All posts by Derek Phillips

White Stripes: Painting the World WHITE

Detroit’s White Stripes embark on world domination

By Phil Wise

It wasn’t so long ago that Detroit was the butt of all jokes. Everyone from Jay Leno and David Letterman to the writers of Kentucky Fried Movie were taking whacks at the Motor City. But it seems times have changed and Jack and Meg White of Motown’s own White Stripes are laughing now.

Not in recent memory has an indie band commanded so much attention as the White Stripes. With mentions in Entertainment Weekly, Time and twice in Rolling Stone, the White Stripes seem to be America’s sweethearts—or peppermint lollypops. Now the Stripes are taking their red and white fleet to the UK and finding the fickle British music press more than willing to sign on for a ride.

Last week’s NME had a one-page, full-color spread of Jack and Meg soaked in their Detroit sweat and signature red trousers. The headline screamed “White Noise, White Heat” as a double nod to Detroit’s only political/musical movement of worth, The White Panthers, and to the White Stripes’ Velvet Underground-influenced affinity for stripped-down jams. By reading the gushing write up you’d think Jack White was the second coming of Wayne Kramer, not the snotty little brother of John Spencer. But that was just a shot over the bow.

The coup de grace has this week’s NME features our heroes on the cover and declares them the “Sound of NOW!” How do they do it? I’m a fan of the Stripes and wish them all the best, but how have they seduced the media to the point of turning mild-mannered Arts & Entertainment editors into multi-national spinmasters?

The White Stripes have pulled off a major marketing coup with this media assault and the rewards could be great, but dancing with the British media can also be dangerous. If you thought the American media’s treatment of Milli Vanilla was bad, you should have seen what the NME and now defunct Melody Maker did to Johnny Marr when he left the Smiths. You’d have thought he killed Paul Weller!

So forge on, White Stripes, and find your fortune on the high seas. But beware the English congeniality, for even the great Spanish Armada met its brutal match at the hands of a British gentleman.

Deaf American

There’s a low grumble across America and it seems only Salon.com can hear it.

By Phil Wise

Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1995, there has been a steady consolidation of media in this country that threatens to choke our already anemic music business. The decisions for A&R, radio programming and concert promotion are falling into fewer and fewer hands. There’s a reason you only hear the same 12 songs on any Top 40-radio station (what happens to the other 28 songs you might ask). Intriguing stories of corporate bullying, backroom payoffs and political manipulation used to be the stuff of good reporting and would make an editor-in-chief dizzy with thoughts of Peabodies and other self-congratulating industry awards. But it seems nobody’s interested…well, almost nobody.

It’s long been popular to blame the failures of deregulation on Republican policies. I mean, it is their philosophy to let the market place set the rules and concerns of safety and anti-trust be damned. But Bill Clinton, no friend to the GOP, signed the Telecommunications act into law. And Clinton left the liberal base of the Democratic party behind long ago, contrary to what Rush Limbaugh and other rightwing blowhards would have you think. So if this failing policy that so blatantly spits in the face of liberal market controls is such an easy target, then where is the supposed liberal media? Now’s their chance to make fools of those stalwarts of free enterprise and they’re dropping the ball.

Enter Salon.com. Salon has been running a series of articles covering the disturbing consolidation of media. From the FCC chairman, Michael Powell’s (Bush buddy and son of Collin) revealing slip of the tongue in front of congress, to the heavy-handed market manipulation by Clear Channel Media and a certain good time pop-punk band. Salon seems to be the only high profile media source that smells a story.

It’s not to say that other left-leaning media sites haven’t also reported on these troubling trends, but none have Salon’s profile. And you can forget any reports from corporate hacks like Peter Jennings or GOP apologists like Fox News’ Bill O-Reilly. The rightwinger’s conspiracy theory of liberal media manipulation seems to fall flat when you consider that the parent companies of NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, AOL/TIME WARNER and other “mainstream” media outlets stand to make loads of money from these consolidations.

