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The music on You Can’t Fall Off The Floor (self-released) is the kind of rock/pop that should be getting a lot of attention, compared to other artists who are noted for it but aren’t that good. The opening track, “Silence Is The Loudest Answer”, sounds like something very close to U2′s more sensitive moments, but head to “Gone And Done It Now” and one may hear a bit of Nick Lowe, the vocal stylings of Mr. Big’s “To Be With You”, or even a bit of Styx circa Paradise Theater.
Comparisons aside, what makes What Made Milwalkee Famous so irresistible is that hint of familiarity that record labels have loved for years, but it sounds like they’re having fun doing it. Maybe that’s the point: to make music that sells based on music that sold before, and maybe it’s because these guys sound so effortless that we’re… okay, that I’m expected to think all music like this is machine-made goods. Not so. These guys know how to make decent music because they’ve studied the music they’re fans of, but by creating familiar themes, they end up exploring their own talents to discover what they have, and that is sounds that people should be paying attention to. Pop music as it is today comes off like instant flukes, but there’s a level of substance on You Can’t Fall Off The Floor that I rather like, because each song keeps me there to listen to the next, and the next. That cannot be said for the other music passing itself off as popular. Give me this instead.
This week, on March 17th, marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ second album, This Year’s Model. The album cover is notable for featuring Costello snapping a photo with his now-well-known pair of glasses. The UK had one version with Costello holding his left hand out, along with the design being off-center and containing color bars on the right side, exactly like someone printing a magazine or album cover, but an inch off from its intended position. The US version doesn’t have the extra “error” and uses an alternate photo from the session, with Costello crouching down towards the camera for the perfect shot. It is the album that featured songs like “Pump It Up” and “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea”. The US version featured the song “Radio, Radio”, which was my first exposure to his music when I saw the video in a special TV section build outside of a record store at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu.
Singer Justin Timberlake was on last night’s Saturday Night Live not only as the guest, but its musical guests. A very funny show, one of the placards shown in between segments featured Timberlake with a camera and nerdy glasses, thus honoring Costello and (whether it was intentional or not, I’m not sure) the 35th anniversary of This Year’s Model.
It shows that when it comes to pop music, Timberlake’s aim is true as well.
By February 1983, I had been an avid viewer of MTV: Music Television for almost 15 months, after making its Honolulu debut on December 25, 1981 with video, no audio. It made its true presence known on December 31, 1981, when audio and video were finally synched. Back then, MTV was delayed by a week but outside of concert dates, it didn’t matter too much. But I became addicted to the ways of MTV, for now I was able to see artists move, 24 hours a day, all day in stereo. One band that received a lot of airplay was Journey. To their credit, most of their videos were live performances of songs I had regularly heard on the radio. I got to see videos for “Wheels In The Sky” and “Lights”/”Stay Awhile”, plus lip synched performances of “Just The Same Way” and “Anyway You Want It”, the latter with its luscious recording studio count-in. What changed Journey’s career forever was the release of their 1981 album Escape. Journey already had radio hits, Top 20 hits as a matter of fact, and that was very different to the band’s progressive rock roots on their first three albums. In fact, I clearly remember going to record stores as a kid and seeing the first Journey album where the band appear to be jumping in the air, with mountains in the distance and thought “wow, this looks cool. Is this really Journey?” It was, but it would be a long time before I heard it and the other albums they had started out with in their career. When I started the 6th grade, “Who’s Crying Now” was slowly rising up the charts, and then “Don’t Stop Believin’”. “Open Arms” was getting a small bit of airplay as well, but by late 1981/early 1982, it was possible to hear Journey songs on pop radio. Back then, that meant hearing their songs on an AM radio station, opposed to the rock stations on FM. This was a big deal, because it meant Journey songs were being heard by more people.
