How’d You Like That, How’d You Like That, How’d You Like That…I Liked It!!! [The Kooks at First Ave]

“How many bands can you name that have only three albums out and, after a 21 song set, you still want more?

Not many. But that’s the beauty of Brighton’s The Kooks. The recently released Junk of the Heart is yet another example of how Luke and the East Sussex lads are extremely gifted when it comes the composing pure pop songs. Like their first two releases (Inside In/Inside Out, Konk), every track on their third offering is fantastic.

Last Sunday night, the Main Room at First Avenue saw the Kooks bring their uncanny knack for the 3 minute, insta-catchy tune to town. Their set list included tracks from all three of the records.

Is It Me?
Always Where I Need To Be
Sofa Song
She Moves In Her Own Way
Eskimo Kiss
Killing Me
Seaside (Acoustic)
Tick of Time
See The Sun
How’d You Like That
Mr Nice Guy
Ooh La
Shine On
Do You Wanna
The Saboteur
Junk Of The Heart (Happy)

Highlights for me were some of the new songs (“Rosie,” “Runaway,” “Junk of the Heart”) as well as the ever sturdy “Sofa Song,” “She Moves In Her Own Way” and “Sway.” “Eskimo Kiss,” a track from the new record, was really a treat and managed to capture a Simon and Garfunkel sentiment both thematically and stylistically. Luke ran around the stage doing his best to capture all our attention with his Jim Morrison-esque affectations.

After asking the question posed above at the end of the 75 minute set, my favorite show companion and I started listing the songs we wished they had done as well.

“Eddie’s Gun?”
“Love It All?”
“Oh, that would have been mega!”
“Jackie Big Tits?”
“No doubt!”

We kept going until we had named all their songs on all their albums and singles.

The Kooks are heading out west which includes a stop on December 9th at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler, AZ for our esteemed host. Catch them if you can!

Here’s the video I took of the last song of the night, “Naive.” I apologize for the bumpiness…I was dancing around and being pleasantly jostled.

Old Californio’s latest, ‘Sundrunk Angels’

Somehow I missed the summer release date of Old Californio‘s latest album, Sundrunk Angels. Well, I was on a 2 week east coast vacation, so that may be why – but, better late than never.

The Pasadena, California band – led by guitarist, lead singer & songwriter Rich Dembowski – knocked me off my feet back in March 2009 when I heard “Mother Road” for the first time.

They have a rootsy, harmony-filled folk-rock vibe reminiscent of other Golden State bands of years past – groups like the Byrds, Moby Grape, and the good old Grateful Dead.

courtesy of Kent Gelb

I’ve had a chance to spin the new record a few times now, and it does not disappoint. Favorites for me so far include the strong album opener, “Learn to Cheat”; the slowed down, almost mournful tone of “Sundrunk Angels”; the explosive band treatment of “Allon Camerado” (check out the build up around the 3 minute mark); and the simple beauty of “Unsatisfied” – tasty guitar picking, a lazy harmonica and some killer harmonies (something the Old Californio boys excel at).

Another solid album from Old Californio. I hope Rich and the boys keep going and get the recognition they deserve outside of the southern California Americana/folk-rock scene.

Listen to Old Californio – “Allon Camerado

Buy Sundrunk Angels.

On the Web: Old Californio’s Web Site | Facebook | Twitter

The Friday Five: November 25, 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:

Deck the Halls” by John Denver & The Muppets (from A Christmas Together, 1977)

I swear, I did nothing to rig this. I opened iTunes, hit shuffle, and this is the first thing that played. I’ll let you in, however, on a little secret: on a normal Friday I will skip any random holiday tune that presents itself during the Friday Five. Since today is “black” Friday, I’m going to let this one play. Besides, it’s from one of my favorite Christmas records!

Goin’ Against Your Mind” by Built to Spill (from You in Reverse, 2006)

I always forget how much I like Built to Spill. Drive-By Truckers, too! They fall into that category of bands that when I hear them I instantly fall in love with all over again.

Still Water (Love)” by Four Tops (from The Complete Motown Singles, Volume 10: 1970, 1996)

Still the most intimidating collection in my library, The Complete Motown Singles continues to turn up tunes that I’ve not heard before.

New Tattoo” by Mötley Crüe (from New Tattoo, 2008)

Naming your record after a lazy mid-tempo ballad can never lead anywhere good. Did Vince really just sing “I will be your Dorian Grey”? You can’t see it, but I’m sitting at the kitchen table shaking my head in disappointment.

