Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Never Should Have Doubted . . . v 3.0? 4.0? 5.0? Who cares?

Indeed . . . alive in Spain. This is good news. And the Clash makes the encore? Killer. From PaulMurff, frequent boarder:

"Look... long story short: they f***in' NAILED it. Opened with Coughing Up Blood (the first time it's been played live) as if it was the encore, and just kept going up and up and up from there.

No lie...
I have never seen a Marah show that I could say was a whole hell of a lot better than what I saw in Alicante on the first night of this tour.

No lie...
I didn't see, hear or sense one iota of bitterness, sour grapes, finger-pointing, backstabbing, blame-placing or name-calling. From anyone. About anyone. The whole time I was in Spain. Which is as it should be - but, as all grown-ups know, things are almost never as they should be, so let's recognise and respect the positive forces that are at work within and around this band right now, folks.

No lie...
Did I mention the new guys? Well, they don't feel like new guys any more. I got the impression that they were being thoroughly wound up during some of that first show... but in a 'good' way, if you know what I mean. ('Hey, bro... let's see if these guys can keep up if we play it like THIS...!' kind of thing)."

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Unproud: A Slice of Hopedaddy Rock History

Whilst digging through a desk drawer, I find a stack . . . Checking my pride at the door of the grand old Market Square Arena, last concert venue for Elvis . . . as well as some of the lesser-hip . . . I ain't sayin' I'm proud of ALL of them

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hopedaddy on the Air: WFHB Morning Music Mix 2/20/08

Nirvana, "The Man Who Sold the World," MTV Unplugged in New York
David Bowie, "Jean Genie," ChangesOneBowie
M Ward, "Let's Dance," Transfiguration of Vincent
My Morning Jacket, "The Way That He Sings," At Dawn
Stewart Copeland, "Tulsa Tango," Rumble Fish (Soundtrack)
Elvis Presley, "Crawfish," The Future is Unwritten (Soundtrack)
The Clash, "Rudie Can't Fail," London Calling
White Stripes, "Conquest," Icky Thump
Hugh Masakela, "Grazing in the Grass," Last King of Scotland (Sountrack)
Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, "Forever," Men Without Women
Sufjan Stevens, "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts," Come on Feel the Illinoise
The Silos, "Tennessee Fire," Cuba
The Beatles, "The Ballad of John and Yoko," The Beatles
Chuck Prophet, "Summertime Thing," No Other Love
American Music Club, "All the Lost Souls Welcome You to San Francisco," The Golden Age
Joseph Arthur, "Devil's Broom," Our Shadows Will Remain
The Black Keys, "Strange Desire," Magic Potion
Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, "Set Out Running," Furnace Room Lullaby
Loretta Lynn and Jack White, "Portland, Oregon," Van Lear Rose
Marah, "Blue But Cool," Angels of Destruction
Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell, "Second Option," Begonias
Paul Burch, "John Peel," East to West
Grant Lee Phillips, "Age of Consent," Nineteeneighteis
Bell X1, "Flame," Flock
Flaming Lips, "Fight Test," Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Gomez, "Detroit Swing 66," In Our Gun
Spoon, "The Fitted Shirt," Girls Can Tell

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bell X1: Flock - Review

Popping seven bucks, grabbing a couple of friends, donning some stunningly sexy oversized plastic polarized sunglasses, and taking in ninety minutes-plus of the new U2 3D raises damn few questions, and certainly fewer worth any meaningful consideration. Quality sound? Check. Better seats than the Average Joe could afford to an actual U2 show? Check. Fifty-foot version of Bono's goofy-ass racquetball goggles? Check. (Was he also seeing us in 3D?)

Moreover, after consideration of what it took for a little band from Ireland to grow from pub shows to (sometimes gag-inducing) Three-Dimensional World Domination, another question bubbles up: It's been more than 25 years-- where are the other Irish superstars? Over the years, critics have routinely forecast others as iMax-bound: The Pogues, The Waterboys, Hothouse Flowers, The Cranberries, and, more recently, The Frames-- all great bands, some not seeking superstardom, none achieving.  2008's version, however, may have all of the right elements at the right time. Bell X1, from North County Kildare, have released three critically-acclaimed albums in their native Ireland. This week, Yep Rock gives a stateside release to the band's third full-length project, Flock.

Flock sounds at once both very unique and yet like some strange sampler of every other popular stadium rock band of the past ten years. Inspired, but not derivative, Irish folk underpins strong songs that echo, at times, Radiohead ("Reacharound"), Coldplay ("Flame"), and, all over the record, their most obvious kin, The Frames.

Much of the balance comes from the disarmingly comic lyrics that creep out when the mood becomes insufferably heavy.  In "Flame," just as vocalist Paul Noonan challenges the capacity of the cheese-o-meter with "Your flesh melts in my mouth like Holy Communion," he quickly deflates it, funning on Leonard Cohen, "but you don't really care for Jesus, now do you?" As you find yourself joining in on "Flame"'s catchy chorus, you suddenly realize just how un-serious Bell X1 can be, with what sounds like the entire band repeating the silly proclamation, "I wanna be near you and blink in your light, and toast marshmallows on a cold dark night."

"Rocky Took a Lover," an acoustic anthem imagining a conversation between a homeless man and woman falling in love, is the clear candidate for a single (if there is such a thing anymore), with a made-for-stadium-singalong chorus. Again, just as the characters' exchange approaches heavy-handed prose, the woman reflects, "I don't believe in any old Jesus-- If there was a God, then why is my ass the perfect height for kicking?"

By the same token, neither does the periodic giddiness of the lyrics ever dissolve into nonsense or pure novelty. "Bad Skin Day" skips along through a simple drum/acoustic pattern, building into a slow and infectious chant. "Natalie," another slow burner, could easily be mistaken for a Joshua Tree B-Side, punctuated with chiming guitars like the Edge of Old. After an electronic-laden bridge on "Bigger Than Me," a flat-out rocker, Noonan, doing his best David Byrne, shrieks, "Am I a stone? Am I a sponge?", so convincingly that one fully expects him to follow with, "This is not my beautiful wife!"

Flock is not perfect, an observation borne out by the plodding "He Said, She Said" and "My First Born for a Song," the latter introduced with an electric piano riff that sounds as though it was lifted straight from an NPR radio button.  These are mere blemishes, however, as Flock is, at its essence, an ambitious and well-formed project, worthy of repeated plays.  After all, even The Unforgettable Fire had its "Fourth of July."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Whigs: Mission Control - Review

31 years ago this Valentine's Day, a group of friends in Athens, Georgia formed a band, musical skills be damned. Though perhaps more about fun than musicianship, the rise of the B-52's to prominence (and radio dominance) was the tip of an Athens music scene iceberg, with the college town subsequently turning out college and indie rock staples at anything but a glacial pace, including Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic, and college-rockers-now-commercial-megagods R.E.M.

Save for a few drips in the bucket, the Athens well has run a bit more dry in the past decade or so. Now, while no one is looking, Athens three-piece The Whigs, who just released their second full-length project, Mission Control, sneak out of Athens. I don't know what the "Athens sound" is, but the Whigs have maintained a wide berth.  Instead, Mission Control comes out like a punchier 'Mats project, often a blistering wall of guitar and vocals that demands "going to 11." There's no Westerberg writing here, mind you, but the record often sounds like a respectful tip-of-the hat to the later, more studio-finessed Replacements.

On this sophomore release of 11 quick and tasty tracks, frontman Parker Gispert moves from rock croon to hoarse wail.  The voice is impressively strong, never double-tracked, and often harmonized to a lovely end. Songs are frequently built around the explosive drumming of Julian Dorio, who thunders from the very opening track, "Like a Vibration," straight into the machine-gun attack of "Production City." In fact, it's the drumming that eventually detonates the radio-friendly steady romp of "Right Hand Over My Heart" into a full garage-rock explosion. 

The writing tries a bit too hard at points, such as in the  forced Beatle-esque opening to "Sleep Sunshine," a song saved only by a weeping lap steel at its close. When the band forgets to be at least a little bit loose, they drift toward every other Fighting Foo trying to get on the radio ("I Never Want to Go Home," "1,000 Wives"), but without the cloying smugness or knowing irony that Dave Grohl now appears unable to move beyond. On "Already Young," the carefree grunge that appears toward the end of Mission Control, the Whigs sound more like that other little band that used Grohl was a part of-- as a drummer.

Sometimes you hear a record that you know is a magnetized taste of a looser, louder live act, and Mission Control is just such a record. After the Strokes-like march and tight bass melodies of "Hot Bed" and the screamer "Need You Need You," it may not matter that your car speakers are destroyed, because you may find yourself driving to the next Whigs' gig to see what this band sounds like live. Upcoming dates with the Drive-By Truckers should yield the exposure that the band, and this record in particular, deserve.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hopedaddy on the Air: WFHB Morning Music Mix 2/6/08

Herb Alpert with Ozomatli, "Whipped Cream (Remixed)," Whipped Cream and Other Delights (Rewhipped)
Calexico, "Quattro (World Drifts In)," Feast of Wire
Beck, "Hot Wax," Odelay (Deluxe Edition)
Booker T & the MG's, "Green Onions," Atlantic Soul Classics
Betty LaVette, "The Last Time," Scene of the Crime
Travis, "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?", The Man Who . . .
Marah, "Rain Delay," Let's Cut the Crap and Hook Up Later on Tonight
Tim Easton, "Poor, Poor LA," Break Your Mother's Heart
Jason Fickel, "Some Kind of Love," Kerosene Cologne
Cat Power, "Singer Stallion," Jukebox
Replacements, "I Will Dare," Let it Be
The Whigs, "Production City," Mission Control
Band of Horses, "The General Specific," Cease to Exist
Centro-Matic, "Covered Up in Mines," Fort Recovery
Damien Jurado, "Denton, TX," And Now That I'm In Your Shadow,
The Beach Boys, "Caroline, No," Pet Sounds
Wilco, "Pieholden Suite," Summerteeth
Big Star, "Thirteen," #1 Record/Radio City
Josh Ritter, "Me & Jiggs," Golden Age of Radio
Robyn Hitchcock, "I Wanna Go Backwards," I Wanna Go Backwards (box set)
Gary Louris, "True Blue," Vagabonds
Steve Earle, "Satellite Radio," Washington Square Serenade
Radiohead, "Paranoid Android," OK Computer
Citizen Cope, "Brother Lee," Every Waking Moment
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, "Mega Bottle Ride," Global A Go-Go
Big Audio Dynamite, "Rush," The Globe
Beastie Boys, "In 3's," The In Sound from Way Out
Cafe Tacvba, "El Ciclon," Re
Broken Social Scene, "7/4 (Shoreline)," Broken Social Scene

Monday, February 4, 2008

Review on Deck: The Whigs - Mission Control

"Right Hand On My Heart"