What made a bigger impact was this new network called MTV, for they were showing live performances of a show Journey had done in Houston, Texas. Specifically shot for MTV, one was able to see energetic performances of “Who’s Crying Now”, “Don’t Stop Believin’” (“born and raised right here in Houston!”), “Stone In Love” (complete with vocalist Steve Perry bombarding a cameraman), the new single “Open Arms” (perfect timing) and other songs they had done that night. It wasn’t new for MTV to show live performances, but they had started to have shows shot specifically for them. As Journey’s singles kept on getting radio airplay, more people bought the album, and they were one of the first staples of the music video cable network. If there was such a thing as Journeymania, it existed in 1982 and would last throughout the year until Michael Jackson released Thriller.
With the kind of success Journey received with Escape, where the band received a great promotional push through MTV, one wondered how they could top it. The hit success the band now had with the inclusion of Perry as the front man could not be ignored, so now it was time for the group to show people what was next. While waiting, MTV would show projects by Schon and keyboardist Jan Hammer like “Talkin’ To You” (from their 1981 album Untold Passion and “No More Lies” from their 1982 album Here To Stay.
Frontiers was released on February 22, 1983 with “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)” as the album’s first single, complete with a video that has since been mocked and parodied. It might seem foolish for the group to be hopping around near a harbor and drummer Steve Smith jamming on barrels, but keep in mind that this was Journey’s first “big budget” video. They now had stylists, and this was the way they wanted to present themselves, with a theme involving a woman walking around ignoring the five men in the band, but still having them close to her heart when the end of the video reveals she is listening to their music with… a Sony Walkman. Product placement? Very much, and it would be when Sony would eventually purchase the band’s label, Columbia Records, in the future but I’m jumping ahead of myself here. As basic and silly as the video was, it seemed brighter and a fresh approach to Journey’s music, and it let people know that the band had released a new album.
I loved “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)” for a number of reasons, but I thought Jonathan Cain’s keyboard intro was cool, Neal Schon’s guitar riff was awesome, and the Smith/Ross Valory rhythm section was awesome. There’s also a moment before the last chorus where Cain’s keyboard solo sounded like, to me at least, Alcatrazz’s “Kree Nakoorie”, but maybe that was due to the listening habits of my Uncle David. I also believe Alcatrazz’s debut album was released a few months after Frontiers, but I was making those kind of musical links back then.
My dad, who worked as an electrician in Pearl Harbor’s shipyard, would have access in buying music from the military base. This was new to me, because we were not a military family but the idea that someone could buy music with a one to two-dollar discount was appealing to me. My dad had taken pride in the cassette deck he had in his cherry red Karmann Ghia, so when he was able to, he’d get a few tapes. He was able to get for me the Frontiers album on cassette, and it was not on the day of release, but probably a month after. I clearly remember the cassette J-card being able to fold out, which was somewhat of a first since most cassette J-cards were either blank or just had the song listing. This one had the lyrics for the album in what seemed like, at the time, microscopic lettering. With cassettes now a growing format, the recording industry wanted to find ways to show how special cassettes could be, so having the album cover graphics and lyrics on the J-card was a way to say “look, a compact version of that big record.” Back then it seemed cool, and while I did not have a Sony Walkman (I’d always have some cheapy knock-off), once I carried an album on cassette in my pocket for a few weeks, it was “for life”. Or at least I felt it was a lifelong commitment even though it was a few weeks or maybe a month. I sported my cassettes in my pocket as if they were a pack of cigarettes, hoping someone would say “got a light?” No, but I got Journey. Of course, I was only 12, no adult would ask a kid for cigarettes but then again, we felt like we were freewheeling, and we wanted to prepare for such incidences. Never happened, but I had Journey in my pocket.
Journey quickly followed up the “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)” video with two videos that appeared to have been shot at the same time: “Chain Reaction” and “After The Fall”, with the latter showing the band jumping around and falling, as if it was their first album. These were shot in the same studio with a few arrangements in scenery, and both songs were given a decent amount of radio airplay, especially “After The Fall”. When the videos kicked in for “Chain Reaction”, Schon’s vocal reminded me a lot of Gene Simmons’ vocals, and it could have easily been a Kiss song, in the vein of “I Love It Loud”. Compare that to a more sensitive Perry in “After The Fall”, and perhaps one could see why one became more of a hit over the other.
