Archive for September, 2012
Now sure, you can drool over all the Neil Peart and Stewart Copeland clips you want, but when it comes down to it these are the only 5 videos worth showing your friends when you’re half in the bag at 3 in the morning. Let’s start at the top – which was my inspiration for this list in the first place.
1) Korean Drummer Steals the Show
This guy is truly one of my personal heroes. Kwon Soon Keun is a straight-up entertainer, no friggin’ doubts about it. Since I was shown this clip a week ago, I’ve probably watched this video about 10 times. Watch the waiter at 1:09 who definitely knows an epic display is about to start. Seriously though, how can you not completely love this guy?!? I can’t believe the bassist is remaining so somber throughout.
2) Drummer For the Worst Band Ever
If you haven’t seen the dominating 5-piece known as Hush, then obviously you don’t troll youtube in your underwear late at night. God, their ability to butcher tunes is completely unparalleled, and most of it has to come from the overwhelming hesitation on the drums. This version of “Cocaine” kind of makes you want to slap him in the head and say “Just keep the fucking beat buddy,” but for some reason technology won’t let me reach though my computer screen just yet.
3) Tony Royster Jr. @ Age 12
This one never fails to flabbergast me. Tony was one of the best drummers on the planet at an age before I even knew what my dick was for. He’s most well-known now for holding down the ferocity in Jay-Z’s live touring band. The man is a fucking force of nature, and this video proves he has been for quite some time.
4) Buddy Rich’s Drum Kit Collapses
It’s hard to find any recording of Buddy Rich that doesn’t prove him to be one of the greatest drummers of all time, but I usually fall back on this clip of him with Mel Torme on the Merv Griffin show in 1978. Watch at 3:48 when the entire kit nearly falls off the stage, but he just picks it up and keeps his left hand rolling like he’s powering a nuclear reactor.
5) Steve Moore – The Mad Drummer
Sure, this video has over 20 million hits on Youtube, but it’s still worth a glance if you’ve never seen before. Dude rocks over the shoulder rolls like it’s nobody’s business, let alone he’s almost getting caught in his coattails each time. The only thing that turns me off about this is if you go to the dude’s actual webpage, you realize he’s a complete, obnoxious prick who literally thinks he’s the most amazing drummer on the planet. Guess he doesn’t realize that 19.9 million of those views are from people laughing their asses off.
I first got into the Grateful Dead in 8th grade…let’s see when was that? 1993 if I do so believe. Which also meant that a couple years later I had just turned 15 when Jerry died, and wicked horribly never crossed that threshold to see the Fat-man swing. The scheduled show October 23, 1995 would have most likely been my first gig, but as is life. I of course did see my first Phish show on December2, 1995 at the New Haven Coliseum to assure that I didn’t miss out on any other ridiculous bands in my life, but that’s another story. Anyway, due to fate of circumstance I have thus always carried this overly-critical judgement about any Grateful Dead music I hear performed. And it sucks. Because GD music is supposed to be this eternal tradition which will surpass us all, and the main reason of that is how universal the songs are. But what’s worse is that I’m far more critical of the musicians’ sincerity on stage than the actual sound of the music.
And yes, if you know me, this is all an even more absurd notion of mine since I’ve been playing in well-established Grateful Dead cover bands for nearly 10 years. So maybe that gives me more of this inner, twisted relationship with hearing the music being played or maybe I’m just an overly-critical, and occasionally jealous asshole. And maybe I am just an asshole, but I always have this inner feeling of, “Oh, Jerry’s dead and this is what I’m pretending to like?” But everyone else around me has the notion of “Oh, Jerry’s dead so let’s have as much fun with what we got!” Believe me, I wish I could have that sensation. I almost feel like a disgrace to the name of the music by demanding so much from its resonant echoes, but I’m just not into it when the musicians seem into it for the wrong reasons. That’s why I started a Dead cover band – to establish a solid framework of incredible musicians who could play the fuck out of the music, and not have some odd delusion that they actually were the Grateful Dead. And please don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some amazing post Jerry, GD oriented concerts in the past 17 years, but I’ve always seen a slew of BS GD desecraters.
