Beginning today, Any Given Tuesday has a new home at SENBaltimore.com! Both sides are very happy about the shift and are confident that readers will be the ones who benefit from regularly published content on a slick-looking website that offers content about all aspects of Baltimore's entertainment, music, and nightlife scenes.
You can check out the first post, a review of Avec's Lines, here.
So from now on, visit AGT at http://www.senbaltimore.com/blogs/agt/index.shtml. Or, just go to www.senbaltimore.com, click "blogs" on the top toolbar, then "any given tuesday."
**UPDATE 11/7/07: The RSS feed address below has been fixed and is fully subscribable in your browser or feedreader**
The RSS feed will remain http://feeds.feedburner.com/anygiventuesday so you can subscribe in your browser or feedreader.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Like progressive metal? Like bands with singers from Baltimore? Then get with the program: Dillinger Escape Plan's new album, Ire Works, is streaming on the Dillinger MySpace page.
The official release is November 13 on Relapse Records. Click the album art to pre-order!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The unique snowflake that is PJ Harvey released White Chalk just over a month ago, a piano-oriented (Harvey had no piano experience prior to White Chalk) and ethereal effort unlike anything she's released prior. Fitting for Harvey, whose persona shifts shape and styles from one album to the next with, seemingly, no rhyme or reason. Whatever her muse, PJ Harvey manages to mesmerize and break new ground with each release.
The strangely pleasant opener, "The Devil", introduces this higher register PJ Harvey, singing on the outer edges of her vocal range, perhaps as a complement to the piano that sparely drives the album. Only on "Grow Grow Grow" does the more baritone, deep-seated roar of classic PJ Harvey rear its head, and it does so over dancing piano and deceitfully limited percussion. But a strangely pleasant opening becomes quickly discordant with what follows.
The album's first (and possibly only) single, "When Under Ether", says it all. Apparently about the effect of ether on a woman bearing child ("waist down undressed . . . something's inside me, unborn and unblessed), the track is dark, gloomy, and nearly claustrophobic in its constraint and chamber music. Subject matter on the album includes the historical residents of Harvey's home and her blood ancestors ("White Chalk") as well as the brutally killed ("The Piano"). The bleak ambience of this album fits undeniably well with the chill of winter, shorter days and longer nights.
Using many non-conventional instruments (cig fiddle, wine glass, the kitschy and doomed Optigan, broken harp on the apropos "Broken Harp"), White Chalk emits a spartan vibe of rigging whatever is available to make music. Perhaps this is exactly what the ancestral subjects of "White Chalk" did, possessing Harvey to do the same on her eighth studio album. Eschewing the garage punk of Uh Huh Her and electing to adopt a bone chilling sound that gets inside the listener like a spirit or demon takes over its victim, White Chalk compels its listener to heed its rustic sound.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
If you're like me and have been geeking out to Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's or Guitar Hero in any of its incarnations, you're ready for Rock Band, the next generation of rock and roll video games, featuring drums, guitar, and singing all in the same package. The game features (primarily) master recordings of the songs, unlike prior generations of Guitar Hero which used cover versions. There will also be thirteen unlockable songs from up-and-comers.
Some tracks are Guitar Hero favorites, but I am so stoked to play "Epic", "Say It Ain't So", and "Enter Sandman." Some of the songs are surprisingly boring choices (Jet? Really?), but the game will make for lots of fun with friends.
Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”
Aerosmith “Train Kept a Rollin’”*
The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
Boston “Foreplay/Long Time”
Mountain “Mississippi Queen”*
The Police “Next to You”
David Bowie “Suffragette City”
Black Sabbath “Paranoid”*
Blue Oyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop”
Deep Purple “Highway Star”
KISS “Detroit Rock City”
Molly Hatchet “Flirtin’ With Disaster”
The Outlaws “Green Grass & High Tides”*
Sweet “Ballroom Blitz”*
Rush “Tom Sawyer”*
Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive”
The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
Faith No More “Epic”
R.E.M. “Orange Crush”
Iron Maiden “Run to the Hills”*
Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly”
Metallica “Enter Sandman”
Nirvana “In Bloom”
Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”
Weezer “Say It Ain’t So”
Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”
Beastie Boys “Sabotage”
Hole “Celebrity Skin”
Garbage “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun”
The Hives “Main Offender”
Queens of the Stone Age “Go With the Flow”
The Strokes “Reptilia”
Jet “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
OK Go “Here It Goes Again”
Nine Inch Nails “The Hand That Feeds”
Pixies “Wave of Mutilation”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”
Coheed & Cambria “Welcome Home”
Fall Out Boy “Dead on Arrival”
The Killers “When You Were Young”
New Pornographers “Electric Version”
Songs with an asterisk ("*") are covers.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Detroit's The GO recently released Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride (read Any Given Tuesday's review here), the best classic rock album of 2007. With masterful production and an ear for a rock and roll sound that changed the future of music, The Go have moved beyond their early days with Jack White from The White Stripes and the garage sound of Detroit and reinterpreted the '60s rock sound to make an album that should have been released forty years ago. Better late than never!