They were not as popular as “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)” but it didn’t matter too much for by the time airplay started to fade, the group followed it up with “Faithfully”. This was “the ballad”, and the video showed the group braving the ruthlessness of the mistress known as the road. The group were on tour to support Frontiers so a film crew tagged along to show the band at their best. It wasn’t a live performance video, but it included live footage of the band which was synched with the album’s audio. We did get to see Perry shave (whoa!!) and what it was like to be on a Journey tour bus, and the line “they said that the road ain’t no place to start a family” would be one of many reasons why countless hard rock and heavy metal bands would create music videos showing the tortured life of a touring artist. Cue Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” as proof. Nonetheless, “Faithfully” was a song about a man who had to brave the road but knew that his lady would stand by him, and wait impatiently for her man to return home… faithfully.
I get a bit sentimental when it comes to the song that Journey would release as their last single and video for Frontiers. When I first heard the album in full, it was the second song on Side 1 of the tape, following “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)”. As a 7th grader attending an intermediate school, becoming more aware of the girls around me, “Send Me My Love” was a song that said to me “this is what love might be like”, the idea that if you depart and travel somewhere, that person will never forget you, and you will never forget them. I loved everything about the song: the sweeping intro, the drums, that flowing bass, the guitar, and the piano/keyboards, all before Perry begins to sing. Even if a love departs, “broken hearts can always mend” so was that words of guidance and/or assistance? I don’t know, my 12-year old mind simply said “this is what love might be like”.
Upon its release as a single in Upon its release in September 1983, my dad was no longer a part of my life, as he had died three months earlier. My dad had made plans to move us to Canada, as he wanted to find “something better”, but my mom had chosen to move to Washington State to be closer to her sister. I had just started the 8th grade in September 1983 so while I was feeling a bit down and out after the death of my dad, I was realizing that I would soon be departing the place I grew up in, the place I loved, the place that made me. Everything I would be experiencing would be essentially a “last” something, and I’d often tie it in with what the song was saying about how “memories remain” “roses never fade”, and then comes the heartbroken bridge:
“Calling out her name, I’m dreaming
reflections of her face, I’m seeing
it’s her voice that keeps on haunting me”
Schon follows it up with a very mournful guitar solo that has pinches of optimism, or at least the optimism once had before he departs with one final goodbye, which always does it for me. In time, “Send Her My Love” would become my mythological song to Hawai’i, hoping it would remember me as much as I remember her.
As for the video, it too would become a stereotype for many videos to come: the band on the road, showing how weary the group are but still rocking out strong, aerial shots showing the success of the tour. Also notable: the shot of original MTV VJ Alan Hunter at 2:31 and for me, I always wanted to know the conversation going on between the lady at the front and an unknown recipient of said conversation which lead to the “oh my God!” expression at the end. Let’s not forget the obligatory of the crutch during this section of the video
By the end of 1983, as a student of the music video, I thought it was great that Journey had made videos for all of the songs on Side 1 of Frontier. While a small handful of artists were creating video albums (where they’d create clips for each song on the LP), it seemed to be common practice for an artist to make two or three videos for it and never do anymore. The single would come with a video, and a video generally meant single, so for Journey to make five videos? Awesome!
This is not to ignore the strength for Side 2, for we’re talking awesome songs like “Back Talk”, “Troubled Child”, “Edge Of The Blade”, “Rubicon”, and a song I felt should have been released as a single, the title track. I always loved Perry’s vocal performance in it and its use of reverb, and the track was a nice way of saying “this is what the album was all about, now let’s everyone join together and find new frontiers”. Those songs on Side 2 are genuine rockers and should receive the kind of airplay that the hits do today, but sadly that hasn’t happened.
The release of Frontiers also lead to the Journey arcade video game and pinball machine, and for those of us who would spend hours in game rooms, playing something Journey seemed very cool in between bouts of Asteroids and Moon Cresta. Having a video game named after you, in the first mega-era of video games, was a huge honor and while no one was talking about bit rates or anything like that, I’m certain many of us spent a few quarters on them.
