Concert Announcements: Jason Isbell,
Modest Mouse & Dan Deacon

A few shows coming up that are worth mentioning. First off Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-By Truckers will be making an appearance on April 12th in KC at Knuckleheads with his band The 400 Unit. Justin Townes Earle (Steve Earle's son) will be opening.

Modest Mouse will be at the Uptown in KC on March 2nd. The last time they came through was at The City Market for a Buzz show, so any venue will be MUCH better than that shit hole.

Finally, Dan Deacon will be playing the Pistol Social Club in the West Bottoms of KC on May 5th. This is a make-up show for him cancelling at the same venue last year. This is definitely a recommended show as a Dan Deacon concert is about as much fun as you can have seeing live music.

As always check out the Concert Calendar for more shows!



Stream TV on the Radio cover of David Bowie's 'Heroes'

If you haven't heard yet about the War Child compilation coming out next month, you can read more here. There appear to be some fantastic covers on there, most notably (imo) The Hold Steady covering Springsteens 'Atlantic City' and Hot Chip covering Joy Divisions 'Transmissions'. However the one I was most interested to hear was TV on the Radio's cover of David Bowie's 'Heroes' and you can now stream the track below.

Here is the full tracklist:
01. Beck (Bob Dylan: "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat")
02. The Kooks (The Kinks: "Victoria")
03. The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen: "Atlantic City")
04. Hot Chip (Joy Division: "Transmission")
05. Lily Allen (The Clash: "Straight To Hell")
06. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (The Ramones: "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker")
07. Franz Ferdinand (Blondie: "Call Me")
08. Duffy (Paul McCartney: "Live And Let Die")
09. Estelle (Stevie Wonder: "Superstition")
10. Rufus Wainwright (Brian Wilson: "Wonderful/ Song For Children")
11. Scissor Sisters (Roxy Music: "Do The Strand")
12. Peaches (Iggy Pop and The Stooges: "Search And Destroy")
13. Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen: "Take This Waltz")
14. Elbow (U2: "Running To Stand Still")
15. The Like (Elvis Costello: "You Belong To Me")
16. TV On The Radio (David Bowie: "Heroes")

The album will be out on 2/16 and it's for charity so pay for it, jerks!



Concert Announcement: The Gaslight Anthem/Heartless Bastards

04/25/09 The Beaumont Club, Kansas City

Heads up on a concert that will be a good ole fashioned Rock N Roll show. They are a dying breed with only a few like Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady still carrying the flag. Bands like My Morning Jacket melt faces and Radiohead shows are intense and beautiful but few bands just flat out rock anymore. Enter The Gaslight Anthem and Heartless Bastards at the Beaumont Club on Saturday April 25th. It should be a fun one!

The Gaslight Anthem Myspace
Heartless Bastards Myspace



Fun Fridays!

Having been inspired by the recent comments regarding soundtracks, I thought I would throw in some videos of the greatest soundtrack band of all time: Queen.

Not only have they created great songs for Iron Eagle and, of course, Flash Gordon, but they- like Prince, Simon and Garfunkel, The RZA and Sondre Leche- have provided the entire soundtrack and score for a film.

That film is Highlander, one of the great B movies of the 80s, featuring Sean Connery as a Spaniard with a Scottish brogue. Sounds a lot like a Russain submarine commander, too.

So, here are some videos of the boys in action. Happy Friday!

"Princes of the Universe


"Who Wants to Live Forever"

You Can Put Your Sorries in a Sax, Mister!

It is my belief that there are certain instruments that go in and out of fashion in rock, and others that will always be a part of its musical landscape (like your core instruments of guitars and drums, and variations of the piano). Typically these "additional instruments, like the mandolin, percussion instruments like timpanis and bongos, vocorders, etc add a texture to music on a song-by-song basis and give the ear a little variety.

