Time for another Ween update. While it seems like the dust has settled on Gener and Deaner calling each other out in public forums, it doesn’t seem that there is of yet any reconciliation with one another – be it personal or musical. But recent events could potentially lead one to believe that not all bridges are burnt between blood brothers, and the biggest cue is the unified connection both parties share with bass player Dave Dreiwitz. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Dave, he’s one of the more happy-go-lucky guys you’re ever apt to encounter in the music business. He’s one of those “down for anything” kind of people, and while that may branch into some sexual and/or psychotropic avenues that could be somewhat off-putting, the dude’s hard not to love. There’s been a few interviews and comments inquiring about what led to him playing with Marco Benevento, and every reply seems to lean towards “He asked me so I said yes.” And as great as it is to see Dreiwitz out on the scene, every time I see him play I realize that there’s really only one place he really should be – and that place is laying down the low end for Ween.
So just a few weeks ago, April 14th to be exact, Dreiwitz was scheduled to play a gig with Ween drummer, Claude Coleman, at Ween’s former homebase – John and Peter’s in New Hope, PA. A couple of phone calls went out to old friends, and suddenly the gig turned into a 4/5ths Ween reunion as Deaner and keyboardist Glenn McClelland joined in. They pulled a full set composed mainly of Deaner’s songs from Ween, and reports were that it was obviously a fantastic evening for everyone involved. Now cut to today, May 8th, and Gener has announced that at tonight’s gig in Connecticut, as well as the following 2 shows in Mass and Brooklyn, he will be accompanied by Dreiwitz on the bass. This means that within 3 weeks time, Dave will have played a full show’s worth of Ween tunes in 2 separate parts. While he doesn’t seem to be one to ruffle any feathers, and I personally have no clue as to what levels of communication happen backstage, one could only hope that at least some word could be brought up about the New Hope gig from a few weeks back. Because I’m sorry, I don’t care how fantastic any Aaron Freeman gig is, there’s no way it can contain a smidgen of the magic that a Ween gig had. And after a solid year of sobriety, one would also hope that Gener is beginning to contemplate the possibility of maintaining his sobriety while playing with his old band mates. It seems to me that the Boognish is singing in the distance right now – like a siren of yore calling to sailors – calling and urging the patriots of its message to reunite and reforge the magical rock strength that has been missing from the universal musical spectrum. I’ve got my nuts crossed.
The most wholeheartedly bumming music news for me so far this year was the recent announcement that Daniel Blumberg has quit Yuck. Their 2011 self-titled debut album is one that I would easily put into my Top 20 post-2000 records list. It reminded me of Pavement, it gave me confidence in the slacker-rock resurgence, and I played the living shit out of it for a solid year and a half. In fact, I played it so much that when I listen to it now it makes me fondly reminisce about a time in my life which was only a year ago, and to fondly reminisce about such recent times is an odd sensation to have. Here’s the thing though: as much as Yuck is cohesively a fuckin’ amazing band, they’re very much led by the English drawl of Blumberg. Sure, he collaborated with fellow guitarist Max Bloom on several of the tracks, and Bloom even sang lead on one cut, but Blumberg, the reclusive fellow clad in denim was quite blatantly the focal point of the band. The band has just announced that it has started recording its sophomore album sans Daniel, and the question arises within me of whether I really will care what it sounds like. The nature of a frontman leaving is such an odd thing to deal with when it comes to a young band.
When Zach De La Roca was done with Rage Against the Machine, I was thoroughly intrigued (but disappointed) with Audioslave because I had crafted such a deep subjective relationship with the members of that band. It’s the same reason I waited and waited to hear Zach’s solo work, One Day as a Lion, which I was much more pleased with. And then there comes the situation of Stone Temple Pilots, who recently announced they have officially fired Scott Weiland. Sure STP was always fun – but do I really care about hearing that band with a new frontman? To be honest, when I just looked up the names of the other band members I realized that I had never heard them ever before in the past 20 years. Likewise, would I have any desire to hear whatever project Weiland forms next? Not really… more so than whatever his ex-bandmates put out, but I don’t really care what that junkie tries to create with somebody else. They were collectively that band, and I don’t think they can have any success without each other. So in other words, despite how cordial or crappy the split may be, it’s really fucking tough to continue without your main guy. Sure AC/DC were able to pull it off, and Van Halen kind of pulled it off, but what about these young cats in Yuck?
