RAVE'S FAVES (on the air)
Muse, Peaches (various), Mellowdrone, The Strokes ("Once"), The Killers, Shiny Toy Guns, Sonic Youth, New York Dolls (various), Joan Jett (various), Buckcherry, Keane, The Walkmen ("Louisiana").
Muse have returned with another superior effort. While "Black Holes and Revelations" doesn't quite have the magic of "Absolution," the guys have become more musically complex at a time when most bands are simplifying. Peaches' "The Girls Wanna Be Her" should be a hit and her "Do Ya" is in a Gap commercial. L.A.'s fine Mellowdrone CD almost escaped without any attention, but the placement of "Oh My" in a Nissan advert is breathing new life into that project. The Killers' tune doesn't quite rank with "Somebody" or "Brightside" in my book, but it's strong and I'm really anxious to hear the rest of the album. Going for a new image and sound on a sophomore effort is a major risk and I wish them well. I wasn't excited to learn the New York Dolls had a new album coming out, but what a nice surprise! "Louisiana" is a beautiful change of pace for The Walkmen. Jet's new single gets an honorable mention, but it may foretell a loss of their unique character. Other honorables go to Razorlight and The Teddy Bears. What I've heard of the new Primal Scream album sounds promising. Next month's Kasabian full length sounds at least as good as their debut, which was a highlight of 2005. Their hit "Empire" single is only available in the U.S. as a download as of this posting, and I'm also excited about new U.K. bands The Fratellis and The Automatic. Check out these two bands on my next "Go Deep" show in September when I have a segment that "goes deeper" into the U.K.
The Grates from Australia have a late August album release and played an early July gig at L.A.'s Spaceland. Singer Patience Hodgson exuded such charisma and exuberance, and she probably jumps more than any lead singer I've ever seen. She is ably backed by only a guitar and drums. This quirky pop band is quite compelling but the U.S. market doesn't seem to be very amenable to this kind of group at the moment. LA's Shiny Toy Guns headlined an Indie 103.1 free show at the Hammer Museum. The turnout of 3,000 was the largest and loudest of any during this weekly series in July. "Le Disko" is their local radio hit that has spawned amazing popularity with the high school set. At times, the crowd reaction was near frenzied for this band that plays well and looks good. Shiny Toy Guns has the potential to be the next L.A. indie band to break on a worldwide basis with their dance-rock. Opening was the U.K. band People 'N Planes. Their live show didn't cut it. Local band Silversun Pickups headlined a sold-out Troubadour gig, following a short national trek in support of their latest release. They do everything well and are one of the more interesting domestic indie bands. Fans love this group, but I'm not sure there's anything that will distinguish them enough to garner significant success.Every Move A Picture may have evolved and improved more over a 20-month period than any band I've ever seen. Late in '04, they were a decent sounding retro band and I've caught them twice since. Their Spaceland set was much edgier and darker than before. While the synths remain, this is currently much more of a guitar driven outfit. Singer Brent Messenger is emerging as a real front man. He says that their new songs will continue this trend for them.
Music fans have had an opportunity to read plenty about the payola situation in radio, but they don't get to hear about some of the other shenanigans. Let's take Shiny Toy Guns for example. Their free concert caused KROQ to drop the song despite the fact that it was getting Top 5 requests. KROQ's ratings are higher than anyone else's by many multiples, but they refuse to let anybody do anything for another station. Who suffers? The listeners. Chris Carter's outstanding and long-running Breakfast With the Beatles show on Free-FM is about to be pre-empted by infomercial dollars despite strong ratings. Negotiations are under way with another station. Meanwhile, L.A.'s country KZLA abandoned their format in favor of a dance/pop mix. It's interesting that programmers in large markets are finding that it's harder to score with formats geared to whites. Studies indicate they are more likely than minorities to purchase iPods and satellite radio.
People are saying great things about Iron Maiden's latest CD, which will see an early September release. Tickets are selling for their Fall U.S. tour. Producer Danger Mouse is a rare guy who's recently been able to add some life to those predictable alternative radio playlists with Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley. Who do you think he grew up listening to? Iron Maiden. Duran Duran's next album should drop in early 2007. They will become the first major group to join the online game Second Life as digital representations of themselves to perform live concerts and make media appearances in conjunction with their favorite causes. Bob Seger has been on the Capitol Records roster since the early Seventies. During my 10 years at the label, Bob was one of my favorite artists and people. I spent lots of time with him on the road, and 50+ concerts did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for his live shows. Here's a story that will convey the kind of person that he is: A few years ago, a close friend asked me to meet up because he had a girl problem. We went to a Westwood bar and were downing pizza, pitchers and shots. As I emerged with a huge Styrofoam cup of coffee, Bob and I spotted each other and he immediately yelled, "Bruce, you're drunk!" He continued, "Wait right here. I'm going to walk my friend to her car and then I'll come back and get you. I'll hang out with you until you're able to drive." We spent the next few hours catching up while driving around West Los Angeles until I was sober enough to drive home. I wouldn't have driven anyway, but Bob made sure of it. That's the kind of guy he is. Many fingers are crossed that Bob's comeback album will be a winner.
DEVASTATING KNACK NEWS
What a way for a band to be back in the news. The Knack world has been shaken by two shocks within a month. Original drummer Bruce Gary very recently died of lymphoma. His "My Sharona" intro is one of the most memorable ever. Bruce said that when visiting people, he didn't need a doorbell since people would know it was him when he'd knock out those 8 counts. He was a phenomenal talent and a sweet guy who played with dozens of musical heavies. As John Kelly wrote in the Washington Post and the L.A. Times, "If... Bruce Gary is knocking on heaven's door, I think I know the beat he's rapping out. In fact, I can hear it right now." Also, singer Doug Fieger underwent highly-publicized surgical procedures to remove two brain tumors. His attitude is amazing and inspiring. He's been surrounded by the love of his many friends and fans. Doug's recovery is progressing extremely well and our optimistic energies are with him.
My "Go Deep" webcast has been playing unfamiliar tunes from CD's that are garnering at least some publicity. Listener response has been super, as the shows help them make decisions on purchases of music and concert tickets. The Elbow and Sparks albums, among others, have been loved by "Go Deep listeners." Too bad they weren't more successful. I'd love to hear from you, so please send any input to me at my RavesRaves.com address. I'll be back to you in late October. Until then, have fun and...