“I am the Greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.” -- Muhammad Ali.
You see it happen in sports all of the time: parents, coaches, and the media bully kids into becoming sport-saving phenoms. When they inevitably fail to deliver the goods, their careers are dead before they had the chance to see their balls drop or boobies blossom. You see it in music too. While the really talented musicians grind away for that super-slim chance of actually earning a living making music, there is a new hotter-than-hot-shit band (who are actually cold-shit, not hot-shit) who are given unwarranted, deity-like status in every conceivable media outlet every day (including pimping from those old-timey street urchins with their body placards). More often than not, these superclowns actually realize their dreams of releasing an album, and after getting a quick whiff of unearned success, they slink back to resume their lives working in stores, of both the retail and convenience variety. It is the way it goes, and unfortunately it happens so much you start dismissing any young band that gets a bit of press. It's like, "I've been burned too many times in the past, so I think I know better, and now I think I know exactly what I’m getting into and run off quickly in the opposite direction at the first sniff of misdirected hype." It’s sad to be such a curmudgeon, but it’s true.
Silversun Pickups are a band that I saw in and on every magazine and website this year and thought they might be the latest targets of hastily handed-out plaudits. But I couldn’t dismiss them as pretenders after experiencing their wonderful Carnavas album (Dangerbird Records), and I’m not the only one apparently. The band is having a hell of a year and are being treated to much-deserved attention from everyone, everywhere (although I haven't seen any body-billboards guys around). If hearing their fabulous full-length tutorial, their half-length lesson in kickassity called the Pikul EP (out in 2005 but just re-released in the UK), and reading my 10-cent words here aren’t enough to convince the saps that SSPU are poised to hit the big leagues with a oversized can of wallop ass, a quick glance at the tourdates below reveals the undeniable proof: amphitheatres!. Ooh la la... rock stars!
11.28.07 - Providence, RI - Lupo’s
11.29.07 - Richmond, VA - Toad’s Place
12.01.07 - West Palm Beach, FL - Sound Advice Amphitheatre
12.02.07 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheater
12.04.07 - Charlotte, NC - Amos’ Southend
12.05.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
12.06 07 - Mesa, AZ - Mesa Amphitheatre
12.12.07 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
12.13.07 - Austin, TX - Emo’s
12.14.07 - Grand Prairie, TX - Nokia Theatre
12.15.07 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
12.16.07 - Duluth, GA - The Arena at Gwinnett Center
Sparks to Perform Their Entire Catalog Live, Album by Album; A Very Small Portion of the Public is Staggeringly Excited, Another Very Small Portion of the Public Is Making Fun of Them, Everyone Else Is Sorry But Would Really Like Us to Keep it Down
It seems like everyone who has ever heard Sparks in my company either immediately “get it” or wish they could gouge their eardrums out. I love Sparks. Many upstanding, educated people do not. Thurston Moore is on my side, while reports suggest Kim Gordon is not. In spite of the fact that many modern experimental bands would kill for such a crowd response, Sparks has always struck me as a band that deserves a second (or third) look.
It’s probably not intentional (it actually strikes me as one of the less histrionic things the Mael brothers have ever done), but nothing screams “Look at us!” quite like performing all 20 of your studio albums in order over 20 nights.
Halfnelson, Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing, Kimono My House, Proaganda, Indiscreet, Big Beat, Introducing Sparks, No. 1 In Heaven, Terminal Jive, Whomp That Sucker, Angst in My Pants, Outer Space, Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat, Music That You Can Dance To, Interior Design, Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins, Plagiarism, Balls, Lil Beethoven and Hello Young Lovers will be performed in that order at London’s Islington Academy this May and June. The 21st and final night of the band’s residency will see them performing their as-yet-untitled 21st studio album.
A Small Aside: There used to be a video on YouTube of Sparks performing live on some television show hosted by Danny DeVito. They performed “Mickey Mouse” and the performance was preceded by a hilarious, DeVito-flabbergasting monologue about how mice are “usually known for ingesting massive amounts of saccharine for laboratory experiments, but sometimes they manage to break into show business.” The video in question is perfect and can no longer be found. If that video can ever be tracked down, many points will no doubt be scored for the side of me, Thurston Moore, and Sparks.
It may be Dr. Dre's mug in the iconic Zig Zag logo on the cover of The Chronic, but it was the introduction of Snoop Dogg that catapulted that album into the hip-hop hall of fame. One of the best summer cruising albums of all time, you're just as likely to hear it pumping out of an open window this summer as you were in 1992. While Dr. Dre is most relevant today behind the boards, Snoop has continued to release a steady stream of albums since his solo debut, Doggystyle.
This March, Snoop Dogg will release his tenth proper album. Titled Ego Trippin, the album is preceded by the new Shawty Redd-produced single, "Sensual Seduction." The single is available now on iTunes, and the video will premiere November 28 on MTV.
Being a good journalist, I figured I'd plunk down the $0.99 for "Sensual Seduction," so I could better let you know what to expect from Calvin Broadus this time out. But after a quick run-through of the 30-second preview, I decided a buck was asking too much. Snoop Dogg takes rap's most recognizable flow through the vocoder, and here's what comes out: "So she can get a sensual seduction/ So I can get a sensual seduction/ So we can get a sensual seduction."