Remember that you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and call in to leave a message for the show at (443) 955-5382.
Click the cover art to buy the album, and click below to listen to Episode 11 of Any Given Tuesday, featuring several tracks from the album.
Monday, October 29, 2007
So I've been informed (thanks, Laura) of domain issues with www.anygiventuesday.info. For now, both http://blawk359.blogspot.com and anygiventuesday.info (without the www) are working just fine.
The good news is that I have a new development coming: a new look (without surgery) and a new home (without increased rent) for Any Given Tuesday. So, suffer the URL problems just a bit longer, and we'll be back in action soon!
The good news is that I have a new development coming: a new look (without surgery) and a new home (without increased rent) for Any Given Tuesday. So, suffer the URL problems just a bit longer, and we'll be back in action soon!
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org at 12:50 PM
On October 2, 2007, Bruce Springsteen marked his return to recording with the E Street Band with the release of Magic. Aptly named, because this album is fantastic evidence of the magic that Bruce and the Band can make together (oh how we've missed you, Clarence Clemons). Magic pulls no punches and is no holds barred in its metaphorical criticisms of the current political climate, the Iraq war, rock radio, and humanity in general.
Perhaps a bit of a backpedal from the post-World Trade Center The Rising, on which Bruce and the E Street Band bled blue for a country unified around a tragedy, Magic is the song of a country divided between that tragedy and a regime that has lied to its people and taken many sons and daughters to their deaths overseas. When Springsteen belts "Who will be the last to die for a mistake?" on "Last To Die," folks from all political camps can't help but wish there was an answer in sight. Optimism steps aside and makes way for criticism and suspicion.
The production of Brendan O'Brien on the album can come off as an affront to those who have been with Bruce since Born to Run. O'Brien's ham-handed production is too big and tries to put an already large band front and center, all at once, so that too much is going on at any given time to enjoy a brilliant lead or solo. However, Clarence Clemons' saxophone always gets its time in the sun, as heard on the standout "Livin' In The Future", probably the most classic Springsteen track on the album and one of the best Springsteen tunes since "Lucky Town".
That a man in his late 50s can write songs that cross generation gaps like "Radio Nowhere" and still stay faithful to the sound that made him famous ("Livin' In The Future", "Girls In Their Summer Clothes") is honorable in itself, but that Bruce can write glass-half-full nostalgia songs and blue-collar anthems as well as wistful burners that have relevance to Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y is a testament to his knack as a lyricist and a songwriter. Not only are the songs on Magic of quality, they're catchier than anything Bruce has done since the 80s.
Springsteen's lyrics can border on the repetitive: "I just want to feel/hear your rhythm" incessantly repeats on "Radio Nowhere", "None of this has happened yet" is the mantra of "Livin' In The Future", and so on, ad nauseum, throughout his career. As far back as 1975 on "Backstreets", Bruce was repeating "Hiding on the backstreets" like it was going out of style. But it has not gone out of style. The key element of pop music is repetition, and it continues to work for this guy. Whereas detractors may harp on this element of Springsteen's lyrics, the critical mind beholds the unclear, often nebulous double meanings of his lyrics.
When Bruce says "The girls in their summer clothes pass me by" on "Girls In Their Summer Clothes", is he lamenting about getting older? And on "Gypsy Biker", does "Now I'm countin' white lines and getting stoned" mean lines of cocaine or dotted lines on a long desert highway? And it's entirely possible that "Radio Nowhere" is as much critical of rock radio as it is of an apathetic society.
Magic is a somber album. It is almost the antithesis of Born in the U.S.A.. But it is case-in-point proof of the Boss' ability to speak for an entire class of Americans. Where patriotism swelled into blind allegiance six years ago, it has given way to a patriotism that questions motives and is bridled with trepidation. Where Springsteen twenty years ago enjoyed youth and vitality, he approaches 60 with a cognizance of mortality (the hidden track, "Terry's Song", is about Terry Magovern, part of the Springsteen camp for 23 years, who passed away in July).
