30 may 2012

Joey Dee & The Starliters

by Bill Dahl
Joey Dee led the house band at New York's Peppermint Lounge, immortalizing the joint in his 1961 chart-topper "Peppermint Twist." Born Joseph DiNicola in Passaic, NJ, Dee teamed with veteran producer Henry Glover to cut "Peppermint Twist" for Roulette Records, and the huge hit led to a starring role in the film Hey, Let's Twist. Most of Dee's hits, including a supercharged revival of the Isley Brothers hit "Shout" in 1962, were firmly in the Twist mode, although he took a successful stab at a softer sound that year with a Johnny Nash tune, "What Kind of Love Is This." Dee gave several future stars early breaks by welcoming them into the rotating lineup of the Starliters, including the Ronettes, three-quarters of the Young Rascals, and Jimi Hendrix. Dee continued releasing material into the mid-'70s, after which point he remained an active draw on the oldies circuit.

28 may 2012

Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now

by Thom Jurek
Justin Townes Earle's 2010 effort Harlem River Blues sounded like he'd found his way as a singer/songwriter amid the spidery, criss-crossing lines of Memphis' long and sometimes fractious musical heritage. Earle moved to London, but the sound of Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now is even more haunted by Memphis than its predecessor. Its sounds have woven their way so far inside his songwriting and arrangements here that he almost disappears. Recorded in North Carolina, loneliness, frustrated desire, regret, thinly veiled admissions of substance abuse, and even self-pity topically weave themselves through these songs. On "Am I That Lonely Tonight?" he talks about being emotionally and physically wasted when hearing his father on the radio and the conflicting feelings it raises. The sad, slow horn chart, nostalgically acknowledges the Memphis influence. The fingerpicked electric guitars, standup bass, and brushed snares just underscore the singer's desolation. The title track, with a shimmering B-3, muted horns, and upright bass walking a straight line, is the third heartworn ballad in a row, and it threatens to overwhelm the proceeding. (Sequencing on this date is an issue.) Its melancholy, dragging tempo, slurred, uneven time signature, and most of all, Earle's voice, all sound completely ragged. On the first uptempo number, "Baby's Got a Bad Idea," populated with a rockabilly swagger, Earle's hoarse, near-spoken, off-key delivery almost derails it. "Maria" fares better with a Willie Mitchell-style slippery horn chart and in the pocket drums. The muted trumpet in the gospel-blues of "Down on the Lower East Side," is a nice touch, as is the restrained passion in Earle's vocal delivery. "Memphis in the Rain" is more lighthearted and actually swings, with R&B effortlessly carrying the singer. "Won't Be the Last Time" and "Unfortunately Anna," both exhausted, oppressive ballads, commence as halting folkish Americana -- though the latter has a very attractive jazzy mid-section and bridge. Closer "Movin' On" uses Johnny Cash as an inspiration, and it feels more natural than anything here. It shuffles and hops; it finds a groove and relaxes inside it. As strained as some of Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now is, there is much to enjoy: Earle's lyrics, while sometimes sophomoric, are fairly sophisticated and searingly honest; the arrangements and his melodies usually lovely. While it's true this album often feels like the listener is being asked to endure a personal confession without redemption as a reward that is also part of its hopefully deliberate, perverse charm.

Sergio Pizzorno Goal

Siguiendo con el tema del fútbol; aquí tenéis un gol del guitarra de Kasabian

25 may 2012

Bill Deal & the Rhondels

by Bruce Eder
Bill Deal & the Rhondels were among the first of a cadre of big band rock outfits that began showing up in the mid- to late '60s. Working in a more accessible vein than the more progressive Blood, Sweat & Tears, Deal and his septet released five nationally charting singles in 1969 and 1970 with a soulful dance-rock sound. Deal put together the Rhondels in 1965 and they made their names and a fair living over the next few years by playing clubs in Virginia and the Carolinas. They became popular regional attractions, and by 1968 they cut their first record, an inspired cover of Maurice Williams' "May I," which had been part of their stage act for so long that they'd tired of playing it; until a chance request led them to spontaneously rework it one night on-stage, and the results were so impressive that they went in and cut it the next day for the Beach label. Suddenly Bill Deal & the Rhondels were in the Top 40, scraping at number 39 with a record that was some of the most vibrant and danceable white soul music of its era. The group was an improbable candidate for this kind of success -- the Rhondels looked and dressed more like a lounge act than a rock & roll band, and their sound could be decidedly MOR ("Nothing Succeeds Like Success") -- but their best sides had a soulful sound and a great beat. They did better with their next single, a cover of Ray Whitley's "I've Been Hurt" that made it to number 35 nationally. "What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)," another Whitley song, got to number 23; it became the peak of their national sales success.

