...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The craft of Paul Westerberg's songwriting: "Everyone's Stupid" (new) and "Make The Best Of Me" (unreleased)

Speaking of the Twin Cities region, Paul Westerberg did this very cool interview + performance for 500 people last weekend at First Avenue in MPLS for a series called The Craft (not to be confused with the superb artistic statement of the Neve Campbell movie; this is a program hosted by musician Warren Zanes). I had heard about this but don't have friends in Minneapolis that were planning to attend. But hey! Bruce from Some Velvet Blog happened to be gone from his native Philly that day, was in Minneapolis, and wrote up a wonderful little piece about the session and set, as well as details on some of the things Paul shared about his music and The Replacements.

Westerberg performed ten tunes altogether (a truly lovely setlist), including one new song and one unreleased:


(from the All Shook Down era)

Audio removed by request of original taper, but you can apparently find more about it over on either www.paulwesterberg.com or www.colormeimpressed.com. It may also be up on Dime in lossless format.

Hey, I want to repost the original mp3s I ripped from these YouTube videos, marginally crappy as they may be, but I overzealously deleted them off my computer. I know this sounds odd, but if you snagged 'em when I first posted them, could you email them to me? Save me some hassle. Thanks.

And in related news, here's one other unreleased 'Mats song that someone recently sent me; add it to your folder of Westerberg/Replacements Rarities and B-Sides.

Perfectly Lethal (Let It Be outtake) - The Replacements
(basically "Seen Your Video" with different lyrics)

[photo credit]

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Meltdown frickin schmeltdown: Ryan Adams has a cranky day

You'd think he'd rent his clothing in agony, rubbed mustard on his face, and thrown live maggots on the audience or something from the emails I started receiving on Thursday. "Ryan Adams: Brilliant or Brat?" read one, "Total meltdown by your guy." said another. While I genuinely appreciate tips keeping me on the ball (because I'm actually off it most of the time, left to my own devices), once I started clicking the links --the CNN homepage, the NME, from there to news outlets everywhere-- I started shaking my head, saying to myself "These people do not know meltdown."

I was not there so maybe I am missing something, but it seems hyperbolic to call what happened Wednesday at the Ryan Adams show in Minneapolis a meltdown, based on the facts I've heard. Perhaps it's indicative of a slow news day combined with preconceived notions of Adams' difficult persona in the past and a desire to resurrect that fun news angle. He's unleashed way better vitriol, and way crazier ramblings than that during his off-the-wagon years. Sounds to me like he just got pissy with the sound levels, which is not a new thing. We know he cares passionately and fervently about his music, and seems to want the songs to get fair footing to be heard the way they're intended. Now, regarding the pissiness towards the sound guys and the abbreviated set for the excited fans, I personally would probably follow my dad's adage, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar" (yes, he actually says that) but it hardly sounds like front page international headline news that he has some irritability and doesn't play an encore.

One writer nailed it after seeing him play a spectacular show in Madison the following night, and reflected on all the hoopla:

"Throw Ryan Adams a little slack. This is a guy whose bad day becomes a ticker tape item on CNN. He wants what the audience hears to be perfect, not some contorted version of his sound. Call it whiney, call it anal retentive, but really, it's more like caring.

Adams is the first artist I've come across whose desire to do it right musically outweighed his desire to be superficially fawned over."

AMEN, sister.

On a brighter note, here's what the new Ryan Adams EP Follow The Lights will look like when it comes out in three weeks:


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Odds & ends

On this lovely slow Saturday I am making up a big pot of Dill Turkey Chowder (recipe pretty much like this except I use garlic pepper) and the simmering smells are already fantastic. It's been a week like that -- a lot of interesting thoughts simmering in the back of my mind with no real time to write about them or enjoy. So since it's Saturday, here's what I've been noticing lately:

۞ Nil Lara. I still get more comments on this guy, on the single post I wrote back for a previous World Music Wednesday, than almost any other ongoing topic. People across the world love this guy, miss his music, and wonder what he's been up to. He's been playing a series of monthly shows down in Florida, much to the joy of many fans, but the great news is that the Yanks get 2 doses of him next month!

Nil Lara has just announced two shows in New York City at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Nov 17th @ 8pm and Nov 19th @ 7:30pm. I'd love to see this guy; I'll be in NYC a few weeks before that for the last weekend in October to see some best girlfriends, but I'll miss this show unfortunately.

۞ There's a new audio interview with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready from Tacoma, Washington's News Tribune.

Listen to Mike talk about his reaction to the AT&T censoring of the Lollapalooza webcast, Italian fans and the new DVD, director Danny Clinch, and even some on The Scorpions & Iron Maiden. Rock on.

۞ The Onion made me laugh with this fantastic "news brief":

Google Launches 'The Google' For Older Adults
September 26, 2007
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—The popular search engine Google announced plans Friday to launch a new site, TheGoogle.com, to appeal to older adults not able to navigate the original website's single text field and two clearly marked buttons.

Read the rest

۞ The new Counting Crows album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, will be delayed in its release until 2008. According to Adam Duritz's blog:

Update 9/27/07 - "Town Hall, Old Memories, and New Delays"
Greenwich Village, New York City, 10am

. . . This will frustrate some of you I'm sure, and I apologize for that, but we've gone to Geffen and asked to push back the release date of Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings until sometime after the New Year.

It was just a crazy busy summer. Between all the touring and the traveling and the mixing and mastering of the new album and putting the together the package and writing all the essays for the August… reissue, we just let some little things fall through the cracks. The record itself is finished but we just did the photo shoot a few weeks ago, the art and packaging deadlines were last week, and, even putting in 20 hr days, it was just impossible to get it all done. There are videos and singles and so many things to decide on and finish and it's just not the time in our career to be rushing important decisions. Actually, in my opinion, it's never the right time to rush important decisions. We really try to make records that last forever. I don't see the point in putting all the work in to do that and then not having the right cover or picking the wrong single or making the wrong video. They're small things, I guess, but they matter to me and they're just a few of many.