Never” by Gravity Kills (from Gravity Kills, 1996)

You know, I was kind of hoping that this Friday Five would finish strong. C’est la Vie!

What’s on your shuffle today?


As we head into Thanksgiving, I just have to give a shout out and say thanks to the Leeds band, The Kaiser Cheifs. Last summer, the band released their fourth album and it came out in the most unique way that I have ever seen a band put out music to date .

You start here. From this link, your adventure begins in creating your own version of the album. Choose the track list, running order,artwork, and design it all yourself. Then download. The cost? £7.50 or roughly 12 bucks for 10 tracks.

Now, the Kaiser Chiefs have made 20 tracks available to choose from so if you want all of them you have to buy two albums effectively. For Brit geeks like me who have long bemoaned the extra tracks that usually end up on singles not being easily available, this is pure bliss! So, naturally, I plunked down £15. I sincerely hope that other bands from the UK take a cue from the Kaiser Chiefs and do the same thing.

Here is my favorite track from the record, “When All Is Quiet,” which has a 10cc feel to it, appealing to some of you 70s hippies!

Recap: John Prine at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix


Pardon me while I enjoy this warm afterglow I’m feeling – the afterglow that comes from seeing living legend John Prine perform live.

It was a Saturday night, and the setting was perfect – the ornate 82-year old Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix. Loudon Wainwright III‘s hour-long opening set was filled with his brand of humor and songs “about death and decay.” Songs like “The Shit Song,” “Heaven,” and a request from promoter Danny Zelisko, “Dead Skunk,” were nothing short of hilarious; but he also offered up some introspective tunes with a melancholy edge, like “Thanksgiving”, a quiet ballad about dysfunction around the Turkey Day table. Having never truly explored Loudon’s music, the set made me want to dip back into his catalog and see what I’ve been missing all these years.

But the night, after all, belonged to John Prine. At 9pm, John and his trio took the stage and didn’t stop for two solid hours. The songs covered his 40 year recording career from his first 1971 self-titled album to his last studio offering, 2005’s Fair & Square.
In fact, he played eight out of the thirteen songs from his first album.

The anti-war “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” was introduced by telling the audience the song was so old, he couldn’t remember which war it was about.

“Angel From Montgomery” featured a beautiful mandolin opening by guitar/harmonica man Jason Wilber, who ended the tune with some great electric slide.

“Sam Stone”, about a heroin-addicted war veteran, started off with John solo acoustic. Then bass player Dave Jacques walked out and joined in with a bow on his standup bass – and finally Wilber walked out and joined in on some quiet electric.

The contributions of Wilber and Jacques can’t be understated. Their years of experience backing up Prine have made the three a single organism. They know when to add the slightest nuance and embellishment to a tune, adding sweet, quiet notes to John’s acoustic classics like “Far From Me” and “Hello In There” – yet they can crank it up to power trio volume on folk rockers like “Bear Creek Blues,” “Picture Show, ” and the fun ditties like “Fish and Whistle.”

Prine and the band have re-worked some tunes into some fantastic new arrangements too. “Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody”, the opener from 1995’s Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings, was transformed into something dark & funky, with Wilber playing these low slide riffs that added an edge to it. “Lake Marie” also was reworked, but not losing its entertaining but slightly sinister vibe.

Wilber and Jacques left the stage for a few tunes, leaving John and his guitar to strum out “Crazy As A Loon,” “Dear Abby,” and one of my all-time Prine favorites: “Blue Umbrella.”

Earlier in the set, Prine dedicated “Souvenirs” not only to his late friend and songwriting partner Steve Goodman, but to the doctor who cleared him of cancer a decade earlier, who was in the audience.

Since discovering his music in my late teens, John Prine’s music has helped me navigate the challenging, sometimes absurd path of life. His songs are honest, funny, wry, and comforting. Some folks you just trust, and look to in life to help show you the way. John Prine is one of those people for me (and for countless others, many in the audience last night). Throughout the night, I found myself closing my eyes, savoring the experience of spending time with one of my heroes.

God bless John Prine.

Set List

Spanish Pipedream
Picture Show
Humidity Built the Snowman
Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
Six O’clock News
Grandpa Was a Carpenter
Far from Me
Christmas in Prison
Fish and Whistle
Long Monday
Glory of True Love
Angel From Montgomery
Crazy As A Loon *
Dear Abby *
Blue Umbrella *
Sam Stone [solo & band]
Bear Creek Blues
Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody
Hello In There
Lake Marie

Paradise (with Loudon Wainwright)

*John solo

The Friday Five: November 18, 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:

Girls on Film” by The Wesley Willis Fiasco (from The Duran Duran Tribute Album, 1997)

I’m now racking my brain, trying to recall how Wesley Willis came up in a recent conversation with Jeff Giles and Mike Heyliger.

