Friday, December 31, 2010

Eleven

So here we are, about half an hour before we hit the New Year. The girls are asleep upstairs and Deb's asleep on the couch...just like every other night. I'd say it was a pretty good year for the most part. We're all happy and healthy and gainfully employed (except for the kids), so that's a positive.

I always have similar New Year's resolutions that I mostly fail to keep every year. I'm starting off 2011 by going sugar-free for the foreseeable future. Got a little flabby over the last few months, so I want to get in better shape. I'm not doing a spring marathon, but want to do a couple of half-marathons and try to get faster in shorter races. I may do a fall marathon. I'm also thinking of actually taking guitar lessons, since I never can stick to practicing enough to get any good. Other than that, I want to keep writing and keep doing the podcast every week. And of course, to keep doing my best at the whole father and husband thing. That's the most important one, and the one I've actually been able to keep consistently over the last 10 years.

Party it up:

Last Days

Ah, 2010, we hardly knew ye. The year flew by, as they all seem to do. And now, before the year's up, it's time for my annual roundup of my favorite music of the year. Listeners of CompCon have already heard my discussion with Senor Breitling of the top rock of 2010 (check out parts 1, 2 and 3), but that was recorded in early November and my list has changed somewhat since then. Not radically, but it's different. Plus here, I'm expanding my list to the top 15 because, well, I can.

So let's get on to it, then:

15. The Besnard Lakes--The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night
Everything this band does is cool. Heady, atmospheric soundscapes that slow build into majestic rock epics, like a combination of Pink Floyd instrumentation with Beach Boys harmonies. Definitely a band made for headphones.



14. Girl Talk--All Day
Released for free download on November 15, Gregg Gillis' latest samplesplosion is a masterful collection that features a mind-blowing 373 samples (according to WiggityPedia). There are plenty of folks releasing free mixtapes these days, but Gillis is the mashup maker of choice for nerds who like to get their rock mixed with hip hop. Opening track "Oh No" gets off to a great start with a "War Pigs" sample and branches out in a ridiculous number of directions within the same song. Tons of fun.



13. LCD Soundsystem--This is Happening
Bandleader James Murphy has been releasing terrific dance-rock albums (and even Nike Plus workout jams) for years now, and this continues that streak. You can hear a definite Roxy Music influence on this one, especially in Murphy's vocals. "Drunk Girls" is a classic track, but just about every song on this album is an extended jam in the best way possible.



12. Drive-By Truckers--The Big To-Do
DBT is a band that has transcended the genres that it gets slotted into: Southern rock, alt-country, straightahead rock. The band is extremely prolific (a new album, Go-Go Boots, is set to be released soon) and is a true live force. The song "This Fucking Job" certainly resonated as the recession wore on in 2010, and The Big To-Do found DBT getting back to a rock sound over the quieter, country-influenced songs on its previous longplayer, Brighter Than Creation's Dark. Gotta love the triple-guitar attack.



11. Les Savy Fav--Root for Ruin
LSF is another band that has been consistently producing terrific albums for the last decade. Root for Ruin is chock full of catchy rock songs led by frontman Tim Harrington's deranged vocals (dude's even crazier in concert).



10. Los Campesinos!--Romance is Boring
Los Camp are an exciting young band from the UK that has mastered whisper-to-a-scream dynamics and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink instrumentation as it tears through this album. The band has undergone some lineup changes in the last year, but if this record is any indication, we can expect big things in the years to come. They can soft and they can rock shit up with the best of 'em. Terrific live act, too.



9. Spoon--Transference
This band gets my vote for band of the 2000s. Every album they've released has been a winner, and Transference is no exception. After the success of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, you could have expected Spoon to continue along that more commercial path. But to their credit, Britt Daniel and the band opted for more experimental, sparse terrain. It's still a very listenable album, but there are no "Underdog 2" Billy Joel-esque singalongs to be found. Instead, dig choppy rockers like "Written in Reverse."



8. The Henry Clay People--Somewhere on the Golden Coast
This was a late addition to my best-of list because I only picked it up in late November, but man, what a great rock record. They wear their influences on their sleeves: Replacements, Kinks, Springsteen. This is the Hold Steady album I wish the Hold Steady had released this year. Rockity rock rock.



7. Arcade Fire--The Suburbs
A great bounceback album for the band. Not that Neon Bible sucked or anything, but The Suburbs really hits all those Arcade Fire high points: Majestic songs, stirring vocals, anthemic chords. You know, the good stuff.



6. Black Mountain--Wilderness Heart
These Western Canadian rockers deliver a great collection of heavy Sabbath-style crunchers mixed with hippie-leaning acoustic janglers. It's all the good parts of '70s rock done up right for 2010. Singers Stephen McBean and Amber Webber provide good counterpoints while all the rock craziness goes on around them.



5. The Black Keys--Brothers
This guitar-drums duo has been churning out the blues-rock for about 10 years now, but this was the year they hit it big. In addition to being all over rock radio, their songs were licensed Moby-style in every conceivable fashion: TV shows, movies, commercials, and anything else they could think of. Good for them. It's probably the best way to make money these days. The commercial appeal doesn't change the fact the Black Keys still rock. There's more of a soul/R&B feel to this one, but the basic sound hasn't changed. And that's a good thing.



4. Superchunk--Majesty Shredding
On their first album in nine years, Superchunk sounds like they haven't missed a beat. From the opening song "Digging for Something," the band just kicks into high gear and rocks the hell out of this album. Mac McCaughan's vocals seem even higher now than they were when the band was in its mid-90s heyday. A welcome comeback that hopefully will continue for years to come.



3. Grinderman--Grinderman 2
Nick Cave's rawk act returns with a killer follow-up to its killer debut album. This moved up from #8 when Jay and I did our countdown back in November, mainly because I've been listening to it a lot since then. More garage rock combined with Cave's twisted literary bent. Another month or two and this may have topped my list. Just devastating stuff.



