Tuesday, November 30, 2004

All the neighbors are startin' up a fire/ burning all the old folks, the witches, and the liars...

Hot D.C. rumor (that does not involve white men with borderline Napoleon complexes): According to DCist.com the Arcade Fire will play a show at the Black Cat at the end of January. Why care? I got the album this weekend, and it's delicious. Pumpkin-pie delicious. It treats me so good, like a nanny treats a baby. And not one of those nannies that end up on surveillence video shaking babies on "Primetime Live", but like Mary Poppins. Spoonful of sugar, flying umbrella, and all.

And did I hear you say/ My country right or wrong...

Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil was in the hospital after having a fainting spell. More important than that, who knew he was elected to Australian parliament? Hey, bravo. Now that's a government I could get behind. I remember reading an article years ago where he said that was his goal. Check out his campaign website.

Whiskey for my men and never-ending bread bowls for the suburban families...

The continuing adventures of fake patriot Toby Keith and his crazy restaurant where you can get, I'm sure, whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses:

Toby Keith Lends Name to Restaurant Chain
Toby Keith demanded one thing from investors who persuaded him to lend his name to a new restaurant franchise: Good food.1

The award-winning country music singer-songwriter2 said he returned to the restaurant business after investors "made me an offer I couldn't understand"3 to launch the eatery named "Toby Keith's 'I Love This Bar and Grill."4

Keith said the restaurant would have an atmosphere he approves of.5

"It's going to be John Wayne meets Captain America," he said.6

1 Would that include whiskey for my men and beer for my horses? I suppose it depends on the contract language.
2 Wait... I got stuck on "award-winning". For what? Having no cavities?
3 Bwah-ha-ha! Me so stupid! Me common man! People like this are the same people who say we just need to shut up and stand behind our president. ("Just like I stand behind my southwestern taco salad recipe. I'm Toby Keith.")
4 Catchy, but not as fitting as Toby Keith's 'See Ya in Bankruptcy Court in Six Months!'
5 Whew. As long as it meets Toby's high standards. So those orange shorts and tank tops better be tiiight, bitch. And those apple martinis better make me pucker up like a French asshole.
6 Pardon? A fake cowboy and a comic book character? So it's all going to be an illusion? Spooky. Seriously, what the hell does this mean? It's like if I started a restaurant and said it was going to be Marmaduke meets Yaphet Kotto.

From the Desk of Mr. Sheena Easton, Pt.IV

Another communique from my nemesis and friend, the scat laureate of the Pixies reunion, Mr. Sheena Easton.
24hr Fuck Le Monde:
The Pixies In Montreal
by Mr. Sheena Easton

Is the Pixies reunion a minor hoax? I mean, it happened. It truly took place. And live, they rocked hard and they rocked loud. But there was something about Black's smile—something that said he wasn't really there. That he had fooled everybody at each of their hundred-strong stops over the past 6 months and longer—but only fooled at one of those strange non-Euclidean angles—as if to say, yes we reunited and you got to hear "Head On" live—yes, it was all you hoped it would be—but, tee-hee...

"We're not as 'here' as you'd like us to be. We're more like Christopher Reeves in that Superbowl commercial or Christopher Lee fighting Yoda—more like our heads are grafted on the bodies of some incredible Pixies cover band—college students more willing and able than us to resurrect 'Break My Body' and 'UMASS' within a hair's breadth on the set list."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me clear the branches from this already shadowy path—so that no one (else) gets hurt while reliving a concert that never should have happened in the first place...

The Pixies played the CEPSUM in Montreal this past Saturday night. The arena, a lop-sided hockey rink, was packed with pot-smoking French-Canuck tarts and bewildered Americans. There were a few pure-blooded Canadians there—those Canadian-Aryans of the Rick Moranis variety—but they were just caught in the middle. Freaks are the dominant species in Montreal; John Hughes-rules are castrated and inversed in Quebec province. Instead of jock, prude, geek, freak, and Judd Nelson, you get pot-chimney, shaggy-lascivious boy, shaggy-lascivious girl, and stripper. The strippers are the aristocracy, btw. They eat souls and sop up the leftover cash. But a sweet-smelling substance drips from their psychic proboscis (it declinates erotic oblivion), so nobody feels a thing.

I could write much on that city and its primary export (other than crepes)—but there's a more pressing issue here: Joey Santiago. Standing in the corner of the stage like the single shy Spaniard in a Connecticut high school full of blonde Caucasian pricks. Intent on getting every note right on his sweaty guitar. Wincing whenever Black glanced his way. There's a dark dynamic at the heart of the Pixies, scarier than the atmosphere that Surfer Rosa evokes. And it all comes down to whether or not Santiago himself wrote those leads himself or Black Francis often held a gun to his khaki skin while writing in their practice space. It's such a distinct sound, and it never really chased Black into his solo work, nor Kim Deal into her Breeders. Black had his voice and acoustic guitar, Kim had her voice and bass. Did Joey Santiago invent the alternative-rock wheel with those leads? It's that sound that was truly incredible and beautiful, expressing some archetype of maimed elation. Of course, without Black's vast songwriting, it would've withered in inexpressible self-denial. Was Santiago just riffing on Black's well-laid tracks? Or did he bring something to the band that was somehow less and more than everything else?

(No good segue, unfortunately)

The band only once addressed the audience in one-hour forty-minutes of playtime. Kim Deal said, "And now for a song from the movie Eraserhead." She sounded a little psychotic saying that, and sang off-key for the rest of the song, a little distracted, probably wondering why Black left the stage. She was not alone in this—I think most moderate-to-diehard Pixies fans would wonder why he declined the microphone during the Lady in the Radiator song. The answer to this, and in fact thesis of my article, might stagger you, casual reader:

(I advance this cautiously; it's a bold things to say, and just the opinion of the writer, who has been a severe Pixies fan since 1993.)