This album doesn't break new ground; rather, it is more of Springsteen at his finest. And where it succeeds, it truly is magic.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Rage Against The Machine, Common, Tiesto, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wilco, and tons of other bands in one place this weekend? Well, it can't be Coachella . . . that's right, because it's Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans! 3 days of music in this fair city for only $115, including:
Friday, October 26 : Rage Against The Machine, Kings Of Leon, Toots and the Maytals, M.I.A., Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jason Isabell, Galactic featuring Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5) and Lyrics Born, Porcupine Trees, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Dax Riggs, Earl Greyhound, Lez Zeppelin, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Donald Harrison plus the Congo Nation, Bonerama, CC Adcock and Lil' Band O' Gold, Hot 8 Brass Band, Theresa Andersson, Dan Dyer, Ghost, Zydepunks, Jose Conde y Ola Fresca, Meriwether, Vavavoom, Fatter Than Albert, Amy Cook, DJ Tom Harvey, Eyelash Carpets, Noisician Coalition/Noise Parade, LUX, Hands of Nero, The Mad Mike Experience, Heavenly Trip To Hell, Palanquin Diaries, Slew Foot, Gravity A, EllisD & Ray Bong.
Saturday, October 27 : The Smashing Pumpkins, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Sinead O'Connor, Ti?sto, New Orleans Social Club, Spoon, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ghostland Observatory, Toubab Krewe, Motion City Soundtrack, Mute Math, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Dexateens, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Circa Survive, Coheed & Cambria, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Fleur De Tease, Rotary Downs, Porter-Batiste-Stoltz, Rockie Charles, Sam and Ruby, Panorama Jazz Band, The Happy Talk Band, Henry Butler, Jamie McLean Band, Dave Gregg and the Barefoot Philistines, Ratty Scurvics Singularity, NOOMOON Tribe, Chant w/Curse Mackey, Sista Otis, My Graveyard Jaw, Widetrack, Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship?, Brass bed, DJ Slice, DJ Proppa Bear, Pain Tribe w/Tapwater Mind Control and Revo Industries, Gokh-Bi System, �The Artist Revolution' Winner.
Sunday, October 28 : Wilco, Dr. John, Fall Out Boy, Common, Plain White T's, The Black Crowes, Irma Thomas, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Ska Cubano, Zap Mama, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Marc Broussard, Paolo Nutini, Gym Class Heroes, Morning 40 Federation, Liquidrone, Cute Is What We Aim For, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave , The Furious? Ballerinas, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Christian Scott, Deacon John, Groove Sect, Good Guys, Crooked, Illusion Fields, LOID, Nag Hammadi, Sirena Serpentina, Trevor Green, the Syndrome, theTransmission, Sinister Trailer Park, WORMS UNION, Noisician Coalition, Snuff Sugar, Aurora Aerial.
Combining fragments of Beach House (Baltimore locals, as are today's subject, originally), Wilco, and Neutral Milk Hotel, Wax & Wane may start out as droning, a bit bland and non-descript, but soon develop into a delicately magical folk collective with various singers playing various instruments. It's almost strange that a group of performers with an arsenal of stringed instruments can sound so bare and still sound so entertaining. Hear for yourself:
Free MP3 Download: Wax & Wane - "Where Were You"
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Coming off a five-year hiatus (spent raising four children, so not much of a break), Kelly Willis returns with Translated From Love, a country record with influence of rock, punk (Willis covers Iggy Pop's "Success" on the album), and pop. Translated From Love is full of charm, spark, melancholy, bubble and honky-tonk.
The lead single, "Sweet Little One", is full of cross-over potential, as is the aforementioned Iggy Pop cover, which Willis re-interprets into a country rock dance cut full of electric piano and a meaty bass groove which is destined for jukeboxes everywhere.
Lyrically, Kelly Willis is years ahead of many of her peers in the country music circuit, and being a songwriter (as well as being married to one) puts her in a league of her own. The yearning "Too Much To Lose" should have a fair number of CMT favorites hanging their dusty-brimmed hats in shame.
Free MP3 Download: Kelly Willis - "Sweet Little One"
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
At the newly revived Talking Head Club in Baltimore on 10/29 (next Monday), Old Time Relijun (Arrington de Dionyso, Phil Elvrum, Germaine Baca, Benjamin Hartman) will be deconstructing music as you know it. With grating horns and disjointedly put together vocals ("Indestructible Life"), the spectacle will be worth the cost of admission. Some will scratch their heads while others will get down with an understanding grin.
Stream Old Time Relijun's latest, Catharsis In Crisis
Buy the album from K Records.
* w/ AIDS WOLF!
