Monday, December 29, 2008

I Am Covered With Flames in Cover Band Hell

I really thought I was going to escape 2008 without another round of blunt force trauma to the head..after all there's only 2 days left,right? Well, folks I'm here to tell you that I just got cold cocked with a sock full of D Batteries..just 48 hours from watching that glittery turd drop in Times Square.
Lets go over the list shall we? In 2008...we settled in to a great new house that was a bit over our price range, I lost my job, wife loses hers,lethal headaches cripple any clear thought or progress, depression continues to fit snug around me like an iron lung, dear sister loses her fight with NON SMOKERS lung cancer, family cat dies of THE SAME THING, beloved son discovers the fine art of tantrums to the Nth power, the infighting and hatred between family members in my orbit has set us back decades..I cannot for the life of me find steady employment and now the cover band I was in with a promising future and a full calendar is "in limbo" and has decided to keep their psycho calzone- faced previous singer "for the time being".!!!!!

Un-fucking-believable. I bust my ass learning 30-40 songs that any right minded human without a spray on tan,text bruises on their thumbs and a choke chain would make money ....ONLY to make money(you think I WANNA sing My Own Worst Enemy by Lit?)...because I can sing really well. The only other things I do REALLY WELL is paint walls and complain...but I can SING better than I can do those things,surprisingly enough. Been doing it while panties get wet, eyes glaze over and arms get folded by the jaded musicians in the front row for OVER 20 years now.Its not rocket science...its ROCK-it science and I am a pundit, a preacher..a professor. I can convince you to give American Girl OR Brown Eyed Girl a second look I'm so good.
This is the 3rd time its happened. I audition, get the gig before I leave the building, start learning songs and gigging..and then the old singer creeps in like a Jersey Shore foot fungus...sees my vocal prowess and wants his fucking job back!!!!
This guy is a real doozy.I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him once. He's a robust sack of potatoes who's sweating by the third number, MC-ing from the front with the oily banter of a DJ from the Bada Bing, and leaving the stage to do shots of Jameson with the audience MID SONG. When he sings its akin to the sound of a gaggle of lifelong frat boys cheering on another 40 something after the third Beer Bong, as their orange faced, bleached out house fraus look on... He yelps and guffaws real hot numbers like Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls or Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry and his Weeble head festers red like a turnip when he tried to hit any high note at all, sadly the note is never obtained and the song careens into a barrier, wrecked for affect, as the crowd, floating face down in an ocean of Coors Light, is oblivious.
They want to keep this guy??????!!!! I have to tell you I'm in the cover band capital of the never snows here, but everywhere I go I see flakes.
I've had enough of 2008. I've had enough of cover bands who cannot even get their third rate shit together and it looks like I'm gonna have to do it myself in 2009. That way I'll never have to sing Counting Blue Cars again.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: The Who at Kilburn 1977 (DVD)

I was thrilled to see this in the wet bundle of mail upon our re-entry into the semi normalcy of being home after a truly challenging Christmas. It was like Santa himself donned a big puffy union jack-et before he chucked it through my mail slot, poured another finger of whisky in his hot chocolate and sledded off.
I like DVDs. You can still get artwork and liner notes and sit down and read them in preparation for viewing. You might get extra scenes which in the case of this release, is an entire second DVD containing an important,albeit grainy and poorly lit Who show from 1969 where Tommy is performed in ins entirety! See it....Feeeel it!

But I digress....This show from December 1977 is important for a handful of reasons. First and foremost..its a Who show. There really was nothing like a Who show in the 70s....always caustic and cacauphonic. The band had not played a show in well over a year, cranky,rusty and buried deep in the recording process for the release of Who Are You(not to see the light until Aug.'78). They needed some live footage for The Kids Are Alright documentary being put together at the time,rented a Hall, set up some pro cameras and invited 1000 kids to this "surprise concert" not telling them they were just there to fill the seats for footage.
The surprise they got was Pete Townshend shuffling between grenade- without- a -pin stage banter and jack boot acrobatics. People, remember...punk had broke through in the UK in 1977 and Pete wasn't having any of it. At one point he challenges "there's a guitar up here if any big mouth little git wants to come take it off me." He complains to the director that this venture wasn't worth filming and Stein(the director)"better send the camera men home." The confrontation bristles with punkish energy and even flourishes when in mid solo, Pete pushes his HiWatt heads off of their cabinets in disgust and continues his run up the neck of good ole' Gibson 1.

