Went to see The Beehive Queen tonight, as part of the Rochester International Jazz Festival (yeah, I know…) and she was amazing. Had the crowd in the palm of her hand the whole time; got a standing ovation during the last song.
And that was just the early show. I’ll have a link to the live review later this week, but here’s a link to 83 song clips that will blow your mind.
Also on the horizon as part of the Jazz Fest – The Bottle Rockets on Thursday (yeah, I know – also not jazz!). Later this month, Zappa Plays Zappa; next month Crowded House, John Hiatt and maybe even a road trip to see a double bill of Squeeze with Cheap Trick. Already saw Marah once last week and might catch another show.
Todd Barry, Doug Stanhope and Marc Maron are all coming to the hinterlands – those three are very high on my list of the best comics around. There’s a Bill Hicks movie on the way, too.
And I’m looking at the Detroit calendar (thanks Suebedoo) to see how I can maximize another pilgrimage to see the hottest band on Earth, The Hell Drivers. Speaking of which, it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a summer.
Life is good.
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!
Filed under Music, Reviews
Not really fluff at all.
It’s been almost five years since the release of Glen Tilbrook released Transatlantic Ping Pong, which is about four more years than I like to wait for Tilbrook to drop an album. His new effort with The Fluffers is good but not great…but the parts I like are getting better with repeated listens.
Read my review of Pandemonium Ensues in BLURT Magazine.
Thought I'd squeeze this in as well...
Of course, any conversation about Glen Tilbrook pings back to Squeeze, and while I can’t say that his solo releases knock me silly the way that Argybargy or East Side Story did, he remains a strong writer and his voice is in pristine form. If you ever get the chance to see him live, do! He’s possibly even more entertaining as a solo act than with a band. Brilliant guitar player – watching him in a small club was a revelation – and funny as hell. And if you haven’t been lucky enough to see him, I highly recommend picking up One For The Road, a documentary about Glen criss-crossing the country on tour.
Much more information is available at Glen’s official website.
And if you want to Squeeze in more listening, check here.
Filed under Music, Reviews
When you hear that a classically trained guitar player from a music school is making a pop album, your expectations are probably like mine. But as skilled a guitarist as Jeff Litman might be, Postscript rarely features his playing as the focal point. It’s Litman’s skills as a songwriter, vocalist and arranger that are highlighted, and wisely so. Frankly, this debut offering floored me.
Litman has an immediately likable voice, and proves throughout the album that he’s as dynamic a singer on broad choruses as he is on more stripped-down and nakedly exposed vocals like “It Wasn’t Me”; he’s able to jump around the scales effortlessly and comfortably. The album’s crystal clear production (courtesy Litman and drummer/utility infielder Andy Thompson) really lets everything shine from subtle background vocals to string arrangements…and just as importantly, Litman’s words. Sure, these are love won / love lost songs, most songs are, but they are fresh and bright, one after another. (Okay…maybe the riff that opens “Let You Go” is a kissing cousin to “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates, but you get my point).
“Anna” and “Complicate” make a very strong 1-2 punch to open the album, both songs about being with the wrong person at the wrong time. But Litman can just as easily bury a bitter shot within a bright melody (“Everything You’re Not”) as he can pine away on a beautiful ballad (e.g. “Wife” and the title track). And the seamless harmonies between Litman and Kelly Jones on “Maine” couldn’t be tighter if they were conjoined twins; the country-ish track chugs along like a perkier version of “Winter Valley Song” by Fountains of Wayne.
Other sound-alike touch points? First and foremost Mike Viola, and I mean that as a strong compliment; Viola is one of the best in the business. I also thought of contemporaries like Frank Bango and Jim Boggia as well as the more well-known predecessors McCartney, Squeeze and (more as solo artists than as a band) Jellyfish. These artists, like Litman, feature more complex arrangements than what I would consider everyday power pop music, yet are much more vibrant than the definition that “singer-songwriter” tends to conjure up.
Postscript is brimming with great songs and is certain to make my Best-of-2009 list at year’s end.
Visit Jeff’s homepage here.
You can also hear sound clips and/or purchase Postscript at CD Baby.
A live version of “Maine” (with links to other videos in the right column)
Filed under Music, Reviews