However, there is one instrument that I feel needs to be retired from ever being used in ANY kind of rock format, and that is the saxophone. I am not referring to the instrument as part of a brass ensemble, like what you would hear on Motown or Staxx albums or the like, where they add to the rhythm and melody of a song. I am talking about the solo sax-that grating, pealing, psuedo-rock posturing piece of metal that can turn a good song into a cringe-inducing, dated homage to what was once cool (I'll add the postulate discounting songs from the 1950s, because it did represent rock back then).

Whenever I hear a sax solo, particularly in music from the 1980s, I have a combination of a laughing-and-cringing facial reflex. My mind forms a distinct image of a guy with those big, black Ray-bans that are supposed to cool but do the exact opposite. I imagine this character leaning back as he lets loose with a sound not unlike the Devil letting out a a high-pitched gas emission. I see a crowd of 80s-banged folks in puffy fluorescent outfits clapping along with big smiles in a club like the one in 48 Hours and wooping it up. Much like a scene from Eddie and the Cruisers II. This is why I was never a Springsteen fan and why I am concerned about The Hold Steady and The Killers.

The sax is the equivalent of your dad wearing black socks with sandals, and it needs to go away.


Is there an instrument in rock you think should have a lifetime ban, or at least be on probation?



Oh, I got a live one here!

Although I love music, I would have to say that movies are probably my first entertainment love. Escaping to a pitch-black theater, sans annoying kids, and letting myself become absorbed within a story is one of my favorite things to do. Having a movie marathon at home sounds like a fine way to spend a weekend, and receiving my next DVD in the mail is akin to a birthday gift every three days.

Movies and music naturally work together, like bacon and sausage. Movies provide a narrative, and the music helps adds depth and texture to the story- the binding of the book- making it a multi-sensory experience. It can be a powerful moment when a soundtrack penetrates you in the same way as, or even deeper than, a film.
It was not Simon and Garfunkel who introduced this experience to me, or The Breakfast Club or friggin' Garden State, which I exclude because Zach Braff seems to focus more on creating a music video than actually telling a story or writing dialogue. (Watch "The Last Kiss" to see my point. The stoop scene in the rain made me angry). For me, it was Prince, although the movie was not Purple Rain. I certainly enjoyed the movie (Apollonia in the barn? Thank you!), but since that film was more of "Prince and the Revolution in Concert" doc anyway, and really sucked outside of the music and Morris Day and Jerome, it left no emotional imprint on me.
The movie was Batman. For a couple of reasons.

Regarding the music itself, I listened to that more than any other Prince album, My most dominant memory of the music is air-guitaring to "Batdance" up in my dormer room at my mom's house. I truly believe that this is not only one of Prince's greatest songs, but one of the best pop songs of the last twenty years- a great example of his genious as a composer: A seven-minute, five- part dance/funk/ electronic/ narrative with one of the best guiatr solos of the 1980s. It was like "Love in an Elevator" for the club set. (http://www.mtvmusic.com/video/?id=54162 )

As far as an album promoting elements of a movie, Batman stands out for another reason, because it was the first soundtrack in a film that really resonated an emotional reaction from me. The exact moment this happened for me had nothing to do with the film's narrative, not directly, anyway: It was the end credits, and the seductive sounds of "Scandolous" played over the rolling names in a dark theater, and I could feel the passion and intesity of the relationship between Bruce and Vicki (as silly as that now seems) coming through in the song. I immediately was in love with Kim Basinger, up until I Dreamed of Africa. I thought about that for a long time when I laid in bed, the darkness in my room recreating the same setting in the theater. It was not sexual, but certainly emotional, as I imagined what it would be like to feel that way about someone else. That's the power of music and film put together.

So, the question I pose to you all is, What was the first tune you heard in a movie ( or if that is too specific, what was the first soundtrack you heard) that left an imprint on you, and whose music will always be connected to the film?