10/24 Asbury, NJ Asbury Lanes*
10/25 Poughkeepsie, NY Vassar College*
10/26 Jamaica Plane, MA The Milky Way*
10/27 Providence, RI as220*
10/28 Philadelphia, PA COPY Gallery*
10/29 Baltimore, MD The Talking Head Club*
10/30 Washington, DC Velvet Lounge*
10/31 Brooklyn, NY Todd P NYC*
11/01 Hudson Valley, NY WFMU Live Performance
11/02 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
11/03 Charleston, SC Cumberlands
11/04 Athens, GA Secret Squirrel
11/06 Birmingham, AL Bottletree w/ Don Caballero
11/07 New Orleans, LA Circle Bar
11/08 Houston, TX Proletariat
11/09 Austin, TX Emo’s
11/10 Denton, TX Hailey's
11/11 Oklahoma City, OK Conservatory
11/13 Kansas City, MO Record Bar
11/15 Denver, CO Hi-Dive
11/16 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
11/17 Boise, ID Neurolux
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Virginia brothers Jennings, Lain, and Van Carney form Pontiak, a riffing rock band that stays on my iPod and in my CD player. The brothers were kind enough to drive up to Baltimore in early September for an interview, however the file was corrupted somehow on my computer, and I had to wing this episode without one of the most fun interviews I've had yet. Fortunately, you get to hear more songs. Unfortunately, you miss out on the great interview!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Loaded with instruments, yet totally mellow, Austin's Zookeeper marks a long-awaited return from Chris Simpson (of Mineral, which he jettisoned himself from just after signing to a major), and a fantastic return it is. On the LP Becoming All Things, Zookeeper embarks on a sonic journey replete with horns, harmonicas, and maybe even a dog barking in the background on epic tracks like "Trumpets" and "Becoming All Things".
Also look into "Tax Collector" from the Bellecity Pop 5-song EP.
Click below to stream Becoming All Things
Friday, October 19, 2007
The Gore Gore Girls are from Detroit, and like recent Any Given Tuesday reviewees The Go (read a review of Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride) GGG are hell on wheels, garage rock at its finest. Like Nancy Sinatra all hopped up on greasy food and hard liquor, the Gore Gore Girls take '60s soul, plug it into Gretsch guitars, and the beat hammers on and on. This is Babes In Toyland in the Valley of the Dolls.
Get over to Gore Gore Girl's MySpace and listen to "All Grown Up". It's hip-shaking sham-a-lam-a-go-go and you're going to regret not knowing this band before today.
See the Gore Gore Girls on tour:
Oct 18 2007 Key Club w/ The Electric Six Los Angeles
Oct 19 2007 Galaxy w/ The Electric Six Santa Ana, California
Oct 20 2007 Casbah w/ The Electric Six San Diego, California
Oct 22 2007 Larimer Lounge w/ The Electric Six Denver, Colorado
Oct 24 2007 The Summit Durango, Colorado
Oct 26 2007 Club Red Tempe, Arizona
Oct 27 2007 College of Santa Fe Santa Fe, New Mexico
Oct 28 2007 Jake’s Lubbock, Texas
Oct 30 2007 The Continental Tulsa, Oklahoma
Oct 31 2007 The Atomic Cowboy St. Louis, Missouri
Nov 1 2007 Exit/Inn Nashville, Tennessee
Nov 2 2007 Phoenix Hill Louisville, Kentucky
Nov 3 2007 Rhino’s Youth Center Bloomington, Indiana
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Picking up where she left off with The Covers Record, Cat Power is doing another covers record, this time called Jukebox. Scheduled for a January release, Jukebox. Loved The Greatest, but I'm going to roll my eyes at the tracklisting. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I hear the songs.
01 Theme From "New York, New York" (Frank Sinatra)
02 "Metal Heart" (Cat Power)
03 "Ramblin’ (Wo)man" (Hank Williams)
04 "Song To Bobby" (Cat Power)
05 "Aretha, Sing One For Me" (George Jackson)
06 "Lost Someone" (James Brown)
07 "I Believe In You" (Bob Dylan)
08 "Fortunate Son" (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
09 "Silver Stallion" (Lee Clayton)
10 "Dark End Of The Street" (Dan Penn & Chips Morman; originally sung by James Carr)
11 "Don’t Explain" (Billie Holiday)
12 "Woman Left Lonely" (Janis Joplin)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tool can't give it up: they plan to keep touring in support of 2006's 10,000 Days.
Dates so far:
14 - Austin, TX - Frank Erwin Center
16 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center
17 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Arena
19 - Tulsa, OK - Tulsa Convention Center
21 - Denver, CO - Pepsi Center
23 - Casper, WY - Casper Events Center
24 - West Valley City, UT - E Center
25 - Billings, MT - Metrapark Arena
27 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Credit Union Center
29 - Kelowna, BC - Prospera Place
1 - Victoria, BC - Save On Foods Memorial Centre
4 - Everett, WA - Everett Events Center
5 - Portland, OR - Memorial Coliseum
7 - Spokane, WA - Spokane Arena
8 - Nampa, ID - Idaho Center
10 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Showing some love for Metal Blade Records today, I wanted to share the new video from metalcore (and a little hardcore . . . wait for the breakdown) band Evergreen Terrace. The song is called "Wolfbiker" and all I can say is, I love the metal.