Sorry, I rant, but why? Well tonight one of my heroes, Melvin Seals from the Jerry Garcia Band is playing a few miles away from me. But when I saw him play with JGB a couple months ago, his and the whole band’s performance was rather sub-par. And tonight he’s just playing with some random Jerry cover band that I have no clue who they are, and who have the massive nuts to be charging $18 to get in. It’s not that the money would take food off my table, but I can’t feel justified in paying it without some guarantee of sincerity. Sure, all of my friends are there havign a friggin’ blast and I’m writing a late-night blog post, but I can’t shake the need for truth and balance. Yet this notion frightens me even further as 6 days from now I will be seeing Furthur for the first time. Now I love Bob Weir, and I love Phil Lesh, and also have great affection for the other members of the band except for their fake Jerry. The thing is that when this band started a couple years ago, up until that point no member of the band had played with a fake Jerry. All the fill-in lead guitarists had either been well-known players who already had their own definitive sound which they brought to the music, or they were lesser known guys who could reinterpret the guitar leads into a whole new twisted fashion. But now they’ve got the fella from Dark Star Orchestra – the fella who spent yearspretending to be Garcia, and I’ve always felt scoured of my insides when I saw him and the rest of the band try to mimic the band’s movements as well as their music like they were in some Vegas tribute show.
Obviously the answer is yes, I am a self-loathing Dead-head. Will I look like a cynical asshole next Friday? Quite possibly. So here’s my personal mission – I will fully cloud all my pre-judgments of this band and approach it with a completely clean slate. I will listen to these songs with no prior thoughts of visions to compare them to. I shall succeed and feel justified in paying $75. Yes, I shall succeed.
In case you haven’t been following the past week’s most predominant artistic debate, let me quickly rehash. Amanda Palmer, the former front-woman of the slightly askew neo-folk, punk-cabaret outfit The Dresden Dolls recently raised $1.2 Million on Kickstarter to record her new album. In other words, she’s got enough fans and incoming love that they basically gave the woman an ass-fuck-load of money. Now as her music is somewhat elaborate and layered, her touring band requires a fair number of additional musicians to flesh out the sound- you know, horns and strings and all that. Palmer decided that she didn’t have enough money to pay all those additional musicians though, so she released a statement saying that she’d be looking for fill-in musicians in every city for every date on her tour, and most importantly she would not be paying them any money. Just “free beer and hugs.”
So there’s 2 main reactions everybody has been having to this. If you’re not that familiar with The Dresden Dolls or with Palmer at all, the reaction is “who the fuck does this broad think she is?” The other reaction is from the select group of people who absolutely adore the woman and her music, and are thus like “holy shit, I could actually play a gig in Amanda Palmer’s band.” A few predominant music folks have been quite vocal about their stance on the issue, most importantly indie-rock wonder producer and uniter Steve Albini who quite gracefully remarked – “I have no fundamental problem with either asking your fans to pay you to make your record or go on tour or play for free in your band or gather at a mud pit downstate and sell meth and blowjobs to each other. The reason I don’t appeal to other people in this manner is that all those things can easily pay for themselves, and I value self-sufficiency and independence, even (or especially) from an audience.”
So in trying to grasp my stance on the issue, I tried to put myself in one of her fan’s shoes. If a band I respected and adored put this same offer on the table, would I take it? Most likely, yes. But then I realized that if a band offered this, I would also lose a great deal of respect for them. And thus, I would hope and presume that most of the bands I respect would never offer this. It’s not like Palmer is playing coffee houses. She’s playing spots like The Fillmore – huge 1500 person venues with $25 minimum ticket prices. And the thing is, she knows how to play her music and has been doing so for a while. The fans who would come into play have to be rather accomplished sight-readers and talented enough artists to learn a full set’s worth of songs in a 24 hour period. So these fans are busting their left-nuts off to be on top of shit, while Palmer just naps in the back of the van on the way to her next gig. And then once you’ve worked so hard, she hugs you, tells you how awesome you are, and then sticks a $10,000 check in her back pocket and is on her way. You’ve got to really fucking love this woman to not feel at least a little bit used.
