Hit by Hit. Despite or because of lyrics that reflected the harsh realty of Thatcher-era Britain, they found greater (relative) fame in the States than in their native England. They put on an electrifying show: Peter Coyne snarls on vocals, Kris Dollimore plays a searing guitar, and I am in heaven.

Here are the dates:
Wednesday 11 Boston, MA-The Middle East
Thursday 12 Washington DC-9.30 Club
Friday 13 Cleveland, OH-The Grog Shop
Saturday 14 Chicago, IL-The Metro
Sunday 15 Minneapolis, MN-Seventh Street Entry
Monday 16 Milwaukee, WI-The Shank House
Wednesday 18 Hoboken, NJ-Maxwells
Thursday 19 Brooklyn, NY-The Bell House

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Worst Album Covers

On a less serious note, Red Eye has a gallery of 50 of the worst album covers. At least the Electric Amish and the Frivilous Five were clearly aiming for humor, and Cody Matherson may have been inspired by Kirk Van Houten, Milhouse's dad on The Simpsons, with "Can I Borrow a Feelin.'". The rest of have no excuse.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Best of 2008

For the most part, my favorite CDs of the last year were ones I've reviewed for CDHotlist. Here are highlights, with links to the pages with my original reviews.

Alejandro Escovedo: Real Animal
Maybe because he has never been gotten huge, the Texan still has something to prove. His latest reflects on his life and proves that heartfelt doesn't have to be sappy and squishy.

The Hives: The Black and White Album
Swaggering Swedish garage rockers who show they aren't one-hit wonders.
Ting Tings: We Started Nothing
Fun, cheeky guitar-based pop.
The Pretenders: Break Up the Concrete 
The title of the opening track, "Boots of Chinese Plastic," may be a nod to Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather," but the song is all Chrissie Hynde at her finest.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Only Nick Cave could get away with this many exclamation points in his title and lyrics without sounding like a fool.

Nine Inch Nails: The Slip
The free one for the fans. At the turn of the millenium, fellow '90s future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Corgan was whining about not being able to compete in a world dominated by Britney Spears.  Trent Reznor ignored the commercial winds and just got on with the business of creating music, along the way building a loyal fanbase by relating to them and how they use technology without pandering to them artistically.

And, as much as I love the Wedding Present, I have to say the jury is still out on El Rey. I'm not sure if it doesn't measure up to their older work or even Take Fountain or if it's just that, having not reviewed yet, I haven't listened to it closely enough to appreciate its nuances.