Evergreen Terrace "Wolfbiker"
Evergreen Terrace "Wolfbiker"
Monday, October 15, 2007
Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor has gladly announced that he is label-free as of October 8, saying "I've waited a LONG time to be able to make the following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally
free agent, free of any recording contract with any label." On November 20, Reznor will release Halo 25, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D (Year Zero Remixed) (read a review of Year Zero), which will free him from his long relationship with Interscope Records.
In recent months, Reznor has been quite vocal about his distaste for labels in general, loudly complaining about the high costs of Year Zero in Australia, Interscope's griping about the leaking of tracks from the album, and so on.
Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D will be available digitally (iTunes and Amazon), on vinyl, and on CD. Reznor personally recommends the six-panel gatefold vinyl jacket vinyl edition for its aesthetic appeal. The CD/DVD-ROM edition will come with multi-tracks in GarageBand and Ableton Live format as well as generic WAVE form.
1. gunshots by computer: saul williams
2. the great destroyer: modwheelmood
3. my violent heart: pirate robot midget
4. the beginning of the end: ladytron
5. survivalism: saul williams
6. capital g: epworth phones
7. vessel: bill laswell
8. the warning: stefan goodchild featuring doudou n’diaye rose
9. meet your master: the faint
10. god given: stephen morris & gillian gilbert
11. me, i’m not: olof dreijer
12. another version of the truth: kronos & enrique gonzalez müller
13. in this twilight: fennesz
14. zero sum: stephen morris & gillian gilbert
Friday, October 12, 2007
Saskatoon (by way of Vancouver) is home to Shuyler Jansen. Jansen's second solo record is vocally reminiscent of Dwight Yoakam and musically influenced by country music from when it was really country, not CMT and civic center commercialized drivel.
Modestly clocking in at just over forty minutes, Today's Remains (Black Hen Music, 2007) opens with a jaunty dramatic ditty ("Pegasus") that introduces ten songs of tales tall and true. With sliding guitars, pedal steel ("Rivals") and dulcet strings (title track), Today's Remains continues Jansen's challenge to storytellers like Willie Nelson and songwriters like Tom Petty, stirring together genres to form a dusty and leathery country record that is unfortunately too clever and well-done to succeed on American country radio.
Key tracks: "Jealous Girl", "Pegasus", "Today's Remains", "Rivals"
Thursday, October 11, 2007
A few weeks back, I reviewed Pash's newest album, The Best Gun (Exotic Fever, 2007), and raved about the track "Kill The Rich Boys II". Well, DJ Frequency, an old college buddy of Pash, did too and he remixed the track. Quite a double whammy: you get to hear a Pash remix, and you get to learn about Frequency, who has a track on the latest from Snoop Dogg, and is working with Ghostface and Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan.
Maybe I've missed it in the three times I listened, but where was Snoop?
Catch Pash at these upcoming dates:
10/18 Brooklyn, NY Matchless Bar CMJ
10/26 Baltimore, MD The Lo-Fi Social Club
10/27 Fredericksburg, VA Wet Paint Fundraiser, 3rd floor studio
10/28 Washington DC The Red and Black
10/31 Fredericksburg, VA The Loft
11/04 Trois Rivieres, Quebec The Pub Cafe
11/05 Montreal, Quebec Bar St. Laurent
11/17 Washington DC The Lab
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
While it clocks in at a very brief 34 minutes and change, Nathan Lawr & The Minotaurs' A Sea of Tiny Lights (released October 2, 2007) is a soul-infused album taking on elements of funk and jazz and drawing inspiration from many subjects to address a number of timely topics.
Putting down the drumsticks from previous musical incarnations, Lawr grabs the microphone, the guitar, the organ, and comes back to the drums on Tiny Lights, creating a modest record full of mid-tempo songs with swanky beats ("That Moment").
Whereas on his debut, The Heart Beats A Waltz, Lawr seemed a bit skittish, on this album he steps forward with the surefootedness of a songwriter who has found his voice and is willing to stand on a soapbox with a guitar and make a point ("There's A Devil"). Here, instead of experimenting with sounds and instruments and fumbling towards style, Nathan Lawr & The Minotaurs patiently build grandiose and sometimes spooky ("The Glass") compositions that make for one of the best albums of the year coming out of Canada.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
On the latest from The New Amsterdams, primary element Matt Pryor (formerly of the Get Up Kids) continues to wow with his adeptness at formulating instantly lovable indie pop songs with a keen mind for lyrical content. Being the third album from The New Amsterdams in two years, not to mention a children's album released by Pryor in the same time period, it is notable that the material hasn't become tiresome or stale.
Opening up with a lo-fi acoustic burner ("Revenge"), At The Foot Of My Rival (Curb Appeal, click the album art above to purchase) quickly turns into an eclectic amalgam of indie rock and pop, with solo acoustics and full-band songs with string and horn The charged "Without A Sound (Eleanor)" is packed with sound and imploding lovers, whereas "Hughes" keeps it lean and "Beacon In Beige" opens up the throttle again with electric guitars, effects pedals, and a band.
