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May 13, 2006

They Throw Such Killer Grand Ole Partys


Malcolm Gladwell introduced us all to his concept of snap decision making in his book "Blink." He talked about experts being able to size up a situation, be it a failing relationship or the likelihood of a new product to succeed, in just a few seconds, based on unconscious analysis that even the experts themselves couldn't understand. I think that I experience Blink moments myself with music every now and then. I can think of any number of artists, songs or records that took time to sink in, and whose brilliance was revealed gradually. Many of these musical works I disliked initially, because it's easy to equate "Not Getting It" with dislike.

But there are other times when "Blink" type decisions occur, and within 5 seconds of a song starting up, I can tell that it's something special. The last time it happened was with the Seeger Sessions album, and it happened again last night when I read some of the comments on here recommending some local bands. One of the suggested groups was San Diego's Grand Ole Party. Most myspace pages play a song for you automatically when they load. This can usually be an annoyance, but in the case of this band it works as a hook. It tells you that you made the right decision coming to their myspace page, and that you're going to want to stick around and check things out.

Both of the songs on the page, Insane and Look Out Young Son result in the rarest of myspace page phenomenoms: seeking out the "Volume Up" button rather than "frantically looking for the Mute Button with the driven purpose of someone looking for the abort button as a bomb ticks down its final seconds". Both songs feature guitar and drums that are gloriously sleazy and dirty. They slink and lurch along, rockin all the way. The music sounds sort of like the rawness of early White Stripes like "Jimmy The Exploder," played with the slow back alley coolness of Tom Waits at his most mysterious. But the hook is the singer, who is also the drummer, who is also a lady who can wail like Cassandra from Crucial Taunt. (Watched Wayne's World last weekend, that chick can sing.)

In short, this band sounds like it is A) destined to get signed and release some great material, hopefully some time soon, and B) most definitely rocks live. Fortunately, there's a chance to see them in town tonight, at what is hands the most rockin venue in San Diego that I didn't know existed until today: Gelato Vero in Little Italy, which features Italian Ice Cream, Pastries, Coffee, Performances, Music, Art. If you can't make it there, they're playing both the Whistlestop and the Casbah before the month is over, on the 25th and 28th respectively.

Highly recommended, for now and to keep an eye on.

Video of the band performing at the Casbah
Grand Ole Party - Insane
Grand Ole Party - Look Out Young Son

Review of a show last week at the San Diego Sports Club at Cat Dirt Sez

May 12, 2006

Another Street Scene Band = Bloc Party

UPDATE: I've posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

The Street Scene lineup continues to be revealed, piece by piece. Still waiting for something huge to drop, but Brooklyn Vegan posts that Bloc Party has the Street Scene on their tour itinerary.

May 11, 2006

More Street Scene Rumors - Tapes 'n Tapes?

Street Scene Red

UPDATE: I've posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

The rumor mill for Street Scene 2k6 keeps chugging along. Lots of talk about Tapes 'n Tapes joining the festivities, based on their touring with The Futureheads, who are already showing up as playing on Pollstar. This was reported in a Pitchfork news article, like a week ago, but as of now is not yet showing up on Tapes 'n Tapes myspace page. I'm not a fan of the band, but posted a live show from SXSW they did a month or so ago that you can check out here.

Modest Mouse is also a name lots of people are tossing around. They play in Santa Barbara on August 6th, the day after Street Scene, so that doesn't sound illogical, but the band hasn't been up to anything in a while , has nothing to promote, and isn't on a big tour, so I don't know...

I also didn't realize that Street Scene is on the same weekend as Lollapalooza, the 3 day festival in Chicago, which has an impressive lineup, featuring just to name a few, The Raconteurs, The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Ween, Ryan Adams, Built to Spill, Eels, Gnarls Barkley... I guess it is unlikely that a band will play both of the shows in a weekend, which is bad when talking about the Raconteurs, who I hoped the Street Scene could snag, but good when it comes to the Chili Peppers, who have somehow managed to maintain the status of "Acceptable band to be the headliner at a huge festival" since the mid 90s despite the fact that their career paths really should have mirrored some of the best 80s hair metal bands and be playing at a state fair or a pig roast that weekend. If Lollapalooza means that they aren't an option as Street Scene headliner, I'm all for that.