Black Francis doesn't give a shit about the Pixies. Don't get me wrong: he knows what the songs are. They're a place he'll never get to on his own (in his solo work). And I think among band members, there's love and respect (despite the gossip columns). But the Pixies phenomenon itself does not impress Black. The reunion is a total and unabashed cash-in; it's something they should have kept the band together for: a living.

That said, the concert was rough sex. They brought the audience to multiple screaming orgasms, but the band did so with a cruel unaffected smile. Like a big screen killer turning the knife in his victim, over and over, relishing the gasps. That's how it was with each song. They tore from one cult hit to another with godless perfection. Their sound was so big and intimidating, the two opening bands that somehow hoped to shine in the incredible supernova of the Pixies became flat unreflective tar on a mica-less, quartz-free blacktop. The Pixies cemented their chapter in rock history: a + b = they rocked. If only they had a solid live act, some would say. But then again, this isn't the E Street Band. When Bruce Springsteen sings about New Jersey, Frank Black starts whiny-screaming about the biggest mountain in the solar system. Springsteen's got the working class, Black has got Lemurians. Whereas others look to Woody Guthrie, the Pixies cite Man Ray. They're awkward and clinically uncool. That's why I, along with a hundred-thousand shaggy-lascivious pot chimneys sort of like me, identify with them. And that's also the reason I fucking drove close to seven hours with my friends and loved ones to see them in Montreal. And had a goddamn blast.

Regards to Sting's Phantasm, Mr. Sheena Easton

Who cares if they know it's christmas...

The new version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has become the fastest selling mobile ringtone. Why is it that the British always seem to look down their noses at American culture, yet the whole nation has their mobile phones set to the same shitty single and they're eating bangers and mash off Princess Diana memorial plates?

Photograph/ I don't want your/ photograph....

The Washington Post profiles Kate Simon, whose Bob Marley photos make up an exhibit at Georgetown's Govinda Gallery. Plus, you can buy a 10-pound book of the photos... made of hemp! You know how much 10-pounds of the chronic goes for usually? I can't wait until they come out with a book about Pink Floyd made out of blotter paper.

Monday, November 29, 2004

O Chronic Tree

RollingStone.com has a rundown of new holiday CDs, including the most promising album, holiday or not: Afroman's Jobe Bells.

The District sleeps alone tonight/ after the bars turn out their lights...

The Washington City Paper has a little ditty about the odd romance between the Postal Service (the whistful band) and the Postal Service (the lumbering government agency). Seems the Feds wanted to crack the whip on the band for use of the name, but everyone came away happy with that cure-all of modern disputes, the licensing agreement. Ah, synergy. So now the band has played what had to be the hottest of all hot D.C. parties, the annual U.S. Postal Service conference, and the USPS is selling their albums online. (They're also selling the Ultimate Mancini. This is probably as a result of the agreement precipitated by Henry Mancini drunkenly telling an Atlantic City audience one New Year's Eve that "the goddamn post office can kiss my whole asshole," famously paraphrased by Jay-Z on "99 Problems".)

"If you like traditional blues, you'll love Blueshammer..."

Aykroyd and the Beloosh are up to their old tricks again, continuing to turn revered black Southern musical form into a theme park for white, suburban frat boys and middle managers. I wonder of their business cards show them pissing on Robert Johnson's grave. One day I'm going to open a bar called "Gentrification Alley" and run them out of business.

I am a patient boy/ I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait...

Billboard has a little write-up on Fugazi's hiatus. No end in sight, they say. You know, they played a free show in D.C. every years for years. Then I move down and they stop. How is this fair? I mean, it's nice to see Ian MacKaye drinking Guinness at the Black Cat, but I need some rock and roll satisfaction.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Top Canadian Bands

Jason has completed his top Canadian rock and roll bands list:

1. The Band
2. Steppenwolf
3. The Guess Who
4. Rush
5. (tie) Sloan, Skinny Puppy

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I got no idols...

You know what this means, Ruben: no more competitive eating contests.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel/ you were talking so brave and sweet...

...Giving me head on the unmade bed/ while the limousines wait in the street...

Speaking of which, Paris Hilton's still working on her "album". Most people record their shitty albums in a booth in a Nashville souvenir shop; Paris Hilton gets Lil' Jon.

I love the sub-head: "Hotel heiress beginning to feel pressure to complete her album". I thought the only pressure she usually feels is the meaty hand of "that guy I met at the bar" pushing her face into the pillow.

One question: where's Peabo Bryson?

MSNBC has the 411 on upcoming box sets. Still no respect for Peabo Bryson's collected works.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Take me out... of Harry Potter

Julie Christie, the rumors were true... but now they're not. Franz Ferdinand bows out of the next Harry Potter film, giving them more time to rip off other bands, fool music critics. and perfect the art of being a modern-day dandy fop.

I go psycho/ killer/ Norman Bates...

In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I went over to iTunes and dropped $.99 on the estate of Ol' Dirty Bastard by downloading "Shimmy Shimmy Ya". Good song, but it's no "Got Your Money". It warms my heart to think about his 37 kids putting that change to good use.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Where the Streets Have No Name...

Sure, New York, you get U2 playing on the back of a truck. But can you go down to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse on any given day and watch Rep. Tom Akin work a piece of meat out of his teeth with the end of his credit card? No? Well, looks like I win.

How can we dance when the beds are burning?

As a logical extension of the best American band debate, here are the top five Australian bands.

1. AC/DC
2. Midnight Oil
4. Crowded House
5. The Go-Betweens

Now, the same argument exists here for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that exists with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on the American list: should they count as a band, or should they be considered more as a musician supported by a band? For this list, we're going with the latter and not including N.C. If he were included, he'd be number two. Or as they say in Australia, "they're the second shrimp on the barbie, mate." Or "they're Crocadile Dundee II, mate." Any which way, it was a tough list to make because of the slim pickin's; I mean, Frente practically gets an honorable mention.

