I've seen so much music over the years it's often difficult for me to find much that is authentic. I have to get off the beaten track and lurk around the fringes of the music scene. Find those pockets of music where the authentic bubbles and boils. Where artists are making authentic art, for themselves, for their small stake in the world; hoping to get some response back from an audience or a scene, hoping to be noticed, hoping to share their art.
Here's one of my favorite new rock tunes, a quirky little ditty from East India Youth that you should buy and tell your friends to buy as well. Taken from the upcoming album Culture Of Volume out on the 7th of April. Look for this London-based artist's North American tour starting at SXSW. Remember, kiddies, there is no shame in sharing music as long as you don't rip off the artists who write, record, and release it. Long live rock!
Of all my friends, my mentor and dear friend Michael Butler has led one exceptional and interesting life. To the manor born is only part of his wonderful background. His stories are legendary and many a dinner party I will goad him into sharing some story about life on his farm in Oak Brook, IL or why he decided to produce Hair on Broadway or his glorious polo playing days or his friendship with politicians (The Kennedys) and movie stars (Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power) alike. He's the only individual to appear on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List... twice! Thankfully he's finally sharing his stories with the masses via his new podcast. These are perfect for consumption at any time of the day and worth sharing with your friends and family, too. Subscribe to Michael Butler's Memoirs on iTunes today.
Harry Shearer was recently in town promoting his new brilliantly acted and expertly executed web series -- Nixon's The One! -- about Richard Milhous Nixon. Recently, I had the chance to listen to him wax poetic about Nixon, the production challenges of the show, share clips, and ponder why only Sky TV in UK funded the series. Why no one in the US would distribute it is still mind-boggling. Shearer and his actors memorized the actually transcripts from the actual Nixon White House tapes that had been in storage in the National Archives for over 40 years. He and Nixon historian Stanley Kutler (both credited as the show's writers) poured over hundreds of hours of transcripts before committing the series to film. Thanks to our friends at My Damn Channel, here's the first episode of the six-part series co-created by and starring Mr. Shearer. In this episode, Nixon learns how the taping system works, receives some serious ass-kissing from his lapdog Henry Kissinger, lectures dairy lobbyists on how to sell milk, and orders the tapes destroyed. Not to be missed. Share it with your children. It's the history lesson that keeps on giving!
Singer-songwriter David Poe's poignant acoustic guitar and vocal cover of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, with all the proceeds to benefit the 9/11 group Tuesday's Children, is profoundly disturbing and powerful at the same time. For those of us New Yorkers who lived through this heinous moment in world history, it is a tragic event that we will carry to our graves. But the event also sparked a level of human compassion and cooperation that shone a beacon of light and hope that the entire world could see. I've often contemplated how we can continue to keep that flame of optimism burning in a world that seems teetering on the brink of madness. Perhaps Max Pickwoad's video is the perfect reminder to bring us back to that moment of clarity when everything around us was literally collapsing but somehow hope still sprang eternal.
I became a bigger fan of the majestic, jangly pop-rock of Nada Surf once R.E.M. faded into the woodwork. Don't get me wrong, I dug the lads from Athens, GA., but their last few albums just didn't move me. Thankfully, the N.Y.C.-based Nada Surf continues to soldier on, 20+ years later, despite never reaping the benefits of the enormous success they so deserve. Nada Surf's latest effort, the digital release B-Sides (Barsuk Records), collects previously unreleased tracks and bonus material from the band's four previous studio albums (Let Go, The Weight Is a Gift, Lucky, and The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy), many of which have never been available digitally in the U.S. If you don't know this band, listen to the first single, "No Quick Fix," and start buying them today. Well worth the effort.