And “used” is the optimal word here. She is quite simply using the affection of her fans to save a couple hundred bucks and inflate her ego. The ego is the part that really gets me. This isn’t rock-camp – someplace where you pay $1,000 to learn guitar from the ex-bassist from Styx or something. This is a performance – a concert, and Palmer should realize that it’s even more her privilege to be able to play such things then it is for people to perform with her. Being a quasi-successful artist and musician is a blessing, not a burden. And what kind of massively inflated ego do you have to have to think that you’re big enough to ask such favors from your most-likely less well-off fans? This is very similar to Phil Lesh charging fans $5,000 to play a song with him on Jerry Garcia‘s guitar - also a dick move. But again, that’s The Grateful Dead and Jerry Motherfucking Garcia, not some odd-ball cabaret chick from Boston.
So after all the flack she’s been getting, Palmer announced yesterday that she will be paying her guest musicians now. Which quite frankly makes her seem like even more of an asshole to me. If you wanna make a prick-ass move, then at least stick by your guns. Don’t say, “oh, I realized I could pay them and still make a bunch of money – my bad.” That basically acknowledges that you knew you were doing something wrong in the first place, and now that you’ve been called out on it, you’re just gonna flip your whole stance.
In the end of all this, what’s quite clear is that Amanda Palmer is not going to gain any new fans. Her old fans will fully support her decision and stand by it, but any outsider will only now know her from this erroneous move. I for one, only slightly knew of Palmer, but I’ve now come to realize that she’s not playing on this all-in-it-together music scene that is trying to grow and maintain in the modern era. I will forever now pick her last in kickball. You decide if her music is worth all the fuss. Here’s one of her big hits – I think it’s completely contrived bullshit personally. And again, 1.2 million friggin’ dollars raised and her estimated costs for musicians was $35,ooo. That would total up to less than 3% of here raised finances, not to mention whatever tour and merchandise revenue she’s taking in.
Ok, so this post might push me over the top into full cynical jackass mode, but that’s what I’m here for I guess. First off, I’m a big fan of Ben Folds, and I think it’s fantastic that Ben Folds Five are finally releasing a new album after 13 years apart. Could I honestly tell the difference between a solo Ben Folds song and a Ben Folds Five song? No flipping way, but regardless I’m happy that the old backing band is back together. Secondly, I dig the fucking Fraggles a bunch. I love to talk about the transcendental implications of their final episode – I bring it up all the time and it usually results in some half-cocked sneers of quasi-appreciation. And the 30th anniversary of the Fraggles is coming up, so it’s about time they got rediscovered. So instinctually, the idea of having the Fraggles in a new Ben Folds video seems perfect. His sped-up rag-timey piano licks are ideal for the fast movement head-nodding of these wacky, subterranean Muppets. The problem? The video sucks. Yep, that’s it.
While there could have been any assortment of different mini-story lines that could have played out in the 5 minute video, they basically use it as a simple re-introduction to the Fraggles. Here they are, they live underground (kinda) and they’re dancing to the song. Sure it puts a nerdy smile on your face, but any substantial message or story is completely abandoned for some Henson-head bopping. I understand that they’re not as well known as the mainstream Muppets, but still I was hoping for way more than “Oh, look it’s that dude.”
I watched the behind-the-scenes footage and the producer-ish dude said this: “Phil, the director, who’s done a lot of puppet based music videos, came in with all these huge ideas. Oh we’ll make it a Western, or we’ll do this… And we said a new Fraggle thing hasn’t happened in a while, and the simplest idea is the best, so let’s just rediscover them…” So basically, the director realized all the epic implications that could take place, but he was basically shot down. It’s like they made the video for some 14 year-old girls hearing Ben Folds for the first time, not for the dudes in their early 30′s who base their lives on twisted childhood memories. The thing is, I don’t know how many 14 year-old girls are really discovering Ben Folds for the first time – there’s no house beat and digital bass womp here, so why would they? All I’m saying is if you’re gonna do something really random and awesome, then you should cater to the folks who already know how awesome it is, not cater to the folks who only acknowledge how random it is. It’s like if somebody made a new Thundercats movie, but took out Mumm-Ra because they didn’t think he’d go over well with the kids.
