New Gaslight Anthem: “45”

Photo by Tony Cano

I’ll be honest, The Gaslight Anthem‘s last record, American Slang, didn’t do a whole lot for me. After being knocked out by their preceding album, 2008’s The ’59 Sound (the title track and “Here’s Looking At You, Kid” being two of my favorites), Slang just seemed to lack that spark, that connection and excitement I felt with ’59.

With their brand new single, “45”, Brian Fallon and the boys are clearly back in that hard-driving ’59 frame of mind.

The single comes from Handwritten, TGA‘s new album due out on June 24th. The album is produced by Brendan O’Brien, who we Springsteen fans are well aware of (he produced The Rising, Magic, and Working On A Dream), but who has also produced the likes of Pearl Jam, Incubus, Mastodon, and Trey Anastasio (and a whole lot more).

It should be an entertaining listen, and I look forward to checking it out – and of course I hope TGA are returning to my neck of the woods on tour. The albums are one thing, but their live shows take their songs up in the stratosphere.

Team Coco’s Zombie Music, Girls, etc.

I can confirm after this morning’s run that Team Coco’s Rdio playlist entitled “Good Zombie Killin’ Music” happens to double as a mighty fine runnin’ mix. Rage’s “Bulls on Parade”, Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”, the Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling”, and some new tunes for me – including the strange but fascinatingly entertaining “I Fink U Freeky” by Die Antwoord.

I think my favorite of the bunch was Outkast’s “B.O.B.” off their Stankonia album. It reminded me that there’s a treasure trove to be found in Outkast’s stuff. This week, I’ll be diving into Stankonia with fresh ears. I’m not sure if I’ve ever listened to the whole thing.

If you’re on Rdio, you can follow Team Coco, and subscribe to the handful of playlists they have up thus far.
The Zombie mix? Solid.

Back on April 18th, my favorite band of the last few years – Girls – took to Conan’s stage for a performance of “Love Like A River.” See it? No? Well here…

The Friday Five: April 13, 2012

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:

“Upstairs” by Women (from Women, 2008)

It’s all a bit “indie rock by the numbers,” but this record got quite a few spins back in 2008. They remind me a bit of Pavement; maybe too much, even.

“A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays” (LP version)” by De La Soul (from A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays”, 1991)

Our friends over at Popblerd had a running discussion on their Facebook page last week looking for the greatest Hip-Hop band, to which I inquired if we could just include the Native Tongues. This right here—along with the Native Tongues remix of “Buddy”—is the reason why I’m lobbying for their inclusion. When Tip, Phife, Plugs 1 + 2, and the Jungle Brothers get together, magic is made.

“Piece of Me” by Skid Row (from 40 Seasons: The Best of Skid Row, 1998)

Sleazy, with a side of pop.

“To Lose My Life” by White Lies (from To Lose My Life…, 2009)

England’s answer to The Killers, White Lies does the disaffected new wave schtick even better. I don’t think they caught on much in the states, perhaps a cameo on a CW show would solve that problem?

“Little Light” by Rachel Platten (from Be Here, 2011)

Miss Platten possesses the sticky sweet voice of an angel, and the songwriting chops to back it up. Well worth checking out.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Modfather’s Mid-Life Renaissance

For me, music begins with John Lennon. The very first step after that is Paul Weller.

And it’s always been that way.

Ever since I heard Sound Affects by The Jam back in 1981, Paul Weller has taken me on where no other artist (save John, of course) has really taken me. A few come close…Todd Rundgren…Joe Jackson…U2…Oasis…but none really compare to Weller simply because his mark on the music world has been so exciting and diverse. The Jam were punk, soul, and absolutely fun pop with a few ballads thrown in for seasoning. The Style Council were smooth jazz, cafe chic, solid R&B, symphonic pastorals, and house music before there was such a thing.

His solo career began with acid jazz and then segued into hippie soul, power trio bombast, and psychedelia. His last record, Wake Up The Nation, charted even newer (and older) territory that completely took the UK music scene by storm. Bruce Foxton, former bass player for The Jam, even played on the punked up track, “Fast Car-Slow Traffic.” Praises were showered over him and the word was that he was moving beyond his moniker, The Modfather, and into God Like Genius mode.