Traveling Wilburys - Inside Out (1990)

Y ya puestos , no he podido resistir en colgar este tema . Pero como se pueden escribir joyas tan buenas como esta!!!!!!!

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Make It Better (Forget About Me) 1985

Tom Petty & The Hearbreakers anuncian su primera gira en UK desde hace 15 años.

La entrada más económica cuesta 45 libras + 5 fee para el Royal Albert Hall ( London) , MON 18 June. Si fuera aquí yo me los gastaba pero si he de coger el avión me sale un poco caro. También actúa un par de días en el festival de la Isla de Guay, junto Springsteen , Madness, Noel Gallagher , Elbow etc etc.

Para los que tengáis la suerte y las pelas o euros ? para ir ,deseo que disfrutéis , para mí que me quedo aquí , pasaré un buen rato viendo en you tube vídeos tan majos como este.

22 may 2012


by Steve Huey
During their heyday in the late '80s, the Dead Milkmen led a crop of college-radio jokesters that also included Mojo Nixon, King Missile, and Too Much Joy, among others. Playing a basic, happily amateurish brand of punk-pop, the Milkmen skewered popular culture, indie trend-followers, and the intellectually challenged, while frequently indulging their taste for tastelessness. Critics alternately praised and dismissed the band as geeky, juvenile wiseasses -- virtually every review seemed to contain the word "sophomoric," and either you found them funny or you didn't. But despite the mixed reviews, the Milkmen earned a devoted cult following (which famously included Detroit Tigers utility infielder Jim Walewander), a few novelty hits on college radio, and even an MTV hit with "Punk Rock Girl." As polarizing as their sense of humor was among critics, it was what fans wanted and came to expect, and attempts to move into more genuine, serious territory during the '90s effectively spelled the end of the band. Oddly enough, by that time, they were exerting at least a small measure of influence -- perhaps more than any of their peers, they paved the way for the legion of smart-assed geek-rockers who ruled alternative radio for a brief period in the mid-'90s.

The Dead Milkmen were formed at Philadelphia's Temple University in 1983. Guitarist and sometime vocalist Joe Jack Talcum (born Joe Genaro) and lead singer Rodney Anonymous (aka Rodney Amadeus Anonymous, aka Rodney Anonymous Melloncamp, born Rodney Linderman) grew up together in the small Pennsylvania town of Wagontown. During high school, Genaro started writing a newsletter about a fictional band called the Dead Milkmen, and the exploits of its lead singer Jack Talcum. When Genaro graduated and enrolled at Temple, he and Linderman kept up a songwriting partnership through the mail. Through his acquaintances at Temple, Genaro met drummer Dean Clean (born Dean Sabatino), who played in a local punk band called Narthex, and bassist Dave Blood (identified only as Dave S.), with whom he struck up a songwriting partnership. All three started playing together in 1983, and with Rodney Anonymous joining them that summer, they performed their first gig as the Dead Milkmen.

Over the next year or two, the Milkmen recorded several live, self-released cassettes, and achieved considerable local notoriety with a live radio performance in 1984. They earned some attention in the punk magazine Maximumrocknroll, and the resulting buzz helped them land a deal with Restless Records subsidiary Fever. In 1985, they issued their debut album, Big Lizard in My Backyard, which consisted mostly of material from their cassette releases. The track "Bitchin' Camaro" -- which featured a rambling spoken intro full of snotty putdowns and nonsensical banter -- became a hit on college radio, and sloppy joke-punk tunes like "Takin' Retards to the Zoo" cemented their new cult following. The follow-up, Eat Your Paisley!, appeared in 1986, and while some fans considered it a letdown, they had some radio success with "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies." 1987's Bucky Fellini was a return to form that spawned the underground smash "Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything)," a spot-on satire of Britain's gloomy alternative music and the pretension of its attendant subculture in America. The song (and several remixes) served as the basis for an EP, and it also pushed Bucky Fellini onto the national album charts for the first time in the band's career.

