Business Casual

Yeah, I know. It's been awhile. I'm taking a hiatus from rocknrollscientist. Work's been busy, and therefore I can't update much while at the office. Plus that means that when I'm not at the office, I'm taking full advantage of my time away. Full advantage means I'm not sitting at home on the couch typing things here.

For right now, I've been posting more on my MySpace blog. For some reason I'm more comfortable with that medium right now. And I'm already on it throughout the day, so it's easier to deal with. If you're not on MySpace, but want to keep reading, you need to get an account. It's free. You can find my page at myspace.com/ifuzzbot, but you can't get to the blogs unless you have a MySpace login.

As for all the people I've worked with for content, I apologize for not being very responsive lately. I'm still DJing every Saturday night, but posting here on rocknrollscientist is going to be very spotty. Shoot me an email if you'd like to talk more about it.

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Jimmy the Exploder

This week, I found myself at two art museums. I didn't mean to.

On Thursday night, I went downtown for a couple of drinks after work. Then I remembered that my friend Andy said he was working the door for an art opening. I had read a little about the place, but wasn't quite aware of the situation. For some reason, I was thinking it was a total DIY gallery in the vein of the Detroit Art Space or the Detroit Contemporary (not CAID, that's been around for decades in various spaces). So I text Andy and verify that he's working and then start walking down the street.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is serious. Big time. Earlier last week, I drove by and noticed someone on a ladder painting the front of the building with a giant graffiti tag that went from corner to corner and sidewalk to roof. It actually looks pretty cool. But then when I was walking up to it on Thursday (I was drunk, by the way), I saw something odd. I thought I saw a kid hanging off the roof by one hand, with a can of spray paint in hand, bombing the facade. Walking past, I had to go back, and then I stopped and stared for a minute. It was a robot! A freaking robot! But I like the idea.

So then I turned the corner because it quickly became obvious the entrance was on the north side of the building. What I saw surprised me. Suddenly it became clear that this was no little DIY art gallery opening. There were maybe twenty valets lined up at the street, driving off in Saabs and Volvos and high-end VWs. I saw the blazered security dudes, and walked up. As soon as I got in the lobby, someone asked me if I had tickets at will-call, or had to buy. I saw Andy sitting at a table with ten other people and went there. He had acquired a wristband through a friend who didn't have their plus-one, so he kept it and gave it to me. The next day I found out that I was there at a time when it would've cost $125 to buy a ticket at the door. Crazy.

Andy pointed me in the direction of the room with the bar. There were people EVERYWHERE - it was insanely crowded. And right away I knew for sure that this was a big deal. It was all middle-aged white people wearing black, i.e. art patrons. They were doing a ticket system for drinks, but the prices weren't too bad. Unfortunately, the only whiskey they had was Dewar's, and I had been drinking a lot of Seagram's 7 earlier in the night. The Scotch was close enough, I guess. That room was kind of dark, and the most crowded. One wall had the bar, the opposite wall had the food (which I never had the ambition to wade through the crowd to get to), another wall had a table with some t-shirts for sale that were designed for the event, and the fourth wall had a white banner stretching from side-to-side and roof to ceiling that was backlit with the museum's logo. That's also where the Paxahau DJs were at. I tried walking into the other big room, but they wouldn't let me with my drink, and I just got it and didn't want to let it go. But looking in, I could see several installations that looked interesting. After less than a half hour I left because I was drunk and stupid and starting to feel edgy around all these people who couldn't possibly move any slower.

The next night (Friday) was the premiere of James Petix's film "It Came From Detroit" at the DFT Film Theatre (in the DIA). This thing has been in the making for years. It was supposed to be all about Detroit's garage rock music scene, but I think in the making of it, the focus shifted to what happened to the scene.

There's just one problem: it's too soon. I'm not saying he should wait awhile and come back to it or anything, it stands on it's own. But there are so many interesting directions that the scene has taken lately and those are all worth pursuing and exposing in the context of the recent past. For example: Patrick and Jack of the Greenhornes playing on Loretta Lynn's last album, the Raconteurs, Brendan Benson's solo career, Lee Marvin Computer Arm, the Frustrations, the Genders, Human Eye, Saturday Looks Good To Me, and the Terrible Twos.

It was great to see all those bands up there on the big screen and the interviews were great. I wish there would've been more from the people who made the scene, not just the bands.

Some interesting tidbits: Dick Valentine (singer from Wild Bunch/Electric 6) was always shown with Chris Tait dressed as the 'budget devil' which was to support his statement that he sold his soul. Amy Abbot (bartender from the Gold Dollar) was in a bear costume every time she was interviewed. And every profiled band had some live footage or at least a music bed of their own work except the White Stripes. There was no music and no video, only still photos and some voice-over narration. Also, the Jack White/Jason Stollsteimer tiff was noted lopsidedly with a few band members giving their reaction, White explaining things at a press conference, and Stollsteimer defending himself to the interviewer. There was nothing direct from White. It didn't feel fair. There was footage of the Electric 6 playing live in London with Esquire doing the Jack White parts on stage. Absolutely no mention of The Dirtys, and only a brief mention of the Greenhornes. No early footage of the Soledad Brothers when they were especially physical in front of a crowd. No mention of the many bands who never called Detroit home and weren't from here but still loved playing here and recording here and partying here, i.e. the New Bomb Turks, the Compulsive Gamblers/Oblivians, the Lost Sounds, the Mooney Suzuki, and the Bellrays.

