Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fucked Up -- Live @ King's - Raleigh - 6/28

I like pulling for the good guys. I swear that as a kid, when a western would be on TV, I'd pull for the Indians. Sure, this made me a loser, but it was formative as well, so stay with me. I never drafted Albert Belle or Barry Bonds on any of my fantasy baseball teams. If I ever were to have the choice forced on me of drafting Barry Bonds or Wil Cordero, I would ask, respectfully, if Chad Curtis was still available. Chad Curtis was better than Wil Cordero anyway.

I remember when I was a lot younger I once went out on a date with a beautiful girl. Because I was not good at talking about much else, the conversation drifted to music. My date, in a rapturous voice, related to me the time she had front row seats to see Billy Idol. The highlight for her, at least to hear her tell it, was when Billy Idol hawked up a big loog and spat on her. I may be making up the loogie part of it; it may have been a Roberto Alomar special, but the point stands that Billy Idol considered it acceptable behavior, as a soon to be forgotten overrated leaking bag o'douche, to expectorate on this fetching young lass. My thought was that if this had happened to me, I'd have jumped up on that stage and killed his scrawny ass. The salient point for me, though, was that I didn't want to go out anymore with this person. Understand, good reader, that at that age I was too naive and innocent to ponder the possibilities inherent in dating a person for whom being spat upon was -- just a second please while someone redirects the narrative.

You know, Fucked Up is about the least fucked up looking band you could imagine. They almost all have collared shirts, for goodness sakes, and until Damian Abraham removed his shirt before the third or fourth song of the set, there was not a tattoo to be seen. And yet, these are the people responsible for some of the most powerful and abrasive critically acclaimed music to hit the scene in the past half decade. "The Chemistry of Common Life", released in 2008, was at the top of most of the credible 'best of year' lists, as well as some less credible, including being number one on my own 2008 list.

The recently released follow-up, "David Comes to Life", is a self-proclaimed rock opera. I must admit that after several times through, I haven't yet picked up the thematic aspects, but that might be because I'm too caught up in its overall brilliance to even care. The album's 18 songs stand on their own. The layered guitars are dense, beautiful and loud, such that I’m still hearing new things weeks after buying the album. The production is excellent (maybe a little more drum noise) but, again, it's the songs themselves that really put this on a level with some of the timeless albums we keep going back to. It's almost like they know it, too. The beginning of "Ship of Fools", sounds like a dead-on nod to "Pride" from Husker Du's "Zen Arcade". Check it out:

And I actually had a point with those first paragraphs. This band is the good guys. I knew before going that the group included a bunch of serious-minded, thoughtful folks. Damian, who has been taken to task for citing Ian Stuart of Skrewdriver as an influence, recently offered a convincing and impressively antiquarian explanation of the roots and extent of that influence. The guy's clearly put a lot of thought and passion into his creative efforts, and yet, when you walk up the stairs at Kings, there he is greeting everyone with a huge smile, as if he's surprised anyone even showed up.

Their set was about 75 minutes long, and included significant chunks of the current and last albums, but also a nice window into the past. The band was incredibly tight, and although the mix was not perfect, in the songs I knew I could pretty much hear most of the guitar parts. Not that that mattered in the larger scheme of whether it was a great show. It certainly was, and the playing was excellent. The drummer, Jonah Falco, was incendiary.

Damian, who hasn't the most subtle delivery, led the charge, with forays into the audience and even a full trip to the back of the club, where he climbed on top of the bar and screamed his lungs out (not to be distinguished from his other efforts) while the rest of the band dutifully kicked out the jams from 40 feet away. On the way to the bar, he hugged or high-fived pretty much every person in the place (I confess some misgivings at being happy that I was only high-fived). His repartee with the audience was both incredibly humble (a thousand thank yous) and hilarious (noting North Carolina's status as the home of Ric Flair, he concluded by saying, 'fuck irony, I love wrestling'). Here's another tune off the new album, which you need to buy.

I'll mention the opener, Double Negative, a hardcore band from Raleigh, only to say that I'll need to do a separate post about them because they were unreal. Think 7 Seconds with some speedmetal thrown in. This ought to do for now:

Folks, take a good, long listen to Fucked Up, because they're going to be cited as a major influence by the best bands twenty years from now.

Here's one of the best songs off "The Chemistry of Common Life".

Fucked Up myspace page

Double Negative myspace page

Cool Video Thursday

I've featured Dirty Beaches on the Midnight World Pop Scout page, but I'm happy to find another way to put this artist in front of our readers. Here is his video for the single "God Speed".

DIRTY BEACHES "God Speed" from la station radar on Vimeo.

"Lofty Ambitions" by Discopolis, that hot young Scottish electro-rock band I've featured several times this spring.