Catch The New Amstersdams at The Rock and Roll Hotel in DC on October 18.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Anyone who's been reading this site for more than a minute should know how much I love the Delta blues and artists like Son House and Leadbelly. Lucky me, now I get to like someone that's still alive and (even better) in Maryland. Swampcandy self-released The Dirty Suite (click the album art to purchase), a stomping blues album that sounds like it comes from the front porches of the deep South.
The production on the record makes all the difference, artfully retaining the analog and humidity of classic blues recordings. As the recording brings us so close to the real sound of Swampcandy, so does the uncanny vocal quality of Ruben Dobbs come as such a shot in the arm. Armed with a baritone growl and a deep-soul wail, Dobbs blows the doors off on "Insomnia". Also the guitarist, Dobbs slides all over the guitar with down-home hollers like "Rosie" and the downtrodden blues of "So Low".
Most of the songs on this album are simple, from a songwriting perspective. Listening to The Dirty Suite, it becomes apparent that the songs reduced to tape can never be reproduced, like any good blues performance. While the songs have a root in a few simple chords, there is a fluidity and free-form quality to the music. Vocals get ad libbed, the guitar slides take on a life of their own, and the foot stomps and hand claps confirm a rabble-rousing good ol' time from song to song.
Thankfully, someone has swept the blues out from under the rug and decided to pay homage to the true blues tradition. With homemade percussion from Kevin Lebling in the form of washboard and spoons and the cadent drums of Noel White and Ken Crawn (and lest we leave anyone out, Rurick Reshettelof holding down the lows on bass), this is no modern interpretation of the swamp sounds of the early 20th century, but a revival thereof.
If you're new to the blues (and by blues, I mean something much more from the depths than The White Stripes), this is a great introduction. Once you start to feel the sound in your bones, Swampcandy will have done the blues better than most.
Free MP3 Download: Swampcandy - "Rosie"
Friday, October 05, 2007
New this week from Dashboard Confessional, The Shade of Poison Trees comes touted as a return to acoustic solo roots. Do not, however, expect an expounding on the old standards. Shade is not as instant, as visceral, as The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most or even A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. Where Dashboard's picture-perfect poster boy unleashed emo onto the mainstream on early records, this album does not have any of the howls and haunts one might expect. Instead, Chris Carrabba has found a new voice: one that is more self-assured and seasoned, but reined in, too.
On what starts off as seemingly a mis-step ("Where There's Gold . . ."), Carrabba eschews the first-person songs of prostration and pain for a bard's tale of a woman who becomes a victim to her own material trappings. The misleading step in this song comes when Carrabba breathes ". . . there's a gold digger." A minor point, but on a casual listen, I'm left wondering when the remix comes out with Kanye. It takes further analysis to realize that what this song really evidences is a growth as a lyricist, penning thinly veiled stories and criticisms of romance and lament.
The rather low-key title track is a heavy-hearted but guarded "what if?", apparently a series of questions all urgently asking the same thing of a potential lover: are you bold enough to try loving someone else? Moving along to the blue-collar rouse of "Matters of Blood and Connection", Dashboard Confessional forgets love and slams a trust-fund baby who tries to run with the 'regular folks', perhaps a nod to Carrabba's own roots and experiences in Boca Raton, FL.
While not as emo on its surface, Shade carries its own weight and marks its niche in Dashboard Confessional's catalog, evidencing the growth (for better or worse) of a young and broken-hearted guy with a guitar into a (still young) and slightly less broken-hearted guy with a collection of guitars and plenty of stories to share from many more areas of influence.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
1) Regina Spektor looks hurt in this video.
2) It's not the album version, it's overdone, and sounds terrible. I want the album version back.
3) Ugh. You were so precious a year ago.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
On October 9, Baltimore native San Serac releases Professional. Reminiscent of David Bowie with even a smidgen of Nine Inch Nails, San Serac is breaking new ground with his electro-funk/dance music with brilliant vocals. Catch the sound on October 17 at Sonar.
Free MP3: San Serac - "Professional"
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Wooden Shjips (I've typed it that way more than once, it's no typo) are hip dudes. Having released their self-titled debut on Holy Mountain Records this year, the band utilizes bizarre vocal echoes, torqued guitar and bugged-out organ along with Jim Morrison-esque vocals on "We Ask You To Ride" and "Lucy's Ride", two tracks that found their way into my inbox yesterday. Lots of riding going on in these songs.
Psychedelic garage punk is the three-word description best suited for these cats.
Stream the whole album here:
Monday, October 01, 2007
Forgive me, but I'm skipping the opening acts from this show. Kristen had a birthday this past week, and we also had a death in my family, so we've had mixed emotions the last few days. It was nice to get out on Friday evening after dealing with our personal tragedy to enjoy a show.
