Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

22
Oct

New music: Mountain Goats, The Horrors, The Aliens

The Life Of The World To ComeThe Mountain Goats – The Life Of The World To Come

John Darnielle and Co. are still going strong after 17+ records.  While biblical references have been a regular feature of  Darnielle’s work he takes it a step further on The Mountain Goats’ latest where every track is named after a Bible verse. Don’t worry though, this is no holier than thou preach and destroy mission but rather a study of the meaning of faith and how it can be used to weather the pressures and trials of modern life.  What keeps this record interesting is Darnielle’s recognition of the flipside of the faith card: doubt.  He uses the two sides to vividly articulate the difference between how most of us are and how most of us wish we were.  And by telling our own stories better than we ever could he reaffirms my belief that he’s one of the best songwriters around.

Genesis 3:23

Matthew 25:21

Click here to order The Life Of The World To Come direct from the MG’s!

Layout 1The Horrors – Whole New Way single

I stand corrected. I was a bit dismissive of the Horrors’ first LP Strange House. NHT thought it sounded like a campy garage goth parody. But their sophomore effort Primary Colours sees them maturing light years beyond glam shoegaze cliche into a bold new post punk sound far removed from their debut. “Whole New Way” originally appeared as a bonus track on the Japanese release of  Primary Colours. They’ve since given it quite the overhaul and will release it as a single on XL Records November 6 backed by my personal favorite from the new record. Enjoy:

Whole New Way

Do You Remember

The-Aliens-LunaThe Aliens – Luna

The second LP from these former Beta Band dudes (including founding member Gordon Anderson who left Betas after their debut) features some damn good psychedelic pop.  The fact that the rest of the record tends to meander through an everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink kind of feel might put some folks off. NHT thinks it’s way worth wading through what we’ll call fascinating sound collages to get to the tasty bits below:

Magic Man

Sunlamp Show

04
Aug

Sonic Youth @ The Independent last night

SY

Still a transcendent live experience after all these years, Sonic Youth rocked me OUT last night at the Independent in San Francisco to close out the first US leg of their current tour. At a capacity of under 500 folks the Independent is by far the smallest place they played around these parts since I had the pleasure of seeing them at the I-Beam back in July of 1986. That night 23 years ago saw the death of the Kent hollow body that they wrote “Kill Yr. Idols” on, its neck snapping in two in Lee Renaldo’s hands. While nothing so dramatic occurred last night we were treated to so many old songs from all the way back to the debut LP it certainly felt like a special occasion. That this surprise show (announced just  a week ago) sold out in about two minutes drove that thought home. Lee Renaldo & Thurston Moore jumped around like indie rockers half their age and Kim Gordon spent most of the evening wielding a third guitar with former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold now appearing to be a permanent member. Kim did pick up her base for a double thunderbroom (as Mike Watt likes to call it) treatment on older songs like “World Looks Red” (complete with screwdrivers and drumsticks stuck in the guitars for old time’s sake) and the encores.  The lone exception was “Brother James” delivered by the classic four piece lineup.

The setlist:

onstage @ 9:55 PM

1. No Way
2. Sacred Trickster
3. Calming the Snake
4. World Looks Red
5. Walkin Blue
6. Poison Arrow
7. Anti-Orgasm
8. Silver Rocket
9. Malibu Gas Station
10. Antenna
11. Leaky Lifeboat (for Gregory Corso)
12. Massage the History
13. White Cross

offstage @ 11:10 PM

Encore:
14. What We Know
15. Expressway To Yr Skull
Encore 2:
16. Brother James
17. Death Valley ’69

done @ 11:35 PM

And a nice video of “Anti-Orgasm” (thanks to hurricanewe)

13
Apr

New music: Leonard Cohen, Superchunk, King Kahn & The Shrines

Live In LondonLeonard Cohen – Live In London

Leonard Cohen’s playing the Paramount Theater in Oakland tonight and I’m not there. So sad. Particularly after hearing this piece of stone f-ing genius! A terrible thing to say I’m glad Cohen’s’ business manager stole his entire life savings but if he hadn’t LC wouldn’t have embarked on his first tour in over 15 years and thus produce this AMAZING live record. Few would blame him for phoning this in but he delivers classic songs from throughout  his 40 year career with a passion and bravura that’s nothing short of dazzling and the arrangements are fleshed out masterfully by his backing band. Definitely one for my 10 best for ’09.  I stuck the DVD of his performance at the O2 arena last year in my netflix que so I can torture myself even further for missing him tonight. Here’s a taste of what those lucky few there are enjoying:

