28 August 2008

All Radiohead, All the Time

I had me a little Radiohead evening last night, spinning through the vinyl In Rainbows and then cracking out Kid A. Here's a a few items for the casual Radiohead fan:

mp3: Radiohead, "Tell Me Why" (via Gorilla vs Bear)

25 August 2008

Album Review :: Stereo Subversion

Another review is up at Stereo Subversion. Click the image below to read it. I promise tonight I'll post something that's not just a plug for my own work on another site.

Noa Babayof, From a Window To a Wall

20 August 2008

Album Review :: Stereo Subversion

I have another album review up at Stereo Subversion today. This one is for Earlimart's Hymn and Her. Click the image to read the review.
Earlimart, Hymn and Her

19 August 2008

Live Review :: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, North Charleston Coliseum, Charelston, SC

We were told by the North Charleston Coliseum agents and the papers that this was the first time in 30 years Springsteen and the E Street Band had played in Charleston. I suppose I could confirm this with a quick Google search, but I'd rather not. I'd rather just believe what I'm told in this particular instance because there was at least 30 years worth of anticipation ripping through the sold-out crowd Saturday night. And nothing about the night was disappointing. (Well, almost nothing...but I'll get to that in a second.)

The E Street Band jumped onstage at around 8:10PM in the dark and, after all the players had taken their places, a spotlight came down on Springsteen with his larger-than-life companion, Clarence Thomas. (Springsteen announced him as, "the biggest man you've ever seen" during encore introductions.) "We thought we'd start tonight with some beach music," he said at the mic, Telecaster firmly in place. And they proceeded to tear through a version of "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" by The (original) Swingin' Medallions. After that, they rarely came up for air. They played for three hours and fifteen minutes, but we could have easily stayed for three hours more. "You can't take no more!" Springsteen taunted the crowd after a second encore. But we could. And we did. The band came back to play a ten minute version of "Twist and Shout" before leaving for good a 11:20.

Let me just say that every band in America can take lessons from Springsteen and the E Street Band. And I mean every band. Radiohead have nothing to show against them, Coldplay are minuscule in comparison, and U2 can only manage to ape his style with bombastic stage lights. (By my guess those are the biggest bands currently working. The Rolling Stones are good, but I've never seen them live.) Bruce spent most of his time down in front communing with the audience, taking posters with songs requests, giving other folks a chance to sing, and making grown women swoon. For those in the front row, general admission, they may not be able to live August 16, 2008 down.

Highlights from the set included, "Because the Night," "The Rising," "Jungleland," "Streets of Fire," and (of course) "Born to Run." Hell, even "Dancing in the Dark" was fucking awesome to hear live. But really, the greatest moment of the show, for me, was the intense up full-band version of "Atlantic City." Nebraska is holy territory and it's minimalist structure and recording should not be toyed with lightly. But Springsteen knows what he's doing to his songs and the live, full-band version is even better than the recorded version. That's right, better.

And as for the disappointment I mentioned earlier...well, not everyone got to hear every song they wanted to. My brother wanted to hear some tunes of Darkness On the Edge of Town and The Seeger Sessions to no avail. But when you're one of the greatest legends in rock music and American history, and your back catalog of music stretches farther than most bands' eyeliner, you can do like the sign from an audience member in the front row says, "Play Whatever You Want."

17 August 2008

Album Reviews :: Stereo Subversion

I'm very excited to be writing for Stereo Subversion a massive and all around amazing website with tons of band interviews, features, and album reviews. Currently I have two reviews up at the site, one for Mystikos Quintet, a jazz/electronic outfit from Indiana, and one for U2, an up-and-coming new band from Ireland. Look for both of these bands to break into the mainstream now that I've reviewed their discs. Click on the images below to read the reviews and definitely spend some time at the site.

Mystikos Quintet, Club. Dub. A Go Go.

U2, Boy (Remastered Deluxe Edition)

11 August 2008

Live Review :: The Hold Steady, Charleston, SC

The heat is nothing new here in coastal, sunny Charleston. But every band that has never come to the edge of South Carolina is always stunned by it's presence. "I think we're halfway through the hottest show we've ever played," singer/guitarist Craig Finn. But that didn't stop Finn and company from taking us all to rock church for a sweaty, fist-pumping service at The Pour House.

But before The Hold Steady ambled out, the crowd got their warm-up from Philadelphia's The Loved Ones. "Let's all pretend, just pretend, that we don't have to go to work tomorrow," Dave Hause pleaded with the crowd. They finally won everybody over by the time their set ended, but it took some effort. Opening for The Hold Steady is not easy feat, I'm sure. But the quintet (joined by Hause's sister Missy on keyboards) finally broke through with their Less Than Jake-meets-Against Me! brand of punk. (The group is currently signed to Fat Wreck Chords.) By the time they were joined onstage by Tad Kubler and Franz Nicolay (who wins a dual award for "Best Rock Mustache" and "Most Unlikely Member of a Rock Band") for their closer, it was too much for folks to handle: The Hold Steady were mere feet away.

Honest to God, I could have left after the first four songs: "Constructive Summer," "Chips Ahoy!," "Sequestered In Memphis," and "You Can Make Him Like You." I defy you to tell me that's not rock's biggest wet dream. But I stuck around for most of the new album (including my personal favorite, "Slapped Actress" the closer before the encore) and some back-catalog numbers (never heard "Milkcrate Mosh," and it seemed a little too literary for the party crowd).

Finn looks like a manic preacher who genuinely enjoys his job; converting all the non-believers to his own brand of positivity. And while there's only so many songs about hoodrats, drugs, hardcore sing-alongs, and bars, Finn sells it like this is the only life there is. And as I left the club last night, sweat-drenched and dizzy, I thought that The Hold Steady might just be the only rock band left on the scene worth talking about. And I'm glad that I'll go to my grave believing in what they have to offer.

06 August 2008

Charleston :: Weekend Concerts

If you're going to be in sunny, hot-as-hell Charleston this weekend, the weekend is looking like a good one for live shows.
  • Friday, August 8, you're on your own...though I suppose you could go to the Music Farm to see Mike Gordon, bassist for Phish. If that's what you're into.
  • Saturday, August 9, Richard Lloyd and the SufiMonkey Trio will be playing at A Dough Re Mi. Lloyd and drummer Billy Ficca were 1/2 of Television. The City Paper has an interview and article on the band here.
  • Sunday, August 10, The Hold Steady + The Loved Ones are at the Pour House. I don't need to say any more. The City Paper has an interview and article on the band here.
I'm out for Friday and Saturday, but I'll be out Sunday with my rock shoes on.