So, as the summer heat takes its toll on your good mood you can rest assured knowing that Clear Channel and Sumner Redstone know what’s best for you. Just flip on your radio to “the morning zoo” and listen to the banal sounds of Britney, Mandy, Christina or Mariah and hope to win tickets to see Lance, AJ, Joey, Mickey or Minnie. They all have homes in Orlando to pay for and we all need to do our part.

Ringo Starr: It Don’t Come Easy

Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band

By Phil Wise

The Today show has a summer-long concert series in which artists perform outdoors at ungodly hours in the early morning. It seems like a nightmare to me, but the series has featured an eclectic mix of acts from ‘NSYNC to Tim McGraw. Not a particularly hip or cutting edge line-up, but this is morning TV.

Today’s featured act was none other than Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band. This year’s band features an equally perplexing mix of artists including Sheila E. Ringo’s been touring with a different line-up in his All Starr band for about a decade and the roster reads like a roll call of Ringo’s AA meeting: Joe Walsh, John Entwhistle, Jack Bruce, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Todd Rundgren, Nils Lofgren, Dave Edmunds and many more. Now, no doubt this is a stellar line up of seasoned (sometimes seasoned and sautéed) veterans. No doubt they have some war stories to tell that I’d love to be privy to. Hell, some of these guys are bona fide legends. But, how do they play together some 30–plus years after some of them have made an impact on the musical landscape?

The Today show appearance started off with an interview with Ringo by Katie Couric. Despite Ringo always being presented as the affable, cheeky Beatle, he usually comes across in interviews as a bit sour and arrogant. Today was no different. Ringo seemed put-off that he had to appear on TV before noon and even after 35 years of press conferences, junkets and interviews, he still gets miffed when answering the same old questions about the Beatles and when or if the surviving three will reunite. Get with it Ringo, without the Beatles you’re painting houses—Ask Pete Best.

But let’s forgive Ringo his lack of nuance with the media. After all he was never the mouthpiece for the Beatles. He was the drummer and content in that role. So, let’s just look at the band.

Ringo took the mic for a few songs, including a Mattel-like karoke version of Yellow Submarine, and then handed vocal duties over to former Supertramp front man Roger Hodgson. Ringo’s taken plenty of heat for his “vocal stylings” over the years and I’m not going to throw another log onto that fire. Let’s just say that age has not turned a bottle of sour grapes into wine. Hodgson, on the other hand, still has that clear muppet-like voice he had on 70s hits like “The Logical Song” and “Give a Little Bit.” I hate those songs and always have, but if you like them then you wouldn’t be disappointed in their rendition today. But the accompaniment on all of those songs left a bad taste in my mouth. I had immediate flashbacks to a bowling alley “play room” and the smell of diapers and disinfectant-and-cigarette-smoke-smelling shag carpet. The combination of songs I’ve hated since I was three years old and the sweltering Chicago heat sent me into an immediate toxic shock.

But all things must pass and as Katie and Matt led us into a commercial I thought about poor old Ringo and his All Starr band. These are guys who at some point in their careers were at the topper most of the popper most only to end up in a two-bit cover band fronted by a short, angry half-legend. Do they miss the madness of their earlier careers? Are they content in life? And was it better to have been at the top and fallen than to have never seen the view?

This is a Modern World

On the eve of Quadrophenia’s release, the Who’s most articulate message finds a new audience

Quadrophenia

Rhino Records is releasing the Who’s Quadrophenia on DVD in September and the film is enjoying a limited theater release to celebrate. After countless viewings of the film on an old VHS bootleg, I recently saw the film for the first time on the big screen last week and was again taken back to my own days of teenage angst and Anglophilia.