2. Titus Andronicus--The Monitor
Another powerful live act that combines literary conceits with ass-crunching rock. Ostensibly about the Civil War, this album jumps from battlefield tales to modern-day breakup stories. Manages to take a pretentious-sounding concept and make it kick butt.






1. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists--The Brutalist Bricks
Another favorite artist of mine for the consistent quality of his studio albums and live shows, Ted Leo's latest album combines all the great things we've come to expect from the man: rousing rockers, impassioned vocals, that whole Clash-meets-Thin Lizzy vibe he generates. But with The Brutalist Bricks, Leo seems to have found another level of urgency. Catchy and kickass.


Notes: I had originally included the XX's xx on my top 10 for the podcast, but since it came out in August 2009, I bumped it for this list. Still, an excellent album that I really enjoyed. Another 2009 release that I only discovered this year is We Were Promised Jetpacks' These Four Walls.

Honorable mentions: Gaslight Anthem--American Slang; Neil Young--Le Noise; The 20/20 Project--Employees of the Year; Japandroids--No Singles; The Fall--Your Future, Our Clutter; High on Fire--Snakes for the Divine; Iron Maiden--The Final Frontier; Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings--I Learned the Hard Way; Jesse Malin and the St. Mark's Social--Love it to Life; The Hold Steady--Heaven is Whenever.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mixology: Angry and Old--Briggy Turns 40

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes (or CDs) I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Angry and Old: Briggy Turns 40 (4/4/05)

Two posts in one day and they're both about my buddy Dave Brigham. When he reads this in a month or so, he'll be flattered. I made this mix back in 2005 in honor of Briggy's 40th birthday. Dave's wife Beth threw a great party at their place, so I whipped this up as part of his gift. Being old and such, I've made a few such mixes in the last few years for friends of mine (as well as for my own 40th).

It helped that I was very familiar with Dave's musical likes from working side-by-side with him for a few years at the ol' Webnoize concern. Hence the robot references by GBV, Kraftwerk and Brainiac, as well as the tunes from At the Drive-In, Fu Manchu, Von Bondies and Bullet Lavolta. This was all stuff we were digging back in '99-'01.

Making mixes is always fun, but it's especially fun when you're making them for someone else. I know Briggy dug the CD and I like to pop it in the hi-fi from time to time because it kicks an appropriate amount of arse. Which is good when you've hit the big 4-0. No Seals & Crofts to be found on this compilation.

Happy Birthday to Me - Cracker

Birthday Cake - Cibo Matto

Old Man - Neil Young

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo

Gold Star for Robot Boy - Guided by Voices

The Robots - Kraftwerk

I am a Cracked Machine - Brainiac

Quatro Fromagii - Bea Arthur's Revenge

One Armed Scissor - At the Drive-In

Weird Beard - Fu Manchu

Freedom Rock - Frank Black

It Came from Japan - Von Bondies

Swan Dive - Bullet Lavolta

On a Rope - Rocket from the Crypt

Romantic Rights - Death from Above 1979

The Enthusiast - Mission of Burma




We are the robots:


Romantic Rights:

The Supersonic Storybook

Writing a book ain't easy. Talk to anyone who's actually written one, or someone who's tried and failed. Part of my job requires me to edit books, albeit ones that are specifically written for folks in the medical profession. So I know how much work goes into putting a book together.

That's why it's so cool that my good buddy Dave Brigham has actually gone and got a book of short stories published. A decade in the making, Dave's book "(C)rock Stories: Million-Dollar Tales of Music, Mayhem and Immaturity" is now for sale through Booklocker. I'm proud to say I was around when Dave first started working on these stories, back when we worked together at Webnoize at the turn of the century. I read some early drafts, but the stories have evolved a lot since then.

Dave and I talked about how the book came together on my podcast recently; you can hear all about it in parts 1 and 2 of the conversation. If you like rock music, road trips and good writing, you'll want to pick up this labor of love. I already ordered my copy...what are you waiting for?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 156: At the Edge of the Scene

This week on the podcast, it's part 2 of my conversation with special guest Matt Phillion as we discuss the making of his new indie film Certainly Never. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



Topics:

- Scheduling filming is a tricky art

- Sometimes you have to cut scenes you like

- Distribution: Film festivals, Netflix, hoping to create indie buzz

- "Chasing the unicorn"

- Directing is Matt's film school

- Movie was Matt's most satisfying and most draining accomplishment

- Salem hotel thought crew was filming ghost hunter TV show

- Crew became close-knit group after filming

- Dealing with bystanders

- Now Matt's returning favors by acting in other folks' projects

- Putting together the soundtrack

- Missed all deadlines for 2010 festivals

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

The Twilight Singers - On the Corner

Middle Brother - Me, Me, Me

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - No

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The Twilight Singers song is on the forthcoming album Dynamite Steps on Sub Pop Records. Download the song for free at Soundcloud.

The Middle Brother song is from the band's self-titled album on Partisan Records, where the song was given away for free as part of a Christmas promotion.

The Ryan Adams and the Cardinals song is on the double album III/IV on Pax-Am Records. Download the song for free at Amazon.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mixology: December Decibels

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes (or CDs) I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

December Decibels (12/07)

Part of the fun of doing some of these mix CD writeups is having to figure out what some of the songs are, since I don't have tracklistings for most of them and the iTunes playlists no longer exist. I still have all the MP3s, though, so eventually I figure it out. I only have the full album for 11 of the 19 songs on this mix, so some digging was required.

The one I had the most trouble with is "Fader" by Todd Fancey, whose day job is as a guitarist for the New Pornographers. I have the album but hadn't listened to it in a few years, and the song is a dead ringer for one of the more mellow Foo Fighters tracks. So I was going through the songs on the 2007 Foo album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, but couldn't find this song. Googled some of the song's lyrics but that didn't help. Took me four listens before I realized I could sort my iTunes by song time and eventually found that it wasn't Dave Grohl's band at all.