What it truly is is a brilliant show...a testament to the glory of those monumental live rock shows from the 70s that The Who really put on the map. Its a blueprint for the gossamer frail indie bands of today(read: Fleet Foxes) to study before building any sort of plan for winning over an audience. Even on an "off night" The Who shake the earth. Pete windmills his sleeve right off of his shirt..cooling off the first three rows of crowd in the process. He high kicks mic stands during Won't Get Fooled Again and slides all over the stage in frustrated ecstasy, and ultimately triumphs. Roger is in top form, hitting the screams, bringing a heated harp portion to Baba O' Riley and belting out Townshend's angry young man lyrics with middle age prowess. We also get as an unmentioned bonus, the very first live take of Who Are You..having been fleshed out in the studio weeks prior to this filming. Nowadays, most folks think CSI, and not The Who when they hear this song on their trusty Tivos. It is live and real for the first time, here.

The focus for me and the reason to get your hands on this DVD are the antics, energy and legend that was Keith Moon. Keith shows up bloated, disheveled and in a purple jumper he probably borrowed from Doug Henning. And as rusty as he may have been in Pete's eyes and facial expressions.. there was no evidence laid in front of me here. Being an OK drummer myself, I have always been in awe of Keith's technique(or lack thereof) and how he always made it work within a blur of Toms,cymbals and extremities! Thats all here...and even Moon at 5/8ths of his speed is a drummer like no other. Just try to find that Hi-hat...I dare you. I did get a chill when during his typical introduction of Behind Blue Eyes he says "I'm gonna go backstage and OD and I'll see you in 3 and a half minutes." You see...this was Keith Moon's second to last show with the Who, and the only reason it wasn't his last is because Pete thought this show was bollocks and un-useable for the Kids documentary, and re- staged it at Shepperton Studios for the fan club soon after this one. That would explain all of the pictures in the DVD program, most which do not match the wardrobe of the Kilburn show...especially a pic of Roger in full suspenders, clearly an homage to Mork from Ork.

The Who at Kilburn Hall DVD is a must for any Who fan, for this glimpse of the snarl and the substance of a band at the tail end of their peak. It is a raw and flawed but enormous and influential look at a band as a lit powder keg before the loss of Keith Moon, the Cincinnati stampede and the synthesized years of Face Dances and Its Hard....see for yourself.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seano's Top 10 Rock Albums of 2008

At the risk of sounding chock full of emptiness(Bah Humbugger off!) I will tell you that 2008 was the most challenging year of my life so far. The reasons have been volleyed around on this here blog from time to time..and your holidays are yours, mine are mine, so because you want to be festive, and I don't, I will not rehash the reasons.(Just know that the stench of the economy was barely on my radar) I decided to do a year end list of the best albums of 2008. But what I really should have called it is The Only Albums I Liked from 2008..(I'm a mean one, Mr. Grinch) need to number them for that reason...

Rose Hill Drive- Moon Is The New Earth This young power trio from Boulder, Co., led by the Sproul Bros...Jacob on Bass, great pipes and his brutha Daniel on guitars put rocking smidgens of everything into this album and it shows. A passionate hint of Queens of the Stone Age meets the Allman Brothers meets Big Star accompanied with rockworthy,melodic and clearly decipherable vocals. I had a chance to discover them at the Austin City Limits Music Fest while romancing the sweat,dust and Lone Star Beer in 2007 and they blew me away...So should they you?....Standout tracks: Laughing In the Streets, Trans Am.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Dig Lazarus Dig! I have a fairly famous relative who told me about Nick Cave Years ago as she worked with him way back in his Birthday Party days...I never caught on until now. Wow! I guess I'll have to go backwards with a fever for the flavor because this album schooled me...It challenges and thrills at the same time..his characters are desperate,depraved champions and I never failed to be kept upright and alert... mezmerised by his prolific sort of spoken out and half sung poetic and greasy grimy at the same time..and the Bad Seeds could be one of the most underrated back up bands ever.....Standout tracks: We Call Upon The Author,Dig Lazarus Dig.

Lindsey Buckingham- Gift of Screws- If there was any doubt in your mind that Lindsey Buckingham was in the top echelon of guitarists on this planet, this album will slap you silly and set you straight..and maybe send you back to that woodshed with your 3 chords and a prayer. The licks are delicious.. The production is flawless and the songs are much more cohesive and fun than anything off Go Insane or Out of the Cradle...and Lindsey can do what Lindsey wants here without getting any guff from the dinosaurs in the Mac. He's clearly letting loose and taking names and I was caught in the wake.. Standout tracks: Great Day, Wait For You.