It's a tough pill for our record company to swallow. Especially in this day and age, it's not easy to ask them to postpone a Counting Crows album that would have been on sale for fall and through the Xmas season. Someone somewhere will not be happy with them. Luckily for us, the people we deal with at our label ARE music people and they know that our partnership with Geffen has been a marathon, not a sprint. We haven't been around together all these years because we were worried about a few months.

Anyway, that's THAT bit of news. I know it's a bit of a disappointment but, like I said to all of you the other day, "Remind me never to put out two albums at the same time again."

I recommend streaming the song that Adam has posted on his MySpace, called "Bleed." Best as I can tell, it is a song written by Stew/The Negro Problem, and this is a live collaboration with Adam. The lyrics are pretty rich. I'd post it here, but . . . well, you know.

۞ Finally, the Ike Reilly Assassination show was as mindblowing as I had hoped on Thursday night at the Larimer Lounge.

I voraciously dig the blistering rock songs with a punkish-retro edge, with some of the finest attention to lyrical detail and "flow" of any modern songwriter today. Johnny Hickman (founding member of Cracker) joined Ike for the gig, as Johnny is a local Coloradan now, and they were clearly enjoying themselves. I was particularly riveted by the performance of "The Mixture" (off 2005's Junkie Faithful) -- an incredible, soulful, brutal, unflinchingly introspective, raw tune that I am listening to on repeat these last two days. It goes deeper each time I hear it.

"Girl don't like the mixture in me,
the liquid in me, the fiction it frees
the liquor in me, the Mick in me,
the fried-out lies for eyes she sees

...Girl don't like the distance in me,
the danger in me, the sickness in me
the stranger in me, the quickness in me,
the shiftlessness and shift in me

...Girl don't like the greed in me,
the speed in me, her need for me
the weed in me, the dealer in me,
the schemer in me, the dreamer in me

...Girl don't like the fader in me,
the invader in me, the penetrator in me
the not-quite-fade-awayer in me,
the I will see you later in me

But stay with me anyway
I'm a brand new believer
I went to the tomb without you
And they wouldn't receive me, no no no
And they wouldn't receive me, no no no
And they wouldn't receive me...

Where were you when the wheels fell off in Birmingham?
Where were you when I shed my skin in vain?
Where were you when we slid right off the motorway?

Maybe you stepped away, took a vacation day
You said a day with me is a night you've wasted

Where were you?"

The Mixture - Ike Reilly Assassination

The picture above is by Denver photographer Doug Beam from his fine set taken at the show. Quite an unforgettable night.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

I can feel the earth begin to move, I hear my needle hit the groove

[2003 Glastonbury photo credit]

Two nights ago I watched the 2003 Britpop documentary Live Forever (more on that later), which begins by laying a foundation of the music scene in Nineties England from the initial impact of the Stone Roses -- so I smiled today when this fantastic cover version came up on a mix I'd made.

Yorn: "So like I said, this is hot shit for us to be over here at Glastonbury. We come from the U.S. of A and this is a very exotic festival that we love and we're happy to be here and we're huge fans of the music over here and blah blah blah . . . This is from Manchester, okay?"

She Bangs The Drums (Stone Roses cover, live at Glastonbury 2003) - Pete Yorn
(apparently this is encoded at a rate that streaming doesn't agree with. Until I can fix it, if you download it, it sounds fine; if you click the blue arrow, you get Alvin & The Chipmunks singing the Stone Roses, which is actually a whole different kind of interesting)

Speaking of she bangs the drum, I could not stop my own personal rhythm section pattered out onto my legs last night at the screening of the Pearl Jam documentary. Seeing and hearing Immagine in Cornice on the big screen with all the glorious surround-sound was an immense experience of live PJ fabulousness. My personal highlights were the renditions of Blood (ugh, love that song), Come Back (sheerly absurdly gorgeous), and a compelling ending of Rockin' In The Free World with every single Italian audience member's hands raised in the air, clapping along in unison.

In addition to the beautifully-done cinematic treatment of their live shows, the documentary also offered some very interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses: the urgent reorganization of the encore setlist backstage while the crowd screams for more, Jeff skateboarding at some deserted Italian skatepark, Ed and his daughter Olivia talking on the tour bus (and how cute is she?), a bunch of Italian kids sitting on the street belting out a passionate acoustic rendition of Porch. Stone barely made an appearance (it's all Stone's fault) and not surprisingly I would have liked for it to be longer so they could have shown more of what goes on that we don't see onstage. But overall, solid A. If I can't see PJ live this year, heck I'll settle for last night. Thanks to all who came out for an awesome experience, it was moltissimo fun.

Finally, the road to Denver will again be my buddy tonight as I head back up to see the Ike Reilly Assassination at the Larimer Lounge. Last time he was here it was acoustic and still mind-blowing, so I am very excited to get the full band baptism. I highly recommend this show if you can make it out.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jack White wants to meet you and Bob in the morning, in Nashville

Jack White made a big splash last week at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville when he joined Bob Dylan onstage as an unannounced guest and picked a song to perform that had never been done live before.

"Meet Me In The Morning" (off Blood On The Tracks) tranforms from a winsome travelling folk tune into a scalding romp of electric blues with Jack on lead vocals. A friend speculated that Dylan must have known how big of a fan Jack is, and let him pick the tune (which is a fanciful ideation, of course, and just that - pure speculation. But a good story). In any case, good choice on Jack for knowing the lack of live history here, and how sweeeeet it would sound. How is it possible that this song has never been paraded out in over 32 years?

The following night, Jack was back for 2 more tunes, "One More Cup of Coffee" from 1976's Desire (which the White Stripes also covered in '99 on their debut album) and "Outlaw Blues" from Bringing It All Back Home in 1965. As far as I can see, that recording has not surfaced yet.

