November 28, 2001

It's good to know your target demographic

From the December Spin magazine, Kid Rock gives some consumer advice...

'If you like Radiohead's record, don't buy mine.' He laughs. 'More power to 'em, but I do not fuckin' get it. I put it on and I'm like, 'Where's the fuckin' genius in here?'

Kid, you have yourself a deal.

Bon Jovi... for me to poop on

If you missed Triumph the insult comic dog having his way with Bon Jovi at a New Jersey concert check out this video clip from Conan O'Brien. [via Buddyhead]

November 27, 2001

Tanya Donelly - Sleepwalk EP

This week sees the UK release of former Throwing Muses, Breeders and Belly guitarist Tanya Donelly's Sleepwalk ep on compact disc. It features four brand new Tanya Donelly songs, the lead track 'The Storm' features on her new album Beautysleep, which is set for release in February 2002.

A new Tanya Donelly section has been uploaded to 4ad.com and you can catch some of the new songs at avdeck.com.

November 13, 2001

Hop on the bandwagon early

If you want to be in a video, like free CD's and live in LA, Drawing Down will be shooting their first video ever live at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood this Wednesday night at 9pm. All ages and and free CD's for the first 200 people. If you haven't checked out Drawing Down yet, visit the site for free mp3s, I like 'Erase Me'. They sound sort of Failure / NIN / Filter-ish . The DD EP was produced by Jim Wirt, the same guy Incubus recorded their first CD with. I predict stadium tours by mid-2002.

November 08, 2001

Sick of It All @ Bottom of the Hill, 07 November, 2001

Sick of It All has held a special place in my heart ever since I first saw them at the Anthrax in Norwalk, Connecticut back in '88.

Sick of It All's fury-fueled hardcore appealed to me and a whole generation of pissed-off suburban kids. We'd been raised on bad metal and were looking for something better, something realer, something relevant. Cheesy metal bands were either singing about girls or swords and sorcery, and I had about as much experience with the former as I did with the latter. Enter New York Hardcore.

We could debate endlessly its lineage, whether it began with the Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front or somebody else, but it all began when someone took heavy metal chocolate and slammed it into punk rock peanut butter. Two great tastes, as it turned out, that taste great together.

The bands that followed, like Youth of Today, Warzone, Sick of It All, Raw Deal, Gorilla Biscuits and others, managed to combine punk-rock personal politics with metal-style crunch to amazing effect. I was hooked.

And 14 years later, SOIA are the last of that dying breed. Now I'll be the first to admit they haven't released a relevant album since 1995's near-perfect "Scratch the Surface," but they happen to be one of the best live acts ever. The collective effect of Armand's relentless drumming, the Koller brothers' unmatched intensity, and Craig Ahead's all-American charm make for a hell of a show. Lou Koller may also be my favorite frontman of all time; not only for his incredible vocals and stage presence, but also for his easy charisma and hilarious New Yawk sense of humor.

Last night, yet again, they delivered. Even after more than a dozen years, Sick of It All is as powerful as ever. So powerful, in fact, that I was compelled to get into the pit — something I haven't done in five years or more. Just like the old days back at the Anthrax, singing along, getting boots the head from stagedivers, and just getting generally pummeled.

The show was captured on tape for posterity, and for a forthcoming live album on Fat Wreck Chords. So if you get a chance to hear it, you may be able to hear me singing along on the choruses of "My Life" and "Scratch the Surface." Or maybe not. Either way, if the live album captures even a fraction of the force of a live Sick of It All show, it'll be well worth your 15 bucks.

November 07, 2001

Wayne Hancock @ the Ivy Room, 06 November, 2001

With the plethora of hipster bars in the Bay Area, Albany's Ivy Room sure ain't the kinda place you expect to see underground country artists like Wayne "The Train" Hancock. But the Albany dive bar couldn't have been more appropriate for Hancock's ramshackle honky-tonk stylings.

Nothing about Wayne the Train says country star. But don't let his pug face and aloha shirt fool you: Once he starts singing, he is transformed. Hancock sounds even more like Hank Williams than his good friend Hank Williams III; it was easy enough to close my eyes and pretend it was Hank himself up there. Right down to the plaintive yodelling, Hancock nailed the dead center of every note.

His band, on the other hand, did not. Apart from a very serviceable bass player, he was backed by a thoroughly inept electric guitarist and a pedal steel player who had to be fed the chord changes through almost every song. Wayne's own acoustic guitar playing is certainly nothing to write home about either, but it was stellar compared to his guitar player's atonal, ham-handed soloing. Positively painful.