Poised for something vaguely resembling a breakthrough, the Milkmen expanded their cult following even further with 1988's Beelzebubba. That was largely due to the single "Punk Rock Girl," a college-radio smash whose video was also aired fairly extensively on MTV. Beelzebubba just missed climbing into the Top 100 and wound up as the group's biggest seller, also featuring fan favorites "Stuart" and "Life Is Shit." A second single, "Smokin' Banana Peels," was also released, and anchored another EP that featured five additional new songs, including the gross-out-fest "The Puking Song." The band's proper follow-up, Metaphysical Graffiti, appeared in 1990 and featured guest vocals from the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes on "Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes and How." However, the album received a mixed response from fans, some of whom praised the beefed-up production but others of whom found the material erratic; in any case, it stalled some of the band's momentum. There were also reports that their record company was unhappy with the unlisted bonus track, "Cousin Earl," a near-seven-minute shaggy-dog story that piled on the Milkmen's gross-out humor to previously unimagined levels.

Whether it was the fault of "Cousin Earl" or the fact that Restless' parent company, Enigma, went bankrupt, the Dead Milkmen found themselves hunting for a new label after Metaphysical Graffiti. They wound up on the Disney-run Hollywood Records, and in an even more bizarre twist, elected to play things mostly straight -- with no pressure from the company to do so -- on their 1992 label debut, Soul Rotation. Perhaps signaling what they hoped was a new era for the band, Anonymous adopted the new name H.P. Hovercraft, while Talcum switched his to Butterfly Fairweather and took on a larger share of the lead vocal duties. Some critics -- mainly those who'd never found the Milkmen all that funny -- and a minority of fans embraced the record and its more eclectic songwriting, but the new direction simply wound up alienating most of the group's fan base. A second album for Hollywood, 1993's Not Richard but Dick, fared even more poorly, and the Milkmen were dropped.

The Milkmen did celebrate their tenth anniversary in 1993 by self-releasing Now We Are 10, a CD compilation of some of their early cassette-only recordings. They returned to Restless Records for 1994's Chaos Rules: Live at the Trocadero, a run through some of their best-known songs, and offered the new studio set Stoney's Extra Stout (Pig) in 1995. It was virtually ignored, and the Milkmen elected to disband. All the members got day jobs, and most continued in music on a local basis in Philadelphia. Rodney Anonymous reverted to his given name and started a gothic-tinged Celtic rock band called Burn Witch Burn, which issued a self-titled CD in 2000. Joe Jack Talcum and Dean Clean reunited, also under their real names (Genaro and Sabatino), in Butterfly Joe, who also released a self-titled debut nationally in 2000. The two also gigged with several other Philly bands over the '90s: Genaro with the Town Managers, Touch Me Zoo, and the Low Budgets, and Sabatino with the Big Mess Orchestra. Dave Blood, meanwhile, gave up the bass due to pain in his hands, and went to graduate school to further his interest in the former Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Restless issued the career retrospective Death Rides a Pale Cow (titled after one of their early cassettes) in 1997, and 2003 brought Now We Are 20, an expanded reissue of Now We Are 10 given wider release by Restless.

