December 28, 2008

Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux

I was going to write a review of Fall Out Boy's new album but it's everything you would think that somebody who thinks that Pete Wentz's a cock mongering rich kid who doesn't know shit about struggle would say about it.

I don't dislike the rest of the band members; I dislike their music.

So there's the short, spite filled review that was two weeks in the making.

November 15, 2008

re: Proposition 8

I'm not going to spill too much ink outlining why we here at Slamdunk Stalin are unhappy with the Golden State / 51% of its voters / The Church of Latter-Day Saints for passing Proposition 8, banning gay marriage and civil unions. It speaks for itself. But, suffice it to say, my and =p='s home state (well, technically North Dakota for the latter, but semantics) needs a stern reprimand.

CALIFORNIA,That is all.

November 3, 2008

September 25, 2008

FIFA 2009 Soundtrack Track List announced over a month ago

In what is some of the spottiest journalism this side of the conservative blogosphere, I completely forgot to mention the announced soundtrack for EA's FIFA 2009 game (alternately known as the Marriage Killer).

EA has a long tradition of sneaking some real gems into their soundtracks (08 - !!! "All My Heroes Are Weirdos", CSS "Off the Hook"; 06 - LCD Soundsystem "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House"; 05 - Air "Surfing on a Rocket", New Order "Blue Monday") and 2009 is no exception to this.

EA is rocking more CSS, throwing in some Black Kids, Hot Chip, Lykke Li, MGMT, the Fratellis, the Kooks, and the Ting Tings. The game itself promises to be awesome, hopefully providing as many weekend killing moments as the previous incarnations, while still allowing me the opportunity to pretend that Manchester City will win the league every single year.

September 5, 2008

Ra Ra Riot has a way of making me feel as if all is right with the world. And not that there's anything wrong with Tokyo Police Club, but this new remix of "Juno" featuring Ra Ra Riot is the only way they could possibly be any better.

Tokyo Police Club also recently stopped by Spinner's LA studios to record an Interface Session. Check it out here.

Interface Session track listing:
1. Tessellate
2. The Harrowing Adventures Of...
3. Centennial
4. The Nature Of The Experiment

-------------------------------

My favorite woman in rock/obsession, Jenny Lewis, has pushed the release date on her newest solo album Acid Tongue from September 9th to September 23rd. I was able to call 1-888-717-ACID (2243) and hear the title track, however there are quite a few other ways to do so (including one following this little bit). Don't go expecting to hear The Watson Twins backing her up this time, though; instead, Lewis nabbed Elvis Costello, M Ward and Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, Jonathan Rice and Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes to accompany her throughout the album. I just hope this is a hell of a lot better than the last Rilo Kiley album. Oh, and one last thing, you can also hear "The Next Messiah" (track 3) on Lewis' Myspace.



Acid Tongue track listing:
1. Black Sand
2. Pretty Bird
3. The Next Messiah
4. Bad Man's World
5. Acid Tongue
6. See Fernando
7. Godspeed
8. Carpetbaggers
9. Trying My Best to Love You
10. Jack Killed Mom
11. Sing a Song for Them

--------------------------------

Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" ha been remixed by Esau Mwamwaya + Radioclit for their upcoming collaborative release. The record is set to include guest "apperances" by M.I.A., BLK JKS, Santogold and Marina of Bonde Do Role.

Listen to the Vampire Weekend remix here or download it via iTunes.

ALSO, don't forget! Vampire Weekend will be here in St. Louis on Wednesday, September 10th at The Pageant.

September 4, 2008

What else is there to say?

So, what do you think? Irony or no irony? Either way, it's a great song, great band and...I'll let you decide how you feel about the Obama campaign. I think it's easy for people to tell where I stand, though. :)



---------------------------------

Also interesting in the world of politics and things that are good; Michael Chabon is interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. Jewish humor alert!

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Oklahoma is in the process of attempting to choose an "official state song". I don't really know what to say about it because I have so much to say about the hilarity involved in this and I also don't have much to say at the same time because...well, what can you say? Everywhere I've looked has no mention of who can or can't vote, so go vote your little hearts out for The Flaming Lips because not only are the best band on there...the other choices are pretty terrible.

August 12, 2008

Speaking of musicians from Manchester

Pitchfork TV's One Week Only feature is showing The Queen Is Dead: A Classic Under Review. For one week only.

It's an absolute must watch. I'm watching right now!

August 9, 2008

We've been here before; I promise.

Ok, so as was mentioned in the last post I have taken to Roller Derby. And not just an occasional day or two, whenever I feel like it. I practice about 4 times a week and I practice full on, balls to the wall, for real roller derby. My team is only recreational but we have high (read: VERY HIGH) hopes of becoming a WFTDA league.

Anyway, just because I've completely thrown myself into Derby (and two new jobs and also raising a kitten along with our three year old cat...) doesn't mean that I've lost touch with the sweet sweet sounds of music.


This week? Ex-Saddle Creekers, Conor Oberst AND The Faint both released new albums. Conor's self titled album was recorded in Mexico with The Mystic Valley Band (comprised of, surprise, a few friends of his that we've heard in the past). This album also marks his first legitimate solo album since "Soundtrack to My Movie", released in 1995. Also of note? What happened to Team Love, eh?! Conor's self titled is out on Merge Records.



The Faint, however, have released their newest album Fasciinatiion on their own record label, blank.wav. Fasciinatiion is a pretty solid album and kind of a bitch to categorize. It definitely sounds like The Faint, what with the electro-noise-pop clash, edgy vocals, jumpy keyboards and nonsense...but this album features more destructive bass and it feels as though the electronic noise wasn't so much as a happy accident but came from years of practice, work and just overall becoming a more meticulous group, while doing so completely unconsciously. Strange, I know. I love those guys.

Also, people are getting pissed at The Ting Tings because Ms. Katie White was feeling ill due to the excessive heat at The Bluebird. People...rockers feel the heat, too. Musicians feel heat, get ill from food, get the flu and colds just like you do. Let the girl go! Plus, she's from the U.K. If I'm not mistaken...they aren't quite used to this kind of heat. Even people from here aren't used to this heat, so back up offa' that thing.

July 21, 2008

Jesus is coming, look busy

We've been lazy busy lately. Furge is doing whatever Furges do after living the good life in a large metropolitan area, Jenn has taken to roller derby, and I've been jonesing for a posting. And no more booze.

So I bring you sports.

The team who I was raised to follow, the New Orleans Saints, have picked up the biggest tool in the world: Jeremy Shockey. The Ada High grad with as much sense as you'd expect has been dealt for two draft picks. Clearly, there is no God. He'll do his part in New Orleans recovery by paying plenty of women to show him their tits. No fatties.

The Columbus Crew recently had first hand experience with English hooliganism by brawling in stadium with the supporters of West Ham United, or, the English equivalent of the Columbus Crew. It went as well as can be expected, considering there were about 30 Hammers and 100 Crew.

And if you watched the Espys... we're sorry.

July 3, 2008

I don't want to be all presumptive about this...

but there is a distinct possibility that Furge and I drank a few too many 4.75 pitchers of Stag at the Weezer Tribute Band set.

This wouldn't be so bad if video didn't exist of me blasting lyrics, out of key, into the sweaty musty air of the Stagger Inn in Edwardsville.

For anybody wondering, Weezer before 1998 played (in no order because I can't remember without Ryan or one of the other So Many Dynabros helping me):

  • Buddy Holly
  • El Scorcho
  • The Good Life
  • I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams (with Natascha B. on vocals)
  • My Name is Jonas
  • Only in Dreams
  • Pink Triangle
  • Say It Ain't So
  • Surf Wax America
  • Tired of Sex
  • Undone (The Sweater Song)
  • Why Bother?
  • You Gave Your Love to Me Softly

    It was really great to hear, in 2008, what a pre "let's just stick to writing bozo songs that lack any kind of personal feelings or else the label will shitcan us" Weezer show could have been like. But without Matt Sharp, who is totally fundamental to everything.

  • June 26, 2008

    Reunion Tour!

    So, I've only listened to the full album once completely through and about 8982134798 times seperately/in small doses/bit by bit/dissecting the new Girl Talk album Feed The Animals and I'm already slightly obsessed with it. That's what happens when a pretty serious musician and walking pseudo-music encyclopedia turned blogger gets their hands on records like this. Even if you aren't a musician, self-righteous blogger, snob you can easily be a fan of this new album. So, what I'm trying to say is...whoever you are you need to listen to Feed The Animals.

