Nobody runs away anymore. Kids are simple, but there's something particularly adult about children these days. I was walking with a friend to a hobby shop, and on the way, we saw three kids playing Cops & Robbers. A nice scene. Fingers as guns, it's a wonder we use them for anything else. Very nostalgic, very Americana. Then they turned their guns on us. This was high noon, shootout, Old West! What could we do? Give up, give out, give in?
I shot back. Nobody says ‘bang’ anymore; it has to be deeper, more "sh" sounds. More real. If it's not deeper, it's sharper, but you can't say ‘pop.’ That's the old-time version of today's Grand Theft Auto pistol. It's a fine line, so I went with a deep ‘dzuzsh,’ which seemed to carry across the traffic rather well. Real action-movie-like. I hit one of the boys, and it was looking promising for me, but then I realized my friend wasn't shooting. He was just walking alongside. We were under fire and he was taking it in stride! This wasn't the hero, focused and determined, storming in with explosions on either side; this was total disengagement.
He thought he was impervious. He thought if he didn't shoot back, he'd be safe. I was going down -- first my leg to slow me, then my shoulder just in case adrenaline hit and I crawled away. They were relentless as they went in for the kill. I was given my due and hit in the chest, rolling into the bushes, but my friend went right on down the street.
He kept going, until they really hit him. They called him ‘boring.’ Imagine that? Boring at 21? How do you recover? There was no other way to say it. The old-time version would've worked just as well, deep "sh" sounds and pop sounds alike. This was timeless. The whole time, I felt like Grizzly Bear (for the animal, see Grizzly bear) was hovering. Not that their music is boring, no way, but it felt present more for its tone, its atmosphere that feels, to me anyway, timeless. There's an ease, a playful seriousness, a blanket of comfort that kids seem like they should have, but don't.
Kids have a great way of blurting out the truth, they see an injustice -- in this case, a young person not playing -- and they call it like they see it. My friend, shocked, horrified, made a feeble attempt at fighting back, but it was too late. He was boring. There was no other way around it. So what did he do? He ran. He ran away. Twenty-one and running away. Kids don't run away anymore. Boring or not, there was something inherently childish about that. I thought maybe he was more childlike than the three boys. And there was Grizzly Bear. It seemed fitting, this adult childhood. And that's encouraging, isn't it? At least for those of us who aren't kids? For them, for those boys that were shooting at us, for those pre-adults, who knows. Maybe they can listen to Grizzly Bear.
They're touring, with Feist. No literal handguns needed. Bang, bang:
Believe it or not, demigod Ian MacKaye (the man behind Minor Threat and Fugazi, for those of you whose soul was repossessed by the Man long ago) plays in a highly underrated band. Maybe it's some sort of requirement when you exist as one of the last untouchable elders of independent music to have a project that is largely ignored by anyone without a Dischord tattoo, but it is still a damn shame. A duo for the ages, Amy Farina is Chris O'Donnell to MacKaye's George Clooney (but way more DIY), and the two of them make beautifully lo-fi indie-rock songs that skewer the things Mr. MacKaye's been sticking it to for decades.
Now, laughing in the face of modern touring, The Evens are doing it their own way. For two weeks only (because honestly, who hasn't toured a whole summer nowadays), the pair will Do It Themselves all around the Northeast and Canada. Since the release of their sophomore album, Get Evens, last year the band have been busy fashioning instruments out of human hair and cat litter, and finally the songs can be played without buying in. The band will walk date-to-date wearing nothing but recycled plastic, and upon arriving in each city, paving the roads with vegan cheese as they go, they will erect a venue from beachwood and organic dental floss. Renowned for a maximum $5 ticket price, this time MacKaye will actually pay the fans to watch the show, but only in his own currency consisting of vacant hermit crab shells.
A sight to be seen:
Cobain Bio Film Soundtrack To Feature R.E.M., Ben Gibbard, Iggy Pop; Cobain Rolls Over In Grave For The 200th Time
Why is it that we insist on going on and on and on about dead famous people? Isn't it bad enough that individuals like Cobain felt like they lived miserable existences and that they didn't want to live anymore? While news of a new autobiographical Kurt Cobain film called About A Son isn't quite as disheartening as, say, the treasure-seeking Nirvana "best of" or Journals, the privacy-raping, posthumous collection of diary entries, it still leaves much to be desired.
