New Weezer album

According to Karl’s Korner, the new Weezer album will be released May 15, with the single “Hash Pipe” coming out in April. I can’t imagine MTV with all their censorship playing a song with that title. Well, at least we’re going to have one more Weezer album…

Morton Downey, Jr. R.I.P.

So get this, Morton Downey Jr. is dead! Yep, lung cancer finally got him. I was a big fan of his in high school— proof that parents should regulate what their kids watch on TV. What I never knew about the Mouth was that he was the dude who wrote “Wipeout.” Freaking amazing. Remember the Fat Boys version?

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Okay, I’m adding this little note because it has been confirmed that the people at Salon are freaking idiots. Morton Downey Jr. no more wrote “Wipeout” than I wrote “Burn Hollywood Burn”. But hey, their rumor-mongering got this piece of news into the mix here at GloNo, so what the hey. If you want more details on this one, read the comments.

Lester Bangs reviews Bark

Just added another Lester Bangs review to the Features page. This time it’s of the Jefferson Airplane album, Bark from the November 11, 1971 issue of the Stone (which happens to also contain the first installment of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by “Raoul Duke”).

The next one will be a review of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality from the November 25, 1971 issue.

Continue reading Lester Bangs reviews Bark

Jake vs. the Kids

In the response string to Jake’s Weezer piece, Scott C. makes a point about the other kids at Weezer, the ones not named Jake Brown. Even though Jake was left feeling bewildered and let down by the rock show last Friday night, those young kids out there in the GA section, the ones getting crushed to the stage by their brethren behind them, they might have been feeling that tingling sensation of Real Rock for the very first time.

For many of them, I’m sure that Get Up Kids, Promise Ring, Ultimate Fakebook, and every other polite, emo/Superchunk-influenced pop band are the total shit right now. They can’t get enough of those plaintive harmonies wrapped up in crunching power chords and jarring time changes. Maybe some of those kids even bought Weezer tickets mostly to see Get Up Kids, with only a vague, early 90s recollection of the headliners.

Because let’s face it. Weezer hasn’t exactly been cranking out the albums Three Dog Night style. Albeit, there’s some record company ass-fucking occurring behind the scenes. But nonetheless, any Weezer fans under the age of 22 probably got into them secondhand.

So, why did they dig them on Friday?

Because Weezer really is at the forefront of the emo movement, whether anyone likes it or not. Just because you don’t record for Merge, or espouse self-righteous vegan propaganda from the stage doesn’t mean that you can’t be a solid musical influence. Keep in mind that the Pixies recorded for a major, too. Weezer’s endearing mixture of chugging riffs and Frankie Lymon-esque harmonies deserve just as much credit for the current crop of Emo-Pop Young Turks as does Mac Macaughan and his fellow Superchunk-ers. Shit, he and Rivers Cuomo even sort of look alike.

So imagine that you’re a 19yo indie-rocking undergrad, at the Aragon to see Get Up Kids, one of your favorite bands. You love what they do with their dueling guitars, fast chord changes, and Matt Pryor’s earnest vocals. So you’re shitting your pants when they take the stage and rock the joint. Everyone’s pushing you from behind, but you don’t care because you want to be as close as you can to the band. Other peoples’ sweat is all over your shirt and neck. Some guy behind you keeps poking your ear with his omnipresent goat’s head finger salute. And you haven’t seen your buddies since “Ten Minutes.” But you don’t care, because it’s a Real Rock moment, and you love it.

Now imagine that Weezer takes the stage next, and that moment happens again.

Weezer’s record company is tangling with the band over their new album’s material. “No clear single,” the A&R wonks say. Well, if a sold-out tour and a bunch of young kids (with disposable income) in the crowd don’t suggest a strong following, I’m not sure what does. Here’s hoping that Weezer climbs back into its rightful place on the Real Rock Mantle when the record finally comes out.

JTL

Weezer at the Aragon

What did I expect?

I had been waiting to see Weezer in concert for eight years. They’re one of my favorite bands. I think Pinkerton might be the best album of the nineties. Seriously.

I didn’t get to see them on their last little tour because I had no idea it was going to sell out as quickly as it did. This is a band who hasn’t released an album since 1996 and hasn’t had a hit since “Buddy Holly” in 1995. And suddenly they’re selling out shows in four and a half minutes. Back when they were on MTV, the only touring they did was as the opening act for mediocre acts like No Doubt.

So in November when I heard about the Yahoo Outloud tour I was all over that shit, checking the website every fifteen seconds until the tickets finally went on sale. I ended up scoring tickets for the Chicago show. This was back in November and the show was last night. I had been waiting a long time to see Weezer.

Is that why I wasn’t blown away by them? Were my expectations too high? I don’t even really know what I was expecting, but something left me feeling a little let down. Maybe it was the short set. They didn’t play for very long, and they didn’t dig very deep into their repertoire, leaving out all of their great b-sides and rarities except for “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” which is a great song from the Angus soundtrack. Where were “Jamie,” “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams,” and “Suzanne”?

But that’s not it. I don’t expect every band to be Bruce Springsteen and play all their obscurities over an exhausting four-hour set. And I don’t really mind letting a band play whatever they want to. Who am I to create a set list? Plus, they played a handful of new songs that all sounded good. So what was it that disappointed me?

All the songs sounded just like they sound on the albums, right down to the guitar solos. That’s sort of annoying, but hey, they sound great on the albums, so why should I bitch about that? They jumped around and acted goofy enough, the stage looked cool enough, and they played well enough, so what am I bitching about? What did I want?

I wanted to feel the thrill, the magic of a great rock show. One of those experiences that blows your head off. But I left the theatre, walked across the street to the Green Mill, drank a few draft Pabsts, and enjoyed the smooth Hammond sounds of a local jazz combo.

Random thoughts on a Saturday

Random thoughts on a Saturday morning…

So I am currently ensconced in the Ritz Carlton hotel on Amelia Island, off the coast of J-ville, Fla. Working… or something like it. Perhaps the accurate way to describe it would be, “earning my paycheck,” since this hardly passes for work, even in our spoiled-rotten society. I’m here for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which, if you care about antique cars, you already know about. If you don’t care about cars, more power to you, I’m not even going to explain.

So yesterday I flew here in the morning because I had to attend a party at 6pm, at which I drank prodigious amounts of free Heineken and talked about old cars. But since I didn’t have a whole lot to do in the afternoon (rain, antique cars and photography don’t mix), I ordered up one of those movies on the Spanktrovision.

‘Cept I ordered Almost Famous instead of one of the Caught From Behind series. Two hours and about 50 “Fuck yeah!”s screamed out loud at the TV set while making the sign of the devil with both hands raised above my head, my only lament is that I had no lighter with me. God, I love Stillwater, but that is the obvious line. Now I’m not going to go into some great marvelous ranting about why this movie is a must see for anyone who’s reading this Web site—just look at our freakin’ title. “Rock and Roll can change your life” is right. It did and it still does, despite the fact that Lester Bangs proclaimed it dead before I was even born (according to Crowe, if you believe that this flick is an autobiography of sorts).

What I am going to say is that for those of you who have your doubts about the veracity of the scenes played out with the band, you know, the Stillwater-on-tour-with-the-journalist stuff, well, as Orson Welles was like to say, It’s All True. No, I was not hanging with Cameron when he was a teenager (we’ll have to chalk that one up to a fantasy for the time machine), but I’m a “journalist” right now, so I know. That’s what my life is like. Just replace the rock stars with old white dudes who buy and sell and design and build and race cars. (And unfortunately, replace the Band Aids with auto industry flacks who, like the party girls of the ’70s, want nothing more than to screw you.)

The point is that I travel all over the country/world, being wined, dined, and ass-kissed by a bunch of people who all want the same thing as Jeff Bebe (nice job, BTW, Jason Lee)—to be made to look cool. And the auto people I run with, despite their aged-ness, their honkey-ness, even their corporate-ness, are cool, to me. I am an auto nut, a gearhead, a race fan—but I’m never going to be one of them. I’m a hanger-on. I go to the parties and I’m the guy getting introduced, not the guy introducing. You, reading this right now, have a much better chance of being my friend than any of these people. Because in the end, I am left with the words of Lester Bangs in the film echoing in my head: “Be honest. Be unmerciful.”

No one wants honesty. No one wants to be shown for what we all are, even the cool ones, especially the cool ones, the rock stars, the Ferraris. We’re all human, we all have silly pictures to post on Web sites. We’ve all done a lot of stupid things, we’re all decidedly not perfect, we all have Skeletons In The Closet. Corporations are just as susceptible to this fact of life as individuals. Somehow though, the ones that I deal with seem to think that creating the disconnect between reality (“The first rule of the [auto] industry is to make money.”) and perception (“Wow! Look at the all-new [Ford, Toyota, Cadillac, BMW, Dodge, Audi, etc.]! It’s the best car ever built.”) is the way to success. Denial of the Truth—as we learn from Russell in the flick—is not the way to fame and fortune or the cover of Rolling Stone. Yet this fact seems to be lost on most.

Which brings me to the next point, which brings me back to last night, after the party, after I had ordered room service (on The Man’s tab, of course). I watched Walter Kronkite on Larry King Live. I heard him—Kronkite—bemoan the lack of responsibility and adherence to basic journalistic principles (like Lester “said,” Be Honest, Be Unmerciful) in our contemporary era. I sat there, eating my Cobb salad, saddened by the fact that I know it to be true. I am a part of it.

There are so many people out there, claiming to be writers, claiming to be “journalists” that are only there for the parties, the free trips, the camaraderie, the fun. I can see through 99% of what passes for “news” or “journalism” these days—it’s nearly all dreck, a part of creating that disconnect that enforces images of perfection of all our idols, be they athletes, rock stars, politicians, or corporations.

Ever notice how journalism, as a word, has been replaced by the term “Media?” There’s a self-evident reason for this.

We’ve let corporations buy everything—they own Stillwater and Rolling Stone magazine now—and it’s become all too convenient of a world, devoid of anything real. If Russell was driven to getting his head full of acid and climbing on a roof in 1973, what would he do today?

To be continued…

NELLY FURTADO AT PARK WEST

It’s Nelly’s Party (Come Get It): NELLY FURTADO AT PARK WEST, 3/7/01

Will Nelly Furtado’s 21st century pop music bouillabaisse save America?

There were no flash pots, indoor fireworks, or multi-tiered stages. She wasn’t coming off a skin-tight appearance at The Super Bowl. And the only click track she needed was the beat of her two drummers. On Wednesday night in Chicago, Nelly Furtado brought her own brand of girl-powered pop to an audience in dire need of a real-rock transfusion.

All of 22, Nelly Furtado already has four major Juno awards in her native Canada. “Woah, Nelly!,” her domestic debut, is lodged at 64 on the Billboard 200 and climbing. And all this despite limited US airplay and exposure. It’s a damn shame. Furtado’s music combines the laid-back hippie vibe of Edie Brickell with the urban beats and slick production of Lauryn Hill or Macy Gray. She could be compared with Fiona Apple’s cabaret approach to pop, but she has none of Fiona’s bile-spitting anger. The world isn’t bullshit for Nelly. In fact, she seems to love it. Her songs are imbued with a sunny sense of themselves, which translates live to an easygoing sexiness that’s refreshing in a climate of pedantic aftermarket popstars.

Dressed simply in jeans and a tank top (no red unitards here), Furtado took the stage promptly at 8:15, fronting her male 5-piece band with a remote mic that let her skip around like a Canadian/Portuguese imp. Though her jaunty stage moves were a bit Gwen-like, they weren’t tripped out. She was obviously enjoying herself, and probably trying also to spice up a somewhat tepid crowd. While Furtado’s voice – a shimmering tool that can go high, low, and in between – was the star of the show, her band did its part to replicate the slick production of “Woah, Nelly!” Remember Andrew Farris, the ubiquitous keyboard player from INXS who seemed to play every instrument at once? Nelly’s keyboard guy saw him too. Often playing two keyboards while at the same time backing Nelly up with synthesized harmony, he was the guts of the band. With his electronics taking such a prominent role, the rest of the band suffered a little. When the guitar man strapped on his Strat, it was non-existent in the mix. But they were still a band, and she was still singing all her own stuff, which is light years beyond your average TRL artist. It’s tough to sing into the mic from the audience at a Britney concert.

As the night moved along, the upbeat material fared better. When Nelly and her band gathered on stools with acoustic instruments (including a crazy thing involving a long stick and what looked like a cantaloupe) to perform a few traditional Portuguese numbers, the bathroom lines lengthened. Which wasn’t surprising. Despite widespread critical acclaim, Furtado’s music has taken awhile to crack the American market, and has done so without the normal publicity juggernaut of KISS-FM airplay and mall appearances. So when she cranked up “Shit On The Radio (Remember The Days),” the (mostly underage female) crowd responded by shouting back the chorus. I realized then why the line for beer had been so short all night.

Nelly is good for American music. She has no use for Swedish songsmiths, oversexed posturing, or vapid layouts in Tiger Beat. Her approach to music is similar to countrywoman Sarah McLachlan’s, only without the adult-contemporary aftertaste. It ain’t no thing for her to switch from soulful high notes into gritty rap, which she pulls off with admirable flow. While the music sometimes enters over-produced, Mattel Sinsonic Drums territory, the slickness never overpowers Furtado’s voice or lyrics (which she writes). Watching her lead the audience in the chanting chorus to “Turn Off The Light,” it was easy to imagine her as a more organic Britney. While the new Material Girl and her ilk desperately try to extend their pyrotechnic fantasy ride, girls like Nelly are out there doing it for the kids, and with all the right moves: A little bit urban, a little bit hippie, and completely 21st century.

JTL

Rock and roll can change your life.