By the time airplay slowed down a bit for the Frontiers album, I was about embrace a new world known as the mainland, and find a new home in the Pacific Northwest. The album would become one of the last my dad bought me, but the power of the music has not overshadowed this fact. It did (in my mind at least) mark the end of the Perry/Schon/Smith/Valory/Cain of the band, which turned them into mega superstars. Valory and Smith would be given the boot, Perry would find success as a solo artist with “Oh Sherrie”, “Strung Out” and “Foolish Hearts”. Before the band released their next album, they would release a few songs from the Frontiers sessions onto soundtracks. When they returned with Raised On Radio in 1986, it seemed everyone had/needed to be on MTV to be heard, so giving their album that title seemed less futuristic than previous albums and almost as if they were accepting that they were slowly becoming a thing of the past. It didn’t stop the band from getting hits like “Girl Can’t Help It” and e “Be Good To Yourself”, but it just felt different. Maybe I was getting older, I was officially a teenager looking at a world from “teen eyes”, or I had to deal with the culture shock of new surroundings. Then again, it was much more than that.
No matter. Frontiers is the peak of an incredible time in Journey’s discography, a record that remains as timeless today as it did when I knew it would be a classic in 1983.
Meaty, beaty, big & noisy as fuck: that’s what this album from Interlard sounds like, and it’s ultragood. If you love your sounds a bit claustrophobic, turned up to 11 but with a sense of groove that makes it too interesting to ignore, check out Meanwhile, five songs where the song lengths are as interesting as the music itself. Shortest song is about 2:45 while the longest song is 13:16. Imagine the last two minutes of Nirvana’s “Endless Nameless” mixed in with some of the deafening jams of Sonic Youth, cut up with the tribal groove of !!! and a sense of distorted freedom that comes from understanding the combination of experimentation and minimalism, and you have what Interlard are about in these five songs. Take on the album closer “Tear Smell”, and it’s a delusional mind fuck sandwiched between two slices of beautiful sounds, as if birth and death are the only times when one will be able to hear sounds grandeur, and life is just a doomed mess. Maybe that’s what it is, or maybe not, but it’s Interlard.
Brooklyn is where Mic Handz calls home, and out of the HQ comes a track called “All I Know”, featuring the assistance of Rock or Heltah Skeltah fame, and here he goes by The Rockness Monstah. As Mic Handz says in the track, you’ll have to “go and get your head together” after listening to this one, a bit of the gritty and griminess.
The work “leak” should not apply to something done officially, so the news about Foot Village “leaking” the final cover for their forthcoming album and its track listing? I will not use that word, so let’s officially begin this in the second paragraph.
Foot Village will be releasing a new album in March called Make Memories (Northern Spy), and as a preview, the band are sharing the track listing: 1. 1600 Dolla Bill
2. This Song Is A Drug Deal
3. AIDS Sucks, Make Money
4. New Jersey
6. The End Of The World
Not only that, but they’re also a video trailer, a means of a tease.
An album sampler is also being made available, fill in the box below:
The album will be made available for pre-sale beginning on December 21st over at Northern Spy.
I’ve been a fan of Anastacia since she was a runner-up in the short-lived MTV talent show The Cut, enjoyed her first two albums big time and while she achieved a bit of success in Europe, home grown success in America was not as big as it should have been. Nonetheless she pushed on and has continued to record music over the years. Her new project features her doing all covers, specifically of songs fronted by men, thus the title It’s A Man’s World (BMG Rights Management). While this is an official album, this is the equilavent of a “street album” in hip-hop. In this case, this is meant to be something to make fans anticipate an album of all new material due out in 2013, but after listening to this, I wonder if this was even necessary.
On the good side, she has Glen Ballard to produce the entire project, so when it rocks on the musical side, it definitely stays true to the original versions. She has the vocal capabilities to do each song one better, but only does this in maybe half of the tracks, which includes AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, U2′s “One”, and Kings Of Leon’s “Use Somebody”. Her take of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” is respectable but I wish she really allowed herself to get freaky, as Robert Plant did in the original. When she gets to taking on “Best Of You” by the Foo Fighters, it makes me wish the entire album was as strong as this track. Taking on The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” makes sense, and she pulls it off beautifully.