20 may 2012

Por si os habíais quedado sin materia para escuchar aquí tenéis un poco más I started making tapes in '77, when I found myself living around the corner from CBGB's, working for a music magazine and illustrating reviews for Lester Bangs (oops I dropped something). I was surrounded by a musical epoch, that years later would inspire bucket loads of films, books, t-shirts and n... www.patestapes.com

Miles Kane performing First of My Kind

Pre-order the First Of My Kind EP on here: http://smarturl.it/firstofmykind The EP features four tracks and opens with 'First of My Kind' which was co-produced by Skream at Metropolis Studios in London. The other tracks include a cover of the Tom Jones classic 'Looking Out My Window' and another brand new song, 'Night Runner'. It concludes with an acoustic version of the title song to his last album, 'Colour of The Trap'. The EP will be available on limited edition vinyl on Record Store Day, Saturday 21st April. EP Tracklisting: 1. First of My Kind 2. Night Runner 3. Looking Out My Window 4. Colour of the Trap (Acoustic)

19 may 2012



At this point Adam Levy and his band The Honeydogs are preaching to the choir. This prolific alt. county band is criminally under appreciated as they’ve moved effortlessly from Gram Parsons styled rock to progressive pop, country and back. What Comes After is less ambitious than the earlier masterwork of 10,000 years, but still contains some incredible, melodic compositions. Starting with the acoustic blues riff on “Particles or Waves,” it has an easy soulful chorus, with those cool horns in the break.

Then the horns lead us to the best track here “Aubben” with its steady rhythm, undeniable hook and timely message (“Do you need more than you have?”) The Honeydogs combine influences from Bacharach to Ryan Adams on the lovely “Everything In It’s Place.” Another favorite here, “Broke It, Buy It” has that jaunty piano riff, jazzy sax solo and quirky melody that can only come from Levy. His vocals remain as distinct as Elvis Costello on the apocalyptic ballad “Death By Boredom.” Some complex guitar work is a highlight on “Better Word” and we go full country with banjo melody on “Blood Is Blood.” Not everything here sticks, and some songs just drag along (“Devil We Do”) but there is enough here to make it a highly recommended album.

16 may 2012

David Myhr's Soundshine

The gauntlet has been thrown down. For the rest of 2012, power pop albums will have to be measured against David Myhr's Soundshine if they want a spot on year-end best-of list as the former Merrymaker has crafted a solo debut that reminds us all again what we love about power pop. About 10-15 years ago, the Merrymakers were the gold standard for power pop and Myhr's solo debut, so long in the making, lives up to that billing. Like the best power pop, his songs are instantly likeable but don't wear out on repeated listens. The piano-based "Never Mine" is a tremendous opener, with its Beatlesque verses and sing-along chorus. "Looking for a Life" recalls his former band with its breezy melody and urgent pace, and the punchy popper "Got You Where He Wanted" is 70s-tastic, featuring female backing vocals in the chorus and a bit of an Andy Kim feel.

Elsewhere, "I Love the Feeling" is pure sunshine pop that reflects its title, replete with a "wooo-oh-oh-wooh" chorus, "Cut to the Chase" is another driving popper that will insert its "come on, come on" refrain into your subconscious and you won't be able to say "no" to "Don't Say No" another pop winner that would have been a guaranteed Billboard #1 in 1976. "Loveblind" is another treat for Merrymakers fans, a buoyant number with another unforgettable chorus. The lovely ballad "The One" gives the listener a chance to catch his/her breath, and then it's back to pop perfection with "Wanderlust" and "Icy Tracks", the latter featuring synths and some fine guitar work. "Ride Along" makes the perfect closer, returning to the piano pop that opened the album and giving the impression of everyone gathering to sing along and waving goodbye as the credits roll.

As you may have figured by now, this one shoots to #1 on my Best of 2012 list to date. Although it will only be released March 29 in Europe and Japan for now, the good news for US-based readers is that it's being made available through Kool Kat and Ray is taking pre-orders for autographed copies. You can also get a free download of an alternate version of "Never Mine" from David Myhr's site (see widget below).

14 may 2012

Brendan Benson por España

fantástico y romántico tema de su último trabajo que podremos escuchar estos días por nuestras tierras (este jueves en la sala Apolo de Barcelona)

13 may 2012

The Brixton Riot-Palace Amusements

The Brixton Riot-Palace Amusements. These Jersey rockers are back with their full-length debut after 2008's fine Sudden Fiction EP, and they serve up more of the Replacements-meet-Smithereens rock that we enjoyed then. "Signal to Noise" lets you know right off the bat that they can seriously rock, and its "keep my head down/'til I hear that sound" refrain will stay in your head. "Canvas Shoes" channels the 'Mats, and "Hipster Turns 30" might be the album's best track with its mix of wry lyrics and a clever melody. With apologies to Nick Lowe, this is pure rock for now people.

