The Friday Five: April 29, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Manifest Destiny” by Jamiroquai (from The Return of the Space Cowboy, 1994)

If only every plonker that bought Travelling Without Moving for “Virtual Insanity” had reached back one release, they’d find the acid jazz informed soul-funk of Return, and be all the better for it.

“The Body That Loves You” by Janet Jackson (from janet., 1993)

One hundred percent throwaway track from an otherwise awesome record. At this point, though, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis could do no wrong. Must be something in the waters of Lake Minnetonka that removes local artists ability to edit themselves.

“One Mic” by Nas (from Stillmatic, 2001)

I’ll be damned if I know anything about reppin’ this or any hood, but I know there are few that can challenge Nasir Jones in this moment. Built on a sliver of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” the track maintains the stark intensity of the original, bubbling over as Jones’ frustration manifests in increasingly tense verses and resolves with the request for a more simple life.

“Again” by Lenny Kravitz (from Greatest Hits, 2000)

I’m just going to go ahead and say it … what the fuck ever happened to Lenny Kravitz? The featured new tune on his greatest hits package, this tune is plain lazy. Don’t get me wrong, I dig it, but it is late ‘90s power balladry 101. Where’s the “dig my heart out of my chest with this rusty spoon” emotion of a tune like “It Ain’t Over, Till’ It’s Over”? Further than that, this came out over ten years ago! Paging Mr. Kravitz … I’m doing something I don’t often do, and hitting the “skip forward” button.

“Knockin’ Da Boots” by H-Town (from  MTV Party to Go, Volume 5, 1994)

Aww yeah! That, boys, is the sound of some panties dropping.

What’s on your shuffle today?

10 Reasons To Discover the McDowell Mountain Music Festival This Weekend

This Friday, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival will kick off for its 8th straight year. The all-for-charity event has hosted the likes of Los Lobos, the Neville Brothers, the Flaming Lips, and the Black Crowes over the years. For the second year in a row now, the festival will take place adjacent to north Scottsdale’s Compound Grill (right near the loop 101 and Scottsdale Rd.). The organizers do a fantastic job of transforming the parking lot into an intimate, park-like setting (with real, glorious grass). Vendors, food and drink, friendly folk, and plenty of room to shake it to the diverse list of artists that grace its stages.

This year, headliners include Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (“Home” and “Janglin” anyone?), JJ Grey & Mofro (killer southern blues rock), Xavier Rudd (worldly rock n’ folk from down under), Black Joe Lewis (vintage, good time R&B/soul from Austin) and super-late night sets from blues/folkman Otis Taylor and jamtronica outfit Particle (looking particularly forward to this). There’s LOTS more, check the lineup.

Here are 10 solid reasons to check out the MMMF this weekend…

10. I’ll be there. Need more? You do? Fine, read on.

9. Weekend warriors unite! Okay, I’m not getting any younger. The grays creep into the hairs (that are still there), and with a family now in tow, it’s harder for me to justify taking off out of town for days at a time to see live music and go to festivals. For me (and my family), the MMMF has turned into an annual vacation, where we spend a weekend to escape it all, kick back and enjoy the music – right here in ol’ Phoenix, AZ.

8. The Compound Grill – this great restaurant and music venue is only a couple years old now, and is really coming into its own as one of the top music venues in town. Along with the Rhythm Room, the Compound is my favorite place to take in live music. All throughout the festival, duck inside for a break from the sun, because Creamy Radio will be showcasing some of our town’s best local bands on its indoor Creamy Radio Stage. You can also have a seat and order a snack or meal from the Compound’s tasty menu.

7. It’s all for charity. All proceeds go to two homegrown Arizona charities: Ear Candy and Phoenix Day. Two great reasons to separate yourself from a few of your hard-earned bucks.

6. Laid. Back. There are many reasons the MMMF is my favorite local festival, but one of the biggest is the chill, laid back vibe in the air. No posturing, no douchebaggery… just smiling faces, young and old. Good people watching? Oh, hell yes.

5. Kid Friendly. Do you have kids under 11? So do I. Two of ’em. Does the word free get you all tingly inside like it does for me? Well, kids under 11 years old can walk right through those gates without paying a cent. Kids are free. My girls have been with me the last few years, and always have a blast. Last year, kids were going crazy for the sprinkler and the hula hoops.

4. Making musical memories. Trust me, you’ll come away with some really great moments to hang on to. Over the years for me, some of my favorite moments have included taking in the Grace Potter experience (three times, including this killer version of “Pain In My Heart“) ; seeing my kids’ faces as they watched our first Flaming Lips show (giant balloons, a small platoon of Teletubbies, Wayne Coyne crowd-surfing in his giant plastic bubble…entertainment for all ages). But biggest for me? Standing 10 feet from Aaron Neville as he sang “Tell It Like It Is” with his brothers…

3. The Weather – It’s that time of year where we have to get out and enjoy the outdoors before Satan comes knocking again for his summer stay in the Valley. And we’re lucking out, because the forecast for this weekend is sunny in the 80’s… glorious!

