RAVE'S FAVES (on the air since January 1)
Queens of the Stone Age, LCD Soundsystem (various), The Bravery, Hot Hot Heat, Doves, Postal Service ("Silhouettes"), Caesars, Fischerspooner, Bright Eyes ("Take It Easy"), World Leader Pretend
As a reminder, the favored tunes are always singles unless otherwise mentioned. Welcome back, Queens! New York's LCD are a brand new buzz band who have a varied CD that blends dance, rock, funk, and punk. They do most of it really well.The Bravery also hail from New York and are grabbing airplay with their Duran Duran-influenced "Honest Mistake."Hot Hot, Postal, and Fischerspooner have all stuck with formulas that still sound great. So far, I'm in the slight minority that prefers Bright Eyes' "Digital Ash..." CD of his two hot selling releases. I think "Black and White Town" is the best Doves song yet and I almost made the Caesars' "IPod" hook a "fave" when it first came out in '03. Easy to say now, isn't it? Remember the name World Leader Pretend, who have a new melodic song that I expect to do very well on the indie circuit. Honorable mentions go to Kasabian ("Club Foot") as well as new tunes by Beck, Daft Punk, Moby, The Raveonettes w/ Ronnie Spector and Kings of Leon. Most of these artists have upcoming album releases that I'm excited about, so my players will be very busy this spring. I've also been eager for the new Garbage album but I'm reserving judgment on the first two tracks that I've heard.
STATE OF INDIE
Indie rock fans should be delighted with the slate of new discs being released in March and April, coming on the heals of an awesome twelve months. This column was originally designed to help people find cooler stuff back in the 90's when rock on the radio was comparatively dull, but it's now so much easier to locate great music. It's no surprise that much of this infusion is from England, where the local rock scene has improved greatly over the last few years.The Cult's Billy Duffy has an interesting theory: Since young UK bands grow up playing originals, they tend to have a more unique sound than Americans who often start out as cover bands. All and all, the state of indie rock is getting better and better, but sales have yet to match the quality of the music. The genre needs stronger personalities in order to better capture the imaginations and buying power of middle class suburban kids.
The bill at L.A.'s annual Giant Village New Years Eve party was super this year. For the first time, a live band was brought in and that band happened to be The Killers. The sound wasn't the best but the crowd loved them (see my December review). After the stroke of midnight, Paul Oakenfold spun for two hours. He did a fine job but the night's highlight was Crystal Method, who started their set at 2:00. We thought we'd leave around 2:30, but there was no way we could exit until the guys finished at 4:00. L.A.'s Spaceland hosted The Kaiser Chiefs in January and virtually all of the band's tight set sounded like it could be on the radio. I'm more bullish than ever on these guys. Opening for them was San Diego's breaking Louie XIV. Unlike their EP, they come off as more of a jam band on stage. They're talented and have a big radio song locally, but it's beyond me why a new band would want to play a barely-recognizable version of their hot track. Also in January, Arcade Fire delighted the Troubadour. I was concerned that they might come off as "granola," but their show is energetic, funny, animated, and really well-played.Duran Duran just sold out the Staples Center and all of those Durannies (fans) in their 30's were as loud as they were 20 years ago. The original lineup has returned to midseason form and they more than satisfied the house.
Thomas Dolby has formed a new company called Retro Ringtones. The name is self-explanatory. Thomas lives in the Bay Area with his family.Duran Duran's CD sales and airplay have been disappointing, but the tour is drawing great crowds all over (see above review).
U.S. bar owners might want to pick up on an idea that's fairly common in Melbourne, Australia: Open Turntables. I hung out at The Black Cat, which provides free drinks to vinyl aficionados who book the time and then lug in portions of their sizable collections. A quick stop became a three-hour stay as the crowd was flawlessly serenaded by Andy Hazel, who handled arrangements for the School Of Emotional Engineering remix that is on Bjork's latest single... Since I left A&R, people have always asked whether I'd be interested in managing rock bands. I've always said it's not for me and it's really not for a lot of people. As successful hard rock manager Andy Gould likes to quip when he's on panels, "What's the difference between a rock manager and a proctologist? The proctologist only deals with one asshole at a time." I think I'll remain a fan, thank you... I'd love your input, so please write and make sure you put "Raves" in the subject line. Until spring,