It was 1984. I was 13 years old. I went with my mom and a couple of pals from school.
It was a bold move to invite pals from school to a Christian rock concert. Although I had accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal savior a few years before and I knew it was my obligation to spread the gospel, I had kept my faith pretty much to myself at school. I felt a lot of guilt about this because I knew that if I was ashamed of being a Christian, the Son of Man will be ashamed of me when he comes in his Father’s glory (Mark 8:38).
But I was in junior high. And in junior high you never want to stand out from the crowd. It’s all about fitting in and not rocking the boat.
I have no recollection of how I invited these two friends to the concert. I must’ve warned them that Steve Taylor was a Christian rock singer. Did I play them the Meltdown tape at my house beforehand? Who knows. But photographic evidence proves we all stuck around after the show and met the band, and we’re all smiling, so they must have had a pretty good time.
Several years ago I saw the Muggs open up for my beloved Quasar Wut-Wut in Chicago. Being drunk and being in Chicago, I naturally heckled the band. It’s what we do. By the end of their set they had won me over with their high energy Detroit rock and roll.
One interesting feature of the Muggs is that the bass parts are played on a Rhodes keyboard. You might think this is a clever affectation. But you’re wrong. Turns out their bass player had a stroke and the right side of his body is paralyzed, so instead of quitting the band he now uses his left hand to play bass on the Rhodes. And it sounds awesome.
“Applecart Blues” is from their new album, Straight Up Boogaloo, out now. Buy it from the band or on vinyl from Bellyache Records.
Pete may be the ultimate poster boy for fuck ups across the world, so it’s easy to forget what a touching songwriter he can be when he’s not making headlines in British tabloids. At least they care in the UK; over here, his latest album–Babyshambles’ Sequel to the Prequel–didn’t even get a domestic release. Too bad, because it’s solid.
Hopefully this is all a good sign for the impending Libertines reunion recordings, happening now in Thailand where Doherty has completed yet another stint in rehab. Maybe I’m foolish for hoping he can keep it together long enough to make a worthy successor to the first two Libs LPs, but his most recent material certainly suggests he hasn’t yet smoked away all of his talent and charms.
Quite obviously, there’s nowhere to go but up for jazz.
And while I don’t see jazz supplanting mainstream pop anytime soon, its status as the music nobody listens to anymore is bound to give it an appeal to alternative-leaning, rebellious kids. Give it another decade and jazz is going to have a stunning comeback.
I think there’s this idea that in the post-rock era a predominantly instrumental style can never be popular again, but if you look at the recent rise of electronic music it proves otherwise. EDM may well be the force that helps propel jazz back into the public consciousness. The jazz of the next generation probably isn’t going to sound like Ellington, but the genre isn’t going to die out either.
There are a lot of music—what? Not purists, exactly. And not scholars. I guess music…grouches—out there crowing about the recent ruling against Robin Thicke and Pharrell re: “Blurred Lines.” I love Marvin Gaye as much as the next guy and also believe artists should be compensated for their work, but this verdict is nonsense. And the scale of it borders on dangerous.
The core of the case seems to be centered on whether Thicke and Pharrell “stole” Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up” as the foundation for the massively popular “Blurred Lines.” A jury sided with the Gaye estate and awarded them a $7.3 million settlement. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the music industry the last decade-plus but I can tell you making $7 million on any one song is quite a feat. The award basically negates any original contribution Thicke and Pharrell brought to “Blurred Lines.” You can find lots of debate about song structure, melody and scales elsewhere. The important thing to consider is that songwriters now need to document and compensate any and all sources of inspiration or face legal jeopardy.
Now back to those gloating about another upstart “entertainer” (vs. artist) getting what’s coming to him. Consider the number of songs from your favorite (read: legitimate) artists that might not be here if held to the same standard applied to “Blurred Lines.” You can Google how many times Keith Richards has acknowledged nicking riffs from Chuck Berry, and I won’t even get into Led Zeppelin’s long history of “borrowing” from their idols. Just consider two songs from our most beloved band, The Beatles.
If that riff doesn’t sound familiar then you need to go back and listen to “I Feel Fine” again.
Anybody remember Ambulance LTD? No? Just me? Well I really liked the album they released 11 years ago. Until I did a search I had completely forgotten that I had seen them at Lollapalooza in 2005. Time flies.
The guy from Ambulance has a new band called Drug Cabin with the guitar player from Pretty Girls Make Graves and–from the two songs I’ve heard–the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. If psychedelic singer-songwriter pop music is your bag, you might want to check these guys out.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been listening to Sondre Lerche for over ten years. Seeing him at the Double Door in Chicago on his Two Way Monologue tour is still one of my all-time favorite concert experiences. The way he connected with the audience was something that went far beyond his heartthrob status at the time. He’s dreamy, for sure, but he’s also super talented and ambitious and he’s never stayed in one spot musically for too long. I saw him a few years ago at Hope College (Sufjan’s alma mater) where he was busting loose with some totally skronky lead guitar action.
This song, “Lucky Guy,” is stripped down and lovely.