Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band on Late Night #1

They are back in full force, reclaiming their rightful spot as the greatest live band on the planet.

UPDATE: NPR Music will broadcast Bruce's SXSW 2012 Keynote Speech live around the world at 1pm ET on March 15 at npr.org and and sxsw.com.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

You say it's your birthday

One day after mine.

'Bruce Springsteen' week on Late Night

"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" will honor Bruce Springsteen with a weeklong musical tribute February 27 - March 2 (12:35 a.m. on NBC) to celebrate the launch of his new album, "Wrecking Ball," which will be released on Columbia Records March 6. Each night, the show's featured musical guest will perform selected songs from his extensive catalog.

Fallon welcomes Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to studio 6B on Monday, February 27 to open the week with two performances. Then, returning on Friday, March 2, which also marks "Late Night's" third anniversary, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will appear as the only guest for that episode. Springsteen will chat with Fallon for an interview segment before taking the "Late Night" stage again for multiple performances with the band. Springsteen's "Late Night" appearances are his only currently scheduled American television stops prior to a massive world tour beginning March 18 in Atlanta.

One of "Late Night's" most memorable moments included a 70s dressed Springsteen and Fallon dressed as Neil Young performing a parody of pop hit "Whip My Hair" together during the musician's November 16, 2010 debut on the talk show. The video of the comedy bit garnered instant viral success.

Tuesday night, Kenny Chesney makes his first appearance on "Late Night" when he performs "I'm on Fire," from Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A" album, a song which Chesney previously released as part of the bonus tracks from his 2004 album "When the Sun Goes Down."

Elvis Costello backed by Fallon's house band the Roots is set to perform "Brilliant Disguise" from Springsteen's album "Tunnel of Love" on Thursday, March 1.

-courtesy of brucespringsteen.net

P.S. So far, five new songs from Wrecking Ball have been officially streamed, day by day, with the remaining five coming next week. I feel that this album has to be listened to and appreciated in one sitting. So, either get the advanced leak or wait till March 6. It'll be worth it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Kathleen Edward's fourth LP is her best, musically and lyrically. It's an introspective look into a transition from one relationship to another, something most of us can relate to. This album was produced by her and partner, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. There are many subtle sonic touches here reminiscent of the band's excellent sophomore album last year; for example, the marching drumbeat during the bridge of A Soft Place To Land could only be made possible by someone like Vernon. Though the music does veer out of the raw-sounding alt-country/folk territory of her first two albums (Failer and Back To Me) and into more polished pop, it's still very much a Kathleen Edwards album, and it seems like a logical progression in this juncture in her career. The single, Change The Sheets, is her most catchy song since Summerlong or even I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory; I love the guitar licks during the verses, as it's the tiny moments like these which make the song truly wonderful to listen to. And Voyageur is filled with these kinds of moments. Both Kathleen and Justin do make a great couple.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Wrecking Ball - early press

Yesterday, journalists from all over the world were flown to Paris for a half-day private listening session of Bruce Springsteen's upcoming album (released March 5 and 6), followed by a press conference with the Boss himself, in efforts to drum up publicity in Europe. I've compiled several article/review/commentary links from various international press. So unless you don't wanna be spoiled with the details of the new songs, then read on:

Daily Mirror - "Why Bruce Springsteen is still attacking the fat bankers and robber barons" [link]

NJ.com - "Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball reviewed" [link]

The Telegraph - "I enjoy artists who take on the world" [link]
- track by track review [link]

Rolling Stone - "Bruce Springsteen explains his experimental new album" [link]

The Guardian - "What was done to my country was un-American" [link]

London Evening Standard - "The Boss is cross" [link]

The Independent - first listen [link]

The Irish Times - "A rare and reflective meeting with the Boss" [link]

Irish Independent News - "The Boss lets fly at the robber barons who destroyed dream" [link]

AFP - "Angry Springsteen gauges gap between American dream, reality" [link]

Expatica (France) - "I back Obama, but from the sidelines: Springsteen" [link]

Rockol (Italian) - album review [link]

Espressen (Sweden) - track by track review [link]

The Local (Sweden) - "US should be more like Sweden" [link]


Wanna hear the new songs? Check out Backstreets [link] from next Monday onwards.

UPDATE: Also, the entire album has leaked. I've heard it and it is FUCKING AMAZING. Full review to come in March.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clear Heart Full Eyes

Craig Finn's debut solo album is similar in spirit to last year's Brian Fallon's side project, The Horrible Crowes' Elsie, in that it's music you won't expect to hear on a Gaslight Anthem record. In this case you don't have the signature guitar riffs that populate every other Hold Steady tune. Still it's a surprisingly catchy batch of songs. What you'll find more or less the same is Finn's singing and lyrical styling and phrasing (something that takes a bit of getting used to if you've not a Hold Steady listener) -- still crafting film-norish poems about the losers and misfits of America, just incorporated into a different, more country-flavored instrumentation. There's a good amount of pedal steel, which I always love. And for those with discerning ears, you can immediately tell that the melody of the opening track, Apollo Bay, is exactly the same as a certain notable Neil Young song (clue: it's from the '70s and not a hit). This is the perfect record to listen to on a Valentine's Day afternoon, paired with Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas late at night!


