Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Who Did Not Invent Heavy Metal

It's refreshing to have Pete Townshend out there, giving interviews, and saying crazy things:
When the Toronto Sun mentioned to Townshend that the new album “doesn’t have that classic ferocious rock sound” of The Who’s heyday, the guitarist responded as follows: 
“It doesn’t sound like The Who from those early heavy metal years. We sort of invented heavy metal with Live at Leeds. We were copied by so many bands, principally by Led Zeppelin, you know heavy drums, heavy bass, heavy lead guitar and some of those bands, like Jimi Hendrix for example, did it far better than we did. Cream, with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, they came along in ‘67, same year as Jimi Hendrix, and they kind of stole our mantle in a sense. So people who want to hear that old heavy metal sound there are plenty of bands that can provide it. So it’s not really what we can actually do today. Even if we wanted to, it was never high on my list of wishes.” 
Okay, time to break it down: Yes, The Who were quite heavy for their time, and were one of the first big bands when it came to hard rock. But as far as heavy metal, Townshend may be embellishing a bit. 
Live at Leeds, the iconic concert album to which he refers, was recorded on February 14th, 1970, and came out in May 1970. One day before The Who even played that concert, Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut, long considered to be the first heavy metal album.
The Kinks invented heavy metal, of course. It was called You Really Got Me, and it came out in August of 1964, at least four months before The Who would release their first single.

Monday, December 16, 2019

U2 Plays India For the First Time

How is it that U2 have never played a show in India?
U2 were joined by Jai Ho composer AR Rahman for their first ever show in India last night (December 15) – watch the performance below.
Wrapping up the final night of ‘The Joshua Tree’ tour at at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, the band were joined by Rahman to perform new track ‘Ahimsa’ along with his daughters Khatija Rahman and Raheema Rahman and singer-songwriter Rianjali Bhowmick.
Speaking about the performance, Ahimsa said: “We are touched by U2’s stand against injustice, for women empowerment and for goodness in this world. The collaboration with U2 on ‘Ahimsa’, comes at a very appropriate time, while the whole world celebrates 150 years of the Mahatma, the message of Ahimsa needs to reach every nook and corner.
I would have thought that there would have been multiple stops during any of the last five U2 tours in that part of the world. That being said, India looks like a vast, untapped market for live music. Why wouldn't you want to play to a massive English-speaking audience? I don't get it.

There are only a handful of bands that you could consider a "global phenomenon" and U2 would definitely be in that category. The Police played India in 1980, Coldplay went there in 2016, and U2 are just now getting around to it? Amazing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

There Are No Highlights

I'm not sure why this exists.

Pink Floyd, circa the years 1987 to 2019, was largely a celebration of what the band could accomplish with the name but without Roger Waters. The fact that the solo work of the band has been almost universally disappointing notwithstanding, why does this period have to be celebrated? It's a cheap cash grab, and nothing else.

Who, in Pink Floyd, is short of money at this point? What record company demands this release and what fan is clamoring for this material?

It's hard not to become cynical when this sort of thing keeps being released, year after year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Back For More Cash

The Who are back for more cash:

The Who’s current shows feature two video screens full of vintage shots of mad, mad Moon and Entwistle in his bemused and haunting solitude. I asked Townshend if he ever got nostalgic looking up at the pictures of his fallen bandmates. He snorted like an old horse. 
“It’s not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they’re gone.”Because? 
“Because they were fucking difficult to play with. They never, ever managed to create bands for themselves. I think my musical discipline, my musical efficiency as a rhythm player, held the band together.” 
Townshend took on his bass player first. “John’s bass sound was like a Messiaen organ,” he says, waving his angular limbs. “Every note, every harmonic in the sky. When he passed away and I did the first few shows without him, with Pino [Palladino] on bass, he was playing without all that stuff…. I said, ‘Wow, I have a job.’ ” 
He was not finished. Moon is an easier target; he once passed out during a 1970s show in San Francisco, forcing the band to pull a drummer out of the crowd. “With Keith, my job was keeping time, because he didn’t do that,” says Townshend. “So when he passed away, it was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to keep time anymore.’”
Well, he still sounds nice.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

