Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scarlett Johansson music video debuts

She's gorgeous, we can all agree on that. She's even a fine actor, or used to be before being type-cast in costume, period dramas and Woody Allen pics. Now, as has been well publicized, Scarlett gives it her all as a Tom Waits cover band. The album titled Anywhere I Lay My Head, hits retail on May 20 and features 10 covers of various Tom Waits songs plus one original composition by Johansson. She has good taste, I'll give her that point. And she's riled up an impressive NY-centric music scene support team in her favor, including producer David Sitek (from TV on the Radio), guitarist Nick Zinner (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and a guest appearance on two separate tracks by god himself, David Bowie. But even with all of that ammunition, it's all suspect. I mean god, have you seen The Black Dahlia?!

This exclusive Yahoo Music video is the first look and listen I've come across. Not sure I'm feeling it (her bassy voice in particular) but who knows...if Zooey Deschanel can make the jump, and do it well, why not Jo?

New Wolf Parade LP leaks

Finally! I'm currently on my second time through and and my initial impression is 'What a fantastic Sunset Rubdown album!!' Review is forthcoming, once I've had more time to absorb. If you're looking for it, try Sordo or At Ease.

Radiohead on VH1

VH1 announced a special May 3rd broadcast (that's right, on television) of a Radiohead in-studio performance on the set of Nigel Godrich's From the Basement series. Cleverly titled Radiohead_In_Rainbows_From the Basement, it'll feature tracks from said album, plus a few oldies. VH1 has even offered up a little taste...


Did you hear about the Radiohead tour coming up? Nah, I'm sure you hadn't heard...
5/5 West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheater
5/6 Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheater
5/8 Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheater
5/9 Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
5/11 Bristow, VA - Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge
5/14 St. Louis, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
5/17 Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
5/18 Dallas, TX - Superpages.com Center

8/1 Chicago, IL - Grant Park (Lollapalooza) - not Mpls, but close enough
8/3 Indianapolis, IN - Verizon Wireless Music Center
8/4 Cleveland, OH - Blossom Music Center
8/6 Montreal, Quebec - Parc Jean-Drapeau
8/8 Jersey City, NJ - Liberty State Park (All Points West Festival)
8/9 Jersey City, NJ - Liberty State Park (All Points West Festival)
8/12 Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center
8/13 Mansfield, MA - Tweeter Center
8/15 Toronto, Ontario - Molson Amphitheatre
8/19 Vancouver, British Columbia - Thunderbird Stadium
8/20 Auburn, WA - White River Amphitheatre
8/22 San Francisco, CA - Golden Gate Park (Outside Lands Festival)
8/24 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
8/25 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
8/27 Chula Vista, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
8/28 Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Wolf Parade update

Still no leak, but LP2 finally has a title. And it is...At Mount Zoomer!? Hmm...well, apparently that is the name of their recording studio. Hmph..I preferred Kissing the Beehive but who cares really.

In other, slightly more outdated news, Wolf Parade announced their summer touring schedule. I can now forgive their absence from the Lollapalooza and ACL line-ups since they'll be stopping through Minneapolis to play First Ave. on July 9th. Pre-sale tickets are already on sale.

Riot goin' on : Sly Stone cancels First Ave gig

The highly-anticipated Sly & The Family Stone concert scheduled for this upcoming Friday at First Avenue has been canceled at the last minute and will not be rescheduled. Bummer! I wasn't gonna make it, but surely there were many, many people excited for this this rare live performance. And now they're left with no explanation other than this cryptic press release below.

Due to scheduling conflicts with some of the members of Sly & The Family Stone, the concert slated for this Friday at First Avenue has been cancelled. The date will not be rescheduled. Refunds at point of purchase.

Well, for you disappointed fans out there, I do have some good news. You can take that refund, probably add another $90 on top of it, and see the ageless Neil Diamond!! He just booked a 2nd night at the Xcel Center for this July.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A new look

No need for alarm...just doing a wee bit of spring cleaning and updating to take advantage of more recent Blogger features. I have to catch up with the times.