“Toothache (Chemical Brothers remix)” by The Charlatans (from The Jackal, 1997)

Another track from 1997? This track is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, two great tastes that taste great together.

In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (from The Social Network, 2010)

It almost looks like there is a thread of logic running through today’s Friday Five. 1997 Tune; 1997 soundtrack tune; 2010 soundtrack tune; okay, I’ll admit it is a bit of a stretch. As for this tune, I don’t have much to say other than how odd is it to say OSCAR award winner, Trent Reznor?

Nocturnal Transmission” by BT (from Ima, 1996)

… And back to the ’90s! During said decade I harbored a secret affinity for all things techno. Specifically the ambient sub-genre, which this track falls solidly under. I’m not sure what the hell I was doing that would enable me to sit for long sessions … oh, wait, yes I do. Anyhow, I still have a small collection of my favorites from the likes of BT and Aphex Twin that I’ll spin once in a while.

Wave of Mutilation” by Pixies (from Doolittle, 1989)

Whether is be the original, or the “UK Surf” version, “Wave of Mutilation” is one of my favorite songs.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses – Live in Munich

Everyone I’ve met who has seen Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses in a live setting has one thing in common: they all rave about the experience. I’ve always seem to just miss him when he comes through town or plays at a festival. The closest I came was at the ACL Festival a couple years ago – I think I opted for getting a good spot for Band of Horses.

Thanks to the ACL webcast on Youtube earlier this year, I got a free show at the house. The channel still has a few songs posted from the performance. The set finale was “Bread and Water.” Tell me this doesn’t sum up Ryan and his band in a few short minutes…

(dead youtube link, sorry)

Raw, gritty, real.
Rock, country, folk, blues.
Charm, good looks, charisma.

Not that’s how you carry yourself as a frontman. I know Ryan’s married now, but man, he must’ve reeled them in back in the day. He was a pro bull rider when he started writing songs and playing guitar. This is a man’s man if there ever was one. And has he ever turned into one hell of a songwriter.

Here’s a full show from a stop in Munich, Germany over this past summer. It’s from a radio broadcast, so the sound is pristine. Enjoy it…

Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses
Live in Munich, Germany
June 17, 2011

[Download the whole show]

Dollar a Day
The Other Side
Dylan’s Hard Rain
Southside of Heaven
Tell My Mother I Miss Her So
Hard Times
Liam Blues
Direction Of The Wind
band intro
The Poet
The Weary Kind
Bread and Water


Ryan Bingham – vocals, guitar
Matthew Smith – drums
Corby Schaub – guitar, mandolin
Elijah Ford – bass

The Friday Five: November 11, 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:

God Is Love” by Marvin Gaye (from What’s Going On, 1971)

A simple prayer, rife with the soul of the record.

The Wicker Man” by Iron Maiden (from From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010, 2011)

The lead-off single from Maiden’s triumphant return to form in 2000. The triple threat of Murray, Gers and Smith is in full churn here, with Smith burning through a killer solo. I recall the trepidation with which I approached listening to a new Iron Maiden tune at that point, and the surprise when it was as strong as this.

Cherish the Day” by Sade (from The Ultimate Collection, 2011)

I’m going to just sit back and enjoy this one.

Never Land (a Fragment)” by The Sisters of Mercy (from Floodland, 1987)

They weren’t kidding when they said “a Fragment.” This is, at best, an incomplete thought.

Blue Flame” by Joe Jackson Band (from Volume 4, 2003)

It occurred to me while this tune played just how much Ben Folds copped Jackson’s shtick. I’m not sure why it never dawned on me before this. Maybe this is why I hold Folds in such contempt.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Still Wishin’

I had all but given up checking the news wire for the new release from the original members of The Time.  Jimmy Jam told us it was “coming soon” when I saw them in June of 2010 and I think the last time I googled “The Time” and “New Album” was in September of this year.

Imagine my surprise (I guess a watched pot never boils) when I opened the Minneapolis Star Tribune today and saw that the original 7 members of The Time (now called The Original 7ven) had played a gig here in town last Saturday night at the State Theater. More shocking was their new album, Condensate, had slipped out on October 18 and I didn’t even notice! Kicking myself for not being more attentive, I immediately scrambled for my iPhone and downloaded it straight away.