Roddy Woomble - Leaving Without Gold (2011)



Y ahora llego al último tema, el que iba a colgar se titula A New Day has Begun pero como en algunas otras ocasiones no he podido localizar una buena grabación, así que he puesto este Leaving Without Gold (no creo que sea la más representativa de este buen disco de folk rock) , que es la que deben haber seleccionado como single. En definitiva , el escocés Roddy Woomble es el cantante de la banda de pop rock Idlewild y este su tercer disco como líder.

Iron & Wine - Glad Man Singing (The Greene Space 05.01.2011



Ya puestos iré adelantando con este y otro tema más hasta cerrar esta andadura de selección de temas de 2011.
Otra brillante canción con claras influencias soft rock 70's y folk. Según comentó Martín este era uno de sus discos favoritos del 2011. Buen álbum!

Steve Cradock - Last Days Of The Old World (2011)



Recuperando de nuevo mis temas favoritos del 2011 y según se encuentran en la lista de 25 mejores álbumes , aparece Steve Cradock con su excelente disco. Ya conocido por muchos de nosotros desde hace ya un tiempo, Mr. Cradock se muestra en buena forma interpretando estos temas con ese sonido tan 60/70's, Faces, Kinks, Beatles etc etc.

10 may 2012

el bis final

Y el bis final de anoche la versión de Chuck de:...tachan tachan...

Kevin Gordon - Gloryland

by Hal Horowitz
He doesn't release albums often, this is his first in seven years, but when Southern poet/singer/songwriter/guitarist Kevin Gordon does amass enough material for a full-length disc, it's not only substantial in bulk -- this one runs nearly an hour -- but it's filled with quality music that justifies the obvious care and craft he dedicated to the project, and which can't be rushed. The melodies are solid but he applies considerable effort to the lyrics for Gloryland. They are plentiful and drive at least two story songs, in many ways similar to how Dylan used words to push the groove during his Highway 61 period, although without the stream of consciousness non-sequiturs of say, "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream." That's especially true on the ten-minute high school band reminiscence of "Colfax/Step in Time" that describes in exquisite detail what seems to be his own coming of age. It's also the oil that motors "Bus to Shreveport," about attending a ZZ Top concert that ends up in a violent street fight after the show. In between, Gordon crafts some lovely ballads such as "Pecolia's Star," a song about folk artist/quiltmaker Pecolia Walker. Musically, he sticks to the stripped down swampy folk and rock that have defined his recordings in the past. Gordon's dusky voice, somewhere between J.J. Cale's, Mark Knopfler's, and Tom Petty's, perfectly frames these literal stories, often of life in the South and those struggling to get by. It's a near-perfect match between music and lyrics on a song such as "Black Dog," that growls and barks like the titular animal. The poor man looking for a handout to fill his gas tank in "Trying to Get to Memphis" begs a philosophical question that also incorporates a "what would Jesus do?" conundrum. It contrasts with the lyrics "I'm just another witness to my own defeat" in the moody, edgy "Tearing It Down." The haunting "Nine Bells" borrows an oozing groove from Lucinda Williams, who Gordon has worked with, as the song increases in intensity from its strummed intro to an evocative and dark finale. Two drum sets keep the beats percolating and provide extra heft on the closing Stones-styled rocker "One I Love," and even on the story song "Side of the Road." The latter makes room for gospel backing vocals and one of Gordon's tensile guitar solos. Between the exquisite wordplay and dusky melodies, there's plenty to return to in these tunes. Let's hope Gordon's fans don't have to wait another seven years for a follow-up.