You'll also note that all of my links from the side-bar have been removed. You can now find my links, along with some other nifty information on this page.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Metallica changes its tune

There you have it, hell has frozen over.

Here's a quoted excerpt from a Rolling Stone interview with Metallica dummer Lars Ulrich, who for years has been infamous for his anti-piracy, anti-internet, anti-cute little puppies stance.

"We want to be as free (as) players as possible," Ulrich told Rolling Stone during the band's Northern California appearance for Record Store Day. "We've been observing Radiohead and Trent Reznor and in 27 years or however long it takes for the next record, we'll be looking forward to everything in terms of possibilities with the Internet."

Metallica's come a long way from this cute little stunt.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This is just random

Not music, not even pop culture related, but sometimes a news story is so horrendous, ridiculous or both that you just have to share it. Here is one such example.

Police: Detroit woman lived 1-3 years with partially mumified body of sister

If, after reading that headline, you want to actually read more, go right ahead and click on it. Enough said.

Don't Look Back

When singing the praises for All Tomorrow's Parties yesterday, I mentioned the Don't Look Back series which has bands performing one of their classic albums live and in their entirety. Personally, I think it's an awesome idea and fan-friendly. However, today I came across an alternate take on this Guardian post by Ben Wardle in which he argues that Don't Look Back points to a larger (and negative) trend within the industry. Here's an excerpt:
The real proof that many acts have effectively become mere tributes to themselves is the growing list of otherwise credible artists who are joining the Don't Look Back stable. DLB is a promotions company which organises shows by bands where they promise to play their most popular record, be it Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (May 23) or Sebadoh's Bubble and Scrape (No? Me neither - well, it's on May 7). Later this year Echo and the Bunnymen will perform Ocean Rain "in its entirety" in Liverpool, and for 21 nights in London from the middle of May you can see top 70s brothers Sparks play every album they've ever made in order of release."

Lost is back

Yep, this has nothing to do with music per se, but I must express how excited I am for the return of Lost tonight. Fans of the show tend to be of the obsessive variety. I grew tired of it about mid-way through Season 3, but Season 4 (this year) kicked it up a notch in quality and so I'm hooked yet again. Hopefully, the post-strike run of episodes will be as good as the pre-strike ones. That is all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

All Tomorrow's Parties

The All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) festival series is a unique beast in the increasingly generic world of music festivals. First, ATP selects a headliner, often of cult status (say My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth). Then they have that band curate the majority of the line-up themselves. It's not always a band that curates...other creative types, like Matt Groening of Simpsons fame, have had this honor in the past, too. Anyway, it's a fantastic concept and the results are usually varied, obscure and unpredictable. Essentially, you end up with a live mix-tape of someone's favorite acts and influences. Equally cool is that many of the key acts agree to perform an entire classic album as their set.

ATP limits their tickets to a absurdly exclusive number. The just announced ATP-New York festival is selling only 3,000 tickets. And no single day passes for the casual festival-goer. Intead you book a room in a hotel on site, living with up to 8 or so people for 3 days/nights. Kinda like an urban-based Bonnarroo, but instead of camping with 40,000 stinky hippies, you're living in a hotel with 3,000 music snobs and maybe even the artists themselves.

ATP began as an English-based annual festival before branching out into some add'l concert events (the 'Don't Look Back' series) in which bands perform classic albums in full. Then more recently, ATP has been hosting stages at other festivals (e.g. Primavera in Spain, Pitchfork in Chicago). They even have their own record label, ATP Recordings. The market seems a bit crowded over here in the States, but now ATP is boldly crossing the Atlantic to put on ATP-New York this September. By the sound of it, response is good. ATP-NY will be headlined and curated by the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine. They've invited Thurston Moore, Built to Spill, Tortoise and The Meat Puppets to perform classic albums from their back-catalogues. In addition, you can expect to see Low, Mogwai, Shellac, Fuck Buttons and other obscure acts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Capsule Review - Saturdays = Youth