The Future

Tower Of Song

Live In London is out now on Columbia

leaves-in-the-gutter

Superchunk – Leaves In The Gutter

I was very pleasantly surprised by the first new material in almost 8 years from this  quintessential 90′s DIY indie rock band. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about artists trying new things and challenging themselves creatively but the experimentation and stylistic searching of their last couple of albums didn’t keep me buying. Well that is left behind in a dust of blazing riffs, killer hooks and passionate vocals that were their late 90’s trademark. The five songs on this EP were written over the last couple of years during rehearsals for the odd festival or benefit gig and the band felt the need to clear the decks and start fresh when they record their new full length due this fall.

Knock Knock Knock

Learned To Surf

Leaves In The Gutter came out last Tuesday (on Merge Records, of course). Buy it here.

King Khan And The ShrinesKing Khan & The Shrines – What Is?!

OK, it came out in Germany in ’07, but KK & The Shrines’ third record is finally out in the US. Another sonic blast of low-fi Stax soul-meets-punk and Nuggets-era garage rock featuring several great tracks that didn’t make last year’s KALX chart dominating best of collection The Supreme Genius of…

What Is?! is out in the US April 21st on Vice Records.  King Khan & The Shrines play The Great American Music Hall May 28.

Land Of The Freak

In Your Grave

17
Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

box-coverCan’t believe it’s taken me this long to post about this amazing five disc Pogues box set lovingly compiled by their own Phil Chevron.  After all, it made my best of 2008 list. What better time to rectify the situation than today? This is no mere odds n’ sods set. It includes gleaming gems like “Maggie May” (which I had the good fortune of seeing at The Filmore in 1986), a couple of tracks from Joe Strummer’s stint replacing Shane McGowan (criminally not the haunting version of “Straight To Hell”), and demos galore (including what the band feels is the best song never to make it onto a Pogues record, “NW3,” which would appear as “Mother Mó Chrói” on a Shane solo record. Another favorite of mine is the Sexy Bongo track “Johnny Was.” This comes from a legendary episode in Pogues history where Andrew Ranken, Darryl Hunt, Jem Finer, James Fernly and Phil Chevron formed their own opening act for just one show in Sweden. They wrote all the material at the sound check and performed it that evening, never to be repeated. Phil swears the majority of the crowd had no idea who they were. So here are some of the live highlights for you on this fine Paddy’s day:

From the BBC’s David “Kid” Jensen show, 6/21/84

Boys From The County Hell

From the BBC’s Janice Long show, 10/10/86

The Rake At The Gates Of Hell

Turkish Song Of The Damned

If I Should Fall From Grace With God

From The Barrowlands, Glasgow, 12/17-19/87

Sally MacLennane

A Pair Of Brown Eyes

Kitty

Maggie May

Dirty Old Town

The Sickbed Of Cuchulainn

With Joe Strummer from The Forum, London, 12/12/91

London Calling

I Fought The Law

26
Feb

New music: Dan Auerbach, Robyn Hitchcock & Elvis Perkins in Dearland

keep-it-hidThe solo debut from one half of the Black Keys sounds like, well, the Black Keys. What did anyone really  expect? Unless Auerbach spent 80 minutes playing the bagpipes it was bound to. So folks hoping to hear Dan stretching himself will be disappointed but I’m digging this. The Fogerty like blues howl is replaced with a deeply soulful crooning in just the right spots and a bass player (god forbid) makes for an interesting low end counterpoint missing from the Black Keys’ drum/guitar minimalism. My favorite addition is the haunting Hammond B underpinning this track right here:

I Want Some More

Keep It Hid is out on Nonesuch Records. Dan will be at Bimbo’s March 13. I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets during my show on KALX at 90.7 FM next Wednesday so tune in! More tour dates and streaming tunes can be found  at Auerbach’s myspace page.

Goodnight Oslo

Robyn Hitchcock’s second record backed by the all star trio of Peter Buck on guitar, Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey on bass, and Ministry skin pounder Bill Rieflin may not match the last couple of records he’s released but after 30 years of consistently fantastic songcraft his missteps stand shoulders above the pop paff topping today’s charts.

Goodnight Oslo

Goodnight Oslo is out on Yep Roc Records. If you have a couple hours to kill check out Robyn’s official site. There’s a reason it’s called The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock.