About the Young Idea

I wouldn’t say that I forced myself to revisit The Jam’s In the City Album, but it definitely didn’t come up in polite conversation. I was looking around for that immediate, urgent sound to drive around with and this is an album full of impatience and necessity. It’s the sound of a young man finding an outlet for anger and creativity and the rock and roll aesthetic that never goes out of style.
There are better songs by The Jam and there are better debuts. You can work you way through this or you can indulge in All Mod Cons and Sound Affects, which are the two that always show up for me. This is the Modern World is not as good as In the City, but that’s a matter of taste. I’m less enamored with Setting Sons and The Gift, if only because they seem like lost opportunities to me.
There are compilations that are ready-made to bring you the songs that make up their catalog. I had a knock off compilation for years, and I had a mini-LP of their covers. There is a ton of product out there. But, for me, it all comes back to what I think is the greatest greatest hits album of the post-punk era.
Snap is one of those essential items that can dip you into their sound and keep you paying attention (and it deserves its own telling). By the time I start that with In The City and get to Town Called Malice, I’m always bummed because there should have been decades of that stuff. I love Paul’s approach, and I appreciate the Style Council and his solo works, but, damn. It’s hard to not feel cheated.
In the City is one of those neat, perfect things that encapsulates what the whole game was about. Come up with some songs, play them live, and put it on tape. I suppose you could look at the mammoth 1977 box set that came out a few years back and just consider it all the birth of a band you just can’t ignore. after all of the other compilations. I’d be leaving out half the story if I failed to consider the band’s live output, and all it covered a scant six year period of frenzied activity. No wonder Weller ended it all.
I always come back to the classic track Away From the Numbers, which is as good as anything anyone ever did. You can’t ignore how good Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton were, either. No one should minimize the fact that their impact on these breakneck songs was as important as that soulful howl that Weller would emit at all the right times.
All you have to do is write ten songs and stick a serious cover (Slow Down by the great Larry Williams) and then a silly one in there (Batman got on my nerves, he was a fucking asshole), and you’ve got an album. That’s it. And yet, no one has really managed to do it quite like this. The lid is still torn off the place, and there is no Jam to put it back. Now you know why it started and why it ended.

Monday, November 4, 2019

We're Only In It For the Smashed-Up Hotel Rooms

What’s the big deal? As long as your record label has to pay for the damages, who cares what ends up in the swimming pool after midnight when you’re a rock star on the road?

Pete Townshend has spoken about his regrettable “rock and roll” antics.

The Who guitarist and singer, who used to smash up his instruments on stage, said such behaviour was “a waste of time” despite it helping to get people to listen to his band.

The 74-year-old musician told The Big Issue magazine: “I was always pretty snobby about rock and roll.”

He addressed an infamous incident in which the band’s late drummer, Keith Moon, chucked a TV through a hotel window. “As the television went through the window, I would look at Keith Moon and go, ‘what a fucking prat. What a waste of time’.

“Then, two or three times I did the same thing and I would think, ‘what a fucking prat’.”

Townshend conceded, however, that it caught music fans’ attention. As a former arts student, he said that he was “in it for the art”.

“Getting into auto-destruction was straight out of art college. People still say that I should never have smashed instruments,” he said, before concluding: “Fuck off. It is how I got you to listen to me.”

I have a hard time believing any of that stuff matters any more. It was used to hype things, certainly, but if the songs weren’t any good, you would have forgotten The Who just like you’ve forgotten so-and-so and the also-rans. Being a terrible guest with violent tendencies at a hotel or being careless with a guitar on stage is just part of the fun.

At the end of the day, how many guitars got smashed? How many really good ones? And how many $50 throwaway guitars actually ended up being trashed while the good ones were spirited away before the end of the gig?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Discover New Music Every Chance You Get

I try to find as much new music as I can because I am a firm believer that nostalgia and listening exclusively to the same things over and over again will lead any person right to stagnation and ruin. Or maybe just a rut you can’t get out of.

This is merely a suggestion, and you may be put off by Beabadoobee and her 90s aesthetic, but my first pass at her recent EP has lead me to conclude she is the real deal and doesn’t live in the past. It’s perfectly okay to take the “old” way of doing things and make it your own. I love loads of bands that basically copped the Small Faces and played 60s music in the 1990s. There’s a fuck ton of bands that have adopted the Shoegazer style of playing and are making vital, necessary music all over the world right this very minute.

It’s all good. Find things that are being made right now and enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Delta 88 Nightmare

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800.0"] PHOTO BY DAVID BRENDAN HALL, POSTED MAY. 14, 2019 PHOTO BY DAVID BRENDAN HALL, POSTED MAY. 14, 2019 [/caption]

After seeing X this past summer, I was wondering about new music and, sure enough, that’s what they’ve been up to:

Punk icons X have released their first new music in more than 30 years. The Los Angeles act hit the studio earlier this year to record five new songs, and today they’re unveiling “Delta 88 Nightmare” and its accompanying video.

A rough demo of “Delta 88 Nightmare” originally surfaced on a 2001 reissue of the band’s debut album, Los Angeles. This new version marks X’s first release to feature original members Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom, and DJ Bonebrake since 1985.

Along with laying down a proper studio version of “Delta 88 Nightmare”, the band recorded four additional songs. That includes the track’s B-side, “Cyrano de Berger’s Back”, which was written by Doe prior to X’s formation. A 7-inch vinyl release of the single, due November 29th, is available for pre-order.

They are back on the road this Christmas, and if they play anywhere near where you live, do go and see them. What a show!

X 2019 Tour Dates:
11/11 – San Diego, CA @ Wonderfront Festival
11/29 – San Juan Capistrano, CA @ The Coach House
11/30 – San Juan Capistrano, CA @ The Coach House
12/01 – San Juan Capistrano, CA @ The Coach House
12/05 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
12/07 – Sonoma, CA @ Sebastiani Theatre
12/09 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
12/10 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
12/11 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
12/15 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
12/16 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
12/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
12/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Face It

There should be a dozen books about Blondie, and I don’t know if that would even approach the idea of telling the whole story of the band.

Debbie Harry is a serious artist and she should be treated as such. I waved away that dismissive nonsense from the Washington Post that popped up the other day because there will always be people who didn’t understand the drive that Harry had to make popular music and succeed on her own terms. Yes, there was an entire band behind her, as well as management and producers and they all did incredible, ground-breaking work.