As I was watching each song load onto my iPhone, I wondered if the disc would live up to the hype I had built up in my mind. I had been waiting for a new album from The Time since their 1990 release, Pandemonium and my dream to someday be Morris Day had actually grown stronger as I had gotten older. I admit that I had my doubts about this new offering. Would they still be relevant in the year 2011?

As soon as I heard the opening dialogue between Morris and Jerome as they visit their old hood in North Minneapolis, I knew that I would be: a) way the fuck off for ever having any doubts whatsoever and b) in for a real treat.

The first track, “Strawberry Lake,” is straight from the same shop where one can buy paisley dripped rasberry berets. In fact, this tune, being the lead off number, almost makes me wonder if it isn’t a giant middle finger to Prince who would not allow the lads to use the name “The Time” for this record.

After this we have a “press conference” in which Morris explains to a reporter why he is still cool. The answer is hilarious and leads straight into the title track. This skit, along with many others sprinkled throughout the album, is vintage Morris/Jerome and ranks right up there with “If The Kid Can’t Make You Come” and “Sexy Socialites/Jerk Out.”

“#Trendin”, the album’s single, fits perfectly into any club at 1am when the bodies are moving and sweating…it’s beat, relentless and pounding…and has lyrics that bring the boys firmly into the 21st century with Morris singing about “tweetie pies posting on blogs.” Regardless of what time it is (:)), we can always count on Morris to be the hippest of the hip. Honestly, our current age of digital vanity and Morris Day are a match made in heaven.

The next two tracks “If I Was Yo Man” and “Role Play” are up beat love songs that both shine in their own special way. The latter oddly reminds me of Tony Carey/Planet P Project with Morris’ haunting voice seemingly coming from another world. It’s here that we fully realize how important it is to have Jimmy and Terry at the producing helm.

Then we come to the albums two gems: “Sick” and “Lifestyle.” The former showcases some serious shredding by Mr. Jesse Johnson. His solos are nothing short of stunning and several of the lyrics made me grin from ear to ear. The lyrics to “Lifestyle,” the true ballad of the album, made me laugh out loud at several points and brought my desire to be Morris Day to an all time high. The song is simply perfect for every single thing that these guys are all about….vanity with none of the downside…rampant materialism that’s not shallow in any way but is actually cool…ego with perfectly understandable reasons…swagger that is completely justified because…well, it’s Morris!

Next up is “Faithful” which showcases some great back up vocals by some very hot sounding ladies. “Cadillac” could easily be on their self titled debut or “What Time Is It?” and continues that materialism-is-the-best meme in yet another successful way. “Aydkmn” makes use of the word persneckity in its chorus which marks the first time I’ve ever heard that used in a song. “One Step” and “Toast To The Party Girl” both sound like they were recorded in 1983 but that’s probably the (wonderful) idea. “Hey Yo” is also straight from that decade (now working on 30 years ago!) that saw so many power ballads just like it.

The last track, “Go Home To Yo Man,” gives us that last little gift that these guys have always given us: melancholy humor. The story in this song is amusing but also somewhat serious as Morris croons, “Play time is over and you got to go home to yo man.” As the final strains of this last track fall away with Morris (fake?) crying, one has to wonder why the 07 waited so long to make new music. I’ve always been an impatient fellow and this is especially true when it comes to my great love…music. Perhaps they didn’t have the tunes or maybe they were just taking their time (I know, I know…the puns are too easy:)) but do any of us care? I know I don’t because it was well worth the wait. This record is fantastic.

And I still wish I was Morris Day!

Here’s the video for the single “#Trendin” although “Sick” “Lifestyle” “Cadillac” and “Strawberry Lake” should be downloaded before it.

The Friday Five: November 4, 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:

I hear that my little town—Newtown, CT—has made the news recently as being “ground zero” for the power outages effecting the Northeast, thanks to the Halloween snowstorm this past weekend. I say “hear” as I’ve been living life a little bit more simply the past few days, relying on the kindness of friends and family to get warmth, recharge my batteries and catch up on the world.

So … live, from my Mother-In-Law’s dining room, it’s the Friday Five!

“This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” by Fall Out Boy (from, Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits, 2009)

“All My Tomorrows” by Frank Sinatra (from, Nothing but the Best, 2008)

“Hated” by The Afghan Whigs (from, Up in It, 1990)

“Mr. Bojangles (live)” by Nina Simone (from, To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story, 2008)

“Datskat” by The Roots (from Buy-Product 1, 1995)

What’s on your shuffle today?