Tag Archives: Blurt

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

 

Prediction-wise, that is. But not happy about it. 

I had a bad feeling that America was going to reject Laurie Kilmartin and James Adomian after last week’s set, and unfortunately those were the first two severed. When Jonathan Thymius and Maronzio Vance came out (what is it with finishing the eliminations with a duo?) I felt sure I was three-for-three even though if I were voting I would have sent Vance packing along with Rachel Feinstein and Felipe Esparza

But somehow, despite a strange and awkward set, Thymius survived. Did America really want to punish Vance for blowing his punch line last week? Because I don’t get how they can dig deep enough to enjoy Thymius’ surreal act yet not see the charm in Adomian’s equally obtuse direction. And god knows what will happen next week, because Thymius had an even stranger set with a really weak close…although he did slip a teabagging reference past the censors. 

Teabagging the toilet water?

I do not understand the fascination with Rachel Feinstein as a stand-up comic. She’s very attractive and leggy and is comfortable on stage and does great voices…but there are no jokes! I agree with some bloggers who suggest a career in voice-over work; she could be a versatile player in the animated world as long as someone else is writing the material. All she did last night was another extended ethnic rant

Myq Kaplan continued to riff strong material (although familiar to anyone who has his album) and once again he tagged a prior comic’s set to good results. And Tommy Johnagin continues to kill, peppering punch lines and adding that little bit extra, like pointing out his sweat stain and mocking the judges. I thought Mike DeStefano was more miss than hit this time around, although the “does it clean shame” line was solid. 

Roy Wood Jr. continues to be consistently good – never great – but always enough to get a few laughs. And while I’m not a Felipe Esparza fan, this was probably his best set; the crowd loves him. I’m starting to believe that it’s going to come down to the ethnic comic and the comic who can’t avoid ethnic schtick. That would be sad, but we are talking about a show that crowned Dat Phan as the funniest comedian. 

The best parts of the show continue to be Craig Robinson’s one-liners coming in or out of commercials. The judges are back, but why? They don’t criticize anyone – everyone is great and their sets are solid? It’s insulting to watch. I enjoy Greg Giraldo’s quips and Andy Kindler is reason enough to watch the show. And I’ve seen Natasha Leggero be funny, but it’s yet to happen on this program. But the bigger issue is that America is voting and they aren’t judging anything anymore – so why the pretense? 

Not certain how many go home next week but I predict the next two voted home are Thymius and Kaplan. Sadly, America will get what it deserves

— 

"Sitting in the back of a car..."

R.I.P. bass player Andy Hummel, leaving only drummer Jody Stephens with us from the late great Big Star (no, I don’t count Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow). I don’t really have to make any special effort to pull a Big Star album out of the racks as they’ve been in rotation for…oh, almost forty years

Hummel had been battling cancer for the last two years. My friend (and Not Lame honcho) Bruce Brodeen posted that he had seen Andy at SXSW in March, where despite his illness he flew in from halfway across the world to participate in the tribute. Bruce said his playing was “a blessing“, and I guess if you’re going to strap in for a last gig that would not be a bad one to go out on. 

Blurt and EW announcements.

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Do It Again, Again.

I was privileged to attend the screening of Do It Again at the Independent Film Festival Boston last night. The Somerville Theatre was packed – the film was an advance sellout and the ticket of the weekend – and the audience response was astounding. The crowd was a diverse group, with a huge contingent of traveling Kinks fans (like me!) among some friends and families of the principals and the healthy crowd that the Festival naturally attracts.

I won’t rehash the previous promos of the movie I’ve written, nor will I spoil anything for you today, as there are many warm surprises, but I highly encourage you to get to a screening and see this film. There were at least two dozen moments during the film when the entire audience broke into spontaneous applause or laughter in unison as if operating from one central nervous system.

Blending stock footage, interviews, travelogue, voice-overs and creative graphics, Do It Again’s 85 or so minutes breezed by leaving me exhilarated yet wanting more. There are moments of gut-busting laughter, moments of tender poignancy, musical encounters that will make you cringe and others that will make you cheer…and maybe even dampen that eye of yours.

  • If you are, or have ever been, a Kinks fan…you need to see this.
  • If you have ever had an obsession about a band…you need to see this.
  • If you have ever questioned your pursuit of a goal…you need to see this.
  • If you enjoy a well scripted and superbly edited documentary about a fascinating subject…you need to see this.
  • If you are a Kink and your name is Rayyou need to see this.