Here, you decide if you really need to watch this a 2nd time after your initial viewing. Sure, the song is great – classic Ben Folds shit, but the video is booooorrrrriiinnggg…
Now in contrast, this video I could watch 2-3 times in a row…there’s a story, all the characters’ true personas are expressed. This is how you make a Henson-related music video. I’m calling do-over for Ben & The Fraggles.
Here’s the start of my review of the new Dan Deacon album - Sometimes trying to describe a Dan Deacon song is like trying to explain color to a blind person — rather frustrating and most likely doted with grandiose metaphors. So let’s just start with this: I’m fairly certain that after my first headphone session with America, the molecular structure of my brain completely realigned itself. Combining the ferocity of 2007′s Spiderman of the Rings with the majesty of 2009′s Bromst, this latest release from Deacon is an album that you can do nothing but completely succumb to. Don’t try to wash the dishes to it — don’t try to throw it on at a bar — just sit back and let this motherfucker consume you.
The whole review is HERE at State of Mind.
Here’s the whole USA Suite – it’s rather fucking incredible.
As usual, My Morning Jacket ripped into my inner core last Saturday. It was my first time at the dream-land venue known as Edgefield Manor just 20 minutes outside of Portland. And even though I didn’t get a chance to explore the grounds like I wanted to, (and still need to) I was positively blown away by the venue. And I’ve never seen MMJ be more comfortable on stage. You can read my full review of the show over at State of Mind: http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1569/My-Morning-Jacket/
Sneak peak though…here’s how the ending went down – A colossal “Dancefloors” seemed like it would close out the show, but was followed by an even more gargantuan “Anytime,” which itself was capped with a positively Brobdingnagian “Gideon.” Luckily, there wasn’t a 2nd encore, because I had run out of synonyms for gigantic. There’s big, magical, Kentuckian power on that stage, and it’s somehow only getting bigger.
It was also my first time hearing “Strangulation” live, and Sweet Jesus did it ever kill. I still need a better camera for these things, but I’m getting there.
As a member of many different bands over the years, I’ve time and time again run into the amazingly difficult problem of coming up with a band name. Well, at least a band name that everyone in the band likes. Believe it or not, it’s really fucking hard. Basically, if you’ve got a good band name, then you should just start a band because you’ve got one of the biggest issues out of the way. In one recent attempt, I decided to turn towards my inner geekdom and use some random Star Wars name. But it turns out, they’re literally all taken. But alas, my frustration brought some amazing bands to light, and thus my pain is your blessing. Here’s the Top 12, starting with number 1.
1) Salacious Crumb – Named after the little twerp that sat on Jabba’s shoulder and cackled at everything he said, this Sydney band actually made somewhat of a name for themselves in the late 90′s. It’s obscure, alt-metal at its finest – the kind of kids who listen to Primus 24/7. Well, at least when they’re not watching Return of the Jedi. Here’s “The Ultimate Song.”
2) Sebulba – Yeah, he was that weird dude who raced little Anakin in that horrid Phantom Menace. Besides Darth Maul, he’s actually one of the best characters in the film. These cats are from the Netherlands and sound like Manu Chao if he had a tough time coming up with lyrics. Literally I think they say “Sebulba” about 64 times in the song. It’s good shit though.
3) Nerf Herder – Ok, so this isn’t actually a character name but rather the insult Leia throws at Han Solo in Empire. But these So-Cal dudes were definitely doing all right in the mid-90′s – kind alike an even geekier version of Weezer. Here’s my favorite, “Van Halen.”
4) Mace Windu - Now this is probably the lamest Samuel L. Jackson character to name your band after, but these British Columbia bros can actually play. I don’t know if anybody but their roommates have ever seen them though – maybe they would have done better if they were called “That Dude From Snakes on a Plane.”
5) Vader – This Polish death-metal band has been going strong since 1983. It’s a pretty bad-ass name for sure, but it loses a few points since every 5-year old on the planet would also think the name is Super Schweet. These guys still have a huge following in Europe though.
6) Dash Rendar – These kids win insanely extra bonus geek points for naming themselves after a character in a Star Wars video game. Not exactly ‘keeping it real’ but whatever. Also, all their songs are about Star Wars. Here’s a basement party version of “Stop the Rancor.” Too bad they can’t actually, well…play their instruments, but they seem like neato fellas.