Meet Me In The Morning (live) - Bob Dylan & Jack White
Ryman Auditorium 9/19/07

Meet Me In The Morning (original) - Bob Dylan

Poor Meg's also been in the news a lot lately and I'll abstain from any speculative comments about that (but . . . it totally isn't her).

[img credit]

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Hot damn I did it! Theater screening in Denver of the new Pearl Jam movie: Immagine in Cornice

Well, this week is shaping up to be significantly better than last. I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I have actually arranged a big-screen showing of the new Pearl Jam concert movie, Immagine in Cornice, THIS Wednesday Sept 26th at the Denver Film Society/Starz FilmCenter theatre! That's in downtown Denver near the Pepsi Center (off 9th and Auraria) and in keeping with our Italy theme, it's very appropriately located in the Tivoli student union building. Couldn't have planned it better if I tried.

Showtime is at 7pm on Wednesday, and it will be a fantastically FREE event. Watch an excerpt from the film here.

Like-minded fans can meet up with us before the showing (say 5:30pm) at Brooklyn's across the street to get in a festive mood. They've got a good selection of beers, plus I think there are pool tables and your usual assortment of very healthy fried foods, also many loaded with cheese. If you think you will come to Brooklyn's first, please email me so I can give them a rough count. This will allow them to have adequate staff there if we all descend en masse.

Come on out and bring friends who like any of the following things:
a) music
b) Pearl Jam
c) Europe
d) movies
e) free things

Here is a poster you can print and tack up to help get the word out on relatively short notice. If you are a student at a college in our area, or know somewhere that you could put some up, please do! Let's make this ferociously awesome.

Rock on, and don't let the bastards grind you down.

[photo credit Kerensa Wight]

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Monday Music Roundup

I was recently talking to a merch guy at The Bluebird, and was stoked to find out that CU Denver has a neat-looking degree program in Music Industry Studies with their very own student-run record label. Equally cool are the breadth of courses offered at Berklee (not Berkeley) School of Music. I always thought Berklee (in Boston) was just a high-falutin music performance school, like if you're really really good on the cello, you go there. But they also have courses in songwriting, music business, music production, film scoring etc that you can take online.

They've got a cool new contest where you can win one course online through Berklee via a promotion for the artist's service TuneCore, which helps musicians distribute their tunes online. It's an interesting pairing; check it out, it only runs through tomorrow. I already have all the degrees I am gonna get (I think), but I am tempted.

We're All Stuck Out In The Desert
Johnathan Rice

A friend recommended I listen to this guy after he recently swung through town opening for gf-Jenny Lewis' Rilo Kiley. I'd heard his name (I always say it extra-breathy in my head with that seemingly-bonus "h" in the first name) but never listened to him before now. Wow, I like this guy: Scottish-roots, New York-dwelling Rice has an addictive, warmly catchy sound with the feel-good lyrics of the summer: "We're all stuck out in the desert, and we're gonna die." Right on. He's toured with Neal Casal of The Cardinals -- see the video of them performing this song in grand festival style at Hyde Park. Further North is his sophomore album, and it's out now. If he looks vaguely familiar, it might be because played Roy Orbison in Walk The Line. So cool.

Can't Change Me (French version)
Chris Cornell
In honor of Chris Cornell rescheduling his date with Denver (it's November 20th at the Fillmore), I want to share this fantastic French version of his solo song "Can't Change Me" from his 1999 solo album Euphoria Morning. Cornell has an absolutely breathtaking set of pipes (even though yes we can admit he's stretching them a bit after all these years) and when you combine it with a gorgeous Romance language? Ridiculous and so much fun -- sexy, dangerous fun.

Modern Diet
The Redwalls

Fresh-faced Chicago retro powerpop group The Redwalls finally have an album completed and a release date! In just one month, we can all enjoy their first full-length album released since they parted ways with Capitol. Now on Mad Dragon Records (which is a student-run label from Drexel University, how cool), they have a pow-pop-bang new self-titled joint out on October 23. This first sample feels a bit more Eighties-danceable feel to me than the straightforward '60s guitar fuzz of the past. I absolutely love their sound, love their output. They are currently on tour with Rooney and I plan to see them next month when they swing through here; they put on an excellent show.

The River (Springsteen cover)
Josh Ritter
This cover is one that has set the masses a-buzzin' the few times that Idaho singer/songwriter Josh Ritter has performed it. Ritter gets the Springsteen (and Dylan) comparisons all the time, but still it's a daunting task to cover this song. He earnestly and beautifully nails it. This was a bonus encore track not streamed online from the WXPN free noontime concert back in August. Friends who were there say it was absolutely magical, and that you could have heard a pin drop. Stream the rest of the main set here, and do yourself a favor by picking up his new album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. [photo credit]

Let My Love Open The Door
Joe Purdy duet with Pete Townshend

The Attic Jam series is something I've been meaning to write a post on, and still intend to once I find full audio from these amazing sets. Pete Townshend and his ladyfriend Rachel Fuller have hosted several of these jam-session evenings blending Pete's performances with some of their favorite up-and-coming songwriters, as well as established artists. They've welcomed everyone from Billy Corgan, E from Eels and Ben Harper, along with guys like Willy Mason and California folk artist Joe Purdy. Joe is a bit of an anomaly in that he doesn't want to be signed, but prefers to self-release -- over 10 albums since 2004. He gives his stuff away for free, and has had his tunes show up on Grey's Anatomy, my beloved LOST (come on, Feb 08!) and House. I like that refreshing spirit and the homey sincerity of his voice on this wonderful collaboration.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

One more for the soulmate dreamers: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club interview

You can tell their passion for music by seeing them play, and know that they are good with words from listening to their lyrics. But just passing them on a city street, you'd never know from their dark sunglasses and, yes, ubiquitous black leather jackets that the guys of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are thoughtful, well-spoken and articulate, and also some of the best interviewees that I've yet had the pleasure of chatting with.

Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been were friends as teenagers in the San Francisco Bay Area (yay!). Robert is from the Boulder Creek/Felton area as a kid, and Peter spent his teenage years all over the East Bay - Concord, Daly City, Oakland, Lafayette. The guys met in high school, shortly after Peter had just gotten out of the morale-shattering tumult of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Along with drummer Nick Jago, a transplanted Brit, they decided to form a band and first played together in 1998. Their original name was The Elements, but after a few months they changed their name to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, taking the moniker from Marlon Brando's group of young ruffians in the 1953 movie The Wild One.

The nascent BRMC recorded a demo album independently in 1999 which quickly circulated and generated a buzz at home and abroad. Owing to the energy of their live shows, the quality of their songwriting and perhaps the impressive range of influences that echoed some of the best sounds of decades past, they were signed by Virgin and their self-titled debut album was released in 2001. After their Screaming Gun EP of b-sides that same year, they've been pretty regular in offering a release every two years -- Take Them, On Your Own in 2003, the folk/blues/acoustica of Howl in 2005, and the anthemic haze of this year's Baby 81.

Before they rocked the Monolith Festival last weekend, Peter [guitar/vocals] and Robert [bass/vocals] took a good chunk of time from their grueling pre-show demands (mostly drinking Red Bull I think, and doing other interviews) to sit down at a little table backstage at Red Rocks with me to talk, in-depth and from the heart, about music.

I'd be remiss to not note your awesome roots in the Bay Area. As a San Jose girl myself, I have to ask -- do you ever miss things about the Bay Area now that you’ve left for the shining shores of LA? Those great venues like The Fillmore or the Purple Onion …

Robert: Purple Onion! Yeah, we played the Purple Onion lots of times. You know Tom? That crazy fucker? He was that eccentric owner. He’d introduce the bands, and he called us the Black Leather Jacket Gang when we first played there. Couldn’t get the name right. Or he didn’t wanna get the name right.

Peter: (in a nasally voice) “You’ve got the coolest name ever man! Black Leather Jacket Gang, that’s awesome!

Robert: I think it was the first time we were ever announced . . . we were called The Elements for about nine months and then we changed it. And that was like our first gig as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and aw, they just took a piss with it. Definitely it was a scary name to try and introduce.

It helps to have a good name, a lot, but that’s all stuff you’ve probably read about. There’s just a lot of great history with that film that we kind of ended up learning later. I mean, it was the first real [depiction of] what rock and roll took, like kind of the spirit of it and the imagery. I mean The Beatles got their name from it --maybe-- and Elvis took, you know, his whole look from a lot of it. It’s a kind of campy film, but in its time it was a really edgy cool thing.

Since you are here in Colorado, I wanted to ask you about an article I read that cited the "beat poet scene of Denver" as one of your influences. Now, other than sharing the title of an album with the Allen Ginsberg poem (Howl), is there a direct influence of his work in your music?

Peter: As far as the beat poets themselves and all that – I’m not real schooled on that stuff and we don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of who lived where. But from my understanding --could be absolutely wrong-- the beat generation (even though they didn’t want that label, just as the label of rock and roll isn’t something you necessarily want or look for), they were talking out and speaking against things that they felt the need to speak out against and speak up.

So yeah, we’re fans of that. Not sure if they were the first – you know there were other people before that . . . I mean you can even call Jesus a rebel and a revolutionary. But we’re into that thought, and getting back to that idea and ideal of living.

So the title of your album was a direct nod to that?

Peter: It was a direct nod to that idea, which is speaking out against whatever you feel the need to speak out against.

Robert: And also that album is heavier on the lyrical side and poetry side. Some of the songs were poems before they were songs, and then they were . . . that thing of hoping that poetry could be more present in rock and roll music, and just the fantasy that there’s something more to say than what maybe it’s being used for a lot of the time.

I find it interesting how a lot of critics couldn’t seem to conceptualize how Howl fit in with your “sound.” There was all this commotion about how different it was from your first two albums. Was that hard for you guys why people couldn’t just, I don’t know, allow different kinds of music to come out of you without having to extrapolate out what this meant for your sound or your career?

Robert: I like the tug and the pull, and I like that that was put on the table, because it’s something that people should talk about, you know, why musicians and bands aren’t more free to be musicians and to experiment and do more, and just the fact that it was a shocking thing to discuss, “Who wants this sound? Who wants that?” I think it’s good to have that example for other bands to push things, but it’s also a shame.

We were nervous about it for sure because we knew the reality of the music business today; it’s about repeating one thing over and over again, and make as much money doing it as possible. We weren’t sure of the fans who loved us would want anything to do with us after Howl. Turns out that wasn’t the case, there was really strong support for the most part. That was a really, really nice feeling after being nervous for such a long time. Before we even started recording it, it was in the back of our mind, you now, just because we love it doesn’t mean anyone else will love it. But it ended up working out really well in the end. It was a good reminder to trust the passion of music.

Peter: It was a surprise and it is a sign that the state of things is not good, it’s a sad thing that it was even such an issue. It should be kind of obvious for anyone, we all want to express our freedom, and that’s all it should be taken as. If you like it or don’t like it, so be it.

Robert: We had to be really honest with ourselves though – there’s a lot of bands I love that had done the kinda “different” record, the experimental record, where you could tell that the band loved that sound or that style, but that they couldn’t quite make it work or pull it off. So their heart kind of got in front of their ability to actually really make something worthwhile. So, I think that’s why we waited so long – that record wouldn’t have been so good if it came out as our first or second album, we needed time to grow up and write better. I think if we’d gotten too excited and wanted to do something free and different without any holding ourselves accountable . . . I think we really needed to hold ourselves accountable.