Elvis Perkins In DreamlandLike a crazy mix of Leonard Cohen’s despair and early Dylan’s exuberant folk rock Elvis Perkins In Dreamland play music that is catchy and penetrating at the same time. The despair is understandable as frontman Elvis Perkins  lost his father, actor Anthony Perkins, to AIDS in 1992 and his mother on one of the 9/11 planes. But the exuberance defies sorrow in a celebration of everyday life with one of the catchier songs I’ve heard in weeks. A driving rhythm offset to marvelous effect by the delicate harmonies of Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark.

Hey

A couple more tunes are streaming at their website. Their self titled second record is out on XL Recordings March 10, pre-oreder it here. He is (or is it they are? I’m so confused) playing the Cafe Du Nord the very next day.

26
Jan

‘Mats reissues

Trying to get back at this sorry, neglected blog here. The knee’s feeling much better; thanks for the kind emails folks. Anyway, at long last I got to indulge in a bit of used record shopping for the first time since the ol’ leg hinge crapped the bed and had to be refurbished (my ortho referred to it as “spring cleaning”). And what was waiting for me at dear old Amoeba Berkeley? A fourtet of the Rhino Replacements reissues: Sorry Ma,…; Hootenanny; Let It Be & Tim. Sweet!! I’ve had ‘em on such heavy rotation I can’t even recall at the moment what else I bought.  Some thumbnail first impressions:

Sorry MaStarting at the beginning with Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash. The most bonus tracks by far at 13 (out of 31, I love symmetry). My personal highlight isn’t even one of the 12 unreleased tracks but rather a strong candidate for my favorite b-side ever. So excited that I can finally post this without having to rip one of the most battered 7 inch’s in my collection.

If Only You Were Lonely – the flipside of “I’m In Trouble”

Hootenanny

Skipping Stink (just for now, trust me) we get  Hootenanny. No sophomore slump for these dudes. And consider notice served that they are no one trick pony either. The bonus stuff is leaner but still very interesting; a studio take on “Treatment Bound” (though I’m glad they went with the recording from their rehearsal space), a couple versions of “Lovelines” and a jacked up version of “Johny’s Gonna Die” (a ballad from Sorry Ma,…). At the risk of getting stuck in mellow mode I must say my personal fave is this solo home demo of a lost Westerberg gem.

Bad Worker

Let It BeNext is one of the most lauded albums in the annuls of indie rock and my first Mats purchase, Let It Be. By far the worst liner notes of the lot. Gina Arnold’s hyperbole about how great the Replacements were provides zero insight into the creation of this college rock landmark. Someone  telling us something we don’t already know instead of preaching to the choir would have been nice. Bonus tracks include another fabulous b-side, the gloriously shambolic cover of T.Rex’s “20 Century Boy,” and another solo Westerberg home demo, a positively feral take on “Answering Machine.” In the end I decided to share a pretty rocking outtake and a regular album track because if I had to decide on my top Replacements tune I’d go with this one. Plus I think of my wife whenever I hear it.

Perfectly Lethal (outtake)

Favorite Thing

Tim

The best Replacements show I ever saw was at the Fillmore in support of Tim. Sadly the last with Bob Stinson on board. These are the bonus tracks I’m returning to far more than those the other three. The first  up is from a session “produced” by Alex Chilton. Serious food for thought hearing Bob playing on a future classic. The next is from a “get your feet wet” session in the spring of 1985 with new producer Tommy Erdelyi (aka Tommy Ramone). Though the final version definately benefits from a more subdued approach this demo of another favorite is a ferocious,  infectious rocking revelation.

Can’t Hardly Wait (alternate version)

Kiss Me On The Bus (alternate version)

Now off to the local and search for Stink and Pleased To Meet Me.




Catch me on KALX in Berkeley

I host the Cuppa Joe show on KALX in Berkeley every other Wednesday from 6 to 9 PM. You can tune at 90.7 or online by clicking HERE ------------------------------------------- NEXT SHOW: October 28 FUNDRAISER SHOW!! ------------------------------------------- Check out past playlists HERE
Got something I HAVE TO HEAR? Wanna send me free stuff? Email me at mike@nowhearthismusic.com

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Quick note about the tunes

The mp3s on this blog are to give folks a little taste. Imagine they're those little pouches on the bag your Sunday paper comes in. You know, the one's with a packet containing just enough toothpaste to brush your teeth once or twice. They are left up for a limited time. If you find something you like support the artists by dragging your friends to their shows and/or buying their CDs/records/schwag. If you are the artist (or their label/representative) and don't want an mp3 on here, please email me (mike@nowhearthismusic.com) and I'll remove it posthaste.
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