Monthly Archives: July 2009

T.G.I.F. – Catharsis

Sometimes the best laughter – like the best music – comes after experiencing pain. And there are some artists who are very adept at expressing both. It’s nakedly honest, and frankly it can be uncomfortable to watch someone try to wallow through their own emotional cleansing if they are just looking for sympathy. But when they add venting? Ahhh…now we’re talking.

Last week I promised you more Marc Maron, a brilliant practicioner of the art of catharsis. You’re welcome.

marc maron pic

Reminiscing about his inner demon.

Having a woman around to keep you down.

Support those who drive around high.

…and those who need to get high to do their job.

Addressing The Class of 2009

The Patriot Act

Appreciating Chinese Food

Moses and Drugs (with Greg Proops)

Cracker Night Highlights, Part One

Cracker Night Highlights, Part Two

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Data Repair

Just fixing the glitch - check back tomorrow

Found the problem! Now "fixing the glitch" - check back **Friday evening**

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New Album! The Who Sell Out

If you fart in a tub of beans, does it smell?

If you fart in a tub of beans, does it smell?

Well, not new, really – but finally my favorite Who album gets the full remaster/reissue/rebirth process. I always felt that The Who Sell Out was the perfect intersection of their early powerpop singles and their later epic thematic recordings. “I Can See For Miles” got airplay and rightfully so, but wasn’t the monster it should have been. But even more amazing is the deep well of other great songs that never got their due. “Tattoo” remains one of my favorite Who sings of all time, and I still love the twist in “Odorono”, as silly as the subject matter is. But “Our Love Was”, “I Can’t Reach You”, “Relax”, “Sunrise”…these are brilliant tracks.

Who fans will relish the new edition, but casual or new fans who never explored this album will be blown away. With stereo and mono versions, boatloads of alternate mixes and bonus tracks and an informative booklet, it’s well worth grabbing. Some fans might complain that there could be more (all mixes of the singles, live cuts, etc.) but I think this is one of the better reissues I’ve seen come down the pike.

A few years back there was an tribute album slated for Futureman Records  called The New Sell Out that boasted an A-list of current powerpop bands (Splitsville, Myracle Brah, The Shazam, Young Fresh Fellows, etc.). The cuts I heard were fantastic, but ultimately the project was aborted. Some of the songs have shown up as bonus tracks on the individual band’s releases, while most sadly remain on the shelf. Hopefully someday this sees the light of day. (You’d think now would be the appropriate time, hmmm?)

And for a wildly original take on this classic, you must check out Petra Haden‘s acapella tribute. Unbelievably amazing… she recreates all the songs – and commercials – with just her voice.

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Blast From The Past: LW3

That’s right, babies, Martha and Rufus have a dad. (In fact, Rufus was a tit man).

There are many stellar records in Loudon Wainwright‘s career, most are (sadly) radio-proof cult items among the converted. But he’s still hitting the mark as he enters his fifth decade of recording and performing; his energy and wit remain sharp and incisive as ever.

Here’s something I wrote eleven years ago for Consumable Online, when Little Ship came out. Not much has changed since then; new songs, same skill.

Don't bring an oar to a diesel fight

Don't bring an oar to a diesel fight

Sometimes I wish every record came with a lyric sheet, because many people flat out mumble and it would be nice to know what they are really singing.  Then there are times when I’m glad they don’t, because it makes me listen to the words as they’re being sung and spoken. I’d never turn to the last page of a novel to see the ending, and I like to savor the words of a good song in much the same way. Which is just my longwinded way of saying that master songwriter and storyteller Loudon Wainwright III makes me laugh, sing along, think and get choked up along with him, and it’s better when I don’t know what’s coming next. Like the whistling solo on the island flavored title track. Oops…..

As a vocalist, Wainwright has gotten much better over the years. His phrasing on delicate songs like “Four Mirrors” and “Primrose Hill” is just one example of the difference between a good singer and a pedestrian vocalist. Radio will no doubt try to feature louder, uptempo songs like “Mr. Ambivalent” or “I Can’t Stand Myself”, and they are very good songs. But where his louder, faster songs tend to be nudge and wink stories, it’s his softer, slower moments that let him weave his magic better. Besides the poignant “Primrose Hill”, other strong moments include “The Birthday Present II” and Shawn Colvin’s duet vocal on “Our Own War”.

Wainwright is a certified wise ass and one of the best live performers you will ever see. At his shows, crowds laugh uproariously and sing along in unison, but when he pulls out one of his pensive, dysfunctional family themed gems (and he has a truckload), the crowd is quiet with equal parts interest and awe. It’s hard to recapture those two polarities on a studio record, but alongside the cock-strut of “Breakfast In Bed” you have a song like “OGM” (outgoing message), where Loudon picks a lone guitar as he sings. It’s a beautiful but sad song, the  low self esteem yin to the unbridled frustration yang of The Replacements’ “Answering Machine”.