    In other news: THE WHOLE OF SLAMDUNK STALIN WRITERS WILL ONCE AGAIN BE UNITED FOR A GLORIOUS TWO AND A HALF DAYS! We will be ddrinking the finest brews, going to see Anheuser Busch (before the buy out that better not happen) and have him give us each two free beers before we take in some intense rocking.

    So Many Dynamos proggy side project, Thor Axe, will be making a triumphant return at Edwardsville, IL's Stagger Inn. Thor Axe will open the show with So Many Dynamos taking the stage after them...except it's not an SMD show. It's SMD performing as a Weezer cover band. They will be playing all your favorites from Pinkerton and the Blue album with a "few key B-sides". Slamdunk Stalin is excited to rock all together again. Come have fun with us!

    Other upcoming shows?

    July 1st - Modest Mouse w/ The National @ The Pageant
    July 6th - So Many Dynamos (as themselves) @ The Bluebird
    July 13th - Gravy Train w/ (local friend!) Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship @ The Bluebird
    July 13th - Al Green w/ Gladys Knight @ Fox Theatre
    July 19th - The Apples in Stereo @ Duck Room
    July 22nd - Health w/ THOR AXE (!!!) and Corvidae @ The Bluebird
    July 31st - The Ting Tings (!!!) @ The Bluebird
    July 31st - What Made Milwaukee Famous w/ Black Joe Lewis @ Off Broadway
    Via Gigwise. I'm really fuckin' excited to see (and possibly interview) The Ting Tings.

    June 24, 2008

    But I don't want to follow Death and all of his friends!

    Coldplay has long been this kind of band that a lot of normal people name-drop to make themselves seem more hip (think Zach Braff). They've also been the kind of band that people with overly inflated opinions of themselves/low self-esteem savagely berate to in a type of musical overcompensation for the love that their parents never gave them (think me and most music bloggers). Somehow, beating up on a bunch of chipper English guys embiggens us all.

    Imagine the horror, sheer HORROR, upon listening to the new Coldplay album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, and not hating it, nay, enjoying the experience. They're still the soaring ballad band we've all come to know (love or hate, it's what they've done since Parachutes), but having somebody like Brian Eno at the helm of your album will mess with your sonics. In this case, that means adding as much edge as a band like Coldplay can give. They will always be a band safely in the top 40 spectrum and that's clearly a realm they are comfortable in. However, we can all take pride in knowing we witnessed when boys became men.

    June 22, 2008

    Back Tracking Volume 3: Graham Parker and The Rumour - "Local Girls"

    Genre-movements, fads, and boomlets in popular music represent moments when artists begin to profoundly influence their peers. Example: before Duke Ellington and the Benny Goodman Orchestra there were certainly big bands that swung, but after them there were "swing bands" in the specific mode of their respective acts. Crossover artists excepted, the true leaps that music takes in the hands of a few talented movement leaders seem to occur when those notable innovators fuse strands together from several places at once. This usually happens when mainstream trends begin to stagnate. In Great Britain in the mid 70's, stagnation came home to roost.

    Blame it on The Eagles, blame it on Cream, but mainstream British pop and rock had divided roughly into two camps: one was countrified and folksy and encompassed artists as diverse as Fleetwood Mac, Al Stewart, and Fairport Convention; the other was dominated by loud, aggressively misogynistic blooze-n'-boogie bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and The Faces. Neither side was averse to jamming. Some artists, like T Rex and David Bowie, managed to avoid being shoehorned into either camp, but on a local level, rock music wasn't exactly percolating with new ideas. Punk's sound and fury was a good couple years away in 1976 when Graham Parker and The Rumour cut their first record, Howlin' Wind, but it was a bellwether of changing times that announced the concise pub rock of groups like Brinsley Schwartz had grown some teeth. Laced with the kind of muscular rhythms and big choruses his American spirit brother Bruce Springsteen was perfecting across the pond in Asbury Park, the album's unpretentious mix of cynical lyricism and raw guitar made little dent on the British charts, but a big impression.

    Two albums and a jettisoned label later, Parker and his band convened with legendary producer Jack Nitzsche (of Rolling Stones fame) to put together probably the best statement of the embryonic New Wave movement's connection - and debt - to the pub rockers. Squeezing Out Sparks was a leaner, less adorned album than its predecessors and suited its time. Just before making it, Rumour bassist Andrew Bodnar and drummer Steve Goulding had temporarily backed the insurgent Elvis Costello on "Watching the Detectives" and Parker was frequently being mentioned as a leading "Angry Young Man" of British rock alongside Costello and Joe Jackson, both of whom had cut sides that still retained some of the country flourishes of pub rock but were also heading toward a more angular, punk-influenced sound.

    The resulting first single from the album, "Local Girls," neatly encapsulates the moment in British rock Graham Parker personifies: its guitar riff snarls with pub rock earthiness, the lyrics bite with punk disdain and proto-New Wave wordplay, the keyboards hint at the looming synth-pop boomlet, and Parker holds court with a playfully nasty vocal that grabs its moment by the throat and doesn't let go. Something about the bouncing bassline and deep pocket groove nods to R&B leanings, which both Jackson and Costello would explore on their own terms in the early 80's, and if timing really WAS everything in music this song and album might've been necessarily huge when it landed in 1979. As it is, Graham Parker languished while "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" and "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" climbed the British charts. As far as a signature song goes, this likely ties "Pourin' It All Out" from 1978's Heat Treatment in the Parker catalogue, and for what it's worth, I believe this holds up quite well against the best work of the other two "Angry Young Men" from the same period.

    Regrettably, Graham Parker never really branched out into more sonically daring territory -- as New Wave explored Caribbean and Brazilian rhythms and harmonics, the mechanical dance music of Kraftwerk, disco's lavish arrangements, and post-rock, Parker remained rooted in safer territory. His 80's work, particularly The Mona Lisa's Sister, contain fine moments, but aside from Billy Bragg few artists followed in the snarling confessional style of folk-rock he embraced. All the same, "Local Girls" might be the finest moment of one of New Wave's most significant tributaries.

    June 20, 2008

    It's nice to have friends.

    Here is the newest Mates of State video, "My Only Offer", from their newest release Re-Arrange Us. Always always always cute, partially because they are one of my favorite bands ever and partially because they just are really freaking adorable. I'm pissed I missed them here in St. Louis, but sorry...I had a great vacation. For a cute photo of Jason and Kori's oldest daughter, Magnolia, (while here in St. Louis) head on over to Babble Blog and look up their blog "Band on the Diaper Run"


    ---------------------------------------

    Local band and good friends So Many Dynamos have been name dropped a bit by their producer/friend Chris Walla (you know, of Death Cab for Cutie fame?) in various forms. Some of those drops have been witnessed on Rock Louder, a UK music rag, and on MPR, Minnesota Public Radio (in the form of an interview/live performance, brought to you via mp3).
    Norm of SMD rocking at the RFT Festival (via SMD recording blog, via Jason Stoff's flickr set)

    In other Dynamos news this Thursday they will be performing in Edwardsville at the Stagger Inn (sorry, 21+ only) as a Weezer cover band. Also of awesome interest/SMD related? Along with SMD playing as a Weezer cover band their offchute prog band, Thor Axe will also be opening the show. The guys will be playing Weezer songs from the "1994-1998 era" covering "the Blue album, Pinkerton and a few key b-sides" (via their blog). The WHOLE of Slamdunk Stalin writers will be there, so be ready to have a fucking ball. We sure are!

    June 3, 2008

    The new Weezer might hurt a little...