Originally released in 1979, Quadrophenia was slated to be the last word on England’s Mod scene of the mid-60s from the pretenders to the throne of Modfatherhood, the Who. Loosely based on the album of the same name, the film stands on its own and succeeds where other rock movies failed. It’s not an extended music video like the Who’s earlier venture Tommy. It’s not a vanity plate like Prince’s Purple Rain. It’s not a vehicle to promote the career of a singer-turned-bad-actress like any one of Madonna’s embarrassing films. And it’s not an art film like those produced by many of the Who’s brethren of the 60s, including the Rolling Stones (the simultaneously exhilarating and disappointingly tedious Sympathy for the Devil). In fact, the movie may have suffered for its affiliation with the Who. Its producers’ audience couldn’t possibly take it seriously as a movie because of the above-mentioned attempts.

Quadrophenia follows Mod Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) through the trials of teendom where young adolescent males discover some of the hardest truths of life: working sucks, you don’t always get the girl (even when you DO!), and your heroes have day jobs.

Excellent performances by Daniels and exquisite Mod Girl Steph (Leslie Ash) bring to the screen the complex rules and disappointments of young love. The story unfolds as Jimmy struggles to find his own identity in a peer group rigid with conformity. His affiliation with the Mods is strengthened in a weekend trip to the resort town of Brighton where he falls in love; fights for his gang; and meets his hero, played with utmost restraint by Glono’s own favorite corporate hack Sting in his pre-Jaguar days (the scenes of him on a Vespa GS could just as easily act as a commercial for the ultimate Modmobile, but that’s for another day). Everything he believes about being a Mod is confirmed in that quick, violent weekend.

Those beliefs are just as quickly challenged upon Jimmy’s return home to London’s working class Flatbush district. Jimmy attempts to recapture his ideals in a desperate, pill-headed return to Brighton. The trip is introduced by a genius nod to the Beatles’ Hard Days Night train scene with Jimmy riding first class among the very suits and “third class tickets” he hates. Jimmy arrives only to have his dreams further dashed on the rocks of the Brighton shoreline.

Quadrophenia acts as the ultimate guy movie from the ultimate guy band, but not because of the violence, sex and ass kicking rock and roll. It speaks to most guys, American or British, through its portrayal of the confusion and uncertainty of teenage soul searching. In a time when most guys are struggling hard to project an image furthest from their true self, Quadrophenia asks “Can you see the real me?”

BEASTIE BOYS, OTHER MUSICIANS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE BUSH’S ENERGY PLAN

MUSIC COMMUNITY MOBILIZES, THOUSANDS OF FANS TAKE ACTION

George W. Bush is a fucking dumbass

Numerous well-known artists have joined Mike Diamond (aka Mike D. of Beastie Boys) in an action with the Save Our Environment Coalition to oppose President George W. Bush’s energy plan. Some of the artists include: Alanis Morissette, Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys, Jackson Browne, Barenaked Ladies, Dave Matthews Band, Moby, Trey Anastasio of Phish, James Taylor and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Dubbed the New Power Project, the innovative effort uses the artists’ popular web sites, fan email lists, and concert tours to rally hundreds of thousands of fans and other supporters to sign petitions and to fax their members of Congress and the Bush administration, expressing outrage over the plan’s disregard for environmental protection and failure to support conservation and renewable energy programs.

“President Bush’s energy plan recommends drilling for oil in the biological heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, increasing reliance on nuclear power, cutting research spending on alternative energy, and basically causing irreversible damage to the planet, heading us back to a time when humanoids dragged their knuckles on the ground,” says Diamond.

The music community has allied with the Save Our Environment Coalition—a collaborative effort of over a dozen of the nation’s most influential environmental advocacy organizations. Mike D, Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette and others are writing letters to their fans asking them to oppose the Bush plan, and have posted the letters on their web sites and in emails to their fans.

As a result, thousands of fans are visiting the saveourenvironment.org/ live action center where they can make their voices heard by sending a fax to their Members of Congress and Administration officials; over 40,000 faxes have been sent opposing the Energy plan so far. Congress has recently dealt several blows to the plan, with the House voting to oppose the plan’s provision in National Monuments, but Republicans rammed the drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve through committee, and a final showdown is expected on the floor. The Save Our Environment Coalition is also coordinating volunteers to gather opposition to the plan at the artists’ concerts.