Maybe my favorite moment is the hysterical “Being A Dad”. As usual, the record is littered with great lyrics, but this one is wall-to-wall great (“it’s as hard as it looks/you gotta read ’em dumb books/and you end up despising Walt Disney”). The over-the-top performance comes complete with chanting chorus, and then right when he has you laughing your ass off, he slips in the somber, final couplet  (“Being a Dad can make you feel sad / Like you’re the insignificant other / Yeah right from the start they break your heart / In the end every kid wants his mother…”)

For a funny guy, it’s obvious that he has had family issues wear some of the tread off his tires over the years, but as usual, his catharsis is our gain.  Loudon fans will be thrilled, and those willing to sit and give this an hour of their time to Little Ship will realize why those in the know stopped talking about “Dead Skunk” a long time ago.

lw3

Don’t just take my word for it.

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T.G.I.F. – Mashup!

Puree and Easy

Puree and Easy

Mashup!

Sure, sometimes it comes out like a mess, but often it’s inspired. Here is a ten-spot plus a bonus round – enjoy!

===

Every Car You Chase

Smells Like Billy Jean

We Will Rock And Roll You In Beverly Hills

Madonna For Nothing

We Will Rock Your Mama

Do You Believe We Will Shake You All Night Long?

Owner Of A Lonely Bad

Toxic Love Shack

Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit Up

Take Me Out For A Milkshake

Hey We Will Rock Ya

clap fly

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Spreading The Chaos

and East...and South...and North...

and East...and South...and North...

With apologies to James Brown, perhaps the hardest working man in show business over the last fifteen years has really been Adam Marsland. A veteran of the LA pop scene and the driving force behind Cockeyed Ghost and later Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band, he grew weary of all the deception and bullshit and false promises from labels and agents and managers and figured he’d do it himself. And when I say D.I.Y., I mean it – it started with couches and floors and car seats and the kindness of strangers and a “can do” attitude that would not quit. And then he delivered what he promised.

Over the years he built a nice little circuit for himself, was performing living room shows before they became commonplace, and still found time to write, produce and record great music, both with his own bands and in the company of some famous musicians.

Now there’s a new double album, and a new tour, and despite the down economy he’s out there doing it again. I’m not his publicist or manager, I just respect the hell out of the guy’s work ethic and figured I’d pass the word. (I’ll review the album later this Summer)

Lots of dates in the books, but some holes to fill, so why not check out the music at the links below and contact him if you have any ideas? There’s got to be some clubs who need a kick in the ass, a living room that needs some fun or a band that needs someone to share a night with?

Grassroots rock’n’roll, people. Gotta love it!

New song:  “When I Lied To Everyone“.

Adam’s main website – a ton of information.

Tour dates and sound clips on MySpace.

Check out some product on Amazon – the greatest hits is a steal!

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Blast From The Past: Dwight Twilley

Dwight Twilley fans are no doubt salivating over the recent avalanche of rarities, live cuts and demos that Dwight has decided to release to the market. Priced reasonably on tactile media and even cheaper via digital download, it’s a clear reminder of why Twilley (with and without partner Phil Seymour) holds a special place in pop history. Sincerely still ranks among the best pop debut albums of the rock era, a breath of fresh air with timeless songs, heartfelt vocals and engaging musicianship. Hard to believe that the Twilley/Seymour “band” lasted only two albums, although both recorded more classic pop on their own.

This wealth of material reminds me the excitement I felt ten years ago, when both a Twilley collection and a new Twilley album dropped virtually at the same time. Sure, there was always the occasional bootleg to savor, but now there was authorized product that we hoped would reinvigorate his career and bring the accolades he deserved. But neither Tulsa nor Between The Cracks broke out, and ten years later I still have the same wish for him.

At least I got my other wish – that open vault I pined for.

Here’s my original take from 1999 on Between The Cracks, Volume 1:

between cracks

A collection of fifteen unreleased tracks from across Twilley’s career, Between The Cracks is a godsend to fans (along with Tulsa, a brand new release on Copper Records). From his mercurial beginnings with partner Phil Seymour through the frustrations of trying to succeed against tides of indifference and just plain bad luck, Twilley’s history is spotted with brilliant work that is criminally underappreciated. Thanks to releases like these, Twilley might enjoy another well-deserved shot at the brass ring.

“Black Eyes,” the leadoff track, could well have fit on any of his releases, especially the first two. With trademark quavering vocals and the always-stellar Bill Pitcock IV on guitar, this sounds like the perfect follow-up to “I’m On Fire,” although it was recorded years later. Susan Cowsill’s harmony vocals graced many Twilley tracks at the time and she sounds almost as good as Phil Seymour. Similarly, “No Place Like Home,” recorded in 1990, could and should have been radio smash.

Some of the early tracks like “Living In The City” and “Too Young For Love” have that same primal pulse that many tracks on Sincerely do, and “Round And Around” is a stark, Lennon-esque balled (played on an out-of-tune piano) with a great vocal from Dwight. Despite the cloudy production (or perhaps the horrible shape some of these tapes might have been in) they are fascinating glimpses into Twilley’s early era. And if songs like “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” are more your speed, “Reach For The Sky” and the amazing “Oh Carrie” (maybe the best song on this set) will give you the two follow-up hit singles that never happened.

The whole package is first rate – Kent Benjamin’s heartfelt liner notes are excellent and Dwight contributes song-by-song comments that are informative and witty. As much as I look forward to his revived career and new material, I also hope Twilley continues to mine the vault to share his past with us. Oh, what might have been…

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