Jason should have his top five Canadian bands soon. I've gotten a taste of it, and like anything else Canadian, it smacks of controversy. And sweet, sweet maple syrup.

When I'm driving in my car/ and that man comes on the radio...

At long last, the promise is fulfilled and here it is: Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Good to know Rob Sheffield and Joe Levy had a say in this; that makes me feel a lot better.

It's hard to question a list this big and filled with so many great songs. It's not like they named "Batdance" the best song ever. But there are still some arguable choices. Some quick thoughts after taking a quick look:

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Pardon me, do you happen to know who fucked Mick Jagger?

'This will look even better with some spaghetti stains on it!'
Courtesy of my friend Brian, deep in the black heart of Pennsylvania that is Pittsburgh.

Heard you let that little friend of mine/ take off your party dress...

Elvis Costello will be on "Austin City Limits" tonight. Also, U2 is the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live".

And mama said she wants to show how far she can float...

A music store in New Zealand is only selling the new Eminem album on request. Won't display it in his store because the lyrics are "violent and pornographic." He's also donating money to a charity for abused women:
The retailer will donate $A5.40 from each album sold to the Women's Refuge Charity and a suicide prevention organisation, because Mr Harper says it will "help the victims that suffer from Eminem's world view".

Friday, November 19, 2004

Rapper of the year, year of the rap/ Come from South Philly where the hammers are clapped...

Wish I had seen this pre-election: a get-out-the-vote videogame starring ?uestlove of the Roots. The gameplay itself isn't anything new, but that isn't the reason to check it out. What really matters is seeing ?uestlove drive around in an SUV, picking up gentlemen and some fine ladies to take them to vote (and maybe do some "ballot-stuffing" later—wink!), all while avoiding a missle-toting pig and monkey riding an elephant. That's cooler than "Crash Bandicoot" in my book.

Have you thrown your senses to the war or did you lose them in the flood?

The Boss puts on his cape again, playing a benefit in Pittsburgh for local flood victims.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert go on sale Tuesday at the Heinz Hall box office, Downtown, on the Web at www.pittsburghsymphony.org or by phone at 412-392-4900. Attendees are being asked also to bring nonperishable foods to support the recovery efforts.

In addition to Springsteen, who will play with Grushecky and the Houserockers, others on the bill thus far include B.E. Taylor, Rick Witkowski, Bill Deasy, Rob James, Jill West and Blues Attack, and Grushecky's son, Johnny Grushecky.

East Coast Love Affair

Looks like D.C. might be the place to be in February, depending on how you feel about Teenbeat Records (if you hate the gays, like climbing up on the cross, and love wearing American flag vests and fanny packs, January is your time to shine, Red-Staters). The Black Cat has a two-night Teenbeat 20th Anniversary showcase, which will see reunion shows from Unrest and Tuscadero. Should be a nice way of washing the unpleasant stink of all those goddamn Republicans being in town for the inauguration in January. Oh, God, I taste throw-up just thinking about it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

And my piano crouched in the corner of the room/ with all its teeth bared...

Salon.com has an interview with Nick Cave. It's actually interesting, the focus on the religious nature of his work. I like artists that deal with religion in music, it's a subject not a lot of writers deal with, or don't deal with enough. Too many songs about teen suicide and girls not understanding whiny boys.
The concept of God in America is very different than it is in England. Because we see the horrendous outcome of religion as being an American thing, in which the name of God has been hijacked by a gang of psychopaths and bullies and homophobes, and the name of God has been used for their own twisted agendas. So that if you mention God, or a belief in God, in England, it's almost automatically associated with that kind of thinking. Religion's gotten a really bad name.
And it's especially exciting to read about someone who sees religion as spiritual love and awe, and not as a means to bully others. Hey, who else is looking forward to the next four years, by the way?

I've got a dick for a brain/ and my brain/ is gonna sell my ass to you...

Another R. Kelly sex tape. Does this guy ever have sex with a teenager without a video camera on him? Shouldn't the first rule of having sex with underage girls be that you shouldn't create evidence for the future trial?

Reviewing the reviewers

I was reading the U2 review on RollingStone.com when I got to this part:
"As America staggers punch-drunk into another four-year moment we can't get out of, it would be a real pleasure if the political tunes had any depth. (How long? How long must we sing this song?)"
Knew it. Rob Sheffield. There's something about him where I know it's him, and it's usually a crappy line like that. He always self-destructs on his own cleverness. Oh, you know old U2 lyrics. Well, excelsior sir. Read any of his reviews and he does that. It gets annoying. Real fast. Isn't this why writers have editors?

I was actually thinking that I agreed with the review, but not with the opinion of All That You Can't Leave Behind. Sped up? Bigger guitars? Maybe I got a different album, but I think the album's kind of a slog, besides "Beautiful Day" and "Wild Honey".

Don't go chasing waterfalls...

Ah, the sixth stage of mourning: getting a reality show.

You used to be so amused/ at Napoleon in rags/ and the language that he used...

We just love our lists. Angries up the blood. Rolling Stone should just change their name to Stirring Shit Up Bi-Weekly. Spin might be even worse because they tend to overrate contemporary music ("Maroon 5 made us throw out our Stevie Wonder albums!"). But for now, we're talking Rolling Stone and their list of the 500 best songs. Bob Dylan gets the top spot with "Like a Rolling Stone". In a nice segue, The Rolling Stones are second, with "Satisfaction". And you can argue about that, but you can't fault them. Those are solid choices. It's when you start wading into the deep cuts that you're gonna have some arguments. Are Eminem's "Stan" or "Lose Yourself" really two of the best 500 songs ever written? And as much as I like "Hey Ya", in 5 years are we really going to look back and say that it was the 180th best song ever?

