Ticketstubs: The Pixies in Kalamazoo, 1992

I had recently gotten home from a semester abroad in Scotland. While I was there the Pixies had released Trompe Le Monde, and I bought the cassette at the Aberdeen HMV the week it came out. The Pixies were one of my favorite bands, and the Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim two-fer had been the soundtrack of my sophomore year of college. “She’s a real left winger ’cause she’s been down south and held peasants in her arms.” Yep, that pretty much nails it. Bossanova got me through some tough times. “Is she over me, like the stars and the sun?” Yes, she was.

To this day listening to the Pixies conjures up those intense conflicted emotions of college: liberated but sheltered, idealistic but cynical, innocent but itchy, that desire to push it too far. “We’re not just kids… We got ideas!”

I loved Trompe Le Monde with all its abrasive guitar and spacey lyrics, but I remember being concerned about the lack of obvious Kim Deal input. There were rumors… Trouble in paradise?

The week before the show I picked up a brand new pair of wire-rimmed glasses from one of those places in a strip mall with the warranty where if anything went wrong they’d replace them for free. Something went wrong.

When the Pixies came onstage at the State Theatre they all seemed to be in a nasty mood. They were in the middle of a huge arena tour with U2 and this was a one-off show in between dates. They didn’t look at each other or say anything to the crowd; they all stared straight ahead and ripped into their set. Nevertheless, they sounded tight and great and the Kalamazoo crowd went nuts. A mosh pit formed immediately, and before the end of the first song my brand new glasses got knocked off my face and disappeared into the abyss. I’m not totally blind, but I can’t really see.

So I guess I can’t actually say that I saw the Pixies live in 1992. I heard them. And that was still impressive.

The setlist for this show isn’t available online, and I can no longer recall the details, but other setlists from that era reveal they played a lot of newer stuff mixed with a bunch of older classics. Nothing quite like the summer of 1989 when they played their songs in alphabetical order. Wish I would have seen that!

They didn’t say a word between the songs. After their final song, Black Francis dryly quipped, “Thank you very much we’re the Pixies U2’s up next,” and they exited the stage. No encore.

Continue reading Ticketstubs: The Pixies in Kalamazoo, 1992

New Aimee Mann video: Goose Snow Cone

Video: Aimee Mann – “Goose Snow Cone”

Aimee Mann- Goose Snow Cone (Official Video)

Who doesn’t love cat videos on the internet?

Aimee Mann has been quietly releasing sad and beautiful music for this entire millennium, since (at least) Bachelor No. 2 in 2000. We should all be paying way more attention to her. All of her songs have at least one line that punches you in the gut. For me, in “Goose Snow Cone” the chorus “Gotta keep it together when your friends come by / Always checking the weather but they wanna know why” is the one that gets me.

Mann discussed the origin of the song and video:

“I wrote “Goose Snow Cone” when I was on tour in Ireland, on a cold and snowy day. I was feeling very homesick when I saw a picture on Instagram of a cat I know named Goose. Her fluffy white face was looking up at the camera in a very plaintive way, like a little snowball, and I started singing a little song about her that turned into a song about loneliness. I intended to change the lyrics but could never find a phrase to replace the one I started with. When it came time to make a video, I knew the original Goose had to be in it. Her owners are my friends Rob and Puloma who coincidentally produce and direct videos. One of my cats had recently gone through a long illness and I was thinking about that when I came up with the idea for the video, and I knew Puloma had to star in it, as she has a very lovely and expressive face. The vet in the video is my actual vet and he’s a great guy. It was not easy wrangling Goose but the magic of editing makes it all work!” – Aimee Mann

From Mental Illness, out March 31 on SuperEgo Records. Stream it via NPR and then buy it.

New Blackwaters video: Fuck Yeah

Video: Blackwaters – “Fuck Yeah”

Fuck Yeah – BlackWaters

There’s a quote from Bobby Harlow of the Detroit band the Go where he says, “If you take young guys with shaggy hair and tight pants and baby faces and leather jackets and put them in front of teenagers I think that it just kind of works.”

The Blackwaters may be missing the leather jackets, but they’ve got the rest down to the tee. I rarely wish I was a teenager but this video sure makes it look fun. This song was produced by Carl Barat of the Libertines.

Blackwaters: fb, twitter

New Skating Polly video: Hail Mary

Video: Skating Polly – “Hail Mary”

Skating Polly – Hail Mary (Official Video)

Skating Polly is a family band, a teenage sister duo from Oklahoma with their brother on drums. Badass. Does this song remind you a little bit of Veruca Salt? That makes sense; NPR explains why:

Recently, Skating Polly teamed up with Veruca Salt’s co-frontwomen Louise Post and Nina Gordon, who helped the band write an EP called New Trick. “Hail Mary,” the first song the band wrote for the new record, showcases Skating Polly’s characteristic moodiness, as well the more subtle layers of harmonies that Post and Gordon brought to the new songs.

New Trick is due April 28 on El Camino.

Skating Polly: web, twitter, FB, wiki.

Lollapalooza 2017 lineup: Look familiar?

When you look at the 2017 Lollapalooza lineup released yesterday, a lot of those names might look familiar. Of the nine BIG FONT headliners only one (Blink-182) has never played Lolla before. Extending that to the 22 artists comprising the top five rows adds three more newbies: Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, and Liam Gallagher.

If you’ve gone to Lolla over the past several years, you’ve probably already seen 18 of the top 22 acts. That’s 82%. Adding in the next three rows brings us to a total of 39 artists; 28 of them (72%) are Lolla veterans. This year will mark the Killers’ fourth Lollapalooza and it’ll be the fifth time for Cage the Elephant, Kaskade, and our beloved Spoon.

The undercard consists of an additional 21 groups that have played Lolla before and 108 that haven’t. So if you’re looking for new experiences, get there early!

I realize people don’t necessarily go to Lollapalooza every year and there’s certainly nothing wrong with seeing the same band a bunch of times. And you can’t blame the artists for cashing in on the festival circuit gravy train. But if you’re starting to feel a little deja vu when these lineup announcements come out, it’s not just your imagination. We have all been here before.

Big font headliners

CHANCE THE RAPPER: 2013
THE KILLERS: 2015, 2009, 2015
MUSE: 2007, 2011
ARCADE FIRE: 2005, 2010
THE XX: 2010
LORDE: 2014
BLINK-182: n00b!!!
DJ SNAKE: 2015
JUSTICE: 2012

Medium font rows 3-5

ALT-J: 2013, 2015
RUN THE JEWELS: 2014
CAGE THE ELEPHANT: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
WIZ KHALIFA: n00b!
BIG SEAN: n00b!
THE HEAD AND THE HEART: 2012, 2014
FOSTER THE PEOPLE: 2011, 2014
THE SHINS: 2006, 2012
RYAN ADAMS: 2006
KASKADE: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015
PORTER ROBINSON: 2012
ZEDS DEAD: 2012
LIAM GALLAGHER: n00b!

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2017 lineup: Look familiar?

Spoon: The Band We Can All Count On

They say you shouldn’t trust anyone who doesn’t like puppies or babies. That’s kinda how I feel about anyone who doesn’t love Spoon. I mean…what’s not to love? Soulful vocals and witty lyrics; smart, economical instrumentation; beats and rhythms that make you DANCE; all peppered with hoots, hollers, grunts and groans that let you know rock music is supposed to be visceral.

Full transparency: Jake Brown was not always on the Spoon train and I can tell you that there were several whispered conspiratorial conversations around the office keg. We considered executing the 25th Amendment until he started to come around. I am pleased to say the state of the GLONO union is now strong.

Hot Thoughts is Spoon’s ninth studio album and builds on the same blue print established way back on 2001’s Girls Can Tell. This is a band who is consistent, if not creatively challenging. Once they broke (albeit slightly) from the jagged corners of their first two albums, the mold was set and they’ve honed the product more than redesigned it. And I am totally down with that. It’s a wonder how consistent, and consistently good, Spoon is. Given how shitty things are elsewhere in this country it’s really nice to know we can count on a solid record from this band every 24 to 36 months.

One area of exploration I have enjoyed from these guys is their occasional dips into dance-y pop music. I think it started with 2005’s “I Turn My Camera On,” which is a staple of any indie kid’s dance mix. This year we have “Can I Sit Next To You” as an early contender for Summer Jam 2017. It’s the kinda song that will make middle-aged dudes pine for pool parties that don’t include swim diapers.

If you’re reading this then you probably already have the new album so I’m not going to sell it. But I’d love to open up a conversation in the comments about the elements of Spoon that make them our favorite band. Because there are common elements, some of which are noted above and some of which get turned into criticism for other bands. Why?

Continue reading Spoon: The Band We Can All Count On

To a Musician Not Dying Young

Recently I was with a few people from southern California who had come to musical maturity in the ‘70s. I learned that there is a robust “tribute” or “cover” band scene there. One of the women I was with had been a backup singer in a Segar tribute band. It seems, she explained, that many of the people in these bands are unsuccessful in getting their own music to break and so they perform—or could that be “pretend”—as others.

So there are bands like the Dark Star Orchestra, the Australian Pink Floyd Show, The Fab Four, Nervana, and multitudes more.

