Turn It Up - My 12 Favorite Rock Guitar Intros!

Writer Ian Alterman, and his brothers Eric and Tony, create email threads that have left me intoxicated, annoyed, and most often in a mental frenzy as they suck me into all sorts of music minutia. But boy can they wax poetic; always an education. Ian's latest thread continues that trend:

"The following are arguably the dozen most recognizable opening guitar riffs in rock.  I've arranged them alphabetically by band.  However, I would be interested to see what order each of you puts them.  You can use any criterion: favorite, most influential, most important, chronological, etc."

While I appreciated his list -- a very fine list, a list I could find very little fault with, and certainly a worthy email chain (that continues) -- I wanted my own list. That's the problem with lists, they are never definitive and almost never complete. Someone always feels slighted.

So I decided I would compile my own rock riff intro list. I did find merit in a few obvious choices from Ian's "Classic Rock" list, but most were a tad too pedestrian for my "garage rock" leanings. And I purposely left off The Beatles because I could have filled all twelve slots with their opening riffs. Ditto for Zep's Jimmy Page, early Kinks, The Who, Clapton (Cream, Derek & The Dominos), Hendrix, and a few other obvious omissions.

Late Winter Music Magic - Radiohead Breaks a Limb

Radiohead: The King of Limbs (XL) - What happened to this brilliant band is something that can be easily remedied by one very strong-willed, no-nonsense A&R person or a domineering producer. While I admit that I really have grown to "hail" the detached beauty of Kid A as an ambient juggernaut and consider OK Computer one of the greatest albums ever released, everything since has been one long hangover. Yes, this record "sounds" sumptuous, thanks in part to expert playing, Mr. Yorke's signature falsetto, strong arrangements, and the predicatably pristine production by longtime enabler Nigel Godrich, but these songs need a bit more work and melody to give them 4-star status; 5-star status is reserved for OK Computer. (Remember how you fell in love with the songs and the boys on 4.5-star The Bends?) We music fans deserve something more to hang our collective headphones on than rubbery limbs.

That's Amore! My 10 Favorite Love Songs

My best friend Evan and I have discussed our favorite love songs for over twenty-five years. Many of them made mixtapes to old girlfriends and potential paramours, often over-analyzed and scrutinized for their timelessness and sheer emotional gravity and weight. Today our digital devices have replaced our old mixtapes, but a list is still a list. Evan suggested that we pick ten songs, any genre, to celebrate the Hallmark card holiday that most Americans celebrate on February 14th. I wasn't sure I was the right romantic for the job, but what the hell, I'd give my love jones a spin. Omissions are easy when it's a list this short, but I hope you'll still find my song selection devastatingly emotional and uplifting.

More Crucial Culture From 2010

biffy-clyroCan't believe the year is over. Found some extraordinary culture in all shapes and sizes, both digitally and dimensionally. The list below augments my earlier Summer singles, Fall and Winter picks. A treasure trove of culture; well worth your scrutiny and investigation. Happy New Year, people of Earth!

Biffy Clyro: Only Revolution (Warner) 

Scotland's version of Green Day waxes more prog in their punk-rock leanings. This thinking man's trio has honed a musical maturity that comes with 15+ years of touring and CD releases.

Winter Wonderland!

aloe-blaccThe Holidays are upon us and if you need some help to lock down some cool gifts for your friends, lovers, spouses, and/or kids, let me steer you towards some fabulous content. There are plenty of vital books, music, DVDs, even collectible vinyl figures worth seeking out. Here's a short A - Z list:

Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Stones Throw)

Fresh, dynamic urban R&B; wicked throw-back cool. Mr. Blacc's voice is the bomb; whether dipping to guttural love pleas or rising to a excited falsetto. Reimagined cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale" that is devastatingly soulful.

The Glass - Free MP3

the-glass-duoOnce two musical scallywags Jager-bombing their way around the East Village in spray-on jeans and worn out sneakers, The Glass have refined their lifestyle and sound to sexy results with their debut album At Swim Two Birds (Plant Music). If you dig New Order, then you'll dig the groove of electronica/pop duo, Dominique Keegan and Glen "DJ Wool" Brady, who started collaborating in 2004. The title comes from Dublin author Flann O' Brien's 1939 novel but is also a reference to Glen's love of the ocean and swimming (he was a teenage water polo champion) and Dom's love of birds (he fancies himself a part-time ornithologist, even as a Manhattan resident). Here's a FREE DOWNLOAD of "Four Four Letter" from their debut album.

peace, Dusty

The Soulful Yearnings of Black Dub


Daniel Lanois' Black Dub
Wednesday, 17 Nov. 2010
Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Sometimes a live show can transcend because the recorded version of the music has been scrubbed too clean by digital detergent. Nice, tight compressed waveforms. Click-clacks, click tracks. More compression, oui? Well, maybe just a smidgen. Oops, too much. Compromised by the recorded signal getting squashed to 128-320 kbps. No audience to interact with the musicians when recording.