Typing about Ween made me realize that I've probably never mentione Ween on here. Well The Blarney Stone and Waving My Dick In The Wind are both on my Itunes "50 Most Played List" and have been mix cd staples for a long time, so please check them out. Waving My Dick in the Wind is the rare cleverly titled song that lives up to how good its title is, and The Blarney Stone rivals the Pogues best Irish drinking songs in terms of it making you want to join in with the red nosed chap next to you when the chorus hits.

Both of these songs are on The Mollusk

May 10, 2006

Free Tickets to The Rogers Sisters and I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness At The Casbah

"Don't miss this show - I'm not! Trust me!" So says the faceless, voiceless "Info" section of the Casbah's concert schedule regarding the May 18th lineup of I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness and The Rogers Sisters. It's an oddly compelling little endorsement/command, kind of like the order to "Enjoy" printed on cans of Coca-Cola. But this is one disembodied voice whose commands you might be interested in listening to, at least for now. If he starts encouraging mailman killings and stuff of that ilk, I suggest you go elsewhere for your "info."

Pitchfork was dead on about the marketability of this logo

Both of these bands have been getting some press lately. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness isn't the kind of name you forget once you've heard it the first time, and though I hadn't heard about the Rogers Sisters until they bought an ad on the right side of this website, I think they've got a pretty cool sound. They've got a sort of Sonic Youth/Pixies male and female vocal contrast going on, and make music that is similar to both of those bands arty, raw kind of sound, but much closer to the Pixies rock end of the spectrum, as opposed to unpleasent experimentation. I think I support any band called The ____ Sisters that features prominent male contributions. As a bonus, evidently they put on a great live show.

Prominent Male Contributions indeed

Both bands new records have gotten good reviews from Pitchfork too (ILYBICD and Rogers Sisters), although I must point out that in the Rogers Sisters review, the writer shows his hand a bit too transparently. Nothing indicates a case of writer's block lock nitpicking that too many of their songs are sung about "you." Embarassing.

But anyways, you should check out both bands. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness has a myspace page with streams and the Rogers Sisters have a QT album stream. If you're the type who doesn't want to leave a web page without an MP3, check out You Undecided by the Sisters.

Finally, more unidentified faceless people have given me the power to bestow upon you a pair of tickets to giveaway to you guys for the show at the Casbah on Friday the 18th. So here's what I want you to do. Who have I been neglecting on this blog? Is there an artist, local or national that kicks so much ass that it's just unforgivable that I haven't written anything about them? Comment away and early next week I'll pick one at random and the free tickets will be yours.

May 09, 2006

The Most Irrelevant Rolling Stone Cover Of All Time

Rolling Stone has just published their 1000th issue, and has released an issue celebrating themseles to mark the occasion. They are well within their rights to do so, though they may not still be as on top of their game as this Washington Post story would have you believe. The magazine is still entertaining, as long as you don't expect it to be revelatory or even groundbreaking, (or sometimes to even have articles about music in it), it makes a good beach or bathroom read. That alone shows how lowered the bar is for Rolling Stone in the Pitchfork-era.

But the magazine once was great, and as you peruse the collection they've assembled of the 100 greatest covers of all time, there are some impressive shots. There are the ironic. The iconic. The just plain awesome.

But they'e also made some interesting choices:


Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers. So bland, so forgettable. What puts this cover in the top 10% of Rolling Stone covers of all time? The historical oddity of it? It is kind of like looking at old, no longer used denominations of money and thinking, wow! People actually used to USE a $10,000 bill! I mean, it doesn't make sense. I know I certainly wouldn't want to walk around with one. I wouldn't really mind if other people did...But as a minor, insignificant historical footnote, I guess it is interesting that both A) Former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase appeared on the $10,000 bill and that B) Bob Dylan's son appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.