Robert, you've said "People forget that the 'roll' is as important as the 'rock'" and Peter, you've said that you are continuing to write a growing stash of new acoustic tunes. Do you think you'll do another full album in the Howl vein, or integrate the folksy, bluesier stuff along with the rockers next time around?

Peter: I don’t know if this is possible, but when I think of albums, I think of a soundtrack, where you create a work with, say, an acoustic song next to a wall of guitars, just noise, no singing at all, next to a song that’s punky, whatever you want to call it. That to me is what makes sense. We’ve always been tryin to dodge the “Well, they sound like that . . . they sound like this,” – I want to be able to include all those types of music on an album and have that make sense. I think that would make sense to our fans. But I don’t really know! It’s hard to really talk about because to each his own, really.

I mean, a lot of people don’t like Howl. A lot of our fans didn’t like Howl. A lot of our fans really loved it. A lot of people got really turned on by it, a lot of people got turned off. A lot of people hate this one because they loved Howl. But what’s amazing is that we’ve made music that has turned people off and turned people on and we’re the same fuckin band. You know what I mean? That’s cool. We haven’t grabbed one big huge chunk of people that want that one sound – that to me is great. It’s up to the listener to be open to it, it’s not our job. Our job is just to do what the fuck we want in playing music, and it’s up to people to have ears to listen and be open to new things. It’s not our job to tell people how to hear.

Robert: I’m surprised more people don’t go along with the ride, as it should be. They’re very judgmental, quick to decide. I hear a lot of people talking and ranking, you know, “I like this one better than this one, which isn’t quite as good as that one.” But they’re all coming from the same place? So I don’t know why it’s . . . I mean they’re all good and bad for different reasons, but they’re all The Ride. Why not just enjoy the ride? It’s like being all uptight during the ride, like [scrunches up shoulders] “I don’t like this dip in the road right now.” But no, there’s this really cool turn coming right in a few seconds.

I agree with everything Pete is saying, especially the soundtrack idea as being the highest thing to achieve, something that emotionally can go from one extreme to the next, but kind of not be too tied down to one thing. That’s the only way you can keep a consistent kind of forward motion. But then again I don’t want to say what the next one’s gonna be because I don’t want to have that much control over it. I mean, whatever’s gonna come is not going to be really up to me so much, or Pete, or Nick, individually, but we all kinda let go of the wheel.

With Baby 81, if we thought about it too much we would have probably gone crazy: “What are we gonna do after this record that was so different?” And then thankfully Nick came back and we did “Took Out A Loan” and “666” in one day, one take. No one was talking, sayin a fuckin word, it just happened. We followed that and made ten more songs like it. I don’t know -- that’s the most natural and innocent the music can be, and that’s our job to let the music be that. It can be a natural extension, something that’s not too conceptualized or pulled in one direction because your head wants it to go there and your heart wants it to go someplace else. And we’re the only ones that can get in the way of that, you can blame other people, but it’s you allowing it or not.

Like the next record, I was actually thinking . . . I’m curious to hear what we’d sound like if we took a little time to let things evolve because we haven’t done that for awhile. We’ve done all records pretty fast, just kinda pushing to finish the next one and the next one. So I’m just curious to hear what we’d sound like with time to let things breathe and kind of come around in their own time.

I wanted to talk a little bit about your perceptions of the British media feeding frenzy throughout your career, and specifically the early buzz Noel Gallagher generated for you when he told MOJO magazine that you guys were his favorite band, and he wanted to sign you guys to his own [Brother Records] label. That must have been a bit crazy for you. Did you ever consider taking him up on it?

Peter: We considered it only to the point that we didn’t want to be anybody’s band. We didn’t want to be a record company’s band, or a guy at the record company’s band. That was the only reason we didn’t follow that up because we wanted to stand on our own. We don’t belong to Virgin [who they eventually signed with] and we don’t belong to who we’re with now. They don’t own us. Record companies make your lives a little bit easier, as far as, you know, you’ve got your rent paid. They make your art a little bit harder, but they make your life a little bit easier. [laughs heartily]

None of that really sunk in for me with though [with Noel Gallagher]. I was never that big of a fan -- I became a bigger fan, but at first I didn’t understand it, it’s not for me. But then I went over there and I saw that it was for a huge amount of people, a lot of people loved it. So I give them respect, it touched the people somehow, I’ll give that to them absolutely. I respect that.

And it was nice of him, you know, him saying that? A lot of people would come to us and say, “I heard about you through Noel Gallagher,” and that’s amazing, that’s lovely to have. That feels like a community of artists, as far as someone who is at that level saying, “Check these guys out, I like this” – Having that is great, we try to do the same thing now for bands that we like. So that, in itself, that is how it’s supposed to be.

Robert: Music just carries a bigger weight in [British] society or culture, at least for the time being, and it has for awhile. It’s the good and bad that come with that. You know, people’s voices are heard and the media is stronger, and it’s a community that’s actually . . . can be inspiring and infuriating at the same time. But I’d rather have that than just a kind of place that doesn’t care so much, where music doesn’t really matter so much. The States kind of feel like that -- there’s lots of places that have it a lot worse, but music’s not as built in to the [U.S.] network as far as the culture. They’ve got a ton of, say, television shows over there [in the UK] that are constantly showing different bands playing and there’s only a few over here.

Peter: It’s amazing, they have so much crap over there, and you know, they gave us a lot of their crap, as far as “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” or “Who Wants To Be The Next Pop Idol.” That all started over there … but it’s all bullshit! But it seems like our filter in America is just like, “Oh let’s just take the shit. The nonsense.” But over there they also have another side of it, that they have a good side too, they have both sides. Over here it’s weird how we siphon out the good stuff and just go for the shit. I don’t know why we do that.

We'll make the last question massive. Do you see art and commercialism as being fundamentally at odds?

