Tag Archives: The Figgs

T.G.I.F. – Ten 2010 Bridesmaids

Putting together a “best of” list is hard for me, because there’s so much out there to enjoy every year and many albums appeal to me in different ways. Lists are subjective, of course (despite what Rolling Stone may insist) and try as I might I can’t put six pounds of stuff into a five pound bag. So while I consider the Top Ten an honor, the near misses – Bridesmaids, as I’ve been calling them – are no slouches either.

To beat the tired drum again, anyone who is claiming that there is no great music being made simply isn’t trying hard enough to find it. I’m out there beating the bushes constantly and I can’t keep up with it; certainly even a cursory attempt to widen one’s horizons would be richly rewarded (there’s a bunch of links at right for starters). And as always I welcome the emails from readers that start “have you heard…” as they often open new doors for me as well.

So this week, in no particular order, let me present Ten 2010 Bridesmaids – albums that didn’t make the Top Ten but weren’t far off. When I post the full “best of” lists in January these will certainly be there, so give a listen and be rewarded! (Amazon links included – many on sale right now!)

And on this TGIF Friday I’m especially thankful.

01) Peter Wolf – Midnight Souveniers…Like fine wine, Wolf just gets better and better with age. A far cry from his kinetic J. Geils frontman image, Pete has quietly entered the small plateau of artists perpetuating organic, honest music for the ages. A musical archivist flexing his talents.

02) Smash Palace – 7…If the cover art’s nod to Revolver doesn’t tip you off, let me. Smash Palace is in the upper tier of powerpop bands with traces of Cheap Trick, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Badfinger in its mix but a fresh and original sound. Solid songwriting, incredible vocals, songs that are pure ear candy. Radio’s loss; your gain.

03) Paul Thorn – Pimps and Preachers…”If I could be a tear/rolling down your cheek/and died on your lips/my life would be complete”. Holy shit. I’m new to Thorn’s world, but this is a gritty brew of John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, Bob Seger and Alejandro Escovedo. I am on board now.

04) The Master Plan – Maximum Respect…You were so sure that you didn’t get a record from The Del Lords, The Fleshtones or The Dictators in 2010. Well, you were wrong! The collaborative side project is back for a second album and as you might expect, it kicks ass! If “BBQ” doesn’t get you hopping, you are a zombie.

05) Teenage Fanclub – Shadows…Back after a five-year break and sounding like it was a day. Fannies know what to expect, for the uninitiated, think a sophisticated pop blend of XTC, Big Star and some classic California sunny pop (Beach Boys, CSN). A little subdued for some, I prefer to call it atmospheric.

06) New Pornographers – Together…The phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” sets the bar very high when talking about this collaborative unit, but damned if I don’t find every one of their albums irresistible. Any band that can make whistling as cool as a snapping snare drum is okay by me.

07) Graham Parker – Imaginary Television…Another guy who just defies the calendar and continues to pump out great songs; he’s a better singer, songwriter and guitar player now than in his popular prime. Also be sure to pick up his live set with The Figgs.

08) Deadstring Brothers – Sao Paulo…Imagine the Gram Parsons / Keith Richards sessions in the Stones’ golden era were invaded by Ronnie Wood from The Faces. Wine flowed. Tape rolled. Absolute gospel – rock – country blues bliss.

09) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever…Just missed…I thought the personnel change would impair their urgency and their passion but they are as good as ever. The first five songs are absolutely perfect and the album would be worth it if it ended there.

10) Nick Curran – Reform School Girl…I wasn’t a follower of Curran but damned if he isn’t channeling Little Richard, Phil Spector, Fats Domino, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Sonics on this album. This is a party whittled down and stuffed in a jewel case; besides – how can you not buy an album with a title like this one?

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Graham Parker Film – Home Stretch

I was angry too, back then.

Passion is no ordinary word. 

Last month, I wrote about the Kickstarter effort to raise funds for the Graham Parker documentary Don’t Ask Me Questions. The response has been tremendous and the goal is within reach. 

However, the premise of Kickstarter is that if the goal is not attained, none of the pledge money goes through. 

With one week to go, the producer still needs only a small amount – roughly six hundred dollars a day. That’s a dozen fifty dollar bids, twenty people pledging thirty dollars. In other words, it’s right there in front of us

Please consider a donation if you haven’t done so, but more importantly please pass the word along to friends who might be able to join the effort. 