2. Discovery – Forget Pandora, come discover music the old fashioned way – experience it LIVE. So shut down that computer for a day or two (you know it needs a rest), and head out to MMMF for some new music discovery. Personally, I’ve seen a handful of these acts live already, but I’m a newbie when it comes to seeing Black Joe Lewis, Particle, SOJA, and Orgone. And I’m excited to check out Kinch, a local indie rock band that is making big waves nationwide. They kick off Saturday at noon on the main stage.

1. Support Live Music, Support a Local Festival – It’s a win-win situation, really. You see amazing live musicians like Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, What Laura Says, JJ Grey & Mofro, 7 Walkers, and Martin Sexton, and you’re supporting not only their lifestyle (and thank God for live touring acts), but you’re also supporting a great local music festival – the best in town, as far as I’m concerned.

So people of Phoenix. People of Arizona. People of the Southwest… Grab your sunscreen, bring your blankets, your camping chairs.. come join a great group of people this weekend for the 2011 MMMF.  See ya there…

Buy Tickets

Recaps from past years:

Delta Spirit

Hi, it’s me, man of few words of late. Seems I’ve been soaking in the music and not spitting it back out in written form. You know, it feels like the right thing about now.

But I do need to steer you toward a great record, and that is Delta Spirit‘s History From Below. I listened to it for the first time today, and it instantly grabbed hold. Song numero uno, “9/11”, hit me from the start.

Do check out this song, and this album. Looking forward to seeing them by the water at the Newport Folk Festival this summer…

The Friday Five: April 22, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“On Mercury” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (from By the Way, 2002)
“No World for Tomorrow” by Coheed and Cambria (from Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow, 2007)
“Uptown” by Prince (from Abu Dhabi 20ten, 2010)
“Club Tropicana” by Wham! (from The Best of Wham!: If You Were There…, 1999)
“Utee” by Rosa Lee Brooks (from West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, 2010)

What’s on your shuffle today?

Titus Andronicus at Coachella

Can’t catch Titus Andronicus live any time soon? Here’s the next best thing – their full set at Coachella.
Can’t git enough…

Note about the video player – when you click the red arrow below, another page will launch with an annoying ad. Just close that window, come back here, and click the arrow again.

Recap: Titus Andronicus at the Rhythm Room

It was a modest but passionate crowd that showed up at the Rhythm Room Monday night for New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus. The passion manifested itself early, as the group launched into “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”. When the drums kicked in, the crowd near the front of the stage erupted in a mosh frenzy, knocking around and into us, and making it clear this was gonna be a high energy show.

Frontman Patrick Stickles commented often on the positive punk vibe, and he and his band did not let up for the next – I don’t know – 90 minutes? This was one of those shows where i was completely swallowed up in the spirit and energy, and didn’t check the clock – not even once. The music was explosive, angry, beautiful, and intense from start to finish. I was blown away.

The songs came primarily from their two studio releases – songs like “Four Score and Seven”, “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ”, “To Old Friends and New”, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” (a favorite), and of course “A More Perfect Union”. But they threw in a couple of punk covers: most notably “Racism Sucks”, a 7 Seconds song that was clearly directed at my state’s government – and rightly so. The second cover was UK punk band Sham 69’s “If the Kids Are United”, which they played for the encore .

Mucho props to guitarist/violinist Amy Klein, who is one of the rockin-est (for lack of a better term) female guitarists I’ve ever seen live. She adds a great dynamic to the band, and rocks out fiercely with her male bandmates. She made it a point to tell the crowd it was her favorite show of the tour so far. She had one hell of a cheering section in front of her… a lot of fun to see the give and take.

Titus Andronicus is live force right now. Yeah, they only have two studio albums to their name, and their band lineup is even more recent, together for just over a year. But as new as they are, they have something very cohesive and powerful. And that Patrick Stickles – the bearded, spirited front man with his primal growl… He’s laying it all out there – he’s hungry for it, and you can tell.

In the summer of 2000, I saw Philly band Marah play a small, sweat soaked club in Tempe. They were also touring behind their second album, and I came away completely transformed – just jaw-droppingly floored by their energy and their ability to take control of a room.

I had the same feeling last night when I walked out of the Rhythm Room. I made a beeline to the back door to shake Patrick’s hand and thank him for the show. Nights like this are few and far between…

See. This. Band.


The Friday Five: April 15, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes (from Shake Your Money Maker, 1990)

Sounds as good today as it did 20 years ago. Damn, has it been 20 years?

“We Can Get Together” by The Hold Steady (from Heaven Is Whenever, 2010)

My doppelgänger’s finest tune. Somehow, The Hold Steady’s music hadn’t made it to my ears in any major fashion until last year’s Heaven Is Whenever. Now, I can’t get enough.

“Amie” by Damien Rice (from O, 2003)

So here’s a question, who is the bigger sad bastard: Damien Rice or Glen Hansard? I’m asking with the best intentions, because let’s face it, I love sad bastard music. “Amie” is nothing short of brilliant.