And then there's this...The description of it in the magazine is written in a way that is just dripping with unintentional negative things about the subject, Gaving Rossdale. "These days he is best known as Gwen Stefani's baby daddy." That's right, he has been rightfully forgotten, until you just annointed him one of your top 100 covers, thus reminding me of him. "Critics had covered the band with a level of opprobrium not seen since the Stone Temple Pilots were made the whipping boys of the alternative nation." At least the Wallflowers had critical acclaim. Pointing out that critics, of which the magazine ostensibly belongs, think something sucks, seems like a lame way to cover your ass towards anyone with musical knowledge while you play the "We're just giving those stupid kids who buy magazines what they want!" card. "That, to me, is the real fantasy of being a rock star. Everybody wants to be that guy." From someone who was in eighth grade when Bush came out and still somehow knew better, I can assure you that nobody ever wanted to be that guy.

Dave MatthewsBono


Then we have some covers which were evidently deemed in the top 100 of all time, but which pretty much look like the subject was just photoshopped in over and over again. Interestingly enough, the Dave Matthews one appeared in 2004, but the covers with Bono, Bille Joe Armstrong, and Jay-Z appeared were on three out of four consecutive issues in 2005. Some might call that boring or lazy, but evidently Rolling Stone calls it three of the top 100 covers their magazine has ever had. This is the equivilent of the Rolling Stones Greatest Hits albums that are "Career Spanning," which is code for "Contains as many songs from Steel Wheels and Bridges to Babylon as it does Exile on Main Street and Let It Bleed."


Laura Dern

But it could be worse. They could have picked more irrelevant, more forgotten covers. For example, the above two. "The Girls of Scream 2" and "Laura Dern: The Spark in Jurassic Park." I guess your magazine needs to have a cover every week, but jesus, how defeating must those meetings have been? Walking out of a meeting at one of America's premiere magazines having just decided on Scream 2 or Laura Dern to shine forth from newstands on your magazines cover for the next two weeks? Who were other people pushing for? What band, movie, TV show, or political cartoon lost out to those two covers? Is Laura Dern still making movies?

But at least you remember both of those movies, or at least you remember Scream 1. As opposed to the above to pillars of irrelevance, I believe that the last cover is the most irrelevant Rolling Stone Cover of all time.


Bear in mind that's not just some random "We assembled two hot chicks and one chick that once kissed a hot chick in a movie" cover. No, those three ladies are there because their movie "The Sweetest Thing" that was due to hit theaters. The Sweetest Thing was given an abysmal 24% at Rotten Tomatoes. This isn't like a Pretty Woman type movie, where half the population loves it and half hates it. This was a movie that noboy liked, nobody cared about, and evidently nobody went to see. It puzzled me then and it puzzles me more now. Who owed who a favor? Was there confusion in the offices when these ladies showed up for the shoot? Were people fired becaus of this cover? Maybe someone was trying to drive the magazine into the ground like the Indians in Major League, and they just made it waaaaay to obvious with this cover and got fired.

There's an interesting story behind it, there's just got to be.

May 08, 2006

Didn't Get Radiohead Tickets? There There...

ticketmaster no tickets

So both of the Radiohead shows sold out very quickly on Saturday. I managed to get four tickets to Monday's concert, and have noticed that tickets are already being offered up for outrageous (at least double the actual cost) prices on Craigslist and ebay. The internet definitely gives anybody the advantage of being able to quickly and easily buy tickets for any show in America and be selling them minutes later. For recent concerts I've bought tickets for, this and Bruce Springsteen, the internet seemed like the only way to possibly obtain tickets, and evidently it was a seconds-different crapsoot since everyone was pretty much doing it at the same time.

So did anybody else get lucky? Anybody know how many tickets were for sale each night?

Whether you made it or you didn't, everyone can enjoy the below recording of Radiohead playing in Copenhagen just a few days ago on May 6th. It can either get you pumped for the show, psyched enough to shell out the dough to a scalper, or maybe even push you towards sour grapes "all those new songs aren't any good anyways" mode.

