Monthly Archives: November 2011
I was recently given a turntable as a gift and this has rekindled my love of vinyl. It has spurred me to go searching in dusty record stores, digging through piles of old junk. I am not sure if it is the feeling of nostalgia washing over me or the thrill of the hunt that I love, but I have started massing a small collection old and new records.
I stumbled upon this release from J Mascis on the Sub Pop label. It just was released last week so you can head over here and order yourself a copy. It is a nice looking release, on colored vinyl with a MP3 download card. This is acoustic J (as opposed to the monolithic loud guitar-god J of Dinosaur Jr.) covering Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians with “Circle”.
I got a couple of opinions that I hold dear
A whole lot of debt and a whole lot of fear
I got an itch that needs scratching but it feels alright
I got the need to blow it out on Saturday night
I got a grill in the backyard and a case of beers
I got a boat that ain’t seen the water in years
More bills than money, I can do the math
I’m trying to keep focused on the righteous path
– The Drive-By Truckers “The Righteous Path
The new single from Black Face came in the mail yesterday. If you are not already familiar with this band feel free to read my overview here. The first thing you notice is that the logo for the band is the same font as the old Black Flag logo. The band is really relying on the fact that it is linked to Black Flag’s past. Then there is the sticker on the shrink wrap. It has a statement that reads, “A selective collective take on music as riot and Dukowski-era Blag Flag.” What the hell does that mean? Music as riot??? A selective collective??? I must not be hip enough.
The record has a nice look to it, with the gray marble vinyl and sturdy picture sleeve. Next I notice the sides are not listed as Side A and Side B, nope you get Side Trip and Side Death…okay, I get it. This is going to be some heavy shit. So, I put on the aptly titled I WANT TO KILL YOU on the Death side and it sounds exactly like old school Black Flag. You could really place this on one of the early Flag albums and it would not seem out of place. Milo Gonzalez does his best Greg Ginn impersonation on guitar…it is trying hard to be Black Flag, but it is not. And it ultimatly fails because of it’s cloning of the Black Flag sound.
Okay, now I flip it over to the Trip side and drop the needle on the track titled, MONSTER. To my surprise, this is not a clone of the Black Flag sound. This is something else. It has an intensity without the obvious aping of Chuck’s most famous band. To my ears this is a better direction. Here singer Eugene Robinson has a different approach than the other track and it works much better. This has more of a Stooges/Psychedelic Garage Band feel.
I am pretty much split on this one. It didn’t grab me like the Keith Morris fronted OFF! did the first time I heard them, but it is not totally bad. I believe there are two more singles coming soon before the band hits the road in Spring of 2012. I hope the ‘music as riot’ doesn’t lean to heavy on old punk nostalgia on the next releases…
Here is a little Thanksgiving present from the fine folks over at Live Phish. They have shared a video from the upcoming audio only box set that will drop on December 6th. Shot fourteen years ago today on November 22, 1997 the band was deep into the cow-funk, playing full sets consisting of four songs on some nights. 1997 was a heavy year for long groove filled explorations, some jaw dropping sublime moments happened during that time frame. In the video they jam out the playful tune Halley’s Comet…for 25 minutes!
You need to make it through the five minute mark of the video (the main song structure) before you head off into the groovy unknown for the following twenty minutes are so…
Head over to Phish Dry Goods to place your order for the Seven Disc box set from Hampton Winston/Salem ’97. It looks to be awesome.
Thanksgiving week is here and it is a blessedly short work week for most. People are running home to their families to share a meal and fellowship. Less stress? Or more? I don’t know.
I do know, in the end, death will win…unless you are as bad as Stagger Lee…he was a bad man…
Last Tuesday night I made my way down to the lovely art-deco building that houses the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento, CA. The Crest is a old movie house that has been around since 1949 (although closed for a time in the early 80’s) and it is a great place to see a play, film or concert. The interior of the building is just old time beautiful. In 1995 they did a million dollar remodel to the building and the new gold leafing on the ceiling is pretty spectacular.
This night I was there to see Lucinda Williams. At 58 there seems to be no stopping this singer/songwriter. In these last few years she has been more active than ever. Of course, she will be forever known for her 1998 masterpiece album ‘Car Wheels on a Gravel Road‘. She has released six albums since that gem, and nothing has gotten close to that peak. Although every album since has been solid and with several great songs on each.
When Lucinda tackles a subject matter in song…say, a failed relationship; or the suicide of a friend; or the sudden death of a manager; or the dark isolation of loneliness; or the wound of child abuse…she finds a poets way of arranging the lyrics to awaken the empathy in the listener. It is a rare talent that only our better lyricists have…think Ryan Adams, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt.
Tuesday night was my third time in seeing Lu at the Crest. I have witnessed her being cranky at her band, getting pissed at herself for forgetting chords to songs and I have watched some very good performances…all during the same show. This show was on the tail end of a long spell on the road, so the band and Lu were well rehearsed by the time they rolled into Sacramento.
