America has a taste for cultural collapse and rebirth, whether in the religious right's mythos of the Rapture or in the left's fascination with nuclear extermination or the cataclysmic results of the effects of global warming as in say, Cormack McCarthy's The Road. This is the mulch that Goth grows best in. American Gothic, the subculture of the doomed. Read more »
Of all the youth subcultures New Romantic is the most arbitrary. It began in the London night club Blitz in 1979. It was a predominantly gay club that played a mixture of electronic pop and disco. The attitude of the patrons was that unlike punk it was important that you did 'something'. Such as write poems, write songs or (because of the proximity of the pre-eminent Fashion College; St Martin's) design clothes. At some point in the year the theatrical costumier (who supplied all the theatres in London) Charles Fox had the crashdown sale of it's long history. Consequently that week Blitz patrons came dressed in a mix of retro styles that spanned a thousand years. Chain mail, doublet and hose, ruffs and uniforms loyal to every flag. In one night New Romantic was born. Read more »
As widely noted, 2016 has been a year of painful loss in music. This month has been particularly bad: Canadian bard Leonard Cohen, jazz hipster Mose Allison, "Drift Away" songwriter Mentor Williams, Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Jules Eskin, music publishing icon/musical polymath Milt Okun, Country singer-songwriter Holly Dunn, music historian/Norton Records co-founder Billy Miller, the uncategorizable Leon Russell, hot-shot bassist Victor Bailey, guitarist Al Caiola, classical pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch, French electronica producer Jean-Jacques Perrey, Sri Lankan violinist W. D. Amaradeva, classic pop singer Kay Starr, jazz bassist Bob Cranshaw, beloved Los Angeles music journalist/proto-punk musician Don Waller, and Irish singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy. Bad news practically every day. Read more »
Stephen Stills has always been a masterful songwriter. From his tremendous early days in the Buffalo Springfield and CSN/CSNY and Manasas to his extraordinary solo output, he's canon of rock and folk-rock work is quite impressive. So it should come as no surpirse that his latest tune -- "Look Each Other In The Eye” -- should be excellent. And excellent it is! This timely pre-election song by Mr. Stills boasts a rhythmic Latin salsa lilt with simple but biting lyrics as infectious as anything he's ever released. "Look at what you started now..."
In a nutshell: If you are a Lou Reed fan, you should get this seventeen-CD box set regardless of how much of its contents you already own. Everything has been remastered; I compared the sound on six albums I have earlier CDs of (I did not compare the new CDs to my old vinyl, as that's apples and oranges), and on five the sound is greatly improved, more focused and with greater clarity; The Bells in particular has its murky sound fixed but retains its darkness. The exception is Take No Prisoners; it may be, given the circumstances under which this concert was recorded, that there wasn't much to work with there, but the sound is just as good as before. Throw in a very nice book -- not booklet; this thing's hardbound and roughly 11"x12" -- with co-producer Hal Willner's reminiscences, a wealth of historic Reed interview excerpts, and lots of photos and press clippings -- and it's even more attractive. Read more »
The uplifting folk-pop song "Fly" was based on the emotional hardships of a religiously repressed woman from New York City who took her own life last summer. Her tormentors would not afford her the comfort of acceptance and she couldn't fly free of the repression. Tragically, she could only find one way out. We all know depression hurts, let's reach out to those in need of support. Please feel free to share it with your loved ones. Artwork by French artist Frederic Leduc. Thanks to Martin John Butler for playing bass, co-engineering and mixing the track. The amazing Sammy Merendino played the drums and singer/songwriter Queen Esther provided the hook vocal. Next up... Miss Stephanie Riggs will direct the 360 VR music video.
You can contribute to our 360 VR (virtual reality) video project for suicide prevention and fighting depression. All proceeds will be used to produce the video and leftover funds will be donated to a suicide prevention organization. It's a tax deductible donation set up through our friends at First Mondays and The Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation.