“It May Be Late” by Harper Blynn (from Loneliest Generation, 2010)

I discovered this band when they opened for—and subsequently, and quite seamlessly became—The Damnwells at their NYC tour stop. I was blown away by the band’s sheer presence, as they tore through an amazing set. I recall commenting to my wife that had they pulled out a Queen cover, complete with four-part harmonies, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I believe that fellow Popdose’r Matt Wardlaw is a convert as well, after seeing them last night.

“Road” by Nick Drake (from Pink Moon, 1972)

The O.G. sad bastard!

What’s on your shuffle today?

Here We Go Again…Again…

Every couple of years it happens. Each time I think it will be different. My expectations are high and, as I listen, I lie to myself. “This is the one. It’s good. Finally, they are back.”

But it’s not the one. It’s not good. And they aren’t back.

Before we take a look at Collapse Into Now, the new disc from R.E.M, let’s briefly review their catalog and rate them on a 10 point scale.

Chronic Town (1982)- Fun loving and brilliant first volley. 9
Murmur (1983)-The timeless classic. 10
Reckoning (1984)- The one that proved they had width of vision. One of the many soundtracks to my senior year. Goofed off with them at their Summer Fest show in Milwaukee in July 1984. My friend Matt wouldn’t give Michael Stipe any of his bbq ribs. Matt was very possessive of his food. 10
Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)– Straddling the next level with authority. 9
Life’s Rich Pageant (1986)– The “lost” underrated one. 8
Document (1987)– Indie fame and more achieved. “End of the World” and “The One I Love” played endlessly in every dorm room everywhere for several generations of college students. 9
Green (1988)-The calm (meaning they were still an alt college kept secret) before the storm. 8
Out Of Time (1991)– Boom! 8
Automatic For The People (1992)– Still Boom! Almost like Disc 2 of Out of Time. 7
Monster (1995)– My favorite R.E.M. album. Why? Because it proved that they were still relevant and could grow beyond their signature sound. Such a great record. 10
New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1997)– The beginning of the decline. 5
Up (1998)– No. Absolutely not. Never. 2 (simply due to the warmth of the glow from the previous efforts).
Reveal (2001)-A slight return…almost a tease but still a 6
Around The Sun (2004)– And back to sleep again. 4
Accelerate (2008)…into what exactly? More snoring? 4

And that brings us to their latest disc. Again, we have critics saying this is their “Comeback” but in three years when their next disc comes out, this one will suck and that future one will be the “Comeback.”

I don’t get Peter Buck. How can he make such a great record with Tired Pony and then go back to boring the shit out of me with a new R.E.M. album. Maybe they need a Brit in their band to make it right. More importantly, does Michael Stipe have anything relevant to say anymore? I don’t think so. In the 80s, he was so youthful and fun. R.E.M has such a different sound to everything that was coming out back then that is was so fresh and different. In the 90s, when they achieved “god like genius” status, they epitomized that decade. But that’s just it….they were (and still are) soooo 90s…the faux hippie shit…the “sharing time”…the film Point Break…in so many ways it was the suckiest decade. I know, I know….how can that be, Mark? With Blur, Oasis, The Verve, and Stereophonics all launching that decade? Well, those bands (and a few others) were my saving grace in a decade that truly gargled my balls from a sociocultural and contextual standpoint.

And that’s why Collapse Into Now is another 4. “Überlin” is worth a download because it addresses the struggles of middle age. At least Stipe here is writing about things that matter and are relevant in the year 2011. And stylistically it does bring a hearty whiff back of the greatness that was once R.E.M. But the rest of the tracks aren’t really there at all.

So, now we begin the countdown to the next album in around three years in which the same thing will happen all over again. Super!

The Friday Five: April 8, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest (from People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1990)
“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard (from Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, 1995)
“Concentrate” by The Guggenheim Grotto (from The Universe is Laughing, 2010)
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna (from Like a Prayer, 1989)
“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon (from Paul Simon, 1972)

What’s on your shuffle today?

New Steve Earle Song: “Waitin’ On The Sky”/ new album out April 26th

Crazy to think that it’s been almost four years since a new Steve Earle album. Can’t blame him really – the man’s a workaholic: poet, author, activist, actor, and then – oh yeah – that songwriting/music gig.

Steve’s been busy writing his first novel, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, and recording his new album of the same name. He mentioned in Rolling Stone recently that it’s “probably the countriest record I’ve done in a long time.”

Earlier today, Steve’s label, New West Records, came up with this cool offer for a free MP3 from the new record, and a PDF excerpt from his new novel. All you have to do is have a Facebook account and click to accept it.

The new tune sounds great – fresh and familiar at the same time. It’s that unmistakeable Steve Earle vibe. Take a listen, then head over to download it.

By the way, another amazing album cover from Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, who’s created every Steve Earle album cover since 1996’s I Feel Alright (he also did the cover for Yellow Moon by the Neville Brothers). His art makes me want to pick up all of these albums on vinyl. Beautiful work.

Steve Earle – “Waitin’ On The Sky”

PRE-ORDER: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (the album, out April 26) | I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (the novel, out May 12)

DOWNLOAD: The MP3 of “Waitin’ On The Sky” and an excerpt from Steve’s new novel here.