One of the main gripes against Snoop as a serious rapper is that, in 15 years and 10 albums, he has never come close to eclipsing his debut. And if this 30 seconds is any indicator, Ego Trippin will fall far short as well. But, such as his collaborations with Pharrell, Snoop has emerged from the haze a number of times since he was top dog. So there is a chance you will catch an unmistakably laid-back verse from Snoop's new album wafting out of a car window in the summer of 2008.
After months of efforts, I’ve finally dragged Richard Buckner, large-palmed troubadour, into the kitchen to explain my situation. I had arranged for plates of Thanksgiving leftovers, now nearly a week old, to compensate the singer for his time, and I explained that I was sorry to keep him. His hands grabbed the cold turkey sandwiches, topped with dripping cranberry sauce, like so much desert enveloping a forgotten ancient settlement. I plop a lump of potatoes and stuffing on his plate, and as I begin, he eagerly devours their crumbly contents.
“So it all started back in high school...”
Some hours pass. Through the tale, his expression moves from disinterested to curious to emotional to agitated to gleeful to solemn and somewhat unreadable.
“So, my new theory is that it’s all about control, but you know, I think I kinda get off on it. Is that wrong?”
Buckner looks up. He’s discovered the pumpkin pie I had been hiding in the fridge. It’s nearly gone.
“In my book... no... can you pass the gravy?”
Get some gravy and slop on all the fixings at these Richard Buckner tourdates:
* Blind Boys of Alabama
Merge Records Auctions Cool Silkscreened Posters to Benefit Oxfam America and a Food Bank; This Is Beautiful and I Suddenly and Inexplicably Feel the Need to Remind You All of the Impending Holiday Season and of My Love For David Kilgour
Merge Records, notable these days for having kept it real, unabated, for the last 18 years, showed no signs of slowing down when they announced yesterday that it would be auctioning off a series of silk-screened posters autographed by Merge artists.
Merge’s more or less astonishing roster of artists past and present have come out in droves to support the endeavor, with Merge guaranteeing the appearances of Arcade Fire, Robert Pollard, M. Ward, Oakley Hall, Spoon, The Rosebuds, Superchunk, Portastatic and Destroyer, plus adding a tantalizing “and more.”
The posters are being auctioned off two at a time until Merge “runs out,” so bookmark this page right here, check it once in awhile, and if something comes up that piques your interest, enter the first monetary amount that comes to mind in the prominent, centered white box. New Zealand pop legend David Kilgour and the aforementioned Arcade Fire are first up to bat. I am pretty sure Arcade Fire one has jumped like $20 since I started writing this article, while Kilgour, ever the gentleman, has remained understated and affordable.
Basically, social injustice will be opposed and the hungry fed this holiday season, and indie rock will be partially to blame. High five, McCaughan.
Not many people outside the Midwest have heard of Dayton, OH. And making a confused attempt to correct my pronunciation of Daytona doesn't make you seem more intelligent. If you are exceptionally worldly, you might recall the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995. You might even remember that Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane in Dayton. Perhaps, if you're reading this, a single neuron might flicker when I mention that Guided By Voices formed in the 1980s and recorded the low-fi masterpiece Bee Thousand in dusty basements around the city.
But, chances are, if I'm talking to you in the real world, you don't frequent this website, nor have you ever heard of Brainiac or Swearing at Motorists. However, if you're under the age of 30, mentioning the band Hawthorne Heights usually elicits some sort of response along the lines of "OMFG I LEIK LUV THOSE GUYZ THEY R SO HAWT" or "Dude, I didn't know Dayton was emo." Either way, I've managed to establish Dayton, OH as a viable metropolis, and we can move passed the mystery of where I came from.
While I've never been a fan of Hawthorne Heights, I have felt some sort of bizarre Gem City kinship with them. Which is why I'm genuinely saddened to hear that Hawthorne Heights guitarist Casey Calvert was found dead last Saturday afternoon. No cause of death has been given, but the official website insists that "he was not doing anything illegal" at the time.
Hawthorne Heights have canceled the remainder of their 2007 tour to be with Calvert's family.
Update: Peta2 is doing a day of action for animals 12/8 as a memorial tribute to Casey Calvert. You can find more information here.
At noon EST today, I urge you all to stop reading TMT and point your browsers to The Washington Post, as the "rocker and activist Ted Leo takes your questions about his career, music, politics and whatever else you want to talk about." This is your chance to ask Ted Leo all those questions you've been wanting to over these last several years, but never had an opportunity to because either you were too lazy or because you're not a journalist. Seeing as I'm a seasoned journalist with balls as big as a barn (two barns, I suppose) and a poon as beautiful as the moon -- yeah, yeah, my balls show off my "strength" and my poon is "to be looked at" -- I thought I'd suggest the following questions:
- What's the full name of your band?
- True or false: Living With the Living is your latest album.
- Who is Ted Leo?
- Where is Ted Leo?
- When is Ted Leo?
- What is Ted Leo?
