Monday, April 30, 2012

You Gotta Hear This!!! (RECENTLY ADDED)

i am walking around these days in a semi-delirous haze, my head is spinning, my toes are tapping, my fingers snappin', my ear buds are stuck in my ears permanently...


First and foremost JACK WHITE with his solo debut LP and tour... but also Spiritualized, M. Ward, Damon Albarn, The Dandy Warhols and.... so much more!

I've been feeling for a while (starting maybe around 2008) that there was a veritable renaissance in indie music (rock, pop, and Americana.... all the alt, garage, blues-based, lo-fi, Nuggets-inspired, British-influenced psychedelia one could possibly handle)... but now i am even MORE convinced of that fact...


and... well, I'm not exactly the religious type but, as they say on "Game of Thrones", thank the gods for Mr. Jack White... i'm ready to name him as lord and savior; how 'bout you?

it has long been a regret of mine that i never got to see The White Stripes live in concert. Once, while I was living in New York, I made plans to see them at Roseland with my cousin, the DJ and producer Valentino La Rosa, but we couldn't get tickets.

i did get to see Jack a few times with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, but i feared i would never hear "Seven Nation Army" or any other White Stripes classic live ever.


Jack White has embarked on his first solo tour and has been playing songs he first performed with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, with other collaborators, and as a solo artist, including many of The White Stripes classics we have come to know and love including "Seven Nation Army", "Dead Leaves", and "We Are Gonna Be Friends".

Last week, we had the release of his solo debut album Blunderbuss (we had heard the two singles, "Love Interruption" and "Sixteen Saltines" earlier) and we had Jack White appearing all over the TV and Internet.... in England, he did some gigs and played on the musically-influential TV show Later... With Jools Holland (Jools Holland, of Squeeze fame, is a long-term White Stripes supporter who was obviously delighted, like bubbling champagne lava overflowing its volcano, to be hosting a solo Jack White, even playing keyboards with him on a snippet of "St. James Infirmary Blues")... in America, White was on The Colbert Report, being interviewed by Bob Boilen for NPR's All Songs Considered, and performing at New York's Webster Hall to a packed enthusiastic audience, broadcast live on the web (directed by actor Gary Oldman) as part of a major credit card company's UNSTAGED series... 

At Webster Hall, he performed his own classics, a bunch of his new songs, as well as "You Know That I Know" from The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams and "Two Against One" from Danger Mouse's Rome album.

(you can see videos of those performances here)

it's enough to make a fan freakin' hyperventilate with excitement.

i'm set to see Jack White perform at Washington State's Sasquatch Festival at the end of May, and am thinking of making the trek to see him at San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival in August, as well as any other shows I can make it to this year.

Meanwhile, I've been rocking the hell out of this song lately.... it's Jack White's cover of the U2 song "Love is Blindness"

... and if you've never seen the Jack White Coke commercial (awesome video) with the song "Love is The Truth" (awesome song), here you go. You're welcome.

being able to see jack white in his prime... it almost makes up for living in a country that Pete Doherty is not allowed to visit....

But speaking of British geniuses, at least The Arctic Monkeys' love affair with America carries on unabated, and you know what? These days, America is lovin' them Monkeys right back! After years of playing smallish American venues (as opposed to the mega-venues they play in the UK and elsewhere), Arctic Monkeys are playing huge U.S. arenas, opening up for The Black Keys. (The unlikely tale of the mega-success of The Black Keys is surely a story that needs to be told one day soon. They are good, but their mainstream success is really inexplicable - a blues-based two-piece rock band from Ohio takes over the world? Since when does that happen? Ok, good songs, hardest working duo in show biz, great, fun band live... but surely there are plenty of bands like that who never "make it" - the question is why them and why now and why not someone else instead? And who could have predicted their omnipresence on TV commercials, movie and TV soundtracks, etc.?)

Fans were able to catch The Arctic Monkeys steaming live from Coachella Weekend 1 online as well as hear two new songs - "Electricity" and the stunning "R U Mine?" (which has gotten some U.S. radio play)


Of course many of us are still digging the hell out of their last album Suck It And See, and the fantastic B-sides that have come out since - "I.D.S.T.", "The Blond-O-Sonic Shimmer Trap", "Evil Twin", "You And I" (with Richard Hawley) and one of my favorite Monkeys/Death Ramps songs, "Little Illusion Machine (Wirral Riddler)" (with Miles Kane). Also a good excuse to listen to the Monkeys' previous releases. They play Portland's Rose Garden (AKA, where The Blazers try to play basketball) with The Black Keys next Monday (May 7).

That brings us to Spiritualized. If you haven't heard their new 8-minute powerhouse "Hey Jane" from the new album Sweet Heart, Sweet Light, let's pause for a moment so you can catch up.

Spiritualized is basically Jason "Spaceman" Pierce (formerly of Spaceman 3) and his band. They are quite well-known at home in the UK, but have a smaller yet devoted following in the US.

Hey Jane where you going today?
You living fast lane life right away
Got no place for your rotten life
A heart like yours never satisfied

Hey Jane when you gonna fly?
Got wings like a butterfly...

"Sweet Jane" on the radio...

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Sweet Heart, Love of My Life...

One of the finest concerts I have ever seen ever was Spiritualized at New York's fabled Radio City Music Hall with a freakin' orchestra doing the classic album Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space in its entirety. I had previously become a true believer seeing him perform Songs In A&E at San Francisco's Treasure Island Festival in 2008 (The Raconteurs played later that night).