    Okay. "Pork and Beans." By many accounts a return to form after sloppily-written, over-polished stumbling on Make Believe. Probably not a representative sample from the upcoming Red Album, if "Beverly Hills" isn't from Make Believe. But here's the problem: I find it odious. It's serviceable, if Bowling for Soup-y, power pop. And I do love the creativity hiding in the formalism of really good power pop. I can't get behind "Pork and Beans," though, for a couple of reasons:

    1) It's the New Rivers Formula. There really wasn't an Old Rivers Formula for Weezer's biggest pre-Make Believe hits - "Buddy Holly," "Undone," "Say It Ain't So," "El Scorcho," "Island in the Sun," and even "Keep Fishin'" all feature a pretty broad spectrum of simplicity with unabashedly dorky lyrics draped over them - but it seems like Rivers as a songwriter has really retreated into a "rebellious" attempt at irony under the guise of self-mockery. He did it on "Beverly Hills," too. The very beginning of "Pork and Beans" features a goofy synth effect and simple, chunky, countrified lift of the guitar line from The Crystals' "And Then He Kissed Me," coupled to unwieldy and generally weak opening lyric "they say I need some Rogaine to put in my hair / working out at the gym to fit my underwear / Oakley makes the shades that transform a tool / You'd hate for the kids to think that you've lost your cool." This is already a capitulation. Rivers has to voice his detractors before declaring, essentially, that he doesn't care with the defiant and clumsy chorus. It's just long on attitude and short on substance, which is opposite of what the best Weezer is.

    2) No soul, no commitment. "Buddy Holly" did the same thing, lyrically, that "Pork and Beans" tries to, which is to brush off a bunch of trendy jerks who be hatin', but where Rivers used to pull out pop culture references that were contrary to immediate relevance and dateability (like, you know, Buddy Holly... or Mary Tyler Moore) in a sort of timeless resistance, he throws out names like Timbaland now just establish that, yes, he is aware of the "cool" that he doesn't wish to have. It's like Madonna rapping about Mini Coopers. The execution is an attempt to be stylish, if derisive, but in the end it just sounds like Rivers gives up trying to be himself and has to be anti-everyone else instead. The appeal of his songwriter's voice, to me, has always been its authenticity. Like Brian Wilson before him, Rivers is direct but poetically observational in his most unguarded moments. Even on the Blue Album, when he sings songs like "Surf Wax America" that don't seem personalized at all - for one, Rivers don't surf - or songs like "Holiday," which are pure fantastic escapism next to the purely personal escapism of "In the Garage," Rivers manages to come across as the quiet kid in the back of the party who sees a lot more than he does. To me, that's a remarkably relatable persona. I'm sure most Weezer fans who geeked out in 2001 when Green was announced agree. On "Pork and Beans," just like on "Beverly Hills," Rivers sounds like the party loudmouth who's so busy talking something up that he misses all the fine detail of what 'being there' actually is. He still hits the mark occasionally, most recently on songs like "Freak Me Out" and "Haunt You Every Day", but in his commercial offerings, Rivers seems to bow and scrape to the kind of radio programming he turns around and disses just for the extra credibility. It's the difference between self-awareness and self-importance that haunts "Pork and Beans," and where the self-aware speaker of "Buddy Holly" don't care what they say about [himself and his girl] anyway, it's because he's caught up in a moment; the self-important speaker of "Pork and Beans" who don't give a hoot about what you think just seems interested in people nodding "yeah, he's still cool, I guess" due to his anti-everything posture of aging irascibility. It's almost a cranky statement where a grateful one once existed.

    The music itself sounds empty. Just plain empty. There's not a lot of rock gravitas in the current version of the Rivers/Brian Bell guitar sound, unlike the bass-heavy version of the sound of 90's or the cutting and nimble version on Green and Maladroit and Rivers is obviously moving toward safer song structure after his last qualified single bomb - "Dope Nose" - careened around with lots of nervous energy (if not substance). From what I understand, the other songs on Red are much more varied and adventurous, so I can hope that "Pork and Beans" is a misrepresentation of what the rest of the album offers. But it sounds lazy in all aspects, a predictable piece to ship out and collect a paycheck. I would've hoped that, on the success and reception of Alone, Rivers would have realized that his most idiosyncratic and earnest music is just as welcome to listeners as his most formulaic and superficial. Well, hope against hope. This might be my last hurrah with new Weezer material for a while.

    May 31, 2008

    Exercise Your Rights!

    To vote, bitches! No, not in the presidential election! In the Riverfront Times St. Louis Music Showcase 2008!!!

    Go here to vote. There are several categories, such as best local live show, best indie band, best americana/folk, best dj, best blues artist, best eclectic and more.


    Kickin' it old school: SMD in 2003


    Local "favorites" (read: friends) So Many Dynamos are nominated in both the best indie and best live show categories. And the best indie category is quite the doozy with SMD, Target Market, Bunnygrunt, The Hibernauts, Jumbling Towers,and Say Panther. If there were a way to vote for all of them, I surely would. Target Market has rocketed up in my top 5 local act list, as well as Say Panther and Jumbling Towers. All of them are amazing amazing amazzzzinnnngg groups.

    So, even if you aren't from St. Louis...GO VOTE! The polls are open to anyone from anywhere up until June 1st.

    June 1st in the Delmar Loop will be the celebration of all things awesomely local (musically, at least). $5 gets you into all the shows everywhere that day/night/afternoon/evening. The Main Stage will be at Vintage Vinyl and the festivites there will begin at 2p with Jon Hardy and The Public. Other groups on the main stage that you won't want to miss? 3p Gentleman Auction House and at 4p So Many Dynamos.

    Shows will be EVERYWHERE throughout The Loop, and again $5 gets you into all of them. My vote (the show you'll see me at) goes to Cicero's (one of my favorite places ever) with the following line up:

    6 p.m. Say Panther
    7 p.m. Target Market
    8 p.m. Jumbling Towers
    9 p.m. The Bureau
    10 p.m. The Hibernauts

    I'm also DEFINITELY going to rock out with The Monads at 5p at Market in The Loop.
    The Monads (via STLToday)

    Come out. Have a GREAT time. Have some great beers (most likely found at Cicero's). Get some awesome records (most likely found at Vintage Vinyl). And kick ass/take names. The choice is yours.

    May 26, 2008

    A long weekend provides.

    Sorry it's been so long, kids. I'm not one for lame excuses but I'll try to make mine sound as un-lame as possible. Radiohead fucking blew me away. It was truly a religious experience. I'm not going to blow my geeked out Radiohead load all over the blog. If you've seen them live at any time, then you know just how great it is/can be.

    I was going to embed a video of their closer, "Paranoid Android", however after I decided to watch it first, I noticed that some dude was "singing" along with Thom. And sorry, but that's just a no-no. So, I'll give you this link to the A to Z Riverfront Times Music Blog where you can view the videos from the St. Louis show for the songs "Myxomatosis", "Idioteque" and "Paranoid Android" (again, I stress, this is under your own discretion due to the singing of a fan).

    EDIT!: Instead I'll just post this sweet ass video of Thom Yorke busting out his sweet moves during "Idioteque".

    Also, go here to view some great photos by Annie Zaleski of the A to Z RFT Music Blog.

    All of the bloggers around the indie blogosphere (what a dumb term) have been posting the set list from their area, so I'll do the same. Obviously there is much overlap, but everyone has had a few unique surprises, so, without further ado:

    1. All I Need
    2. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
    3. Airbag
    4. 15 Step
    5. Nude
    6. Kid A
    7. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
    8. The Gloaming
    9. You And Whose Army?
    10. Idioteque
    11. Faust Arp
    12. Videotape
    13. Everything In Its Right Place
    14. Reckoner
    15. Optimistic
    16. Bangers and Mash
    17. Bodysnatchers

    Encore Uno:
    18. Exit Music (For A Film)
    19. Myxomatosis
    20. My Iron Lung
    21. There There
    22. Fake Plastic Trees

    Encore Dos:
    23. Pyramid Song
    24. House of Cards
    25. Paranoid Android
    -----------------------------
    The new Ratatat full length, LP3, leaked about two weeks ago. Though tempting, I'm not going to download it, but I have listened to plenty of the mp3's found lying about the internerd and I've also heard two or three songs on various Blog Radio shows on Sirius Channel 26, Left of Center.

    Anyway, this is a video that Evan Mast of said band (half of the band) has made for the song "Mirando" from the forthcoming album.

    May 20, 2008

    Back Tracking Volume 2: The Walker Brothers - "Deadlier Than The Male"

    In 1966, Britain's biggest band was not The Beatles. Do I have your attention? Okay, now who might you guess was? The Rolling Stones? The Beach Boys, whose Pet Sounds was perhaps the most-beloved record released that year across the pond? Some Motown act whose crossover appeal influenced the burgeoning Northern Soul scene, like, say, The Supremes?