Since an album of Buddy Holly covers has been released, let's celebrate by playing "Rave On", as covered by M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

From Young Jesus, an unsigned four piece from Chicago, "Chicago Alone Pt. 2".

Chicago Alone Pt. 2 from The Visualistas on Vimeo.

The new video for "Perfect Day", by Cassettes Won't Listen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard, out August 2

Robert Pollard's music descriptions and song titles are more entertaining than most people's actual music... and then there's the anticipation of hearing Pollard's power trio (Chris Slusarenko and John Moen plus Pollard) fronted by guest guitarists Colin Newman (Bob playing with the guitarist from Wire!), J Mascis, Steve Wynn, Mick Collins, Dave Rick and Mitch Mitchell.

Here's the announcement: "A 75-minute thrill ride through the many forms Pollard has mastered in his three decades of writing and recording, Let It Beard is the White Album meets Quadrophenia meets Jesus Christ Superstar meets Same Place The Fly Got Smashed.

Robert Pollard has called the epic double-LP 'a subconscious concept album about the sorry state of rock and roll.'

1. Blind 20-20
2. Juggernaut Vs. Monolith
3. Tourist U.F.O.
4. Minefield Searcher
5. Make A Record For Lo-life
6. Let More Light In The House
7. You Just Can't Tell
8. Chevy Marigold
9. Earmarked For Collision
10. Toppings Take The Cake
11. Tabby And Lucy
12. (I'll Make It) Strong For You
13. A Hair In Every Square Inch Of The House
14. The Ballad Of Bad Whiskey
15. I Took On The London Guys
16. Red Bodies
17. A Dozen Blue Overcoats
18. Pincushion
19. Christmas Girl
20. Let It Beard
21. The Vicelords
22. German Field Of Shadows
23. Speed Bumps
24. No Steamboats
25. You In My Prayer
26. Inspiration Points
A. Shove Thy Neighbor
B. Human Amusements At Hourly Rates
C. Man Of A 1000 Worlds
D. Inspiration Point"

Link to Factory of Raw Essentials for pre-order.

Bring it on...

REVIEW: Saints of Valory - Neon Eyes

I expect that most readers of this, or any other US-based music blog, are aware that Austin, Texas is a great music town. And one of the things that makes it great is the fact that the music scene there provides fertile ground for a stream of emerging acts. One of the new bands that has attracted our attention is Saints of Valory. Consisting of Gavin Jasper (lead vocals and bass, from Brazil), Godfrey Thomson (guitars, from California), Gerard Bouvier (drums, from France), and Stephen Buckle (keyboards, from Canada), the band has been compared to Coldplay, The Killers and Kings of Leon. Although I agree that Saints of Valory shares qualities with each of those band, I think their melodies are more playful and uplifting.

In the fall of 2010, the band recorded a six track EP, Neon Eyes, in Austin. The album begins with the engaging "Cover Girl", which bounces along on a hooky melody and a catchy sing-along chorus. The album trends toward the rock side after the opener, showcasing the band's range. Overall, the tunes on the album impress me in two important respects. First, and most importantly, they simply are very good, well crafted songs. Second, the quality of the delivery is top notch. Gavin has a major alt-rock voice, distinctive and emotive, and the instrumental performances are unhesitatingly ready for prime time. If you see this band soon, you'll probably see them in a small venue, and be happy that you did. But I think these songs will easily transfer to bigger venues. And this band may get the chance to prove it.

"The Bright Lights" is one of my favorite tracks, and here is a live version:

By way of contrast, here is an acoustic version of the album's first track, "Cover Girl".

Here is a stream of the Neon Eyes (please ignore the fact that two of the songs are labeled "demo", as I am assured by the band that they are the final versions).

Saints Of Valory by ozonemm

The band is playing a few gigs in the northeast, Florida and Texas this summer. Check out their Facebook page for details.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ikebe Shakedown: "Tame the Beats" from Ikebe Shakedown

This Brooklyn-based large (well, 7-member but sounds much bigger) funk/afrobeat combo does it right... The horns are tight, the rhythm section is right in the pocket... They've recently released their first, a self-titled full-length on Ubiquity Records.

Here's the title song to their 2009 EP, "Hard Steppin":

If you like Budos Band and the Dap-Kings, I recommend you give this a listen... heck, buy it. And spread the word.

Ikebe Shakedown Website

Kudos to Kevin Cole and KEXP. I am consistently discovering high-quality music on their podcasts, including the most recent one: "It's a Beautiful Thing" from June 17.

In praise of the Flat Duo Jets

This blog has been a big booster of the Black Keys, White Stripes, Raveonettes and much of that primitive bluesy rock'n'roll, as we should should since it's great stuff.

But let's go back shall we, not all the way to the deserving original bluesmen, but to the immediate forebears.

I lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the late 80's-early 90's, which was a great time to be there as Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Polvo, Metal Flake Mother and many more created a vibrant and exciting local scene. But as one of my favorite all time men's room graffiti declared at the time: "Dexter rules this town, albeit with a shaky hand."

Dexter being the legendary Dexter Romweber, head rooster in the Flat Duo Jets - a possessed wild man with a incredible guitar sound and a singing voice to die for. His drummer Crow was the best, and the two of them were all you needed. The two cooked up more soul and rock than most people could digest. Along the way, they sometimes added a bass player or another instrument but it wasn't needed.

Dex is still kicking around, in fact coming to the West Coast later this summer. Which is what got me thinking about the great Flat Duo Jets.

If you know of them, you know what I'm talking about and will enjoy this trip. If you are uninitiated, check them out:

Emerging Seattle Artist: Allen Stone

Allen Stone has described himself as a songwriter who wants to be a soul singer. You can evaluate his chops here, but I think the man can sing soul. Overall, I'd call his style "indie-soul" or acoustic soul. However, I expect that with a full band the sound could be closer to the soul/R&B end of the spectrum. He isn't shackled to a label at this point.

Here is "Unaware", live from his mother's living room.

Stone is from Chewelah, Washington, in the northeast portion of the state (I live in Seattle and I had to search on the internet to locate Chewelah). Apparently, he splits his time among Seattle, LA and New York these days. I understand that he has been touring on the west coast, and he is playing the Crocodile here in Seattle on July 8th. In and interview I read recently, he said that he has an album recorded using Raphael Saadiq’s band. To me, that sounds quite promising.

Here you can stream his EP, Take One Session, Vol 1, which is available for free download.

There also is a link on the Bandcamp page to an earlier EP, called "Vol 2".


Monday, June 27, 2011

New Centro-matic video: "Iso-Residue" from Candidate Waltz

What can I say? Got to see 'em play it last week, just can't say enough about how good it sounded live... Scott's keyboards and harmony vocals, Mark's and Matt's rock-solid foundation and Will's vocals and eventual guitar shredding. There's a Hall & Oates quality to this one, and I mean that as an absolute stone-cold compliment.

See them live:

Tuesday 06/28 – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday 06/29 – Great Scott – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 06/30 – The Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
Friday 07/01 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
Saturday 07/02 – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
Sunday 07/03 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
Tuesday 07/05 – Euclid Records – St. Louis, MO @ 5pm (Will Johnson solo)
Tuesday 07/05 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Thursday 07/07 – Dan’s Silverleaf – Denton, TX
Friday 07/08 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
Saturday 07/09 – Cactus Records @ 1pm (Will Johnson solo)
Sunday 07/10 – Waterloo Records @ 5pm (full band)
Sunday 07/10 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX

Centro-matic website

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 17: PET; Strawberry Ocean Sea; White Heath

Edinburgh band PET calls their style of music "heavy feather pop" which some of you of dim wit might find unhelpful. Well, I'm not going to explain it to you, so you'll just have to listen. Alright, since you're begging, its somewhat drone indie pop-gaze. The band members are listed as Alexa, Matt, Pete, Dylan and Casey, and so far they haven't favored a label with their signatures.

Stream EP What You Building?

"Bench Connection"

"Cut In Half"


Strawberry Ocean Sea are from Glasgow. The members are Jonny Skinner on vocals and guitar, Greg Kenney on guitar, Richie Bell on bass and vocals, Stuart Kennedy on keys and vocals and Cobo on drums. There is an unmistakable '80s rock feel about this music that will evoke Echo and the Bunnymen, and perhaps Joshua Tree era U2. And with four vocalists, twin guitars and keys in addition to the usual rhythm section these guys can soar. At this point, they are unsigned.

"Today's the Day"
Today's The Day by StrawberryOceanSea

"Under the Moonlight"
Under The Moonlight by StrawberryOceanSea. Uploaded with BandPage by RootMusic

"Down by the River"
Down by the River by StrawberryOceanSea. Uploaded with BandPage by RootMusic


The Edinburgh band White Heath are an indie pop group that released their album Take No Thought for Tomorrow in May on the Electric Honey label. The band seems to want to engage your heart and mind, in addition to your ears; check out their interesting blog linked below.


White Heath is Adam Pearson (electric and acoustic guitars), Mark Rowley (bass trombone, ukelele), Craig Salter (bass guitar), Sean Watson (vocals, custom bass drum), and Alastair White (piano, synthesizer).


White Heath's Blog

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just to make matters worse for the night / We destroyed everything in our sight. . . . -- CENTRO – MATIC - 6/25/11 @ Local 506, Chapel Hill

We did fine.