Robert: Oh, God. Well the question isn’t that hard to answer. We’d all want to live in a place where it wasn’t a music business, it wasn’t a film business, it was just people making music, making films, and it was their art form and it wasn’t controlled and tampered with by all these other elements. But the long answer to your question is how do you blend the two together in a world where you have to. We could be here for a while. [both laugh]

Peter: Your question is, are they fundamentally at odds? Fundamentally, yes. Money gets in the way of all of it. They don’t belong together . . . [pauses] . . . but it’s okay? I think it’s okay that it does? Kind of? [laughs] Because good things can come from money, I guess, because the world has decided to live that way.

Robert: It is kind of that 'asleep at the wheel' mentality. It’s not the industry itself, but the bigger society around it that’s – it’s the byproduct of society, not the other way around. It’s a Catch-22. No one really knows why some people settle for just sleepwalking, but it affects music and everything else.

I’ve always been kind of naïve or youthfully angry and rebellious against the music industry. You know, all those beginning thoughts you have when you’re like, “Fuck corporations, capitalism,” all that. But then T Bone Burnett was talking to us and he’s a good guy with a good heart. He was talking to us about trying to buy Sun Records and relaunch it and do it the right way and get the right people behind it, and for one glimpse I was truly inspired by that idea of that record label. We were just finishing Howl and he wanted to bring us on if it went through.

I was really excited about getting behind a brand that meant something. My imagination started sparking as far as I would want to make different great music and videos to represent this label and help it become what it would want to become, for the albums to have the same strength.

When you sign to a major label, the mentality can just kind of be “I wanna get mine, and get out,” in a way. It’s a survivalism thing that has nothing to do with connection to other people. But talking to him, I just got this vision that a label could be a beautiful, inspiring thing and I never even had a glimpse that that could be a reality, kind of growing up with labels that were always deemed the enemy or the devil, something you constantly had to fight against to keep your sanity and your art intact. That’s not the way it should be, and it doesn’t have to be. You realize, wow, we’re a long way from what could be, and yeah the music suffers from there on.

Peter: What’s frustrating is that you make a record --tons of bands do, you make art in a way you consider to be art of some sort-- and you put it out and if it doesn’t do well, all of a sudden there’s no longer any support for you. And that’s a shame. I think government should be funding the arts – I guess Canada does it a bit, they cherish and take care of art and nurture it in a way. That’s unbelievably cool. Here we nourish those who’ve made it, and if you can’t be proven to have made it, you’re left by the wayside. So that’s wrong. That’s just wrong, that’s destruction of our culture.

And by following what you love, what you believe in, you have to be careful because your love can change. Next thing you know, your love turns into money. You know, this "I love what my music can get me." Almost to a point of self-destruction, we’re so afraid of turning into that little asshole, you know? We’re like, is there money involved? Well make that go away. Make sure that goes somewhere else.

Robert: Just to finish that thought, it’s similar to what I was saying earlier about the label. It’s kind of trying to get away from self and not having it just be about ourselves and making money, but about the bigger community. Even when I’ve looked at, okay, you could make an indie label, stand for something new, get a bunch of great bands together and go really far. But you just know in the back of your mind, if you actually do make enough money it's bound that it’s gonna be sold out from under you because someday it's just gonna be an offer someone can’t refuse. You can’t even follow that dream because you know how it ends. . .

* * * * *
Pete pulls out a lighter from Cleveland brandished with 'Rock N Roll' and a red electric guitar on the front. With a self-effacing laugh, he points it out, and says, “See? Put a little stamp on a lighter. And that’s rock and roll.”


RADIO 3 BROADCAST (it adds atmosphere, and lets you practice your Español)
Spread Your Love
The Show Is About To Begin
Six Barrel Shotgun
Ain't No Easy Way
Weapon Of Choice
Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll
Need Some Air
American X
All You Do Is Talk


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pearl Jam movies are so hot right now

[thanks to pearljamevolution for ripping/youtubing the video clips; that acoustic Lukin made me laugh out loud in its wonderfulness]

The new Pearl Jam tour DVD Immagine in Cornice which chronicles their scorchingly fabulous Italian shows from last summer (directed by Danny Clinch) will be released upon the salivating masses of PJ fans on Tuesday. My copy is somewhere in the mail in between Seattle and Colorado, according to the Ten Club, and I may try to attend what we fondly call a "dork gathering" of friends to watch this blessed film when it arrives in mailboxes all over the Colorado Springs/Denver/Boulder area.

However, for those unbelievably lucky saps living in "select cities" (Tulare but not Denver?) you get to go see an all-digital fancy schamncy movie theater premiere experience next week. I would love to see this movie on the big screen, since my speakers are just the built-in ones that came on the TV. I actually checked airfare to, like St. Louis and Vegas (but, uh, see previous post). For more information or to buy remaining tickets, see the D&E Entertainment page.

September 24
UK and Ireland Screenings
Covent Garden - Odeon
Surrey Quayes - Odeon
Manchester - Odeon Printworks
Dublin TBA

September 25
U.S. Screenings

Atlanta - Midtown
Austin - Highland
Berkeley - Elmwood
Boston - Kendall Square
Chicago - Lake Theatre
Chicago - Charlestowne 18
Detroit - Novi
Grand Rapids, MI - Celebration
Lansing, MI - Celebration
Las Vegas - Galaxy
Los Angeles - Plant 16
Memphis - Paradiso
New York - Zeigfeld
Philadelphia - Clearview
Riverbank, CA - Galaxy
St. Louis - Chesterfield
San Diego - UltraStar
San Francisco - Embarcadero
San Luis Obispo - Movie Experience
Santa Rosa - Lakeside
Seattle - Metro
Seattle - Galaxy
Tulare, CA - Galaxy

Also, the Into The Wild premiere was in L.A. last night, featuring a soundtrack by Ed Vedder (and is it just me or does Sean Penn look like he just fell off his barstool in that picture?). It opens ONLY in New York and L.A. this Friday, for those of you searching the movie listings fruitlessly. Apparently it will get wider release on October 12; I finally got the book from the library so I am preparing myself according to my philosophical principles ("always read the book before you see the movie").