In any case, the soundtrack for said film is mostly a compilation of previously released material from such Cobain favorites as Bad Brains, Iggy Pop, R.E.M. and Leadbelly, but will also feature some new music from Steve Fisk and Ben Gibbard (who Cobain was heard talking about from within his grave. Apparently, Transatlanticism is his favorite Death Cab record). The soundtrack to the film, aptly named after the movie itself, About A Son, is set to be released by Barsuk on another day of death that we all keep talking about: September 11.
Wait a minute; did Cobain knock down the towers?
In more tasteful commentary, Gibbard's contribution to the film is a cover of another Cobain (and Gliddon) favorite: Calvin Johnson's Beat Happening. The song choices are also very tasteful, so much so that you almost wonder if a Tiny Mix Tape Robot compiled it. What's on it, you ask? Well, I thought you'd never ask!
Ten Years Later, Foo Fighters Change Their Minds, Decide They DO Want to Be Your Monkey Wrench After All
Remember 1997? I sure do. It was the year when we realized that the ’90s were on the outs, and good ol’ Alternative Rock music, the at-once greatest and most wishy-washy gift the ’90s ever gave us, was in a confusing state of flux.
It finally set in that, despite the claims of my older brother’s pot-smoking musician friends, Kurt Cobain probably wasn’t murdered after all; Fred Durst hadn’t yet reared his chump-ass, redcapped head to usher in the egregious rap-metal era that ruled the last two years of the millenium; and EZ Alternative acts like Tonic, The Wallflowers, and The Verve Pipe seemed to be ushering in a brand of... well, downright watered-down, light-beer wussiness.
I don’t know about you, but I wore a constant frown on my face for the first half of that year. A lot of the girls that I knew were pretty heavily into Jewel, which baffled my prepubescent brain, and my little 13-year-old, hairless ass couldn’t have been more pissed-off at a musical nation that seemed to be thriving on such blatant atrocities as Lilith Fair (you remember Lilith Fair, don’t you?), Meredith Brooks’ Alanis-copping girl-power anthem, and, oh yeah, don’t forget fucking Matchbox 20!
Where was the DUDE rock, man??? What the fuck happened? I was too young to be seeking out music that the radio didn’t provide for me, and I was at an absolute loss. I needed something to latch onto, something to thrash around to in my bedroom. But it seemed like the musical world had turned its back on seething pre-teen males for good.
All hope was lost.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere . . .
The cathartic screaming... the kick-ass riffage... the balls-to-the-wall drumming... the mindless yet vaguely angry subject matter. Dave Grohl had brought it ALL to the fucking party! Kurt WHO?????
That first single off the monumental The Colour and the Shape absolutely blew my young mind. I camped out in front of my stereo for hours with a cassette tape poised and ready to record the song off the radio. I made my dad (yeah, this is lame) RUSH to Best Buy after work that May when the album finally dropped to pick up a copy for me on the very first day it came out.
And the hit parade ensued: “Hey, Johnny Park!” had old girl from Veruca Salt on vocals, so I loved it. “My Hero” was “totally about Kurt, man,” so I loved it. “Everlong” was the first song I’d ever heard that made 16ths on the hi-hats actually sound badass, so I loved it. “February Stars” was emo before emo ever even hit the suburban malls, so I loved it. The album as a whole one-upped Grohl’s self-titled debut considerably, and I was hooked.
Now in 2007, Dave Grohl may have become a tired and painful-to-watch imitation of himself, but hey... I’m not about to let the fact that he’s gotten old and fallen off the wagon taint some of his best and most idealistic work. And apparently, I’m not the only one.
While most of us wait with comfortably and decidedly un-baited breath for the newest Dad-rock schtick-fest from the current line-up of Grohl, Hawkins, and company, that landmark album of albums The Colour and the Shape is getting its just desserts for being the pre-teen boy-rock album of the year that we all know it was by receiving a deluxe makeover and 10-year anniversary reissue via Legacy/RCA.
The album will feature the same ol’ 14 tracks of testosterone-packed jams that you knew and loved, plus a handful of potentially tough-to-track-down cover songs and B-sides, including Killing Joke's "Requiem," Gary Numan's "Down in the Park," (off of The X-Files Soundtrack, which I fucking OWNED, natch!), and Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street," as well as B-sides "Drive Me Wild," "Dear Lover," and "The Colour and the Shape." The only difference is that now you can listen to “Monkey Wrench” and be pissed at your boss or your wife instead of your 7th grade teacher or your mom! Isn’t life sweet?