7) Jedi Mind Tricks – Again, not an actual name but a bold reference none the less. These Philly rappers are probably the most successful act on this list, but I knocked them down to #7 due to their complete lack of Star Wars knowledge. Around 2005 I played a gig next door to them and we shared the same green room. When I showed their DJ my rebel alliance tattoo, he basically said “Oh it’s just a name, we don’t really care about that Star Wars shit.” Well, fuck you too buddy. Too bad they’re actually good.
8) Eisley – You gotta give these Texas chick-led rockers – they named themselves after the Spaceport on Tattoine – now that’s going way deep. Not my thing, but the production is tight.
9) WookieFoot – This name may be the biggest stretch for this list, as I believe they are acutally named after the dirty dread-locked Dead-tour folks we all lovingly refer to as Wookies. But c’mon… a wook’s a wook, so they gotta be here. Unfortunately, these guys take themselves way too seriously and think that their mellow folk jams are actually gonna change the world. Definitely not the music you’d expect Chewbacca to listen to.
10) Aerosith – These guys are so ridiculously lame I had to include them. I mean, you’re gonna make a Star Wars pun off of the lamest rock bands of all time? Well I guess Steven Tyler does look a lot like Emperor Palpatine lately. It seems like they’re using pre-recorded vocal tracks because they can’t sing through their masks too. Just an all-around disaster that I’m not sure whether I would die laughing if I saw em live or if I’d quickly run away, but whatever.
11) Bib Fortuna – They’re a UK cover band that focuses on Kings of Leon radio cuts. So…yeah. Motherfuckers had to go and tarnish one of my favorite characters from the trilogy.This guy…
12) Admiral Ackbar – Now I’ve got a personal grudge against this kid. He doesn’t even really have a band, or music, or a life. But he’s got a webpage and that means that he can legally sue me if I tried to name my band Admiral Ackbar, which I really wanted to. The bro looks like this, I guess. What a dick.
Well if you made it this far, then you probably just watched a lot of shitty music, so you definitely deserve this…
…it’s usually because of Dinosaur Jr. The prolific shred-champion, J. Mascis has always written some songs that have grabbed hold of my heart while simultaneously causing my ears to bleed (“The Wagon” “How’d You Pin That on Me” “Get Me” and on and on.) But if you had told me in 2000 that we were dawning the crest of some of my favorite Dino Jr. tunes of all time, I wouldn’t have even given you the time of day. Reunited bands never, ever, make better music than they used to, but leave it up to an act with a prehistoric name to create the definitive argument for longevity. In other words, starting with 2006′s Beyond, which shockingly brought Lou Barlow back into the band, Dinosaur Jr. has been consistently turning out fucking amazingly brilliant music. The reason for this successful assault on the predictably mundane is that these tunes have always shared a common theme of acceptance and of a conquering push through not letting shitty crap take you down. It’s almost like in the late 80′s Jay had some brilliant notion that if he kicked out his band, it would only cause a ripple through time resulting in incredible songs and music that couldn’t have existed otherwise. Or maybe it’s just dumb luck.
Either way, things are amazing right now in the world of the quiet wizard. Two cases in point: 1st is the above picture taken in Portland over the weekend of all of Dinosaur Jr. and all of Sebadoh posing together for the first time EVER. And yes, that is Mascis with an unexpectedly enormous smile on his face. Give it up to Mikala Taylor at www.backstagerider.com for grabbing the incredible pic. I wonder if they ever talk about the meaning of Barlow’s infamous track, “Freed Pig”? 2nd is this brand new video for “Watch the Corners” off of next week’s release I Bet on Sky. The song has the classic Dino vibe of being prepared for crappy situations, and the video has the brilliant Tim Heidecker portraying the role of the overly-protective but totally awesome Dad. You can streaam the entire album at NPR right now: www.npr.org/2012/09/09/160628084/first-listen-dinosaur-jr-i-bet-on-sky. If you really dig it, then FUCKING BUY it next week – these aren’t superstars people, these are working musicians and they deserve your pocket change. I’m gonna go ahead and say this is my favorite Dinosaur Jr. video EVER. It just makes me feel the way that music you love is supposed to make you feel.