Thursday, February 24, 2011

SXSW: Just a Dream

SXSW is less than a month away. March 16-20, 2011. Austin, TX. is the only place to be in March of every year. I was able to go last year and report to you about the bands you should know about and the bands you should forget about. I was able to actually perform there the year before. Shit, every year there are only 10000 bands and a million directions to go.

I don't see myself anywhere near Austin in March this year. I will be here in this dreaded city of Philadelphia, prepping for the battle of a lifetime. Losing sleep, grinding teeth and shining off the most angry play lists I can find as I realize every day will roll out another unknown wet blanket of emotions, that extinguishes nothing.

Yeah, and if one day, I can dust off all of this shit, I may be able to write fruitfully again. But right now, apparently I'm just a "horrible deadbeat dad." and not a "real man". I've got to dig deep to get out of this. Ill end up stripping myself clean in the process, just to get to the truth, maybe losing some edge to embrace some peace. But if it keeps everyone I care about safe, it will all be worth it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Radiohead-The King of Limbs

Yeah, I snagged it a day early like the other millions did. I have listened through the surprisingly short 8 song album 4 times, twice with headphones and twice from the glorious aural quality of laptop speakers. It pains me to say this, but so far, with the proverbial "it could grow on me" attached to my findings,  I feel like I got a consolation prize after swimming through shark and electricity laced waters to get it. I feel like the kidA at Dave and Busters who turns in 1500 tickets after attacking the tower of games for hours, only to get a plastic kazoo for my time, luck and quickness of hand. All the elements of a great record are there, but they start slowly like weary travellers picking up used luggage after a long flight and taking diverting trams to the albums of yesteryear. Its Most of the songs crawl by with no harumph or elation for their undefined subject matter, even packed with the marvelessly layered sonic minutia that I so love about the band's aural architecture.

For most of you out there, these wont seem like songs at all. More " blips and beeps" as most of the major- chord addicted pop/rock RADIO listeners will say. But for Radiohead fans, after the triumph and beauty of In Rainbows, this album may seem like a slippery step sideways or down into the infinite ether that sometimes clouds Thom Yorke's brain.  No song by song dissection here, but here are a few examples of the dots I'm trying to connect to dots.

For most of the album, Guitarist Ed O' Brien and drummer Phil Selway must have been on smoke breaks or holiday. The drums don't seem live at all. I think a basic track was looped to high heaven heavily on tracks like" Feral" and "Lotus Flower" which is basically tape that was plucked and stitched from the floor of the Eraser sessions. "Morning Mr Magpie" would be perfectly placed as a lost extra track on Hail to the Thief.

Then a beautiful, piano drenched, but still a bit sound-tracky song called "Codex" floors you and you wonder where the jungle birds or tape hiss that bleed into the next track called "Give Up the Ghost" will take you. And its an echoing, acoustic safehouse of love's release, that's where, with Thom's doubled up background vocal sounding eerie and Bon Iver-like securing it for me as the highlight of the album.

I wish I knew what itch Johnny and Thom needed to scratch every time they head back into the studio, but I don't. I don't think they much care about evolving as a band, this far into their career, however sonically that may be defined. Their jumps from The Bends to OK Computer were such a confounding, beautiful blindside, that they've never been able to turn back, too bored for their own good. Too smart from their own sound. I just wish the proverbial bone could be thrown to the diehards( maybe once an album) who might want a stoccatto guitar solo blast or a SONG, traditionally and emotionally available to adhere to like a True Love Waits or even Karma Freakin' Police, for christ's sake., with a CHORUS,even.

Radiohead have shaken the tree more than once, though. For all we know, these might be a collection of B- sides they decided to release and attach the name The King of Limbs to, with the actual NEW album coming soon in an undetermined future. Who would know? They announced this release on their own terms, on a slow news day to the surprise of everyone, attached to no corporate entity but their own. maybe we could ask Phil Selway or Ed O' Brien. It seems like they've had a lot of time on their hands lately. They might be willing to talk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best and Worst Pics of 2011 (so far)

This is Soundgarden IN THE STUDIO just a few days ago. Yes, it's 2011.

This is a recent picture symbolizing the end of civilization.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good and Not So Good News

Radiohead surprised everyone with a pulse yesterday(this excludes "Beliebers") by announcing the upcoming release of their latest album The King Of Limbs ,available in a variety of formats this coming Saturday. You can spend 50 bucks and get what's called a Newspaper Edition, which contains two clear 10″ vinyl records in a record sleeve, a compact disc, lots of large of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together. The Newspaper Album comes with a digital download that is compatible with all good digital media players. You can also spend 9 bucks just for the digital download, or you can steal it like the bandit that you are., then wait for a tour that you'll surely never get a ticket for. All Alarms and All Surprises from my favorite band of witty Brits!

 Queens of the Stone Age are touring? Didn't they just reconvene in the studio after several years of side projectivitis? Yes to both, my friends. Josh Homme whipped up a hairbrain idea to tour behind(and in celebration of) the re-release of their self titled debut from 1998(In March on Rekord Rekords) It seems they will be preforming the album in its entirety on a small arena tour in the US this spring. If you have never heard "Regular John" or "Avon" live, you are in for a treat. Last time I heard those two songs it was in San Francisco at the Fillmore in 2005, and I'm pretty sure part of me left my body and never came back. Here's what their website says...tour dates follow the quote..

 Queens Of The Stone Age will celebrate the March re-release of its expanded, remastered self-titled debut with a limited run of North American shows. These one-time only events will feature the band playing the entire first album plus additional material from that same early Queens era, as well as nightly surprises. Customers who buy tickets will have the opportunity to pre-order the reissue, and will receive an instant digital download of the record with their pre-orders—nearly a month out from the record’s commercial release.

Queens of the Stone Age Dates
3/18, New Orleans, LA (One Eyed Jacks)
3/19, Birmingham, AL (Workplay Soundstage)
3/20, Nashville, TN (Ryman Auditorium)
3/21, Atlanta, GA (Center Stage)
3/23, Asheville. NC (Orange Peel)
3/24, Philadelphia, PA (Electric Factory)
3/25, New York, NY (Terminal 5)
3/26, Boston, MA (House of Blues)
3/27, Montreal, QC (Metropolis)
3/29, Toronto, ONT (Sound Academy)
3/30, Cleveland, OH (House of Blues)
3/31, Indianapolis, IN (The Vogue)
4/1, Chicago, IL (The Riv)
4/2, Omaha, NE (Sokol Auditorium)
4/4, Des Moines, IA (Val Air Ballroom)
4/5, St. Louis, MO (The Pageant)
4/6, Kansas City, MO (Beaumont Club)
4/8, Denver, CO (Ogden)
4/11, Oakland, CA (Fox Theater)
4/12, Los Angeles, CA (Wiltern)

As for the not so good's everything I just told you if you don't live in any of those cities listed. Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wrong Again, RS Readers.

These are the best drummers of all time:

John Bonham
Keith Moon
Bill Bruford
Billy Cobham
Neil Peart
Stewart Copeland
Ian Paice
Dave Lombardo
Jimmy Chamberlain
Jon Theodore
Danny Carey
Matt Cameron
Vinnie Colaiuta
Mitch Mitchell

No Ringo, No Charlie, No Ginger, No Terry,No Lars, No Joey Jordison, No Carter, No Phil.

Sweet Melisma

I came across this excellent article in the Huffington Post by a man named John Eskow.  It is a fantastic opinion piece on the faux- emoting and soul-less singing via vocal gymnastics(recently displayed with XElephantina's Super Bowl cut and pasting of the Natl. anthem) that has plagued R&B and soul(does this genre even exist anymore? Its closest relative is a genre dominated by pasty, snappy tit brits who are trying to get their best Sam Cooke on) for years....I think it can be traced back to Stevie Wonder believe it or not. I Jist Called to Sayz I luv U Genius that he is/was...he might be to blame for this scourge of syllable stretching wretch-tastic vocal spasms called MELISMA.

Seems like anyone with half a voice feels they have to O.D. on Mariah-rhea. Black or white. I used to LMAO!!!! every time I saw that phreaq from Boyz II Men melisma with fake lovesick pain and practiced whack charisma...scuze me but I ferget his name...he used to drop to his knees fists all clenchified on some studio lit city street corner, stretching out the last werd in the chorus to "End of the Road" til the  jheri curled cows came home.....awwwoohhhheehhhhhaaaaoooooaeeeeeeddddddd!

 Christina Aguilera and the Hideous Cult of Oversouling
by John Eskow

To me, the horrific part of Christina Aguilera's rendition of the National Anthem -- and "rendition" is an apt term for it, because she kidnapped the song and shipped it out to be tortured -- was not her mangling of the words, but her mangling of the tune itself: to paraphrase the great Chuck Berry, she "lost the beauty (such as it is) of the melody until it sounds just like a (godawful) symphony."
This is the same grotesque style -- 17 different notes for every vocal syllable -- that has so dominated the pop and R&B charts for years. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are relatively minor offenders, but singers like Aguilera -- who admittedly possesses a great instrument -- just don't seem to know when to stop, turning each song into an Olympic sport as they drain it of its implicit soul, as if running through the entire scale on every single word was somehow a token of sincerity.
It's called melisma -- the bending of syllables for bluesy or soulful effect -- and what's creepy about the way it's used now is that it perverts America's true genius for song, as evinced by its creators in the world of gospel and R&B, like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
You will hear more of this tonsil-twisting insincerity -- to your eternal sorrow -- if you watch any episode of American Idol.

The great Jerry Wexler -- who produced both Ray and Aretha -- coined a great term for it: "oversouling." He described it as "the gratuitous and confected melisma" that hollows out a song and drains it of meaning. Wexler, who knew more about soul than any producer before or since, said:
"Time and again I have found that flagrantly artificial attempts at melisma are either a substitute for real fire and passion or a cover-up for not knowing the melody... Please, learn the song first, and then sing it from the heart."
And Christina, he wasn't referring to the words.

POSTSCRIPT: I was lucky enough to know Wexler a bit, near the end of his life, and I can hear his raspy, streetwise voice in my ear, insisting I clarify his point: the problem is not Melisma--which I believe is also the name of Joan Rivers' daughter--it's Oversouling. It's like those corny educational films I saw in grade-school: "Fire can be our greatest friend...or our worst enemy!"

The same goes for melisma. Without melisma, no Ray or Aretha, and also no Sam Cooke, no Waylon Jennings, no B.B. King, no Charlie Parker. It's rare for a singer or instrumentalist to disdain melisma completely; Miles Davis and Merle Haggard come to mind, but even they employ it, sparingly, at times. The nightmares begin when--as several posters have wisely pointed out--singers practice Melisma Abuse in order to draw attention to themselves and away from the song. Then it becomes, as Jerry Wexler said, that "gratuitous and confected melisma" that has driven so many of us to the point of shrieking, Aguilera-style, in despair.

CODA: Racism is heartbreaking, in all its permutations. After I wrote this piece, a friend half-jokingly predicted that I might be accused of anti-white racism for attacking Aguilera in favor of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. Then, as comments started flooding in, I was concerned that a few of them were implying--whether the commenters realized it or not--that the National Anthem should be kept simon-pure, unsung except by white Europeans. That was disturbing, and it provoked me into writing the Postscript above, to clarify the original point about the abuse of melisma.

Then--and, granted, it was only from a few trolls, whose endless repititions made only them seem like an army--we began to see another face of racism take its ugly shape. I was accused of "touting" Wexler--whatever the hell that means--over the black singers he produced, a nonsensical charge belied by the piece itself. Then it became: how could I write about this subject, since I "clearly" didn't sing myself? And once that charge was refuted, suddenly trifling matters like "credentials" and "experience" in R&B didn't matter. Then, finally, any attempt at subtlety was dropped, and the problem was revealed to be"guys like me"--guys who, I was sternly admonished, had shown--by their love for Sam Cooke and BB King--that they "used to" prefer Mozart to Jelly Roll Morton (huh?) As the goading campaign collapsed into total incoherence, and other commenters tried nobly to reason with the trolls, the whole thing just got sadder and sadder.

So, for the record (literally as well as figuratively): oversouling does not mean "too black." Quite the opposite: oversouling, whether you like the term or not, is a kind of vocal minstrel-show, a theft of real feeling in the service of corny show-biz. It is a failure of artistic taste. It can be committed by rock-and-roll guitarists, opera singers, actors, and painters, but these days it's most spectacularly--and frequently--thrust into our consciousness by singers. We all enjoy what speaks to us, so if you prefer Christina Aguilera to Aretha Franklin--or Michael Bolton to Otis Redding--Godspeed. But don't defend it by trying--feebly--to police the word-choices of those with other opinions.

Finally, I thank God I've spent so much of my life among musicians, black and white, who are inspired solely by their love of the groove, no matter the color of the person who's laying it down--whether it's Paul Butterfield or James Cotton playing harp, Charley Pride or Merle Haggard singing country, Mitch Ryder or Wilson Pickett screaming R&B. Brothers and sisters: keep making that joyful noise--and, as Sly and the Family Stone sang, let "all the squares go home!"

nuff said.

Friday, February 04, 2011

 Obsessed with darkness. And the search for the nucleus of my own truth. A calm nothingness built of the threads of heavy whispers is my overcoat.
 Punching a heart shaped hole in a lifetime-thick wall with the lights off is my exercise.
I'm talking into the ether in the shape of no cry for help. Please dont help.
A blog is a blip in the primordial ooze of a faceless nation's daily minutia.
Music is shared, stolen and shunned between savages, savants and suckers.We shouldn't care that much.
We will go on with our business of shoveling driveways to get to our jobs to pay for the stuff that you and our children need because our neighborsparentsclergytelevisions told us so. What did you say, John?
I’m sick and tired of hearing thingsFrom uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocriticsAll I want is the truthJust gimme some truthI’ve had enough of reading thingsBy neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politiciansAll I want is the truthJust gimme some truthNo short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dickyIs gonna mother hubbard soft soap meWith just a pocketful of hopeMoney for dopeMoney for ropeNo short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dickyIs gonna mother hubbard soft soap meWith just a pocketful of soapMoney for dopeMoney for ropeI’m sick to death of seeing thingsFrom tight-lipped, condescending, mama’s little chauvinistsAll I want is the truthJust gimme some truth nowI’ve had enough of watching scenesOf schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnasAll I want is the truth nowJust gimme some truth

John had millions to just pick up and go somewhere if he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Thats not my truth. My truth is busted up into a bleeding ball of meaculpas and feeling sorry for myself. deadbeat chauffeur dad prize winning sperm donor. Lost city boy in the body of a suburban loner. Half trusted, half owner. Trapped on a crooked  path. living on the fumes of a forgotten laugh..sidetracked by gaffe after gaffe after gaffe.Shoegazing underwater trail blazing selfhazing. Fuck its just a blog. Just a jumble of words. Just faux poetic justic and some piss poorly updated critical wit. Put another 100 pounds on the bar gonna do another rep...white stripes broke up elton outs billy as analcoholic birthday party cheesecake lenny bruce and lester bangs i didn't start the fire it was always burning. Butterflies are free to fly into face first blotted out windows. tweet tweet about book face tripping on quote I know my place hate my face iknow how I begin and how I end strung out again looking at my lost reflection again while the tides coming in. most of you get your best information your most important post it quote and yahtzeed advice spilled out and phoned in smart 140 characters builds character always on the run and sometimes these words i shat out in "alcohol fueled rage" scroll by on your screens, your 3 inch screens the screens that house your secrets your itineraries your net worth your to do lists your to buy lists everything you want like need everything but the truth.