Videos: Animal Collective

Well, if you keep up with any music sites/blogs you've certainly heard about the new Animal Collective album, Merriweather Post Pavilion. It's getting a ton of great press, and to be honest, it's quite deserved this time. The last two albums have had some great stuff on them but overall they weren't Great albums. This time I think they may have already put out one of the best albums of 2009 and I look forward to trying to find someone to top them.

Here is the video for the best song off MPP, 'My Girls':

Trippy. Just for good measure, here is the best song off 2007's Strawberry Jam, 'Fireworks':



New Music: Neko Case's 'People Got A Lotta Nerve'

There is plenty of time for me to gush about Neko Case in the next month or so until her newest album, Middle Cyclone (March 3) comes out. Neko Case is, in my opinion, the greatest female voice in music since Patsy Cline...for christs sake, I named one of my dogs after her. Lucky for us her label is offering up a free track for your listening pleasure. You can either listen the new track, 'People Got A Lotta Nerve' below or you can download it by clicking HERE.

Not only is it a free song from one of the best singers around, but her label and her are donating $5 to Best Friends Animal Society (if you watch Dog Town on National Geographic, you already know who Best Friends are) every time there is a blog post of the new track. So everyone wins.



Concert Announcements: Handsome Furs, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Mates of State & Black Kids

A couple shows of note coming around in the next few months:

Handsome Furs (pictured above) will be at The Jackpot in Lawrence on March 23rd.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy will be at The Granada in Lawrence on April 7th.

Les Claypool/DeVotchka/Saul Williams will play The Beaumont Club on March 16th.

Finally, Mates of State are touring with Black Kids which will certainly be the cute overload tour of 2009. They will be making an appearance at The Beaumont Club in KC on April 13th. As always, keep up with all noteworthy concerts in the area by viewing our Concert Calendar.



"You have to hear this" or, "Please like me!"

I had my first bout of writer's block for this little entry, until I realized that 1) I didn't have a deadline and 2) I wasn't receiving a paycheck. Upon this realization I loosened up and found my next topic to entertain you all with. This theme may even span over the next few entries, so it's sort of like my 69 Love Songs of musical commentary

Last weekend I was in a discussion with my friend Wit regarding the end-of-the-year "Best of 2008" lists that a variety of publications released, and we noticed a few things: Many of the lists had a lot of similarities, and many of these lists contained very few artists that the casual music fan would know (for example, Coldplay's Viva La Vida).

The reasons and motivation for these choices led me to wonder: How many of these choices were actually guided by the desire to display artists the critics really loved, and how much of it was to achieve street credibility among their musical peers? To show everyone, "Look how hard I had to search to find this little gem!" How many of them really liked the artists as much as they claimed? And this led me to the question: Have I ever done the same thing?

Absolutely! Through middle school and high school, I was your classic rock suburban boy. Oh, it's a tried-and-true tale of ignorance and laziness- choosing the safe over the unknown, the established over the up-and-coming. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Stones, Creedence- I loved them all!

And then came college and Huzzah!, my exposure to a wealth of genres that I never knew existed: electronic, alternative, post-grunge, indie, twee, chamber rock, alt-core, alt-country, post-alt-twee grunge, etc... And you better better believe I started searching for music that was not known by my roommates, digging around for a single that you could only get from Scotland by bribing Seamus the dock-worker. I was the guy, among many, saying "You have to check this group out!" I dropped references about some obscure group to flaunt my knowledge to strangers at parties (and mentioned how lame the Quad City DJs were). I even did it at the beginning of this entry by referencing The Magnetic Fields (who are on a lot of top ten lists for Distortion).

This however led to some mistakes, because there was music I bought just to look good. Sort of like like displaying James Joyce and Infinite Jest in your bookcase in the main room but you're reading Dean Koontz and James Patterson in the bedroom (I'd like to point out that I truly do like Koontz, but can't stand Patterson's Alex Cross), or wearing a funky clothes to impress the girl, even though the shoes are giving you blisters and the shirt displays your pit stains. Rather than admit that I was really into Blues Traveler (at least for a few months), I would talk about the significant difference between The Orb and Orbital.