M83 - Saturdays = Youth

JTM Grade: 80%

The French ambient pop act M83 takes us on another dreamy, nostalgic trip through the synth-heavy 80s on this latest release. There's a marked increase in vocal tracks compared to prior albums' mainly instrumental fare. Truly, Saturdays = Youth is as close to a pop record as M83 is likely to get but the cinematic and retro synth sounds continue to dominate the production, and I mean dominate. If you're familiar with their stuff, you'll know what I mean...if you're not, then just close your eyes and imagine what the 80s sound like and that'll get you pretty close to M83's sound. I mean god, look at the cover art? Is that Molly Ringwald?! As for those vocal tracks, I am less enthusiastic about the lead female vocalist (not sure who it is) than main man Anthony Gonzalez's voice, but on repeated listens what at first came across as cheesy or excessively melodramatic, later reveals itself to be surprisingly emotive. Even as I write this, it's growin' on me.

Here's the video for 'Graveyard Girl'...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cover Art

This little blurb on the demise of the record sleeve got me thinking...I've always been a bit of a music fetishist, preferring a physical album over binary code. I love cover art, the lyrics and all of those little details that go into a package. When done right, it all adds to the music itself. That being said, I got over it and have now fully embraced digital music. I no longer purchase actual CDs, though I do like to pick up the occasional vinyl. Anyway, I figure the best way to sum it up is to do a quick list: the Best and Worst albums covers of all time. Obviously, the options are too overwhelming to really settle on any single choice, but I'll offer up two 'Best' and two 'Worst' for your consideration. Feel free to offer up some good alternatives yourself.


The Clash - London Calling (1979)

The Velvet Underground Nico - S/T (1967)

(i.e. pick a Prince album)

Prince - Lovesexy (1988)

Prince - Planet Earth (2007)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Musical IQ test

Here's a fun little quiz from eMusic. Just take it on the fly and don't cheat. I scored a 126, which according to their cheeky scale labels me as a...

Mix-Tape Master (109-144 points)
You are a music evangelist: the person in your network of friends who always has the coolest new song, the one whose iPod gets picked to DJ every party. You understand the art of the segue, how the key to the best mix-tape isn't just the songs you pick, but how they interlock with each other. You also know who the up-and-coming acts are and are quick to recognise where their influences lie and whether they will make it big. You work hard at the pursuit of this knowledge, scouring music blogs, magazines and record stores. Most importantly, you are generous with your passion – and your friends should be very, very grateful. Still, it’s always good to get new inspiration for your latest mix.

Not bad, eh?
What did you score?

Yeasayer Take-Away Show

If I was in town this weekend, you can bet I'd be at tonight's highly anticipated Man Man & Yeasayer show at the Varsity. I would have been that guy with his arms crossed, standing motionless off to the side, ever so slightly nodding his head in rhythm; or if he'd had a drink or two, maybe he'd even have some inconspicuous leg shaking goin' on during 2080. Yep, that'd be me. I stand out in a crowd.

Man Man has garnered a reputation as an insane Les Savy Fav-type of live act, but I've yet to catch 'em, dammit. I have seen Yeasayer a few times now and they are a lot of fun and improving with each show I've seen...plus my wife has recently fallen for the dirty fellas, too. It would have been a great date for two old and tired parents. Oh well. If you are in town tonight, and it's not sold out, do me a favor and go for god's sake.

In the meantime, check out Yeasayer's joyfully communal Take-Away show in downtown Paris. Do musicians ever shower?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eno & Byrne - Together again!

In an interview with Drowned in Sound, David Byrne broke the news that he had recently recorded an entire album of new material with age-old collaborator and fellow living legend, Brian Eno. As you may or may not know, Eno is one my favorite musical entities of all time, hands down. I'm pretty sure this marks the first Byrne-Eno project since the early '80s. This is big news people! Two true icons, back in the sack. We can't expect Bush of Ghosts-caliber material but you gotta think it will be equal if not better than most of Byrne's solo efforts and miles above Eno-produced Coldplay. Hopefully Byrne's ACL performance will showcase a few of these new songs. As a side note, David Byrne has an excellent blog of his own, much better than your average celebrity-written drivel.