Valient Thorr-Immortalizer- I'm into bad-ass bearded bands who can back it up with a blur of denim, epic riffs and melody. Welcome to my life Valient Thorr. I'm betting any one of these guys would punch me in the mouth for complimenting them, and then wear my tooth on a chain around their scarred viking neck. I love how everyone in the band has the surname Thorr(Think Ramones, not De Francos)and although Valient Himself(vocals, lyrics) can't really sing, I dig his lyrics to the point of wanting to carve them into something hard and immovable, like a column in the fortress of solitude or even a park bench.... I would cut the sleeves off of my denim jacket for these guys Standout Tracks: Tomorrow Police,1000 Winters in a Row.

Gutter Twins- Saturnalia- It was a dark and stormy night. There's a knock on the door and you see two stonefaced, sullen men, clothes soaked to the bone. You let them in and see that it's Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli. Mark clears his throat, and in a voice that could send Beelzebub packing, asks " Got a cigarette?" As you pull one out and shakily place it in his mouth, he grumbles "Thanks". and with that, Greg pulls the door back and they shuffle off into the dark whirl of whipping thunder and rain. Thats how this album makes me feel. Sticks to you for days like rough storm residue. Standout tracks: Circle The Fringes,Who Will Lead Us, All Misery Flowers.

Howlin' Rain- Magnificent Fiend. Ethan Miller and his San Francisco cohorts continue to impress with every listen with this, their second release since Miller's exodus from space/psych rock geniuses Comets on Fire. It deviates between a wailing gospel rock call and response blues jam and a melodic folk rock but goin'-for-it vibe. I cannot believe I lived in San Francisco for 3 years and never got to see them, although the drummer for the Comets worked at Streetlight Records in my old 'hood and I never said a word to him. What was I gonna say anyway? " Great drumming, dude...err.. Love the way you hold your sticks! Hey... too bad Ethan left the band, bummer, huh? But at least you still have this job..Do you have the Bad Company box set by the way? " Standout tracks include Lord Have Mercy and Dancers At The End of Time.

Black Crowes- Warpaint- No it ain't no Southern Harmony..but its better than Lions(2001) and at least we still have them least one band can still get away with bell bottoms, right? And for almost 20 years give or take a few gaps. Chris Robinson has honed down his lyrics and reeled in his free formed vocal phrasing to set the Crowes back into an earned place among the great blues based rock bands to try and live up to Humble Pie or the Allmans. Its good to see Rich Robinson's back up vox wayyy back in the mix, too. Rich, my ears, thank you. You turned my frown upside down, man. Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi All Stars takes over lead axe duties from the dearly departed Marc Ford...very different styles but he holds his own..Standout tracks include Evergreen and Movin' On Down the Line.

The Sword- Gods of the Earth- The Texas battleground- metal scene stealers return triumphant after their 2006 debut Age of Winters with a whiplash and crunching fury, sounding like clanging blades under tornado skies.This is frontline metal...charge ahead and slay,check chain-mail, apply bandages and repeat. Obviously influential, never shred shy...they have garnered fans from the likes of Dave Grohl to Metallica( for whom they have/will open some dates). Put on your armor while watching The Return of the King on mute and listen to To Take the Black or How Heavy this Axe.

Black Keys- Attack and Release- The Akron boys teamed up with the most popular nerd in school Danger Mouse and have never sounded better. Waves of spooky synth and subtle samples over Dirty, empty factory type blues. Lookin' for trouble with no regrets blues rock. No salvation, no worries. Its hard to believe that there are only two of them. Like the White Stripes only better, for their drummer has way more than one beat. Key tracks include I Got Mine, Psychotic Girl and Remember When (side A).

Last but not least...Radiohead- In Rainbows....yes, it came out in Oct 2007, I know. I was there on day one, stupid.I should have paid more than a penny,though. This release picked up a glow and really started to shine the way for me in early/throughout 2008. After Hail To the Thief and its unevenness,this one was really toiled over and it showed. Thom Yorke and the Greenwoods can really do no wrong. Their out-takes shine brighter and embed themselves deeper into ones steely veins and rusted heart(like mine) than most bands best efforts. House of Cards is truly a of those songs that truly transports you it or not it will sabotage your emotion and warp it wildly into what you truly need at that moment. This album sits nicely right behind Ok Computer and Kid A, taking the bronze medal position in their discography with songs like Videotape, Nude, Bodysnatchers and Weird Fishes(Arpeggi) Instant therapy.(not karma)for everyone involved...creator and listener.

