I have no idea how this slipped through the cracks this year, but I’m looking forward to listening to it on repeat until the end of the year.
Queens of the Stone Age has finally (just about) reassembled the group that made Songs for the Deaf, its last truly great record, which is somehow a decade old now. Dave Grohl is back playing drums on the album, and long-banned bassist Nick Oliveri has been allowed to re-enter Josh Homme’s sanctuary to lay down some vocals, despite his acrimonious exit from the band back in 2004. No word on any bass parts just yet. The additions are hardly permanent, as QOTSA’s door is always revolving, but it is, perhaps, a ray of hope that the songs might be harking back to the glory days of 2002. Grohl even went so far as to call QOTSA “the baddest rock’n'roll band in the world” in a recent interview with BBC1. Everything since Songs for the Deaf has been almost there, but I imagine Homme has a few tricks left up his sleeve.
REVIEW: Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic)
Fiona Apple’s re-emergence every half decade or so is a triumphant celebration for a niche community of devotees and rather an apathetic shrug for the rest of America, which assumes (wrongly) that she’s just a Lilith Fair throwback, trying to claw her way back into the limelight. I belong to the former group, as my parenthetical aside betrays. Apple is a brilliant songwriter. I know this to be true. I just feel guilty enjoying her music as much as I do. She’s clearly unwell, both in heart and mind (no matter what she says on the chat shows), and this has never been more apparent than on her latest opus, the steely-eyed and daringly entitled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.
“Every Single Night” is a most bizarre album opener and even more confounding as a single. With its wild dynamic shifts from heart pounding chants to shaky whispers, Apple sounds not of sound mind. But it works on every level. The lyrics are obsessively reflective, of course, as Apple analyzes the tricks her brain plays on her night after night. She’s fixated on how the brain functions, and its impact on her many neuroses has infiltrated her perceptiveness as a songwriter. You simply can’t help but believe her when she whisper-sings, maniacally, “I just want to feel everything.” On “Daredevil” Apple concedes that she may indeed “need a chaperone” as she’s not to be left alone, but her melodies and vocal idiosyncrasies are so endearing that it’s easy to overlook the obvious pleas for help just to enjoy the song.
Ugh, my day is ruined. My love for Shiner is not understood by many. This is a band that people either love with an obsessiveness that knows no bounds or they simply do not get at all. Not only did Shiner reissue a remastered version of The Egg (on vinyl for the first time) without my knowledge, but the band also REUNITED for a smattering of shows to celebrate the re-release of its masterpiece back in August. This is a band I drove over 15 hours to see in Kansas City, Missouri in January of 2003 for what was then its final show. So, to learn of all this Shiner news after the fact is more than a little disheartening. I immediately ordered a copy of the vinyl pressing of The Egg, which, if you have never heard it, please do yourself a huge favor. I think this is the best review written on the subject (to help convince those hesitant to try new/old things). I gushed about it myself over ten years ago after it had been out a while. Upon re-reading my review, there’s a sad irony/congruity in how I discovered the band “after the fact” and the events of my news day today.
Here’s an interview with Shiner’s Allen Apley and Josh Newton about the reissue, the renuion, and preparing for the shows:
Fan-captured the footage below from the final shows in Chicago:
And if that’s not enough (it’s not) more coverage of the band’s NYC stint is here.
Going to Unwound shows was a once-a-year given/religious experience for me between the years 1994 and 1998. I saw the band every single time it came within 600 miles of wherever I was. Sometimes multiple times. To say that I was a fan is a gross understatement. Back then bands released records every year and then toured relentlessly. The lag now averages about two to three years between releases for most stable bands, which just seems ridiculous, especially when you think back to James Brown’s day. That guy would release so many albums in a year his record company could barely keep up with him. Ah, but the music industry is not the same. Anyway, Unwound’s final album came out three years after its predecessor, which was not only uncharacteristic but weirdly ominous. You just knew it was going to be the band’s last. It was a double album. It was ambitious. It veered off course from the trio’s signature maelstrom of energetic mania, and I didn’t like it at first. Unwound was at its best for me when it could crawl into tiny blissful pockets of tuneful serenity and then explode into splintering shards of distortion, angst and melody. It was the way in which this band controlled its chaos that made it special. They weren’t the best singers or players or even songwriters. But the energy that the three of them could create in a room was unlike almost anything I’d ever seen. And I was the right age at the right time to experience it. I’ve grown to appreciate Leaves Turn Inside You over the years, but I don’t think of it as an Unwound album, even though some consider it to be the band at its pinnacle. It was more of a celebration of the band’s previous work with an awkward attempt at maturation that I’m still not sure quite suited. Bands have to grow musically, otherwise, what’s the point, right? It’s easy to write off several early Unwound records as being “samey,” which is why Leaves Turn Inside You seemed so momentous by comparison. I think people got caught up in that mentality and the zeitgeist grew from there. Don’t get me wrong: I love Leaves Turn Inside You. I think it’s a great record. It’s the record the band had to make in order to continue, but it’s not Unwound’s best album. It’s the best Unwound album for people who don’t love Unwound. Still, the release of this double live LP over ten years after the band’s demise is exciting. I miss the band so much I’d take anything at this point. But just as Leaves Turn Inside You is not Unwound’s best album, this tour was not Unwound’s finest hour in concert. I saw Unwound for the last time six days after 9/11 at the 40 Watt in Athens, Georgia. It was an eerie time. The show felt weird for so many reasons. Five musicians played these more complicated songs, as opposed to the core three. The energy I had felt so many times before was missing. It felt forced and flat and almost anachronistic. I knew at that show that I’d never see Unwound play again. It was over. And, sure enough, a few months later the announcement came. I haven’t heard this live album yet. I pre-ordered it today, but I’m hesitant to listen, despite it being one of my favorite bands of all time captured live for the last time. [via KRS]
Siouxsie & the Banshees’ entire set at Satory Saal, Cologne, Germany from June of 1981 is available on YouTube via German TV show “Rockpalast.” This performance took place merely weeks after the release of its fourth LP, Juju. I saw the band from the second row just under ten years later. It was, perhaps, the most starstruck I’ve ever been, which may speak to the lack of celebrities with whom I’ve been in close proximity, but it was exciting nonetheless. The video quality is slightly grainy here, but it’s a crazy good set, which Slicing Up Eyeballs has conveniently available for us:
3. “Regal Zone”
5. “Arabian Knights”
7. “Pulled To Bits”
8. “Head Cut”
10. “Night Shift”
11. “Sin In My Heart”
12. “But Not Them”
13. “Voodoo Dolly”
14. “Hong Kong Garden”
15. “Eve White Eve Black”
16. “Happy House”
Foals seem to be kicking it back into gear with a flurry of news lately. The band performed a new song on “Later… With Jools Holland” last night. The new record is shaping up to be slightly more upbeat and, dare I say, funkier, than Total Life Forever‘s somber comedown. Holy Fire will be released in February 2013.
It’s strange to think of this style of adrenalized modern rock as “retro,” but I can’t think of too many bands that sound like this anymore. If radio were still a thing that influenced people’s record buying habits, this song might sway a few ears. Oh, and, of course, if people still bought records … I love this band, but maybe that’s because I’m nostalgic for this style. Or maybe it’s just because this band is good.
Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt has released an ebook of never-before-seen Nirvana photos from the band’s notorious European tour in 1989. Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989 is available now via Apple’s iBookstore. It should be noted that this is the Chad Channing era, otherwise known as pre-Dave Grohl. Warning: Sad Kurt photos follow. [via Pitchfork]
I hate seeing anything Christmas related until after Thanksgiving. The neighbors who put up Christmas decorations prior to that day are gauche, tactless people. And here comes Sufjan with his guaranteed-to-make-you-cry interpretation of “I’ll be Home for Christmas” way before Christmas should even enter our consciousness. And this version is depressing as hell, so how’s that going to get you in the spirit? This disturbing video certainly won’t help matters. But the man does have a new Christmas album to hawk, so he’s prepping early. Commerce comes first.