Dashboard Confessional kicked off an anticipated solo tour last Friday at Ram's Head Live! in support of a new album, The Shade of Poison Trees, out tomorrow on Vagrant Records. After a first listen, the record definitely puts aside the full-on band style of Dusk and Summer, but lacks the emotion of Swiss Army Romance and other earlier DC albums.
Changing guitars like Christina Aguilera changes wardrobe, Carrabba blasted through songs from his entire catalogue, inspiring sing-along and screaming amongst members of the crowd on songs like "Screaming Infidelities" and the obvious "Vindicated" and "Hands Down" (admittedly my favorite Dashboard song). However this night's crowd was relatively clueless on lesser-knowns including "Carry This Picture".
Speaking of clueless, apparently $31.00 for a ticket isn't enough to cause a room full of Gen-Y kids to shut their mouths and listen to the music. As with the Regina Spektor show last week, it was a battle to hear the music over the chatter of the crowd. Only after forging our way into the middle of the floor were we able to hear reasonably. Note to Ram's Head Live! management, turn it up!
As with any Dashboard Confessional show, it was 50% Chris Carrabba, 50% crowd singing. One member of my party may have suffered a punctured eardrum from the screaming boy behind her. Partly because of easy-to-remember songs, part because of a rabid fanbase, there exists a sense of community among Dashboard fans as they belt out their favorite songs with their icon. The only downside? The burning screams of Chris Carrabba were turned over to the crowd instead of coming from the author himself.
Launching from "The Best Deceptions" to the new song "Thick As Thieves" around to "Again I Go Unnoticed" and "So Long, So Long", Carrabba shared songs in a much more intimate performance as a solo player than recent tours with his band. This comes as a real pleasure to my inner circle which has made many jokes about the rock star persona of Chris Carrabba and a certain violinist in the band.
A solid performance by Carrabba overall is undermined by a sense of complacency. New songs like "Where There's Gold . . ." (following that ellipses is the lyric "there's a gold-digger.") seem to reach for straws of anguish to spawn new material rather than the agony of the scathing "Turpentine Chaser" or, even better, "This Bitter Pill".
Sorry, Chris, but I liked you better when you were shy and put upon.
Friday, September 28, 2007
The dates for Lollapalooza 2008 have been confirmed as August 1-3 in the semi-permanent residence of Grant Park. After this year's lineup, which was impressive, to be sure, what's in store for '08? We'll have to wait and see.
A few suggestions: PJ Harvey, a newly reunited Babes In Toyland (yeah, in my dreams), Cat Power, Liz Phair with her pants back on and with her good music in tow (maybe a full performance of Exile In Guyville, a la Slint's Spiderland performances?). I don't know why I'm naming all female artists here, I believe it to be a mere coincidence. But it could be a prescient vision of a Lilith Fair revival.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Head over to Dashboard Confessional's MySpace to hear another track from The Shade of Poison Trees, due October 2. The song is called "Keep Watch For The Mines".
My reaction: shrug. I'm excited about the return to the acoustic sound, but this song isn't doing it for me.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Clear Channel, the largest broadcast radio company in the United States (as well as the owner of a bunch of billboards throughout the US), has agreed to a buyout from a group of private equity firms including T.H. Lee Partners, L.P. and Bain Capital Partners, LLC. The price comes in around $39.20 per share, for a total of $19.5 billion.
By the terms of the merger agreement, shareholders can elect to receive the per share cash price, or exchange some or all of their shares of Clear Channel stock on a one-for-one basis for shares of stock in the new corporation formed by the private equity group.
Source: Clear Channel Press Release
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The debut album from Winnipeg's The Details is anthemic from start to finish, each song a heartful lament on the past or a startling thought of what's to come. The gentle chorus of "Hit Parades" propels an unveiled song of pity for those who suffer in war and those unaware casualties of fame. Not only do the melodies create barnstorming songs such as "Reunion Souvenirs" (a new-wave banger and instantly recognizable as the key track of the album and which strangely has the author thinking of Robert Palmer), but lyrical gems like "you've let your hatred rhyme with love" ("A National Anthem") vocalize the discontent of an entire province.
As a lyricist, Jon Plett (along with Sean Vidal) is almost never too ironic, usually sparing listeners from tired and repeated juxtapositions. Instead, we're treated with small victories in the form of "We never quite remember, so I'll carve our names in every fence and barely living tree" ("Underground"), howled with a careful balance of emotion and prescience, as if he knows the pain is only temporary.
Draw A Distance, Draw A Border is captivating from the start. Every track fits the album, and the songs are accessible without being diluted. Masterful pop with more than just a touch of hard rock, The Details live up to their name, giving plenty of attention to what it takes to make a good record.