HMs include lots of fading to black.... Black Ice-AC/DC, Black Mountain's latest In The Future and a suprisingly solid and very young metal band from Miami called Black Tide with a great singer/ guitarist by the name of Gabriel Garcia...remember that name..he's 16 YEARS OLD. I also loved Raising Sand by Allison Krauss/Robert Plant, and it also came out in 2007, so come after me with that, if you may. 2 absolute masters of their voices with superb songs and production by the very sought after T-Bone Burnett.

Here's to 2009 for one million and one reasons. Let the serious and steady rocking continue to guide you through your exploits and emergencies. See ya soon enough, Seano

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top 3 X-mas videos

Billy Squier- Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You
What the hell happened to Billy Squier? What a festive sweater he's wearing! I can't focus, I'm hypnotized by it! Look at the late JJ Jackson in his overly snug Michael Jackson jacket? Look at Nina Blackwood..almost to be confused with Nina Hartley! Mullets and mistletoe! Handclaps and Hallelujahs! The eggnog was spiked heavily on the MTV soundstage that day...Its hard to believe that little minx Martha Quinn is at least 25 years older than she is in this video. How's that for your squashed holiday spirit...a bloated and graying Martha Quinn dropping cigarette ashes on your Xmas cookies as she tearfully reminisces.

Kinks-Father Christmas- I love this song...its too bad the video was betamaxed off of somebodys basement television screen after several large cups of peppermint schnapps in 1980 something. Well you get the gist....I always thought the xylophone mimicked the ones in the Bruce Springsteen rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town....give all the the little rich boys! I can just picture St. Nick running away from a belligerent Dave Davies looking for cold cash.

Bowie and Bing- Little Drummer Boy(Peace on Earth). Quite simply the best Xmas video of all time. This made me want to put glitter on a Cardigan and go carroling in rough neighborhoods, spreading good cheer and running for cover. I love it when Bing asks Bowie about any of the old favorites and Dave says he goes as far back as John Lennon and Harry Nillsson..Classic! They don't do variety shows like this anymore...I'd love to see an update with Lemmy and one of the twits from Fall Out Boy....peace on earth, indeed.

Honorable Mentions: John Lennon's Happy Xmas(war is over) which didn't make it because Yoko's chorus always made all of the glass ornaments on my tree shatter, and any song from Emmit Otter's Jug Band Christmas(Muppets).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Top 5 Worst "Rock" Logos

There are plenty of lists of Greatest Rock Logos all over the internet. Most of them have the Rolling Stones Lip Logo, The Ramones-"Presidential Seal" and good old AC/DC on stale, how boring. Why not just call the list what it is...Most Reproduced, Chewed Up and Spit Out Rock T-shirt Icon, or Things You'll See For Sale at Target....come on people, have a little fun. Fun is pokin' fun and thats what I'm gonna do right here with this list of the Top 5 Worst "Rock" logos. I love putting the word "worst" right after "Top 5"...its fun. Here are my top 5 cringeworthy, head tilting band logos for all 'y'all.

#5)Blink-182 - Doesn't this just Scream "Meet Me at the Orange Julius"? What a stretch..piece together some letters of different fonts and sizes and lift an idea or two from REAL FUCKING PUNKS the Sex Pistols...put it in perfect black and white to fit really rad on a 12 year old's skateboard like a perfectly marketed ad for mediocrity...and you have the Blink 182 logo. When I run out of things to hate about this band I'll quit this blog. So plan on having me around for the next 175 years.

#4)Dislimb- There were thousands of Death Metal/Grindcore/Speed Metal/Whatever Metal logos to choose from. But I chose the one that took me the longest to read/comprehend. I don't even know if Dislimb is a word...does it mean: to remove appendages gently while rocking a baby to sleep or campaigning for world peace and/or freeing Tibet? Who knows but this logo looks like Pig's blood or Karo Syrup flung against a wall from the high chair of young Beelzebub.

#3)Saliva- This logo makes me want to wash my hands..make a more focused effort to improve my hygiene..Tomorrow I will finally start flossing. These obviously disenfranchised and disillusioned (read:slow) boys from Tennessee decided to name their band after the stuff drool is made of...the stuff that oozes out of the corners of their mouths while in the VIP section of the hottest club in ladies with complete sets of teeth walk by in glittery skirts and bruised knees. This logo is west coast porn DVD cover font meets the dirty south.