A similar case with the song "X Marks the Spot" by Frankel, an artist whose sound is reminiscent of many others and another song I hadn't heard in a long time. It took me a while to figure out who he was. Pretty sure I downloaded the track from an MP3 blog. And really, it's a great song.

For the most part, this mix is pretty midtempo, but it's good midtempo. Besides, the opening song "Tyrants" by Black Mountain is 8 minutes of epic asskickery that can sustain you through the remaining 65 minutes.

Tyrants - Black Mountain
Pill Gone Girl - Robert Pollard
Rich Woman - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Shotgun Wedding - Jason Isbell
Man in the Long Black Coat - Mark Lanegan
The Wicked Messenger - Black Keys
Is There a Ghost - Band of Horses
Ada - The National
Fader - Fancey
How Legends Love - Ginger
Delivery (demo) - Pete Doherty
Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem
All I Need - Radiohead
Stop Drop and Roll - Foxboro Hot Tubs
1957 - Buck 65
Paper Planes - M.I.A.
The Silence Between Us - Bob Mould
X Marks the Spot - Frankel
Foam Hands - Destroyer





Tyrants:


1957:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unsung: Everyday Sunshine

Unsung is a new feature in which I take a look at a pop culture phenomenon (be it music, TV, literary, whatever) that has been forgotten or underappreciated.

In the early '90s, I discovered the joy of buying used CDs. First off, they were cheap and if you waited a few months after an album came out, you could usually find it because someone who paid full price had either tired of it or taped it and sold it to a record store. I had two favorite sources of used CDs: The Record Exchange in Salem and Rockit Records in Saugus (R.I.P.).

A particularly good haul from Rockit in late '91 resulted in my introduction to two great bands. One was Soundgarden, whose Badmotorfinger simultaneously kicked my ass and freaked me out. That album introduced the band to a lot of folks, getting them on Lollapalooza the following year and setting the stage for the commercial success of Superunknown.

But the other album I picked up that day wasn't quite as successful, although it did fairly well on rock radio and MTV: Fishbone's The Reality of My Surroundings. Released in April 1991, the album reached #49 on the Billboard top 200 chart and was the band's best critical and commercial success by far (they're still at it). It followed up 1988's excellent Truth and Soul (which I only heard years later). The band got its start as teenagers with 1985's Fishbone EP, which featured an emphasis on punk, funk and ska (the band's members played sax, trombone and trumpet), but as it progressed, the sound grew harder-edged.

By the time Reality came out, Fishbone had incorporated a healthy dose of hard rock/metal guitar into the mix, no doubt inspired by fellow black rockers Living Colour and 24/7 Spyz. As a fan of both those bands and so-called "punk funk" acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More (and ska acts like the Specials and Bim Skala Bim), I was intrigued by Fishbone. So when I saw the CD at Rockit, I grabbed it.



Stylistically, the album's all over the place, a big pot of rock jambalaya, mixing all the aforementioned ingredients. The standout songs are "Everyday Sunshine" and "Sunless Saturday," both of which were released as singles and represent the band at their best. "Everyday Sunshine" is a funky Sly Stone homage, upbeat and energetic, while "Sunless Saturday" is darker and heavier, with its lyrics describing inner-city despair. Frontman Angelo Moore is adept at bouncing back and forth between all these styles, often within the same song.



The band's heavy side comes through on songs like "Fight the Youth" and "Behavior Control Technician," while "Pressure" is a classic punk-funk hybrid. Drug dependence is explored in the spoken word piece "Junkie's Prayer" and the reggae of "Pray to the Junkiemaker."



Fishbone went on to play on "Saturday Night Live" and developed a reputation as a killer live act, appearing 0n the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. That was the only time I saw them play, but unfortunately I couldn't enjoy the show because I was too busy getting kicked in the head by all the stupid crowd surfers at Quonset Point, R.I.

After that, I kind of lost track of the band. In the subsequent 19 years since Reality came out, Fishbone has released four studio albums and a couple of live albums and has toured like crazy, but has never reached the peak it did on Reality. It's too bad, because those first few albums were pretty great. The band ended up going through a rotating cast of members; currently, only three of the original six are in the band.

My interest in the band rekindled with the news that there's a new documentary about Fishbone called Everyday Sunshine that's been screening around the country. There's a terrific look at the band and the film in the latest episode of The Field Negro Guide to Arts and Culture, a podcast from Living Colour's Vernon Reid and comedian W. Kamau Bell (which is an excellent podcast, BTW).



Fishbone has influenced everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Living Colour to No Doubt, but alas has seen nowhere near the success of those acts. Hopefully the documentary will shine a little spotlight on the greatness of this band.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 155: I Turn My Camera On

Special guest Matt Phillion joins me on the podcast to discuss his indie film Certainly Never. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



The show notes...

Topics:

- Enjoy the relaxing sounds of my fish tank in background

- Matt did some acting in school

- Started acting again 5-6 years ago

- Equipment is expensive but affordable

- Matt wrote script for Certainly Never in summer 2009, filmed in summer 2010

- Film was response to Breakfast at Tiffany's

- Film clocks in at 85 minutes

- Basically a second full-time job this summer

- Filmed two weekday nights, every weekend from mid-July to late September

- Matt financed film himself

- Goal for film is to get the actors future work

- Had to replace lead actress because of scheduling conflict

- Hoping to get film in festivals

- Hyper-aware of sound

- Film at a bar when Mercedes commercial crew showed up outside

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

R.E.M. - Discoverer

East River Pipe - Cold Ground

Los Campesinos - Kindle a Flame in Her Heart

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The R.E.M. song is on the forthcoming album Collapse Into Now on Warner Bros. Records. Find out more and download the song for free (in exchange for your e-mail address) at R.E.M. HQ.