While we're reminiscing about former lead members of legendary 70s bands, who went on to become successful, experimentally-inclined solo artists but have now become quite old in age albeit maintaining surprising good looks and less surprising hipster credibility, check out what Peter Gabriel is up to. I'll have to give it a shot.

Or if you prefer...

Tommy Hilfiger has joined forces with Sony BMG to launch Tommy TV - a new fashion-centric music website featuring live performances of new and established artists.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pitchfork.tv - A First Impression

Pitchfork.tv is a little over a week old now. Enough time for me to explore a bit and and offer up my first impression. If you haven't been there yet, it's well worth a bookmark. They've already debuted some amazingly exclusive performances (like this), original programs, not to mention full-length rock documentary films (on the Pixies, Air, etc.). Hard to find that kind of content anywhere else on the net or on television for that matter. Then there's the music videos. You could probably find most of the videos on YouTube or elsewhere but you can't beat having such an organized, one-stop channel. The viewer is excellent and bug-free thus far. P.tv offers up embedded content, as I've demonstrated below, but only for a subset of the music videos, not for any of the featured or exclusive stuff. So yes, yes, consider me impressed.

My only bone to pick has to do with quantity...you see, I wanted more videos. For some reason, I was expecting Pitchfork, in all their power and influence, to have gathered this enormous and comprehensive library of music videos from the very beginning. The advance hype and publicity had me expecting a 24/7 MTV replacement (sans annoying VJs), and it just isn't to that point yet. P.tv started with about 40 or so videos in the catalogue and continues to post 3-4, maybe 5 new videos each day but that ain't enough. I'm greedy! Granted, it is still "beta" and it's been just over a week, yeah, yeah...it's all about your expectations. Anyway, P.tv is very promising so I'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt for now and assume that even better things are still to come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Initial judgment on ACL line-up

As I suggested, the line-up took me by surprise in several ways. I am unimpressed with the presumed headliners but in all honesty, I am usually not too interested in the ACL headliners. The great finds are usually in smaller type (e.g. Spiritualized, M. Ward, Yeasayer, Man Man). But still, Foo Fighters as the main act?! Maybe I'm out of touch, but I just don't see them as that type of draw. Am I completely off base?

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss is a great selection. Midnight-Vulture-Beck will be awesome. Sea-Change-Beck not so good. Fogerty is the token old fogie. Mars Volta is a shocker for ACL, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Also excited about David Byrne, though I think we'd all prefer a Talking Heads reunion. Happy to see Gillian Welch on there...in fact, there's a distinct blue-grassy vibe to the line-up, much to the excitement of my wife.

So, it may not be a mind-blower of a line-up but it's definitely top-notch and more importantly, not a retread of past line-ups. Response on the web appears to be strongly negative on the more vocal of message boards, but I'm in no way disappointed. Lots of great acts to see (I count about 25 on my wish list) but as always, it will all come down to the schedule.

ACL Fest 2008 - Full Line-up Revealed

Per Austin360.com, here it is! More than a few surprises...and yes, my headliner predictions were WAY off.
First impressions??