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Yes, but can you blog from the homeless shelter?

I'll try to keep up the peppy game face but today sucked in our home -- we are now half-jobless and look to be living on a part-time income and a teensy bit of blog revenue for the immediate future. Which is really exciting, to say the least. So until I get that huge endorsement deal (I'm thinkin Gatorade. Or I'd totally be down for an iPod commercial), I have some weight on my shoulders. Someone bring the new Pearl Jam movie to screen in Denver and cheer me up.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Josh Rouse: "Love Vibration" (live in Denver last night) and bonus EP tunes; new Jason Collett

Josh Rouse kicked off his current tour last night in Denver in support of his excellent new album Country Mouse, City House. I've been trying to catch Rouse live for over two years, but this was my first success - I very thoroughly enjoyed his unique fusion of soulful songwriter rock with elements of jazz, blues and funk, along with his velvety smooth voice. It was excellent and I highly recommend catching him when you can.

The Bluebird was very full for a Tuesday night, with lots of enthusiastic fans -- and Josh's family who came in from Nebraska for the show. I randomly found myself talking to his mom after the concert, who was charming and just pleased as punch at both the show and the support. It was sweet. Here was the setlist, and it's always dim in the Bluebird but I tried with a few still shots also:

I've been really digging the little bonus EP of nine songs that comes with the new album. It's called Country Mouse Companion, and it digs up demo versions, lost tunes, old recordings and different versions of songs that made it to the album. Here's a sample, it's for sale at the shows too:

It Looks Like Love (live in studio demo)
Clear Coast (again with band at Eric Fritch's house)
Hollywood Bass Player (demo in Valencia at home)

Support was provided by the wonderful Jason Collett from Broken Social Scene, whose lyrical imagery is amazing, and has a lovely voice with an unexpectedly sharp, raw crackle to it that pierces me. Here's a short clip of him performing Hangover Days last night, which he's also duetted with Feist on. He has a new album due in January on Arts & Crafts, and he told us the title last night for the first time and I am a failure to you all and I forgot it.

Sorry Lori - Jason Collett (new song from forthcoming album)
Hangover Days (with Feist) - Jason Collett

(first eleven dates with Jason Collett)
Sep 19 - Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 21 - North Shore PAC, Seattle, WA
Sep 22 - Night Light, Bellingham, WA
Sep 24 - Plaza Nightclub, Vancouver, BC
Sep 25 - Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR
Sep 27 - Independent, San Francisco, CA
Sep 28 - El Rey, Los Angeles, CA
Sep 29 - Hotel Congress, Tucson, AZ
Sep 30 - Golden West Saloon, Albuquerque, NM
Oct 3 - Workplay, Birmingham, AL
Oct 4 - Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
Oct 5 - Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Oct 6 - Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Oct 23 - Southgate House, Cincinnati, OH
Oct 25 - Park West, Chicago, IL
Oct 26 - Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Oct 27 - Fineline Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MI
Oct 28 - The Annex, Madison, WI
Nov 1 - Somerville Theater, Boston, MA
Nov 2 - Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
Nov 3 - Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
Nov 21 - Theatre, Murcia, Spain
Nov 22 - Joy Eslava, Madrid, Spain
Nov 23 - Cormoran, Valencia, Spain
Nov 24 - Bikini, Barcelona, Spain
Nov 26 - Aula Magna, Lisbon, Portugal
Nov 27 - Theatro Circo, Braga, Portugal
Nov 29 - The Plug, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Nov 30 - Academy 2, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dec 1 - QMU, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Dec 3 - The Sage 2, Gateshead, United Kingdom
Dec 4 - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Dec 5 - Academy, Bristol, United Kingdom
Dec 7 - Academy, Oxford, United Kingdom
Dec 8 - Concorde 2, Brighton, United Kingdom
Dec 9 - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, United Kingdom
Dec 11 - The Village, Dublin, Ireland
Dec 12 - Dolan's, Limerick, Ireland
Dec 13 - Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland
Feb 4 - Cayamo Music Cruise, Caribbean

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Photos from Monolith, Day Two

In addition to the independent acts I profiled on Monday and the big names from Friday at the Monolith Festival this past weekend, I enjoyed an absolutely packed lineup on Saturday and some gorgeous weather. I was wishing all afternoon that I had worn shorts instead of jeans, and in September in Colorado, that's a good day when it's that warm and delicious.

Okay, so even though I've had the DiG documentary (about the BJM, eccentric frontman Anton Newcombe, and their love/hate relationship with the Dandy Warhols) sitting in its pert little red Netflix envelope staring at me from the kitchen counter for about a week before Monolith, I didn't get the chance to watch it until Monday. I sooo would have appreciated this performance more if I had.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre was more influential and buzzworthy in the mid-90s than I previously knew, mixing psychedelica guitar rock, Britpop, and shoegaze into a unique San Francisco-grown blend. This concert represented at least a partial reunion of original members of a band that dissolved several times, actually, as Anton Newcombe is surly, egotistical and notoriously hard to work with (verbally destroying and punching out members of his own band on stage, kicking audience members in the head, and basically thinking he's some kind of son of God). We were marvelling a bit about his diatribes even during the Monolith set ("How about you give me a F*CKING D?") and now, oh now it's all clear. If you were at all wondering during the set who this guy thought he was, rent the documentary and it will all make sense exactly who he thinks he is.

There he is, looking like Neil Young off to the left, with original tambourine man Joel Gion front and center again. Joel says he's quit the band dozens of times, and he retains that same odd panache of years past, that blase smirk on his face as he jangles his stuff - not bad, just kind of looks like a monkey. Or a Gallagher brother.