    None of the above - or even close. In 1966, three Americans who jumped a ship to the United Kingdom hoping to turn their loose-limbed brand of Hollywood garage pop into piles of money outsold both the Beatles and Stones with a string of cinematic, tightly-controlled, producer-penned-and-engineered tracks. The Walker Brothers put "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" into both the U.S. and British Top Ten, but where their popularity at home waned, it exploded in the U.K. Scott Walker, nee Engel, and his make-believe brothers Gary [Leeds] and John[Maus] were the perfect American counterstrike to the scrappy British Invasion bands that washed everyone except Phil Spector and Louis Armstrong out of the charts in 1964: blonde, stage-ready crooners who took their vocal cues from the Righteous Brothers, their musical ones from... uh... The Righteous Brothers, and their fame just a LITTLE too seriously. But for all the pre-fab hits they cranked out (including the Bacharach/David number "Make it Easy on Yourself"), the rising songwriting talent of Scott Walker would not be fully constrained by his svengali-like management. In That Thing You Do! terms, Scott was Jimmy Mattingly. He just wanted to play HIS songs. He was alone in his principles. But he had the goods, too.

    Almost seamlessly, the cinematic sweep of Walker's compositions fit in with the group's established sound -- a huge, reverb-laden, melodramatic take on baroque pop that stood in brooding contrast to the sunny variety of the baroque boomlet that turned both Los Bravos and The Zombies' Odessy and Oracle loose in that same year. At his most excessive, Walker oozes a kind of smug affectation in his delivery that recalls a pretentious, demonstrative sad sack playing "woe is me!" to win the heart of no one in particular, but when The Walker Brothers manage to balance pathos with playfulness, the sound is seismic. Booming drums and weeping strings balance against bright horns and loosely jangling guitars to create a surround-sound panorama (and before "surround sound" existed, no less) that pulls the listener in by his heartstrings. The musical flights of a good Walker Brothers single recall the emotion and stateliness of classic film, with Scott playing Humphrey Bogart as both a vocalist and narrator. There is a fine line between Casablanca and Dr. X that bears notice here, but luckily a few of Walker's early efforts captured Bogey shrugging on the airstrip and not simpering at the top of the sinister mansion staircase.

    "Deadlier Than The Male," which was sold as the theme to the movie Heisse Katzen starring Elke Sommer, begins with the kind of orchestral filigree one might expect from a James Bond movie knockoff, but settles into an easy groove of drums, tambourine, bass, and string obligatto. The production of the song places Scott's vocal way out front but its straightforward arrangement leaves plenty of room for John Walker's easy harmony line into the chorus. Like many Walker Brothers songs, the rhythm and melody both vaguely recall an Ennio Morricone film theme. By wisely not overdoing the strings into a weeping, complicated mess (as heard in "My Ship is Coming In," among other Walker Brothers non-starters), arranger Ivor Raymonde - who, incidentally, produced Black is Black for Los Bravos shortly after completing this song for the Walkers - allows the group's strengths to step to the fore. Gary Walker's muscular drumming is one of these (he was the one Walker who played his instrument on most recordings by the group); another is the relaxed vocal interplay of Scott and John.

    One of the stranger trends in Walker Brothers songs is that the darker and more dispondent the tone of the piece, lyrically, the happier Scott Walker sounds to sing it. On "Sun Ain't Gonna Shine," for instance, when his vocal soars into tenor range in the chorus, he seems positively beaming to explore the hopelessness of "when you're without love." Ditto horror-movie-flavored "In My Room," which neatly reverses the emotion of Brian Wilson's classic of same name -- Walker narrates a scene in which his lonely room is literally all he has sans his long-gone bride, and in the chorus the line "have all DIED" (referring to "the flowers she left") sounds downright triumphant. And when Scott Walker issues his stern warning about the antagonist of "Deadlier Than The Male," his line "take care, my brother... TAKE CARE" emerges from his deep baritone croon bathed in tones of celebration and exclamation. In contrast, when Walker sings of positive and/or meaningful futures - "Love Her," "First Love Never Dies," and others - he sounds like a cancer patient relating the prognosis to close friends. This, of course, makes sense in context of Walker's cynical and desolate solo work, but even on self-penned Walker Brothers songs like "Archangel" and "Orpheus," which are both pretentious and bloated where "Deadlier Than the Male" is direct and lean, the bathos of his delivery slows the pacing terminally.

    Perhaps, then, for combining a glimpse of Walker as a songwriter with the sophisticated energy of the Walker Brothers as an entity, "Deadlier Than The Male" is exceptional. Despite only experiencing a limited run in the U.K. charts (and none in the U.S.), the song remains one of the more sophisticated singles of 1966 -- certainly not of the caliber of "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "Paint It, Black," "God Only Knows," "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," or even its spiritual cousin "Walk Away, Renee" by The Left Banke, but an impressive cut above nonetheless.

    Here it is in all its widescreen glory framing the credits of Heisse Katzen:

    May 14, 2008

    RADIOHEAD


    RADIOHEAD

    TONIGHT

    ST. LOUIS, MO

    7P

    VERIZON WIRELESS AMPITHEATRE

    May 13, 2008

    New Thingz:


    To celebrate their new release Narrow Stairs, out today, Death Cab for Cutie plays on The Late Show With David Letterman (CBS), check your local listings...because I won't. Sorry!

    Pitchfork gives DCfC's seventh studio album release an even 6.0, Rolling Stone (as well as Spin, AP, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and Kerrang!...) gives it a 4/5 stars, and Absolute Punk dotes on them with a 90%. While the album proves to be darker and a bit different compared to previous releases it still stands pretty strong on its own two feet. The literary themes still provide happiness in my heart, not to mention the fact that Chris Walla's production is outstanding. More on this album and my personal feelings later!

    --------------------------------------

    Also getting around the late night talk show circuit this week? British cutie Kate Nash is playing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC) on Wednesday and also on Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) on Friday.

    --------------------------------------

    Tom Campesinos of Los Campesinos! has remixed Tokyo Police Club's "Tessellate" and it is now available on a brand new Tessellate 7 inch and also on the limited edition version of Elephant Shell. Listen to the Tom Campesinos! remix HERE.

    In other TPC news, the guys have a new video out now for "In a Cave" which was part of "MTVU and Best Film on Campus" competition. Director Olan Rogers was chosen by TPC for his "cup on a string telephone" idea of directing. Here is the final result:



    For our Canada friends (and always, friends elsewhere!) here are the remaining dates you can catch Tokyo Police Club live:
    Wed-May-14, Kelowna, BC, The Habitat
    Fri-May-16, Vancouver, BC, The Plaza
    Sat-May-17, Victoria, BC, Sugar Nightclub
    Sun-May-18, Seattle, WA, Neumos
    Mon-May-19, Portland, OR, Hawthorne Theatre
    Thu-May-22, Denver, CO, Bluebird
    Fri-May-23, Omaha, NE, Slowdown

    May 9, 2008

    Back Tracking, Volume 1: The Chambers Brothers

    When I was, briefly, an arts and entertainment columnist for OU Student Media's website (hub.ou.edu), I submitted two features on a semi-regular basis. The first, "Make Me a Mixtape!", consisted of themed mixes and song-by-song explanation that increasingly delved into ridiculous amounts of snark and detail as my tenure went on; the second, "Throwbacks Are In", examined albums that had been overlooked or newly revived by modern trends. Only one installment of "Throwbacks" ever ran (it was over Los Bravos), but in retrospect it was probably too much to sustain the interest of the reader to have a whole album conceptually dissected, historically explained, connected with artists who sound like they'd used it for source material, and advertised as suddenly relevant again. That's both overbroad and overbearing, so I consider it a lesson learned.

    Yet my passion for music 20+ years old hasn't flickered. In this, which I hope to be a weekly series, I endeavor to put my thoughts about incredible SONGS, old (and underrated, and influential, and otherwise) as they may be, up for consideration.

    The Chambers Brothers - "Time Has Come Today"

    Last night, I found myself insomnia-stricken and did what I usually do: plant in front of my computer and rifle through iTunes for stray awesomeness. It arrived. The thoughts about this song, which I published on my personal blog, went like this...