As a fan who was at hundreds of these bands' shows, and helped "keep us drunk" as Mary Ramirez (Detroit Cobras/Buzzards) referred to employees of the Garden Bowl in the late '90s, I feel that people like me were sorely under-represented. From being at all those shows, I know there were quite a few others like me who weren't in any bands, and weren't close friends with any of them, but we supported them completely, and without us, there wouldn't have been people at the shows who the bands didn't know. There wouldn't have been fans early on.

Plus there are a few people who weren't in bands, but were close to them and could've been interviewed.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the film, but being not only a film student, and also someone who was there, I feel there are some things that are missing. But if you weren't there, and you love the music, it's an excellent portrait of a time and a place that greatly influenced many a young adult life, including my own.

P.S.: the Dirtbombs played before the film in the Rivera Court at the DIA, and even though the sound was very echo-ey, it was still pretty fucking cool to see them playing in that space.

P.S.S.: I feel I should also note that James himself noted that this is not the final cut of the film and that he will be revising it before submitting it to Sundance and all the other film festivals next year.

LINKS: MOCAD, It Came From Detroit, DIA

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Color Me Impressed

More and more I'm hearing cool underappreciated music in advertising and film soundtracks. When discussing with friends, they think it's cool and wonder why it's happening now and not before. I know why. Media planners and creative types in advertising are in their late twenties/early thirties (like me). We grew up in a time when 'punk broke' as Sonic Youth said. That's just another way of saying that the alternative became the mainstream in my generation.

So it follows that people from my generation who work in advertising are taking advantage of their situation to put good underappreciated music front and center for the masses.

Back in the '90s, Cameron Crowe took advantage of his situation to bring us the first solo material from the Replacements' Paul Westerberg. The "Singles" soundtrack featured "Dyslexic Heart" and "Waiting For Somebody," the first two new solo songs after The Replacements broke up. It was a big deal for a lot of us.

Somewhere out there someone got the idea to have Westerberg write and perform music for the new animated film "Open Season." I really don't get it, the idea is odd, having his music as part of this film. It's a kids movie, for chrissakes. It's the same thing happening all over again. A Paul Westerberg fan took advantage of their situation to try and push this amazing music on the mainstream.

I haven't seen the movie, so I have no idea how well it works, but we get eight new Westerberg recordings. Plus there are two songs from Deathray and one from Pete Yorn, all three written by Paul. So that's eleven new Westerberg songs, plus the Talking Heads song "Wild Wild Life." I guess they had to throw in that one to round out the soundtrack's original purpose. The Deathray and Pete Yorn tracks were probably added to make the record more palatable and/or marketable to the masses.

Good. Because these are some of the easiest to digest songs the man has recorded in thirteen years. But that doesn't mean this stuff's watered down. Plus, and this one's a seriously big plus, Tommy Stinson (bass player from the Replacements) plays on two tracks.

If you're a Westerberg or Replacements fan, you should pick this one up. And don't be concerned about it being a kids' movie soundtrack, that's irrelevant here.

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He Said/She Said

I know. It's been awhile since you've seen anything new in this space. The past two weeks have been spent transitioning from a job I held for five years to a brand new one. So finally I'm starting to get a handle on things. Finally there's something new to read on rocknrollscientist!

Last week I suddenly had the opportunity to get on the guest list for a show, but I couldn't make it. First week at the new job, I didn't want to be out too late. So I checked out the band's music and liked it. Now I want you to hear it.

From All Music:
"The Dallas band came together in 2004 with the plan of creating a solid rock sound that refrained from any kind of current chart trend or blogger buzz. With a year of honing their style behind them, the Hourly Radio self-released the Lure of the Underground EP in January 2005. Growing popularity in and around their hometown eventually led to a stellar performance at 2005's SXSW conference as well as additional tours opening for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and stellastarr*. A deal with indie imprint Kirtland was inked by winter, and a limited-edition double A-side single "Crime Does Pay" was made available via iTunes in June 2006. The Hourly Radio's debut album, History Will Never Hold Me, was slated for September."

Their sound is refreshing...guitars with a U2 influence, basslines reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand, and high-pitched falsetto vocals. Yes, I know, it's been done. Overdone, in fact. We've seen way too damned many of these bands in the past few years. But, if you're into this sort of thing, you should check out a couple tracks and decide for yourself.

Crime Does Pay
Not A Victim

And then you can check out their website here: The Hourly Radio.

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The Seeker

click to read more about The Who

I have something special, kids. Two tracks off the new Who album. It's called Endless Wire, and it comes out on Halloween. Check it out:

Tea and Theatre
It's Not Enough

There are 19 tracks total. It'll be interesting to hear the rest of it and see how well this one sells.

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My Kind of Lover

I can't say enough good things about this band Locksley. Last week I wrote a little about 'em. It's like if late '60s garage bands had access to better production. And lived in our time. And came from Wisconsin. Listen to it. Now.

LINK: Locksley

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Something To Write Home About

A little while ago I wrote about the new Jeremy Enigk solo album. Well, now he's on tour with Cursive for the last leg of their Happy Hollow tour.

Check out the tour dates:

03 Colorado Springs, CO - The Black Sheep
09 Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium
11 Columbia, MO - The Blue Note
12 Memphis, TN - Young Avenue Deli
13 Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree
14 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
16 Charlottesville, VA - Satellite Ballroom
17 Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall
18 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
20 Tallahassee, FL - The Moon
21 Gainesville, FL - Reitz Union Ballroom
22 Orlando, FL - The Club at Firestone
24 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
25 Austin, TX - Emo's
26 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Ballroom

Jeremy Enigk's site
Enigk on MySpace

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I Love You. Maybe.

I've got some links to new music that you're gonna want to check out:

Come Down from 120 Days. Swedish Krautrock if you can believe it.