I'd point out some of these artists, but to be honest I can't think of them right now because I don't listen to them anymore. I'll dig some up later an share them, but until then, I ask you: What are some artists or groups you bought and listened to that you really didn't like, but had to have for appearance's sake?


PS- Here are a couple: Radiohead's Hail to the Thief

and Beck's Guerro.


50 is the New Fun

My dad, a music freak who really should have his own site (I'll write about him in another entry), and who shares music with another retirement-age music freak, gave me a copy of the B-52s latest album, Funplex. So, while I was spending the first few weeks studying and working on the computer at my new white-collar job, I took the opportunity to catch up on my music listening (something I couldn't do at work as a teacher). I had the B-52s on my playlist, I sat down, strapped up, logged in, and turned up.

I was never a B-52s fan. Yes, I liked their hits. I danced or wobbled to "Love Shack" or "Roam" at basement parties (and they were already retro then, as this was 1995-1999). I listened to Cosmic Thing, because that was their biggest-selling album. But that was it. Fred Schneider was cool, but could get annoying, and the female harmonies with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson were pretty but predictable. They made another album after that, and then were gone.

Now , fourteen-or-so-years later (I apologize for not having specifics. A bottle of cham-pan-ya, a couple of Sam Adams and a quiet baby have made me more casual), they put out Funplex.

They are all in their fifties, or really close to it. Their first album was out in the 70s. They are respected, but are what they are. They have nothing to prove, and after a decade and a half aren't going to all of a sudden reclaim what they had. And yet, they put out perhaps one of the most underrated albums of the last year. In many respects it's not different from what they have done: They are a fun party band you want to dance to. Their lyrics are stupid and silly, and every song is catchy almost to the point of irritation. THEY REALLY HAVEN'T CHANGED IN THIRTY YEARS.

Is their age an issue? Yes, for all of the right reasons. I shall explain.(I also want to mention that I am watching "Blown Away" with Jeff Bridges, and by Lloyd Bridges it's awful).

I am part of a generation that grew up when older acts who"came back"- or really, any band that was big in the 60s and kept putting out albums- sucked ass. I am not used to "old" groups putting out anything interesting or fun, at least in the realm of rock-pop. Old groups sound their age- tired, bored, distracted (perhaps due to Extenze or Restless Legs or Microfibralgia medication) and really irrelevant. I will point to The Eagles' "Hell is Better Than This" (or "Freezes Over") album to make my point.

All of sudden, we are seeing bands return that seem to actually be creating music that stills challenges you and, more importantly, themselves; displaying that they still care about what they are selling. Bands like The Pixies, Mission of Burma, and The Toadies are creating consistent music- after all this time. This may be due in part to the fact that many "older" bands never broke up and have been recording nonstop. REM, U2, Sonic Youth, Metallica, Pearl Jam- commercially successful/well-known bands that have been together for fifteen-plus years, are consistently creating solid music (not just touring, which is the equivalent of ribbon-cutting).

And this brings us to why you listen to a group that has been around, that have made a lot of albums and have a sound that is going to stay pretty much the same. Ultimately, when you listen to some one's music, do you still enjoy it? And with those groups you first heard as a teenager, Does it still get to you like it did when you first heard them- or at least not make you work as hard to remember those days? That's really the point of listening, and the point of why you come back to a group that has been around. Do they still make you feel something, and make that feeling still seem new.

Funplex does this. The kickoff -"Pump", "Hot Corner" and "Ultraviolet"- sets the tone, because it hits you with its energy. Not only do they still sound like they want to party, they bring the tools for the trade, adding just enough of a twist to make it noticeable. The guitars are aggressive, the keys groove, and it's damn sexy. Most importantly, you forget that they are fifty. I pray I attack any passion of mine as hard and as freshly as this quartet does on this album. The B-52s have taken my perception of rock as being only for the young, tied it to the ground, and have had their sexy way with it, particularly since it's an album that embraces the basic elements of rock that are usually left to the kids. This isn't folk music or something that you listen to at the dentist office. This is a young album. They made this in 2008 but it could have been made in1988, and that's a compliment.

Next party I have, The B-52s will be the first disc you hear. That should tell you something.



Members of Wilco, The Smiths & Radiohead
play 'Fake Plastic Trees' and 'Bodysnatchers'

Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) sings while Johnny Marr (The Smiths/Modest Mouse), Ed O'Brien (Radiohead), Phil Selway (Radiohead), John Stirratt (Wilco), and Liam Finn cover Radiohead's 'Fake Plastic Trees' and 'Bodysnatchers' at 7 Worlds Collide. The sound isn't great but the line-up makes it worth posting.

'Fake Plastic Trees':




Top Five for the Home Drive

As I am writing this, I am currently in a birthing/delivery room at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, looking at my six-day old daughter. As I look at her peaceful, slumbering face, I am not so much thinking about how much I love her, or how am I going to afford sending her to college or what kind of husband she is going to marry, but... what kind of music am I going to play in the car as I drive her home for the first time.

This is a big deal. Not only is it her first trip in a car, it's going to be the first time she hears music, and not just any music, but MY music. If my plans on grooming her to be the next Corin Tucker are to be seen through, I can't pass this by. I can't afford to have her choose, say, Duffy over KT Tunstall or Miley over the Jonas Brothers. What if because of my selections during the twenty-drive home, fourteen years from now she is begging me to by The Pussycat Dolls MP6 instead of The Velvet Underground's Greatest Hits? Instead of wanting to learn guitar or keys, she wants to sit on the couch watching TV and thought-texting friends living on a Martian colony (a lot can happen in fourteen years).

So I pose the question: What would you play for your child (gender doesn't matter, of course), on that ride home from the hospital. To paraphrase High Fidelity, what are your Top Five for the Home Drive? Now, these are off the top of my head, so I don't have a deep explanation or well-thought out plan as to why, and it's also 12 am, so I don't want to take the next thirty minutes to explain, so I'll give a one-sentence-ish defense:

1. "Baby" Imperial Teen
Well, that' pretty self-explanatory: "I love baby/Baby is a doll". Plus, female singers who also play instruments!

2. "Modern Girl" Sleater Kinney
"My baby loves me, I'm so happy/Happiness make me a modern girl". Starts as a sing-a-long then distorts to blown speakers.

3. "I Feel Fine" The Beatles
The first music my daughter hears should be one of the first rock songs to have feedback (and they do say "baby").

4. "Picture Book" The Kinks
Great tune about family (who you see a lot of when you have a kid) and remembering them with pics (which you take a lot of when you have a kid). Also, Ray Davies says "Scooby-dooby doo", which kids love.

5. "No Surprises" Radiohead
Sounds like a lullaby for a dying alien, but it's good for her to start understanding life and death before I have to actually explain it to her. Also gets points for the Rockabye Lullaby version, which is on her iTunes in her room, along with songs of Coldplay, Smashing Pumpkins, The Stones, and The Ramones.

Thanks to Matt for inviting me to write with him, and I'll be posting some more in the future. Maybe add some pics and videos as soon as I figure that stuff out. Let me know your Top Five for the Home Drive!


Concert Announcement: Marah

02/17/08 The Record Bar, Kansas City

I've definitely written about Marah here before, but this time it's for a live show. I've described Philadelphia's Marah as the Drive-By Truckers if they grew up listening to Springsteen rather than Skynyrd. I couldn't be more excited that they are coming to the Record Bar on February 17th. They are a monstrous live band, and although their last albums haven't been great, they're live shows continue to be worthwhile.

Marah Myspace