I think the main essence of the situation is that it’s hard for any band to really break onto the scene these days. So I’m sure that while the remaining members of Yuck would probably like to continue with a different band name, they can’t attempt to start from scratch after all the recognition they’ve gained with their name. On the other hand, Blumberg has had his individual name put out there enough that he can potentially survive with a new endeavor, which this morning we learned he is about to try. His new solo project is going to be released in July, and he’s calling the new group Hebronix. The album is called Unreal. You can stream the title track below and it’s fuckin’ fantastic. In fact, it’s so great, and such a positive extension of the Yuck sound, that it’s making me wonder what Yuck is going to be able to manifest without him. I’ll give their new record a chance when it comes out, but if nothing grabs me right off the bat then I’m definitely sticking with team-Hebronix. Sure I hope that both albums will be great, but I’m having doubts by hearing how much I love this new track from Blumberg. It’s interesting to hear how he talks about the future of Yuck in the interview I did with him last year… Read the full thing HERE and give the new track a listen below…
Sure, I know to some people the title of this post makes no sense… yada, yada, yada Grateful Dead, blah, blah, bonghits, murmur, murmur, when were they ever productive in the first place…phuck phish. But c’mon – hippie bashing became passe in the late 90′s. You can only tell so many light-bulb jokes before you realize everybody around you is having the time of their lives. Take it from THIS GUY. But anyway, in the past there’s always been a distinction between the dreamiest desires of nerdy passions and the technological possibilities available to us. These days though, the nerds are in charge. And with the nerds in charge they’ve been able to develop the means and know-how to bring our nerdiest dreams to fruition. What this really means is that after some recent developments, you can currently stream for free every Grateful Dead and Phish show ever played. You can now open up your nerdy setlist book, find some epic moment where some specific song is being played in some odd fashion, and you can listen to instantly. If you had told any Deadhead that this was possible in the times when Jerry was still around, they would have lost their friggin’ shit. Hell, if you had told any Phishhead this was possible ten years ago they would have lost their shit. The fact that we have reached a time when all this music, and furthermore all this information is truly available at our fingertips is quite astounding. I’m only 32 years old, and I already sound like an old fart when I talk about sending out Maxell XLIIs to people who would make a shitty copy of a show for me if I sent them “blanks and postage” – and that I would then wait for it to be physically mailed back to me. Sure the thrill of anticipation is lost, but I for one surely don’t miss it.
I feel some of the legality of these sites is still up in the air, but as long as they’re audience produced recordings that have been freely available in other forms for years elsewhere, I think they’ll stick around. But if you’re a fan, be warned – because hours can fly by in a heartbeat when you’re listening to random gems from Europe ’97, or Anywhere ’69. God bless these super nerd fans for figuring out the date entry formula to create these pages, and for the fact that they weren’t Nickelback fans. The only current flaw with the system is that over at listentothedead.com, each song needs to be started on its own – you can’t just sit back and listen to a whole show without cuing each track. You have been able to do that with Dead shows over at archive.org, but that site doesn’t have them so neatly organized as this new site. I’m sure it’s a bug they’ll fix soon though, so enjoy your fucking face off…
GRATEFUL DEAD – www.listentothedead.com
PHISH – www.phishtracks.com
Ok, so Jackie Greene… when he first showed up playing with Phil Lesh in Phil and Friends back in 2007, my first reaction was “Who is this pretentious fuck wearing knit scarfs and fake squinting on stage?” He’s got an OK voice. He can play some OK guitar. He can play some OK organ. But none of those talents are impressive enough that he should be singing Jerry tunes in an off-shoot of The Grateful Dead. I tried to be impartial to the fella, but for some reason his lackluster abilities were put front and center with Phil, and they just rang of utter blandness. My frustration only grew further when I read interviews of him saying things like, “I never really listened to the Grateful Dead but I love singing “Brokedown Palace.”" C’mon man – go shove a fat one up your ass. And believe me, I gave the dude a bunch of chances, but each time a solo was thrown his way it was a signal for me to go buy a beer. Again, another direct quote of him is “I’ll probably never know how much these songs might mean to some people” – yeah, and it’s not like it’s important to grasp how Dead-Heads relate to the music or anything there buddy… I don’t think the bond between the GD and their fans has ever really been all that tight. Fucking Christ. The dude’s main problem is that he seems to think he’s a worthy comparison to Bob Dylan, and by having such a massive ego to believe that you’re right up there with the most massive ego, is just one of the most egotistical things anybody can do. The dude’s even got an album of just Dylan covers – Oooo – I really like Bob Dylan, I’m sure I’ll love some random fuck’s album of him playing all the same tunes the same goddman way. Turns out the dude’s name isn’t even Jackie Greene, it’s actually Chris Nelson. That’s right – he’s a 32 year old dude with a perfectly fine name and just decided 10 years ago to change it to another random name. Why? What would be the purpose of that other than to proclaim that you’re really and completely full of shit?