Representative of a young band in its prime, The Colour and the Shape featured the work of not only a maturing Grohl, but also the former Nirvana/Germs Guitarist Pat Smear and the unholy Sunny Day Real Estate rhythm section of bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith. (Sure, good ol’ Davie might have... uh, “tweaked” most of Goldsmith’s drum tracks, thereby booting him back to Jeremy Enigk-ruled Godville. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?)
Anyway, the deluxe, 10th anniversary (yes, take a second to consider how old that makes you) The Colour and the Shape will be hitting “Pop/Rock/Alternative” shelves at giant, impersonal record stores everywhere July 10, just in time to soundtrack all of our midsummer barbeques and ’90s-themed beach trips. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to give my dear old dad a call to see if he can pick it up for me after work...
Fall In/Fall Out:
Get ready for a whole new round of “Dude, I know for a FACT; all of these songs are TOTALLY about KURT!”
I can’t wait.
Dead Meadow Tour UK; If They Had a Nickel For Every Time the Word “Psychedelic” Appeared in Print, They Could Tour Mars
I had this whole big thing ready about how Dead Meadow transcend any casual “dudes sound like they’re on drugs, man”-type dismissal. I mean, they carry traits of the “Blue Cheer smoking up then hitting on Neil Young’s girlfriend in space” sound, but I’ve always seen them as above it somehow. Their Matador Records biography, however, claims the boys “set out to fuse their love of early '70s hard rock and '60s psychedelia with their love of writers J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft,” and you know what? I’ve given it some thought: If Dead Meadow want their music to evoke Jimmy Page slowly riding Shub-Niggurath into Helm’s Deep, awesome. Sure beats a band that evokes a 16-year-old in pointy shoes checking his MySpace.
It’s working out for them, with a reissue of their second studio album Howls From the Hills available now, a fifth studio album entitled Old Growth forthcoming on Matador, and an upcoming tour of the UK (homeland of both Page and Tolkien), where they will hopefully continue to wage war on bands who bring to mind the image of a guy telling another guy he’s going to save up for a Vespa.
The Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Tourdates:
For the reader on the go, an easily digestible list of cool things about Spiralfrog:
- It permits you to download useful 128 kbps MP3s by artists such as Eminem and Elton John.
- Thanks to our trusty friend DRM, the files expire in 30 days.
- It is named Spiralfrog.
- It is supported entirely by forcing you to watch ads from a “who’s who” of advertisers.
- Chairman and founder Joe Mohen was considerate enough to have his five-year-old daughter name his company.
- It is debuting in America by the end of the summer.
- The beta only works in Internet Explorer, and IE7’s default security settings prevent users from logging in.
- If Mohen earnestly believes that people who subscribe to his service (which is named Spiralfrog) will watch 90 seconds of ads to download one song that will expire in one month, his optimism is endearing and beautiful.
- It operates in a legal grey area where the MP3s are considered promotional copies, which may be a ploy to skirt royalty payments.
- Upon learning of Spiralfrog’s impending existence, Steve Jobs started to laugh for a moment, but the noise was muffled when he began to smoke two cigars at once, both lit with separate hundred-dollar bills. He then put his feet up on his desk and took the rest of the day off.
In 1996, it was decreed by the space overlords that Weezer, who at the time just released the fab-tastic album Pinkerton, must henceforth smell of offal and chocolates, forgo irony, and their records have to suck. The easiest solution, it turned out, was to excise bassist Matt Sharp, forcing him to focus on his own band, The Rentals, who went on to great success -- though I do believe the space overlords let Weezer still sell some records, but just barely.
So, The Rentals made some albums. Long story short: afterward, they went for a ride with the space overlords that actually turned into a big ordeal, as it caused this whole global warming phenomenon. But that’s all water under the proverbial space bridge to the moon; I’m just glad they’re back, recording a new album and playing Saturdays in July at LA’s Spaceland, where it’s sunny all the time and only drugs addicts and the unemployed are ever sad.
New material, titled The Last Little Life EP, is scheduled for release August 14, with a new full-length promised late 2007 or early 2008. And thanks to their intergalactic efforts, we can all enjoy their return in some sun. The band also promises to turn all of our Chevy Corsicas into convertibles. Rising sea levels? It’s just more beach, baby.
Tracklisting for The Last Little Life EP:
* with Goldenboy
# with Copeland & Goldenboy
Birkenstock Luncheon: The Shortest Semi-Fictional Account of Ani DiFranco You’ll Ever Read; DiFranco to Release Canon This September
CHAPTER ONE: “RIGHTEOUS” PEOPLE
There are two types of people in this world:
(1) People that say “righteous” and do so without even a hint of bombast; and
(2) The ivory tower elite who (rightfully so) point scrutinizing fingers at that previously mentioned group while they bask in their lack of affect and dead phraseology.
While you were busy rolling your eyes at my empty attempts to engage you, reader, I went ahead and signed you up with Group 2.
CHAPTER TWO: THE LUNCHEON
So, suppose Group 1, you, me and the rest of Group 2 are at a luncheon type gathering. Origins of this luncheon are vague, beyond what is initially deduced: Group 2 obviously sent out invites to the RIGHTEOUS! Group 1, in order to achieve the roundabout gratification that comes from overhearing them (who all, not so coincidentally, wear Birkenstocks), drop the “RIGHTEOUS”-bomb amid “chill” conversations about the Phish farewell tour.
And in walks Ani DiFranco. Since as a member of Group 2 I'm not wearing Birkenstocks, I’m unsure whether she’s an extended guest of a Group 1-er (possible) or perhaps the musical act of said luncheon type gathering.
So, Ms. DiFranco, or, Queen, Mother, Founder of... Righteous Babe Records, has something to say at this luncheon. Something, er, righteous?
CHAPTER THREE: ANI’S ANNOUNCEMENT
While simultaneously protesting, fingerpicking, freeing women from shaving their armpits and signing artists to her label, she announces at this luncheon-type gathering that September 11 will mark the release of Canon, a 35-track retrospective (apparently) of re-recorded material, including a re-vamped “Napoleon,” “Shameless,” “Your Next Bold Move,” “Both Hands” and “Overlap.” Tracks from her most recent release, Reprieve (2006), will also be included.
CHAPTER FOUR: ALL YOU ACTUALLY NEEDED TO READ, PART I
The track listing for DiFranco’s two-disc Canon is:
Negative Press for The Mooney Suzuki Still Better Than No Press for The Mooney Suzuki; Tour, New Album, and Apologies All Around
The first and only time I saw The Mooney Suzuki was in 2003 for the Nokia/CMJ/MTV2-sponsored Advance Warning Tour. The Raveonettes were the headliner with White Light Motorcade, Longwave, and The Mooney Suzuki opening. I remember the evening vividly because my soon-to-be roommate Paul and I assisted in booking the event on our university campus.
But we did the event one better. We also volunteered to help staff the event. Generally, that would consist of ensuring the venue space didn't exceed capacity, but for reasons beyond Paul and I, we found ourselves as roadies for a day, doing cigarette runs and loading in gear for The Mooney Suzuki. The Raveonettes, Longwave, and White Light Motorcade weren't as demanding, and/or had others to do such work, and/or were capable, and/or content in doing the work themselves.
Paul and I obliged perhaps because we were foolish college sophomores or perhaps because we felt star-struck. Probably a bit of both.
I fancied myself as a burgeoning music journalist and viewed our exploitation/volunteerism as an opportunity. Shit, after loading the band's gear onto the third floor and fetching the bastards a pack of Camel Lights, the least they could do was agree to a brief interview — I had the questions already written; I stayed up late the night before researching what little press I could dig up.
Much to their credit, they did oblige to a brief interview, but they gave snide remarks for the few questions I could get in. Who was I, after all, to be asking THE MOONEY SUZUKI questions such as their favorite albums or their favorite movies? And perhaps to my detriment, I didn't take very good interview notes. The only thing I remember is Debbie Does Dallas being their favorite tour bus movie. They were huge assholes otherwise.
The show was free, but come to think of it, the barrage of Nokia, CMJ, and MTV2 advertisements was taxing on the brain. Nothing's free, I guess -- except the labor of Paul and I. Despite not selling any tickets, The Mooney Suzuki certainly had the attitude of The Rolling Stones. And their set sucked just as much.
Our attitudes were in the right place, though, and we watched their show from the back of the room, standing on chairs, pumping our fists sarcastically, sipping on our first beers in public as under-agers.