But someone had to stand out in front and sing, and that made her an icon. Now you get to read about how she felt about it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


When all of your favorite Nineties bands realized that they could get back together and play live in front of people, I’m sure there were a few groans. Everyone has their preferences, and let’s leave it at that. I thought that Slowdive and Suede did it right, and I thought that the Verve and the Stone Roses let a lot of people down for various reasons, either by breaking up again too soon or by not putting out anything worth listening to.

There are only a handful of artistically successful “reunions” as far as I am concerned, and Ride has been the most artistically satisfying and accomplished that I have seen so far. This is their second proper full length “reunion” album and this stop on the tour to promote This is Not a Safe Place was an ear-ringing infusion of incredible style and accomplishment.

Nobody had more fun the night that I saw Ride than the band itself. They were in extremely good form and there were no false starts, no missteps, just a relentless assault on the senses and a pursuit of perfection that must have made rehearsals go on forever.

They played the old songs and the new songs equally as well, and this is what was so great about the show—nothing was out of place. No filler, no clunkers, just a desire at the end to hear a few more songs. There were whole albums worth of material that didn’t even get a hearing, so that’s where the show went. I was hoping to hear Pulsar, from the EP that they put out between comeback albums, but oh well. For a good fifteen years, the very idea of new music from Ride was an impossibility, so I’m happy to have heard what they played.

And really, what was impressive is that they made it all so immediate and relevant. Even in the ultra-modern, eclectic confines of the 9:30 club, the songs made a room for themselves and held up. There is still a place out there for guitar music, played loud, and in a genre that doesn’t mock itself and devolve into power chords and Chuck Berry riffs. It was soulful and drove home the need to give live music a place to be heard.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Beatles

Virtually everything written about the Beatles is wrong, and it will take decades of scholarship to figure it all out. I have nothing to back that up, because, just like everyone who wrote about the band 50 years ago, I’m making it all up in order to make myself famous:

Renowned rock historian Mark Lewisohn gave The Guardian access to a tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this week, which seemingly shows The Fab Four at loggerheads. Having finished the recording of ‘Abbey Road‘, it features audio of John LennonPaul McCartneyand George Harrison meeting together at Apple HQ in Savile Row.

The meeting was recorded by Lennon for the benefit of drummer Ringo Starr – who was undergoing hospital tests for an intestinal complaint.

The first major revelation comes when Lennon discusses the prospect of their next album after ‘Abbey Road’ – with plans for a single to be released in time for Christmas. Although their last album recorded together as a band (although ‘Let It Be’ was the last to be released), it was previously considered that Lennon played a major role in the band’s split.

“It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn told The Guardian. “The books have always told us that they knew ‘Abbey Road’ was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”

There is very little valid rock and roll history material that isn’t unadulterated, self-serving bullshit. Hardly any of it stands up to scrutiny, and almost none of it is of any value. Much of it was poorly written because, and this is an actual fact, virtually everyone was abusing drugs and alcohol.

Think of that whole period of 1964-2000 as a vast wasteland of nonsense in terms of what people say happened. Unless you have dates, facts, figures, receipts, and transcripts, I doubt hardly any of it could be authenticated. That especially goes for everything written about the Beatles that wasn’t actually agreed upon as fact by more than one of the band members. It was not uncommon in those days for one of them to float bullshit in order to serve their own interests, and that was true of virtually every other band that ever existed.

We saw this when they released the Esher Tapes; there was evidence that the Beatles were getting long with one another and having fun when, at the time, they were telling everyone that they were miserable. Well, what’s true? The actual recordings that show one thing, that are preserved historical records in a way, or their half-remembered, likely stoned recollections?

I don’t know how you could read anything written about rock and roll without questioning whose agenda was being served by the material and if it was, in fact, true or not.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Planet England

If it’s Robyn and Andy, it has to be good.

Going Blank Again

There are two interesting pieces on Ride’s second album, Going Blank Again. One is from the latest edition of Uncut, and another is from 2012.

The band’s next album is This is Not a Safe Place, so I think it is fitting to remember what an incredible sophomore album GBA really is. In terms of second records, it’s one of the best there ever was.

Those big moments, though, are defined by the more concise ones around them. The taut ringing of acoustic guitars on “Chrome Waves” or the lean psych-pop of “Making Judy Smile” or the angular riffage of “Time Of Her Time” all let us hear a new side of Ride. It reminded us that Ride may have made pop built firmly for the dreamworld, but the group never forgot the very real rock muscle this sound could generate underneath all that atmosphere. Here, it’s that physicality that comes to the surface and makes Going Blank Again an album that doesn’t have to take up space to be staggering in its sound. Ride didn’t make the mistake of making one huge-sounding album (Nowhere) and trying to top it with more layers, with bigger distortion, with more muddled volume. Instead, Ride peeled things back most of the time on Going Blank Again, so when they did decide to swell into something more atmospheric, those huge moments were earned.

Definitely go for the expanded version of the album and see them playing live. And track down all of the B-sides, too. If there was ever a record that deserved an omnibus or expanded version, this is it.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Parklife is 25

Blur’s Parklife is celebrating an anniversary:

Blur are to celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘Parklife’ through the release of a range of vintage merchandise and a previously unreleased ‘Live At the BBC’ session.

The seminal album was released in 1994 and is considered to be one of the defining records of both the 1990s and the Britpop scene.

The group’s label Parlophone confirmed today (July 18) that the ‘BBC Radio 1 Parklife Session’ will be released on August 2 together with a special anniversary collection of ‘Parklife’-era merchandise. You can view and pre-order here.

The anniversary merchandise contains iconic vintage designs that were originally available to buy in the 1990s, including Blur FC and their famous dog track logo.

‘Live at the BBC’ was originally recorded at the BBC in Manchester on March 7, 1994 just weeks ahead of the album’s release on April 25, 1994.

I never got into Blur the way others do; I like a trio of songs, if that, and the rest of it never really settled with me. I am weird that way—I should be a huge Blur fan, but I never got into them, the Super Furry Animals, or Muse at all. There are other bands, too—never understood Keane, Menswear, or Mansun, either.

The important thing is not to be a jerk about it. This is an historic re-release of a huge cultural event. There are tons of important bands and songs that were swallowed up in the 1990s—who genres of music were created and thrashed out during that decade, which was the last gasp before the music industry imploded. I think the next decade or so will be awash in nostalgia for the 1990s, and then it will probably just fade away, but I’ve been wrong about everything all the time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

I was kind of hoping someone would explain things to Lewis Capaldi, but I guess there is no functioning music industry in the whole of England anymore. It’s one thing to act the clown and get people to listen to you because they don’t know if you’re going to collapse in a heap of your own barf, but, Jeez, dude.

You don’t have to demean yourself to get attention.

You don’t have to make yourself the butt of every joke.

You don’t have to put boxes on your limbs and pretend like you don’t have issues.

You can get up in front of people and sing songs and have fun. I think that’s the most reasonable explanation that is available. Let your songs be your calling card. Be friendly and happy if that’s your thing. You don’t have to be savage and moody and you don’t have to be one of those infighting Gallagher brothers.

Does Capaldi have management? Have they given up?

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Great Glastonbury Cleanup

If you care about the environment, and I know I do, then you’ll be pleased to note that they have been able to clean up the site of this year’s Glastonbury Festival in what seems like record time:

[This has been] one of Glastonbry's greenest festivals in years. 

The clean up after Glastonbury Festival 2019 is 90% complete according to organiser Emily Eavis who has described it as a “massive improvement” on the last.

According to The Guardian, this year’s clean-up is expected to be complete in 4 weeks thanks to the continued good weather. In 2017, it looks teams over 6 weeks to complete the clean-up operation.

On Tuesday, Eavis published a post on Instagram saying that this year, “93.3% of all tents were taken home” after analysing the results of an Ariel site photograph before and after the event.

I’ve yet to figure out how you can abandon a tent, but it makes sense. You spend four or five days throwing up in one, why take it with you?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Janet Weiss

Well, this is sad and somewhat shocking:

"The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on"

Janet Weiss, the drummer of Sleater-Kinney, has announced her surprise departure from the band after 24 years.

In a statement on Twitter, Weiss said: “After intense deliberation and with heavy sadness, I have decided to leave Sleater-Kinney. The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on. I will never forget the heights we reached, or the magnificent times Corin, Carrie and I shared.

I don’t care why Weiss left the band, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. The music industry is very difficult to understand right now. In one sense it’s easy—there’s no money but you get to play for free! And in another sense, it comes down to whether there are enough people willing to support you and help you through the tough times. For Sleater-Kinney, I would have thought there would be enough of a support system there to let the members have some freedom and some real opportunities to go out and play. But, when you get into a creative setting, things can fall apart. It’s sad, and it’s frustrating, but think of how it is for them.

Some people just get to the end of that road, and they don’t want to play anymore. Some people get to a point where it is just too much of a difficult decision—leave your family, leave the people you love, go on the road, and end up breaking even or less at the end of a tour. Or it’s a great living, and you could do very well, but at what cost? You just never know why people do what they do and why they stop doing what they do.

You can’t begrudge someone who moves on and leaves your favorite band. You can’t hold it against them because, unless you’ve been where Weiss has been, you just can’t know why they need to go in a different direction.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Millions of Dollars For This?

David Gilmour’s heavily customized “black Strat” guitar recently sold at auction for $3.9 million dollars. I guess it is no different than any other valuable piece of history, but, really, we’re talking about a musical instrument.

This particular guitar spent some time on display in the 1990s at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, Texas. While it was there, various patrons stole pieces from it whenever possible because it wasn’t kept in a glass case. So, virtually all of the components have been swapped out—the fingerboards, the electronics, everything. Nothing on it is original anymore.

Here’s what a 1969 Fender Stratocaster would have cost you back in the day:

It’s pretty amazing to me that something anyone could have bought for a few hundred dollars would end up being worth so much, especially after being turned into Frankenstein’s monster, but oh well.

The scam that surrounds vintage guitars is alive an well.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

This is Why I'm Not Seeing Noel Gallagher This Summer

Disappointing, of course.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="535.0"] “It is with great sadness that NGHFB has to announce that Charlotte Marionneau will be leaving its 2019 world tour for personal reasons. We look forward to welcoming her back as soon as possible... ticket refunds will be available from the point of purchase” NG “It is with great sadness that NGHFB has to announce that Charlotte Marionneau will be leaving its 2019 world tour for personal reasons. We look forward to welcoming her back as soon as possible... ticket refunds will be available from the point of purchase” NG [/caption]

You’re fucking right I’m expecting people to demand refunds.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Roky Erickson 1947-2019

Roky Erickson passed away today, and most people will never understand his influence over popular culture nor will they recognize his name.

He suffered almost endlessly through one of the most tumultuous lives any musician has ever lived. There were times in the 1960s and onwards when he simply should not have been able to survive the troubles that he faced, whether we’re talking about health matters, psychiatric episodes, and battles with his own demons. The man’s teeth rotted out of his head, and he had to undergo weeks of therapy just to overcome the damage that it could have done to the rest of his body.

Erickson had become emancipated (for decades, he was in the care of his mother or his brother) and was living in Austin when he passed away. There is so much sadness to consider, so much joy in his music and so much creativity went to waste. When he should have been making albums and reaping the benefits of a creative life, he was sedated and mistreated by the legal system and ripped off, like so many others, by his management and his record label.

You can read this and this, and still not come away with any answers, just more questions. Why do we always fail the people who need the most help?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ride is Playing Everywhere

No matter where you live in this world, Ride are going to be in your neighborhood. This is a proper tour of the world, and I’m sure they’ll add some dates.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

X and The Violent Femmes in Concert

I was very fortunate to see X and The Violent Femmes in concert and, let me tell you, this is a show you don’t want to miss. These are two of the most important American bands ever. You could fill up a dozen books and that wouldn’t even cover half of the stories of magic and loss and confusion and degradation. American rock and roll is about the experience. These are important artists. Seeing them is anything but a trip down memory lane. These are all people who are making vital, soulful music right fucking now.

The way they are touring this summer has X opening up and it felt like the headliner was on stage right from the outset. There is no comparing the history of these bands—they are legendary and cordial about it. When I go to a show, I guess I’m in the minority. I want to sit and watch the band play and I want to hear the music.

Your typical venue these days is not in business to show you musicians. They are there to provide people a reason to spend too much money on drinks and food. Okay, I get the economics. I just wish this was more of a theater than a club, but nobody’s interested in my opinion.

If you’re going to watch a great band play, all you want to do is enjoy the show.

The current version of X is the original version of the early 1980s. They drew heavily from this era and played some truly outstanding punk rock music. To hear Billy Zoom crank out those riffs was more than a reason to be there, but Exene’s voice was strong and clear, John was incredibly solid and powerful on the bass while singing great, and DJ Bonebrake was nailing every beat with perfect precision. They mixed it up, added some xylophone, a little acoustic guitar, and it was a show that was at least five songs too short. Really, it just flew by. I understand why they did not play Los Angeles, and I wish they had incorporated a little bit of the Knitters into the show, but oh well.

The Violent Femmes played here last year, and their show at The Tobin Center was remarkable and inventive. This time around, they were still daring anyone to call them a nostalgia act. They played a brand new song they had never played live to open up. Who does that? Crazy people, maybe. Or a band tired of wondering what it means to be safe.

Yes, they played the hits. They played new stuff. They took a quiet break and Gordon switched to the violin.

Really, though. If you are going to go see a show, shut up and watch. This presentation, at The Aztec Theater, was marred by an audience that wasn’t there to watch and listen. At least two different people in front of me were removed by bouncers for recording the show. During Gordon’s taking up of the violin for Good Feeling, everyone around me broke out in conversation. Before that, during one of the songs, the people behind me were kicking the seats. I had had enough.

The singular act of putting down an electric guitar and playing the violin during a rock and roll show is an act of vulnerability. Hammering on a Weber grill is just asking for the kids to look at you askance. Playing four different bass guitars, half of them acoustic, and then switching over to the xylophone is like dancing in a minefield. Bringing a massive saxophone that rightly belongs in a museum is an act of trust. I don’t get what the gong was for—I think they had a roadie hiding behind it. The Violent Femmes bring all of their gear, as a man once said.

For me to ditch the show before American Music, which is the greatest Violent Femmes song ever, that means that something had to have gone wrong. I’m not too keen on the vibe in downtown San Antonio at night anyway—lots of physical violence, lots of big trucks driving too fast, and lots of stereotypical unsafe hobo activity to go around. That’s my hangup, not yours.

It is totally not the band’s fault, but I could not enjoy the show. I love watching this band live. I love the percussion, I love the addition of a horn player, and I love what they do every time they start to play. You never know what’s going to happen, and there’s a reason for it.

The Violent Femmes are not here for bullshit or nostalgia. And if you can’t enjoy the show, stay home. Brian may seem indifferent, but I suspect he does not want you there if you can’t suspend your interest in social media and absorb the hammering vibrations of his bass playing. Victor De La Whozitnow? The Violent Femmes have a drummer. His name is John Sparrow. He is walking around like a God on this Earth, and he’s in the band now.

Shut up and watch.