Hang On, Girl from Favourite Sons. And three more from the Sons:
Down Beside Your Beauty
No One Ever Dies Young
Tall Grass

You can find all this and more at Vice's MP3 blog, Up Yer Jaxxy.

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Don't Make Me Wait

click to listen to the track Why Not Me from Locksley
Click that picture up there. Listen to the song "Why Not Me." Do it. Right now. What are you thinking? Supergrass? The Kinks? The Sights, maybe?

I doubt you're thinking that this is the sound of four guys from Wisconsin who moved to Brooklyn, NY to get more attention for their band. But if you did, you'd be right. Funny, six years ago Detroit would've been the place for a band like this to move to for attention.

Simpler in influence than the Arctic Monkeys, younger than Supergrass, and more British Invasion than the Sights are these days, Locksley has a chance. This is one of those bands who critics find it so easy to discuss and throw around comments like 'pop-infused hooks' and 'punk enthusiasm'. Neither of those would be wrong, but it would be unjust to bestow such tired cliches on a band that does what they do so well.

It is poppy and hooky and they most certainly have a punk energy running through their songs. In fact, I'm quickly reminded of The Exploding Hearts who had a very similar sound, but theirs was more rooted in '70s power-pop. The boys in Locksley seem almost too good to be true with their hooks and all four of 'em taking turns singing. I swear I'm listening to The Raspberries or The Move or Badfinger or The Kinks. And just like the Exploding Hearts, these guys took a sound that they liked and made it their own.

The album doesn't sound forced, nor does it sound completely derivative. Original and fun and upbeat with good lyrics. They don't fuck around.

Go here to check out their
MySpace page, and here for their site.

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Endtroducing...No Love For Detroit

So I've been told...

DJ Shadow is ready to bless the US not just with two turntables and a microphone but with a full ten piece band! Following the successful European leg of his tour, Shadow will be over with his traveling party to thrill Northern America. Special guests will vary depending on location, but fans can expect to see Q-Tip, David Banner, and Keak Da Sneak.

He’ll be meeting up with trip-hoppers Massive Attack in his hometown Bay Area, but for the rest of the excursion, he’ll be ably supported by The Outsider guest star Lateef The Truth Speaker. DJ Shadow Tour Dates


22 Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre#
24 Los Angeles, CA - Avalon*
25 Los Angeles, CA - Avalon*
26 San Diego, CA - House of Blues*
28 Las Vegas, NV - House of Blues*
30 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Ballroom*


01 Austin, TX - Stubbs BBQ*
03 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues*
04 Atlanta, GA - Roxy*
06 St. Louis, MO - Pageant*
09 Chicago, IL - House of Blues*
10 Milwaukee, WI - Eagles Club*
11 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues*
12 Toronto, Ontario - Kool Haus*
13 Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis Gillett Entertainment*
16 Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of the Living Arts*
17 New York, NY - Webster Hall*
18 New York, NY - Webster Hall*

*= w/ Lateef the Truth Speaker #= w/ Massive Attack

Click here to check out a track from his new album, "The Outsider."

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The Emperor's Soundtrack

Don't be a douchebag and try to dismiss this as 'skater rap', because even you don't know what that means. This summer, Lupe Fiasco appeared on the Kanye West track "Touch the Sky," as Mr. West's new protege. From what I heard and read, Fiasco completely upstaged his mentor at the Chicago appearance for Lollapalooza. Then the single for "Kick, Push" came out and critics were quick to dismiss it as another 'backpacker' or 'skater rap' track. Whatever.

The full-length finally came out this past Tuesday (09/19), and it's called "Food & Liquor." Lupe Fiasco will NOT save hip hop. Nor will he fix it. But he might reinvent it. With respect from Kanye West, and an executive producer credit from Jay Z, this is definitely a mainstream hip hop record. Now, let's hope we hear the whole damned thing on mainstream radio throughout the Fall. Because I'd like that.

The skater comment comes from the first single "Kick, Push" being about a young skater finding freedom, love, and an outlaw spirit on a skateboard. The backpacker criticism comes from the lyrics being mostly positive and/or political and the music not giving in to too many hip hop cliches. Lupe Fiasco is threatening to make hip hop a safe place for geeks and iconoclasts, and I think a lot of critics don't like it. They'd prefer their rap to fit into nice little genres like crunk and bounce where every song sounds the same and the lyrics get increasingly negative.

Despite the connections to West and Jay Z, there is no obvious influence to Fiasco's sound, it is all his own. Especially the lyrics which come from his Islam-derived ethics, respect for women, and increasing love/hate for mainstream hip hop. He even takes Jay Z to task for rapping about praying to (mob boss) John Gotti instead of God.

I hope he does save hip hop and fix it and completely reinvent it, because the mainstream needs a positive voice questioning the disrespectful attitudes towards women, and the questionable goals that we hear in crap like Lil' Jon. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, if you've got flow, talent, and you have the kids' attention, fucking use it.

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Fifteen, Part 1

I had high hopes for this record. When I first heard a couple tracks, I thought it sounded like this Gang of Four/Talking Heads on meth/Magazine kinda sound that's been popular for a couple years. And that's what it is, but too much so.

Forward Russia sound like a carbon copy of Bloc Party. Add a little bit of The Editors in there whilie you're at it. What if Bloc Party sounded just a little bit edgier? They'd sound like Forward Russia. And that's all they have going for them. I tried listening to it a few times in it's entirety, thinking it would grow on me, but it hasn't. This last time I couldn't wait until it was done.

The album "Give Me A Wall" from Forward Russia is not recommended by me. But if you want to check it out for yourself, hit up their MySpage page right here and see what you think.

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Papillon de Madame

click to check out Lisa Papineau's website
It's been a few weeks now, and I've been listening to this CD on and off, and I really like it. Singer-songwriter-ish vocals and lyrics with minimal electro beats. Lots of bleeps and bloops. But it isn't arrhythmic like Solex, and it isn't folky like Beth Orton. It's just...nice.

Lisa Papineau has already made a name for herself as a vocalist with Air and M83, and now she has her very own solo album. But she didn't do it all by herself. You'd think she did if you read the liner notes and saw what all she played...but she didn't. She had help. Thomas Huiban is credited with bass, synthesizers, singing, beats, triangle, kalimba, and guitar. Matthieu le Senechal Delosmone de Villeneuve played the Rhodes piano, clavinet organ, guitar, mandolin, accordion, synthesizers, sang, and made some beats. Then Bob Merrymountain created the string arrangements, played synthesizers, percussion, sang, and did some live programming and choreography (?). Lisa gets in on it with melodies, words, singing, beats, bells, synthesizers, cymbals, guitar jack, and one lousy Rhodes part. That's all verbatim from the liner notes. We are also told that Lisa Papineau endorses chicory, a pleasing non-caffeinated warm beverage.

Despite all of this instrumentation, "Night Moves" is a very subtle record. And Bob Seger is nowhere to be found. This is decidedly not a rock album.

I'm a fan. But I don't like the track "Shucking. Jiving." It sounds like a Meg Lee Chin outtake, and I never liked her stuff all that much anyway.

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She Said She Wanted Something She Could Recognize, Something She Could Feel

Last Wednesday night, I was sitting at the bar at the Garden Bowl in Midtown Detroit. I was waiting for the Terrible Twos to go onstage upstairs in the Magic Stick.

Dave Z, the owner of the Majestic (Garden Bowl/Magic Stick/Majestic Theatre/Majestic Cafe) sat down next to me. I asked Dave what was up with lame shows on Saturday nights. On Saturdays, I DJ there and if there's a good show with lots of people, I get more into it and then people get more into it and stay longer. Win/win situation all around. He said "rock n' roll's changed..." No shit. I already knew that. Then he started saying something about garage rock, etc. His venues did really well in the late '90s and early '00s when garage rock in Detroit blew up.

But it isn't like that anymore. Jack White lives in Tennessee and claims he's from there. The Sights are on a major label, but you'd never know it considering their low profile. The Electric 6's second to last album took over a year to come out in this country. Bands from out of state who made a name for themselves here, like the Soledad Brothers and the Greenhornes are changing significantly. The SB broke up last month, and the Greenhornes are down to three members from the five they started out with. Not to mention Jack and Patrick from the Greenhornes are busy being the rhythm section for the Raconteurs. The Clone Defects shattered into Human Eye and The Valentinos, but the former are on an indefinite hiatus, and The Valentinos just can't seem to catch a break despite their excellent Television/Roxy Music inspired sounds. Bantam Rooster splintered into various acts including The Dirtbombs, The Buzzards, The Detroit City Council, and The Detroit Cobras.

Plus a lot of the acts from outside of Detroit who loved playing here because of the friendly scene are either all done, or they've moved on to significantly different sounds. If Sweden's Hellacopters haven't already broken up, then they should considering the watered down crap they're pushing now. The Supersuckers play more acoustic country than "Born With A Tail" rock n' roll. New Bomb Turks? Remember them? Yeah, barely. They haven't put out a good record in years. The Oblivians broke up, went back to their earlier incarnation of The Compulsive Gamblers, then they broke up, too. Greg Oblivian's Reigning Sound is great, but they don't fill the clubs. Neither does Jack Oblivians solo stuff. Remember Jay Reatard and The Lost Sounds? It's all but a memory...they broke up, too. Murder City Devils: done.

Most of the acts that helped build this late '90s scene in Detroit are completely different than what they once were. Bands grow and evolve, and often the fans can't do the same. Add onto that an over-saturated concert venue scene in Detroit, and you have too much going on and what is going on is lacking in the energy or substance it once had.

As soon as Dave mentioned 'garage rock', I interjected and pointed upstairs, "the Terrible Twos are what happened to garage rock. It isn't what it used to be. Garage rock has morphed more into a dirty avant punk rock n' roll type of thing." Those guys can't sell out a 500-person venue when they headline, but they sure as hell help. In fact, I think they are one of the most interesting things going on in Detroit music right now.

I think Detroit's main problem is over-saturation of venues, but the second problem is the people. The kids aren't willing to give a band a chance anymore.

This rant is all over the place, but I ain't apologizing. I had some things I wanted to say. This scene is frustrating.

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In the Morning of the Day

click to check out Goldenboy's site
I think it was sometime before the movie Goodwill Hunting made Elliott Smith an indie-folk god when a million and one of my female friends were pushing him on me. He was good at what he did, he was a great songwriter, very talented, but I'm not so into it. I don't know why. Sometimes, I just can't get down with the sad bastard music.

But sometimes I can. When I first put in this new CD from Goldenboy, I immediately thought of the new-ish songs that Kevin Shields did for the Lost In Translation soundtrack. So I started listening to the rest of the album, and it is sad bastard-y, but I still like it. I hear some Johnny Marr in the music, and some Kevin Shields as well as Elliott Smith in the vocals and lyrics. It's textured and poppy.