From the start -- as the third band to play that evening -- we were wishing we had more concert-going experience under our respective white and black belts. A few years more experience would have dictated we arrive only in time to see The Raveonettes. Nonetheless, we appreciated the advance warning: all of these bands were dismissible, nothing but a few cash cows beating the dead horse that was The Strokes' debut album.
Fast forward a few years, add a major-label deal with Columbia, tack on a crap album with a Santana rip-off cover, and you're pretty much up-to-date. And I'm left thinking, has it really been four years?
And I have every reason to believe that The Mooney Suzuki are still huge assholes. But is that all I can leverage against a few opportunistic, cool-at-the-moment, denim-clad, circle jerking, Coors-advertising cocksuckers? Am I only playing into their coy media ploy?
Probably. Their new album on Elixia titled Have Mercy is scheduled for a June 19 release. They're also going to tour behind that album. Apologies to The Photo Atlas and The Dark Romantics who will open. But I rescind my apology, for apparently ‘The’ bands still exist aplenty.
The Mooney Suzuki's name, by the way (as I've had plenty time to do my research this time), is an amalgamation of the two Can vocalists Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. The Mooney Suzuki sum to less than what fits into Damo's paper bag; is it a dose of vitamin-C?
Paul and I aren't really friends anymore:
* The Photo Atlas opening
# The Dark Romantics opening
We don't keep Grandad Mix Tape around the office just because we enjoy changing his diaper, cutting the kernels off his corn cob and mashing them into a salacious slosh (that's not supposed to sound as bawdy as it looks), and sponge bathing the old coot. Despite forgetting that the toilet contains a seat and that he should lift it when doing his bi-weekly monthly business, he sometimes wows us with vivid recollections from the days of yore. He was there 40 years ago today when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play; he was there, not to deliver but to perform the bris on the mystery baby born at Woodstock, and he was there many moons ago when infectious noise-makers Built to Spill decided to kick-start their musical pursuit and subsequently put Boise, ID on the map as the next great music city (hey, legacies take a loooong time to build, okay?).
Alright, Built to Spill are not that old -- I have pustules that are much older -- but they have playing and perfecting their aggressive pop sound for so long it wouldn't surprise me to hear that they were the house band aboard The Mayflower. In fact, Doug Martsch and co. make sounds so moving and profound and that many of the world's top health, research, and intelligence agencies -- the Surgeon General's office, Mossad, the Miami Sound Machine, The Bathroom Reader Institute -- have deemed them a little too good for your health. Whatever.... Built to Spill fans are definitely made of tougher stock so they will be out in droves this summer when the band embarks on a North American tour starting June 30 in Minneapolis, playing classics from their latest hit album, You In Reverse and from their stellar back catalog.
In record-related Built to Spill news, not one, not two, but THREE reissues are on their way from Warner Bros. The beloved band's albums Perfect From Now On, Keep It Like a Secret, and the aforementioned You In Reverse will be re-released in 2,000 limited, regular-weight, double-vinyl doses June 19 with a couple of curios included. Keep It Like a Secret will add on a bonus B-side track "Forget Remember When," while Perfect From Now On tacks on the unreleased "Easy Way." You In Reverse will be available in a gatefold sleeve with artwork by the troika of Mike Scheer, Tamara Shores, and Karena Youtz (but, as far as we can tell, it doesn't contain any tasty bonus material).
Built to thrill... always!
06.30.07 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
07.01.07 - Milwaukee, WI - Summerfest, WLUM Stage
07.02.07 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
07.03.07 - Lancaster, PA - The Chameleon Club
07.05.07 - Boston, MA - Avalon Ballroom
07.06.07 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
07.07.07 - Brooklyn, NY - McCarren Park Pool
07.08.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
07.10.07 - Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
07.12.07 - Montréal, Quebec - Le National
07.13.07 - Ottawa, Ontario - Ottawa Bluesfest, River Stage
07.14.07 - South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
07.16.07 - Detroit, MI - St. Andrew's Hall
07.17.07 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
07.18.07 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown
07.20.07 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
07.21.07 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
* P.S. Mukluks are cold-weather boots that are favored by our northern Inuit friends in Arctic climes. If you don't know what they look like, you can picture the fashionable slimmed-down Ugg version that the nicest people from Hollywood like Gwyneth Paltrow wear. Isn't Gwyneth the greatest?!?! Chimo!