Some of the other tracks seem like toss-off choices, such as Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” or Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, but perhaps her objective was to choose songs that are genuine radio hits in order to find herself in rotation in classic rock radio circles. I’d love to see and hear this with Anastacia but I would have selected songs that are more ballsy, and these are mainstream accessible. Then again, even doing something like Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” would’ve been cool, but someone like Nikka Costa would have pulled it off better.
Anastacia now shows a rock side that she may choose to cater to every now and then, and while the obvious response to It’s A Woman’s World would be “it would be nothing without a woman or a girl”, it’s nice that she does give these songs a feminine touch, more daring on some tracks where she keeps to a male perspective, so if you listen to “Ramble On”, she is looking for the queen of her dreams herself.
While I may not take a liking to it in full, European audiences are, as her album has already achieved Top 20 status. If she does a rock project like this, I would love for her to do at least two or three songs that are more daring, along with songs that pop audiences may be familiar with.
This is the day that Headnodic releases a new album called The Iguana, my review of which can be read by clicking here. My words offer praise for an incredible recording, and I say this without being related to the main. My worse are not false, it’s that good and if you’d like to get a hint of that goodness, there’s a video ready for the song “Mandelorian”, featuring Kat Ouano, Tom Ayers, and Max MacVeety in assistance. The video also has a hi-res option so check that out too.
There was a time in recorded music history where if someone showed an interest in something not directly related to music, it was considered the end of their career. You could not do something “other than” music or face the risk of constant questions about your music downfall. That has definitely changed in the last 20 to 30 years. Music and art have always been close companions, and Incubus drummer Jose Pasillas has had a union with his art for years, showing it on a number of their different projects. Now he’s about to share that love of art with an exhibit beginning on November 1st called Abstract + Rhythm Landscapes, which will feature 100 pieces, each one hand numbered and signed by the artist. The exhibit is said to be his combination of rhythm and art, or what the press releases calls “a sonic landscape where rhythm is translated onto canvas through the use of a sophisticated process that converts drumstrokes into color and light.” Pasillas is also into stencils, so you’ll definitely see a mixture of the scholastic with certain graffiti styles along the way, or as Pasillas himself states, “I also like repetition, and stenciling is perfect for repetition.”
News about Dave Grohl announcing a time-out for the Foo Fighters went live this morning, leading to immediate reaction, and speculation about the future of Grohl and the band. Reading Grohl’s own statement, it seems that for him and everyone else in the group, the time is right to do this:
Dave here. Just wanted to write and thank you all again from the bottom of my heart for another incredible year. (Our 18th, to be exact!) We truly never could have done any of this without you…
Never in my wildest dreams did I think Foo Fighters would make it this far. I never thought we COULD make it this far, to be honest. There were times when I didn’t think the band would survive. There were times when I wanted to give up. But… I can’t give up this band. And I never will. Because it’s not just a band to me. It’s my life. It’s my family. It’s my world.
Yes… I was serious. I’m not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again. It feels strange to say that, but it’s a good thing for all of us to go away for a while. It’s one of the reasons we’re still here. Make sense? I never want to NOT be in this band. So, sometimes it’s good to just… put it back in the garage for a while…
But, no gold watches or vacations just yet… I’ll be focusing all of my energy on finishing up my Sound City documentary film and album for worldwide release in the very near future. A year in the making, it could be the biggest, most important project I’ve ever worked on. Get ready… it’s coming.