Also painful was the crowd. The Ivy Room's dive-bar decor may have been perfect; its patrons were anything but. We were jostled by bad swing dancers, hassled by Ivy Room regulars, and looked askance at by cooler-than-thou alt-country scenesters. Only Wayne's angelic voice and amazing between-song banter made us stay as long as we did.

But give me the unwashed masses of the the East Bay over the Mission hipster elite of the Elbo Room, where Hancock plays tonight. Drunken stumblebums, spastic dancers, and inept musicians? Yep, I think ol' Hank is up there somewhere, smiling. ...

November 05, 2001

The Shape of Rock to Come: Cave In

The new two-song song EP from Cave In, imaginatively entitled 2 Songs, should cement their status as that most chimerical of rock 'n' roll animals, the Next Big Thing.

Cave In's career trajectory has been anything but normal to this point. The Boston-based band started out six years ago as a brutal metalcore band in the vein of Snapcase and Deadguy. Then something happened. Depending on whose version you believe, Cave In either discovered hallucinogens, Rush, or how to play their instruments — or, more likely, a combination of all three — and turned in one of the most impressive sophomore efforts ever.

Jupiter, the album in question, managed to retain the bombast and intensity of Cave In's hardcore material, but combined it with ambitious melodies and meters totally foreign to metal. The inevitable "sellout" jacket was broken out, and the "prog-rock" label was bandied about. But Cave In would not yield.

The new EP bears a closer resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age than any of their former metal compatriots. You can download copies of the two EP songs below, but I'm confident that you'll dig 'em so much that you'll rush out and get your own copy from Hydra Head Records.

November 03, 2001

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Attack Formation, and Fluke Starbucker @ Bottom of the Hill, 02 November, 2001

Explosions in the Sky, who were supposed to open this shebang, were replaced by Fluke Starbucker. No explanation was offered, and I didn't much care, seeing as I'd never heard either band.

Fluke Starbucker turned out to be a quirky pop band in the Dinosaur/Pavement/Sebadoh vein. Pleasant-enough sounding, but these days I find I have little to no patience for bands without stage presence or personality. Fluke Starbucker falls firmly into that category. Singer/guitarist Ted Nesseth seemed only moderately uncomfortable in the spotlight, but the other band members, while playing capably, seemed interested only in being as unobtrusive as possible. Not very rock 'n' roll at all.

Attack Formation, on the other hand, had an overabundance of stage presence. I knew we were in for something special when keyboardist Lucky Jeremy hit the stage, looking a lot like Richard Ramirez and sporting a Flowbee haircut and a Body Count T-shirt. And it only got weirder from there.

Attack Formation assaulted us with jazz-damaged, difficult rock in the spiritual tradition of fellow Texans the Butthole Surfers. Not my cuppa tea, normally, but they won me over with their angular brand of breathing, loosely tight ensemble playing. And the fake blood-spitting and crowd baiting ruled too. Near the end of their set, drummer Brandon Crowe told us not to start talking all at once, because he needed to figure out which of us pretty boys were gonna be his bitch. Now that's rock 'n' roll.

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead were up next. How best to describe my disappointment with them? Well, since you can't see the elaborate interpretative dance piece I choreographed for this purpose, I will resort to the next best thing: a bulleted list.

  • Changing guitars after every single song is super, super lame. No way your gear needed tuning after every song. Yes, we're all very impressed that you have a Jerry Jones Guitarlin and some other super-obscure crap. Now put it all away, pick a guitar, and start rocking.
  • Dude, I'm pretty sure you and Corey Feldman were separated at birth.
  • Name-checking Patti Smith in not one, but two different songs is annoying and smacks of pandering.
  • Jumping around, shaking your head, and flinging your guitars around is cool, but it's no substitute for real intensity. You may have fooled most of the indie kids, but I could tell you were phoning it in. Until the last song, anyway, when you guys really destroyed some of that fancy vintage gear. That was bad ass.
  • Three good songs out of a set of 12 or 15 is not good enough! "Clair de Lune," "A Perfect Teenhood," and the one song that sounded like the Strokes were good. The rest were mediocre at best.

And so too much good press and too much success too soon ruins another promising band. It truly seemed like ... Trail of Dead are guilty of believing their own press, that they no longer have to try harder, because whatever they do will turn to gold. Even if that means putting on an unexceptional show for a club full of real fans who deserved better.

November 02, 2001

Rushmore reprise

Do yourself a favor and check out Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore fame) and his band Phantom Planet. Well honestly it's not his band, Jason is the drummer. They just played SF on Halloween with Tenacious D. Apparently to a lukewarm reception. They have a handful of MP3's on their site so you can decide for yourself if this is just another DogStar.