Foo Fighters
Colour Revolt
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Drive-By Truckers
Five Times August
Ingrid Michaelson
Langhorne Slim
Manu Chao
John Fogerty
Alejandro Escovedo
Eli ‘Paper Boy’ Reed and the True Loves
David Byrne
Jose Gonzales
Bavu Blakes and the Extra Plairs
The Raconteurs
AA Bondy
The Mars Volta
Del the Funky Homosapien
Christopher Denny
Gnarls Barkley
Man Man
Mike Farris
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Jamie Lidell
The Lee Boys
South Austin Jug Band
Erykah Badu
What Made Milwaukee Famous
American Bang
Robert Earl Keen
Jenny Lewis
Patty Griffin
M. Ward
Belleville Outfit
Tegan and Sara
Asleep at the Wheel
We Go to 11
Iron and Wine
Mason Jennings
Band of Heathens
G. Love and Special Sauce
Heartless Bastards
City and Colour
Neko Case
Sunny Sweeney
Band of Horses
The Nachito Herrera All Stars
Elizabeth Wills
The Swell Season
Shooter Jennings
Silversun Pickups
Xavier Rudd
Bonnie Bishop
Gogol Bordello
Ben Sollee
Gillian Welch
Octopus Project
Ben Cylus
Eli Young Band
Joe Bonamassa
The Concert Supremes
The Black Keys
The Kills
River City Christionettes
Against Me!
White Denim
Shields of Faith
Jakob Dylan and the Gold
Mountain Rebels
Louis XIV
The Jones Family Singers
Okkervil River
Delta Spirit
Nakia and His Southern Cousins
Mates of State
Brotherly Luv
Kevin Fowler
Nicole Atkins and the Sea
The Hensley Ensemble
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Electric Touch
School of Rock
Hot Chip
Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears
Vampire Weekend
Back Door Slam
Q Brothers
Slightly Stoopid
Tristan Prettyman
Buck Howdy with BB
The Strange Boys
Uncle Rock
Ryan Bingham
Big Don
Roky Erickson
Scott Biram
Yonder Mountain String Band
The Freddy Jones Band
The Jimmies

Monday, April 14, 2008

Capsule Review - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

This is my first try in what I hope will be an ongoing series of capsule reviews. None of this wordy, clever nonsense...just a score (my favorite part) and a sentence or two. A quick way to find out what I like and what I don't.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

JTM Grade: 95%

A step in the opposite direction from the piano-based records of his recent catalogue, preacher man Nick Cave and his very Bad Seeds pick up right where Grinderman left off last year. Only now he's gone and recorded a thrilling and hilariously haunting masterpiece, perhaps the finest album of his career. The title track is a strong contender for song of the year and proof that Cave is one of the all-time great lyricists.

Watch the video below...

My most anticipated release of the year is...

...Wolf Parade's still untitled album, out on June 17th. I'm giddy with excitement and I don't say 'giddy' lightly. Apologies to the Queen Mary easily ranks up there as one of my favorite albums of the decade so far. Plus, everything Spencer touches is pure melodic gold. My expectations are through the roof.

Visit Stereogum for the first single and a preliminary review that only stirs the hype-pot even further. Damn, how come this hasn't leaked yet?! It's obviously out there now.

Does Spencer look like he's gained a few pounds? I'm glad it ain't just me who added on some winter weight.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Summer Festival mania

Much to my surprise and elation, my wife bought a 3-day pass to Lollapalooza for my birthday. Can you believe that?! Fantastic! If you haven't seen the line-up yet, here it is, but all you really need to know is that it's headlined by Radiohead.

The downside is that she bought me just a single pass so I'm going solo. I'll hopefully be able to drag along her brother and our brother-in-law. My tentative proposal, although I've yet to run this by anyone else, is to try out the MegaBus for an unbeatable cost of $1 to Chicago. I'm not a fan of bus culture, so we'll see...

Our annual Austin City Limits Music Festival trip is back on again this year after missing 2007. The line-up is set to be announced on April 15, but about 30 of the booked bands have been revealed via this clever musical mash-up by Austin's own Car Stereo (Wars). From the mash-up, people have already singled out:

The Raconteurs
Neko Case
Gnarls Barkley
Okkervil River
Hot Chip
Man Man

and 22 others...

Not a bad start. Other than this official leak, the line-up has been kept surprisingly secret this year. My educated guess for ACL headliners would be Pearl Jam, Neil Young, REM and unfortunately, I'm predicting that Jack Johnson will be there. I'm also rooting for attendance by Wolf Parade and festival favorites Wilco and MMJ.

For the final fest on this year's slate (first chronologically), there's a one-day local Twin Cities event called Rock the Garden with Andrew Bird, The New Pornos, Bon Iver and Cloud Cult. Short but sweet. Outdoor music in Minnesota is unheard of around these parts so I consider this event as groundbreaking news.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An unlikely pairing...

Freaky, freaky...I can understand why Devendra is into it, but who knew that squeaky clean Natalie would be game for dirty hippy love?