Playing the Traveling Groupie with Woodhead & Echo Moth
If I were a Christian, then I would say I was blessed, but I'm not, so I'm going to say I'm lucky instead. I'm lucky to have some amazing friends in my life who also happen to be phenomenal musicians, so when three of those friends flew out from NYC to play a short tour ranging from Tijuana to San Francisco, I was thrilled to fly down from Seattle for both the reunion and the music. Read more »
I knew Caroline Crawley and Jemaur Tayle who were Shelleyan Orphan through my brother Jeremy. They were making a video for their single "Cavalry of Clouds." I painted for pop videos and fashion shoots. They'd found this little unsigned drawing by the lesser known Pre-Raphaelites Simeon Solomon in a flea market and wanted me to paint something like that on an easel in the video. Read more »
If one makes the pronouncement that their band "hails from Canterbury, England," one might assume that progressive rock might ensue. And while their Wikipedia page lists them as a "psychedelic jazz band, formed in Canterbury in 2003 by brothers frontman Liam and bassist Joel Magill, drummer Fred Rother and violinist Raven Bush," they sound more like a prog-pop band to my ears, albeit one of the best I've heard in ages. I happened to finally catch them in concert last week opening for the most-excellent UK-based singer-songwriter Jake Bugg at Terminal 5 in NYC. Strange pairing, but having missed them last year at the Mercury Lounge, I simply had to go. I admit that their name alone -- Syd Arthur, named after The Madcap Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett and Love leader Arthur Lee, who may or may not be construed as a prog rocker -- was intruiging enough for me to spend some time with their music. There is no doubt that they drink from the same fresh waters of their homeland, from the fertile springs that nourished early prog pioneers Caravan and Gente Giant with a touch of the "jazz" textures of Hatfield & The North and National Health. Read more »
Many consider Dmitri Shostakovich the greatest composer of the 20th century. Born September 25, 1906, he might not have lived past his teens if he hadn't been talented. During the famines of the Revolutionary period in Russia, Alexander Glazunov, director of the Petrograd (later Leningrad) Conservatory, arranged for the poor and malnourished Shostakovich's food ration to be increased. Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1, his graduation exercise for Maximilian Steinberg's composition course at the Conservatory, was completed in 1925 at age 19 and was an immediate success worldwide. He was The Party's poster boy; his Second and Third Symphonies unabashedly subtitled, respectively, "To October" (celebrating the Revolution) and "The First of May" (International Workers' Day).
[Warning! Although all reviews contain information that the listener will not know until they hear the album, this review (which is actual a preview, since the album will not have been released at the time of posting) is highly detailed. If you are a Marillion fan who would prefer not to be "influenced" specifically in any way prior to your first listen, suffice to say that I am giving the album 4.5 out of 5 stars.] Read more »
Hugely addictive power pop-punk rock from Philly trio Beach Slang. Hell, even the video is an homage to the original DIY aesthetic of early punk rock. The above-video "Atom Bomb" has a real '70s style and vibe thanks to director Jason Lester's 8mm cinematic flair. Beach Slang’s new album A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings will be released on September 23rd on Polyvinyl Records. They’re also on the road the rest of this year. If you're a fan of The Replacements, The Clash, Rancid, Green Day, this is well worth the effort. And please check out this stunning ballad -- "Too Late To Die Young" -- from their 2015 debut full-length, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us.
So I got an email early last week asking me to preview a new album. Nothing new as I get hundreds of requests daily from PR flacks asking for the same thing. However, this was a heartfelt message from the lead singer John Saba, Jr. of the Austin-based quartet San Saba County. He wrote that "Pretty Sure" was "one of [his] personal favorites from the album" 5th. Damn, he was right on target. This is one catchy tune, like Green Day filtered through a roots-rock prism. Smart lyrics, chugging rhythm, tight playing; a winner through and through. Looking forward to spending more time with the album. I'm pretty sure it'll be worth the effort.
'...Johndus's response to being told that Masturbational is spelt with an O."
It seems so often these days that all I want to do is burn things to the ground... This is not the confession of a pyromaniac but rather the resignation of a former believer who is convinced that, in so many aspects of life, it'd better if we just started over. However, occasionally something will come along that breathes life into my ever-dwindling hope. Bernie certainly did that for me in the realm of politics, Banksy has long since revitalized my belief in the possibilities of the visual arts, and, in the world of rock, I recently discovered a local secret here in Seattle which, if there's anything right with the music scene, won't remain a secret for much longer. In a time where rock seems to be sliding on to the popularity back-burner I am happy to report that the scene remains alive and well in Seattle, and at the core of this local rock scene resides the super group Ten Miles Wide. Ten Miles Wide has inspired me. After suffering through eight musically, bleak years of hipster drudge in NYC rock venues where true talent so often takes a back seat to hype, it’s refreshing to hear sincere, non-ironic music played for audiences who are there to listen rather than be seen. Ten Miles Wide seems like a natural progression of the Grunge movement, as if it had continued to grow and change over the last two decades, morphing into a new sound rooted in familiar soil. Raw and sincere but also accessible, their most recent album, The Gross (released July 16th to packed house of over five hundred eager fans), is catchy without being guilty of pandering. While possessing the power of a primal rage it is also clean and composed. To quote a lyric from Woodhead, my favorite local band back in NYC, "You don’t know the difference between a symphony or a song"… Ten Miles Wide does, crafting compositions with multiple moving parts and engaging time signature changes that challenge the ear, avoiding the redundancy that so frequently plagues our pop stations. Read more »
Les McCann & Eddie Harris - Swiss Movement (Atlantic, 1969)
I don't profess to have the deepest critical knowledge of jazz, especially with managing editor Steve Holtje being our resident expert, but I definitely have a deep appreciation. Regardless, Swiss Movement by Les McCann and Eddie Harris remains of one of my favorite live jazz albums. I just picked up a super-clean used copy of it at one of my favorite vinyl shops in Akron, Ohio. Read more »