Goldenboy consists of Shon Sullivan and Bryan Bos. Apparently Shon toured with Smith years ago and he referred to Sullivan as 'Goldenboy'. It's taken a couple weeks, but these two are growing on me. Their new album "underneath the radio" comes out on October 3rd. I have a track you can check out, it's called "
Summer of the Evening." You can check out more songs on their MySpace page, and if you click on the picture above, you can check out their regular site.

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I've Got A Leather Jacket On, I Know That Is A Sin

click to check out Emily Haines' MySpace page

You like Broken Social Scene, right? How about Metric? You know them, they're the Canadians doing Pretenders/Blondie style new wave. Well, anyway, Emily Haines happens to be the lead singer for Metric and a regular contributor to BSS's indie pop circus.

She has a new solo album out on September 26th. Her backup band is called the Soft Skeleton, and the record is called "Knives Don't Have Your Back." If you click right here you can check out a track from the record called "Doctor Blind." It's a Cat Power meets Beth Orton meets Lisa Papineau kind of affair. If you like those acts, you'll like this.

Check out the Soft Skeletons site.

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In the Morning

Hey, check out a new single from Razorlight called "America." Then go here to check out their MySpace page.

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Falling Out of Love

click to check out Sean Lennon's site

I remember back in 1998, I was on college radio (WSGR-FM) and fervently following everything that went on with Grand Royal Records. Not just because I was a Beastie Boys fan, but also because those guys had good ears. The label didn't last, and I don't know if it was just poor business decisions or what, but almost everything they put out had lots of promise. One of those acts was Sean Lennon. Yes, that Lennon. His first solo album, "Into the Sun" was kind of a freeform audio pastiche. There was lots going on with electronic elements, guest artists, experimentation, and varied instrumentation. But the underlying current was still good pop music.

So, eight years later, he's finally releasing a new album. This time he's on Capitol Records, and the title is "Friendly Fire." It comes out on October 3rd.

In the time between the first and second albums, he contributed to lots of good releases with lots of talented people like his mom (Yoko Ono), Money Mark, Deltron 3030, Cibo Matto, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Thurston Moore, Ryan Adams, The Boredoms, et al. But he kept it on the down low. Now he feels that he's ready to attack the record label machinery yet again with a high profile release.

As before, there are guest artists here like drummer Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, Tori Amos), Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto), and Bijou Phillips, among others. Lennon has also produced a short film for each of the album’s tracks, directed by Michele Civetta. The fantastical shorts, which together comprise a conceptual film about betrayal and the failure of love, feature appearances from Lennon and friends including Lindsay Lohan, Bijou Phillips, Asia Argento, Carrie Fisher, Devon Aoki, Jordana Brewster and others.

I have to admit that as much as I loved Lennon's first album, the experimentation and slight lack of focus got on my nerves after awhile. It's kind of like listening to something from the Japanese noise/pop genius Cornelius...you can tell it's really good, and sometimes you might like listening to it, but it's all about the small doses. Too much of a good thing, maybe? I don't know.

Okay, so check out this track from Lennon's new album. It's called "Dead Meat." Then go check out the trailer for the conceptual film meant to accompany the album. As you can tell by that single, Lennon has toned down the experimentation a bit and focused more on songwriting and texture. It's refreshing to hear him this way, because his talent becomes clearer.

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Three Button Hand-Me-Down

click to check out the Nice Boys' site

The Nice Boys are from Portland, Oregon. They sprang from the ashes of the tragically-cut-short power pop/punk band The Exploding Hearts. And just like EH, these Nice Boys do play rock n roll. And damn, do they do it well. This shit is so full of clever hooks. Like the bastard sons of the Faces, Sweet, Nick Lowe, and Marc Bolan, they bring us power pop so catchy and so good.

And just like the Exploding Hearts, these boys have the fashion and the look nailed. Even their flyers and overall graphic design fits the bill. It's all about early '70s power pop and glam.

They have a full-length out right now on Birdman Records. It's self-titled. If you click on the pic above you can check that out on the label's site. If you go here, you can check out the band's MySpace page and listen to a few tracks.

The Nice Boys are playing the Painted Lady in beautiful downtown Hamtramck (right by Detroit) on October 2nd. Doors are at 8, and it's on a Monday, so make sure you mark your calendars.

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Jack the Ripper

There's something new coming out of Southend, UK. Something menacing, the likes of which hasn't been seen since The Meteors terrorized us with their psychobilly stomp in the '80s. The Cramps were doing the same thing at the same time, but The Meteors had this evil, dark thing going on, much like The Horrors do now.

The Horrors aren't even old enough to legally drink in this country, but somehow have been on the cover of NME twice, and have a video directed by Chris Cunningham featuring Samantha Morton. You gotta see this to get an idea of where these guys are coming from: Sheena Is a Parasite.

There's this darkness that makes me think of Nick Cave, but then there's the trash/camp/Elvis worship of The Cramps. I should explain that the 'billy' in psychobilly here is really more like surf guitar with Elvis-style vocals. Mean, skeery Elvis vocals. Oh, and I almost forgot the organ, there's lots of that. Addams Family style. Even better, sometimes the vocals and guitar style are like The Fall! They dress in suits, kind of like The Strokes, but these kids would kick the latter's fashionable asses. Their first EP comes out on October 24th, but you can check them out right now MySpace right here.

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Caged Birdsong

I'm a fan of Madlib and anything he does, so when I was reading about two new records that he released on his label Stones Throw, I got excited. But in the review, one was stated as being better than the other, and when I was at the record store, I couldn't remember which was which. So I bought "Shine Through" from Aloe Blacc.

I think I made the right decision. The review that I had read was a distant memory as to the actual content of the records, so I didn't know what I was getting into.

When you first put on the record, you start thinking that it's a soul thing with underground hip hop style beats. Lots of jazz influence. Then the second track is a cover of Sam Cooke's "Long Time Coming," and the soul thing starts gaining some momentum. But then "Are You Ready" starts reminding me of some dancehall type stuff with Afro-beat music. "Busking" is exactly what the title says: singing on the street, a cappella. Busking is the term used to refer to making money by being a street entertainer. This guy is all over the damned place, because "Bailar" (scene 1) is fucking salsa! And "Nacimento" is bossa nova! But with "Dance For Life," he brings back the soul with some electro beats. Oh, wait, "Patria Mia" is a Mexican pop song...and then the title track "Shine Through" is a gentle ballad. But that's followed by "Caged Birdsong," hip hop in the vein of Soul Position or the Roots. The rest of the album has more ballads, more hip hop, and closes out with a flamenco.

Did I mention he's from LA? Yeah, and he's half of the indie rap cult heroes EMANON with DJ Exile.

Fuckin' a. Check out Aloe Blacc's site here, his MySpace here, and go out and buy this record.

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Don't Stop Kicking Me Down

What if Dean Wareham of Luna (and Galaxie 500) had fronted The Verve instead of Richard Ashcroft? It would probably sound like the Seattle quartet The Purrs. Their new self-titled album seriously takes me back to the early days of The Verve. It's great background music for your life. Not too crazy, not too downbeat, the music swirls in and out around the singer's lyrics. Sounds good. Check out the track She's Gone. And go here to check out their MySpace page.

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Please...Don't Be Yourself

Sometime in the late '90s, industrial music broke. It fell apart. What was once either harsh metal disco or very stark electro gave way to crappy trance. A handful of industrial acts kept it interesting and experimental, but not enough, and the clubs cared more about the dance music. I bring this up because right now I'm listening to Soulwax's "Nite Versions," which is all remixes of tracks from their 2005 album "Any Minute Now."

If you're not already familiar, Soulwax is a Belgian rock band. Or, they were a rock band. Maybe they still are...the lines are blurred now. I'll admit, I've barely heard their album Any Minute Now, but I have heard something else from them. Early on, they had promise as a band, but it was nothing special. Then in 2002, they took on a major project: Too Many DJs. The two brothers who make up half of Soulwax are also known as Too Many DJs. Do you remember all that mash-up stuff that was going on in the early '00s? Too Many DJs took that idea, and blew it right the fuck up. Why? Because they actually got permission for all the samples, so it was a legal recording. Personally, I was horrified the first time I heard New Order's "The Beach" mashed up with "Sandwiches" from Detroit Grand Pubahs, but at the same time, I really liked it.

A couple years after all that fame from TMDJs, they released another record as Soulwax, 2005's Any Minute Now. Not quite rock, not quite dance, it lied somewhere in that neither territory where Fischerspooner resides. So the remix album is even more interesting. Their goal was to make the original album into something that DJs could spin at clubs. And, damn, did they do that.

Right away, "Teachers" grabs you. The idea is so simple. LCD Soundsystems did something similar with "Losing My Edge," but that was very indirect, witty, and honestly a bit pretentious. Teachers lists the band's teachers - literally. That track leads into Miserable Girl. That's where the interesting blurred lines between techno and industrial comes into play. At this point you start to hear late '90s industrial influences like 16 Volt and Penal Colony. After that is E Talking which starts with a loop of Roland 808 percussion sounds, quite retro...throughout there's a chorus of a girl saying "it's not you, it's the E talking," which is funny if you've ever taken E at a party/rave. In fact, this whole record seems to be about paying homage to their influences via classic electronic references and drums and bass guitar and samples. Accidents and Compliments is a simple early '90s style club track. Nothing special. But then comes Compute. That industrial stuff comes back in the form of Nitzer Ebb! No, it's not a cover, there are no samples of the band, it's just the style and the sounds and the drums and the vocals.

The more I listen to this, the more it becomes obvious that the band was already acknowleding their rock influences with the original versions of these tracks. And you still get some drums, guitar, bass in the remixes. But with the 'nite' versions, you get references to classic techno. Back before the lines got so blurred. Classic equipment like the Roland 606, 808, and 909 are all over the damned place on this record. The track I Love Techno even samples that stupid song from LA Style: "James Brown Is Dead!" After that, Krack is full of Kraftwerk references right down to blatantly ripped off keyboard sounds. I think my favorite is the next track NY Lipps. Remember Lipps, Inc? They did that song "Funky Town." I hate that song, but I love the electro intro at the beginning. So NY Lipps has vocals that could pass for something from Pixeltan, or maybe even earlier ESG. But all throughout there are sounds taken straight from the intro to Funky Town. And they use that guitar hook from the chorus of the song, too. But only sparingly. The last track, Another Excuse is classic '80s NYC club music.

I gotta say, Soulwax know their shit. They cover it well. Click here to check out their site. It's done really well, much like their records.

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God Gave Rock and Roll To You

Tonight I attended a show at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. This is the full title of the show: Little Steven's Underground Garage Presents the Rolling Rock and Roll Show delivered by the AT&T Blue Room. Did you get all of that?

I wasn't going to go this show...part of me wanted to see it, but part of me thought that $20 was too much. The latter part of me had it right the first time. A friend invited me to the show yesterday, and when I say invite, I mean she said she would put me on the list. I agreed to go, but then changed my mind because I've been out a lot lately. This afternoon my roommate talked me into going. So, for me, this show was sponsored by Deanna (guest list add) and Mike (drinks). Thank you. It was worth it at least to see what it was all about.