Gene Karpinkski, Director of the U.S. PIRGs and a Coalition member says, “These artists are helping people understand that President Bush’s energy plan is dirty, dangerous, and doesn’t deliver for consumers. It’s a recipe for more drilling, spilling, asthma attacks, nuclear waste, and global warming.”

According to the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, “Mike D and the artists and fans can make a real difference stopping the flawed Bush energy plan and building support for a solution to our energy needs that is cleaner, faster, cheaper and safer.”

The New Power Project artists will further its efforts by engaging environmental activists at their concerts nationwide. Recent shows by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Atlanta, James Taylor on Long Island and Trey Anastasio in San Francisco have featured a petition-signing and information component. Alanis Morissette will play an important show for this campaign on July 31st in Anchorage, Alaska, just a short plane ride away from the endangered Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In talking to her fans about her involvement in this effort, Ms. Morissette points to a lack of openness on Bush’s part to explore alternative sources of energy: “The sunlight the earth receives in 30 minutes is equivalent to all the power used by humankind in one year. George Bush has chosen to ignore this by cutting renewable energy research by 37% and energy efficient research by 30%.” According to a recent Department of Energy report, 60% of future electricity demand could be met by increasing efficiency and production of clean renewable energy.

Meanwhile, Diamond suggests harnessing power of a political kind. “This is our world. If each person goes to the saveourenvironment.org/ live web site right now and sends a message, we can stop this.”

Members of the Save Our Environment Coalition are:

American Oceans Campaign, American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Environmental Defense, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Environmental Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Ocean Conservancy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, The State PIRGs, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund.

What about me? It isn’t fair, I’ve had enough now I want my share: Open mic night

Open mic nights are a pisser. The talent ranges from three-chord Lisa Loebs to MFAs trying to impress their hippy girlfriends with Phish covers. It’s a funny scene and most bars that host open mics foster a certain group of regulars. Tonight I hit the open mic night at Quenchers on Western and Fullerton here in Chicago. It was standard fare.

A friend of mine called and left a message that he’d be down at the open mic at Quenchers and that I should meet him there. Well, I had some other business to attend to so I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. After some wrangling with the guy at the video store over my WAY overdue late fees for Bring it On and Citizen Cane, I made my way to Quenchers.

At first, things were slow. The hosts of the night were still trying to get the P.A. to work and weren’t having much luck. Rule #1 of open mic night is a crap P.A. Bar owners feel that if you’re willing to play for free, unannounced and without a bar tab, then you probably don’t deserve a P.A. Tonight at Quenchers was no different, but with enough spilled beer and cursing they got the damned thing in order and opened the night up.

The hosts of tonight’s free-for-all didn’t do it for nothing. They were a two-piece acoustic group with a CD to hawk, and man did they. They opened the night with a short set and then promised to return for a midnight reprise. It was a girl singer who mentioned Lucinda Williams as an influence but wrote and sang more like any other college girl with an eighth grade break up on her mind.

Just the same, they were better than act two. The second group to perform was a “blues” group (this is Chicago, after all) fronted by a late twenty-ish guy decked out from head to toe in pristine Nike gear. Our boy Damien did his damnedest to bring us down to the delta but only managed to bring us to Bone Daddy’s Rib Joint on Armitage. The first song of his set was some rambling number in a standard blues progression that had something to do with leaving his girl alone. The only vibe I got from this cat was a sense that his shoes were too white, his golf shirt too pressed and that he was probably singing something along the lines of the Mutual Funds Blues— a tune my unemployed ass can’t even hum!

Act two fared worse. Candy took the stage with her ornately decorated guitar. It was a hodge podge of catalog pictures and Precious Moments scenes all laminated on the soundboard of her $35 guitar. To make matters worse, her songs gave me the distinct feeling that she was a charter member of the First Wives Club. Egad, would this torture never end?

Yes it would. As soon as we came back to our hosts.

They came back on stage for an early staging of their midnight set to calm the brewing frustration in the bar. The original numbers were well rehearsed, tightly written and easy on the ears. But their triumph did not come without a price. In the middle of the second song of the set someone from the audience decided to join in, This isn’t necessarily unusual and is often encouraged at open mic nights, but this character took over the set. A regular, who plays the conga, set up right next to the stage and proceeded to pound away at his native beats while our heroine poured her heart out. Now, not only was the interloper too loud, but his African ballyhoo was entirely out of place in the middle of Plain Jane’s honky laments. Evil eyes were cast upon Conga Jim, but to no avail. He played on and nodded appreciatively between songs. Nobody knew what to do, so they played with their uninvited guest. The essence of the songs was lost and we all kind of clapped dully when the set was finally over.

As another brokenhearted stockbroker strapped on his Ovation guitar for a round of health club sorrow, I ordered another $1.75 Pabst and scratched my name on the board. Who am I but another out of work dotcomer with three chords and a story to tell?

I-Rock, you rock, we all rock in Detroit Rock City

i-rock

I-Rock, you rock, we all rock in Detroit Rock City
Semi-Fiction
(Intro to a feature from GLONO contributor, Phil Wise)

Being in a local band is cruel business. Local music scenes are full of assholes and egos—and that’s not counting the musicians. There are loads of ruthless club owners and booking agents who will take a band for every cent of the two hundred or so dollars they make in a night. There are dilapidated vans waiting to strand their hopped up occupants just out of reach of their gigs. There are jealous bands scheming to wreck your set to ensure that they walk out the favorites. There is very little to encourage local musicians to stick with it, but the rewards do come on occasion. You all strike THE note at the right time and your head spins and your spine tingles and that feeling you had when you heard the first record that moved you is coming from your own body.

The Overtones were my band. The whole concept was my idea and we paid heavily for it. I had hung out in Kalamazoo for years and seen ball crunching rock from groups like the Sinatras, Twister, Fortune & Maltese, the Sleestacks and King Tammy. All of these bands were actually just different variations of the same five or six guy line up under different names. Mike Limbert was bass player for Twister and the Sleestacks and he was also Mike Maltese, the keyboard-playing partner of the nefarious Freddy Fortune. Fortune & Maltese were backed up on drums by Sinatras smasher Scott Stevens and later the group was augmented on keyboards with Karl Knack when Jason Fortier, who came by way of King Tammy, left F&M under mysterious circumstances and Mike Maltese (Limbert) had to take over bass duties once again. The whole lot made up the fantastic and semi-fictional label Leppotone Electrical Recordings and I wanted to join the club.

My first stab at Leppotone stardom was with the Vantrells, a four piece pseudo-mod group that quickly disintegrated when lead guitarist, Matt Southwell, headed west in search of movie stardom and Mike Nesmith. The Vantrells wore skinny black ties and suit jackets and played crunchy power pop with a hint of the Who and the Knack—maybe it was more than a hint, I’m not that creative. When the Vantrells died I moved quickly to establish a new group and saw a hit with other Kalmazooians Jay Howard and Collin Stoddard. Jay and Collin signed, skinny ties and all, and we set out on Michigan with a grudge and crappy amps.

The problem with being a local band is getting out of town. The Overtones had great shows in Kalamazoo, thanks to loyal friends, lots of attitude on stage, and Jay’s good looks, which drew a sizable crowd of girls to our nights at the legendary Club Soda. But we were determined to break from Kalamazoo and we looked east to the BIG BROTHER of Michigan: Detroit.

Read the rest of the story in GLONO’s features section.

Continue reading I-Rock, you rock, we all rock in Detroit Rock City

Record Shopping with Phil: Rummaging through Rock’s Lost and Found

Stephen Stills’ “Illegal Stills” and “An Evening with Teegarden and VanWinkle”

I am unemployed. That means I have a lot of time on my hands and aside from sending out resumes and cover letters and searching through the countless crap jobs our floundering economy offers, I also shop for records. I have two quaint and excellent record stores in my neighborhood. There’s Laurie’s Universe of sound just around the corner, smack in the middle of Lincoln Square and there’s The Record Round Up on Montrose, just a few blocks away. Laurie’s has somewhat punk/indie rock leanings, while the Record Round Up appropriately focuses on folk and country with a smattering of rock.

The other day I wandered down to the Record Round Up as I was needing a walk on such a fine spring day. I love the Round Up. It is the perfect local record shop with an affable guy behind the counter who NEVER asks me more than once how I’m doing or if I’m looking for something specific. This guy knows my kind. He is my kind and knows damn well that that I am doing just fine and that I am NOT looking for anything specific.

The place is a veritable junk store with books, old photographs, cowboy shirts and, of course, thousands of moldy records. I almost always find something in this store. This week I bought two records: Steven Stills’ “Illegal Stills” and “An Evening at Home with Teegarden and VanWinkle”

I love Stephen Stills. I love his voice, I love his guitar playing (from the 70s. Anything else must go, but that’s another article). I also love early 70s country rock, the kind you hear from Gram Parsons, the Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” or even on CSNY’s “Country Girl.” The cover of Illegal Stills is promising. It’s a Mason jar with a label featuring Still’s goofy mug peering out from under a cowboy hat. It declares itself to be “Hill Country’s Best” and 33 ½ proof! I’m a bit of a drunk and ready to down this jar o’ shine just as quickly as I can get home. Turns out this potato mash juice is bunk and warm to boot! It unfortunately possesses the elements of Still’s music that I hate: ultra clean production and instantly forgettable melodies. It’s a bust.

Record number two fares better—much better. I found it buried way back in a stack on the floor. These are the records that don’t even get a spot in the racks. But that’s where I find my gems. I found The Tough Guys soundtrack featuring the fantastic and often sampled “Hung Up on My Baby” in the forgotten pile. I also found Stephen Stills’ Live album recorded in 1975—one side Electric, one side acoustic just like his hero Neil Young—which led me to the above purchase.

I almost skipped over Teegarden and VanWinkle, but something about the name rang a bell. This is a live album recorded in I’m guessing the early to mid 1970s (there’s no copyright date or other dating information) at the Red Carpet in Detroit. Sab and Gary can tell you all about the Detroit scene both past and present, that’s not what drew me to this album. Upon investigating the inner sleeve of this gatefold beauty I spied a familiar name. It seems An Evening with Teegarden and VanWinkle was produced by James Cassily: father of longtime friend and fellow band mate Josh C. Rogers. Cassily was also once the producer for my own Vantrells. We’d gotten in plenty of dust ups over production and what was appropriate and what wasn’t. He must have wondered who I thought I was. Cassily had worked with Detroit legends including Seger. I’d heard plenty about Teegarden and VanWinkle and was now about to hear the majesty that is Jim Cassily.

The album is good. Not great, but not bad. It’s good. In fact I like it quite a bit. It’s introduced by the very young voice of Herr Cassily, which immediately brought a smile to my face, and launches into a groovy medium tempo blues jam called “Today I left for the big city.” It’s kind of a mix between the working class blues-based jams of Detroit’s past and the soul marathons of Geno Washington. I love it. It’s getting’ high music. It’s slow summer days. It’s my home of Michigan. It’s my old drummer’s dad!

Record shopping is tedious work. It takes patience and a keen eye. But the rewards are fantastic. You can find stinkers and records you bought simply for the cover which will bloat your collection and cause a severe dilemma come moving day. But sometimes you find gems and sometimes you find the perfect segue from Hazel Adkins to P-Funk and sometimes you find an old friend. The dusty, musty stacks of records hidden away in your local vinyl shop are just like the boxes of fuzzy mittens and dank hats hidden under the counter at the bus station. Dig around and you might find a size that fits just right and you can’t beat the price.

White Girls Can’t Jump

Brassy live at Double Door

Chicago, IL

March 20, 2001

Let’s get it out in the open. The lead singer for Brassy, Muffin Spencer, is Jon Spencer’s, (he of the Blues Explosion) sister. Ok? We can’t ignore it. Why try? Sure, Muffin gets a little steamed from time to time when people always ask what Brother Jon is up to, but c’mon. He’s Jon Fucking Spencer!

Now, Muffin decided to do things her own way. She packed up and moved to England years ago to start her own band. Pussy Galore be damned with their punched-up New York Dolls impressions. Our Muffin was up to something else.

I don’t know how old Muffin is, but I’d guess she’s old enough to remember most of the Sugar Hill artists of the early 80s and ALL of the new wave artists of that same time. Mix that together with a pinch of punk a la Buzzcocks or even a touch of the Plazmatics and you have Brassy. That’s great. Everyone loves it when new sounds are created from tried and true genres. But that’s where Brassy falls short.

Throughout the 40-odd minute set, Muffin did her damndest to get people to shake their rumps or at least pump their fists, but aside from one portly fellow with a striking resemblance to Kelsey Grammer, it just wasn’t happening. Mainly because of the poor sound quality that Double Door is too often associated with, but also to the fact that Brassy can’t pull off a hybrid of hip hop, new wave and punk.

Guitarist, Stefan Gordon, is capable and had some great early 70s soul effects throughout most of the set and bassist Karen Frost does her job in typical riot grrl (I’ll bet you thought that was over, eh?) fashion with just enough detached attitude and growling bass to make the guys go wild. That alone is the foundation of a great sound and would be perfectly rounded out with tight drumming and a gregarious front woman/man. But Brassy just misses.

Drummer/DJ Jonny Barrington is the perfect minimalist punk drummer. Simple, three-piece set and excellent fills. He’s also a decent DJ with some creative mixing and tight, albeit standard, scratching. But he can’t do both; try as he may. The switches between drum kit and turntables were often awkward and distracting. They sometimes threw the whole band for a couple of bars. To really pull off this sound I think Brassy needs a drummer AND a DJ. I mean, is Jonny the only game in town? Get that sorted out and you really have some balls and the spark of something really hot. That alone will almost get the ass shaking.

Which brings us back to Muffin. Glorious Noise contributor Johnny Loftus told me he had heard that Muffin was a sassy bitch, much like her older brother (sorry Muffin. That’s the last reference to him). Well, sassy ain’t enough to lead a band. You also need some charisma. Parroting 20-year-old rap anthems (B to the R to the A to the S to the S to the Y) works for the Beastie Boys who have a deeper box of trick than Carrot Top. Muffin fails to dig deeper and ends up sounding like a 1987 white comedian making fun of rap on the Tonight Show. Until there is some sense of real emotion and attachment to her music, Brassy will always sound like the white liberal kids who dig black music but can’t play it in the house until dad goes to work.

Luckily, headliners Idlewild took the stage within ten minutes of Brassy’s departure and final got the crowd to shake their asses—and the band didn’t even have to ask.

That’s your cue Johnny.

Dubious Inclusions Damage Credibility Of Entire Record Collection

From this week’s Onion:

Dubious Inclusions Damage Credibility Of Entire Record Collection

HAMMOND, IN— The credibility of 26-year-old Jeff Gaskill’s record collection is badly damaged by the inclusion of several albums of dubious artistic merit, friend Rob Appel reported Monday. “He’s got tons of awesome stuff, everything from [X-Ray Spex’s] Germ Free Adolescents to [Al Green’s] Call Me,” Appel said of the 750-plus CD library. “But then, smack-dab in between The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and Portishead’s Dummy is Poison’s Greatest Hits.” Continued Appel: “Before I could ask him what the hell it was doing there, I spot Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles. That record alone negates the coolness of Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets and The Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace Of Sin.”