RAVE'S FAVES (on the air)
Kaiser Chiefs, Arcade Fire, Muse ("Hysteria"), Snow Patrol ("Run"), U2 (various), Green Day (various), The Killers (various), My Chemical Romance, Elefant, Keane, Social Distortion, Kasbian ("Lost Souls"), Zutons, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, William Shatner w/Joe Jackson (a cover of The Pulp's "Common People"), Mooney Suzuki, Louie XIV.
The Kaiser Chiefs' "I Predict A Riot" is breaking out of L.A. radio and they have one of the best punk choruses in recent memory.Arcade Fire may have the highest initial buzz since Franz Ferdinand. "Hysteria" is currently #1 requested at KROQ in L.A.Elefant have been picking up some airplay on alternative stations around the country. Kasbian, The Zutons, Dogs Die, Shatner/Jackson, Mooney Suzuki and Louie XIV all have cool songs doing well with indie rock fans. U2 were awesome on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. Honorable mention goes to the U.K.'s Razorlight. They're getting a nice buzz but I feel their sound is a bit light for this market.
TOP FIVE AIRPLAY SONGS AND OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF 2004
1 FRANZ FERDINAND: "TAKE ME OUT"
2 The Killers: "Somebody Told Me"
3 Muse: "Hysteria"
4 Kaiser Chiefs: "I Predict A Riot"
5 The Faint: "Agenda Suicide"
This list is mostly based on personal preference, but it also helps if a song does well and it's a band I've touted from the beginning. I'm proud to have been behind Franz, The Killers and Muse from day one. Franz are the indie rock story of the year with their ideal blend of style and substance. As they approach 700,000 CDs in the US, they're hardly a secret and the wonderful "Take Me Out" broke them big. "Somebody Told Me" was a perfect radio song for The Killers and I was hooked after the first listen. Last summer, I wrote about how high The Hives' song ranked but it just didn't have the staying power to make this list.
As for my other highlights of 2004, I list the Franz, Muse, Air and Von Bondies CDs and live shows. I must mention Brian Wilson and Green Day for fantastic albums that completely brought them back. Franz and the Von Bondies are both playing new songs that bode well for their next projects. Franz singer Alex Kapranos says their next album will be "less precise and less cold." I'm excited to hear a disc that truly captures their onstage spark.
These guys get their own paragraph. I like lots of bands for lots of reasons, but I feel Muse are the most compelling band in years. Slowly but surely they are developing a fanatical following in the U.S. with their intense and dramatic blend of classical, rock, and metal influences. In Europe, their tours are arena-level and they just won major awards for top live band in England and MTV Europe's "Best Alternative Band". Their domestic progress has been hindered by limited touring and in my opinion, by unremarkable videos. However, their recent U.S. dates had a major impact. They sold out two nights at L.A.'s Wiltern, where Hollywood's tastemakers loved them. Several nights later, they blew away the more mainstream crowd at the KROQ show. A Muse set doesn't have a dull moment. Several weeks later, the KROQ jocks can't stop talking about how good these guys were. With touring and another strong CD (this one is amazing), Muse will be very big in this country. They may never be everyone's cup of tea, but they have a solid chance to be filling American arenas for a decade or more.Matt Bellamy is a genius.
I had my second opportunity to see the Von Bondies this year while I was in San Francisco in November. They headlined at the cozy, sold-out Cafe du Nord and put on another good show (see above). After hearing raves about Muse's live gigs in Europe, I got to see them twice in mid-December (see above). Night one of the "KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas" marathon was almost a complete success.The Music opened effectively. They were among the best musicians of the evening.Snow Patrol's set enhanced the CD experience and they were very likeable.Keane rocked harder than anticipated, but Tom Chaplin's cheesy stage antics detracted from his beautiful vocals.The Shins did a nice job with their arty, earthy tunes and were surprisingly familiar to this mainstream crowd. Following the Muse home run, Modest Mouse failed to move to crowd much. These darlings of critics and college radio will likely return to cult status unless they can come up with another radio hit. Franz Ferdinand thrilled the crowd, as expected. They've improved since I saw them in March, and I loved 'em back then. My surprise of the night turned out to be The Killers. Their live act was commanding, and Brandon Flowers will become a star if this band's next CD is a winner. The crowd roared and that didn't help Interpol, who followed. However, this New York band are also very strong and were winners with their dark, mid-tempo blend. Lots of people came to see them. Gwen Stefani was the evening's surprise act and was a hoot. There were only two downers: headliner Jimmy Eat World came off as an average bar band despite their great songs and Taking Back Sunday did absolutely nothing for me, although they did have some fans in the house. I heard much of the audio from night two. My Chemical Romance are a good live band.Sum 41 are always hot and Green Day played their entire "American Idiot" CD. That evening's highlight was during the Incubus set, when Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers come on stage for three Police songs.Brandon Boyd may not sing in Sting's register, but he pulled it off very well.
Iron Maiden will headline an arena tour this summer.Duran Duran fans are clamoring for their major U.S. tour, starting in February.The Knack's Doug Fieger is working in his home studio with a promising, unique band called Year Long Disaster. This talented metal trio is headed by Daniel Davies, son of The Kinks' Dave Davies.
Moby previewed much of his new disc (due in March) on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic." He originally intended it to be a dance album, but it has turned out to be lower key with some great ideas and some beautiful stuff... "Rolling Stone's Top 500" song list is good reading but should have little credibility. It's interesting that they decided "Like A Rolling Stone" is the greatest song of all time. That would be like my saying The Raveonettes are my favorite band and that Buddy Holly's "Rave On" is my favorite song... I hope you got to hear "Uncle Joe's Rockin' Christmas Show," which aired in 110 cities. It's an annual treat that I always look forward to... Speaking of looking forward, I hope you're about to have a super 2005. I love email, so please put "Raves" in the subject line to ensure that I receive, open, and reply to your message. Until my update at the end of February...