This night of the tour had The Sights opening. I've supported the Sights ever since their first shows - through five drummers, two organ players, and at least three bassists. I love seeing them. But I didn't absolutely need to see them tonight. Next up was The Gore Gore Girls. I've never really been a fan, but I have to say they are sounding better than ever. Then there was Atlanta's The Woggles. Those guys were doing this garage rock thing when I was in grade school. The first time I saw them in the late '90s, the only people there were people who are all local rock stars now. Speaking of local rock stars, I couldn't flick a cigarette at tonight's show without hitting someone who's put out a record. The Woggles fucking rocked, and I'm really glad they were getting some exposure. They did it right, too. Lots of energy, tight songs, and the singer hung out in the crowd for a few times, dancing with cute girls and singing to us on our level. I really appreciate that kind of thing. Except when Eric Davidson of the New Bomb Turks does it - he's kind of a prick when he's in 'entertainer' mode. After the Woggles came Mooney Suzuki. They've always been pretty good live, but their over the top rock star schtick is exhausting. At this point in their career, they're venturing into territory that is already well covered: bland poppy rock, the kind of stuff meant for car commercials (incidentally, two of their songs have been in national car commercials).

Finally, the headlining act came on: The Zombies. This was the band that I really wanted to see. I can see those other guys anytime. The billing for the band lists them as "The Zombies" with 'Colin Blunstone - Rod Argent' in smaller print below it. That's because they were the only original members of the band onstage tonight. I'm fine with that, they were the songwriters, Blunstone was the lead singer with that smooth voice (and he still has it!) and Argent's organ provided the backbone to the band's sound. So it's a good thing, right? Maybe. Bass was provided by Jim Rodford, an old friend of the band who played on many Kinks records back in the day. His son was playing drums, I can't remember his name. Guitar was played by some other guy whose name I forget, but he played with Howard Jones and a bunch of other people. Whoever he is, he's quite capable, I just don't remember his name.

Argent dominated the show, and I don't just mean his onstage banter, I mean his fucking songs dominated the show. Did you know that after the Zombies broke up in '67, Rod Argent formed a new band and called it Argent? I always thought that seemed kind of pompous to name a band like that. Anyway, the band Argent also featured Jim Rodford, the same Jim Rodford who played bass with 'The Zombies' tonight. And tonight's setlist featured four Argent songs. That was about three too many. I only say three because Argent had one redeeming song: "God Gave Rock and Roll To You," and they played it at tonight's show. Let me tell you Rod Argent looks like a pedophile. I won't qualify that, but I'll give you a picture of the band Argent from 1973. Argent is second from the left and Rodford is third from the left.

He looks harmless enough, right? Here's what he looked like tonight:

See what I mean? Fucking creepy. He was such a completely pompous asshole. I was so sick of it, I was ready to leave, but then Blunstone announced they were going to play some tracks from their one full-length album Odessey & Oracle (that's the way they spelled it). Good. That was what I wanted to hear. I didn't go out tonight to hear Colin Blunstone's '80s solo hit of the Jimmy Ruffin song "What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted." Nor did I come out to hear Rod Argent brag that Jimmy Ruffin once said in an obscure BBC interview that Blunstone's cover was his favorite cover of the song. I also didn't come out to hear Rod Argent fucking brag about someone giving him an award because "She's Not There" has been played five million times on American radio. I fucking wanted to hear some good psych-pop. It took them long enough. It was torture sitting through the first two Argent songs...awful, awful metal-ish crap.

Overall, I have to say it was good to hear Colin Blunstone sing in person. Jim Rodford is an excellent bassist, and the drummer and guitarist were quite capable as well. But Rod fucking Argent...that guy irritates me. Watching his shit-eating grin every time people applauded was the most painful thing...the band should've been billed as Rod Argent, featuring the other guy who sang for The Zombies. That's what it felt like. He kept announcing the Odessey & Oracle songs like it was a revelation to realize how good they are. I'm guessing that's why they only played a couple songs off that album...even they don't get it, that was the best stuff from them. Memorable, influential, and extremely relevant. I wish they saw it that way.

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Turn the Beat Around

Glasgow's El Presidente have something for you. It's a slice of T Rex glam tempered with some Scissor Sisters disco style. Check out the video for Without You. Go here to check out the band's site, and as usual, their MySpace page. I'm really liking this band. So far I've only heard a handful of tracks, but I'd watch out for them. Bet on hearing this on the radio in the near future.

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Check One...Two

Your favorite Siouxsie Sioux/Pretenders revivalists Monsters Are Waiting are on tour with She Wants Revenge and Pretty Girls Make Graves.

November 9th 9:30 Club Washington DC 9:00 PM
November 10th Satelite Ballroom Charlottesville, VA 9:00 PM
November 11th House of Blues North Myrtle Beach, SC 8:00 PM
November 13th The Club at Firestone Orlando, FL 8:00 PM
November 14th Earthlink Live Atlanta, GA 8:00 PM
November 15th Varsity Theatre Baton Rouge, LA 9:45 PM
November 16th Meridian Houston, TX 9:00 PM
November 17th Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Austin, TX 8:00 PM
November 18th Gypsy Ballroom Dallas, TX 9:00 PM
November 20th Rialto Theatre Phoenix, AZ 7:30 PM
November 21st House of Blues San Diego, CA 6:30 PM
November 25th House of Blues Las Vegas, NV 7:00 PM

Monsters Are Waiting's new album "Fascination" is out right now. You can read all about them, check out some songs and a video on their MySpace page. Click on the pic to go there

click to go to Monsters Are Waiting's MySpace page

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Boat Rock

Years ago, the band Slint released an album with a song on it called "O Captain, My Captain." Ever since then, countless bands with similar sounds have made records with nautical themes, progressive/jazz instrumental structures, and folk sounds. Mainly June of 44. Jimmy Lucido of the LA band The Strays first referred to these bands as Boat Rock, and the name stuck. (it's possible that he wasn't the first to say it, but he was the first person I heard it from)

The first time I heard The Decemberists, I was annoyed by them. What they were making was Boat Rock, but in lyrics only. Musically, it was just...annoying. The vocals bothered me, the prog-folk instrumentation bothered me, and the way that indie kids were bending over backwards to heap praise on the band especially bothered me. I just didn't see it.