Here’s a taste…

I’m writing a larger piece about the film and the principals for Blurt Online and will post an excerpt and a link here in the near future. But I would be remiss if I did not send up a flare within ten minutes of my return from Boston to implore you to do whatever you have to do to see this movie as soon as possible.

Please note that I didn’t say I was happy to see the film or lucky to see the film.

I was privileged.

The Do It Again film website  – trailer, info, etc.

Geoff Edgers interview at the Full Frame Film Festival

Reviews from Nashville Scene and Variety and The Huffington Post

Back the film project on Kickstarter

Dave Davies website

Ray Davies website

Kinda Kinksunofficial website

Kinks fan club forum discussion

Ray Davies fan forum discussion

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Mon(e)y, Mon(e)y: Tommy James’ Hit (Man)

Papa's got a brand new bag, man

Tommy James and the Shondells were one of the most consistent hit making groups of the 60’s, with iconic songs like “Hanky Panky”, “Mony Mony”, “Crimson and Clover” and “I Think We’re Alone Now” peppering the charts in rapid succession. One would think that the story of their rise to success in that turbulent decade would be a fascinating recollection; a gratuitous name-dropping inside look at the greatest era of pop music and the whirlwind machinery that keeps the whole thing afloat.

Instead, Me, The Mob and The Music is a quick, anecdotal biography that more often skips across those topics like a stone on a pond rather than giving the deep dive that the title implies. And like many celebrity biographies, the beginning stages of a career get a bit more focus than necessary, since the reader is fully aware that the gamble is going to pay off for the struggling beginner.

The story behind The Shondells is interesting enough, showing how pure luck can catapult an artist from obscurity to a chance at fame. In James’ case, a hastily pirated version of a bar band song failed more than once before exploding in Pittsburgh, providing a launching pad that would see the band and song break region by region until success was attained. Ironically, to satisfy those thousands of radio listeners in Pittsburgh, the record was widely pirated and James never saw a dime of the profits. It would be the first taste in a long career of financial infidelity

Read my full review in Blurt Online.

(Not quite Russian) Roulette

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Texas Revolution, James McMurtry

We all wanna change the world

Today marks the anniversary of the Texas Revolution; on this day in 1836 the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed and the Republic of Texas was declared. Hard to think about the history of Texas without mentioning Larry McMurtry, who has used Texas for the setting of so many famous novels and screenplays  like The Last Picture Show and Lonesome Dove. But when a music fan is asked to name Larry’s single greatest gift to the world, the obvious answer is his son, James.

(Yep, that’s how my mind works when the coffee hasn’t quite kicked in.)

Like his father, James McMurtry is a great storyteller. His characters are fully realized, and his stories are rich with passion and heart, where the listener or reader can immediately succumb to the storyline, the aura and the moral pulse of the journey. These are tales of desperation and joy and failure and broken promises and faith, people on a journey who might be forging through a tough time or reminiscing about a lost opportunity.

The magic is that no matter how different our lives might be, we are drawn in honestly and not through contrivance. Once there, we are immersed in that story from the inside, seeing the world through a different viewpoint. Sadly, when artists are able to do this so well and so often we take them for granted. James McMurtry is far from a household name; criminally underappreciated in the big scheme of things.

His recent live album is yet another document in a brilliant career, and for the first time there is authorized video of a McMurtry concert. I highly recommend the CD/DVD package Live In Europe

Use whatever terminology you wish for his artistry, be it rebel Americana, spirited counterculture rock, or literate character-driven storytelling of the highest order. There are songwriters and there are storytellers, and then there are those few that consistently excel in both areas. He might be genetically driven to superior wordplay thanks to his famous author father and English teacher mother, but that six-string wrangling you hear comes only from a lifetime of letting Keith Richards and the like drill through your ears.

McMurtry’s vocal range is fairly limited, and his style is only moderately beyond the spoken word in cadence, but there’s no doubt about the passion behind the words. Few social observations pack the wallop that is “We Can’t Make It Here”, even when performed in countries where it does not apply. “We were hoping we’re not going to need this song much longer”, he says by way of introduction, “For now it stays in the set”.

Read the full review at PopMatters.

Give a listen at Amazon.

McMurtry writes a blog for Blurt called Wasteland Bait and Tackle

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New Album! The Hot Rats

So...what are the other two Supergrassians doing?

I love tribute albums more than I should, and when a band tosses a well placed cover into their set or onto their own album it can often be a real treat. And while playing the song straight can be reverential, adding your own flavor to the stew can often be far more rewarding. On Turn Ons we get both from The Hot Rats. While that latter name may call to mind one of Frank Zappa‘s greatest albums, it is also what two famous UK pop stars call their fun side project. 

Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey of Supergrass have teamed up with producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Travis) for an album of well-chosen covers of some of their favorite artists including The Kinks, Squeeze, The Doors, Gang of Four, Elvis Costello and David Bowie among others. While some of the songs (i.e. the Lou Reed stomper “I Can’t Stand It”) are made for the stripped down thumping, you will be amazed at how they approached songs by The Sex Pistols and The Beastie Boys

Despite the limited instrumentation, the versatility on the album separates The Hot Rats from the pack of bands flailing to surf the wake of The White Stripes. Simplicity merely repeated gets monotonous, but The Hot Rats wisely employed Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich to add his brush to their canvas, and the result is an exciting and surprising collaboration. At its core it’s brimming with the exuberance and fearlessness of a garage band, and with twelve tracks in just over half an hour, one is left wanting more

Read my full review in Blurt Online.

And yes - grab this too!

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Read It or Weep

Bucketfull of Brains cover

Join the Bucketfull of Brains 400

I’m not one to shy away from technology, and I think the accomplishments of the past few decades might someday be looked back upon with the same astonishment that one gets pondering The Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t that long ago that only mad scientists owned computers, phoning someone meant manipulating a rotary dial on a box tethered to a wall and the only music in your car came from an AM radio or the off-key harmonies from your drunk friends in the back seat. I am thrilled by the amazing toys and gadgets that drop in our lap every day and wonder if this isn’t the greatest time to be walking the Earth, ever? (At the very least, I just proved that the evolution of hyperbole is upon us.)

But no, technology gods, I don’t want to read or watch video on a handheld device. If it’s a movie or a television program, I want it in full Hi-Def glory on a wall screen with booming surround sound! Bigger is better! Don’t send me backwards. And while viewing programs on my laptop is not quite as bad, do I really have to spend any more time in front of a computer than I do now? Which brings me to…reading.

It’s bad enough that progress has robbed me of one of life’s greatest pleasures. When I’m browsing through new albums, no longer am I standing in a record store in a hallucinogenic daydream, fanning one twelve inch cardboard package after another in idyllic rapture. Most of the time, I’m probably clicking a button on a screen that says “more albums by this artist” or typing “sounds like The Faces” into a search box. But now when I want to read about music, the ability to pick up the magazine and hold it in my hands is becoming a lost art.

Sure, there’s Mojo and Uncut and a few others who are weathering the storm, but the smaller independent magazines that used to fill my mailbox are going the way of the dinosaur. That cover above is from the latest issue of Bucketfull of Brains, a fine UK print magazine I’ve been proud to be a small part of for over a decade, which is only one-third of their long and storied history. But like many small businesses, they are teetering at the brink and reaching out for help – in this case, a small subscription drive.

“The reality is that if you’ve ever thought of subscribing to Bucketfull Of Brains now is the time to do it… It’s our 30th anniversary year and we would like to see 31, and while we wouldn’t be quite ready to call ourselves an institution our continued existence does keep the editors out of one.”

The vinyl album is not dead, and while the numbers are not gargantuan, it is making a comeback. There’s a niche market for it, and thankfully there will be product to satisfy that small but loyal audience, because they were willing to step up and do something about it when the time came. Well, the crappy economy hurts everyone, and all those small labels and independent bands cutting budgets are cutting back on print advertising, the lifeblood of a magazine. Many have already fallen; many more are barely hanging on. Time to step up.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of great blogs and podcasts on the web and I enjoy them immensely. But there’s a special pleasure that can only come from the printed page, especially one that is a labor lf love. For those who get that, know that the time to stand up and be counted is now. Please stop by Ugly Things and The Big Takeover and Bucketfull of Brains and sign up, won’t you? It’s a small price to pay to continue to enjoy such great rewards. (Let me rephrase that for those who can only respond to hyperbole: Subscribe and Keep Hope Alive!)

read paper on john

Life's simple pleasures are timeless

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Farfisa Love

Love Me Nots Bug Jar

A sound is worth a thousand pictures

I told you that I love me some Love Me Nots.

I told you that they were coming to my town, were gonna party it down, and I was excited. Well, here’s what happened. Check out the review at BLURT…but more importantly, check out the band!

By the way…that picture up there is from one of the coolest DJs in Rochester. One of these days we’re gonna shake hands, because we’ve walked by each other unknowingly for years. But probably not during his shift.

And the picture in the BLURT article is from this guy, who is the unsung hero of this town. (We have shaken hands).

They’re Really Something

Love Me Nots 2

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