With his latest release, Sonik Kicks, there is no doubt that he has arrived to lord over us from musical heaven. This 14 track album (16 if you spring for the Deluxe Edition) is simply magnificent. I’d use the phrase “tour de force” but that would be paltry in illustrating how truly amazing this fucking record is by the man who has been the soundtrack to my life of for the last 30 years.

With a nod to Kraut Rock, the album opens with “Green,” an explosion of aural delight that sends one’s heart racing directly into the matrix. “The Attic” is next with its wistful nostalgia. “Kling I Klang” could easily be on All Mod Cons or Setting Sons. “Sleep of the Serene,” a trippy instrumental, dovetails nicely with the acoustic beauty of “By The Waters.” On these last two tracks, Weller seems to be going back to the VERY under-appreciated Style Council record, Confessions of a Pop Group. “That Dangerous Age,” is the first single from the album, is next and laments the trials of being a parent to teenagers.

At this point I was already in love with the record and wasn’t fully prepared when the next track took it up another notch. “Study in Blue” completely blew me away. It could easily be on any Style Council album with its smooth cafe sound. And me, being the hopeless romantic, was completely sucked in to the abundance of amore that spills out on this track.  Having his wife Hannah sing on the track was simply brilliant as her voice adds to the perfect and never changing mood.

“Dragonfly” and “Around the Lake” are more tracks that sounds Jam-ish (The Gift era, towards the end), each with a dash of macabre thrown in. “When You’re Garden’s Overgrown” brings us back to Kraut Rock but with that signature Weller melody and refrain. This is my second favorite track on the album as Weller takes a page lyrically from the biting commentary of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. The link track “Twilight” steams ahead nicely into “Drifters” sonic and aural panorama. Listening to the latter track, one is simply stunned at how fresh Weller sounds. “Paperchase” reminds me of Berlin era Bowie.

The album proper closes with a loving message to his ever growing brood of kids, “Be Happy Children.” An upbeat message for all of us, really, Weller indeed sounds happier than he ever has and why not? His music is more relevant, wonderful, and, indeed, more innovative than ever!

The Deluxe Edition contains the single from last year, “Starlite,” which is devastatingly gorgeous and “Devotion,” an acoustic rock jaunt that will put a smile on your face. I highly recommend plunking down the extra greenbacks and getting it.

Here’s my favorite track from the album, “Study in Blue.”

Upcoming: 2012’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival

WHAT: The 2012 McDowell Mountain Music Festival
WHEN: Friday, April 13th – Sunday, April 15th
WHERE: The Compound Grill, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd, Phoenix (N. Scottsdale Rd & the 101)
TICKETSSingle Day | 3 Day Passes
LINEUP: See bottom of this post.

Somehow it’s April already, which for me means it’s time to gear up for another installment of my favorite Arizona music festival. The McDowell Mountain Music Festival is back for its ninth consecutive year, kicking off this Friday (the 13th) at the Compound Grill in north Phoenix/Scottsdale.

This will be the third year in a row that the Compound has been the locale. In 2010, the organizers decided to move from the more spacious Westworld complex to the Compound (owned and operated by some of the same folks that run the MMMF). Although I miss all the space (and camping) that Westworld offered, the new location makes up for it by offering a more intimate experience – closer vantage points to the stage & musicians, real sod laid out in the parking lot that surrounds the Compound, and just a cozier feel overall. But at the same time, there’s also ample space to break away if you want (not to mention the cool, A/C-cranked confines of the Compound Grill, where the Creamy Radio Stage features local bands all weekend).

The lineup this year does not disappoint. Friday’s theme is clearly Funk/Jam/Rhythm Dance Party, featuring local electronic/dance jam collective Endoplasmic, L.A. latin/world group Ozomatli, New Orleans funk party band (and Mardi Gras staple) Galactic, and Colorado afrobeat and rhythm masters The Motet. This is going to be some opening night. Pace yourself, big weekend ahead!

Saturday’s lineup rocks and jams out with another New Orleans artist, Anders Osborne (who I’ve been waiting years to see), SoCal’s Trevor Hall (pop/acoustic/reggae), headliners Dark Star Orchestra (who recreate complete Grateful Dead shows), and probably the most commercially successful artists of the weekend, long time rock outfit Big Head Todd & the Monsters. Like a lot of you, I spent a good deal of time with the Stratagem and Sister Sweetly albums back in the day. Can’t wait to see these guys.

Late night inside the Compound, electronic jam duo EOTO (made up of Michael Travis and Jason Hamm) will melt minds from 11pm to 1am. All this madness kicks off at high noon with local band The Nameless Prophets, followed by Tramps & Thieves (also locals). The Arizona bands are solid year after year, and I look forward to checking ’em out.

And then there’s Sunday, and Sunday is no slouch lineup-wise. It all starts at noon with Carolina Chocolate Drops, who reeled in a Grammy earlier this year for Best Traditional Folk album. This old-timey trio will make you smile, make you move, and blow your mind with their mastery of traditional instruments and vocal sounds. I saw them last year at the Newport Folk Festival, and I can confirm that you do not want to miss their early 90 minute set.

Austin’s Bob Schneider is up next at 2:00 with another 90 minute set of his eclectic music – from pop to funk to bluegrass and beyond.

At 4:00, it’s time for the organ-driven soul/jazz of Soulive, a super-talented trio from the Northeast. Then, finishing off the weekend of music are Sunday headliners The Travelin’ McCourys featuring Keller Williams – bluegrass meets one-man-jam band Keller Williams. It should be something to see (and hear).

Long story short – this is an AMAZING weekend of music in a laid back & hassle-free setting (and totally kid friendly – everyone under 12 gets in free). Always a great vibe to the McDowell Mountain Music Festival – there’s a reason this will be my sixth straight year of taking it all in. Come on down…

TICKETS: Single Day | 3 Day Passes

WEB SITEOfficial Site of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival


5:00 – Endoplasmic
6:30 – Ozomatli
8:30 – Galactic
11:00 – The Motet (inside the Compound, extra ticket required)

Noon – The Nameless Prophets
1:00 – Tramps & Thieves
2:00 – Trevor Hall
4:00 – Anders Osborne
6:00 – Big Head Todd & The Monsters
8:30 – Dark Star Orchestra
11:00 – EOTO (inside the Compound, extra ticket required)

Noon – Carolina Chocolate Drops
2:00 – Bob Schneider
4:00 – Soulive
6:00 – The Travelin’ McCourys feat. Keller Williams


The Friday Five: April 6, 2012

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:

“No One Like You” by Scorpions (from Hard Rock Gold, 2009)

(In my best Beavis voice:) YES! RAWK!

Do you know why this song rocks so hard? It isn’t the notes that guitarists Schenker and Jabs play, it’s the space they leave in between that builds the tension and makes you nod your head. (See also: AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”)

“I Walked In” by Brougham (from Can’t Hardly Wait, 1998)

Who? Oh, dear God, this is awful. I rarely do this, but I’m not submitting myself to any more torture than required. Skip!

“Revolution” by Judas Priest (from The Essential Judas Priest, 2006)

Wait, this isn’t Jane’s Addition’s “Mountain Song”? Let’s see when it came out … according to Wikipedia: “Revolution” is a song on the album Angel of Retribution, by the heavy metal band Judas Priest. It was their first single since 1992’s “Night Crawler” to enter in the United States reached #23 in the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Okay, so this is totally inspired by “Mountain Song,” right?

According to the producer Roy Z: “The bass intro to ‘Revolution’ is actually from a cassette tape the band recorded back in the 1970s. We loaded the riff into Pro Tools and built the rest of the song around it. We went for a raw, modern ’70s vibe. It is a wide-open rock and roll song.”

Way to CYA, boys.

“I Found Love (C+C Underground club mix)” by C+C Music Factory (from Ultimate, 1995)

I don’t have any issue with C+C Music Factory. At the time, I’d happily dance my ass off to these tunes once or twice a week. Nowadays, I can’t bear to listen for more than a minute or so. Skip!

“Best of Your Heart” by Rufus & Chaka Khan (from Street Player, 1978)

Every single one of you should be listening to more Chaka Khan. The world would be a better place.

What’s on your shuffle today?