The East River Pipe song is from the forthcoming album We Live in Rented Rooms on Merge Records. Download the song for free from Merge (right click and "save as").

The Los Campesinos song is a special Christmas tune the band is giving away at its website.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Simply Unacceptable

Hola. Another week has come and gone and I haven't done much with the blog, and I apologize for that. Life has been super-busy lately; I'm so fried after getting out of work that there's not much brainpower left for much blog creativity.

I have a lot of ideas, just little time or inclination to carry them out. Thankfully, I've been able to keep the podcast rolling each week with new episodes, and I've got the next five or so mapped out. So I'm not totally out of it.

Anyhoo, it's getting late and I'm going to catch some shuteye, but rest assured more is coming. Hoping to crank out a couple of posts this weekend, even. Seriously!

Rock:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 154: Word Up!

Special guest Dave Brigham joins me again on the podcast for part 2 of our discussion about his new book, "(C)rock Stories: Million-Dollar Tales of Music, Mayhem and Immaturity." Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



The show notes...

Topics:

- One story grew out of trips to see the Butthole Surfers

- Turned into a tale of violence and road-trippin'

- Dave saw the Surfers at the Channel in 1987

- Created (C)rock-related t-shirts for sale

- Slogan is "Rock + Fiction = (C)rock"

- More than 100 bands mentioned in the book

- National Novel Writing Month

- Dave was working on a UFO concept album that started turning into a book

- Gratuitous Humpmuscle Pete reference

- Dave ponders new marketing strategies

- Jay's mom needs to talk to "the Gmail people"

- Look for the book soon: Makes a good Christmas/New Year's/MLK Day present (via Booklocker)

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

The Dears - Blood

The Drive-By Truckers - Used to be a Cop

J. Mascis - Not Enough

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The Dears song is on the forthcoming album Degeneration Street on DangerBird Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Drive-By Truckers song is from the band's forthcoming album Go-Go Boots on ATO Records. Find out more and download the song for free from the band's website.

The J. Mascis song is on his forthcoming album Several Shades of Why on Sub Pop, where you can download the song for free.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mixology: Look Out! Soul is Back

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Look Out! Soul is Back (August 2007)

Ah, the summer of 2007. I was just about to hit the big 4-0 and a young politician named Joe Piscopo was considering running for governor of New Jersey (actually, not sure about that last part). This mix is one of the monthly playlists I've been compiling in iTunes for the last several years (although the ones I never burned to CDs are unfortunately gone since I switched computers).

It's a combination of new stuff I stumbled across through MP3 blogs and songs from albums I recently purchased. The title track is from The Nation of Ulysses, a Dischord band I totally missed when they were together in the early '90s. I had just read a George Pelecanos book (Shame the Devil) that referenced the band and I was intrigued enough to download 13-Point Program to Destroy America from eMusic. Total and utter ass-kickery. It's a shame they broke up after only a few albums.

I put the mix together throughout the month, but wrapped it up in the last week of August, when I was on vacation. We didn't go anywhere, just hung out and enjoyed Deb's last week of summer vacation.

Several of the songs ended up being used in my podcast, which by the end of August '07 was at episode 36; three years later, the show's up to 153 episodes and counting. A personal favorite was Mark Lanegan's "One Hundred Days," which featured Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on vocals. Great slow-burn tune. And I enjoyed M.I.A.'s "Hit That" primarily for the shout-out to "Rumpshaker."

Captain Pasty - Black Francis
Only Anesthesia - Blake Morgan
Don't Make Me a Target - Spoon
Take Me to the Riot - Stars
Myriad Harbour - New Pornographers
Look Out! Soul is Back - The Nation of Ulysses
How Long Do I Have to Wait for You? - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Hit That - M.I.A.
Like I Give a Care - You Say Party! We Say Die!
Down Boy - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I'll Thank You Later - Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right
Hate and Jealousy - Lucero
The Equestrian - Les Savy Fav
Afterburner - Winnebago Deal
Paper Thin - Mondo Generator
Christian Brothers - Queens of the Stone Age
One Hundred Days - Mark Lanegan Band
Mistaken for Strangers - The National
Common People - William Shatner
Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen

Look out!


One Hundred Days:


Rumpshaker:

Monday, December 06, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 153: Everyday I Write the Book

I'm joined on the podcast by special guest Dave Brigham for part 1 of our discussion about the making of his new book, "(C)rock Stories: Million-Dollar Tales of Music, Mayhem and Immaturity." Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



The show notes...

Topics:

- Book to be published by print-on-demand house Booklocker

- Brick-and-mortar bookstores can order copies

- Ten years in the making

- Dave learns about SEO

- Started with Dave remembering all the bands he'd seen

- Wrote stories based on concert experiences

- Later combined truth and fiction

- Dave hates lame memoirists like James Frey

- Wrote 18 stories initially

- Book should be available for order before Christmas

- Booklocker reviewed book before agreeing to publish it

- Dave's doppelganger: Actor Anthony Edwards

- First stories revolve around Rick Derringer, Foghat

- Narrator reconciles punk rock with love of classic rock

- Book's really about friendships

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Weekend - Coma Summer

Scarce - The Hurricane

The Sheila Divine - We are an Island

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The Weekend song is on the album Sports on Slumberland Records. Download the song for free at IODA Promonet:

SportsWeekend
"Coma Summer" (mp3)
from "Sports"
(Slumberland Records)

More On This Album



The Scarce song is a free download released through the band's Reverb Nation page.

The Sheila Divine song is on a free download available from the band's Bandcamp page.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

I Gotta Move

I'm a creature of routine. Every morning, I pretty much know what I'm going to do. And for 13 of the past 15 years, that morning routine has included driving to Marblehead to go to work. It's an 8-mile drive that takes about 30 minutes because of the twists and turns along the way from Beverly and through Salem on my way to Mhead. There's no quick, direct way to get there. This is New England. That's just the way it is.

Tomorrow, my routine will change. I'm still working at the same company, but we've moved to Danvers, which is the next town over. My commute will be a scant 8-10 minutes on back roads, over almost before it begins. And really, a 25- to 30-minute commute isn't that bad, especially when you consider what some folks have to do each day. When I was working at Webnoize in Cambridge, I was commuting more than an hour each way between commuter rail, subway and walking. After doing that for a few years, going back to Marblehead was a blessing. But still, after so many years of the same commute to the same crappy old building, this is a welcome change.

Our offices were spread out in an old warehouse building that had a leaky roof, mold-laden walls and a parking lot that flooded regularly. We're moving to a relatively new office park; the offices and cubicles were built in the last few months. Alas, the biggest adjustment for me will be going from having my own office to being in a cube. It won't be a total shock, because I spent eight years of my career working in newsrooms that had no walls whatsoever. But it has been nine years since the last one, so this will take some getting used to.

I'm not complaining, though. Change is good. I'm looking forward to a new routine, in a new town, new building, etc. I was in my last office for six years and it was amazing how much crap piled up. Just files and junk I never needed. I ended up tossing nearly all of it. It was pretty liberating. I'll certainly miss the privacy and the wall space, but at the same time it'll be a whole new adventure. Well, sort of new. I'll still be doing the same job, just in a different location.

I'll also have to come up with new running routes and find a new gym to work out in. There's a small gym in the office park with showers, but not much in the way of equipment. Again, a new adventure. It's going to be weird. But weird can be good, man.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mixology: Plan 9 Mix

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Plan 9 Mix (2007)

In recent years, I've been making mixes primarily based on new MP3s I listen to each month. But every so often, a special occasion arises that causes me to put more thought into my compilations. This is one such occasion. This mix came about because of a podcast I listened to fairly religiously, The Plan Nine Rock Show. Host Jasper Borgman asked listeners to send in mix CDs of what they were digging, so I decided to throw one together. The show's primarily about the garage rock and occasionally metal, so that's what I went with.

This mix is all over the place, with a few new songs (at the time) from the White Stripes, Grinderman, Mondo Generator, Mastodon and the Blood Brothers mixed in with classic stuff from the Stooges, Descendents, Def Leppard and Black Sabbath. Jasper never did mention the mix on his show, but the exercise was worthwhile because I still go back to this mix from time to time. There is much kicking of the proverbial arse going on throughout.

At the time, I was still a podcast neophyte and liked supporting and communicating with podcast hosts. I still do to a certain degree, because feedback is a great thing no matter how big your show is. Jasper only does the Plan Nine show occasionally, but he spends most of his podcast time on Good Clean Fun, a show he does with the great Michael Butler. That one's mostly talk and occasionally music, but I enjoy it just the same.

This mix is great for highway driving. Before you know it, 68 minutes have gone by and you've passed 37 cars and hopefully not been pulled over by a statie.

Loose Take 2 - The Stooges
Pretty Lightning - New Bomb Turks
Everything Sux - Descendents
Hi-Lites - Hot Snakes
Heart of a Rat - Rocket From the Crypt
Love Bomb - Grinderman
I'm Through with White Girls - The Dirtbombs
Bone Broke - White Stripes
Just Like the Rest - I Walk the Line
I Can't Get It - Hanoi Rocks
Rocket Queen - Guns n' Roses
Granite State Destroyer - Scissorfight
Colony of Birchmen - Mastodon
Wrathchild - Iron Maiden
Let It Go - Def Leppard
Neon Knights - Black Sabbath
Lie Detector - Mondo Generator
Nausea Shreds Yr Head - Blood Brothers
Pirate Love - Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers


Everything Sux:


Let It Go:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 152: The Year in Rock, Part 3

Special guest Jay Breitling joins me on the podcast for part 3 of our discussion about the best music of 2010. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



The show notes...

Topics:

- Breitling's #1

- Kumar's #1

- Disappointments

- Most anticipated releases of 2011: Destroyer, Dears, Twilight Singers, Johnny Foreigner, Yuck

- Breitling laments the demise of Run DMC

- New Radiohead album?

- Yuck makes a Scorpions video

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Even Heroes Have to Die

Los Campesinos - The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Bottled in Cork

Destroyer - Chinatown

Buffalo Tom - Arise, Watch

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The Ted Leo and the Pharmacists songs are on the album The Brutalist Bricks on Matador Records, where you can download the songs for free.

The Los Campesinos song is on the band's album Romance is Boring on Arts and Crafts. The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Romance Is BoringLos Campesinos!
"The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future" (mp3)
from "Romance Is Boring"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Napster
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album



The Destroyer song is on the forthcoming album Kaputt on Merge Records, where you can download the song for free (right click and "save as").

The Buffalo Tom song is on the forthcoming album Skins on Scrawny Records. Download the song for free at Stereogum.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Unsung: A Little is Enough

Unsung is a new feature in which I take a look at a pop culture phenomenon (be it music, TV, literary, whatever) that has been forgotten or underappreciated. In this first installment, I discuss Pete Townshend's solo work, specifically from 1980-1985.

There are rock legends, and then there's Pete Townshend. Beloved for his work as the driving force behind The Who, Townshend has been a rock icon for more than 40 years. Despite the deaths of original members Keith Moon and John Entwhistle, The Who continues to live on, playing the last Super Bowl halftime show in February 2010 and performing its Quadrophenia album in concert in March. There are tentative plans for another tour in 2011, but Townshend's ongoing problems with tinnitus has everything up in the air.

But one area that Townshend seems to have lost interest in is his solo career, which by the mid-1980s had him entrenched as one of the top contemporary rock artists of the time. His three albums--Empty Glass (1980), All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982) and White City:
A Novel (1985)--were critically and for the most part, commercially well-received. He had escaped the Who's shadow, something bandmates Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle were unable to do despite many attempts. The Who had disbanded after its 1982 "Schlitz Rocks America" farewell tour and Townshend was staking his place as a vital and modern artist. But after White City, he was unable to keep the momentum going.

Townshend originally released solo material in the early 1970s, encapsulated in three albums that were devoted to Indian spiritual leader Meher Baba. He also collaborated on a 1975 album with Ronnie Laine of the Faces. But it wasn't until 1980, two years after Moon's death, that Townshend released Empty Glass, considered by many to be his first real solo album. Today, the album is best remembered for the hit single "Let My Love Open the Door," which reached #9 on the U.S. singles chart and has been used in countless movies and TV shows. It's a light, synth-laden pop number that sounded absolutely unlike any Who song that had come before it. But the album is much more than that. Townshend explores the homoerotic overtones of the punk scene in "Rough Boys," a song he partially dedicated to the Sex Pistols. Daltrey was reported angry that Pete didn't save the song for The Who, but I can't picture Daltrey singing it:



"And I Moved" was originally written for Bette Midler and Townshend didn't change the gender of the person the narrator is longing for, which again probably tweaked a few Who fans who were wondering exactly what Townshend was saying here. Townshend also references his substance abuse problems on songs like "A Little is Enough," which equates his lover with heroin and/or booze, and "Empty Glass," which features the refrain "My life's a mess I wait for you to pass/I stand here at the bar, I hold an empty glass."

The following year, 1981, saw the release of the first Who album since Moon's death, Face Dances. Featuring Kenney Jones on drums, the album hit #4 on the U.S. charts and had FM radio hits with "You Better You Bet" (also one of the first videos ever played on MTV, which launched in August of that year) and "Another Tricky Day." I had it on vinyl and played the hell out of it, but it didn't have that familiar Who roar. It struck me as a continuation of the territory staked out by Empty Glass, which isn't a bad thing, but to this 13-year-old hard rock enthusiast, it didn't rock to the appropriate degree.

Townshend released All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes in June 1982. This record was tougher for rock radio to pin down, as it featured even more synth musings than its predecessor as well as spoken word sections. As a result, I didn't hear much of it until I ordered the album from the Columbia House record club. The song that best combines Townshend's old and new personas is "Slit Skirts," which is an autobiographical sounding, piano-heavy song that also builds up to rocking crescendos:



"The Sea Refuses No River" is a majestic tale of Townshend overcoming his heroin addiction, filled with religious allusions, while "Somebody Saved Me" and "Exquisitely Bored" also deal with the fallout from his drug problems. "Communication" is an uptempo, almost New Wavey take on, well, communication. "Stop Hurting People" works in some of that pesky spoken word. And of course, there's that ridiculous album title. It all added up to the album being a commercial failure (it hit #26 on the Billboard album chart) and drifting off into the ether. But there are some great songs on this record.

A few months after Chinese Eyes was released, the Who's final album, It's Hard, came out. This was less successful than Face Dances and continued the sound of that album. On the whole, the album was pretty unimpressive, although "Eminence Front" is a truly terrific song. The Who made the tour for this album its "final" jaunt, taking the Clash out as its opening act as sort of a passing of the torch. Sadly, the Clash didn't last much longer than the Who and never reformed.

It was a few years before Townshend was heard from again, but he returned with a vengeance. In November 1985, he released White City: A Novel, a concept album that focused on a London housing project similar to the one he grew up in. The album was accompanied by a short film based on the story; here's the first 10 minutes:



Townshend even went on Letterman to talk about it, although he didn't want to play that night:



Right from the start, the album's first single was a complete change. "Face to Face" was a punchy big band tune with Pete as carnival barker/bandleader, a horn section and backing vocalists and was about as different from a Who song as you can get. And it was terrific:



The rollicking live video was a hit on the MTV and the song was all over the radio. But Townshend didn't totally turn his back on rock. The album opener "Give Blood" featured David Gilmour on guitar and is as rocking as anything Townshend had done in the last 10 years; it also featured the murky bass noodlings of Pino Palladino, who would step in to fill the bass slot in the Who when Entwhistle died while on tour in 2002.

The bluesy "Secondhand Love" features some terrific Townshend guitar work and also had a great video to accompany it:



Townshend originally wrote "White City Fighting" for David Gilmour's album About Face, but it ended up fitting better on White City instead. "Come to Mama" closes out the album on a driving note, as the couple featured on the album finishes at odds with each other.

White City ended up going gold, even though its highest chart position was 26, the same as Chinese Eyes. "Face the Face" actually spawned a few dance remixes, and the popularity of the live big band videos led to a follow-up live album called Deep End: Live, which featured several Who songs and a great cover of English Beat's "Save It for Later":



So after the success and brilliance of White City, Townshend was poised for even greater things. Or so I believed, anyway. Alas, his only solo releases since then were 1989's The Iron Man, which was based on the children's story, and 1993's Psychoderelict, another concept album that revisits Townshend's old Lifehouse story (which was begun and then aborted in favor of the classic Who's Next album). It's a mish-mash of spoken word and a radio play that doesn't quite work. In between these projects, Townshend's been organizing various and sundry
Who reunions. But unfortunately, we never got a true follow-up to White City. Which is too bad, because it would have been neat to see where he would have gone next.

After all he's contributed to rock over the decades, Townshend certainly doesn't owe anybody anything. He's given us more timeless music than nearly any other rock artist. But it is interesting to wonder what he could have done if he'd continued on the solo path he'd forged in the 1980s.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mixology: Rock On, Rocker

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Rock On, Rocker (7/2/04)

This mix was made entirely from CD tracks because I still hadn't gotten on iTunes yet. I had just picked up a bunch of new CDs (remember when people used to buy CDs?) from Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Wilco and the Tragically Hip, so there was plenty of good new music to choose from.

The previous weekend we went down to Sesame Place, an amusement park not far from Philly, and I was listening to a bunch of the discs on the drive down and back. I also had recently purchased a CD from one of the first dates of the Pixies reunion tour, so that was represented here as well.

I had also subscribed to eMusic, which at the time was an all-you-can-eat service: unlimited downloads for a monthly fee. It was pretty great, and I discovered a lot of new indie music that way: !!!, the New Pornographers, McLusky, etc. I was also finding a lot of great bootlegs, like the Franz Ferdinand one I sampled for this mix. The French DJs yapping all over it just add to the enjoyment in my book.

All told, this mix was a good representation of that summer. I spent much of it changing diapers, as Lily was a few months old and Hannah was only 2. If I try hard enough, I can still smell that nasty trash bin we had designated just for diapers. Ugh.

The name of the mix came from a saying often used by my good friend Senor Breitling. Says it all, really.

Summer's Killing Us - The Tragically Hip
The Good Times are Killing Me - Modest Mouse
Take Me Out (live) - Franz Ferdinand
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Karazzee - !!!
So Says I - The Shins
At Least That's What You Said - Wilco
Who the Fuck? - PJ Harvey
Unmade Bed - Sonic Youth
Hunt Again - Mission of Burma
C'mon C'mon - Von Bondies
U-Mass (live) - Pixies
Can't Keep - Pearl Jam
The Laws Have Changed - The New Pornographers
Ball and Biscuit - White Stripes
Fix Up, Look Sharp - Dizzee Rascal
Wrong 'em Boyo - The Clash
Are You Done? - Consonant
KC Accidental - Broken Social Scene
Faster Gun - The Wrens

The good times are killing me:


Faster Gun:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 151: The Year in Rock, Part 2

Special guest Jay Breitling joins me on the podcast for part 2 of our discussion of the best music of 2010. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:



The show notes...

Topics:

- Breitling's #6

- Breitling schools us on the videogames and such

- Kumar's #6

- Breitling's #5

- eMusic's changing again

- Kumar's #5

- What's the deal with Mumford & Sons?

- Breitling's #4

- Kumar's #4

- Breitling's #3

- Kumar's #3

- Breitling's #2

- Kumar's #2

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Superchunk - Digging for Something

Everyone Everywhere - Obama House, Fukui Prefecture

Walter Schreifels - Arthur Lee's Lullabye

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The Superchunk song is on the album Majesty Shredding on Merge Records, where you can download it for free (right click and "save as").

The Everyone Everywhere song is on the band's self-titled album on Tiny Engines. Download it for free courtesy of Clicky Clicky.

The Walter Schreifels song is on the album An Open Letter to the Scene on Dine Alone Records. Download it for free courtesy of Clicky Clicky.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mixology: Otto's Hot Rock Pile

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Otto's Hot Rock Pile (or songs to crash a bus by) (8/14/02)

Well, it was bound to happen. After nearly a year of documenting the mix tapes I compiled, I've finally run out. I'm pretty sure there are a few more that I just haven't found yet, but for the time being, that's all of 'em. But a few years after my tape deck died in early 2000, I got my first CD burner. Which meant I was able to create mixes again, albeit ones without an A and B side. For about three years, I made mixes using a couple of different burners, ripping tracks from CDs. Then I downloaded iTunes for the first time and discovered the joy of playlists. I was making a monthly playlist of MP3s I had just downloaded and burned a lot of them to CD for a while, until the last two years or so, when I got lazy and just listened to them on iTunes. Alas, when our old PC was starting to croak a little (aka ye olde Blue Screen of Death), we had it wiped clean. Which unfortunately wiped out all my iTunes playlists. But I still have plenty of CD mixes to talk about here.

This particular mix was one of the first ones I burned, back in the summer of 2002. I wanted a mix of songs that just totally kick ass, regardless of whether I'd put them on mixes in the past. The name of the mix was a nod to metal-lovin' stoner Otto ("I like to get blotto") the bus driver from The Simpsons, although there was probably a lot of stuff on here that he probably would never listen to, like Fugazi, Mission of Burma, Big Black, Pavement, etc.

The song that probably best typifies the Otto mindset is one of the most rockin' songs of all time, Fu Manchu's "Evil Eye." Mainstream rock fans won't know the Fu, and I hadn't heard of them until late 1999 when I picked up a free cassette single previewing a couple of songs from the band's upcoming album King of the Road. I snagged it at the Webnoize 1999 conference in LA and immediately dug it and bought the previous album The Action is Go! "Evil Eye" is the opening song and just melts your brain from the get-go. Pure awesomeness.

Most of this mix came in handy when I was running the 2003 New York City Marathon. I put a good chunk of the songs on my old Rio 600 MP3 player; ended up listening the mix four times as I ran the race. It was a hot day for November and I needed that mix to keep my legs moving as I struggle through the last few miles. I think the song that got me the most fired up was Motorhead's "Killed by Death." It was as if Lemmy hisself was yelling at me to keep going.

You Didn't Need - Rollins Band
Unsung - Helmet
Bed for the Scraping - Fugazi
Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden
Negative Creep - Nirvana
In 'n Out of Grace - Mudhoney
Leash - Pearl Jam
I'll Stick Around - Foo Fighters
The Wagon - Dinosaur Jr.
Youth Against Fascism - Sonic Youth
That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate - Mission of Burma
What's Going On - Husker Du
Hit the Plane Down - Pavement
Kerosene - Big Black
Evil Eye - Fu Manchu
Killed by Death - Motorhead
Peace Dog - The Cult
Let There Be Rock - AC/DC
Paranoid - Black Sabbath


Evil Eye!


Killed by Death:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 150: The Year in Rock, Part 1

This week on the podcast, I'm joined by special guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our picks for the best music of 2010. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Or you can listen to it here:




Topics:

- Last show from Casa Breitling in Cambridge

- Going through our top 10 albums for 2010

- Breitling Honorable Mention: Arcade Fire

- Kumar HM: Les Savy Fav

- Breitling HM: Deerhunter, Adebisi Shank, Frightened Rabbit

- Kumar HM: LCD Soundsystem, Drive-By Truckers

- Breitling's #10

- Kumar's #10

- Breitling's #9

- Breitling explains how cassettes work, sort of

- Chloe B. provides background vocals

- Kumar's #9

- Breitling's #8

- Kumar's #8

- Breitling's #7

- Kumar's #7

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Los Campesinos - There are Listed Buildings

Spoon - Written in Reverse

The Henry Clay People - Your Famous Friends

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The Los Campesinos song is on the album Romance is Boring on Arts and Crafts. Download the song for free courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Romance Is BoringLos Campesinos!
"There Are Listed Buildings" (mp3)
from "Romance Is Boring"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Napster
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album



The Spoon song is on the album Transference on Merge Records. Download the song for free courtesy of IODA Promonet:

TransferenceSpoon
"Written In Reverse" (mp3)
from "Transference"
(Arts & Crafts Mexico)

More On This Album



The Henry Clay People song is on the album Somewhere on the Golden Coast on TBD Records. Download the song for free at Spinner.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Evil!

My fall rockstravaganza (seven shows in the last three months) came to a close Saturday night with a bang: the Nick Cave-led Grinderman at the House of Blues. It was an early show at the HOB, but that didn't diminish from the raw power on display (check out some great photos from the show). These middle-aged Australians rocked way harder than most bands 30 years younger than them.

Right from the moment Grinderman hit the stage at 8 and tore into "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" from the band's latest release Grinderman 2, Cave and crew had the crowd captivated. The 53-year-old rail-thin frontman paced the front of the stage, slashing out rhythm parts on his guitar and exhorting the audience like a crazed revival preacher. His main partner in crime was Warren Ellis, who committed various forms of instrument abuse as he wrung out tortured sounds from guitars, electric violins, bouzoukis. Ellis, with his long straggly hair and even longer beard, pranced around like a demented wizard as he sang backing vocals and on songs like the slow-burn closer "Grinderman" bashed the hell out out a cymbal with a pair of maracas. Bassist Martyn Casey and drummer Jim Sclavunos held down the rhythm while Cave and Ellis brought the fire. Indeed, the sounds Ellis got from his overdriven violin were louder and more dangerous than any guitar could emit.

Cave and his Bad Seeds are known for darker, gloomier meditations, but with Grinderman, it was full-on garage rock insanity. The highlight of the 80-minute set was "Kitchenette" off the new album, which featured Cave screeching about he just wants to relax while the kids of the married woman he's wooing "TIPPYTOE, TIPPYTOE!!!" through the house. Cave was like an unholy combination of Iggy, Elvis and Lux Interior as the band ripped through blistering versions of "Heathen Child," "Honey Bee" and the middle-aged lothario's lament "No Pussy Blues." All of which made more conventional pop-rock like "Palaces of Montezuma" and downtempo numbers like "When My Baby Comes" sound downright striking.

Alas, HOB's Saturday dance nights mean that bands have to wrap things up by 10. But when Grinderman finished its set at the shockingly early time of 9:20, nobody felt like they'd been shortchanged. Cave et al left it all on the stage.

A couple of choice live performances from Later with Jools Holland:



Friday, November 12, 2010

Mixology: More Music Your Mom Hates

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

More Music Your Mom Hates (11/4/92)

The year was 1992. I was 25 and fairly happy with the way my life was going at the time. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I liked the Spin Doctors. Cut me some slack: They wrote catchy tunes, there was some decent guitar and...yeah, I know. They quickly rose and fell, victims of the massive radio oversaturation and the wave of darker themed music that was taking hold of the rock world. Chris Barron and the fellas didn't have the staying power once "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes" finally stopped getting MTV play.

I was getting into the whole alt-rock scene that emerged in the wake of Nirvana and Pearl Jam: Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains. I was digging it all. In fact, a few weeks after this tape was made, my brother and I went to see Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees and Gruntruck at the late great Channel nightclub in South Boston. It was a pretty terrific show. I was impressed with Gruntruck, who were more of a metal act than anything else, but they rocked. The Trees provided the interesting visual counterpoint of Mark Lanegan standing statue still while the Conner brothers were bouncing and rolling all over the stage. And then AiC came out, Layne Staley singing while in a wheelchair because he had a broken leg. The album Dirt had just come out a few months earlier and was blowing up, and despite all the lyrics about heroin and death, Staley seemed to be fairly with it. At one point during the show, he jumped out of his chair and grabbed ahold of one of the overhanging pipes from the low ceiling, singing as he held on literally right over our heads. The Channel was a great little claustrophobic club and that was one of the last shows ever held there. I think it became a strip club after that before closing down for good. Staley descended into a nasty heroin addiction in the years that followed, doing one more album with AiC and becoming a recluse. He died in 2002.

My life, thankfully, was much more boring by comparison.

Side A
Jimmy Olsen's Blues - Spin Doctors
All in the Groove - Blues Traveler
My Morning Song - Black Crowes
Ignoreland - R.E.M.
World's Such a Wonder - Kim Mitchell
Digging in the Dirt - Peter Gabriel
Dyslexic Heart - Paul Westerberg
Rest in Peace - Extreme
Paper Scratcher - Blind Melon
Suck My Kiss - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Suck Me Dry - Mudhoney

Side B
Them Bones - Alice in Chains
In Bloom - Nirvana
Nearly Lost You - Screaming Trees
State of Love and Trust - Pearl Jam
Make It Now - Mudhoney
Naked in the Rain - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Soak the Sin - Blind Melon
Hotel Illness - Black Crowes
Midlife Crisis - Faith No More
Seasons - Chris Cornell
What's Good - Lou Reed
Man on the Moon - R.E.M.

My Morning Song:


Them Bones: