Archive for June, 2010

Sharon Jones and Gogol Bordello live: Not your dad’s indie rock

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Anyone who’s followed me knows the kind of shows I normally hit.  I’m about watching emerging rock bands grow and am usually happier in clubs than in arenas.  This was a week with two gigs that were all about fun, and so inspiring.  There was no need to overanalyze–we just enjoyed.

I now understand why people are crazed to see Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings live.  She’s lovable, has a great voice, and is backed by 15.  The Dap-Kings would be straight out of the best soul reviews of the 60’s if they were old enough.  The showbiz factor is very high, and it’s hard not to have a great time.  Interesting that the Wiltern crowd was heavily dominated by white hipsters with few blacks on hand.  She’s been targeted to the indie crowd, having had a large SXSW presence this year.  The Heavy opened.  These Brits are good live but we were hoping the energy-level would have been up another notch.  Their long trek on the road might have taken its toll.  See their Letterman appearance here, where he actually had them play “How Do You Like Me Now” twice.

Gogol Bordello turned the Mayan Theater into the punk version of a Greek wedding, far from the chin-stoking LA vibe one often encounters.  It was like 1,000 people were imported from Wisconsin, where hipsters will break into a polka without a second thought.  If you see them, you’ll probably want to wear tennis shoes but beware because the frolicking women near you just might be wearing sharp heels.  I was happily mauled over and over, and I was nowhere near the stage.  For the uninitiated, a video is worth two thousand words so check out their Jimmy Fallon appearance if you can find it.  Otherwise, watch ’em here on Jools Holland.

Live from Delphic to Iron Maiden, with John Fratelli as a bonus

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Delphic showed at The Echo last Friday that they're ready for prime time.

They say variety is the spice, and I had it over this past weekend.  Both Delphic and Iron Maiden were ace.  Delphic’s latest album “Acolyte”, a stellar effort, drops in the U.S. June 29.  They conquered a sold-out crowd at The Echo Friday night.  This band more than holds its own and exceeded high expectations.  There’s not a whole lot of showbiz on stage, but the guys are likable, the playing is precise, and the energy is high.  They don’t sound like Cut Copy, but the live vibe is very similar.  Thanks to Jacob Mendez for the pic from Friday.

Full disclosure: I was the original U.S. A&R man for Iron Maiden and can’t possibly convey my pride in how these guys have persevered.  They play as well as ever and were worshiped Saturday by 25,000 at the San Manuel Amphitheatre.  It’s interesting that their crowds get younger and younger.  They’ve always kept their feet on the ground, and have maintained high standards and integrity in everything that they do.  That’s how a band survives at the highest levels.  Their new album comes in August and you can download their “El Dorado” single no charge courtesy of the band.   Singer Bruce Dickenson always has interesting things to add between songs.  On the idea of a heavy metal government: “There would be more drinking and sex, not much would get done, and nobody would be killed.”

Dangerbird Records threw a Delphic party Thursday night.  The Manchester boys played an abbreviated set, and we also got John Fratelli playing acoustic as a bonus.  His voice was trashed and he only played a couple of songs.  John will play some summer festivals with his side group Codeine Velvet Club and begin work on his next album as John Fratelli.  I’m sure he’ll have a full band with him on the road.  As John told me after his set, “Playing alone isn’t my thing.”  Both Fratellis albums and the Codeine full-length have been faves of mine.  As expected, John is stoked about his “Chelsea Dagger” UK hit becoming the signature song of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks.


Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Loving the new Devo album, pretty much from beginning to end.  How fortunate for the “Devolution” movement that leader Mark Mothersbaugh finally decided to get back into the ring.  His close friend, the late Doug Fieger of The Knack had an idea for a “Rock & Roll Funhouse Tour” what would have featured Devo, The Knack, and Cheap Trick.  What a great name!  Devo was amazing at Coachella and will tour this summer…Being a former label guy probably helped, but I really liked “Get Him to the Greek” I wished I loved the four Arcade Fire songs that have leaked so far.  They’re solid but lack the character we’ve come to expect from these guys.  Imagine the enormous pressure on them, given that they’ve influenced more artists than anyone in the past 15 years.  Someone who saw them play live said that none of the new material sounds like the band’s imitators, which is fine, but the hope is that the full-length will find some new ground to break…Glad to see The Drums debut at #16 on the UK album chart this week.  They’re talented, intelligent guys, and you can catch my SXSW interview with them on my main site…What’s up with the singles charts over there?  There are no rock songs listed until Yaz and New Order check-in at 20 and 22.   Fyfe Dangerfield and Pendulum also managed to crack the top 40.  Word from BBC Radio 1 is that dubstep is about to be very big over there.  Some cool stuff, but this isn’t the rock-oriented British pop world that we’ve known and loved… The reformed British group 22-20’s played at Spaceland last week and their album drops next Tuesday.  They’re very good live but I miss a certain rawness that they had a few years back…Upcoming shows over the next 10 days include Delphic, John Fratelli, Iron Maiden, Gogol Bordello, Sharon Jones & Dap-Kings, and Heavy. How’s that for variety?  I’ll post all of the reviews in a summary of June shows…Finally, Steve Jobs found that his new iPhone wasn’t working with he presented it at the recent Apple Developers Conference.  He asked if anyone had a solution and someone from the audience yelled, “Verizon!