Here’s the direct link to the Kickstarter page – and Michael Gramaglia has posted two new clips from the film for your dining and dancing pleasure. 

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Graham Parker Film!

 

Well, it’s about damned time! 

Don’t Ask Me Questions is a new documentary film about Graham Parker being brought to life by Michael Gramaglia, who co-produced and co-directed the wonderful Ramones film End of the Century

I doubt I have to explain to the regulars here who Graham Parker is…how he burst upon the US scene in 1976 with not one but two five-star albums (Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment). Or how three years later Squeezing Out Sparks was lauded by most critics as the best rock album of the year. How thirty-five years after his first splash he continues to write, record and perform some of the most intelligent, passionate, and literate rock’n’roll on the planet. 

But for the sake of convenience, here’s a link to a couple of hundred song clips that should seal the deal for any of you scratching your head. There are enough collections and best-ofs to fill a shelf, but don’t sell yourself short. Start at the beginning if you must, but work your way through his incredible catalogue and hear the albums in their entirety. You’ll find wonderment galore, from classics like  “Soul Shoes“, “Discovering Japan” and “Temporary Beauty” to recent gems like “She Swallows It” and “You’re Not Where You Think You Are“. 

I was angry too, back then.

I’ve seen Graham Parker perform many times over the years and have had the great pleasure of interviewing him for a magazine feature. He’s as powerful a presence with an acoustic guitar and his sardonic wit as he is backed by the fire of The Rumour and The Figgs. Once he was lumped together with Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson (and for some of us, John Hiatt) as one of rock’n’roll’s “Angry Young Men“. Now, older and wiser, he’s aged like fine wine. Here indeed is a man who spent a career putting art before commerce, passion before trend and substance before flavor. 

Now, finally, the Graham Parker story…on film

 

From the website“A modern troubadour, Graham releases new music almost on a yearly basis, while touring small clubs around the country to a die hard fan base…The film documents the history of his independent spirit and defiant optimism, celebrates the sincerity of his music and delights in his self-deprecating wit.” 

Interviewed in the film are Martin Belmont, Steve Goulding, Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson, Dave Robinson, Ian Hunter, Pete Thomas, Black Francis, Jesse Malin, The Figgs, Meg Griffin and Alan Pepper, among others. 

The project has been in the works for four years and is available for the general public to financially participate in the production at varying levels through the Kickstarter website. This is the same method that enabled the recent Kinks film Do It Again to get off the ground, and as a proud participant in both efforts I can vouch for the process. 

It’s not cheap to assemble a quality documentary film, especially when you have to secure rights to footage and audio and do it the right way. A project like this really hits home for me; it’s the type of thing I would do if I had the time and the money…and the guts

But someone is doing it. And he needs a hand. The pledge drive continues through the Summer; there’s a long way to go but a very reasonable target to aim for. Contribute if you can, but at least spread the word far and wide

Don’t Ask Me Questions official site . Great promo clip!

Graham Parker official website. Mecca!

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NEW ALBUM! Mike Gent: The Name of This Record Is Mike Gent

Gentleman Figg.

Gentleman Figg.

 Mike Gent is a busy man.

A new Figgs album is imminent and he just dropped another solo record. (You can read my review of  the new album at BLURT ONLINE.)

Someday there might be an Under The Radar column about The Figgs, who quietly release one strong rock record after another. Along with Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes (and at times, Guy Lyons), they have somehow evaded the public spotlight despite being solid performers and songwriters, even after recoring a blistering live album with Graham Parker. Parker has taken a shine to Mike individually as well, since even when not using the full Figgs complement he has sometimes hit the clubs with Gent in tow. (Graham Parker with The Figgs was magic – you shouldn’t be without The Last Rock’n’Roll Tour or 103 Degrees in June – Live in Chicago.)

And Mike’s other band, The Gentlemen, rock with a similar Stones/Faces/Springsteen sound, an honest, earnest rock’n’roll that seems to be missing from too many records these days. They’re probably due for a new one too. Check out an MP3 of “Velvet Rope” from Brass City Band (other clips available on same page).

In short…we need more guys like Mike Gent making more records like these.

Here’s a treat…The Figgs covering The Small FacesSong of a Baker” and “The Loner” by Neil Young.

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