THREE MINUTE HERO

No Doubt See Ted Nugent in an Airport and Don’t Ask Him to Produce Anything

Johnny Loftus

Rock Steady. Hey, that’s a cool-sounding term, man. Are you thinking of Sly & Robbie, Prince Jammy, King Tubby, or some other “-y” moniker’d grass-roots dub reggae producer? Yeah, you down, dog. But hold up. It’s also an anonymously cool sounding moniker for No Doubt’s new studio record, their first since 2000’s Return of Saturn, and their first since frontwoman Gwen Stefani’s meteoric rise to “I’m Helping You” fame, which came only after the backlash to her band’s Tragic Kingdom record of 1995, a backlash that pigeonholed the Orange County-based group as one of those Bunch Of Guys Backing Up A Babe bands. (Shit, they even chronicled the hype in their video for “Don’t Speak.” So don’t blame me.) Since her scene-stealing turns as sidewoman for Moby (“South Side”), and Eve (“Let Me Blow Ya Mind”), Stefani has grown beyond her previous stature as simply the platinum-blonde vocalist of No Doubt. She has become a spokeswoman of curiously glittery bras, the defiantly non-hot, yet oddly hot vocalist that is now somehow walking point for the 80s/New Wave/Neon/Rayon revival that is allegedly on its way to our collective pop consciousness, just like furry tooks for women and those killer bees that seem to amass on the Mexican border during every sweeps week. How does America’s Katrina & The Waves bank on their girl’s florescent exposure? Well, hiring a bunch of Justice League producers and releasing a genuinely solid dance-pop record (in the middle of winter, mind you) isn’t a bad idea.

And that’s just what No Doubt has done with Rock Steady, an album that features the tweaking of Nelee Hooper, William Orbit, and perhaps most importantly (and flatteringly) for the group, reggae gurus Sly & Robbie. The presence of the classic reggae rhythm & bass duo most likely influences the set’s title, as the Riddim Twins’ appearances with and influences on basically every seminal reggae/ragga artist of the last 35 years is beyond self-evident. No Doubt’s island influences have never been a secret. But having the loot to hook up production from your heroes? That’s something that your average Cali third wave ska group can’t muster. Sly & Robbie’s dub-electronica mojo is evident on “Hey Baby,” a song that’s a tailor-made single for the Clear Channel “KISS-FM” set, but taken to a psycho, herky-jerky level, with galactic feedback and a great organ break backing up Stefani’s vocal hook. It’s like dub plate Pink blown up for the clubs, but without that white cheerleaders from Bring It On, “we’re fooling you with half-assed, allegedly adventurous beats” shtick that defines the self-proclaimed 2-Step Garage beats of N*Sync and Britney Spear’s recent yawns. The comparison is valid: Ever since Tragic Kingdom’s explosion, and especially since Stefani’s most recent and very glammy publicity, No Doubt is fully moving within the Pop market. The genius is that they’ve released a solid record into a market inundated with shit-stained drek resembling Pat Boone covering Little Richard. You know – all talk, no action. You better bring it? It’s already been brought.

The money train didn’t stop with Sly & Robbie. Think about hot production in the last, say, 5-6 years. What comes to mind? Nelee Hooper (Bjork). William Orbit (Madonna). Ric Ocasek (Weezer; Guided By Voices). Timbaland & Missy Elliot (Aaliyah; themselves). Check it: They all worked with No Doubt during the sessions for Rock Steady. After a brief intro, Hooper’s “Hella Good” kicks out a groove that’ll make ABC News’ John Cochran bust moves like he should have played Hammer in VH-1’s biopic. And you don’t stop. Orbit shows up to mix down a decent reset of Madonna’s “Music,” (which he didn’t produce anyway, but I guess Mirwais was busy eating at QuickBurger when Gwen rang his flat), and Ric Ocasek arrives to further solidify the nouveau-retro flair he added to the mediocre material on Weezer’s Green Album. “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Platinum Blondelife” sound like Teena Marie fronting The Cars, and that’s no joke. Best of all, Ocasek produced Bad Brains’ Rock For Light, the coolest album of 1983, and Tony Kanal knows it.

No Doubt are important in the grand marginal scheme of traffic-jam guilty pleasure radio lullaby rock. Sure, Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird” was pleasant enough the first 450 times. But jeez, release another single, would you? And now that Jewel’s dishwater new material has her thinking of spending a promotional year in the trunk of an Anchorage, AK Grand Turino, Stupid Radio needs something that the average dope can hum along listlessly to while waiting in line at McDonald’s. And if that brain-evacuating slush happens to feature Sly & Robbie cutting up some primo instrumental juju, or Ric Ocasek moving in stereo, then super size it Pilar, because radio just got better for the next two and a half minutes.

JTL

The Glorious Noise Interview with the Handsome Family

The Glorious Noise Interview with the Handsome Family

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rennie Sparks, the lyricist/autoharpist half of the Handsome Family. Check it out!

Continue reading The Glorious Noise Interview with the Handsome Family

Have You Heard a Good Movie Lately?

During this, the holiday season, plenty of people go to the movies. Consequently, you’ll find that in the entertainment sections of newspapers there are display ads galore, as each of the film companies tries to separate us from our dollars to see one of their productions. But one thing that is becoming increasingly apparent: As these film companies become parts of vertically integrated mega-corporations, it is not enough for them merely to take your money for a set of ducats. Rather, they want you to spend even more. I am not talking about action figures or cups that glow from Burger King. I am talking about music.

While perusing the December 16, 2001, edition of the New York Times, I began to take note of the inclusion of references to the availability of music that were in the ads for movies. The following list takes into account all of the ads that I could actually read the small print in (and the ink used in newspapers tends to bleed into the paper, so there is difficulty when things get exceedingly small: in a 2 x 2-in. ad for Focus I was able to discern only “Soundtrack Available on” and the label’s logo was obscured) or that had more than a brief amount of text (and a surprising number of URLs and AOL logos).

First, the surprises. Moulin Rouge, which is in re-release with hopes of garnering awards (it says in the ad, “Attention Academy, HFPA & All Guild Members; You and a guest are cordially invited to attend any performance of Moulin Rouge! Just show your card for admittance”), a musical, does not have a reference to the soundtrack in its ad. Perhaps 20th Century Fox (and when will that name flip a calendar page?) doesn’t want to worry about the Grammy’s.

Behind Enemy Lines, which rocks you in commercials with fast-flying fighters and Owen Wilson singing a bit of the Doobie Brothers, is music-free in its ad, as is the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There, which is all the more surprising since their last outing spawned a whole new interest in pickin’ and grinnin’. The Royal Tenenbaums are audio object-free, as is Joe Somebody. In the Bedroom is evidently a quiet place to be.

But let the music play!

Many of the ads have a demur notation. As in Waking Life merely indicating that “Soundtrack available on TVT Soundtrack” and Monsters Inc. has an “Original soundtrack available on Walt Disney Records.” You can get soundtracks for Charlotte Gray, Shrek, The Majestic, The Shipping News, Amele, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and A Beautiful Mind.

The ads that are all the more interesting, however, are those that plug—big time. As in:

Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: “Music from the Motion Picture Featuring Brand New Music by Aaron Carter, ‘nsync, Britney Spears, No Secrets and Other Superstars on Nick/Jive CDs and Tapes.” I particularly like that “Other Superstars.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: “Soundtrack Featuring 2 New Songs By Enya Including ‘May It Be’ Available on Reprise Records.” You can never get enough Enya nowadays.

Vanilla Sky: “Soundtrack Available on Reprise Records Featuring Songs From Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Radiohead, Sigur Ros.” I am only disappointed that Cameron Crowe didn’t insist that a Beach Boys’ tune be included in the verbiage.

Kate & Leopold: “Soundtrack Available on Miramax Records Featuring New Music By Sting.” Oh, yes, Hugh Jackson and the irrepressible Meg Ryan, swooning to Sting. . .

Not Another Teen Movie: “Soundtrack Featuring ‘Tainted Love’ by Marilyn Manson and Music By Orgy, Saliva, Muse, and Mest.” This one is understandable. Teen movies, self-denial notwithstanding, tend to have better soundtracks than plots. But I like the way the copywriter indicates that “Tainted Love” is not music.

And this has to be my favorite of all:

Ocean’s Eleven: “Soundtrack Features New David Holmes & More Musical Must-Haves! Check It Out!” The exclamation points and “Must-Haves” are classic. But I’m holding out for Sammy Davis, Jr.

Question: Before you listen to soundtracks, are you supposed to go to the snack bar first?

20,000 GLoNO Fans Can’t Be Wrong

Well, it looks like we did it. Another monumental milestone in the history of our little website: 20,000 visitors. We here at Glorious Noise would like to thank you all for stopping by. We’d especially like to thank all of the people who check in on the site every day and contribute comments to the Discussions and Message Boards. And all the great sites out there that link to us. We really do appreciate it.

It seems like only yesterday that we hit 10,000. And it wasn’t too long before that that we started this whole thing. We will be celebrating our first anniversary on February 6, and the fact that people are reading our stuff makes us feel like what we’ve been doing has been a worthwhile way to spend our time.

Thanks again, everybody. We love you all. Drinks! For all my friends!

Nels Jacobson concert posters

X, Charlie Daniels, The Pixies, Sinead 0’Conner, Slayer… Vanilla Ice? What could these artists possibly have in common? Well, they all had concert posters designed for them by Austinite, Nels Jacobson, many of which are available for purchase.

I’m Beginning to See the Light…again.

Rediscovering the Velvet Underground

Sometimes it’s amazing what you find when you dig back into your collection. Forgotten gems of music gathering dust in crates or on CD racks can take you back to specific times in your life or fill you with emotions also long forgotten.

I recently dug out my copy the Velvet Underground’s debut album and was immediately awash in memories of my first listening of this fantastic record. Back in our college days, Glono founder, Jake Brown, was away on foreign study in Scotland and had left me his entire CD collection for safekeeping. Totaling less than a hundred CDs, Jake’s collection still dwarfed my meager assortment of Beatles, Smiths and Stone Roses disks. My collection was reigned in by my seemingly endless state of destitution and I was forever borrowing disks from Jake. Now I had them all together and I was going to listen to every damned one.

I was going to use this time to catch up with the old boy. His collection was always more mature and diverse than mine. Though I was always hip to the good stuff, I never owned it and my exposure was limited to selections on mix tapes. Now, I was going to take the time to get to really know the stuff I’d only ever really had a glimpse.

Rummaging through the box less than an hour after Jake’s plane headed to the UK, I found not-so-golden oldies like Nancy Sinatra and the Jackson 5, the latter of which introduced me to soul music. Rare UK Import CDs quickly found their way to mix tapes I made for the Indie Kids at Denny’s. The real discovery though was a collection of disks from the pioneers of both Punk and New Wave like The Modern Lovers, the Pretenders and finally the Velvet Underground. That fall is when my fascination with VU was born.

I think most people discover the Velvets in college. It’s a time for liberal thinking and acceptance of art as more than just an easy class. The Velvet Underground is the perfect catalyst for accepting art in rock. They serve as a Trojan Horse for underground ideals to sneak into suburbia with droning, driving rhythms that thinly veil the sexual/drug themes in good, honest Rock. It also introduced poetry in Rock in a way the bloated ramblings of Jim Morrison never could. Where the Doors were a fat, bearded howl of paganistic declarations and Jim Beam ballyhoo, the Velvets were sleek speed freaks with minimalistic ravings from pseudo bisexuals and Warhol ingenues. Though they were twenty-odd years gone by the time I’d found them, they were fresh and new and dangerous. And I loved them.

But time fades away and you discover new fascinations. Later that year I also discovered Neil Young and that obsession led me to alt.country and the founders of the No Depression genre, Uncle Tupelo. Soon, Tupelo split into Son Volt and Wilco, my current obsession. Listening to Wilco’s yet unreleased Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and its droning art rock leanings led me back to the Velvet Underground and those long fall nights listening alone in my room. I can still see the ceiling fan of my teenage bedroom swirling as the long notes and cryptic laments of VU swirl in my head. The Velvet Underground opened my mind to a different brand of Rock and Roll that has led me to the finest unheard bands in America and THAT has changed my life.

The Goldstars at the Edgewater Lounge

The Goldstars at the Edgewater Lounge

Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chicago

I had been planning on going to the Old Town School of Folk Music too see the Handsome Family. I also could have seen Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams at the Riviera. Instead, I went to a new bar on the far north side of Chicago to see a new garage rock band, the Goldstars. And I’m glad I did.

Unlike the majority of neo-garage bands, the Goldstars don’t have to double the tempo of the original sixties recordings in order to add energy to their covers, the bulk of which can be found on Rhino’s 1998 Nuggets box set. In fact, the Goldstars had originally called themselves “the Nuggets” and had planned on exclusively covering those songs. Fortunately, they decided against that idea and mixed in a handful of their own originals, most of which fit in perfectly between garage punk classics like the Rare Breed’s “Beg, Borrow and Steal” and Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Just Like Me.”

It’s a strange anachronism for guys in their thirties to perform a style of music that was created for and by teenagers. I suppose you could say the same about rock and roll in general, but there is something about sixties garage rock that just screams, “Puberty!” And that awkward, primitive, savagery is what makes the best garage punk stand up over time. You can feel the hormones out of control when you listen to anything on Crypt‘s Back from the Grave series. While the Goldstars are all too good on their instruments to really mimic the raw intensity of the original recordings, they infuse the songs with their own power-pop freshness.

They might not capture the awkwardness, but the Goldstars nail the spirit of fun. From their chincie star-shaped necklaces to the glittery fringe covering up the organ, the guys in the band were obviously into putting on a good show. And they did.

And the Edgewater Lounge is destined to become a great bar. It was recently opened by the former owner of Chicago’s famous Augenblick, which was closed down by the condo-hungry forces of gentrification. It’s got a great vibe, and it will only get better once they install their extra taps for the draft Rogue Ale. Yum.

Rock and roll can change your life.