The violence suffered by the trannie hooker in the "Hey Jane" video is shocking and quite disturbing (mitigated to some extent by the "bad guy" getting his head blown off in the end) but it really does capture the spirit of the song and what a spirit it is... it just chugs along for 4 or 5 minutes, slows down, builds back up to a stunning conclusion.

Get the album right away and try to catch Spiritualized on the concert/festival circuit this Spring/Summer.

Oh, I'll use this as an excuse to give a shout out to Dr. John, New Orleans boogie keyboardist & voodoo practitioner extraordinaire who has a new cool single "Revolution" out now (produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach).

Dr. John also co-wrote "I Am What I Am" on Spiritualized's Sweet Heart, Sweet Light and famously provided the cataclysmic finale of the 17-minute epic "Cop Shoot Cop" from Ladies And Gentleman...

Hey man there's a hole in my arm 
where all the money goes...
Jesus Christ... died for nothin'...
I suppose...

Cop shoot cop
I believe I believe that I have been reborn
Cop shoot cop
I haven't got the time no more...

Spiritualized are playing at the Sasquatch Festival in Washington on May 28 and at Portland's Wonder Ballroom on May 25.

Speaking of Portland (hey, I'm trying to tie all this together), three of Portland's most important indie acts have new albums out currently (Stephen Malkmus had a great album last year and Modest Mouse has been recording) - and they are all very good.

The Shins, The Dandy Warhols, and M. Ward all have new albums and are currently touring. The Shins and M. Ward will both be at Sasquatch, The Dandy Warhols are playing what's sure to be a triumphant and spirited show at The Doug Fir on June 16. To tell you the truth, I'm not a huge Shins fan, nor am I a big fan of Broken Bells, his side project with Danger Mouse. He is good; just maybe a little too laid back for my taste (though I did like his "Insane Lullaby" from the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse  (RIP) masterpiece Dark Night of The Soul). I didn't follow The Dandy Warhols during their heyday, but more recently have come to appreciate them (especially their folkie aspect, which came as a surprise) and now I'm totally ready for their comeback. M. Ward is a classic. Everything he does is good. 

And then there's Damon Albarn, he of Blur and Gorillaz fame, who seems to like having 13 projects going on at the same time. I can barely keep up with his truly massive output. He recently released Rocket Juice & The Moon by a supergroup featuring himself, Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen (who drummed for Fela), and Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea (who must have a soft spot in his heart for wayward Brits in L.A... He also plays with Radiohead's Thom Yorke in Atoms For Peace).

I've been a big reggae fan for years, and through reggae, discovered African music, especially the wonderful Fela and his sons Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti. And who knew (apparently everyone but me) that Damon Albarn had gone to Mali, hooked up with a bunch of talented locals, and released the amazing Mali Music back in 2002? if you missed it back then like i did, do yourself a favor and check it out now.

Been listening a lot recently to Rise Against because a friend is a big fan. I've often wondered how many lives have saved (literally) by their anti-bullying song "Make It Stop (September's Children)". It was written and recorded during a time when every week seemed to bring a fresh, new tragedy - a kid who killed themselves due to bullying because they were gay, perceived to be gay, or simply too weird or different for the comfort of the idiots who tortured them.

The song is a powerful indictment of bullying, includes a sad solemn list of several recent teen victims, and ends with a solid affirmation to "go on living".

Yeah people, stick with us. 


Every fucking last one of you. Stay with us. We'll make it together.

And too much blood has flown 
from the wrists,
Of the children shamed
for those they chose to kiss.
Who will rise to stop the blood?

...Tyler Clementi, age 18.
Billy Lucas, age 15.
Harrison Chase Brown, age 15
Cody J. Barker, age 17
Seth Walsh, age 13...


Make it stop,
Let this end.
This life chose me, I'm not lost in sin.
But proud I stand of who I am,
I plan to go on living.

See? It's not just "entertainment". We're talking life and death here...

Briefly Noted:

Didn't make it to Coachella 2012, but enjoyed watching some of the performances streaming, especially Jarvis Cocker and Pulp doing a dramatic version of their mega-classic "Common People". Coachella is kinda famous for such grand reunions, and one of the most anticipated performances was by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. This is another one of those instances where, for whatever reason, I totally missed something I really should have heard and liked when it first came out. I heard the hype about the Jeff Mangum performance and decided to check out the two classic albums and voila! what do you know? Everyone was right. He is a genius.

SPIN Magazine released an excellent Coachella collection featuring many of the main acts at the festival.

Was able to get some great stuff this week, downloading digital versions of vinyl-only releases from Third Man Records' The Vault Vinyl Collection, feat Jeff The Brotherhood, unreleased White Stripes covers, and awesome remixes of Jack White songs by Beck, Josh Homme, and Mark Lanegan.

Tried a trial membership to Daytrotter recently and found excellent sessions by Wilco and New Multitudes (Yim Yames/Jim James, Jay Farrar, Anders Parker, and Will Johnson).

New cool singles: Ty Segall ("Wave Goodbye"), Yuck ("Chew"), The Hives ("Go Right Ahead"), Beck doing the standard "Corrina, Corrina" for a benefit disc, The Beach Boys ("That's Why God Made The Radio"), and Titus Andronicus (feat Amy Klein) doing "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" on a tribute album for recently departed X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene.

Other cool new releases: an EP from Miles Kane and LP's from Andrew Bird and The Raconteurs' Brendan Benson.

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