Anyway, the douche grabs a bunch of unsubstantiated notoriety, plays huge gigs like an evening of Rolling Stones covers with Gov’t Mule, and now has been nabbed for the craziest gig of all – playing lead guitar for The Black Crowes. That’s right – the Black Fucking Crowes. The Crowes are a massively guitar-heavy band. Not only is Rich Robinson stellar, (despite his tendency to just play rhythm these days,) but for their prime years the Crowes had Marc Ford in their band. In my mind, Ford remains one of the greatest rock guitarists of the past 25 years – bleeding soul into his dominating riffs while a cigarette hung from his lips. The past few years the Crowes have been touring with Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars – a shredder in his own regard, but still one who had trouble living up to the guitar-dominating legacy that the Crowes embody. Now, with Greene in the band, the Robinson brothers are basically acknowledging their status as being completely insignificant. Seriously Chris Robinson, I don’t care how many joints you’ve smoked with the dude, you should have never brought him into your band. This is one of the worst band hiring jobs in the history of music. This is like if Wu-Tang Clan brought in Chris Brown to replace Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I can seriously only presume that Jackie Gr… I mean Chris Nelson, sucks a mighty man schlong. I was gonna put up a recent video of them playing live from a week ago, but I really can’t take the band seriously anymore. Rich won’t even solo, and Chris Nelson looks smugger than ever playing with these guys. Instead, let’s watch a “Remedy” from 20 years ago – when Rich was willing to go balls out, and Ford was adding crushing degrees of soul to the music – what a killer band they used to be.
No. Of course not. Will you? Much more truly inspiring human beings die every day from natural causes. And seriously – you’re gonna O.D. on sizzurp? What are you – a freshman lad in an English boarding school? Maybe this is the Gods of fame punishing you for doing such a stupid “drug.” If he doesn’t make it out of this, it will go down as the lamest rock star death since Mama Cass choked on a ham sandwich. That’s all I gotta say about that.