Click the album art to purchase Draw A Distance, Draw A Border.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Any Given Tuesday last saw Only Son and Regina Spektor at Sonar in November of 2006 (read the review here). While this last week's show Ram's Head Live! didn't mesmerize the author as much as the previous, the sound was 178% better. It would have been 200%, but the girl who sounded (but unfortunately did not look) like a contestant from Beauty and the Geek took some points off.
Only Son started out with a few acoustic songs before launching into his popular iPod band set (an iPod plugged into the sound system plays the backing tracks while Only Son sings and plays guitar). Fun, yes, but after touring once with Regina Spektor, hasn't this guy learned that he has to introduce himself to the crowd a couple times? I kept overhearing people asking, "Who is this guy?" Trust me, Jack, people aren't that bright.
As for Regina, what is there to say that hasn't been said before? A charming woman, a captivating performer. Her voice is masterful and unique, employing beat boxing, unusual forms of percussion, and a perfect blend of imperfection and poise. With recent favorites such as "Fidelity" and "On The Radio" balanced by older ones such as "Us" and (a personal favorite) "Ghost of Corporate Future", Spektor masterminds the art of pleasing old and new fans alike without screaming sell-out.
The intimacy wasn't as palpable at Ram's Head Live! as Sonar, causing concern that Spektor can't satisfy a venue any bigger than this, but for her most forgiving fans, any proximity to her charm and character should suffice.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Happy Birthday to Any Given Tuesday! One year old today. If you're curious, the very first post: a review of Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds. I think that page got about 3 hits, one from me, one from my wife, and one from my work's IT department scanning my internet history to see what I've been doing at work!
What fun it's been. I've gotten some great shows under my belt, some great albums, and some wonderful new friends. Recently, circumstances have made it really tough to put a lot into AGT. Good circumstances, but such that they require pithy posts and rarer reviews than I'd like.
To those who came along and have been reading since the early days, thanks! I hope it's been worth it. If you're new, stick around! Hopefully I'll be able to tough it out another year.
P.S.: How about that picture for the cheesiest birthday image I could ever find?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Alright, almost everyone has been talking about it, and I've bought in to the hype: Kanye West beat 50 Cent in album sales last week. Kanye's Graduation smoked 50's Curtis by nearly a third. The former moved 957,000 units according to Nielsen SoundScan, the latter 691,000.
Quite bombastic sales in the face of a crippled album sales industry, where recent chart-toppers have moved less than 200,000 in their first week. According to Billboard.com, Graduation is the best-selling album in the week of release since, ironically, 50 Cent's The Massacre which moved 1.1 million in its debut.
The question remains: Will 50 follow through on his promise to retire if Kanye outsold him by actually bowing out? My guess is no, but I'd love to see him show some class and stay true to his word.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
An interesting business development: Epitaph Records joins previous ship-jumping indie labels and has parted ways with eMusic, citing issues with eMusic's pricing which is based on subscription and allows per-song rates to fall well below the industry (read: iTunes) standard of $0.99.
Pardon today's short post, kiddies, papa is busy.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Formed by Mike Law (of Eulcid), New Idea Society is a project also comprised of Chris DeAngelis, Stephen Brodsky, Mike Ushinsky, and Andrew Schneider. That lineup may or may not be exact, depending on which day you see the lineup. The band's new album, The World Is Bright And Lonely, was just released on Exotic Fever Records (and this post rounds out my recent lovefest for EF's new releases. See also the new Pash: The Best Gun review.)
New Idea Society, as a rule, takes viral hooks and infectious rhythms, sugarcoating dreary prose that is firmly planted in the sullen and borders on the nihilistic. Law's voice wears well the despair that the music deceptively masks on "Dress Shirt". The band eschews the minor chords and emo yelps of certain peers, favoring a dissonance of brighter tones to counter the despondent themes of the lyrics. Also challenged is the 3-minute formula of the popular standard, as the title track "Part II: The World Is Bright And Lonely", an homily directed apparently to someone opening their eyes and finding themselves a day late and a dollar short, breaks the 8-minute mark, and the twelve-track album clocks in at over 50 minutes.
Often spare in its sound ("Press Reverse"), Bright And Lonely is chock-full of subtle instrumental experimentation, and was recorded primarily live, giving the album a natural and warm sound. The vocals are somewhat forward, grabbing the listener's attention without becoming scurrilous or too disparaging. The first single from the album, "Don't Sleep", is the Bright part of New Idea Society's world, while "Dress Shirt" is a more representative sample of the Lonely side. "Don't Sleep"'s jaunt and pop make it an obvious single, while "Dress Shirt" is a close runner-up. The former has an ambience of joy, speaking to the urgency of infatuation, while the latter's guitar melody and wardrobe-inspired lyrics form an anthem for the broken and jaded.
Click the album art above or go to Exotic Fever to purchase the album.
Here's a video for "Don't Sleep" from the album: