Tag Archives: Announcement

Taking My Life Back

Bless me father,  for I have sinned, it has been over three months since my last legitimate blog post…

You don’t have any idea how many times I started to write this post in my head over the past couple of months, only to be sidetracked by schedule, or exhaustion, or – sadly – the lack of confidence and willpower. Running this blogzine had been, for the better part of three years, a daily joy. But much like many of my favorite things, it fell off the pile as the necessity to work 75-80 hour weeks took its toll. Missed that fall softball season. Favorite TV shows were DVR’d and hastily burned to DVD to make room for other unwatched programs. Albums piled up…think about that, I wasn’t prioritizing music. There were mornings when I didn’t want to slap that comedy CD in the car because I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy it.

That is just fucking wrong.

But let me first put things in proper perspective. Nothing is really wrong outside the fact that my life became monopolized by my responsibilities at work. I’m healthy, I’m financially stable, I have friends and family and a blessed life compared to so many who have real problems. I do not pretend for a moment that my worst day in the past six months was anything more than me feeling pressure, exhaustion and frustration with something which I could have terminated at any second with two simple words: “I quit“.

It’s hard to overcome an addiction because you are so deep into it that you lose the objective perspective. You no longer see the whole, you only see the next move. Not to compare my experience to an addiction – even the word workaholic infers complicit behavior – but it takes an intervention to slap reality in your face long enough for you to distance yourself and see objectively again. And in my case the intervention came in two parts – an intimate musical performance and a dose of birthday guilt.

Christine Ohlman, a/k/a The Beehive Queen, is an amazing woman. A musicologist par excellence, she runs rings around me when it comes to the deep web of musical history, ane even a brief chat with her is an educational experience. But I recently saw her perform in a small bar in Rochester, a converted house called Abilene’s which was packed like a sardine can. No stage, the band sequestered in what would have been a living room, amps likely on “3” to keep the plaster from falling upon us like raindrops. I was so close I could have adjusted the monitors, and I watched her slowly weave her way through a set of gems – each one accompanied by an anecdote – and I was awash in soulful, penetrating beauty. I was energized by rock, heartbroken by blues, and warmed by the infectious nature of a true artist channeling her soul. I knew at that moment that I had to take my life back, that every precious day that I continue to put aside the things I truly love was another day wasted.

I also have a holiday-time birthday, which combined with seasonal affectation disorder…well, let’s just say it makes for an interesting experience. For the past several years, I have spent the better part of my birthday watching concerts, comedy shows and music documentaries, and this year was no exception. This time, the introspection of the day was combined with a rebirth of passion, as if the artists on the large screen were saying “hey dumbass…maybe if you made time for this every day you wouldn’t be so miserable?” With the new year a week away, it looked like I finally had a resolution with teeth to slot next to the old standards “lose a few pounds” and “work out more”. And when my older daughter caught me off-guard by telling me she had been checking my page weekly only to be disappointed, that sealed the deal.

It’s not like I was in a coma. I did listen to a lot of music and made my list in time for the Village Voice Pazz&Jop deadline; I do have my Best of 2011 drafts for comedy albums and DVDs in their final whittling stages, and I did jot down some drafts that will show up soon as reviews and editorials. But I missed some events I normally relish, like the recent award nominations. And tragedies – I should have posted the day Patrice O’Neal died; he played a club in town not long before and the news broke my heart. But I’ll add those thoughts when reviewing his posthumous CD, and you’ll see his brilliant DVD (Elephant In The Room) on that year-end list.

A real doctor doesn’t promise you anything; they merely give you good advice. So I won’t promise you a daily dose – not an unbroken string, anyway –  but I’ll do the best I can to be here as often as possible. I even have a plan.

As for the recommendations, those will continue to be well-intentioned but optional. I’ve got my hands full taking my own life back, thanks.

Happy New Year, everyone. I missed you, too.

It's a new dawn, and a beautiful new road lies before me. Hope to see you often along the way...

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The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Times like this it pays to be British – or at least have a region-free DVD player!

The long-awaited DVD release of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople is finally upon us – October in the UK (followed by a November US release). Much like with the Bill Hicks documentary, I’m not waiting.

Video: Trailer for the film

The feature-length documentary also features Mick Jones of The Clash (who cites Mott as a huge influence) and Roger Taylor of Queen (Queen opened for Mott during their famous Broadway residency). It tells the story of the band from beginning up to the original implosion, plus includes the bittersweet coda of the 2009 Hammersmith Apollo reunion gigs.

Amazon UK has it here.

The official film website.

Official Mott website

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New Album! The Refreshments

It’s gotta be both rock and roll…

The Refreshments have released another gem. Led by Joakim Arnell and piano master Johan Blohm, the Swedish rockers are in fine form – as usual – with another platter of boogie-woogie rock and roll destined for heavy airplay at my house. While American radio continues to shun the natural descendants of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, Sweden is among the many other lands who honor one our lands greatest exports – rock’n’roll. Sure, these unassuming middle-aged guys don’t look like rockers, but looks deceive. Check this out…

Video: A 40-minute set from Antone’s!

Of course, the band that will immediately spring to mind is Rockpile, and it was Billy Bremner who first sought out the band and even joined in for a couple of albums. Albert Lee also took a turn, and there was even a great tour with Bremner and Dave Edmunds (released as the latter’s A Pile Of Rock) immortalized on this DVD, which I just have to get my hands on. Like Rockpile, the music is infections and relentless, the sound of blues/pub/boogie performed with love…and incredible skill.

Video: JB Boogie

On this new one, the band delivers piano-pumping, horn-drenched rock in droves, but covers all the bases – rockabilly (“Go Baby Bird“), Everly Brothers pop (“By Your Side“), country roadhouse (“Old Hopes Brand New“) and Tex-Mex (“Negative Nancy“). It doesn’t matter what they tackle, they do it well, and it’s astounding that a melting pot of American roots music has been percolating for a quarter century halfway across the world without making a ripple in the States. Then again…why would that surprise me?

One could say that the band has never grown in their career; I say they’ve never regressed. Yes, you could probably buy the albums in any order and enjoy them just as much; they’re all fruit from the same tree. If you have the cash, you could catch up in one fell swoop with this 8-CD collection. I hope you have had the pleasure of enjoying this band, but when I can turn someone on to a great group like this, I must admit a selfish feeling of great satisfaction.

The Refreshments official website

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Labor Day

How appropriate.

Seems like only yesterday I was returning from the abyss and getting my blog legs under me again after a couple of weeks of madness. Then even more ridiculous work assignments came down the pike, and not being a slacker, I dove in. As I finished up this weekend the irony of the holiday was not lost on me. I mean, we’re supposed to take a day off, right?

“The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties…”

So here we go again, folks. I’m writing August off as a bad dream – or the worst summer vacation ever – and starting fresh with September. It might take a day or three to finish up September’s first couple of posts – a TGIF celebrating upcoming albums from familiar favorites, a couple of Under The Radars and New Albums – but skipping your medication isn’t right. And I do want to make certain that you return from the holiday primed to hear one of 2011’s best albums, a (ahem) refreshing slab of rock’n’roll.

So strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Don’t miss out.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten For IPO!

From the ashes of the Poptopia festival in the late 90s came International Pop Overthrow, a multi-night multi-band powerpop showcase named in honor of the Material Issue album. David Bash has brought that festival into a global limelight on the years since, from coast-to-coast in America and in the hallowed halls of The Cavern in Liverpool England. And every year there is a multi-disc souvenir featuring many of the bands who take the stage, a tradition that Not Lame Recordings was (ahem) instrumental in perpetuating.

David is still out there bashing, and while Not Lame is no more, Bruce Brodeen is still involved with the CDs. The latest – Volume 14is now on sale at the Pop Geek Heaven site that Bruce now manages.

So this week’s TGIF is Ten For IPO – ten artists who can be found on this latest version of pop nirvana. Get your powerpop on!

(01) – Dave Rave, “Ann Marie

(02) – Lannie Flowers, “Looking For You

(03) – The Dirty Royals, “CIA

(04) – Bastards of Melody, “Dead Soldiers

(05) – The Dahlmanns, “I Love You Baby But I Hate Your Friends

(06) – Longplayer, “I Won’t Let You Down

(07) – Jeremy Morris, “Hurry Up And Wait

(08) – The Pondhawks, “Midnight Howl

(09) – All Day Sucker, “The Picture That Took Me

(10) – Cosmo Topper, “For The Time Being

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