June 26, 2001

Squarepusher's Dirty Little Secret

Tom Jenkinson, AKA Squarepusher, is actually an accomplished jazz musician!

Turns out Jenkinson, son of an accomplished jazz drummer, is a classically trained drummer and bassist. That's him playing those wanky slap 'n' pop bass runs on 1999's "Selection Sixteen."

Squarepusher's latest album, "Go Plastic," comes out today. If the 2-steppy My Red Hot Car [mp3 format], the first single from the album, is any indication, Jenkinson has veered far away from his manic jazz-fusion-meets-drum 'n' bass roots; "Car" is downright poppy. In a good way. His chaotic trademark snare rolls are still there, but they support rather than contend with the melody.

Squarepusher will be touring the U.S. with Plaid throughout the summer. They'll be gracing the Bay Area for two dates in August: August 10 at Club Indigo in Oakland and the following night, August 11, at Bimbo's. Check the Warp Records site for all the tour dates and info.

June 21, 2001

Put down that bong and listen to this!

Lots of news on the Queens of the Stone Age front. The band announced late last month that former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan would be joining the band as full-time lead singer. Lanegan sang two tracks on the last Queens' release, including "In the Fade," my personal fave.

But the latest development is that sources close to the band say that Dave Grohl will be performing the drum duties on QotSA's forthcoming record, "Songs for the Deaf." Queens are in studio now with Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth) producing.

Stay tuned for other developments as they develop.

June 19, 2001

Music and junk

Well as most of you can tell we at musicrag are all so busy seeing great live music and taking vacations in tropical locales that we have been spending little time attending to the daily rant or getting the site back in full working order. You might have noticed that the archives are broken and a couple of other things are still in server moving limbo for now. What can we say but... you should be enjoying live music and having some tropical fun yourself. In fact, tomorrow night is a great place to start.

Anyone up for a Ultimate Fakebook and Nada Surf at the Bottom of the Hill tomorrow night? Of course that only works if your in San Francisco. Seriously though, go see some great indie/alterna/jazz/dj whatever and then write us to tell us how cool it was that you were only 10 feet away from INSERT BAND/COMBO HERE. Forget that stadium, festival, arena rock tour crap. I might just be bummed that I didn't get a ticket to the U2 show or the Radiohead show but then again it's always a good idea to see great music in a small venue. As my grandfather used to say 'Always insist on live music! Go now!

June 08, 2001

Blue Friday

After an 8 year hiatus, New Order is about to release a brand new album entitled NEWORDERGETREADY (tentatively scheduled to hit stores October 16). The record reunites long-time members Bernard Sumner (vocals, guitar), Stephen Morris (drums) Gillian Gilbert (keyboards) and Peter Hook (bass), and also features guest appearances by ex-Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and Primal Scream.

New Order will rock Japan at the Fuji Rock Festival '01, headlining the White stage. And as previously reported on musicrag, On July 28th, New Order will also co-headline a few dates of Moby's Area:One Festival, appearing on the following dates:

  • July 31 Shoreline Amphitheatre, San Francisco, Calif.
  • August 2 Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver, B.C.
  • August 3 The Gorge, Seattle, Wash.
  • August 5 Glen Helen Raceway Park, Los Angeles, Calif.

June 06, 2001

Go check out a great interview with pop geniuses Fountains of Wayne over at The Onion A.V. Club. One of the many great quotes from the interview...

'We're not one of those bands that goes in and makes up the album on the spot, like Radiohead or something, where they rent somebody's castle for two years and figure it all out later.'

Amnesiac: One Man's Opinion

It starts off promisingly enough. The first track, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" sounds a lot like "Idioteque" and the more interesting of Kid A's dance-damaged tracks. "Pyramid Song" certainly wouldn't have sounded out of place on "Kid A" either: a somber, moody orchestral piece, like Thom Yorke channeling Kurt Weill.

"Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" is when it truly starts getting weird (but in a good way). Thom Yorke's (well, I assume it's Yorke; it's actually pretty hard to tell through all the effects) vocoded and modulated voice is laid over a hypnotic downtempo distorto-loop for about four minutes. "You and Whose Army" takes us back to the creepy Weill educational opera vibe, replete with otherworldly backing vocals. Yorke's voice is muffled, as if he's singing with his head in his hands. (If you've seen the Meeting People Is Easy, you realize that he very well may be.) It eventually swells to a groovy Blur-esque Merseybeat gospel feel before it all falls apart again.

"I Might Be Wrong" sounds like Yorke jamming with Muddy Waters and a Casio keyboard until they drop in some tasty LFO'd synth-bass notes and Colin Greenwood starts playing a line oddly reminescent of Blondie's "Rapture."

"Knives Out" is the record's first real misstep. Yorke's eerie vocal melodies keep it from sounding like generic modern rock, but this is clearly the weakest tune to this point. It lacks the harmonic, rhythmic or structural experimentation that marks the first half of the record. If you feel like you've heard "Amnesiac/Morning Bell" before, that's because you have: it references "Morning Bell" from "Kid A." That Radiohead, on album #5, is recycling riffs from one album to the next is curious.

"Dollars & Cents" bears a rhythmic resemblance to the aforementioned "Morning Bell," but its drowsy, percolating rhythm never really gets going. All the string arrangements in the world can't make a non-song a song.

"Hunting Bears" brings us more noodling when we really just wanna rock. The intro sounds like it might be heralding a big rock 'n' roll rave up, but it degenerates into a George Harrison does Ravi Shankar guitar/sitar thing. All filler, no killer. "Like Spinning Plates" doesn't do much to get the album back on track. More weird loops, more strings, more falsetto vocals. Maybe I've reached a saturation point, or maybe the second half of this record is terribly self-indulgent. I'm not quite sure.

The final track, "Life in a Glass House," returns to the Brechtian opera feel. A disappointing finale to a disappointing album, this song sounds like a John Kander gospel death march. "Glass House" features what may be the only lucid lyrics on the record: "Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat/But there's someone listening in." I don't think this bodes well for Thom Yorke's already fragile mental health.

Even with my questionable math skills, it appears that 5 of the album's 11 songs are quite good, and that's probably a better average than most bands. And Radiohead's bad songs are probably a damn sight better than most bands' good material. But what troubles me is: A. that after four consistently great records, Radiohead seems to be devolving into a self-indulgent prog act; and 2. they're already going back to the well for material. I hope they're not running out of steam, but I fear they are.

But of course I didn't let that stop me from adding googlyminotaur to my Yahoo IM buddy list.

June 05, 2001

Out today: "Amnesiac," the latest in avant-rock noodling from the oft-compelling Radiohead. Initially called a more straightforward rock album than the band's last release, the spacey "Kid A," the new effort appears to contain more of Radiohead's hamonious muddle.

Rolling Stone gives "Amnesiac" three and a half stars, saying Radiohead is "true to the better impulses of progressive rock," while Entertainment Weekly calls it "a more frustrating, even infuriating, work" than "Kid A" and tosses it aside with a C+ grade. But Radiohead is one of rock's most ambitious and creative bands, and each new work is worth exploring.

June 01, 2001

Wall of Sound bows out.