    "It's such a fucking gorgeous, gutty, nasty, soulful, badass, charismatic record. Joe Chambers sounds like an enraptured black Baptist preacher in full apocalypse mode (with call-and-response from Willie, Lester, and George Chambers), except he's basically singing about that moment when you look around you and you realize you can't do anything but run full speed at the rust-red horizon at sunrise because where you've been is the dispondent quiet after the storm. "The rules have changed today (hey!) / I have no place to stay! (hey!) / I'm thinking about the subway (hey!) / 'Cause a love has flown away... (hey!) / My tears have come and gone (hey!) / Oh, my Lord! I have to roam! (hey!) / I HAVE NO HOME! (hey!) / I have no home... (hey...) / Now the time has come! (time!) / I have no place to run (time!) / I might get burned up by the sun (time!) / But I'll have my fun!" The uneven syllables and variable stress on the words are vintage full-force-and-fury-of-the-sermon. Where can I join this incredible church?

    And it's not so much Joe Chambers is singing as he is stomping his voice's foot so hard he could put that vocal through concrete. It's glorious. The guitar is by turns hauntingly chiming and sneering. Brian Keenan's heavy bass drum foot/snare drum hand are punishing. I've not yet found another song so psychotic but so on the light side of The Force. Fuck you, Sly Stone. The time has come. TODAY!"

    That sums up my personal reaction to the song very neatly (and much of this column must be personal in order to say anything unique) -- but I think it's a hugely exciting article out of time. When it was released in 1968, the charts were a free-for-all of weirdness. '68 was the year that Friend and Lover hit with "Reach Out of the Darkness," a chipper piece of Canadian baroque-folk-pop, but it was also the same year in which Arthur Brown got to #2 with the marginally insane "Fire" (sample vocal - "I am the god of hell fire! And I bring you!") - and '68 was the year the cities burned in the wake of Martin Luther King's slaying, and "Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" was the top hit of the summer - and also the year Led Zeppelin minus Robert Plant convened behind Donovan for the trippy, semi-sinister "Hurdy Gurdy Man". The Hot 100 was loaded with duality, with pop trifles like "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express and "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors; with vitriolic protest music like "Unknown Soldier" (also by The Doors); with the simplistic, breezy bossa nova pop of Sergio Mendes and Dionne Warwick placing three songs in the Top 10 between them; with out-and-out odd pastiches like Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and "Green Tambourine" by the Lemon Pipers. And "MacArthur Park" was a #1 hit. So a shouting, bashing, incendiary, vaguely anti-establishment slice of pristine soul-rock, for the one time ever in Billboard history, doesn't look terribly out of place. And that's not the craziest part.

    The song's slow burn through a six-minute psychedelic breakdown-buildup-explosion, punctuated by the Brothers' shouts of "TIME!" and Lester Chambers' rock-steady cowbell work, makes it a particularly bold genre "tweener". As a gospel-inspired song by a black band with a group vocal, it obviously qualifies "soul," yet the straightforward guitar attack and booming drums suggest "garage rock," and the middle six minutes of guitar solo jam and haunting hook definitely scream "psychedelic rock." Yet its uncut version became the bigger FM hit of the two edits included on Time Has Come Today. The band's leanings weren't hippie-unsympathetic, as they had recorded a shelved session as Bob Dylan's backing band, but for a group of Mississippi black boys and their white New York drummer to crank out a soul-rock document on par with the Oakland Stroke of Sly and the Family Stone seems fairly incongruous. Therein lies the record's greatest virtue: it defies you not to believe, and if you're hearing it clearly, it wins every time.

    Here's a brief performance video of the band doing their hit on Ed Sullivan.

    Shout Outs and Re-Arranging:

    I'd like to take this time out to give shout outs to Amarillo, TX, La Jolla, CA, Vencente Lopez in Argentina, Karachi in Pakistan, Melbourne in Australia and our friends in Canada. I'd also like to thank the people who actually check daily or even every-other-daily. It really means a lot to me and I thank you muchly.

    Just wanted to remind everyone that everyone's favorite daughter toting band, Mates of State, will be releasing their fifth full length album "Re-Arrange Us" on May 20th. Being one of my favorite "all time" bands (which constantly changes and they've been there for about 4 or so years now) I have my order filled in at my local record store. I've mentioned it here before, but their blog serves as a way to keep up with Kori and Jason as a band and also as parents of two cute girls.

    Sunday, June 8th - Mates of State @ The Bluebird

    I will sadly be out of town during most of their midwestern shows and perhaps MOST upsetting is that I'll be out of town the day they play St. Louis. I honestly cheered and ran around my apartment like a 4 year old child giddy over candy and about .4 seconds later was on my couch crying, heaving like...something that heaves a lot because I realized I'd be out of town/country at the time. PISSED. So, I'm calling on my local friends and fans to attend that show, take video, audio...anything. Just pictures, please. I'm considering driving east just to see them. The first and last time I saw them was SXSW 2006 at The Parish and it was just perfect.

    Here's the video for "Get Better", which I've been playing non-stop when =p= leaves for work. Their 4 year old, Magnolia, makes an appearance in the video and couldn't be more adorable. Look for her during the soundchecks at their live shows.


    ------------------------------------------------

    Also, blahblahblah everyone is freaking out over some of the newer leaks like Weezer's "The Red Album" (blech), Oasis (ask =p=, not me, he's the resident Oasis fanboy), and Death Cab for Cutie's "Narrow Stairs" (which is pretty good).

    And I'm in love with the new Portishead album, "Third".

    International Appeal

    Welcome to our new, burgeoning international readers.

    May 5, 2008

    Cinco de Mayo: Dispelling Gringo Drinko Myths

    Mas tequila?
    The very basics of this Fifth of May are that Cinco de Mayo commemorates a victory by Mexican forces over the French on May 5, 1862 in the Battle of Puebla. The French, along with the English and Spanish, sent troops to Mexico because the previous government had rung up a sizable debt and they intended to collect what was owed to them. The English had occupied the port of Veracruz and the French occupied Puebla, which is roughly half way between Mexico City and Veracruz. The Mexicans had managed to expel the French from Puebla on May 5, but, shortly thereafter, 29,000 troops were went to Mexico by Napoleon III. It was a brief upswing in a very turbulent period of Mexican history.

    An important point to make is that when new regimes come to power, it is very unwise to unilaterally decide to cancel debts made by the previous government, lest they be occupied. Cinco de Mayo is a slightly regionalized event in Mexico, with the state of Puebla, unsurprisingly, celebrating the event the most.

    In this country, however, Cinco de Mayo is portrayed as this day of celebration of Mexican heritage as a whole. Most Americans would be hard pressed to tell you what exactly happened on the Fifth of May that was worth celebrating and would assume it was some kind of Mexican St. Patrick's Day. All manners of Americans use this day as a means to an end: to drink terrible Mexican beers like Corona or drinking terrible Mexican tequila like Jose Cuervo (usually in margaritas, or, not uncommonly, taken tequila cruda by licking salt off ones hand, taking a shot, and then biting a lime wedge) with the sole intent of making this Cinco de Drinko the best one they will not remember. It is not dissimilar at all from doing shots of Jameson, drinking Guinness, or oddly celebrating the Irish Republic Army by drinking the explosively named Irish Car Bomb, but completely similar in the co-opting of one ethnic group's holiday and making it into an awkward celebration of the very essence of being a member of that group even if you are not.

    As one whose ancestors were a part of the ethnic group who were defeated in the Battle of Puebla, I'll spend my day trying to find passable Mexican food in St. Louis and probably having a margarita.

    May 1, 2008

    May Day is always day of most greatest celebration!

    Well, it's that fair day of glorifying the Soviet Blogosphere. Since we don't have any tanks to roll through the square, or any terrifying bombers to cast imposing shadows on the giddy throng, we bring you...

    SEA POWER!

    l-r: Martin Noble, Yan Wilkinson, Hamilton Wilkinson, Matthew Wood

    I caught up with guitarist Martin Noble of British Sea Power after the band's The Rock-bringing set at last weekend's Norman Music Festival, in which the band shared the bill with The Polyphonic Spree, Chainsaw Kittens, The Evangelicals, Colourmusic, and others. He had plenty to say about the show, his band's swell new album Do You Like Rock Music?, Cracker Barrel, and the perils of being a scaffold-climbing plant-man in the United Kingdom:

    Slam Dunk Stalin: You guys just inaugurated the Norman Music Festival. How was the experience?