Not to let the personalities obscure the music - I thought they were really good and I seriously need to check out a few of their back catalog albums. They have a retrospective called Tepid Peppermint Wonderland out now, and also have a new album called We Are The Radio available on TeePee Records.

Wisdom - Brian Jonestown Massacre

London's Art Brut played as the sun was starting to set, and they put on a fun show with lead singer Eddie Argos's spoken/sung lyrics in the Streets-meets-Sex Pistols vein, and general frolickery, all running out into the crowd. They were another one that I thought I might have appreciated more in a smaller venue where the energy would have been more concentrated and refracted.

Moving To L.A. - Art Brut

I was anticipating this set, and Earl Greyhound from NYC didn't disappoint. We saw this threesome walking around during the day and man alive they just carry themselves like rockstars. I mean seriously - those are some pink velvet pants. We had it stuck in our minds that Earl Greyhound had said about themselves that they were "as heavy as Led Zeppelin, but way less obnoxious," but in reality, SPIN wrote that, so now I feel relieved that I can like them without secretly holding that statement against them. They were blistering, just oozing confidence and rock 'n' roll strut with a lush heavy sound. I also loved what Kamara Thomas brought to the band with her intense basslines and vocals that perfectly complemented Matt Whyte. I didn't get any pictures of drummer Ricc Sheridan, but he was unrelenting.

S.O.S. - Earl Greyhound



Spoon was fantastic, absolutely one of my favorite acts that I saw all weekend. I love their varied and soulful rhythms, the howling lyrics, the general cleverness of their music. You can see how they rocked "The Way We Get By," as well as my favorite song on the new album "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" (when was the last time you heard a modern day lyric reference a dressing gown? Here, that's where), and "I Turn My Camera On." I love you Britt Daniel.

I Turn My Camera On - Spoon

Merry Swankster has also written some commentary on the fest and, although the overall review from those shores is positive, the writer said, "However excellent the lineup was, nothing about Monolith conveyed the feeling of a real 'festival'. If the long term goal of Monolith includes efforts in making it a destination festival which attracts audiences located outside immediate driving areas, organizers will need to seriously think how something unique can added to the experience. . . I don't know if kettle corn, funnel cakes, and hippie knick knacks (none available at Monolith) change things, but slapping the word festival on all day music concerts doesn't either."

My personal opinion of Monolith would be completely different -- I thought it was top notch, and I got what I came for. What else should be added? It had a fantastic, formidable lineup of artists to both rival other fests last weekend like Austin City Limits and Treasure Island Music Festival (in fact, there were a lot of overlapping appearances). As a Colorado festival, it also set itself apart with roughly fifteen acts hailing from our own great state. I loved the blending of the hot indie buzz bands along with a very solid sampling of our own finest. There were some cool diversions -- local artists . . .

An interactive music exhibit in the Visitor's Center (congas and keyboards; we saw all of Earl Greyhound playing around on it before their set) . . .

Frankly, I kinda think adding more festivally "fun things" (whatever those may be) would just distract me even further from my goal of seeing as much great music as possible. I am looking forward to seeing how the festival will grow in future years as word gets out about this little gem. I think this guy (Matt Fecher) did a top notch job in bringing a classy festival experience to one of the most stunning venues in the U.S.

I'd like to thank the folks who decided to give me a photo pass for the Monolith Festival. I have a secret desire to be a rock photographer (now I just need a better camera for low light) and so I had a ton of fun taking some halfway decent shots this past weekend, having time to compose what I wanted, and passing the joy on to you.

Y'all come next year!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Photos from Monolith, Day One

I'd call the Monolith Festival this weekend a rousing success in terms of quality, diversity, and incorporation of local musicians and artists. Here's some highlights from my Friday.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah played in the daylight to a 1/3-full main stage audience. We all know that the lead singer Alec Ounsworth has an unusual warble, to say the least, and after seeing them I was kinda lamenting the way that the "Saaaatan, Saaaatan..." line stuck with an iron will in my brain all afternoon. But all the reasons that made them the blog sensation superstars are still in full effect - their exuberant and melodic sound, the catchy, solid, danceable tunes. The Talking Head comparisons are unavoidable in my mind, and I really enjoyed their show. Next time, smaller venue for me.

Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood - CYHSY


Oh Kings of Leon. I've been waiting for you guys. After seeing them at the Ogden Theatre a few months ago and being completely converted, this was one of my most anticipated sets and they didn't fail me, bringing an hour of excoriating rock (okay, 56 minutes) which was more than I expected for a festival act at 7pm.

They played a fantastic set, including the claptastic Spiral Staircase, Four Kicks (which always makes me feel all pugilistic), and a slightly-sped-up version of Fans which sounded great to these ears -- it's one of my current favorite tunes. I took a video of Charmer that regrettably starts with some too-loud audio and an out of focus bit, but then it shapes up and ain't too bad -- it gives you a sense of the swagger in their show and how they project a huge enough sound to challenge those red rocks.

I think they were one of the best-suited bands to the huge venue; as I wrote in the little blurb for the festival program, "Their live show pulls songs from all three of their full-length studio releases, a catalog of material that grows and shimmers in a live setting. The songs seem to pull air from the ether around them in a supernova of raw and unbridled Southern garage rock."

Fans - Kings of Leon

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club electrified the second stage in a set that I'll talk more about when I post that interview soon. The Decemberists also played the main stage and it sounded superb from up above, but I regrettably didn't make it back down those billion stairs until Cake, who I thought played a great show as usual. There was some skepticism from folks who haven't followed their consistently fun, intelligent, clever output since the "Going The Distance" hit, but I think they converted a few. I only got one picture - John McCrea rockin the white-rimmed sunglasses, fedora, and track jacket like a child molestor on vacation (sorry but come on).

You Part The Waters - Cake

Saturday dawned clear and lovely. More pics coming.

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