I will not go back to that venue. They do not have it under control. They do not provide a chance to hear music played live the way I like it, and that’s just my preference. If it’s your thing to go out and make videos with your cheap phone and act like a shithead, hey, this place is where you want to be.

Monday, May 6, 2019


Why does every article about Ride include an obligatory mention of My Bloody Valentine?

Now the Moth Club knows what it’s like to fly into one of those electrified flycatchers. An onslaught of torrential noise like a tech-rock My Bloody Valentine bursts and glitches from the speakers, a side door opens and the modest musical malcontents of Ride emerge to begin the demolition in earnest. They’re here for a low-key preview of ‘Future Love’ – the first single from their second reunion album ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ which they blast out straight off, as comfortingly visceral as a fire in Heaven’s attic – but also to brush up on “the old bangers” for a South American tour starting in two days’ time. While they’re at it, they inadvertently remind us what rebel music really sounds like.

There was always a deep frustration in the collapse of first-era Ride. That they’d want to follow a record album as monumental and mind-expanding as 1992’s ‘Going Blank Again’ with something as ordinary as country rock on ‘94’s ‘Carnival Of Light’, and that it all fell apart before they corrected their course. For too long Andy Bell was wasted in the backrooms of Oasis and Mark Gardener made for an ill-fitting acoustic troubadour. Because, as the full, brutal/beautiful force of up-close Ride Mk2 proves, together they can make brain-melting music that utterly belies the cliche of shoegaze bands as mimsy bedsheet-dampeners – these are space rock screes as violent and merciless as any Endgame – and puts the modern pro-pop ‘alternative’ to shame. Were they here to witness Ride’s molten eruptions from the depths of the leftfield, Pale Waves would be as embarrassed to call themselves indie rock as Change UK declaring yet another racist MEP candidate.

It wouldn’t be the NME if everyone due for criticism wasn’t given a kick in the eye on their way out the door. I get the reference to Pale Waves, but what else is new? Don’t call it a reunion anymore. When a band comes back together for a one-off album and tour, that’s a reunion. When you come back for multiple tours, a second album of original material after putting out a remix record and an EP, you are officially just another working band making a go of it.

Ride are one of the hottest tickets in Europe this summer, and they are set to release a new album, This is Not a Safe Place.

Instead of cashing in, they’re making vital new music that is in touch with the times. Instead of looking back, they’re looking forward and they’re on their way to a town near you.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Church Live at the Heights Theater

The Church have been on tour again here in the states and they are not to be missed. I cannot emphasize this enough—if they are even remotely close to where you live in the weeks ahead, go see them because this is a band that cannot be equaled in a live setting.

To see them in the relatively small space of the Heights Theater in Houston was one thing. To experience their current live show is another miracle in and of itself. When The Church come to the states for a show, they are as stripped down as possible—there are no extras, no guitars left unplayed, nothing left to the imagination. They present themselves so well you can’t believe they’re not playing arenas.

In the front row, your could see parents with young children, and all I can say is, in twenty years, you won’t see anyone like The Church playing live in that format. Guitar music is fading away, and the level of musicianship is without equal. This is a one-time deal. There is no one playing this way, and no one capable of ever recreating this level of professional achievement. No one else has a catalog like they do as well. And, at no time have they ever really peaked. There are tremendous songs and albums in every decade of their existence.

I would have been happy with all newer songs, but it was great to hear them roar through Starfish in its entirety. The Church are not a nostalgia act. Every song is reworked, reimagined, and experienced anew, and all of the parts are shuffled around. Having heard them live ten years ago, they sound the same but different in all the good ways.

This is still a band that can amaze. Adding Ian Haug to the mix changed the atmosphere but not the spirit of the songs. In a live setting, you are still getting Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes’ versions of the parts and their overall vision of the band. But, really, you need to see Tim Powles on the drums to really appreciate what the band has evolved into. At one point, he is banging away, one handed, and shaking a tambourine in the other. Another moment, and he’s smashing the drums with the tambourine, nothing ever out of place.

If I could change one thing, I would ask them to add Jeffrey Cain as a full member of the band and make it a five piece. Really, he’s more than a utility infielder. His ability to balance guitar, keyboards and vocals makes the whole show complete. He took Marty’s riff on North, South, East & West and ran with it.

This show was worth the drive there and back again. It was the highlight of the year for me in terms of music.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] The stage at the Heights Theater, just before the band came out to play The stage at the Heights Theater, just before the band came out to play [/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] The full band, from L-R: Peter Koppes, Jeffrey Cain, Tim Powles, Steve Kilbey, Ian Haug The full band, from L-R: Peter Koppes, Jeffrey Cain, Tim Powles, Steve Kilbey, Ian Haug [/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2500.0"] Steve Kilbey Steve Kilbey [/caption]

I don’t take a lot of photos at shows. These were taken during pauses or moments when it was possible to be unobtrusive about it. I definitely do not use a flash and I did not record anything being played.

Monday, April 15, 2019

You Can Take Forever to Finish An Album

The idea of a new Metallica album does not interest me in the slightest. They can put out all the records they want, but I won’t be listening to any of them. That does not mean I am anti-Metallica or anti-Heavy Metal. I just listen to other things.