    Martin Noble (guitar): Brilliant. I liked the stage down on the end of the street. It was a lot like this festival we played in London one time on Denmark St., it was open-air and free. That’s a lot of fun.

    SDS: So you like playing the outdoor shows?

    M: Well, yeah, except the one bad thing is you can’t always tell when your guitar pedals are on with the sunlight. But other than that…

    SDS: Is Norman the smallest U.S. town you’ve ever played?

    M: Yeah.

    SDS: Very cool. Was the crowd reaction on the level you’re used to in this part of the world?

    M: Yeah, when it’s outdoors and free and everyone’s a little drunk, it’s just a great party atmosphere.

    SDS: I know you guys are friendly with The Flaming Lips. Did you run into any members on their turf?

    M: No, and we had to leave the day Wayne got back to town. They’ve got this big circus tent that they’re taking to the festivals this year to play in, and I guess they played a show in Wayne’s backyard, but we missed out on that. I’m sure someone called the cops about the noise.

    SDS: Speaking of cops… and people… you almost kicked me in the face riding around on [some guy’s] shoulders at the show Saturday.

    M: Really? Well, that’s a big ALMOST, yeah?

    SDS: Right, it’s what makes it a “funny concert story” and not a “’dammit, Martin!’ story”. But about that, do promoters ever tell you guys to tone it down live because someone might get hurt?

    M: Sometimes, certainly. The worst thing like that was during this show in the UK with Polyphonic Spree – that’s how we met them, at that show – well, after our set, I was a little “out of it” and the guys taped all these branches to my arms and so I climbed up the scaffolding while Polyphonic Spree was playing and was waving at them, and they were waving back. But then when I got off the scaffolding security got me in a headlock immediately and threw me out. I was like “I’m in the band! I’m in the band!” And nobody believed me! (laughs)

    SDS: Like you were just some random plant-man climbing the scaffold?

    M: (laughs) Yeah!

    SDS: Do they have that problem a lot or something?

    M: (laughs) Right, right. But then when we played with Polyphonic Spree on Saturday, the keyboard player took out his laptop and showed me his screensaver, and it’s me up on the rigging with the branches taped to my arms.

    SDS: So, about your album… “Do you like rock music?” definitely sounds like a rhetorical question when you listen to it. Was that the intention? Was it an honest question that you guys were trying to answer?

    M: It’s really left open. We don’t like having single meanings to things and the title stuck on a few levels. We’re trying to bring new things into rock music, you know, with the plants on stage and stuff like that, trying to make rock music what we want it to be. Plus, you know, our other albums have had kind of pretentious titles – “The Decline and Fall of British Sea Power”, that sounds REAL serious – so we thought this would be a nice name for the album, very straightforward.

    SDS: So it was kind of a riff on your other two album titles?

    M: It was, I suppose, in addition to all of that.

    SDS: I should ask about the lyrics. Does Yan [Wilkinson, vocals and guitar] do all of the writing or is it more collaborative?

    M: Well, Yan and Hamilton [Wilkinson, bass and vocals] sing all the songs on the new album and they usually write what they sing, though sometimes they help each other out.

    SDS: It seems like there’s a lot of literary and historical allusions in the songs. Do they read a lot on the road?

    M: Yeah, they have these books and when they get a though they just sort of jot it down. I know back home, they listen to a lot of the science and historical programs on [BBC] Radio Four. BBC Four broadcasts these stories and, for instance, they did two stories on Canvey Island F.C. and what happened in 1953 in I think the same week, and they definitely wrote that stuff into “Canvey Island”. It’s really quite interesting.

    SDS: You guys have had a really big year so far: you did Letterman, you did Noise Pop, you did South-By-Southwest. Does it feel like things are blowing up, or is it just another progression?

    M: It’s another progression. We’re not one of those bands that’s going to “blow up,” I don’t think – not like we’ll have one song on the radio. We just pick up more fans with each album, which I like so far. I don’t think we’re ever going to be Celine Dion.

    SDS: Well, thank God you won’t be Celine Dion (laughs).

    M: But wouldn’t that be a brilliant world, if instead of Celine Dion being everywhere, it was all the bands you like?

    SDS: I think part of the fun of liking a band like British Sea Power is it’s kind of like a cool thing that not everyone might know about. And if they do find out, and like it, it’s because they think it’s quality music and not just that it’s everywhere.

    M: Well, still, I think it would be brilliant if all the bands you like were big instead of Celine Dion.

    SDS: This is – what, your fourth U.S. tour?

    M: Sixth, I believe.

    SDS: Does touring America still feel kind of alien to you?

    M: Well, this is the longest tour we’ve ever done. We’re here three months. But yeah, I mean, we’re always getting used to little differences in the language and things, expressions we don’t recognize. And from state to state there’s such a different attitude. But I guess since we’re here so long this time it feels like we’re a part of it and not just touring through, so that helps. I used to get mad at truck stops because there’s no fucking fruit ANYWHERE.

    SDS: I know! Everything they sell is either made of meat or sugar.

    M: Right, and so I was like, “where can I get a banana?” But now they have these Naked juices and things, so it’s easier to eat healthy on the road.

    SDS: And when you’re on the road, how do you guys entertain yourselves?

    M: Well, we have a DVD player in the van so we watch movies… we do these exercises, which we call “vannercize”, to try to stay in good shape and everything. Oh, and any time we see a Cracker Barrel out the window we yell “CRAAAAACKER BAAAAAARRELL” and we get a good laugh out of that.

    SDS: You must yell that a lot in this part of the world.

    M: Yeah, I notice that.

    SDS: I’m pretty sure the Cracker Barrel image came from slavery…

    M: Really?!

    SDS: Yeah, unless I’m wrong, they started out as this really down-home restaurant chain, only the whole “country” thing was tied to images of the antebellum South and so they had caricatures of African-Americans up on the walls and stuff. And then, in about 10 years in the 1970’s, that became really un-PC and they had to take it down.

    M: (laughs) That’s crazy. I wouldn’t think if you walked into Cracker Barrel…

    SDS: Yeah, you won’t see, like, replica yokes for slaves up on the walls.

    M: That might make yelling it funnier.

    SDS: Now, was there a conscious thought process on Rock Music to make it sound big and epic, or would consider it more an elaboration on the other records’ sounds?

    M: I think it’s an elaboration. There are songs on the first two albums, you know, that have those big choruses and things. It’s kind of like…

    You know, bands from cities tend to play really angular, kind of straightforward, tight rock. Bands from London and Detroit and all that. Well, some of the guys in the band are from the Lake District in southwest England, where there’s these big spaces with mountains and lakes and things. So these big, open spaces that sound kind of grandiose… that’s just the sound of where we came from. Like, Wordsworth, the poet – he was from the Lake District. He tried to do that with all his poetry about the countryside.

    SDS: Does it seem like it’s translating well live?

    M: Yeah, we’ve got lots of reverb pedals (laughs)

    We were rehearsing and writing in these big towers back home, like, 30 meters tall and made of concrete, and we got great reverb [on the demos] and so when we went into the studio, we tried to get the record to sound kind of like that.

    SDS: It seems like there’s a lot of positive buzz on the album lately. Is it meeting your expectations?

    M: Yeah. We didn’t have massive expectations, you know, but we always hope we don’t bomb.

    SDS: I meant more along the lines of “is this a pleasant surprise?”

    M: Sure. You always start off with low expectations and hope for the best (laughs). Like, with the first album, we had no idea what to expect. And then as you put out more albums, you hope that people who bought the last record will buy this one, and you’ll attract more people.

    SDS: It would be hard to consider this album a critical disappointment, anyway, huh?

    M: Absolutely.

    SDS: Okay, since we’re winding up here… what’s your best tour story so far from this trip?

    M: It’s not really exciting, but there was this day off we had in Florida and we went down to the beach. And I saw a sea osprey, which are really rare, and a whole bunch of pelicans were there and they dug a massive hole in the beach. So when the tide came in, we sat in there like it was kind of a Jacuzzi and tried to get some girls to come sit with us, but they didn’t.

    SDS: I imagine it’s not usual that girls on the beach in Florida have British guys yelling at them to come sit in a hole in the ground.

    M: (laughs) When you put it THAT way…

    SDS: “We’re rock stars! We promise!”

