Monday, February 28, 2011

Hand Covers Bruise

Congratulations to Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross for their first Oscar for Best Original Score for The Social Network. Totally deserving of that award. The film wouldn't have been what it is if it weren't for the music (a bit similar to NIN's Ghosts). From the first time you see that title sequence with the main theme, you know this is not your usual college flick. But aside from that, the outstanding directing (David Fincher) and writing (The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin) and acting made The Social Network one of the top five films I've seen this past decade. Like what Rebel Without A Cause and Easy Rider was to audiences back in the '60s, The Social Network is the film of this generation. Just don't NOT watch it because it's a film about Facebook. Cause in many ways it's more than that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Low Country Blues

Gregg Allman's new solo album is a force of nature. Other than songs from household names like Muddy Waters, BB King and Otis Rush, Low Country Blues consists mostly of lesser-known blues numbers. It is very similar in spirit to Eric Clapton's most recent record and in production to Elton John & Leon Russell's The Union, also produced by T-Bone Burnett. It features an outstanding backup band, including Dr. John on piano, Dennis Crouch on bass and Jay Bellerose on drums. Even the new song, Just Another Rider (written with Warren Haynes), fits in right at home with all this other stuff. Aside from the great arrangements, listen to this for Gregg's compelling voice. If you want a good 'ol, non-flashy blues record, you got it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The King Of Limbs

It's been four years since In Rainbows (which I remembered paying 1 pd for), and Radiohead surprised the music world by announcing five days ago that they were releasing a new album today. This time it has only eight songs, and it'll leave you wanting more. I think you gotta be in the right frame of mind to listen to this cause it's so melancholic and moody. But this one's a real grower, along the same lines as The National's High Violet. For me it always takes time to appreciate Radiohead. I'm not so sure about a song like Feral though; may be a bit too 'avant garde' for my taste (but the drumming is sick). But musically, the whole album's stunning. You can hear lots of intricate jazz-like melodies. And there's also this chill-out lounge vibe to the whole thing.

I think the album really hits its stride halfway through. Lotus Flower is driven by infectious drumming and bass, and has singer Thom Yorke doing his signature falsettos over a weirdly catchy synth chord progression in the chorus. Speaking of which, check out the video for the song; Yorke's dancing is just jaw-dropping awesome. My current favorite is Codex, a devastating piano piece -- the funny thing is that it sounds so familiar like you've heard it before, then the music just turns on you unexpectedly and you're presented with a very unique sonic experience (after that it segues nicely into Give Up The Ghost, which is plainly put, a mysteriously calming tune) . And that goes the same for the rest of the songs too. Like it or not, you can always count on Radiohead to be a few steps ahead of every other band of their generation. No doubt the best album of the year yet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The 53rd Grammy Awards

So the Grammys finally got it right this year, by awarding Arcade Fire with Album of the Year for The Suburbs. They totally deserve it; after all the other nominees are crap, maybe save Eminem. They were also the last band to perform. After the ultra short speech by Win Butler, they decided to play Ready To Start -- an unscripted moment. On the other hand, I can't believe Neil Young (or Tom Petty and Pearl Jam for that matter) lost the Best Rock Album to the overrated Muse. But Neil finally got his first music Grammy for Angry World (Best Rock Song). Congrats to him.

I stopped paying close attention to the awards ever since Bruce lost The Rising to Norah Jones in '03. Like I said before, the Grammys have been pretty much irrelevant for a long time; it has always been a popularity contest. But sometimes the performances are worth tuning in to. The biggest surprise was Bob Dylan actually doing Maggie's Farm, backed by an all-acoustic Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers and his own band. It was like one of those hootenanny events you'd see at the old Ryman Auditorium. As usual, Dylan couldn't 'sing', but he still sounded fucking cool, even without a guitar or keyboard. Nice little harp solo at the end too. And then Mick Jagger did a soulful tribute to the late Solomon Burke that was just out of this world. The man has not lost a single step at all. He still got it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eric Clapton Live

The Clapton gig felt like a two hour jam session, with musicianship at its highest level. This time he was the only guitarist, but had two guys on keys. The great Steve Gadd was on drums. Last time I saw Clapton was in 2007, and I still prefer that show to this. Back then, he had two guitar players, one of whom was Derek Trucks, master of the slide. There was no slide tonight, which meant a stripped down Layla, which was really lackluster for me. I was also disappointed when he played Wonderful Tonight (he seriously should retire this song live), but thank God it was the short version.

Other than that, the show was awesome. There were strong, lengthy versions of songs like I Shot The Sheriff, Old Love, Crossroads and Little Queen Of Spades. But for me, the highlight was the Cream song, Badge. Just like Little Wing three years ago, it made my night. The man didn't talk at all, other than saying thank you several times. I mean, what the hell is he gonna say to the crowd? He let his Fender do the talking for him.

Next up, The National a month from now!

Key To The Highway
Going Down Slow
Hoochie Coochie Man
Old Love
I Shot The Sheriff
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
River Runs Deep
Rocking Chair
Same Old Blues
When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful
Wonderful Tonight
Before You Accuse Me
Little Queen Of Spades
Further On Up The Road

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ain't No Grave by Johnny Cash

This is like one of the greatest music videos ever. Fucking epic.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Archive

This is a moving short film about a passionate man and his record collection -- the world's largest. It's real sad that his life work has gone unappreciated. All these records need to be preserved for the sake of future generations.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vs. & Vitalogy 20th Anniversary Editions

And the Pearl Jam Twenty juggernaut rolls on!!

Epic Records and Legacy Recordings celebrate Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary with the release of newly restored and expanded editions of Vs. and Vitalogy.

and Vitalogy will each be available in Definitive Legacy Editions, Deluxe Editions and together in a Limited Edition Collector's Boxed Set on Tuesday, March 29th. Each album will also be released in new commemorative, vinyl editions on April 12th in time for Record Store Day 2011 (April 16th).

The real surprise here is a live recording of the legendary show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston during the band's '94 tour.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The End of an Era

Woke up to some sad news today. The White Stripes have officially broken up. Major fuckin' bummer. Last we heard from Jack White was he was looking forward to getting back into the studio with Meg. I never thought they'd call it quits all of a sudden. They were possibly the greatest band to break out in the past 10 years. And let us not forget that incredible trilogy of albums they put out in the mid '00s -- Elephant, Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump -- albums so damn good they actually make you cry. Jack White has taken the electric guitar and raised the level of distortion to orgasmic. Garage rock & roll blues at its purest. And Jack knows his shit too (please check out the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud if you haven't). He's like a 21st Century Son House. And it's true that everything he touches turns to gold. And while he'll probably continue doing stuff with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, it'll never be like The White Stripes. Here's what the band had to say in their final statement:

“The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

Meg and Jack White
The White Stripes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mine Smell Like Honey

This is R.E.M's new single from their upcoming record, Collapse Into Now. Buster Keaton style. And God, Michael Stipe looks old with that beard.