In case you haven’t been following this, the musical genius formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince performed on Jimmy Fallon last Friday. He and his new brand-new all-chick band fucking destroyed that little studio… in more ways than one. First off, they sounded incredible. I’m not as much on the “Screwdriver” bandwagon as some of these other folks who think the song is phenomenal, but he did shred the living shit out of it. And then he and the band totally crushed the living hell out of his 1979 shred-attack song, “Bambi”. And then he literally smashed the beautiful 1961 Epiphone Crestwood guitar he was playing – throwing it up in the air and letting it slam down on its neck. Rock star move to say the least. Except the guitar wasn’t his. It was actually The Roots’ Captain Kirk’s beautiful baby, that Prince has asked to borrow for the show after he saw it at rehearsal. And according to Kirk’s twitter feed, Prince didn’t really seem to give a fuck about the destruction, and totally negged Kirk Douglas when the Captain asked him to at least sign the remaining bits of his axe. Total asshole move by Prince, but here’s what’s really interesting…
Douglas seems to be taking this all in stride, and I’ve been trying to figure out the reason why. I suppose that one of the advantages of playing in the band on a nationally syndicated talk show is that perhaps the network has some sort of liability for your instruments. So it’s quite likely that Captain Kirk will at least be compensated for his destroyed guitar. But I think the main reason he doesn’t appear to be flipping the fuck out is that he loves Prince. Douglas himself is a master of the guitar, and the Roots have always walked the line between rock, soul, rap, and R&B – essentially the same model of musical influences that Prince based his career on. As a musician myself, I can thus somewhat understand the significance of having this story for the rest of your life about one of your heroes destroying your shit, and how that may be a better thing to carry through life than the actual object itself. If Dave Brubeck had ever come over to my house, lifted up the back of my piano and just taken a massive old-man shit in there, there’s no doubt that I would be telling that story at least once a week for the rest of my life. But the question remains of whether in the grand social order of reality, did he actually have the right to do that? Is Prince just so much in his own reality that he doesn’t really give a fuck about anything? Or is he so confident of his influence on other black soul guitarists that he thinks it’s totally within his resolve to destroy their shit? Like he just knew that there would be no reciprocation from his act. You know, like he’s just gonna say: “What, I’m fucking Prince – do you really want to abandon all respect you have for me and tell me that I owe you a new guitar?” The question I’m really asking is – has any musician given so much to the world that he actually has the right to do whatever the fuck he wants? And honestly, I’m somewhat torn on the answer. I definitely feel that Prince has more right to brake somebody’s guitar than a Nazi pedophile has a right to be the Pope… so, you know – street cred is a powerful argument. Either way, Prince is definitely an asshole, but maybe that’s OK.
It was announced today that Trent Reznor has decided to get Nine Inch Nails back together and play a whole mess of show later this year. However, “back together” is a fairly relative term when it comes to NIN. As of yesterday, there had been 21 different fellas who’ve played in the band with Reznor over the years, and today we’re getting the inclusion of 3 more. This has always been the design of the band, and for a sound that is essentially an industrialized military attack formulated in Reznor’s mind, it’s always worked quite well. I had never been the biggest fan of the band, but after seeing one of their last gigs at Bonnaroo in 2009 I was blown the fuck away. I can only imagine what the band will sound like now – bringing in the incomparable Adrian Belew from King Crismon on guitar? That’s just fucking nuts. Not only can the dude shred your living face off, but if you’ve ever seen videos of him playing with the Talking Heads then you know he’s also a brute force of a living rhythm machine. And then he’s also added Eric Avery, the bass player from Jane’s Addiction? Well, hot damn – this just became the top must-see band of 2013. But what’s interesting about all this, is that Reznor has this aura that’s akin to a jazz master – where you praise the main artist so much that you know that any incarnation of a band he’s going to hit the road with will be fucking amazing. There’s only 3 other current rock artists who also have the gall to do this, each with different levels of audience acceptance and success.
1) Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses - Appetite for Destruction is arguably one of the greatest rock albums ever made, but not once did somebody ever hear it and say, “Ahh this backing band really doesn’t click with the singer.” I mean, c’mon, everybody has air-guitarred a Slash solo at some point. GNR was a fucking band above all bands – Izzy, Duff – even that junkie on drums – Axl’s dumbass move to think that he’s the only that anybody cares about in that band has severely hurt his street-cred over the years. If the original lineup got back together, they could playing arenas. Literally, they could see upwards of 100,000 tickets a show in various locales across the nation… and whole world. One of the worst lineup changes in the history of music.
2) James Mercer and The Shins - I really like the Shins, and their sound has been an enormous influence on the indie-world over the past decade. And while Mercer’s songs can at times be surprisingly complex, it’s never really been a band that you go see for a crazy guitar solo or even for any of the instrumental talent of the band. That being said, the band has always been great, and Mercer’s decision to constantly change the lineup over the years seems to be solely based on him making it clear that it’s his band and his band alone. Thus, in this lineup change situation, the moves have never really effected the quality of the music, but they have made even the most avid fan wonder the askew dimensions of Mercer’s introverted ego.
3) Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins - In the early 90′s, the Pumpkins seemed like such a definitive picture of a full band. Sure, Corgan was the frontman, but the Eastern smile of James Iha on guitar and the dark, sultriness of D’arcy Elizabeth Wretzky on bass seemed like equally defining pieces of the puzzle. When inter-band bickering brought them to a split in 2000, it was a bummer, but it seemed to acknowledge that the band couldn’t continue without one another. Billy went on to do Zwan and some other solo shit, and things seemed cool. That is until 2005, when Corgan took out those huge ads in the Chicago newspapers saying he wanted to reunite the band. Sure the drummer came back, but Iha and Wretzky were no-shows. In my mind, that’s not a reunion, but the move of a guy who’s failing in his solo endeavors and in need of using his past notoriety to sell some albums. I had waning respect for Corgan already, but that seemed to make me lose it all. They’ve released 3 albums since then, one of which people say is actually pretty good – but I decided a while ago to not give a fuck.
Oh well – fame, music, and money always have a great way of fucking each other over.
Merch. It’s really more important these days than ever. When your music is presumably available for free online, either legally or illegally, you gotta have some sort of additional merchandise for your band to make some extra money off of. If you go see a small band you like, then buy their CD at the merch booth – I guarantee you they will be overwhelmingly excited. Seriously. The Grateful Dead of course, have never been a stranger to merch. They ingeniously incorporated two different predominant logos for the band: the Steal Your Face lightning-bolt skull, and the dancing bear. One kinda scary, one much more inviting, and both iconic symbols for the band. Thus, that’s two versions of everything they can merchandise. But despite all this, the Dead have always had a certain degree of taste and respect with their logo placement. It’s not like you were going to stumble upon Steal Your Face tampons, or Dancing Bear tire jacks. And of course, we all remember when they sponsored the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic Basketball Team. It was another one of those moments where you realized these guys had respect for their fans, their music, and their product, and that they weren’t just gonna smack their logo on a stapler and sell it to you for $40. If I recall correctly, it was in the Rock Scully book where he references a pre-fame Garcia saying that you’ll never find the Grateful Dead doing a “things go better with Coca-Cola” ad.
Well unfortunately Jerry’s gone, and it seems with him has left any self-respect the band perhaps once had. Last year, Rolling Stone printed an article about how the surviving members had declared that in terms of merchandise and advertising, anything was now up for grabs. I guess Bob Weir had seen Bob Marley’s face splattered all over the universe on every product imaginable and decided that was good money the GD crew was letting slip by. As an avid Dead-Head myself, my reaction to this mega sell-out news was at first pretty well received. Hell, I thought the Stealy Converse were pretty cool, and c’mon, who wouldn’t want a GD snowboard? But my opinion changed pretty drastically when my girlfriend stumbled upon this online the other day – Old Navy is selling fake vintage GD t-shirts. Old fucking Navy? Now Old Navy is owned by the Gap, and they’re infamous for selling sweatshop gear made in Korean and Chines owned factories in U.S. controlled territories of Asia, and thus justifying falsely labeling them as Made in the U.S.A. And look at this shit:
Pink sleeves and a pre-faded, fake-vintage logo. Plus a little “79″ down in the corner, just to make it a little faker vintage. Not only does this shirt look incredibly stupid, it’s totally being made by .05 cent an hour workers. This, my friends, is selling out. This is gear intended for the Korean Pop Girl acts who just want something with bright colors that looks “American.” This is my musical heroes no longer caring about where their merch is made, who’s selling it, or what the social and/or ecological ramifications or producing the product are. It’s just a wicked bummer. I still love and respect the guys, but c’mon fellas – isn’t this going a step too far?
So while everyone has their own comments and complaints about last night’s Grammy show, there’s really only one big question on my mind. I mean sure, it’s a bummer that the Dave Brubeck tribute lasted all of 45 seconds. And sure, Frank Ocean‘s performance of his odd tune “Forrest Gump” won him over about negative 47 new fans. And sure, the Delta ad cutting off Tom Morello‘s guitar solo during the end performance was completely absurd. And sure, Chris Brown is a piece of shit that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the building. And sure, Maroon 5 just continues to suck more and more. And sure, LL Cool J said the word “hashtag” about 92 times. But my question is – where was the biggest musical star of 2012? Meat Loaf? Seriously, I don’t know if there’s any piece of music I’ve watched or listened to more this year than Mr. Bitch Tits’ performance at that Romney rally. It is without a doubt, THE top most notable musical moment of the year. Let’s revisit that once again shall we?
Honestly though, couldn’t we have wheeled the old coot out for the final performance so he could sing the chorus of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn?’ Now that would have been enter-fucking-tainment. And just in case you thought his amazing singing ability was only in such fine form with Romney because he had the empowering spirit of Jesus and the Republican party behind him, then you obviously haven’t seen his angelic performance in Australia from a couple years ago. If you don’t want to watch the whole clip then just start with his brilliant tone at :55 seconds in, then skip to his wonderful resonance at 3:00, and whatever you do don’t miss his spot-on performance at 5:41. I know – it’s really been 20 years since that song came out? He really hasn’t lost a beat. Way to drop the ball again Grammys – geesh.
I’ve been a subscriber of Spin for quite a number of years. In it’s heyday, reading it always made me feel like I was a part of something – contrary to the widespread notoriety of Rolling Stone, Spin seemed to have an “all-in-this-together” vibe. I felt like paying attention to what it was talking about helped distinguish you as a real music-head as compared to someone who just buys reading material in an airport book store. And hell, how else would I have ever encountered one of my literary heroes, Chuck Klosterman? Seriously, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is one of my favorite books of all time. I guess I should have noted the first sign of their end when the mag was sold in 2006, and almost all of their staff writers were fired, including Klosterman. I mean, the guy has a weekly column in the New York Times Magazine now – thank God somebody realized what an idiotic move letting him go was. And sure, things seemed to get a little weirder then – Beyonce on the cover instead of some German electro group I had never heard of, but the mag still seemed to be holding on to a certain degree of street cred.
Then along comes these damn internets. It was a year ago when Spin first changed their format – no more published music reviews, it would only come out every other month, and for some reason it doubled the size of its paper. I mean, if you’re trying to save money, wouldn’t that be a stupid move? Well yes, it was. Now I’m not gonna say that the review section is the key part of any music mag, but…wait, actually I am gonna say that. Rolling Stone has some great articles, but I still read it for the main part of seeing if somebody random’s new album is actually worth checking out. Spin’s argument was that they were going to instead review every single album that was being released, and have them all online. But I don’t want to know about every single fucking album – I want to know what’s worth checking out – that’s why you friggin’ publish shit. I tried to stay on board with them. They did some cool articles on genre repetition over the decades, and gave the hilarious Patton Oswalt his own commentary section, but overall the new format fell completely flat. Geezus, when I’m taking a shit, I want random bits of ocular simulation – I don’t have time to read a 7 page article on Azelia Banks’ new wardrobe.
So here’s the real thing – Spin is all done now. They’re dead. Their print publication is over, and now they’re just another music website in a vast ocean of music websites. AND, their website really isn’t that good. They list things in horrible formats, where you have to reload page after page to read a Top-10 anything list, just so that each artist’s 2 sentence blurb can take up its’ own page surrounded by different google ads. What’s even more depressing though is that they just shadily slipped away. There was no announcement – no farewell issue. Just one day it stopped. And I thought my subscription was messed up until being in an airport two weeks ago and seeing September’s issue still on the shelves. You’d think there would have been some sort of notice to their loyal subscribers – at least a “Sorry folks, but we’re done, stop checking your mailboxes, and we totally owe you $12.” Honestly, can you sue a company for pre-ordered subscription fees when they suddenly just stop? Probably, but I don’t really care.
End of the line is that I, and music-nerds like me, were Spin’s fans. We were the folks that had a passion in their magazine, and actually wanted it to succeed. But they’ve gone ahead and treated us like a demographic that doesn’t even matter anymore. Now I’m just another name on an email list for them to send their weekly notice to, in hopes that I’ll click on some random link and then click on one of their advertiser’s links. Way to completely blow it fellas, and totally lose touch which anything and anyone that made you who you are in the first place. I’d say I was angry about the death of print, but these guys showed no desire to adapt and/or grow. They just wanted to die. And that they have. To point, here’s the email they sent me today: “My Bloody Valentine and Fall Out Boy Return.” Honeslty? You guys are gonna put those two bands in the same sentence? Good riddance.