Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Wedding

Guess the Royal Wedding went off without a hitch.

That’s not what Doug Stanhope had in mind.

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T.G.I.F. – Count To Ten

Why not?

(01) – ONE (Aimee Mann)

(02) – TWO Of Us (The Beatles)

(03) – THREE Time Loser (Rod Stewart)

(04) – Twenty FOUR Hours From Tulsa (Gene Pitney)

(05) – FIVE O’Clock World (The Vogues) – Drew Carey Show opening!

(06) – Ninety Eight Point SIX (Keith)

(07) – SEVEN Bridges Road (Iain Matthews)

(08) – EIGHT Days A Week (The Beatles)

(09) – Ninety NINE and a Half Won’t Do (Wilson Pickett)

(10) – TEN Cent Pistol (The Black Keys)

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Blast From The Past: Wilco

Tangents are wonderful things…

While reading the Morgan Taylor interview the other day, I noticed that he’d opened a lot of shows for Wilco. That made me pull out Being There and Summerteeth; both those records sound perfect when Spring is trying to shake off the doldrums and give you a warm day or two. and despite my town setting its all time record for rain during the month of April, birds and buds and ants are telling me that little liar groundhog’s ruse is almost over.

In other words, my review of Summerteeth from 1999 in…

When asked about his plans for Wilco after Being There had caught people off guard, Jeff Tweedy hinted that the band would most likely take another unexpected turn and create “a twisted pop record“. Let it never be said that Tweedy is not a man of his word.

Once again self-produced by the band (Tweedy, Jay Bennett, John Stirratt and Ken Coomer), Summerteeth thrives on the juxtaposition of introspective, sometimes dense, lyrical wordplay fleshed out in a rainbow of musical style. There are several songs that will immediately strike the listener as upbeat, sing-along melodies, yet underneath lurk images of loneliness, confusion and unfulfilled dreams.

Video: “Candyfloss

Candyfloss” jumps out of the speakers with a bouncy, 60s pop calliope beat, yet Tweedy’s confessional says otherwise: “I’m the boy who looks excited/I’m the boy who’se gonna fall apart…I’m the boy who eats his heart out…” . Likewise, the opener, “Can’t Stand It” is a groove rocker but boasts a chorus that states “our dreams will never be answered again“.

Via Chicago” is one of the few that matches sonic pulse with lyrical imagery. Slow and deliberate, the opening line is as disturbing as the distorted, feedback-laden guitar solo that cradles the fade-out: “Dreamed about killing you again last night / and it felt all right to me…”. Then – just as your heart and brain are splattered across the floor – “ELT (Every Little Thing)” rockets out of the speakers like the hit single it should be, a cousin to Bowie’sHeroes” filtered through The Byrds. It’s another song of lost opportunity or maybe Fate’s warning, but which? Hopeful or hopeless? Tweedy’s deft pen leaves that open to your imagination, and depending upon your mood, it will be either.

Video: “ELT (Every Little Thing)

The title track, like “Candyfloss” and “ELT“, will no doubt pump out of radios all summer long. No matter that the subject is denial about the rut that his life has become; the infectious refrain will have you singing along with the “ooh-ahh” background vocals (with lilting keyboards and chirping birds, no less) and have you daydreaming as well. “My Darling” and the stark “We’re Just Friends” echo Big Star circa Sister Lovers with a little Brian Wilson harmony thrown in, while “You Wake Up Feeling Old” is ironically finger-snapping pop.

The band must have gathered up every instrument in the studio and then some – bells, bird chirps, penny whistles, shakers, flutes, horns and tympani are sparingly but creatively used throughout the record. And as he promised, Tweedy has stripped down the band and reconstructed its direction, a move that will probably alienate some diehard Uncle Tupelo purists (assuming they aren’t already pissed off) but should thrill anyone with an open mind and a respect for the art of songwriting. Summerteeth is funky, soulful, rocking, heartbreaking, pensive and explosive – in short, a masterpiece.

Wilcoworld

Listen to clips here

Roger that!

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A Genuine Horror Movie

Finally got to see the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job last night. When you hear that phrase, you normally think “bank robbery”, and you’d be right on the (ahem) money if you did. The problem is that the crooks did it in broad daylight while the security guards sat on their hands…or more likely, their wallets.

I avoid politics in this blog as much as possible, so in case anyone is reading anything into my intentions let me clearly state that this is not a Democrat vs. Republican argument – clearly both sides were complicit, ignorant, or both. But it’s absolutely frightening to consider that people elected to the public trust could not figure out that this Ponzi scheme of predatory lending coupled with betting the house on its failure would only lead to the inside investors getting ridiculously wealthy on the backs of millions of people who thought they were protected by institutions like The Securities and Exchange Commission…and their own government.

Trailer for Inside Job

Simple math will tell you that if you inflate the value of a house to twice its realistic value and then let someone borrow 95% of that amount, that person only has at best a 5% equity stake in the property. Drop the house value a mere 10% – still 90% overvalued, mind you – and now the person owes more money on the house than it’s sellable for. Drop that value down 50% and the owners are in a hole they can’t escape from unless they forfeit the house and everything else they own and declare bankruptcy. And then the banks can write another mortgage on the reclaimed property and leave that owner in a grave.

That’s not to say that individual greed didn’t fuel the economic collapse. Bankers and traders funneled absurd amounts of cash up their noses and down their throats, while people barely out of college were buying homes for hundreds of thousands of dollars and living way beyond their means. A shell game is just that – there’s only one marble, and when it moves somewhere the others are left empty. If someone is raking in millions of dollars, someone else is losing that same amount. Had an accountant tried this at a small company they would be fired and jailed; a student who crafted this as their Doctoral thesis for economic solvency would flunk out of school.

The fact that no one from a major bank, insurance firm or investment house went to prison is far more frustrating than watching athletes and celebretards skate free for crimes you and I would do hard time for. Groups of people who live beyond the law brazenly raped and pillaged millions of people, paid comparatively tiny fines and were able to do so without admitting wrongdoing. Inside Job is a collection of interviews and media clips covering the global economic collapse, and who is willing to speak is almost as interesting as who isn’t. In particular, you will come away looking at Eliot Spitzer in a whole different light and start to wonder whether his fall from grace was engineered for a bigger reason than you thought.

Although the film is obviously targeting one point of view, Matt Damon’s narration of filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s script is even-keeled. There’s no need for hysterical pitch and emphasis when the horror speaks for itself.

The official website.

They shot the sherriff...

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Under The Radar: Morgan Taylor Rock Group

I used to get down to Manhattan far more often than I do now, and those missions invariably included trips to the Village to Arlene’s Grocery and The Living Room among  other stops. Invariably there would be a few bands cycling through sets at each, some of whom I’d target, others would catch me completely off-guard. Morgan Taylor definitely fell into the latter group.

It’s not unusual for a newspaper in a small or medium size city to rave about a local artist; quite often the writer is someone from the music scene who knows everyone personally, and let’s face it – while every town has its local heroes, most don’t graduate much further than their zip code. I’m sure I have had my share of “gonna be huge” reviews over the years and if I ever finish straightening out the basement, I can probably prove that. But Manhattan is a jaded bitch who has her pick of the world’s entertainers; she need not crow about one of her own. But yet there was Morgan Taylor’s name next to a review so enticing I had to see for myself.

When grabbing the CD cover for this post I came across this 2008 interview about his new animated creation that was merging musical theatre and children’s entertainment. Whimsical stories? Check. Infectious pop tunes? Check. Moms and Dads who have been taking their kids to see this show might want to grab his older album for themselves.

You and I know people who have a quirky, inventive sense of humor, but most don’t do anything tangible with it. Guys like Morgan Taylor do. Gustafer Yellowgold? Yeah, I’d say any guy who can release a 70 song CD collection called Box Of Monster could do that. Kudos to you, sir.

Here is my brief but enthusiastic 1998 review from…


Despite the moniker, the quartet is anything but generic, looking like they had been beamed in from 1970, or perhaps freeze-dried (with headphones blasting great tunes 24/7 during the thirty year repose, though). Sonically adventurous, yet always swooping in for a melodic chorus, the quartet’s pulse frames Taylor’s deliberate, almost breathy vocals.

The result is a focus upon Taylor’s imaginative lyrics, where broken hearts metaphorically tango with voyeuristic partners. Imagine Marc Bolan fronting Radiohead; whimsical stories capturing your attention as the band locks into a groove or slowly grinds a chorus to a halt as if someone is placing their finger on a turntable in your head. Apparently there’s quite a buzz about this band in Manhattan, and rightfully so; I was floored.

Check out sound clips at Amazon

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Games People Play

Beatlemania hit fast and it hit hard.

Of course, you know that, and if like me you were there for the seismic shift, you remember the Ed Sullivan Show, and the screaming girls and the absolute dominance of the pop charts. You remember the cheeky interviews and the Christmas Fan Club singles and even debating whether some Canadian musician was standing in Paul McCartney’s Beatle boots.

There were lunch boxes and posters and trading cards. There were even cartoons. And then there was Flip Your Wig.

I remember buying this for my neighbors Fran and Janet and probably even playing it once. But if you thought it was demoralizing to watch girls moon over Beatles picture sleeves while not giving you the time of day, imagine playing a board game with them where every roll of the dice involved kissing a cardboard cut-out of a Beatle. And you wonder why most guys were Stones fans.

But Doc, that’s old school shit my grandpa babbled about. I’m a ’77 punker and I hate The Beatles. I grew up on cool bands like The Clash.

No problem, young whippersnapper

My buddy Angelo over at Power Pop Criminals went to great pains to scan and reassemble the free game that the rock weekly Sounds gave away. Angelo describes it as a Snakes and Ladders type game covering events in the band’s early career, complete with playing cards and cut-outs of the handsome quartet.

So click here to visit PPC, get your scissors, tape, glue (no sniffing!) and cardboard and have at it. It’s a White Riot!

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Groovin’…

…on a Sunday afternoon.

One year ago today, against the steepest of odds, The (Young) Rascals reunited in New York City. The show, a benefit concert, was a rousing success and by all indications the band sounded great and were having serious talks about burying the hatchet (and not in each others’ backs, for once) and recording some new tracks.

I haven’t heard much since, but hope springs eternal.

Video: Groovin’

I guess if you hunt around long enough you might find some bootleg audio. There are clips from the reunion, although You Tube is devoid of any full length videos. Since Little Steven was instrumental in getting them to play together, I’m hoping he will help get a DVD of the show released including a documentary about the history of the band. It is a major injustice that they are not revered today; mentioned in the same breath with the biggest American bands of the era.

Video: People Got To Be Free

If you weren’t around when they were in their prime, it’s hard to comprehend what a massive impact they had on the burgeoning pop music scene, especially on the East Coast. Lots of sixties bands have greatest hits albums, but theirs are loaded with bona fide smash singles. They dominated AM radio, but they weren’t afraid to experiment musically or philosophically.

Video: Mickey’s Monkey / Turn On Your Lovelight

So while I wait, I’m blasting a copy of The Ultimate Rascals in honor of the event of a year ago. Hope the four of them are in a studio right now, jamming…

"Everyone learn to live together..."

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