    ***British Sea Power: State Heroes of the Great Patriotic Media Blog***

    Unfortunately, due to a bad case of tendinitis for drummer Matthew Wood, the band was teetering on the brink of cancelling their Columbia, MO show when I got ahold of them. However, the band sails bravely on in their trek across the United States, with upcoming dates out the stern:
    May 1 Columbia, MO @ Mojo’s w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis* possibly cancelled
    May 2 Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 3 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 4 Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 6 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 7 Charlottesville, VA @ Satelite Ballroom w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 8 Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 9 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 10 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis (sold out)
    May 11 Brooklyn @ Music Hall of Williamsburg w/The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 13 Boston, MA @ Paradise w/ The Rosebuds, Jeffrey Lewis
    May 15 Montreal, QUE @ La Sala Rossa w/ The Rosebuds
    May 16 Toronto, ONT @ Lee’s Palace w/ The Rosebuds
    May 17 Buffalo, NY @ The Tralf w/ The Rosebuds
    May 18 Pittsburgh, Pa @ Mr Smalls Theatre w/ The Rosebuds
    May 19 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s

    Martin getting a lift, 3/21/2008
    @ The Triple Rock Social Club
    (all photos courtesy of World's Fair Promotions)

    More great news

    An interview with British Sea Power is being conducted tomorrow. We're all three very stoked to be breaking new ground on our site with such excellent artists. It's really incredible.

    April 27, 2008

    4/20 Rogue Wave St. Louis Show Review:

    This is a week's delay (as in I started writing this the day after the show, last Monday) and I broke my hand on Friday and can't finish typing, so...here goes nothing. My apologies in advance.
    ---------------------------------------

    I left my home, nearly 25 miles away from WashU’s Gargoyle Club around 8p, when the show was slated to start. After circling the parking areas twice, I decided to park in the faculty/staff parking right up front. I rushed in to find an insignificant amount of listeners and I couldn’t figure out if it was because of the bands being late, an printing error of the time on the bill or the crappiness of the venue. The Gargoyle Club is tantamount to a typical St. Louis summer; hot, humid, and despite its overall depressing quality is intriguing and one can’t help but to give in and see what it has to offer. My attitude going in was great, though rushed, but I wore extra deodorant and was ready to sweat.

    I scanned the nearly skeletal crowd for some familiar faces and found none. Of course I found nearly everyone there complaining of the heat and the considerable delay. I completely forgot who was opening and I asked fellow show-goers who it was and nobody else knew either. Great. Around 9:10p the opening band came on. It was an intimate affair but that made the treat that much sweeter; we were paid back for the delay with San Diego’s Grand Ole Party. The audience was abuzz with, perhaps most trivial albeit valuable information, how hot lead singer, Kristin Gundred was and her resemblance to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

    In my experience, both as a musician and a listener, bands that have their drummer playing double duty as the backbone, heartbeat, pulse and so on as well as providing the vocals as the lead singer suffer in skill and overall decency. Grand Ole Party may not be overtly complex in the percussion department, but that doesn’t mean that the drumming is simplistic or boring, and it certainly doesn’t suffer. Kristin’s vocals don’t suffer either; her voice is a thrilling mix, the likes of Ann Wilson of Heart and (observably, rightfully so) Karen O.

    Complaints were devoured by the surf rock-ish sounds provided by Grand Ole Party and the group began to dance, clap, shout and cheer both with and for them. GOP kept the crowd focused and exceedingly content. The set felt as though it abruptly ended just about as abruptly as it started. While the sound of Grand Ole Party may be a bit too undemanding or straightforward for some, they know how to get groups, whether it be an irritable group or a desiring crowd, up and dancing.

    Grand Ole Party’s equipment was being taken off stage and I was prepared to hear rapid grumbles regarding the heat and humidity. To my surprise nearly the whole crowd was alight with Grand Ole Party. I turned around a few times during GOP’s set to find the audience getting a bit larger each time and unexpectedly the audience was considerably larger (by around 60 or so people). Sadly, though, the buzz about GOP was put to the wayside and the crowd was growing impatient waiting for Rogue Wave.
    Around the peak of irritation, audience members thought they were hearing things; acoustic guitars playing a melodious and familiar tune. Heads were turning all around in attempts to find out where the sound was coming from. No one was on stage! The crowd was outraged by their confusion until they realized that three members of Rogue Wave came in from the common entrance armed with their acoustic guitars. The three (Gram LeBron, Zach Rogue and Pat Abernathy) got comfortable in the middle of the crowd and for nearly two minutes gave a beautiful rendition of a song from Descended Like Vultures until the bass drum kicked the start of the next song from the stage.

    This is where I left off and I broke my hand…so, as you can imagine the show was pristine, like a jewel glinting in the sun. I loved it, had a great time and couldn’t be more thankful to Gram LeBron for the great night. Sorry it’s not better than it is…but there’s not much you can do with a broken hand.

    April 26, 2008

    Taking issue

    Like Jenn mentioned, the Tokyo Police Club LP dropped. Apparently, the denizens of other music sites thought that meant somebody dropped a turd in a pool.

    Basically, the knock is that it's too commercial and that it basically isn't the EPs. Or, they had a bigger budget and used the money to sound a little cleaner. You know, like most bands do.

    That's like saying, "You know, I totally loved My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything. It was raw and rough. But Loveless... I'm not feeling it. It's too nice."

    There's always this notion of letting music stand up on it's own, being a meritocracy where the wheat is separated from the chaff, and letting the art speak for itself: sometimes that's bullshit. It's a business and sometimes business gets personal. Some great bands can't get signed because their sound isn't selling; if their sound sells TOO well, the fans run them out of town for being overly commercial and "selling out."

    It's a fun album, with great songs, and loads of energy. No, it's not perfect: the vocals tend to flat-line. It's grown up from the days of asking to speak to the President of the world, which is always a good thing. Ironically, reviewers knocked that naivety when writing about the A Lesson in Crime EP. Don't let negative, cynical music critics and journalists spoil what could be the driving-in-your-car album of 2008.

    April 23, 2008

    Just in case:


    So, just on the off chance that you haven't heard or you live under a rock or something...yesterday marked the release of the newest Tokyo Police Club album, Elephant Shell. I can assure you that it's everything everyone hoped it would be and more. "Tessellate" actually made me get out of my car tonight; it was the perfect setting with the wind calmly blowing, a cool night and being stopped at a red light that is known for taking nearly 3 minutes to complete the rotation and turn to green. I let the music and the words just sink in and I got out of my car and danced. Damn. Is it dancy? No, not necessarily, but it makes you feel damn good. Damn good enough to get out of your car and move.


    Courtesy of Ben O'Neill, friend and local artist.

    Also, check out the show review from The New Pornographers/Okkervil River and/or the SCINTILLATING interview with Gram LeBron of Rogue Wave. My show review from the Grand Ole Party/Rogue Wave show will be up soon, after I read Henry VIII by The Bard of Avon for my class tomorrow.

    April 22, 2008

    Happy 100th Post to us! Rogue Wave Interview! Yay!

    Sunday afternoon St. Louisans were treated to a Rogue Wave in-store performance at Vintage Vinyl before the real thing later that night at WashU's Gargoyle Club. The guys were running a bit behind due to a late start in Chicago that morning. I had an interview lined up with frontman Zach Rogue and once they arrived I was informed that Zach was feeling under the weather and I'd be scheduled to meet up with guitarist/keyboardist Gram LeBron instead. The show started promptly at 3:30, as was rescheduled and couldn't have been better. Had I not been informed of Zach (and the rest of the bands) extreme depravity of sleep I never would have guessed due to their remarkable performance. Four members outfitted with acoustic guitars and the drummer equipped with various percussive items, as well as a suitcase keyboard.

    Drummer, Patrick Spurgeon (L) goofing with Gram LeBron (R).

    Here's what transpired in the back room, poking and prodding for information while gram randomly drew on album covers and signed posters:
    SDS: Thanks for meeting with me today! Great set by the way.

    GL:
    Thank you! It was not what we were expecting to do ourselves, but we were late so what you saw was a last minute thing.

    SDS: Well, it really was great. So, I read in a recent STL Today interview that you played the Duck Room and it was a less than desirable experience (with the sound tech dinking around on his laptop). How often does that happen and does it leave a bad taste in your mouth for that venue, city or state?