So they have a new album coming out on 10/3. It's called The Crane Wife. From what I've heard so far, I like it. A lot. It's entirely possible that my tastes have evolved, but I think the reality is that the band has evolved into something that's simply more palatable for me.

The vocals are Morrissey-esque, the instrumentation is still slightly folk-prog, but not annoyingly so. The lyrics are still Boat Rock, but that ain't a bad thing. You can check a track from The Crane Wife here. It's called "Summersong." Then there's the band's site, which is here, and if you click below, you can check out more songs on their MySpace page. By the way, the band is featured in the latest issue of Filter Magazine.

click to check out The Decemberists on MySpace

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This is what I love about the alt-country genre, you can be folk and country and poppily atmospheric and it all fits. I guess I really don't like genres and classification, but it's a necessary evil if one is to explain what a band sounds like.

The Brooklyn band Hem has a new album out this week titled "Funnel Cloud." If you haven't heard this stuff yet, I recommend it. There's a bit of Neko Case (with and without the New Pornographers), but then there's also some Nick Drake, Belle & Sebastien, Beth Orton, and Patty Griffith in there, too.

I probably shouldn't bring up the alt-country thing because that may skew your opinion before you hear Hem. A better way of putting it would be traditional American music. And the band's principal members Dan Messe, Sally Ellyson, Steve Curtis, and Gary Maurer completely and totally bring it on this record. Guest players include Amy Helm (of Olabelle), the 21-piece Gowanus Radio Orchestra, and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins). The instrumentation alone is staggering: piano, celeste, glockenspiel, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and harmonica.

You can check out Hem's site here, and you can click on that pic below to check out their MySpace page.

click to check out Hem's MySpace page

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, breakdown!

So many different things come to mind when I hear this four-piece from Leeds (UK). Note that there should be an upside down exclamation point before the band's name and a regular one after it. That's how Forward Russia prefers to do things. They also prefer to name all of their songs after numbers.

Their stuff is prog-rock, but not like Yes, and it's staccato, but not quite like Nation of Ulysses. I hear Gang of Four, The Plot To Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, some recent acts like Franz Ferndinand and the Editors, maybe some Libertines, too. Oh, and you can't forget the Public Image Ltd influence. It took me a minute to figure out why the vocals sounded so familiar, but then it struck me. This guy sounds an awful lot like John Lydon (PiL era only).

Their album "Give Me a Wall" comes out on 9/19 on Mute Records. You can go here to check out the song "Thirteen" from Forward Russia. Then click on that picture of the band to check out their site. Of course, they're on MySpace, too.

click to check out Forward Russia's site

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Good Mourning

Through a totally chance occurance, a friend of mine posted a bulletin on MySpace a few days ago about something I can't believe I didn't know. Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio has a new project. It's called Heavens. His roommate Josiah Steinbrick (also of Thieves Like Us) has recorded some solo music and they were listening to it one day and decided to make something out of it. The result is the album "Patent Pending," which is due out next Tuesday (9/12).

After following Alkaline Trio for so long now, through six albums, I think it's become clear that Skiba has more than a passing interest in the darker side of life. It's in his lyrics and his music and the graphic design chosen for all of the band's merchandise. With Heavens, he has chance to truly explore that dark side. In a blurb Heavens' MySpace page, he actually says he drew on Sisters of Mercy as an influence. And that's what I'm talking about. That dark goth sound of the '80s like Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Echo & the Bunnymen (on occasion), and Joy Division.

Right now you can go to the band's MySpace page and stream the whole album. If you're an Alkaline Trio fan, or have an interest in those other bands I just mentioned, I highly recommend you go here and check it out.

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I know I've mentioned Gawker blogs (Gawker, Consumerist, Wonkette, Gizmodo, Fleshbot, Jalopnik, et al) before here on this blog. Just now, I was reading Gawker (NYC media gossip mostly) and their weekly feature "Blue States Lose." In this feature, they look at "retardted pictures of fucked up hipsters on several sites that feature these people partying. Most of the victims are trustfund empowered McHipsters.

Remember back in the '80s when the self-proclaimed Party Monsters would go on all the daytime talk shows? Most of those kids were regulars from an NYC club called The Limelight, and their appearances on the talk shows were very intentional attempts to draw attention to the club. In fact, there was a movie about it a couple years ago called "Party Monster," starring Seth Green and Macaulay Caulkin (like, caulking?). Anyhoo, these current party kids share a lot with the original Limelight Party Monsters: a garish and often ridiculous sense of fashion, way too much blow, too much glitter, and ambiguous sexuality. Okay, so none of that is all that different from any other club kids. Just take a look at the pictures on the site. Trust me. It's like the 'Dos and Don'ts' from VICE Magazine, except this is just the 'Don't's.

I should note that the parties that the photos are taken at aren't just in NYC or LA, they're everywhere. Watch out Dorkwave kids, you could end up being made fun of on Gawker!

Click the banner below to check it out, this is some serious shit. Funny and depressing at the same time.

click to check out Blue States Lose on Gawker

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