Stephanie Finch

Aquí la teclista de Chuck

Chuck Prophet, noche redonda

Chuck Prophet, noche redonda CHUCK PROPHET Fecha del evento: miércoles, 09 de mayo de 2012 Redactor: Toni Castarnado Sala: Apolo Sala [2] Ciudad: Barcelona Pais: España Promotor: Houston Party Records Que apenas doscientas personas asistieran a la actuación de Chuck Prophet en Barcelona no es a estas alturas una novedad. Tampoco es que sea una sorpresa, pero es verdad que dice muy poco de una ciudad como ésta -magnífica en otras muchas cosas- y de su poca querencia por el rock n´roll. Un músico que se ha instalado en esa clase media en la que no entra cualquiera ni a según que precio, consiguiendo incluso salir en medios genéricos el día que va a tocar y que, gracias a la gira en la que interpretaba en exclusiva “London Calling” de The Clash, logró subir un poco más un caché que ya tenía ganado de antemano por su pasado con Green On Red. Además, esta vez venía auspiciado por un disco como “Temple Beautiful” que ha cosechado muy buenas críticas, y en el que se centró buena parte de su repertorio. “Play That Song Again”, “Temple Beautiful”, “Little Girl, Little Boy”, “White Night, Big City” fueron algunas de las que pudimos disfrutar con fruición, con una banda sólida y muy profesional en la que contaban con la enigmática Stepahnie Finch como principal reclamo y que incluso se atrevió a cantar Count The Days 1-2-3-4-5-6-7” de su disco en solitario. El concierto fue de menos a más y aunque empezó como un tiro, iba creciendo cada vez más en intensidad. Las referencias a Tom Petty, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop -hizo su “I´m Bored”- o Neil Young flotaban en el ambiente, e incluso a Bruce Springsteen, a quien nos hartaremos oír hablar sobre él la semana que viene, aunque muchos -sino la mayoría- de los que asistan a sus conciertos, no sepan ni quién es ese músico tan real y con tan buen gusto que acaba su recital con “Shake Some Action” de The Flamin´ Groovies con el personal completamente enloquecido. Sonrisas, signos de aprobación, y esa comunión tan reconfortante que es la que genera únicamente el rock n´roll.

8 may 2012

Paul Hardcastle - 19 (1985)

A mitad de los años 80's todos los artistas soñaban en tener cajas de ritmos en sus grabaciones (quizás todos no! , bueno quitamos a Dylan, Van the Man, The Pogues y Billy Bragg por decir algunos....)pero nadie fue capaz de hacer una canción tan maravillosa como esta con las cajitas de ritmos , cada vez que la escucho pienso que grandes eran los 80's, bueno eso lo discutiremos otro día...

Atención lo primeros 45'' son una maravilla.

7 may 2012

The Killjoys

by Brendan Swift
First meeting in the band Wild Science, guitarist Craig Pilkington, and singer Anna Burley left the band as it moved towards a hard rock sound. They teamed up as the Killjoys where their pop-folk tendencies found a suitable outlet. Releasing their first EP in 1989, Audrey (which produced the single "Fall Around Me"), the Killjoys then contributed a cover of the Seekers' "Another You" to the various artists tribute album, Used and Recovered (1990).

Their debut album, Ruby, won the 1990 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Award for Best Independent Release and the band signed a new deal with MXL. Craigie-Smith was replaced by Daniel Palamara who was in turn replaced by Michael Hohnen before the band released a new EP, Spin, in November 1991. The Killjoys then traveled to the U.K. to record their second album, A Million Suns, with producer Craig Leon (Ramones, Pogues, Bangles), which was released in March 1993. It spawned the singles "Beauty + Danger" (February 1993) and "I Lied" (June 1993).

Dave Foley replaced Will Larsen on drums in 1993 before the band released the EP "Love and Uncertainty" in May 1994. Carolyn Schwerkolt left the band in 1995, Dave Nelson replaced Michael Hohnen, and Gary Aspinall (guitar, vocals) joined the group. The Killjoys contributed a cover of Cold Chisel's "Flame Trees" to the various artists' compilation Earth Music in June 1994, and the CD single "Come Around" followed in October 1995. Another CD single, "Stupid Waste," was released in March 1996, followed by their next single, "Save Me," in November 1997. Another album, Sun Bright Deep, appeared in March 1998 and contained the singles "Save Me" (re-released) and "The Better It Gets" (September 1998).

5 may 2012

Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dies aged 47

Beastie Boys co-founder Adam Yauch has died aged 47 today (May 4). The rapper's death was confirmed in a lengthy statement posted on the band's official website, Beastieboys.com. It began: "It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer." Yauch, who was also known as MCA, was diagnosed with cancer of the preaortic gland and lymph node in July 2009, and had been fighting the disease ever since. Although his bandmates had said that Yauch had responded well to his treatment, he hadn't appeared publicly with the band for some time, and did not attend the band's induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame last month as he was too unwell. Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch. He co-founded the Beastie Boys in 1979 with Mike "Mike D" Diamond, who he met at school, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz. After starting out as a punk group inspired by Black Flag, the trio soon began experimenting with hip-hop. The release of their first full album 'Licensed To Ill' in 1986 broke them into the mainstrean by becoming the the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard album chart and featured the massive worldwide hit '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)'. In total, the band released eight albums including 'Paul's Boutique', 'Check Your Head' and 'Ill Communication'. The group's last album, 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two', was released last year. It was originally planned for release in 2009 but was delayed after Yauch's diagnosis. Yauch had an enduring passion for film. Working under a pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower, he directed many of the band's music videos, including 'So What'cha Want,' 'Intergalactic,' and more recently 'Make Some Noise.' In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories – a studio and distributor which he set up to put out his high-school basketball documentary Gunnin' For That #1 Spot but later put out films including Kelly Reichardt's drama Wendy and Lucy and street artist Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. Alongside the Beastie Boys, Yauch was heavily involved in the free Tibet movement, co-organising the Tibetan Freedom Concerts in the late '90s. When Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of fame two weeks ago, Ad-Rock and Mike D read a letter from the absent Yauch: "I'd like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike," he wrote. "They walked the globe with me. It's also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours." Obituary: Adam Yauch 1964-2012

4 may 2012

The Shins: Port of Morrow

The Shins: Port of Morrow
By Matthew Fiander 19 March 2012

The Shins have always been about James Mercer, but on Port of Morrow, the Shins basically are James Mercer, and the distinction is an important one. Mercer, per usual, wrote all the songs, but he also recorded most of the instruments himself and has built nearly an entire new band around him to tour these songs, after parting ways with keyboard player Marty Crandall, drummer Jesse Sandoval, and bassist Dave Hernandez. The main collaborator on the record, then, isn’t band members but producer Greg Kurstin, and together he and Mercer have made an album that feels, well, awfully produced. Port of Morrow is a sleek pop record front to back, something that vies more deliberately for attention than the surprise, Garden State-fueled success of the band’s earlier work.

This isn’t to say Mercer’s forgotten his roots or sold out or anything like that. In fact, the polish of Port of Morrow seems a logical step for a maturing pop act, especially one with lo-fi roots that aren’t all that lo-fi. It’s always been about the sweet hooks and melodies, and the Shins are the kind of band that can actually benefit from glistening production. The shimmering roll of guitars that back Mercer on the album’s lead single, “Simple Song”, fit the track perfectly, warming the deadpan verses and making the plaintive size of his singing in the choruses all the more towering. The lean surf-rock energy of “Bait and Switch” does thicken with electronic swirls, but at its heart it channels the band at its most excited, like Mercer is updating the scrappy feel of Oh, Inverted World‘s “Know Your Onion!” with a studio gleam.

In these moments—and most others on the record—Mercer and Kurstin give us, essentially, the Shins we already know. Even when things get quieter, on moody acoustic numbers like “September”, we recognize the link back to songs we’ve heard before. There are electronic swells here that perhaps we haven’t heard before—opener “The Rifle’s Spiral” and the falsetto-heavy title track being the biggest outliers—but really they add up to the same kind of wistful pop tunes we’ve already heard from James Mercer and his band. That is all to say that Port of Morrow is pleasant enough to listen to.