- Why is Ted Leo?
- What awesome record label are you on... is it Touch and Go?
- Why is your publicist so "darling"?
- Yes or no, do you like politics?
- What do termites eat for breakfast? (answer: "oakmeal")
- Where do books eat dinner? (answer: "at the table of contents")
But seriously, folks, Ted Leo is one respectable kind of dude, and he's about one of the most intelligent musicians out there. In a time when apathy is chic, Ted Leo is a breath of fresh air. If you'd like to participate in the discussion, go here, and then view the entire transcript of the discussion here at 1 PM EST.
Meanwhile, this Friday marks the start of Ted Leo's East Coast tour. Opening for each show will be KRISTEENYOUNG, the band who got fired from Morrissey's tour for banter about "good head" and "cunnilingus" (TMT News). Anyway, that's in the past. But good to know that it doesn't offend Ted Leo. Again, he's an intelligent guy.
Radiohead released a new album called In Rainbows:
Radiohead, or Radiokopf for you German TMT readers, are really something, aren't they? And I don't mean that in a good way. Aside from being unabashedly racist and sexist (Thom: "I don't like non-white and female people, period."), Radiohead have managed to squeeze in their hatred for the poor, too. In an interview with Tumbling Rock magazine, guitarist Jonny Greenwood says that "In Rainbows wasn't a protest against the industry, nor was it about making access easier for our fans -- it was about making access harder for homeless people. The last thing we wanted was for homeless people to listen and not appreciate our brilliancies [sic]. Have you ever heard a homeless guy sing ‘Karma Police’? It's absolutely disgusting."
I hate homeless people, too:
06.??.08 - Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany - Southside Festival
06.??.08 - Scheeßel, Germany - Hurricane Festival
?? = sometime between 20 and 22. Maybe they're doing a whatever-day-you-want sorta thing. So forward-thinking these guys!
The first guitar I ever really noticed was a Gibson Les Paul -- sunburst top, dual humbuckers -- strapped to a madman. Slash was trying to burn down a little white chapel with nothing but sustain. You could feel the sadness he felt over the death of his best friend's wife, as he wrestled screaming notes out of that axe. With his long curls whipping in the desert wind and his Les Paul slung low, he made it cry. He made me cry.
Since then, I always look to see what kind of guitar a musician is playing. It's the first thing I do. And the Gibson Les Paul is often it.
No fan of music can downplay the rock ‘n’ roll gifts coaxed from the Gibson Les Paul over the past 50 years. There is, however, doubt surrounding the amount of input Les Paul himself had in shaping Gibson's flagship model, but the man with his name on the headstock was nonetheless honored by President George Bush November 15 with the 2007 National Medal of Arts.
"I congratulate our honorees, because in your work we see the creativity of the American spirit and the values that have made our nation great," the President said during a presentation at the White House.
Paul, 92, was awarded the medal for "his innovation as a musician, his pioneering designs of the electric guitar, and his groundbreaking recording techniques that have influenced the development of American jazz, blues, and pop music, and inspired generations of guitarists," said an aide who announced the winners.
Calling to mind Les Paul is much more difficult than imagining the guitar. Though Les Paul himself has been a recording artist for decades, his legacy will be the Gibson guitar. It will be sold for decades after his death, and future musicians might play their first and last notes on a Les Paul without ever hearing a note recorded by the man himself. But, if past performances are any indication of what a Les Paul guitar can produce, Les Paul himself can be proud that, when he no longer can, his instrument will be pleasing millions.
Global warming be damned; most of us at this point are freezing our asses off and concur that it's a good idea to head south for the winter-like geese. Besides, it's nearly time for the 2008 Sydney Festival! You're not excited only because you don't understand. The scoop: 50+ events* over the course of 3 weeks, held annually every January since 1976. That's like the... well, I can't think of any event of that scope or scale in the States. Epic-proportion props to the Aussies. Look for the following acts half naked on the beach by day and rocking the fest by night (see website for full enumeration and ticket information):
- Andrew Bird - Samsung Mobile Festival Garden Jan 6-8
- Spank Rock - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 6
- De La Soul - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 8
- Pink Martini - Riverside Theatres - Jan 8
- Brian Wilson - State Theatre, Jan 9
- Bonde Do Role - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 10
- Girl Talk - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 10
- Sufjan Stevens w/ My Brightest Diamond - State Theatre - Jan 12-14
- Tunng - Samsung Mobile Festival Garden, Jan 13-15
- Low - Samsung Mobile Festival Garden, Jan 17-19
- Busdriver - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 18
- Kimmo Pohjonen - City Recital Hall Angel Place, Jan 18
- Mice Parade - Samsung Mobile Festival - Jan 20-22
- The National w/ Clogs - City Recital Hall Angel Place, Jan 22-23
- Battles - Beck's Festival Bar, Jan 23
- Björk - Sydney Opera House, Jan 23 (SOLD OUT)
- Joanna Newsom with the Sydney Symphony - Sydney Opera House Jan 25-26
The fun begins January 5.
*events in the stimulating forms of music, dance, circus (?!), drama, visual arts, and public lectures.