I have always thought that Metallica was the first major band to stand up against the piracy that ended up destroying the music business in the early 2000s. Albums are not free, nor should they be. So, when Lars Ulrich took all that shit for pointing out that, if you don’t pay for music, then there will be a lot less of it that you will want to own, I could tell that his heart was in the right place.

People have made a lot of music since the early days of Napster, but the resulting business model meant that there weren't any viable record companies to ensure that artists would get paid for their work. This ended a lot of promising careers and left musicians with no sustainable means to make a living. So, it’s great that Billy and the Funkerbeans put out all those free tracks, but I’m not exactly burning up the Internet trying to find them.

Kirk Hammett needs to have a long talk with his fellow band members, and make a decision here:

Metallica‘s guitarist Kirk Hammett has admitted that he feels “uncomfortable” over the long wait fans have had to endure with their previous albums.

The band had an eight year gap between 2016’s ‘Hardwired…To Self Destruct’ and 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’.

And it’s looking like they won’t be getting into a recording studio any time soon with the guitarist confirming the band will not finish their current world tour until November 2019.

“When I was 13-14 years old, bands put out albums every year,” Hammett told Mixdown. “Seriously, KISS put out an album every eight months. None of this eight years between albums.

“None of us are very comfortable with the fact it’s been so long, because that is a long time. We’re hoping to avoid that this time around.

He added: “We’re in our third year since ‘Hardwired’. Maybe we can get a bit more focus and go into the studio a bit sooner. I have a ton of material. I’ve over-compensated, so I’m ready to go anytime.”

Nowadays, the old model of album/three-singles/EP to hold you over/album/three singles/quickie live album/break just doesn’t cut it anymore. In approximately their first four years of putting out music, U2 released a slew of independent singles, Boy, October, War, the A Celebration single (which has vanished from their canon almost entirely) and then put out The Unforgettable Fire. That’s an amazing run. In five years, the Police literally put out five incredible albums and then told everyone to fuck off.

There’s no pressure anymore. There’s no fear of being dropped, no institutional memory of what it means to be on the charts, no need to have product in the stores because, umm, there are no stores (and Record Store Day doesn’t count). So Hammett doesn’t have to put anything out.

What they could do is innovate. Go back and figure out how to make EPs work. Or set a deadline and work towards it. This comes out on x date with x songs and if we only have three of them done, that’s what is released. If we have 20 songs by x date, that’s what comes out. Let the fans bank on that.

I don’t know what you could even do anymore. Someone has an answer, and it’s probably Billie Eilish or someone like that. They’ll be the new innovators, and then maybe we’ll all stop buying video games as if they were Led Zeppelin albums.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Midnight Oil is Back on Tour This Year

So close, and yet so far. If I was still living in Stuttgart, I would definitely go see them at Killesberg park, one of the finest I have ever been to.

Their tour of Germany is like a kick in the nuts. I have been to the Porta Nigra - I have no idea how they’re going to play a concert there. In the plaza behind it? Who organized this? I didn’t even know you could play the Porta Nigra.

I am hoping that the stars will align some day and I will get to see them.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Ranking Roger 1963-2019

Ranking Roger was every bit the front man and fully in charge of everything when he was behind the microphone. I watched him perform in the 1990s, and he was so charismatic. There was no other voice like his. He was a major force in pop music, and I hope he gets the respect that he deserves.

Will There Be a Third Verve Reunion?

If you count the band's temporary disintegration in 1995, and the 2007 comeback, we're due for a third reunion by The Verve. Given that the return of Richard Ashcroft yielded a good but not great album that did not set the charts on fire, this news seems to be a pretty good indication that the band will come together yet again:

On September 9th UMC release expanded editions of The Verve’s seminal first two albums A STORM IN HEAVEN and A NORTHERN SOUL.

Both remastered by Chris Potter (co-producer of the band’s Urban Hymns) at Metropolis studios, the albums feature previously unreleased and never-heard-before tracks, E.P. and B-sides material and BBC sessions.

Both albums are presented as 3CD box sets (A Storm In Heaven also contains a bonus DVD) and both come with booklets featuring new interviews and previously unseen photos. Limited edition vinyl versions will also be released in faithful reproductions of the original packaging.

The reissue of their masterpiece, Urban Hymns, should follow shortly. In 2017, that album turns the magical age of twenty in September of that year. Having sold over ten million copies, there's a lot of incentive to give it a real celebration. If they went on a short tour of England and Europe, and played the whole thing live, it would be a huge event.

UPDATE: I went and retrieved this from the archives because it strikes me as being both possible and impossible that the Verve might get back together. I thought for certain that there would be a commemoration of Urban Hymns, but nothing came of it.

To be fair, the last two Richard Ashcroft solo albums have not set the world on fire in terms of sales or impact. At some point, the dam has to break.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Playing music in North Korea legitimizes the horrors carried out by an inhuman, brutal regime that has systematically starved, tortured, and murdered millions of people:

Joss Stone has performed in a bar in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, as part of an ongoing mission to perform in every country on Earth.

The singer posted a video message from Beijing airport shortly before her departure on Tuesday (March 12) in which she informed fans that she was learning the words to ‘Arirang’, the unofficial anthem of Korea, for the performance.