The album has more than its share of troubles, however. Though the songs are buffed to shine here, it isn’t the glare of production that throws them off, but rather the level they’re mixed at. All the effort that went into new electronic layers here seems wasted when all music takes a back seat to Mercer’s high-in-the-mix vocals. The music seem like an afterthought, some sweet monotone to gloss over while you hear Mercer bleat out his lyrics. The basic drum machine beat and airy keys of “No Way Down” sounds pretty anonymous behind Mercer’s decent vocal melody, while “Bait and Switch” loses its shape when the layers muddle everything behind Mercer, who shouts lines like “I’m just a simple man, cursed with an honest heart.”

And therein lies the true problem with Port of Morrow. The sound of the songs, in the end, may be sanded down but it’s never problematic in any real intrusive way. But if the music gives us slight variations on an established sound, lyrically the album is lost, without any truly new ideas to present. Mercer has spoken quite a bit about the effect getting married and having kids has had on his songs, and he has left the brooding young man of past records behind. While that is a smart move, Mercer seems unsure of what to present of his new, more mature vision. The songs are darker—there’s something out there we’ll all have to square with, something horrible somewhere in the world—but they’re also not terribly specific. “The things they taught you, they’re lining up to haunt you,” he sings on “It’s Only Life”, but we never get the lessons or the ways in which they will trouble us. The darkness is out there, but Mercer seems to be pointing to it without ever describing it, let alone saying anything about it.

On top of that, Mercer’s attempt to portray maturity comes off as forced wisdom. The line above from “Bait and Switch” is the kind of self-congratulation presented as confession that represents the album all too well. “I’ve been down this road you’re walking now,” Mercer pines later in “It’s Only Life,” assuring the subject that “It doesn’t have to be so dark and lonesome.” In these moments, Mercer conjures that former brooding young man of earlier records to assure us he’s learned something he needs to pass on. The Mercer we’re presented with on Port of Morrow—the narrator, of course—seems certain he knows better, and the advice doled out to all the lost yous around him feels awfully condescending. “You blow like a broken kite,” he finger-wags on the spacey sway of “40 Mark Strasse” before asking the girl “Are you gonna let these Americans put another dent in your life?”

The effect in these moments is one of distance. Mercer places himself wholly outside of the action of his songs, and tries to fix the subjects from a distance. Even when he does make simple, sweet admissions—he claims “every single story is a story about love”, giving away his hopeless- romantic scope—he belies it with his certainty. Even the seemingly confessional “For a Fool” talks about when Mercer was a fool, as if his youth was decades ago.

Perhaps what makes these songs so problematic lyrically is that they rely on the same basic images over and over again. The sea and the ocean and water are constantly repeated. Two different songs make lemonade-related images and, most glaringly, nearly every song in here sings about a heart. Hearts are everywhere inPort of Morrow, but it’s hard to see just what is in them, beyond a shapeless worry, a youthful foolishness Mercer seems eager to distance himself from. Moments like “Simple Song” and “The Rifle’s Spiral” show Mercer’s knack for melody and song shape are still intact, but here he struggles to find something new to say with those tools. For all the talk that’s bound to come up over the album’s production, Port of Morrow‘s problem isn’t how it sounds, but rather what it’s saying—which, whatever it is, doesn’t have a whole lot at stake.

1 may 2012

Laura Gibson - La Grande

by James Christopher Monger
Modern dustbowl crooner Laura Gibson named her third studio album after a northeastern Oregon town that "people usually pass through on their way to somewhere else, but which contains a certain gravity, a curious energy." It's a fitting sentiment as the same could be said about Gibson's music, a hodgepodge of retro Americana, dusty dirt-road folk, and cinematic, sepia-toned blues. Opening with the sprawling title cut, a dark, open-road anthem that sounds like Calexico fronted by Jolie Holland, the ten-track La Grande proceeds to pile on the atmosphere, offering up solid, pump organ-led, south-of-the-border-kissed balladry ("Red Moon") and galloping future public radio segues ("Skin, Warming Skin") with great aplomb. Gibson's reedy voice lacks power, especially when she forces the Ella Fitzgerald affectations, but when she dials back the theatrics and exposes the talented singer/songwriter within, as she does on the sweet and soulful "Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed," the results are downright magical.