Archive for January, 2011

Hot Live this past Week: The Vaccines and Crocodiles

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

The Vaccines just might fill that void for aggressive UK indie guitar bands

It’s been a few years since an aggressive indie guitar band has broken out of the UK. The trend over there has been towards pop and electro, but we’re due for someone to crack through. The Vaccines have a shot at carrying that flag. Their British buzz grows by the day, and they just finished sold-out shows at The Bowrey in New York and at Spaceland in LA. You could feel it in the Spaceland air: this was an event and the band didn’t disappoint. The energy was there from the opening drum beats, the playing was tight, and most importantly, we heard a bunch of good songs. Their 35-minute set included UK buzz track “Post Breakup Sex” and a cover of The Standells’ “Good Guys Don’t Wear White”. Singer Justin Young hasn’t yet developed his front-man persona but that will come in time.   Their album drops in late March.

San Diego boys Crocodiles packed The Echo last night. Many of their noise-pop brethren just wander on stage and play without much emotion, but not these guys. With an energy level exceeding expectations, their looks and moves reflect their punk backgrounds.  The band exudes some showbiz, and they kept the Echo hipsters engaged throughout with a very consistent set. Set opener “Sleep Forever” is my fave song of theirs and is getting the most exposure. Noise pop bands don’t normally receive much mainstream airplay and that will probably be the case with Crocodiles on this album, but they are building a nice base for themselves.

New Decemberists/Cage the Elephant/White Lies + other points

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The Decemberists look like they might have just read my review

I was stoked for the three biggest January from these higher-profile bands:

The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead…Album #6 from these Portland peeps follows their concept album that was generally panned. The reaction to this record has been much better. I agree it’s nicely-done, but I wouldn’t consider it one of  their best.  It’s very country and mostly downtempo. My top tracks contain more vibe: “Down By the Water”, “This Is Why We Fight”, and probably “Don’t Carry It All”. Not surprising that the first two songs are also the ones that have garnered the most airplay, or that “Water” quenches my thirst for energetic Decemberists songs.

Cage the ElephantThank You Happy Birthday…Following 3 huge alternative radio hits as rookies, Cage picked up where they left off with the top 5 “Sell Yourself” single from this album. This solid disc rocks harder but has less character than the debut. Singer Matt Shultz delivers a fearsome passion and these guys will continue to bring it home in concert. The band is managed by the same team that handles people like Muse and Metallica, so you can surmise that they’re aiming for arenas. Besides the single, I like “Always Something”, “Aberdeen”, and “2024”.

White LiesRitual…These London boys have been faves of mine, as their darkness managed to penetrate the upbeat, melodic realm where most of my faves reside.  It works for me musically, but their “To Lose My Life” debut contained 4 or 5 songs that really stuck to my bones. Sad that this sophomore disc doesn’t have any that rank as high. My two faves are “Bad Love” and “Holy Ghost”. Single “Bigger Than Us” entered at #3 in the UK, where they’re huge, but it has quickly dropped to #62.  US buzz feels moderate. My hope is that the band will hold its ground this time around, then come back on fire next time.


Reviews coming on Smith Westerns and Wanda Jackson.  Also on live shows by The Vaccines and The Crocodiles...One of my new fave websites is The Audio Perv. This dude posts all of the right links, including the better late-night TV band gigs. I tweet when I see great bands on TV, and I often use the “perv’s” links..My annual new music “Rave-A-Thon” lasted 8 hours, 32 mintues on WSUM. I had the cold from hell but it was overshadowed by the power of being able to share such great music with people. Thanks to General Manager Dave Black as well as Program Director Sawyer Hildebrandt for setting aside the time. Now that I’ve been AT&T-free for a few years, the dubious crown for the worst phone customer service goes to Sirius XM radio.  I’ve been forced to contact them 4 times in the past month. A US broadcasting company with call centers in places like Egypt, and people lack energy and English communication skills? If they want to save money, hire cool US college kids!

Program Schedule for Monday’s Rave-A-Thon

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Bruce Rave returns to WSUM for his 5th annual winter new-music Rave-A-Thon: 8+ hours! You won’t hear a current music mix quite like this one.  Here’s the schedule as it looks now.  All times Central.  Add 1 hour for EST and 6 hours for GMT.  All call-in guests will suggest songs to be played. Click on the station link to check it out!

9:40 am  Easing into the Rave-A-Thon with Rave starting softer and including part of Constellations interview
10:00-12:00  Rave plays current indie tracks with the following people calling in:
**10:35  Mike Taylor, PD of now-defunct internet indie pioneer WOXY, blogger at The Big Beat.
**11:00  Matt Hunziker, former host of WSUM’s “Parklife” Show now in Brooklyn
**11:20  Derek Eby, former host of WSUM’s “Shades of Blue”, now with NBC in LA.
**11:45  Dana Bishop, former host of WSUM’s “Cool Britannia” program.
12:00-1:00 Long-time WSUM dj Randy B. joins Rave and spins his Freak Scene Top 10 of 2010.
1:00-1:30  Half hour special on The Drums, taken from a 2010 their interview by Rave.
1:30-3:00  Rave plays current indie tracks with the following people calling in or joining:
**1:45  Blogger Mike Clemenza from
**2:00  WSUM Program Director and metal program host Sawyer Hildebrandt drops in.
**2:35  Former MadHatter, indie film director and Apple employee Tyler Knowles.
3:00-4:00  Long-time WMMM Program Director and DJ Tom Teuber joins Rave and spins tunes.
4:00-5:00  Rave spins tunes in addition to the following drop-ins:
**4:00  The WSUM Sports team discusses their Rose Bowl broadcasting experience.
**4:30  Wisconsin Marching Band members discuss the Rose Bowl experience from their angle.
5:00-5:30  Annual indie-electro segment with call-in by prominent DJ Paul V.
5:30-6:00  Chat with WSUM execs, play more tunes, chat with DJ Renton.
6:00-11:00 pm  WSUM morning personality DJ Renton continues the indie extravaganza for five more hours!