A zip file of the MP3s is available at http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CN0GDYYB

Lost Albums: Should Be or Not Should Be?

Q: What is "Hail, and Farewell Gothenburg?"
A: The sequel to Sweden, never released.

That's always been an intriguing little exchange from the FAQ on the Mountain Goats website. Ah, the fabled "Lost album." There is no better way to get peoples minds a-racing and anticipations dreadfully out of wack. I still remember reading a Beatles biography in ninth grade where the author breathlessly wrote about some vaulted tapes that only he had ever heard, but that were so mind blowingly great that the reader, the simple 15 year old wanting to learn about the Beatles, could not even look at them, lest he wind up like the nazi's upon opening the ark of covenant, and that would be if he was lucky.

Who Cares?

Of course, those tapes turned up on the Anthology series, and later on Let It Be...Naked and nobody gave a damn. Distinguishing between similar sounding takes of a song and deciding which one is "Best" (which is never the released one that you've heard) is a passion enjoyed solely by the joyless elitists. Admitedly, sometimes a reworking of a song can completely change the animal. Bob Dylan's Idiot Wind has three distinct versions, all which change and enhance different emotions. Idiot Wind on Blood On The Tracks is not the same song as the tremendous rocked out Idiot Wind performed live on Hard Rain. The more quiet, reserved, organ tinged version of Idiot Wind from the vaulted Blood On The Tracks NY Sessions pushes the lyrical venom that was so apparent in the live version to the back, leaving mainly the singers pain audible, and is the rare vaulted material that truly is a completely different song. But usually you just get something where the band tried one take where they did "La's" instead of "Na's" on Hey Jude.

Look at this watch...You won't believe what this thing can do...

Of course, an entire unreleased album is a very different situation. Though they just as rarely ever live up to the hype, they are often more satisfying and a more complete vision than the hours of outtakes and alternative versions that even the most pedestrian bands accumulate. Recently, the above Mountain Goats album, Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg recently surfaced on the internet. It had long been rumored to only exist on a single cassette tape, if at all. Evidently, it inspires a good deal of emotion and devotion (a little E & D never hurt anybody) in Mountain Goats fans. Somebody posted it at this SendSpace site. For a casual fan, I think it's hard to tell what distinguishes it from other early Mountain Goats recordings, but the song "Crane" stood out to me as a highlight during the first listen. The band is coming to the Casbah on June 15th, and have recently released a new EP.

And as one long lost album finally surfaces, another one prepares hints that it may do so soon, as Axl Rose announced today. It's hard to say what the best strategy would be for Axl regarding Chinese Democracy. As more and more people come of age musically that have never lived in a world where Guns n Roses has existed as a band, the possibility of them becoming a cross-generational punchline grows greater and greater. I would advise him to shelve everything for two more decades, just to avoid the awkward middle aged stage that claims all men except maybe Jack Nicholson, and emerge when he's in his "Cool old guy" stage, where its considered positive if you get really fat. As far as the new album goes, I think that the best Axl is going to get from people will be the damning faint praise of "It's not as bad as you'd think."


But in the back of my mind will always be this article that Kurt Loder wrote in January, 2001 after the new lineup had played Rock In Rio. I was a sophomore in college, with the above poster of Rose on my bedroom wall, and when I read lines such as:

"a tribe of burly security guards began sweeping away un-credentialed idlers with a snarling insistence rarely seen since the heyday of such preshow prima donnas as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

played with a passion and precision that's unlikely to be matched in any other quarter anytime soon.

he remains one of the great can't-take-your-eyes-off-him rock stars, twirling back and forth across the stage...pausing only to lean back and emit a proverbial banshee wail"

I wanted to believe. Loder ended by tell us to "pray for a tour." Now it appears we may get yet another one from the new lineup (I was at the last tour show in Philly, where Axl cancelled and the fans rioted. I left quickly.) I pray more that Axl is able to make one last contribution to the rock canon before he packs it in. A contribution, not a footnote.

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