Seems like every few years …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead releases a new album and everyone goes, “man, this is their best since Source Tags & Codes.” Ok, that didn’t happen when So Divided came out. But you know what I’m talking about. Worlds Apart is the only outright stinker in the cannon and even that record isn’t horrible- just a touch heavy on the prog and pomp and a little light on the punk. But even getting down to the nitty gritty, the band’s past two albums have been pretty stellar. And the new one, Lost Songs, is in heavy rotation.
INXS confirms split in official statement. Hahaha. What? INXS was still a thing? Surely, no. It’s not exactly cynical to say that this should have happened 15 years ago when lead singer Michael Hutchence hanged himself on the back of a hotel door, but carrying on the way the leftover five did has just been excruciating to witness. And letting fans know while opening for Matchbox 20 of all things? Makes me nauseated just thinking about it. SO, lesson learned: Hiring game show contestants to replace your iconic lead singer is ILL-ADVISED. But INXS soldiered on and endured the worst case “running it into the ground” in music history. I can’t think of another band that tried so desperately to keep at it with absolutely no hope of survival. Even The Beach Boys’ shameless incarnations over the years don’t seem as crass. Finally, Michael Hutchence can stop trying to Uma Thurman his way out of his coffin and get some rest.
The long-lost demo of Sex Pistols’ “Belson Was A Gas” was recently discovered during a record label transition. The controversial song has been released in various live and alternate versions over the years, but the demo version with Johnny Rotten on vocals has been much sought after and long-since written off. With its sarcastic Holocaust lyrical theme (allegedly written by Sid Vicious), the band was simply trying to offend the powers that be, using as sensitive a topic as it could muster at the time, since taking the piss out of the Queen was old news by then. You can barely hear the vocals in this mix, so I’m not sure anyone could claim offense at this point. It features the stellar musicianship of one Sid Vicious on bass. The track will be tacked onto the Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols super-deluxe boxset due for release on September 24th via Universal Music UK.
The Dismemberment Plan‘s latest reformation seems to be sticking. News has been trickling out about new songs. The bands seems to be having a blast playing live, too, as this live video at The Metro Gallery clearly indicates. A new official band YouTube page has surfaced featuring “Mexico City Christmas,” which sounds like vintage D-plan crica Emergency & I. I can’t believe it’s been a decade since the comparatively somber Change came out, but I’ll gladly welcome a new album should it happen.
Having promised retirement after her successful sophomore solo album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, Lily Allen, now know by her married name, Lily Rose Cooper, has returned to music (surprise). Now, the way in which she has returned is slightly unexpected in that it’s by way of a duet with perennial chart mainstay Pink. “True Love” is a but Pink-er than anything you might expect from the Lily Allen of yore, but it’s nice to hear from her anyway.
Talk Talk’s final two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, respectively, are two of my favorite records, but they were Talk Talk’s least commercially successful because the band utterly ignored its synth-pop, new wave roots (and its audience) to embark an an experimental tangent that has influenced a generation of songwriters. Ex-Depeche Mode keyboardist Alan Wilder has compiled a tribute album to a band he says “experienced a career in reverse.” He continues, “There was a direct correlation between the quality increase and the popularity decrease.” Talk Talk stormed onto the charts with a string of pop hits in the early 1980′s, replete with layers of synths and grandiose, unforgettable choruses. It was its third album, 1986′s The Colour of Spring, where band leader Mark Hollis began to steer the band away from such overtly catchy pop music to create a much more introverted scape of sounds and structures. The band’s final two materstrokes, the aforementioned Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, are so enigmatic by virtue not only of the music therein but also by their secretive recording processes and the fact that no one related to any of those recording sessions will discuss them. It’s a bizarre story. After Talk Talk dissolved, Hollis has only released one self-titled solo album in 1998, which was just as obtuse and beautiful as his final Talk Talk recordings. The Guardian has a much more in depth look at the band’s career and the subsequent evolution of the tribute out now on Fierce Panda. The tribute features artists ranging from Alan Wilder (Recoil, Depeche Mode) to members of Bon Iver, White Lies, members of Arcade Fire, Guillemots, Lights, Turin Brakes, and many others. The official tribute site has more details. The deluxe edition is sold out.
I often have to be in the mood to listen to certain bands, but one band I can put on regardless what I’m doing or how I’m feeling is Stereolab. There’s something about Laetitia Sadier’s voice that just mesmerizes me. Her solo work is slightly more intimate and freer than Stereolab’s syncopated, droning machinations. Sadier’s new album Silencio is out now on Drag City. And I could listen to it all day. [via Stereogum]
09/15 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s
09/16 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room at Crofoot
09/18 – Toronto, ON @ Drake Hotel
09/19 – Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal Festival
09/20 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Cafe
09/21 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
09/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
09/23 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
09/25 – Washington, DC @ DC9
09/26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird Cafe
09/27 – Cincinnati, OH @ Midpoint Music Festival
09/28 – Urbana, IL @ Pygmalion Music Festival
09/29 – Madison, WI @ University of Wisconsin
09/30 – Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
10/03 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
10/04 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
10/05 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
10/06 – Los Angeles, CA @ Culture Collide Festival
10/10 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
10/11 – Lincoln, NE @ Lincoln Calling Music Festival
11/05 – Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
11/06 – Glasgow, UK @ Captains Rest
11/07 – Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete’s
11/09 – Dublin, IE @ The Workman’s Club
11/10 – Galway, IE @ Roisin Dubh
11/12 – Cardiff, UK @ The Globe
11/13 – London, UK @ XOYO
11/14 – Brighton, UK @ Sticky Mikes
An old friend and fellow WUSC alum pointed me to this amazing documentary of early punk and new wave compiled from Tony Wilson’s “So It Goes” series that was originally shown on Granada TV on Channel 4 in the UK. It features (in order) Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunders, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine. [via]
Former Cataract Falls drummer and current DJ Chris Lawhorn has pieced together an album of instrumental tracks using samples from every single Fugazi song in the band’s discography. Fugazi Edits will be released on October 30th on Case/Martingale Records. Lawhorn has the band’s blessing and all proceeds of the album’s sales will benefit senior citizens of Washington DC as well as global victims of disaster and civil unrest. To check out samples from the forthcoming record go here, where you can also sign up for more information.
For his second solo LP, Interpol’s Paul Banks has abandoned his Julian Plenti alias in favor of his own name. The album, entitled Banks, will be out October 23, 2012 on Matador Records, home to all but one Interpol record. Having such a distinctive voice is a bit of a double edged sword for singers in high profile bands who embark on solo careers. Most people will simply say, “eh, it just sounds like Interpol.” Well, yes, but also not really. [via Pitchfork]
He’s supporting the record with a world tour:
11-03 Austin, TX – FunFunFun Fest
11-09 Washington, DC – Howard Theatre
11-10 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
11-13 New York, NY – Webster Hall
11-29 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
11-30 Santa Ana, CA – Observatory
12-01 San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
12-03 San Diego, CA – House of Blues
12-05 Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre
01-20 Dublin, Ireland – Academy
01-21 Glasgow, Scotland – King Tuts
01-22 Manchester, England – Sound Control
01-24 London, England – Koko
01-25 Brussels, Belgium – AB
01-27 Luxembourg, Luxembourg – Den Atelier
01-28 Frankfurt, Germany – Mousonturm
01-29 Cologne, Germany – Gloria
01-31 Lausanne, Switzerland – Les Docks
02-01 Milan, Italy – Magazzini Generali
02-02 Ljubljana, Slovenia – Kino Siska
02-03 Vienna, Austria – Wuk
02-05 Prague, Czech Republic Roxy
02-06 Berlin, Germany – Kesselhaus
02-07 Copenhagen, Denmark – Amger Bio
02-09 Hamburg, Germany – Gruenspan
02-10 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg
02-11 Paris, France – L’Alhambra
02-13 Istanbul, Turkey – Babylon
02-14 Istanbul, Turkey – Babylon
02-15 Athens, Greece – Fuzz Club