The show was made up of songs from every era of her recording career. Her newest album, ‘Blessed’, getting four songs showcased. In a live setting these songs seemed to have grown and some of the older songs have changed in arrangements drastically. And that is not a bad thing…it keeps the songs vibrant and with a feeling of newness that the band and Lucinda seemed to enjoy.
The show started promptly at 9pm and the band ran through twenty-one songs in two hours. The fifty-eight year old singer greeted the crowd with a wave and set the pace of the first song, ‘Can’t Let Go‘, on her acoustic guitar before the band kicked in full force. The concert flowed from acoustic country to balls out blues rock by the end of the main set. She covered Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘Factory‘ that was well received and played a new composition that has not yet been recorded called, ‘Stowaway in Your Heart‘. Lu thanked the crowd for supporting live music in these times of economic troubles. She gives off the vibe of being a genuinely grounded person.
Highlights were ‘Drunken Angel‘, ‘People Talking‘ and ‘I Lost It‘ during the simmering build up to the big loud rock of the last four songs before the encore break. Those four songs contain the best of Lucinda Williams…the ache of longing with the song ‘Essence‘; the running despair of a bad relationship with the song ‘Changed the Locks‘; and the loss and hope for happiness with the songs ‘Joy‘ and ‘Honey Bee‘. Guitar player Blake Mills must be singled out for having the nastiest tone on ‘Joy‘ that I have heard this side of Keith Richards in the Ventilator Blues days.
The encores had Lucinda starting off the title track of the new album, ‘Blessed‘, solo as the band joined in for the last half of the song. A cover of the Allman Brother’s song, ‘Ain’t My Cross to Bear‘ followed and the night ended with the rave-up gospel of ‘Get Right With God‘ that had the audience dancing in the aisles.
A fine and enjoyable evening spent with an American songwriting master that just gets better with age.
The good folks over at Aggronautix are on a roll. With just a few short weeks since the announcement of the Mojo Nixon throbblehead we get word today of another punk icon toy available for pre-order. Former Dead Kennedy’s front man (and political activist) Jello Biafra will get the resin treatment.
If you don’t know Jello, well, you just don’t know punk rock history. Besides being the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys he is also the founder of the indie label Alternative Tentacles and he wrote punk rock classics ‘Holiday in Cambodia’, ‘California Uber Alles’ and ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’ (which made number 31 on the UK charts). He also ran for the office of Mayor in San Francisco in 1979 and in 2000 he ran for the nomination of President of the United States under the Green Party. Okay I admit the political stuff was a little dadaist art, but what is wrong with being an absurdest?
On a personal note he gave me a little hell one time after a Sonic Youth concert…as the house lights came on after the show I found myself face to face with the Jello Biafra. We talked for a few seconds and then he said, “What is the uniform today?”, as he reach over and opened up my jacket to get a look at my t-shirt. “Oh, the mighty Rollins.”, he roared in his high pitch mock shock voice. As I walked away I heard him yell, “I like the jacket.”
Anyway, these things are too damn cool. Limited to 1000 pieces and shipping in the first week of December. For only 19.95 it will make an excellent addition to your collection. Maybe I should look into making author bobbleheads…Vonnegut, Robbins, Bukowski anyone???
I was introduced to the music of Sonic Youth through their association to Black Flag via SST Records. Evol and Sister got plenty of play on my turntable. Daydream Nation is a masterpiece. Their years on the majors produced good music and the return to the indie label Matador yielded one of their strongest records in years, the mature rock of The Eternal. They were the little indie band that could.
Then Thurston and Kim announced their separation and everything was left hanging. The bands future plans are ‘uncertain’. It bums me out to think of a world without Sonic Youth in it. Thirty years is a long time to have a band around and I will have the legacy of all the recorded albums to listen to, but still…
I remember sitting in my dinky little apartment playing ‘Schizophrenia‘ off of the Sister album when my roommate’s girlfriend sat down beside me and listened to the song. When it was over she turned to me and asked, “Why do you listen to ugly music?’
To her the music was all out of tune, out of sync noise with a bad singer…while all I heard was beauty and power. They continued to show me the beauty and power with every new album they put out and every time I went to one of their concerts. I wish them well with whatever they decide to do in the future.
Here is a video of what might be the last Sonic Youth show, 11/14/11 San Paulo, Brazil…
On Saturday night Courtney Love had another meltdown on stage. I, at one time, thought she had some talent. I liked the aggressive noise rock of Pretty on the Inside and the jangly indie rock of Live Through This…after those two she has put out total garbage. Of course, Live Through This had a small bit of help from her husband, but Pretty also had Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth as producer.
Last Saturday she spun out of control after a concert goer held up a photo of Kurt Cobain. She rants, walks off the stage, has someone come back and lead the crowd in a ‘Foo Fighters are gay’ chant, before she returned to the stage to say, “I don’t care what you listen to at home, but if a guy takes off money off my kid’s table, fuck him.” What a lady…