#2)AFI- This pop punk meets suburban goth band from CA chose flattened dead bunnies to circle their logo. It looks like an overhead battleground shot from Watership Down. Why bunnies? Why did you have to remind me of the evil bunnies that beat up on the soft fluffy bunnies of the world? What the fuck does this have to do with AFI?

#1) Van Hagar- Yes, Van Halen- lite for those of you in the know. When Van Halen switched flowing from the perfect endless wave that was David Lee Roth to the dead puddle of dumpster juice that was Sammy Hagar they had to go and change the best rock logo of all time to some kind of planet hugging gilded tiara- looking thing that looks like one of Wonder Woman's rejected helmets, winning the "If It Ain't Broke" award every year from 1985-2008. Welcome back Diamond if you could just straighten out the V and the H for me(so many ways you can read that one.)

honorable mentions: any logo that a graphic designer got paid for and used an existing font like type face (see Cheap Trick)...or just bolded up the letters of the bands name and called it art (see Jet, The Smiths, Green Day...and countless others)........anyway I'd love to hear your takes if you've got 'em. Stay strong!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Top 5 Greatest Rock Logos

I saw this book the other day called Band ID. Its a book filled with Band Logos from all genres, categorized and displayed on the pages It also tells the story of the logo artists and how they came up with the logo. Of course I picked it up to browse through and it got me thinking of the greatest ROCK logos in my opinion. I'll do a top five with visual evidence here today and then tomorrow I'll do the top 5 WORST Rock Logos....anyway Check the book out. Again its called Band ID by Bodhi Oser. Above is a pic.. Now on to my top 5 from the bottom up.

#5 Bad Company-Bad Co. This logo emblazened in a sharp angle is on one of my faded but favorite original T-shirts found in a rock archeological dig at a place called the House of Guitars. The House of Guitars is a regionally famous and ONE OF A KIND music store in Rochester NY. The place is a wonderful disorganized mess with piles of vinyl and decades olds cassettes in boxes, a large white brick wall where many famous rockers have sharpied their names and the fabulous t-shirt corner where up until about 5 years ago no-one was allowed to venture without help from an employee. I was a regular many years ago(late 90s) and Greg (who worked the counter and is the leader of a fabulous band called the Chesterfield Kings) let me go back into the T-shirt corner. There were humongous piles of musty t-shirts and crowded dusty racks that had not been touched in YEARS. It is there that I found the original Bad Co. t-shirt from '76 along with a Stones Tattoo You tour shirt from '81.TREASURES! I also dug up a Police Zenyatta shirt but it had a huge undetermined stain on it.
Anyway this logo reads like it means!

#4)The Stooges logo- I love this logo because it reminds me of an era where there were no holds barred in punk/rock/punk and everything was dangerous on stage and in the audience. The sound of the Stooges was so fresh and alienating at the same could feel the spit or sweat hitting your face. You could feel the boot in your back or the blood in your mouth..and you were to flail around and lose your day in the distortion and the chaos.

#3 The Doors- This logo was practiced in my sleep..I traced as the dreams of shamans and leather trousers that I couldn't find anywhere in the suburbs filled my head. I had to get this logo just right for my Social Studies folder..or my English impress the ladies that I never spoke to." Hey look Marcie..I can draw the Doors logo that cool or what? Huh?... uhhh yeah, I guess I could draw The Duran Duran logo on yours if you wanted...or Bananarama, sure,whatever."

#2 The Who- If you want graphic design perfection..this is it. The arrow on the "O" pointing away from the "bullseye" center. The two "H"s connected in amnesty....Can't you just hear "People try to put us down..." or "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" when you see this on the back of a denim jacket with the sleeves ripped off? Cant you just feel the rumble of the scooter beneath your seat as you ride through the stone streets of Brighton when you see this logo? I can....mission accomplished.

#1- Van Halen (from VH II)- We have come to the top of this brief list. I love this logo because when I see it I see energy shooting out of the sides and draining out of the bottom of the V and the H. I feel the purge of the overdriven fingers of Eddie Van Halen racing up and down around and through the neck of his Frankenstein Heaven was on fire and the only way he could put it out was by creating a gale force by playing faster. It lined my locker, my baseball jersey and the outer edge of my peripheral vision from 1981-1985. It is the top of the heap as far as rock logos are concerned.....AC DC, Iron Maiden..Judas Priest take your logos and put them on some faux vintage shirt for an Olsen Twin to wear. I'll take my VH!

Thanks for playin'! See you tomorrow or the next day with the top 5 WORST band logos.