    GL:
    [laughs] Every time we’ve played there (twice) there hasn’t been very many people there, and that’s fine. Every time we’ve played there (at the Duck Room) there has always been another good band or a big band playing in town that same night. I think both times we’ve played at the Duck Room that’s happened. It’s hard to not get mad or upset, but that place is weird. Yeah, that guy just had his laptop up there with the board and just sat on the internet and something will be feeding back or going wrong and we’ll be asking for something to be changed and we’d look up and he’d just be [taps on table, looks at imaginary laptop] on the computer. We’ve always played there with good bands, I mean it’s been a good time, but that place has definitely never been more than half full when we play there.

    SDS: Do any of you hang out together outside of touring/recording? Is there much practice that goes on outside of touring/recording?

    GL:
    Oh yeah. Well, Pat and I were friends before and he saw our post on Craig’s List and we sent him a CD, he got the CD and Pat joined up, like, right away. Yeah, we still hang out a lot and before tour we practice a lot before tour and we practice generally when we’re in the mode of like, recording or touring or practicing. We usually practice four or five times a week, at least. Since we all have been able to quit our jobs, like, this is what we do now. So, you know, we’ll have five or six hours of practice each day about four or five times a week and it’s more of a mellow, laid-back kind of job [laughs]. It’s great, you just feel it, it’s more fun and you get to just stay a band. It feels less like “Oh man, we’ve gotta go practice again” and more like “Oh yeah, cool, let’s get together again!” It’s a lot less forced.

    SDS: Forced, that’s a great word. No one wants to be forced to do a job that they don’t like.

    GL:
    Definitely! [laughs] Get a job you like!

    SDS: So, what questions are you sick and tired of being asked? I’m sure the “How did you get your name?” comes up a lot.

    GL:
    Hmm…”How’d you get your name?” That’s old. And “How was it” or “What was it like being on Sub Pop?” Um, “How’d you guys meet?” or “How’d you guys start?” Which, I mean, is fine, but if those people would go online and search for “Rogue Wave Interviews” or whatever, those people would see that all of those questions have already been answered. Yeah.

    SDS: Well, I did notice a particularly interesting question from an old interview. It was concerning the prevalence of birds and themes focusing on birds. I noticed that a lot of you have bird tattoos, too. Is there any actual relevance to that or is it just coincidence?

    GL:
    [laughs] Ok, yeah, I don’t know. And we’ve also been covering a song by Neil Young called “Birds” (laughs), so, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think so, it’s just a fascination that we have. And Zach also named his daughter after a bird, yeah. I don’t know, certain imagery just really sticks out to us I guess.

    SDS: So, I know Zach is from Oakland and is a huge A’s fan. Are all of you from Oakland?

    GL:
    Well, this is Pat [points to bassist Pat Abernathy] and he’s from San Francisco, but everyone else is from Oakland.

    PA: There's a Giants game today? Go Giants! Beat the Cardinals! [laughs]

    SDS: So, do you all follow the A’s?

    GL:
    Oh man [laughs], not really. I mean, Zach really does. Pat and I went to an A’s game once with Zach and he and I (Pat) ran around like little kids in search of hot dogs and beer (acts like a running child and screams “Eeee!”). Oh yeah, Zach will tell you all about it. He could name the whole team, every one of them. He was born and raised in Oakland, so he’s been following the A’s since he was a little kid. He doesn’t really even care about baseball outside of the A’s.

    SDS: Well, speaking of bands and baseball I know that Two Gallants are from San Francisco and pretty big fans of the Giants.

    GL:
    Those guys are great and we toured with them a few years ago. One of our first big headlining tours we took them out there with us. They were really cool guys.

    SDS: Other people of interest from out there would be John Vanderslice. I read that he’s a big hugger and I did not know that. But, then again everyone seems to have a John Vanderslice story. What's up with that? Do you have any stories?

    GL:
    [laughs hysterically] Oh man! Yeah, yeah he is! He’s so funny, he’s just like the sweetest, nicest guy ever. He’s been so supportive and he actually sang a little bit on our last record.

    SDS: So, do any of you ever read on the road? What books are you currently reading?

    GL:
    Yeah, right now I’m reading a book called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pond and it’s about the corn industry and how it’s destroying our ecosystem and our culture and food and how it’s totally changed in the last 50 years since Nixon signed the Farm Bill. So, now everyone just makes corn instead of having tons of different crops, like they used to, so now everyone just makes corn. And we always read a lot of books about bands, we are always kind of doing a lot of research and studying, like about The Beatles or the Stones or whatever. There’s a book called “Here, There and Everywhere: My Story with The Beatles” and it’s a really good book by Jeff Emrick who was the engineer and had just as much to do with their sound as George Martin did. As far as reading on the road, yeah, sometimes it’s hard and sometimes I’ll crack a book open and other times I won’t. Other times I’ll open a book and then just close it again right away because I’m thinking of sleeping.

    SDS: So, what are some of your favorites? Would you consider Emrick’s book one of them?

    GL:
    Oh yeah, definitely definitely. We continually go back to them (books like those), especially when we’re getting ready to go to the studio to record and how it has to do with the music we make or how we want it to sound. “The Band’s Biography” is another really good book. Zach reads a lot of fiction, I don’t know what he’s reading right now, though. We read a lot of music magazines, we’re always reading magazines and trying to keep up with what’s going on.

    SDS: Is anyone into any classic fiction or anything?

    GL:
    Yeah, I’m trying to think of what everyone is reading now. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and I also just got a book by one of those really famous Japanese authors. I just got it and I haven’t started it yet, but I can’t remember the name of it. I’m sorry! A friend just recommended it to me and I just can’t remember who it is or what it’s called. I’m a big Tom Robbins fan. Dominic is reading a book on The Clash right now and Patrick is reading a book by Beth Lisick who is a comedian and writer from San Francisco and is a good friend of ours, it’s called “Helping Me Help Myself”. Yeah, Pat’s continually trying to finish Neil Young’s biography, “Shakey”. It’s like 400 pages and he reads just a little bit at a time.

    SDS: That’s cool.

    GL:
    Yeah, it’s definitely good to read. More than anything, though, we’ve been talking a lot, too. I think more than ever we’re just enjoying each others company, which is good. Having Dominic is really awesome, too. He’s only been in the band for about 6 months or so and he’s really freshened us up a bit.

    SDS: So, we’ve covered reading on the road. Is there anything you typically eat while on the road?

    GL:
    We try to go and eat whole foods as much as we can while out on the road. We don’t ever go to fast food and we try to eat as healthy as we can.

    SDS: Is there anything or anywhere that you’re just really tired of eating?

    GL:
    [laughs] Bread. I’m trying to not eat so much bread and there’s always bread around. I mean, a lot of times it’s really good, but sometimes it’s just like [grunts]…I don’t know. I realize that sometimes we’ll just sit around in the van and stuff our faces all day. It’s like you eat food to have energy to do stuff and then we don’t do anything (laughs).

    SDS: Outside of eating healthy and whole foods, is there anything that you just really love to eat or have around to snack on?

    GL:
    Hummus! We love hummus and just veggies and fruit.

    SDS: If you are near a Trader Joe’s get the Chipotle Hummus, it’s really good and super delicious.

    GL:
    Oh yeah? Yes! There’s a White Cheddar Popcorn from Trader Joe’s that comes in like, a salmon colored bag…it’s really amazing. Try it.

    SDS: My last question is about The Fillmore in San Francisco. Zach claimed in an old interview that you guys all loved playing there because it felt like “home” and “it smells like all of music history”. Could you explain what music history smells like?

    GL:
    Oh yeah. Totally. No, it’s funny. You just stand on that stage and you look out, like [gazes in wonderment] and you think of everyone else who has played there. I remember the first time we played there, we were opening for Spoon four years ago and Zach’s parents were there. [sighs] I mean, it was just a really big deal. After we finished our set we just ran around crying, hugging each other, just…all those people were out there screaming for us. We went backstage and Zach’s Mom was crying. We all just couldn’t believe it. So, now we’re finally headlining there on May 3rd. We’re really excited.

    SDS: Thank you so much for taking your time to speak with me. I'm looking forward to seeing you tonight!

    GL:
    Awesome, thank you. Good job, too. See you tonight, luckily it's not too far and we have a lot of time.