Rave’s Faves: Airplay Tracks, Spring 2010

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Berkeley buzz band The Morning Benders have a real grower in their song "Excuses"

Here are favorite artists getting spring cool-station airplay in the US since the April 3 “Rave’s Faves” post:

Muse, Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip, Cage the Elephant, She & Him, LCD Soundsystem, Codeine Velvet Club, Two Door Cinema Club, Yeasayer, Devo, and Stone Temple Pilots were all listed last time.  They continue to sound fresh and get nice spins.  All have deeper songs that are deserving of play.  A few standout tracks for me are Hot Chip’s “Take It In”, LCD’s “I Can Change”, Codeine’s “Little Sister”, Two Door’s “What You Know”, and Yeasayer’s “Rome”.

Check out “Stranger” by Dr. Dog and “Tighten Up” by The Black Keys as well as “Excuses” by The Morning Benders. All three have definite radio hooks that can propel these bands to greater heights. Fave deeper tracks on The Temper Trap album are “Fader” and “Love Lost”.  Mumford & Sons are starting to blow up in the US, and my second song pick for them is “The Cave”.  As Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros move up in the world, I like “40 Day Dream”.  “Setback” would be a perfect second track from the strong Constellations album.  “Heartbeat Song” is a good Futureheads tune and I like title track “Chaos” even more.  Dan Black did very well with “Symphonies”.  I’d love to see title track “You & Me =” get a shot.   “Crash Years” by The New Pornographers is last but not least.

What new rock is getting you excited these days?  Let me know!

“Chelsea Dagger” blowing away the city of Chicago

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

This huge UK smash by The Fratellis didn’t get off the ground in the US.  I always thought that was a huge loss and that someone really dropped the puck–I mean the ball.  The Chicago Black Hawks were a huge part of my freezing, school-age winters.  They’re now leading 3-2 in games in the Stanley Cup finals.  When the team scores and/or wins at home, “Chelsea Dagger” is blasted on the arena PA.  The song has become a rallying point for Chicago’s hockey fanatics.  With that in mind, I thought I’d pull out my fave music of 2007, as posted that December.

First my fave tracks:

#1. Arcade Fire – “Intervention”
#2. Amy Winehouse – “Rehab”
#3. Mika – “Grace Kelly”
#4. Fratellis – “Chelsea Dagger”
#5. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” (from the movie “Once”)
#6. Arctic Monkeys – “Brianstorm”
#7. LCD Soundsystem – “North American Scum”
#8. Louis XIV – “Guilt By Association”
#9. Beck – “Timebomb”
#10. Maximo Park – “Girls Who Play Guitars”

It’s interesting to note that songs 2, 3, and 4 all came from Island Records in the UK. It was easier ranking songs than CD’s. I had five albums in my top tier that year, including three which tied for second:

#1. Arcade Fire
#2. Arctic Monkeys
#2. Fratellis
#2. The Hives
#5. Mika
#6. Of Montreal

Fratellis leader John was in Chicago and played a free show at major venue The Metro before the game.  I’ve been raving about his side project, Codeine Velvet Club.  The Fratellis may not record again and that would be a loss for me as well as their many fans.  Who knows what might happen in the future.  Maybe the city of Chicago will bring us a hockey champion, a hit song, and the return of a band who are thinking of calling it quits.

Fave albums for month of May

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

James Murphy says this will be the final LCD Soundsystem album. Too bad.

Five May full-lengths are faves for me, and here are some quick impressions:

LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening…This one has an excellent shot at making my year-end list.  Every track has a different vibe and they all work.  James Murphy is saying this will be their last album, as they want to go out on top.  Hope it ain’t so but if it is, they will have exited in style.  In addition to their “Drunk Girls” single, recommended tracks are “I Can Change”, “All I Want”, and “Pow Pow”.

Stone Temple PilotsStone Temple Pilots…I’ll admit I wasn’t their biggest fan back in the 90’s.  This is my fave album of theirs, as the energy level is relentless and the songs consistent.  Recommended tracks besides their hit “Between the Lines” single are “Bagman”, “Cinamon”, and “Huckleberry Crumble”.

The New PornographersTogether…After a disappointing effort last time around, these Toronto peeps have renewed the energy and freshness we heard on 2005’s “Twin Cinema”.  I recommend “Crash Years”, “Your Hands (Together)”, and “Sweet Talk Sweet Talk”.

The Dead WeatherSea Of Cowards…I won’t say I personally love their music but they’re just so damn good.  Jack White couldn’t have done better than recruiting the sultry Allison Mosshart to share lead vocals.  One track really stands out for me, and that’s “The Difference Between Us”, which is just a little more melodic with those keyboard hooks.

Drawn From BeesFear Not the Footsteps of the Departed…Released in Australia only for now, this one’s a beauty.  Their harmonies are some of the best out there, and they’re getting strong support from radio down under.  Recommend tracks are “Stand Against the Storm”, “East Wood Fox”, “Run Away”, and “Caves”.

I’m really liking the June Futureheads and Constellations albums.  Check them out!  Look for a post of my Rave’s Faves individual tracks for spring, coming soon.