Me, Taylor, Nate, Pat, Chris, and Rami… I’m sure we’ll all see you out there… somewhere…
Thank you, thank you, thank you…
The news and letter from Grohl is perhaps leading many to wonder why. For any musician, health is important. I’m not just talking physical health, but mental and creative health. That’s not to say that the Foo Fighters have lost their creative edge or they gave up on pushing themselves, but look at Grohl’s rise in success not only for himself, but for the Foo. Up until he joined Nirvana, it was only punk, hardcore, and alternative kids who knew who this drummer from Scream was. He had moved to Washington, D.C. and became the band’s drummer in his teens, and their fanbase was small but loyal. People loved his contribution to their sound, and they toured like crazy. With the alternative music boom of the late 80′s and early 90′s, Grohl would become a focus, but things went crazy when it was announced he would become a member of a band from “the other Washington” known as Nirvana. Kurt Cobain’s death left a void after incredible success with their second and third albums, but Grohl didn’t stop. He was already making tapes at home of his own material, multi-tracking everything, and that would be the Foo Fighters, where the only Foo on the album was him. While attention towards the Foo was focused on “the former Nirvana drummer”, he proved that he could do a lot more. Most drummers don’t get attention from the background unless they push themselves. He not only stepped up to the microphone, but he played the guitar. He was not afraid to play the fool in his videos, and the live band he had chosen would become the Foo Fighters group proper. Since the mid-1990′s, Grohl has been one of the more in-demand drummers out there, and he has always satisfied his muse by getting involved in many projects, including those of his childhood and adult musical heroes.
The new century also showed a change and shift in the music industry, with some wondering how some popular forms of music were not as popular, while there were artists who seemed to dominate the charts. It got to a point where some critics felt that the Foo Fighters were one of the few mainstream hard rock acts to not only release successful albums, but also go on tours that would also become successes. They weren’t so much role models for those who may have admired them, but they were the lone cubs. The Foo Fighters were still making new and vibrant music, they are not a nostalgia act and yet they were up there with the ranks of Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Celine Dion. That’s not to take away anything from heavy music, because there’s a wealth of great and new music coming out on a regular basis. For a generation, the Foo Fighters were not only one of the few, but sometimes it felt like they were the only ones out there. While that may be good to be the sole group, sometimes creativity, passion, and drive comes from having competition out there, even through the true competitor is yourself.
Fortunately, Grohl has always found other projects to do, but with the word “hiatus” being thrown around for the Foo Fighters, is that just a calmer way to say break-up? If so, do we ask why or do we say “who cares?” That’s not to say that no one cares, but I think the issue of a band’s status comes from those who want more from their favorite bands, which only leads to a debate over fading out of the spotlight at the right moment vs. “we want you to rock forever”. Would it be different if Grohl didn’t make a statement? Perhaps, he could have easily remained quiet and come back in 2014 or 2015 and boom: new album and tour. Again, Grohl has been involved in many projects. Maybe he wants to show his Foo Fighters fan base that he has always been more than Foo, and if you like him for his work with that band, then follow his path wherever he chooses to go. The diehard fans will do that. I loved the Foo Fighters documentary where they all talked about their roots and origins, and how surprised they are to be where they are today. One can argue that perhaps Grohl is comfortable and wants to live a more sane life. He has been performing, recording, writing, and singing for 26 years. Maybe he wants to go fishing, head to Goodwill and by ceramic owls. Go to Wal-Mart at 2am and buy Preparation H. He might want to become a nurse, or become a part of the 2016 Olympic archery team. Or maybe this will be the moment when Grohl will be replaced in his own band by Alanis Morissette and truly freak people out.
Either way, whether it is a time out, a hiatus, a thinly guised break-up, or just his way of saying “my feet are sore”, be thankful for the music Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters have created. Even if you hate them, this only means your hate will/should end for the time being. Focus it on someone else you don’t care about. Grohl probably wouldn’t mind.
I’d welcome the return of Dale Nixon for a few projects, though. Now I’m being greedy.
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Discovered this book review blog when someone had posted a review of a music book. Went through it and saw a number of books I immediately put on my want list. Created by Maria Popova and features a number of contributors.
Cool slew of goodies from books and diaries to T-shirts, bags and soaps. Now based in Portland.
The show is no more, but you may explore the archives of this great Portland-based podcast while you can. You may now listen to Cort & Bobby in Welcome To That Whole Thing, listed below.