That's the problem with these lists. Is something enduring purely because it's popular? What about songs that not everyone has heard? How are we going to judge something recently released a decade down the road? Any which way, we music nerds may complain about this stuff, but we secretly love it. We love to see shit stirred up.

We're an American band/ We're comin' to your town

Finally, I get to pull out the Grand Funk Railroad quotes. And supposedly Jackyl covers this song, and you know what that means: chainsaw solo!

My pal Jason weighs in from California on the best American band:
Now if you want to talk about best Canadian rock and roll band then you have the Band, best British band well you know; but American, it's a bit trickier but here goes
1. The Grateful Dead
2. Fugazi
3. The Beach Boys
4. CCR
5. Booker T and the MGs (but if you include them you gotta count the E Steet Band who then become number one)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

They're advertising in the skies/ for people like us...

I can admit when I'm wrong. Yeah there are VH1 moments. But the new U2 is pretty damn good. A lot less sappy than All You Can't Leave Behind. It's closer to that album than Achtung Baby, though. Listen, I know Bono's full of shit. I hate the iPod stuff. But I find it hard to deny these guys.

A lot of it sounds like it reaches back to the '80s... the bass breakdown in A Man and a Woman. The guitar in "All Because of You" (which sounds almost Boy-era, especially on the chorus). The oooh-eh-oohs of "City of Blinding Lights". It really is a good album. And oh good lord, "City of Blinding Lights" is basically "Where the Streets Have No Name" swept clean and gentrified; it's got some condos going up, maybe a nice coffeehouse, a bar with '80s Saturdays and no cover for the ladies until 11. New zoning regulations, more police around. What does it say about me that I like it? Time to get some eggnog latte at Starbucks? Maybe I'll pick up a cool jazz mix CD. And I'm convinced The Edge steals his own riff for "Yahweh". Something from Joshua Tree. Is he becoming the new John Fogerty?

The first time I really listened to the album all the way through, I thought it was actually astonishing. I've calmed down a bit since. It starts off with "Vertigo", which is basically a well-written and well-played throw-off. Then there are a couple of songs for the soccer moms in the house. "Miracle Drug" is bad emo, and U2 should be above that. Then it's like they started to care about making an album, about people not just doing the dishes to the album, or using the individual songs in emotional montages featuring baseball players, firefighters, and kids saluting flags to appeal to the suburbs (nothing says America like the Irish!).

Maybe that's their problem, and you can hear it on "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own". Now, it's hard to totally rip this song, because it was written for Bono's father's funeral (then why release it?). But still, it's a Hallmark card sentiment. There's a smaller difference between bombast and elegance than you may think. They used to tread it quite well; look at "One". But now you have stuff like "Walk On", begging to be used at the end of an "ER" episode where one of the doctors has an especially tough day, but learns that you just have to soldier on. Inspiring, really.

But after the first three songs, it does really take off. There are the dirty modern blues (and I don't mean that in a Blueshammer "deep down delta blues" sort of way) of "Love and Peace or Else" (which is still kind of a Hallmark sentiment, though you might find it in their Shoebox line of cards. A bit of the edgier Hallmark at affordable prices). The drive of "Crumbs From Your Table". The surprising bounce of "Yahweh". The mantra of "One Step Closer". And yeah, "City of Blinding Lights" and all the Olive Gardens therein.

What the album does lack is a sense of danger or immediacy that some of their '90s albums had. Achtung, Baby, that was a scary album. "The Fly"? "Acrobat"? Even "Love is Blindness" was scary in how it stood at the precipice of being in love, when you should be happiest, and was caught in the realization of what love entails. Even their cheesier albums, like Pop was superficially a "party" album, but was concerned with the loss, the evilness, the fear underneath. This album, and All That You Can't Leave Behind even more so, have just been... earnest. And I'm not the biggest fan of earnestness. I have no problem if Bono wants to be the UN ambassador of hope or whatever, but he doesn't have to play the role on the albums.

Anyway, good album. I keep listening to it online, so that means something. A few thoughts on the way out:

Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial...

The Experience Music Project in Seattle has a Bob Dylan exhibit opening this weekend. The EMP is some high class shit; I highly recommend it. And if you're in the area, I also recommend going to the Sit 'n' Spin and getting a veggie burger and a pint of Fat Tire Ale. It'll treat you a'ight.

Christmas time is here/ Happiness and cheer...

Now I don't know whose idea it was to have The Damned light the Christmas tree in Cambridge, England, but a tip of the cap to them. Absolutely brilliant. And the fact that it pissed off a priest is so punk rock, and the irony of the whole situation is brilliant in and of itself.
"It just seems to me to be a bit of a culture clash in launching the city's Christmas celebrations with a group who really haven't been renowned with looking at the positive side of life and Christian principles," he added.
Well, look who's angling to get elected Pope of Partypooperville. Who should have lit the tree, in acordance with the spirit of the season? Geoffrey, the Toys R Us giraffe? Shouldn't the priest be upset about the lighting of the Christmas tree in and of itself? I mean, I don't think there were too many evergreens in Jerusalem that year, because of the great Douglas Fir embargo of 0 B.C. Damned lead singer Captain Sensible gets the last word:
"It's a time to behave disgracefully and slob out in front of the TV," he told Independent Radio News. "The Damned are particularly good at that sort of thing and the church stuff just gets in the way."

If I only had a dollar, for ev’ry song I’ve sung/ And ev’ry time I’ve had to play while people sat there drunk...

On Monday, the Washington Post reviewed Friday's Fogerty concert. It's not so much the review I'm interested in, but that the author makes the argument that Creedence is the best American band ever.
Fogerty, the solo-happy guitar hero of Creedence Clearwater Revival, arguably the greatest American rock band of all time (think about it), took the stage at 7.
There's a word for that which ends in "y" and begins with "balls".
For those still debating CCR's place as the greatest American rock band, consider this: The band was together for only six years!
I found a list of the top ten bands ever on MSNBC to jog my memory. Granted, MSNBC is not my first source for music trivia. But they don't even mention Creedence in the top ten. The first American band on their list is the Dead. After them, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones, and Sly and the Family Stone. They give CCR an honorable mention, with the Allman Brothers, the Band, R.E.M., Springsteen, and the Beach Boys, among others.

So who is the best American band? See, if I could, I'd say Springsteen. Hands down. But can you count him as "a band"? Sure, it's "Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band" but still... I don't see them as a band. I see them as almost symbiotic entities: seperate but necessary to each other. (And if you count that as a band, you open the door to considering John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.) If we're going pure band, I might have to go Beach Boys.

Well, at least they didn't mention the Strokes (best cover band ever!).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Romeo and Juliet/ are together in the deep blue sea...

Salon.com covers Monday's Wilco show, putting it in their political section. Among other Tweedy shots at the Right:
As the two-hour-plus show throttled to a close (one guy behind me exclaimed, 'They don't have any songs left!') the minor psychedelia of lights playing against the stage backdrop morphed into a few seconds of dark footage -- the big bad fella himself. There he was, in all his smirking glory, Dubya. And sure enough, he was firing off that infamous one-fingered victory salute.

Bush's mug, of course, set up what was perhaps the best political barb of the evening. The band proceeded to bid farewell by laying into Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper.'

And it's you when I look in the mirror/ And it's you when I pick up the phone...

U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is available to stream online at MTV.com.

So far? I mean, it's good, I've listened to three songs (including "Vertigo") and it's well done and everything. It just doesn't, to borrow a phrase I heard years ago, lift the skirt. It's like the last album: well-written, a bit emotional, but cold in too many places. Engineered. Achtung Baby moved me. The Joshua Tree moved me. The last album didn't. It felt like a wedding song: constructed to produce an emotion. It was an emoticon, the diagram of feeling. And so far...

Well, I'm up to the fourth track, "Love and Peace or Else", and this is doing it for me a bit more. We shall see...

Leaving Las Vegas

NBC actually has a short description of the episode of "Las Vegas" guest starring the Polyphonic Spree:
Elsewhere, Delinda (Molly Sims) becomes enamored with The Polyphonic Spree, a unique musical group, and their leader Tim Delaughter (as himself).

When The Fool Becomes A King...

Polyphonic Spree taped an episode of "Austin City Limits" to air sometime this week. Possibly has already aired. Details are sketchy. But you can stream their performance of "Hold Me Now" online.

Speaking of beloved public television shows featuring well-respected musicians, the Spree will take their shit to NBC's "Las Vegas", where word is they will spend the episode nonchalantly staring at Vanessa Marcil's breasts. It promises to be hilarious. Make sure you catch the Blind Boys of Alabama "Fear Factor" beforehand.

Your Shortlist Prize winner...

...and it's not Franz Ferdinand. And for that I say, Bravo. Plus, I really do like that TV on the Radio album and the New Health Rock EP. They have an original sound (unlike FF), and the song "Ambulence" makes it onto a few of my mixes just because it's a ballsy little song.

I wish the world was flat like the old days/ so I could travel just by folding the map...

Death Cab for Cutie signs to The Label That Killed Jawbox.

Monday, November 15, 2004

War is free/ Peace is expensive...

This has been bubbling for a while, and I don't know why it's such a big deal. But when I see this article, I wonder how many of these people support the war in Iraq. Because it's all good when it's real, half a world away, and you don't have to deal with it, but God forbid a movie about war comes on and you might flip past it while searching for "Walker, Texas Ranger" on the PAX Channel:

'Ryan' Viewers Complain to FCC
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The Federal Communications Commission has confirmed it received complaints about the uncensored broadcast of Oscar-winning war movie "Saving Private Ryan" on ABC-affiliated stations last week.

An FCC official said several complaints were filed Friday, the day after the Veterans Day broadcast, but couldn't say how many or who or where they are from. The commission has to have a complaint before it can take action.

Older brother/ Bit by a vampire/ For a year we caught his tears in a cup...

The Boston Globe has an article about The Arcade Fire. I think I might love this band. Granted, I've only heard two songs, both of which I downloaded for free, but they are tasty. This album is probably number two (hee hee! number two...!) on my must-get list (behind Martina Topley-Bird's Anything and followed close by Richard Buckner's Dents and Shells). "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" is like a John Mellencamp fever dream. "Wake Up" is a swelling bit of revival; The Polyphonic Spree without the slight smell of bullshit (and hey, I like the Spree a lot). I downloaded them a while ago, and I've always liked the songs, but recently it's become like an addiction. I don't know if I love 'em, but I sure am crushed out.

Hollywood is under me/ I'm Martin Sheen/ I'm Steve McQueen/ I'm Jimmy Dean...

It's kind of sad we've gotten to the point that the movies Michael Stipe produces are more interesting than the music he makes. First he had Being John Malkovich, and more recently, Saved. Now, he's signed on to produce Slo-Mo:
SLO-MO follows what happens to a writer for the New Yorker magazine whose articles have made him an intellectual sensation and earned him A-list standing in Manhattan's social scene. His fans are eagerly anticipating the release of his upcoming book, but little do they know that the immense pressure of living up to everyone's expectations is having a serious and strange effect on the writer. The pressure to deliver his book has caused the man to fall into a parallel reality where time moves slower than in our world. While it sounds like the added time to work on his book would be a benefit, the side effects of living in this strange dimension are causing problems, such as how to communicate with those that exist in a faster state of being.
Sound interesting. Now make better music.

Hope I die before I get old...

Think Pete Townshend regrets writing that line? Think he regrets it more or less than looking at kiddie porn on his home computer? Anyway, he and Daltry are putting out a new Who album. Yawwwwwwn... oh, pardon me. I didn't know you could yawn online, but this news has torn down the laws of the virtual world. Didn't Pete say he regretted putting out that album after Moon died? Now he wants to put an album out after Entwistle shuffles off this mortal coil? Well played, Pete.

Must be the money...

Page 3 on ESPN.com has a list of good athletes turned sucky rappers. Have you ever seen Kazaam with Shaquille O'Neal? He has a rap in there that will turn you inside-out. Best part of the movie, and that's saying a lot about a movie with a basketball player playing a genie next to a precocious child actor with a bad haircut.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I'll settle for a cup of coffee, but you know what I really need...

From my blog to God's ear. No sooner than I mention I'd buy them, it looks like Warner's and Rhino are releasing double-disc resisues of R.E.M.'s Warner Bros. catalog early early early next year. God knows what'll be on them, but I'm looking forward to it.

What's that? You want more Wilco...?

Well, here it is: you can stream Wilco's San Francisco performance l-i-v-e here. The show starts at 8 p.m. PST (that's important for all us East Coast-centric types), tomorrow—Monday, November 15—with Carla Bozulich kicking it off ex-Geraldine Fibbers-style.

I wish I could buy back/ the woman you stole...

This is the best video I've seen in a while.

Check out the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Y Control" at Rollingstone.com. Now, if you don't want to see a kid get his hand chopped off (he asks for it!) or another kid pull out his own intestines, well, this might not be in your wheelhouse. But Karen O is the shit; she makes me want to move to New York.

New York City, that is. Not Albany. Albany can eat it.

Hey, Dirty/ Baby I got your money/ Don't you worry...


Is this the beginning of the end of the Wu-Tang? After this there's only, what, how many left? I think last estimate was 437.

Man, I loved ODB. Back in college I was the editor of the school paper, and whenever we had to put AP stories in the news section to fill space, I'd always make it a priority for the news editor to find an ODB story. And the day an ODB story made its way onto the second page, I drank from the cup that was the power of college journalism. And I felt immortal. So here's to you, ODB. Hope you and Biggie and Tupac are playing dominos at that great big strip club in the sky.

Baby don't you go and cut your hair...

I've given it a lot of thought. And yes, I will buy the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain reissue. But that's it. I'm drawing the line if they re-release Wowie Zowie.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Don't you need to/ get back in the arms of a good friend?

The good news: If you have the cash, the time, and geographic proximity, Matthew Sweet is playing the 9:30 Club tomorrow. Something about Matthew Sweet makes me smile inside, like it's 1994 (the good parts, at least). The best part about this show? Velvet Crush is opening. I swear to God, I saw the same show 10 years ago at the Trocadero in Philly. Hand to God.

Of course, you will be missing Stephen Hawking's Funky Time Machine at the Black Cat.

The bad news: At the same venue, tonight's John Fogerty show is sold out. I know, so sad. Funny thing is, when he's not surrounded by Springsteen and R.E.M. I'm really not all that excited about him. But if you want to hear "Centerfield" played on a baseball-bat guitar, then I'm sure you can scrounge up some scalped tickets. For comedy value, nothing beats the bat guitar.

Now the boys and girls are not alone/ Now the hitsville's hit U.K.

I get suckered every damn time a reissue comes out. Sometimes I even buy the reissue when I have the album, which for the most part is absolutely pointless. Like the Slanted and Enchanted reissue; I was a huge Pavement fan in high school and I think I got most of the stuff on there in one form or another. But I still got it.

So I got suckered into buying the London Calling reissue, an album I have, and love. A friend said it wasn't worth it. I cried, "But it's the Holy Grail of all Clash demos. It's the Vanilla Tapes"&mdashI had never heard of these mythic Vanilla Tapes before, but it sounded good—"It's the definitive version of London Calling!" It's not worth it, saideth my friend.

It's really not worth it, I'm hear to say. Most of the tracks are just early, badly recorded versions of what ended up on the album. The best part is, some of them have different titles. Great.

Maybe I'm not as much of a Clash fan as I thought. I'd probably pay good money for an R.E.M. album like this. Or maybe it's just not that great. I have a Springsteen bootleg called The War of the Roses, and it's one of the greatest things I've heard. Only a few extra songs, but the best stuff is the alternative versions of the songs from Born to Run. There's a version of "Backstreets" with strings and Bruce absolutely going crazy on the vocals that should stop you in your tracks. Absolutely amazing. And seeing into the thinking of the artist, of seeing someone tinker with their music and trying to get it right, see what direction it could have gone. But the Vanilla Tapes just feel like a rough draft instead of an experimentation. And that's the damn shame of it all.

Langour rises reaching/ to turn off the alarm...

Nothing inspires confidence like the promise of the phrase "From the director of Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen!"

The Alarm's Ruse Inspires Film
"'The film is going to be a fictionalized account of what went off,' Peters says of the project, which is still in the early stages of development. 'It's got quite a good start. At the moment it starts off with the singer, who is sort of based on me, [who] lives in L.A. The glory days are long gone and he owns a bar.' "
Later on, the film is described as Tootsie meets The Full Monty. Sure, whatever. As long as we're tossing out hybrids, I think it sounds more like Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets Every Which Way but Loose. Sounds about right.

So what went off? The Alarm wrote a song called "45 RPM" and released it in England as The Poppyfields. They filmed a video with a bunch of teenagers playing the band. And the song cracked the Top 30 over there, which is 567 spots higher than the previous Alarm single. And while something deep and heartfelt could be coaxed from this, about the love of music and the horrible hypocrisy of image in the industry, I'll say it once more: "From the director of Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen..."

Two recommendations

1. "Ain't That Pretty At All" Pixies
Has age treated the Pixies well? A friend and I used to talk about which bands should do reunions, and I think we cam to the conclusion that no bands should. It would be like a bad high school reunion, more sad, pathetic, and nostalgic than a creation of new good times. You can make arguments for Jawbox and Afghan Whigs, but even then... eh. I've heard some mixed things from their shows, but the two newly-recorded songs, "Ain't That Pretty At All" and "Bam Thwok" just make me feel all giddy and good inside. I'm not familiar at all with the Warren Zevon original, but the cover is, from what I've read, a complete deconstruction. And you know what? Sounds like fun. Sounds comfortable and daring at the same time. I like it. Good show, Pixies.

2. The New Danger, Mos Def
Good gravy, this is good stuff. I've read back-and-forth reviews of tis album and I'm on the thumbs-up side. I've never listened to the Mos Def's first album but I did see the first half of The Italian Job, so that counts, right? What about that Alicia Keys video he was in? Damn he looked fine... I mean... are you ready for some football? Ahem. Anyway, any argument that album is too all over the place is bullshit. Maybe it's just me but I like albums like Phrenology and The New Danger, willing to explore and try new things. He does rely a bit too much on samples from iconic songs ("The Message", "What's Goin' On?") but I can forgive. Just too damn good.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Can't get enough Wilco...

For those Wilco fans in L.A.:
"Skylight Books presents:

A book signing with the band WILCO: Nels Cline, Mikael Jorgensen, Glenn Kotche, Pat Sansone, John Stirratt, and Jeff Tweedy

Wilco, together with PictureBox, Inc., have created The Wilco Book.
Full of lush photographs and artwork and including text from members of the band as well as Henry Miller, Rick Moody, and Mark Twain, this book is an art-piece in its own right. Each book also comes with a CD of original, unreleased music. The band will be signing copies of the book starting at 7:30. You must purchase a copy of the The Wilco Book at Skylight Books to receive a ticket to this event. You will be placed in line corresponding to the number on your ticket -- be on time to secure
your place in line."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Come on up for the rising/ Twenty-four hour concierge and a heated pooooool...

Goddamn Springsteen, always standing in the way of progress. Unless it involves hot dogs. Always with the hot dogs...

N.J. condo drops 'Rising' name at Boss' request
"''First, 'The Rising' was written in the shadow of Sept. 11 and should remain connected to the heartbreak and courage of that day,'' Springsteen wrote to the triCityNews. ''... I respectfully ask the city fathers and developers to place both my and my song's names out of the running for any new buildings, streets, hot dog stands (well, maybe hot dog stands) as the city moves toward its exciting future.''"
I got the same letter when I tried to open a sweet shoppe called "Candy's Room". I had to go with my second choice: "Fudge Tunnel".

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Everybody, everybody, everybody, everybody/ Everbody has to do something they don't want to do...

Pitchfork.com, predictably, says the SpongeBob soundtrack ain't that great. I guess it lacks the gravitas expected of a soundtrack about a spongeman who lives in a pineapple underwater. Where's the Sufjan Stevens song about sponges accepting Christ as their savior? Or America's latest dance-punk assembly-line band doing a song about having a dance party at election headquarters, complete with marimba breakdown? Goddamn it, I think we all demand... nay, deserve a little bit of lyrical weight when it comes to animated movies about sponges.

And I just want to go on record as saying I think the Wilco contribution is more than enjoyable. But it lacks any insight into Tweedy's drug addiction. And for that, I give it a frowny face.

What a big black mess/ What a hunk of love...

Authorized bootlegs kind of take a little of the fun out of it, am I right? It's liek when your mom relented and let you snort coke off of the mirrored table in the family room when you were a teenager. Just kind of lost its appeal after that...
"Starting at 11AM EST this past Friday, the official Pixies digital downloads store launched with the goal of making almost every show from the fall tour available as a download. All shows are available in a high quality 256kbps MP3 format, and retail for $11.99 each. The sound quality is great for these shows,
and while not every show will be available, the majority of the fall tour to
date is represented."
Go here for your watered down Pixies naughtiness.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Catwoman v. the Beloosh

This is so much hotter than the Jay-Z/R. Kelly feud:

Actor Jim Belushi Sues Julie Newmar for Harassment
Belushi claims that Newmar, 71, who played the villainous Catwoman on the 1960s "Batman" TV series, destroyed a fence and landscaping on his property, spied on his family and blared loud music into his backyard.

The star of the ABC sitcom "According to Jim" also accused Newmar of spreading "defamatory statements" about him, calling him a "peeping Tom," "voyeur" and "sick."

Nothing's ever gonna stand in my way again...

Wilco will be on the Tonight Show tonight. The odds for the rest of the show sucking are pretty damn good. Enjoy, status quo!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

O say can you see...

You can listen to Bruce's version of The Star-Spangled Banner online, in Windows Media (Broadband or Dial-up), QuickTime, and RealAudio.

I'm at a place called vertigo...

U2 explains the whoring.

Friday, November 05, 2004

That's great it starts with an earthquake...

R.E.M. opens its first show since Election Day with "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", their usual set closer. And actually, I don't think they'd played it on the Vote for Change tour, or any previous shows on this tour.

Wait for it...

"Leonard Bernstein!"

Here's to the status quo

President Bush gets elected. Toby Keith breaks ground on his new restaurant. Kismet? Somewhere, the flannel-clad, cut-off jean-wearing stars have aligned. Here's to you, middle America. There's an option other than Hooters for your wedding receptions.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The bitch is back...

What does Elton John mean by "upmarket Spinal Tap"? That his sitcom on ABC is going to be more highbrow than This Is Spinal Tap? What a bitch. A few thoughts

1. Anytime the concept of your show can be boiled down to three words, and two of those words are the title of a movie, you can't be a goddamn snob about it.

2. Has Elton John ever been associated with the highbrow? Being English does not automatically elevate one to being a wit. I mean, was that rhinestone Dodgers uniform actually an Oscar Wilde-esque comment on American secular religion and materialism? Or did he just like to dress like a jackass?

3. Nothing screams upmarket like "sitcom" and "ABC". Maybe they can do a sweeps episode doing a crossover with "8 Simple Rules". Or a Halloween episode where the main character dresses up as a heterosexual. Delighfully randy, Elton!

4. Can I start referring to reruns of "Small Wonder" as "upmarket Blade Runner"?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's the perfect storm/ in a teacup, but.../ You must drink it down down down...

RollingStone.com has some nice live solo performances by Sir Ted Leo.

Indoctrinating myself into the Official Fan Club of the Status Quo©

You know what else I'm going to do to fit into the new American wasteland? I'm going to get Dale Earnhart's number on my back, real big, with angel wings on it. Get it? Because he's doin' laps on God's track now.

We've got four years/ my brain hurts a lot/ We've got four years/ that'

Harpers.org has a guide to getting the fuck out.

I wanna be your Thurston Moore...

Sleater-Kinney sign to Sub Pop.

So dissapointed/ At first I put it all up to luck/ God knows why my country don't give a fuck...

What the hell is going on?

This country's being taken over by the aggressively arrogant, on the full throated support of the aggressively mediocre (The Official Fan Club of the Status Quo©). So I give up. This is your America, the land of housing developments of scientific sameness, with names like "The Mews" and "Little Brook Run", that are uncluttered by stupid shit like trees. I'm going to move there! I'm going to buy a Dodge pick-up because the commercials tell me I'm a pussy if I don't! I'm down, you win!

Oprah's Book Club? Yes. Shirts that advertise where I bought the shirt? Absolutely. Olive Garden? You better goddamn believe it. I'll be there so many times, they'll ask me if I want "the usual." (Damn right I do, and that fucking salad bowl better be bottomless.) I am now down with NASCAR, white zinfindel, using "Can you hear me now? Good!" as a punchline, cubicles, middle management, books about angels being around us, poems by dying 12-year-olds, Toby Keith, strip malls, cell-phone walkie-talkies, shell necklaces, backwards baseball caps, US Weekly, Hallmark teddy bears, the romanticization of Las Vegas as a symbol of masculinity, and, of course, keeping the gays from getting married. Because why should I do otherwise? Anymore, I'm just a tourist here, and I may as well dress the part to fit in.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

He's a magic man...

Hey, look! Other stuff is going on in the world! Word is the Magic Castle Magician of the Year Awards are the Blockbuster Awards of the dark arts; it's all just a popularity contest. That doesn't mean that this guy isn't going to use his considerable powers to conjure up some sloppy for his hangdown tonight.

Today is the day...

Pitchfork.com gets pithy. When you go to their site, there's no content, just a message to get out and vote. "Today, we request that out U.S. readers take the time they usually spend reading Pitchfork to do something more productive. VOTE." Studies have shown that voting and reading indie-rock websites are, in fact, mutually exclusive. Can't do both. Impossible. "Shit. I just spent all day reading their reviews of the Conet Project. Wasn't I supposed to let my voice be heard before it's obscured by the electoral college?" My theory? The boys just wanted a day off. Enjoy your martinis on the roof and Deerhoof imports.

"Don Henley may also make an appearance"...

...are possibly the seven least inspiring words in the English language. They couldn't get Joe Walsh? Or was he too busy collecting a paycheck from Drew Carey?

Anyway, there's a big rally in Boston for John Kerry today, hopefully to kick off the Kerry era. I appreciate their Democratic leanings, I don't appreciate their music so much. Real snorefest. Zzz. But the rumor is, Mr. Springsteen will be in attendance.

"Abortions for some, miniature American flags for all!"

To quote Yo La Tengo, today is the day. Not only is it Nelly's birthday but it's also Pat Buchanan's. Trivia Question: Which one of those two is going to celebrate his birthday with a facefull of stripper's ass and which one will spend his birthday wish hoping the Jews are touched by the horrifying void that is the absence of God's light? The answer... let's just say it might surprise you.

The line for my local polling place was around the block, which means the young kids are rockin' the vote, just like John Mayer planned it all along. Which is a good thing, unless these people are voting for Bush; in that case they can rot in the devil's asshole. No offense. Good things to say to people in long voting lines: "What's with the line? Lenny Dykstra signing autographs today?" "Where's the line for people that have better things to do?" "Is there an express line for Nader voters?"

Check out The League of Pissed Off Voters for local info (about voting for Kerry). Don't worry if people call you a "dork" or "homosexual" if you vote. Sticks and stones, man. Sticks. And. Stones.

Monday, November 01, 2004

With the Lights Out

Tracklisting for the Nirvana box set is announced.

Then we made the move uptown and the big man joined the band...

Everyone's favorite no-hit wonders, The Electras, are getting back together. No word yet if John Kerry will raise his goblet of rock and grace us with his cockrocking bass stylings.

Halloween: the day after

A few thoughts:

1. I like when people take their costumes to the next level. Why be a witch when you can be a slutty witch? Slutty witches, slutty angels, slutty wireless service providers. What I don't like? Every other girl has to wear a costume involving wings.

2. I heard Ted Leo's "Hearts of Oak" at a bar, and as much as I like the new album, nothing on it shakes a tailfeather like that song.

3. If you find a copy of Arthur Magazine in your local bar, make sure to read the back-and-forth between David Cross and Eugene Mirman about the election. Good stuff. At one point it's noted that there's nothing scarier than the threat of being raped in assholes you don't even have yet. And I agree.

4. OK, I get it. You have jumbo slices of pizza. Now get your goddamn sign out of my face. (Being angry at the sign guy did not stop me from enjoying a slice at the end of my night. It was as big as a baby. A big, cheesy, four-dollar baby.)

5. At a bar in the gayborhood I heard The Replacements' "Androgynous". Perfect.

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