There are two types of people in this world – those who love Centro-Matic with all their soul, and those who, for reasons that may be excusable, just haven’t listened to them enough. Anyone who’s clicked on this site more than a couple of times knows the love is deep ‘round these parts. I think part of the shared orthodoxy on this band is that, as good as they sound on record, they’re even better live. Part of that is that you just won’t find a more likeable group of guys out there (bassist Mark Hedman, pulling merch table duty Saturday night, spent 5 minutes trying to make sure I got the right size shirt for my 9 year old). Of course, the main reason is that they turn it up and flat out rock onstage.

Let me tell you, there’s no artifice employed to get Will Johnson’s voice to sound as perfect as it does on their recordings. Given its proper place in the live mix, just above the roiling guitars and pounding rhythm section (and Glen and the Local 506 crew had it perfect Saturday) his voice can be an overpowering force. And multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom’s backing harmonies might be that secret ingredient that makes it all work as well as it does. But that’s all true on their recordings too. The thing that makes them so good live is that all that stuff has to be cranked up to be heard over the drums and bass. I’m not a drummer, and I don’t know if Matt Pence gets mentioned when a bunch of dipshits gather together to talk about great drummers. But all you have to do is listen to the second song in the set, Distance and Clime’s “Fountains of Fire”, to know he’s an uncommon talent. He can do the really cool complicated fills and the tasteful understatement (and he does both in that song). So even though they don’t do songs like “Repellant Feed” anymore, Matt and Mark still will happily put a hurting on those eardrums.

Speaking of songs, the set featured a lot of the well-worn mainstays they’ve been playing on most of their last few tours, leaning heavily on Love You Just the Same and Fort Recovery and working in four tunes off the excellent new record, Candidate Waltz. The new songs sound great live, working great with the older stuff. I’d have to say the only disappointment was that I can’t think of a song in the set from their fantastic last record Dual Hawks (but it was hotter than hell’s front doorknob in there, and I for damn sure wasn’t keeping a list). Highlights, though, were many, including “Patience for the Ride”, “Mighty Midshipman”, “All the Talkers” and the always breathtaking “Supercar”. (I saw them open for the National at the National Theater in Richmond a couple of years ago, and in my Joe Spectator view, “Supercar”, played through that venue’s wonderful PA system, punched an audience full of unsuspecting National fans right in the gut.) They finished with “Only in my Double Mind” from the new album.

David Bazan, who our visionary leader (that would be John) tells me toured with Will Johnson last year, played a terrific set interspersed with unassuming, yet hilarious stage banter after the Centro-Matic set. It was a fortuitous, one-time pairing, and Centro-Matic will go back to headlining from here out, with fellow Dentonite (Dentonian? Dentonese?) Sarah Jaffe opening. Go see them, and get there early. Sarah’s voice is heartbreakingly beautiful, and definitely not something you’re going to hear every day.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Go see them. I’ll even help out with dates (and throw on a couple of videos below):

Tuesday 06/28 – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday 06/29 – Great Scott – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 06/30 – The Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
Friday 07/01 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
Saturday 07/02 – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
Sunday 07/03 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
Tuesday 07/05 – Euclid Records – St. Louis, MO @ 5pm (Will Johnson solo)
Tuesday 07/05 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Thursday 07/07 – Dan’s Silverleaf – Denton, TX
Friday 07/08 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
Saturday 07/09 – Cactus Records @ 1pm (Will Johnson solo)
Sunday 07/10 – Waterloo Records @ 5pm (full band)
Sunday 07/10 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX

Here's a nicely recorded version of "Flashes and Cables" with only 350 views for some reason:

And here's a video for "Call the Legion in Tonight" from 2000's All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (learn the handclaps -- that's important):

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vetiver: "Wonder Why" from The Errant Charm

Relatively new discovery for me, don't know how I missed this artist (leader is San Francisco-based Andy Cabic, his producer/collaborator is Thom Monahan) but happy to come across it... very well-done West Coast pop/rock in the grand tradition of such (you know all the usual suspects, if you like them, you will likely enjoy this). On Bella Union in England, Sub Pop in US.

Real good guitars, nice acoustic backing with some tasty, jangly electric solos, somewhat hushed vocals and sweet harmonies. This song, "Wonder Why" is a perfect example:

Watch the video, and check out some more music at their Sub Pop and official websites:

Vetiver at Sub Pop Website

Vetiver Website

Midnight World Pop Scout-20: The Eversons; Painted Palms; Sacred Animals

This week's Midnight World Pop Scout takes us to Wellington, New Zealand, Dublin, Ireland and San Francisco,California / Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Wellington, New Zealand's The Eversons believe indie pop should be about loud guitars, musical hooks and nerdy Jokes. The members of the band are Mark Turner, Tim Shann, Blair Everson, Christopher Young.

Here is their song "I'm A conservative.

They released The Eversons EP in April, and the entire EP can be streamed here, and downloaded at the Lil' Chief Records link below. Their label finds similarities with Modern Lovers and Pavement.

Artist site at Lil' Chief Records
Lil' Chief Records

Painted Palms is an synth-based group consisting of Reese Donahue and Christopher Prudhomme, and lists home as San Francisco and Baton Rouge. Their music is made in their bedrooms and released on Secretly Canadian. Seattle readers should note that the group will be playing at the Capitol Hill Block Party in July.

The music is upbeat and, to my ears, has a bit of a tropical feel. It is good summer music. Stream their just released Canopy EP


Sacred Animals is the name used by Dublin musician Darragh Nolan. Nolan's music is a mix of indie, electronic, psychedelic, folk and ambient. He is signed to Delphi.

Sacred Animals probably has a pretty good idea of what he's doing with his music. But to me, he also is providing a background for us to imprint our own thoughts and stories on his tracks. And that is a gift.

Stream the 2010 EP Welcome Home here. If you like it, download it free at the Bandcamp link below.


New Discovery: Fear of Men

I recently discovered the lo-fi shoegaze delight that is Brighton and London's Fear of Men. Actually, discovery is a term that flatters me too much, as all I did is search the internet after Ben Ward at SWAYS Records recommended that I check out the band that was playing with The Louche FC. Note to self, Ben may have good taste in music.

Fear of Men are Jessica, Daniel, Lin and Antony. I do not believe that they have recorded any full albums or LPs, but they have provided the following four singles via Bandcamp. According to my research, the members are split between homes in Brighton and London. I think the band was fairly recently formed, and at least some of the members are film fans. The melodies are upbeat, the vocals engaging, and the instruments fuzz and jangle in all the right places. However, to say much more would just be making things up, so I recommend that you dive into the following tracks for a perfect Saturday soundtrack.

"Spirit House"

"Phantom Limb"

"Green See"

"Church Words"


Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner "Grits Ain't Groceries"

We're going Deep South this week. From the Mississippi Delta, the great Little Milton with his late '60s hit "Grits Ain't Groceries". The opening stanza of these lyrics is an all time classic. You are hooked from the get go.

The original version by Little Willie John from 1955 was called "All Around the World" and it's a true find:

Many know the title line "grits ain't groceries" from the George Jones country hit "If I Don't Love You". While I love that song too, this here is the soul corner and George Jones ain't stepping on. But you should look that one up too.

Reggae: The Singers

For today's "old stuff" contribution I am providing some examples of top reggae vocalists. Some of these artists may be known to you and some may not. But they all share a mighty vocal instrument and an innate ability to express that, had they grown up in the US, likely would have given them a chance at stardom in Detroit, Memphis or LA.

Junior Murvin. The Clash's version had a nice edge, but this one is a vocal delight, and reflects Lee Scratch Perry at the height of his production powers.

Marley was called the King of Reggae, but Dennis Brown was known as the Crown Prince. He was successful as a solo artist, writer and producer.

My personal favorite is Gregory Isaacs, who was known as the "Cool Ruler".

Yes, this is a cover, but Al Brown nails it.

And if you like reggae covers of American R&B and soul, the Blood and Fire label published a great compilation titled Darker Than Blue.

One of the best voices of the rocksteady era belonged to Pat Kelly.

Delroy Wilson was known as the Cool Operator, and so is this song.

And here is the silky Ken Boothe.

Cornell Campbell had a beautiful falsetto--

Thursday, June 23, 2011

REVIEW: Booker T. Jones - The Road From Memphis

Booker Jones certainly needs no introduction. He's been producing iconic American music since his teenage years, when his parents had to make a choice to let him pursue his passion in late-night clubs in parts of Memphis most folks have never heard of. In the liner notes to this disc, Jones talks almost longingly about those years, when he was learning about the world beyond Millington, Tennessee and learning about how much fun it could be to make music for a living.

Then he talks about the road from Memphis, and of course we read those notes with knowledge of what he did from then until now... teamed up with Steve Cropper, Al Jackson and Donald "Duck" Dunn to form the MG's and made soul music that was never equaled. Whether your cup of tea is "Green Onions", "Dock of the Bay" or one of dozens of other soul classics on which his Hammond B-3 was indispensable, Booker has been providing soul to our popular soundtrack for over 40 years. Over the years, he's worked, either as a producer, sound engineer or by providing support on keyboards, with artists as diverse as Albert King, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Rodney Crowell, Neil Young, Bill Withers... the list goes on and on.

The Road From Memphis is a treasure. It represents the interaction between Booker T. Jones and a new generation of musicians. This record features a supporting cast as diverse as any you will find: co-producer and percussionist ?uestlove, Captain Kirk on guitar and Owen Biddle on bass (The Roots), Detroit guitarist Dennis Coffey providing some of the great guitar licks he's been playing since his days in the Funk Brothers (Motown's legendary house band), My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Lou Reed, Sharon Jones and The National's Matt Berninger... and it succeeds, mainly because of the common ground the players all find here. Sound engineering is provided by the Dap-Kings' engineer, Gabe Roth.

As on his previous release, Potato Hole, Booker takes a contemporary earworm (last time, it was "Hey Ya", this time Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy") and provides a scorching organ line to fill the vocal's role on the original. While very enjoyable, this track is topped by what is, in my opinion, the best song on the record, "Progress". Jim James sounds like he was born to sing soul music, his voice and trademark reverb fitting in perfectly with the sounds Booker, ?uestlove and team are making here.

Here's the video for "Everything is Everything"... check out the interplay between Jones and ?uestlove, a great example of two generations of music both acknowledging and pushing one another:

Booker T. Jones - "Everything Is Everything"

Booker T Jones | Myspace Music Videos

Booker T Jones Myspace

Booker T Jones Website

Book recommendation - Bob Mould's "See A Little Light"

I am a sucker for music biographies. But trust me, Bob Mould's autobiography, See A Little Light - The Trail of Rage and Melody, is as good as they get. It's unflinchingly honest, insightful, and self-depreciating. And Mould has a great story to tell - the rise and collapse of Husker Du and then Sugar captures an incredible legacy of urgent American rock.

There are compelling sub-stories here too - being a gay man in a macho punk rock world; Mould's complex relationship with Husker Du co-leader Grant Hart; navigating the indie label scene with influential SST then moving to major label Warner Bros; riding the wave of being in one of the most respected yet underground bands in America; and being a part of the very fertile 1980s indie rock scene in Minneapolis.

The book is well written with help from Michael Azerrad (author of another must read rock book Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991).

Bob Mould's integrity, always the foundation of his artistry, is captured here. He is never self-aggrandizing about his accomplishments nor defensive about his missteps. He is a terrific storyteller, and of course he compiled a treasure trove of them on the road with Husker Du.

And it's great fun to go behind the scenes to the making of some of best American rock ever - a relentless combination of raw power, catchy melodies and whip smart writing. But Mould's personal history is at times gut wrenching, of course all that rage didn't come out of thin air.

Buy this book.

But first listen to this again:

And this:

The book can be purchased here or better yet, at your local bookstore:

See A Little Light - buy at

Bob Mould's Website

REVIEW: Black Whales -- Shangri-La Indeed

We profiled Seattle psychedelic/garage rockers Black Whales earlier this year as an emerging Seattle band with a sound and energy we really liked. Happily for us and their other fans, the guys are releasing a new LP, Shangri-La Indeed, on June 28. For me, it is just what the doctor ordered: Reverby guitars crunching and jangling over a driving rhythm section and showcasing a very good set of songs. This band really should be better known, and I hope this album helps them break through.

You can stream select songs from the album here:

Sequencing an album is a tricky but important art. Black Whales got that task right by opening the album with the title track, "Shangri-La Indeed". From the opening strains I knew I was going to give the full album a chance. But first I hit the repeat button for "Shangri-La Indeed" a few times. All in the name of research, of course.

The members of Black Whales are Alan, Alex, Dave, Davey and Ryan, and clearly they have a good working relationship. The vocals and instruments are spot on and there is no sign of growing pains. And the production is clean and clear. Overall, it has the timeless feel of classic American power pop that never goes out of style. I liked all of the tracks on the album, but my favorites, in addition to the title track, are "Walking in the Dark", "Young Blood", "Rattle Yer Bones", and "Elephant #2". Although if you asked me tomorrow, the answer might change.

While I normally don't get involved with such details, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the band is offering a "half price sale" on the album. If you order now, you get three tracks immediately. On June 28 you'll get the download code for the remaining tacks and the CD will be shipped. You pay $5.00 in total. Details are on their website.

We'll close with a live acoustic version of one of the album tracks, "Young Blood":


Cool Video Thursday

From Breakbot, a little art class "Fantasy".

Breakbot: Fantasy from Önaz on Vimeo.

Yuck gives us the interesting but PROBABLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK "Shook Down". This band has a great sound, doesn't it?

Yuck - Shook Down from Yuck on Vimeo.

"Woods", from The Rosebuds>

The Rosebuds - Woods from Merge Records on Vimeo.

Belle and Sebastian with "I Didn't See It Coming".

I Didn't See It Coming (Richard X mix) from Belle & Sebastian on Vimeo.

And not for something a bit different: Scottish musician Tragic O'Hara makes music with a guitar made out of a piece of wood, a cigar box and a bolt, plus a sampling machine.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Cool Video Thursday

Since we didn't have anything else up today, we moved Cool Video Thursday to Wednesday. If this is offensive, please fill out form 697A-492.3(revised) and submit it to the Customer Service Department.

Video for "Calgary" from Bon Iver

"My Mistakes" from Eleanor Friedberger

Eleanor Friedberger - My Mistakes from Merge Records on Vimeo.

"Where We Go", from Seapony

Seapony - Where We Go from Hardly Art on Vimeo.

"Parallels", from Soft Moon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reggae: Early DJs on the Microphone

This probably was the beginning of the microphone culture: Beats, melody, and sometimes vocals in the background, and the man on the mic, chatting about what's on his mind. It has spread through rap, dubstep and even rock, but it began in Jamaica's dancehalls. Perhaps the first DJ, or "toaster" was Count Machuki who, in 1950, made "musical wisecracks" over the U.S. R&B he was spinning for the crowd. He continued to do it, and started working Harlem street slang into the mix with the Jamaican slang. In various stylings, Sir Lord Comic, King Sporty, and Prince Buster continued the practice. In the late 60s Winston Spark, aka King Stitt became a pure toaster.

However, the most popular of the late 60s DJs was Ewart Beckford, who performed as U-Roy. His recordings for Duke Reid in the early 80s dominated the charts, inspired DJs who followed, and resulted in his nickname, "The Originator". This track demonstrates the style: The Paragon's "Wear You to the Ball", with U-Roy toasting over the top.

The most erudite of the early DJs was the educated, dapper I-Roy. This song demonstrates both his intimate but erudite style, and the height of the DJ production. "Sister Maggie Breast" (yeah, its not for children) uses Dennis Brown's "Wolves and Leopards" as a base track, and it was produced by the great Winston "Niney" Holness. However, Lee Scratch Perry couldn't resist grabbing the mic to do the intro himself, and make fun of his own randy nature:

In "Camp Road Skanking", I-Roy uses Junior Delgado's vocal over an original Heptones cut called "Get in the Groove" as a launching pad for his own thoughts of the day. It also is a Niney Holness production.

The next giant in the DJ role is one of the few men to challenge Bob Marley on the Jamaican charts--the irrepressible Manley Augustus Buchanan, who was known as Big Youth. Big Youth was a change agent: He changed the style to a more chanting style, fore-running the "singjays of the '80s. But his biggest change was in lyrics; he made the DJ the unofficial spokesman for the Ghetto. In this famous track, Niney Holness produced the 6'4" toaster chatting over a Dennis Brown's "Westbound Train". The interplay of the original track and Big Youth's contribution gives the impression that Big Youth and Dennis are in a duet. We also get a sense of the competition between the DJs for fans. Big Youth starts out with "Hey Bubba man Dennis, I hear some people go chatting this and that, but to me they don't know where it's at--go on and say something". At that point Holness cues Brown's original vocal, which says 'ride on', but to the listener is sounds like Dennis is responding to Big Youth's dismissal of his DJ competitors with 'right on'! Here is Big Youth's "Ride On":

Big Youth introduced a chant style to toasting which influenced other toasters for the next decade. Here is Big Youth toasting over the top of "Stop That Train" by Keith and Tex. Big Youth's version is named "Cool Breeze", and it is one of my favorites:

Here is a prime example of Big Youth's social commentary -- "Train to Rhodesia"

Our last artist for the Early DJ edition is Dillinger. The chosen track is "Flat Foot Hustling", which features Dillinger toasting over Dennis Brown's "Have No Fear".

If you had guessed that the crisp production is attributable to Mr. Holness, you were correct.

Well, Dillinger was the last artist, but the last track goes to Big Youth's iconic S.90, about his beloved motorbike. An early line is "if you ride like lightning, you'll crash like thunder.

Monday, June 20, 2011

REVIEW: Milk Maid - Yucca

This Manchester, UK group seems an appropriate subject for a blog that takes its name from Guided By Voices, because the crunchy DIY indie rock of Milk Maid seems to me to be a good fit with Bob Pollard's musical sweet spot. The hooky melodies and guitar driven sound of their impressive debut release, Yucca, have drawn justifiable comparisons to Guided By Voices, Woods and Kurt Vile. But there is a decided The Jesus and Mary Chain noise pop strain that, in addition to the decidedly dark cast to the lyrics, personalizes the music to this band.

The sound of Milk Maid illustrates the surprises one can get when members of bands step out into a lead role in their own project. Songwriter and frontman Martin Cohen also is the bassist for the currently inactive Nine Black Alps, which has a very different sound. Cohen's musical voice seems to spring from a merger of the early Creation Records era and the melodic pop of the 60s, and unabashedly reveals the highest quality influences. The guitars are omnipresent but vary from fuzzy to reverb to scuzzy, offset by a pulsing rhythm section and semi distorted vocals.

I became a fan with my first listen to "Not Me", a noise pop gem which immediately shouldered its way into my list of favorite songs for the year.

Milk Maid - Not Me from FatCat Records on Vimeo.

In addition to Cohen, Milk Maid are Ian Hodson, Rick Entezari, and Luke Towart. The band is signed to FatCat Records, and is performing live in the UK in support of Yucca.

A live version of album track "Girl"

With eleven songs, Yucca has many high notes. A couple of the songs grabbed me less than others, in particular, "Oh", but I can truthfully say that all the songs are quality. In addition to "Not Me", my highlights include the punk/garage "Such Fun", "Girl" (which has a Guided By Voices vibe, to my ears), Dead Wrong, the jangly power pop ballad of "Can't You See", and the slow burner "Same As What". Overall, this is a type of rock music I love, and I hope this band sticks around for a long time.

A live performance of the album's opening track, "Such Fun"

FatCat Records

Sunday, June 19, 2011

JEFF The Brotherhood: We Are the Champions, out this week

Sounds pretty good, so far... psychedelic garage rock by a couple of real characters from right here in Nashville. I've featured them on here before, and am happy to help spread the word. Here's the video for lead track "Hey Friend":

First Listen available at NPR:

Jeff the Brotherhood - We Are the Champions

You can buy the LP and download at their label site:

Infinity Cat Records

Finally, if you subscribe to RSS feeds from their blog, you might get some interesting videos and you might get pictures of cheese sandwiches and snack foods from all over the world. Where else are you gonna get that kind of variety in your entertainment?

REVIEW: Jim Lauderdale - Reason and Rhyme

Reason and Rhyme is the third record by the songwriting team of Jim Lauderdale and Robert Hunter, the second in two years. The first two, 2004's Headed For the Hills and 2010's Patchwork River, were excellent country records... no surprise, for Lauderdale is one of the best true country vocalists in Nashville. This installment is straight-ahead bluegrass, and it is wonderful. Lauderdale's made some of the best modern bluegrass records, including several collaborations with Ralph Stanley, and has a great voice for it.

Here's a video of him performing the lead track on Music City Roots, a weekly live show from Nashville:

The band on this record features mostly the same lineup from 2007's The Bluegrass Diaries, including producer and resonator guitarist Randy Kohrs, bassist Jay Weaver and Mike Compton on mandolin. This is a terrific combination: Lauderdale's approach to bluegrass and Hunter's vision of the unique American characters most will recall from his years spent writing with Jerry Garcia. Check out "Jack Dempsey's Crown"... a memorable barroom tale along the lines of Grateful Dead songs like "Wharf Rat".

"Don't Give a Hang" is another character song, sung from the point of view of a curmudgeon who can't even enjoy the obvious humor in his observations:

Don't give a hang
for telephones
that follow you
when you leave home

he goes on...

You think I'm proud
to be this way?
Oh I ain't proud
I'm just dismayed

There's not a weak spot on the album. Check out a sample with a free download of "Love's Voice" available here:

Lauderdale is one of the most unique artists working today. Check out his tour dates... On one day (June 24), he's playing a free show at the Opry Shop, appearing on the Grand Ole Opry then driving back into town on I-40 to get to the Station Inn, a bluegrass venue that's featured many, many appearances by Lauderdale and his cohorts over the years. He's a musical treasure, and this record is just further proof.

Jim Lauderdale Website

Sugar Hill Records

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Clarence Clemons, RIP

Iconic saxophone player of the E Street band died of complications from a stroke he suffered last weekend. He was 69 years old.

Midnight World Pop Scout-19: AM444; Why Don't We Love Lucy; Satellite Stories

This week's edition includes our first ever entry from China, as well as bands from Denmark/Norway and Finland.

AM444 is based in Shanghai. The members are ChaCha, who has provided vocals for trip hop, downbeat, dubstep and reggae projects, and DJ and producer Jay Soul, who is from Amsterdam. AM444 released an LP named Eye Wonder, in April on the PAUSE:MUSIC label.

This is a video for "Eye Wonder"


Why Don't We Love Lucy is an electro-pop/soul group from Denmark and Norway. The members are Benjamin Dante (vocals), Mads Froberg (bass and keyboards), Bo Blaksteen (guitars and keyboards), and Jonas Jarlkov (drums and samples). They released an LP entitled CPH-OSL in March 2011.

"Bohemian Girl", live.

A live version of "Sonic Bird".


Satellite Stories are from Oulu, Finland, which I understand is located near the Arctic Circle. Their indie pop reminds me of Vampire Weekend. The songs are very upbeat and, in fact, the band describes their style as "party indie". They like the 60s, they like to dance, I think they like to be happy and make you happy.

The members are Esa (vocals and guitar), Marko (guitar), Jyri (bass), and Olli-Pekka (drums). At this point, they seem to be unsigned.

This song is named "Helsinki Art Scene"

Satellite Stories - Family by satellitestories

"Kids Aren't Safe in the Metro"
Satellite Stories - Kids Aren't Safe In The Metro by satellitestories