Yeah, you could have skipped that one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

XTC Go2 and Go+ Covers

XTC's Go 2 album and the "extra" EP factored in as well. XTC were a prolific band, always laden with great songs and never at a loss for tracks or brilliance.

After Barry Andrews left the band, they carried on with Dave Gregory.


UK LP: V 2108

Side A






"Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  



"Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  



"Buzzcity Talking"  

Colin Moulding



"Crowded Room"  




"The Rhythm"  






Side B









"Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  



"Jumping In Gomorrah"  



"My Weapon"  

Barry Andrews







"I Am the Audience"  



[edit]2001 Remastered CD: CDVX2108






"Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  



"Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  



"Buzzcity Talking"  

Colin Moulding



"Crowded Room"  




"The Rhythm"  










"Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  



"Jumping In Gomorrah"  



"My Weapon"  

Barry Andrews







"I Am the Audience"  




"Are You Receiving Me?"  


[edit]Go+ (Bonus disc included on initial pressing)

  1. "Dance With Me, Germany" [dub version of "Meccanic Dancing (Oh We Go!)"] – 3:17

  2. "Beat the Bible" [dub version of "Jumping in Gomorrah"] – 2:06

  3. "A Dictionary of Modern Marriage" [dub version of "Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"] – 2:27

  4. "Clap Clap Clap" [dub version of "I am the Audience"] (Moulding) – 2:17

  5. "We Kill The Beast" [dub version of "The Rhythm"] (Moulding) – 2:05

And there you have it. White text on a black background, courier type, but very much a send-up of the marketing of music and bands. By the late 1970s, album art was in its heyday. XTC couldn't be bothered, even thought their subsequent records came with fantastic covers.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


There’s no chance that I’m going to miss X this year.

They have been touring, they have been playing what I hear are some amazing shows, and I just have to see them when they go on tour this spring.

X are an essential band to see, so make a plan:






















They will also be on the road in June, 2019. Chances are, they’ll be in your town. You know what to do.

Oh, and the Violent Femmes are going to be playing with them for some of these dates. I would love to see The Damned, but the Femmes are an amazing live act. When I saw them last year, I was floored by how great they sounded. Gordon’s voice rings out through the whole venue (I saw them in a good-sized theater and he sounded amazing). Brian was the force holding the universe together, and his bass playing is something every sentient human being should experience. They have a great drummer! They have everything going for them.

Catch this tour if you can.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bombay Bicycle Club

I have always maintained a curious interest in Bombay Bicycle Club. Flirting with the oblivion offered by the flu gave me the opportunity to acquire three of their albums/cds/releases in a way that did not bankrupt me, so I am going to give them a proper evaluation.

Bands come and go, and their impact is difficult to gauge. I know that in the 2000s I had a healthy liking for a band called Goldrush, but it would seem that they have disappeared. The rest of the music from that era just passed me by. I never got into the Arctic Monkeys or The Libertines like I probably should have, and everything else from that whole decade just seemed weird. Then there are these albums and I don’t even know when they were made. I think this is a band that straddled the 2000s and 2010s, from what I see on the labels, but who knows anymore?

I always give the new stuff a chance. There aren’t enough great bands! You have to keep searching for new music. I know, I’m an idiot. But I have new music to listen to, so I can’t be all bad.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Peter Tork 1942-2019

If you preferred the Monkees to the Beatles, who could blame you?

The reason why the Monkees were successful is because the Beatles started to become “difficult.” They went from straightforward pop songs to experimental psychedelia, and into that stepped the so-called “fake band” that was designed to milk an American audience that couldn’t get enough of the British Invasion.

I preferred the Monkees, of course, because I was exposed to them as something that was already finished. I grew up in the 70s, and we experienced The Monkees as a syndicated TV show. There was more of it to consume because of that. You could watch the shows and be entertained in a way that was more immediate. There wasn’t really the same thing for the Beatles, who were above syndicated TV. For everyone seeing them in prime time in the late 1960s, I guess they were something else. You could find their records in their shops, next to the ones everyone else was putting out. Why be snobbish about it? Plenty of people liked Herman’s Hermits more than the Beatles and the Stones. We have allowed the likes of Rolling Stone to change history on us. Pop music used to be fun. There didn’t have to be a hierarchy of things, a list of the best records of all time, a bullshit accounting of what was good and what should be ignored.

If you completely re-examine everything, and ignore what Jann Wenner incorporated has to say about the popular music of the 1960s, you come away with the belief that it’s okay to like what you like. The hell with whether it’s cool or not.

Well, the Monkees were real artists, real musicians, and really real, man. They were exactly that—the real deal, and they never got the credit they deserved for trying to make art at a time when selling out was frowned upon. They could have given the people what they wanted, but they refused. They became more difficult than the Beatles! But that’s okay.

Peter Tork was in the mix for all of it. His contributions were immense to the group’s success. But he was his own person and his own character. He wasn’t just some actor hired to be part of a rip-off TV show. He wrote songs, played a banjo in Greenwich Village, and lived the life of a Sixties musician.

This touching profile will tell you all you need to know. Peter was never the pain in the ass that Mike Nesmith became, and that’s okay. You can love the Monkees more than the Beatles and you can forgive them all for being “difficult” because that’s what art is. Art that isn’t difficult doesn’t last.

The Monkees? They have lasted.