In many cases it is not enough to have a note-for-note rendition of the original band in question, but some of these tribute bands cover themselves in the clothing and the hairstyle of the individual musicians making up the bands in question.

(Of course, the Iron Maidens have a look that doesn’t duplicate the original for obvious reasons.)

We will not see the Beatles again. Not Pink Floyd or Nirvana. And while the situation with the Dead is uncertain, Jerry’s not going to be on stage.

And the music created by the originals is often so good that it exists independently of the people who made it in the first case, so it could be the case that there are several people who go to the clubs who have no idea of what’s being covered and when they leave they go home and download “Katmandu.”

Which is certainly a good thing for all concerned, be it the tribute band, the listener or, in this case, Seger.

But there was a comment that one of the people made that struck me as being odd and in some ways unsettling, a comment that was agreed to by the others in attendance: “Well, we can’t see the originals any more so this is just as good.”

Is it? Really?

Without going all Walter Benjamin and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical [Digital] Reproduction,” doesn’t authenticity matter?

Continue reading To a Musician Not Dying Young

New Craig Finn video: God in Chicago

Video: Craig Finn – “God In Chicago”

Craig Finn – God In Chicago (Official Video)

From We All Want The Same Things, out March 24 on Partisan Records.

The thing with spoken word pieces is that you have to sit still and pay attention, and while that can be tough to carve out time for, “God In Chicago” makes it worth your while. “Her mom found her brother, then she found a container wrapped up in a newspaper stuffed in a duffle bag with hockey pads and seven grand in rubber bands.” As far as opening sentences go, that’s a pretty great start to a story. You might be able to guess where it goes from there: she calls the narrator and they drive to Chicago to sell the contents of the container and have a night on the town.

Craig Finn says, “It’s a story about a guy and a girl pushed together to try to fix a problem. In doing so, they push into unchartered territory for both of them. Going to a bigger city without supervision for the first time is a huge moment, no matter how you get there. I was trying to capture that. Also, I wanted to show how easy it is sometimes to take a break, if briefly, from our regular lives.”

I remember being a teenager and driving to the city for the first time. We didn’t have to sell any drugs, thank goodness, but my homie and I got loaded and ate Harold’s chicken with our shirts off in somebody’s University of Chicago dorm room. We listened to Spacemen 3 and Starship Beer and went to a silly hat party. He wore a fez. Good times.

Continue reading New Craig Finn video: God in Chicago

New Dandy Warhols video: Thick Girls Knock Me Out

Video: The Dandy Warhols – “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)”

The Dandy Warhols – "Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)" Official Music Video

Gotta love the Dandies. It’s been twenty years since they released The Dandy Warhols Come Down on Capitol Records, and ten years since Capitol dumped them, and they’re still at it. Still pounding away at chuggy, psychedelic garage rock.

This one’s pretty fun, shouting out Paul McCartney’s Kisses On the Bottom and “It Don’t Come Easy” by “that other Beatle.” LOL.

Hook, hooky hook, mama. Look at you slammin’. Indeed. Look at you!

Hey we’ve got a new single called “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)” – if you ask my opinion you should plunk down the $1.29 to buy it on iTunes, maybe we can get a pot of coffee outta the deal.

“Thick Girls” is also available on all the premium streaming services (Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Apple Music, etc), just in case you need it even cheaper than $1.29. Nevertheless play it a lot, put it on repeat, those .004 cents checks really add up ?

Continue reading New Dandy Warhols video: Thick Girls Knock Me Out

Broke Mack: Have you ever been in a hot tub?

Video: Ice Cube – “Who’s the Mack?”

Ice Cube – Who's The Mack

I didn’t even realize Ice Cube made a video for this song from Amerikkka’s Most Wanted until I was googling around, looking for something or other and stumbled across it on YouTube. Priority Records released a promotional 12″ in 1990, but it didn’t chart.

The best part about this video–other than Cube looking like an adorable little kid–is the ending where after spending the whole song rapping about different types of con artists in his own community, he visually opens up the definition to include White America. There’s “President Mack” (sitting POTUS George H. W. Bush), “Busted Mack” (televangelist Jim Bakker who had recently been found guilty on 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy), and best of all, “Broke Mack” (Donald Trump).

In June 1990, the Wall Street Journal reported the news of Trump’s impending financial distaster. So I’m assuming this video was made shortly after that. People magazine even had a cover story in July titled “Poor Donald!” But nobody summed it up better than Ice Cube: Broke Mack. You knew the game and you still ended up on your back.

Continue reading Broke Mack: Have you ever been in a hot tub?