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Grammys

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band kicked off the 54th Grammy Awards by giving us an invigorating performance of We Take Care Of Our Own, backed by a big string section. You could tell by the way the Boss moved that he's just itching to get back on the road. The band sounded tight as usual, and it's gonna work excellent as a concert opener. Still the stage looked 'empty' without the presence of the Big Man; though during the In Memoriam spot, he was the second last to appear, right before the recently departed Whitney Houston.

The other performances of the night -- I was looking forward to The Beach Boys reunion, though I didn't really know what to make of Good Vibrations. I felt it was kinda borderline. For a second there, Mike Love looked as weird as Lady Gaga. They should've gotten Glen Campbell to join them on the guitar for that. Speaking of him, Campbell, soon to retire from music due to Alzheimer's, did put on one of the best performances, singing a stirring Rhinestone Cowboy, his signature tune, with country up-and-comers, Blake Shelton and The Band Perry, who also did Southern Nights and Gentle On My Mind respectively.

Meanwhile, the Civil Wars only played for like a minute and a half, but they're finally getting worldwide recognition. Congrats to them winning for Best Folk Album and Best Country Performance. And also to Foo Fighters for taking home all their 'rock category' accolades. They rocked the house on Walk, but seeing them play during the dance music segment (with some weirdo in a fucking Mickey Mouse helmet) was just dreadful. Sucks that Bon Iver didn't perform though; Justin Vernon kept his integrity by refusing to do the collaboration thing. It's nice to see him walk away with Best New Artist, though his band isn't exactly new (seriously how do the Grammys work?), and his acceptance speech was sarcastically classy.

The ceremony ended with Paul McCartney and his band doing the Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End medley, showing the young uns how it's done. And to make things even better, Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Springsteen came out and traded guitar licks with one another after the drum solo. Unfortunately, Bruce's guitar playing was less than stellar (partly thanks to the sound mix), but still it was a joy seeing all of them together onstage. Undoubtedly the most memorable Grammy closer in recent years.

CLICK HERE for RS interview with Little Steven.

UPDATE: Apparently there was supposed to be a tribute to Clarence Clemons (link) by fellow saxman Maceo Parker, but it had to be cut to make room for the tribute to Whitney Houston. What a shame, cause there were a couple of performances that deserved to be dropped in favor of the Big Man (Chris Brown, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Coldplay, Nicki 'whatever her name is'........ all fucking terrible).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

the official video

Remember to tune in to the Grammy Awards on Sunday Night (8/7c) to watch Bruce and the band perform this song live for the first time. They're opening the show!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The E Street Orchestra

That's what it should be called! After months of speculation, the replacement/s for the late, great Clarence Clemons have been revealed:

The expanded lineup for this Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour features singers Cindy Mizelle and Curtis King, trombonist Clark Gayton and trumpeter Curt Ramm, all of whom have toured with Bruce Springsteen in the past, along with newcomer Barry Danielian on trumpet. E Street stalwart Eddie Manion and first time tour member Jake Clemons will share the saxophone role.
- courtesy of brucespringsteen.net

Ed Manion is no stranger of course. He has been a long-time member of Southside Johnny's Asbury Jukes, but has toured alongside the E Street Band during the Born To Run tour, was part of the Miami Horns during the Born In The U.S.A. and the subsequent Tunnel Of Love Express tours. He also played a notable role in Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band during the '06 tour. So it would only be fitting to have him as the saxophonist for the upcoming world tour. He was one of the key players in shaping the Jersey Shore sound and is technically capable of fulfilling Clarence's parts, but we all know nobody can truly replace the Big Man.

I think Bruce made the absolute right decision by adding another sax player. It sort of eases the enormous weight and responsibility of having to fill in for C entirely. Jake Clemons is Clarence's nephew. Sentimental reason, perhaps? But take note that Jake is able to hold his own when it comes to performing. Last year, he guested at Eddie Vedder's solo show, doing the sax solo on Drive All Night as a tribute, something the Big Man would've been proud of. With Ed and Jake in the picture now, it'll be interesting to see who takes what solos.

The backup singers, veterans Cindy Mizelle and Curtis Kings were nice additions previously as they brought the soul and gospel to the music , and I hope Bruce utilizes them more this time round. And then we have the horns -- I for one am looking forward to finally hearing Curt Ramm live, having not seen him on the last leg of the previous '09 tour. Coupled with the two sax players, this entire band of sixteen people onstage is gonna be a real powerhouse. Imagine the endless possibilities; new arrangements and new band dynamics, more crowd participation. We'll probably get lots of songs from The Promise, while Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and Kitty's Back are gonna seriously gonna bring the house down! Higher And Higher should remain as the show closer.

Here's the rest of the band line-up:
Guitar & Vocals - Steve Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa
Piano & Synthesizer - Roy Bittan
Bass - Garry Tallent
Drums - Max Weinberg
Keyboards - Charlie Giordano
Violin, Guitar & Vocals - Soozie Tyrell

One final thing: The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame just announced that they'll start inducting backing groups from this year onwards, to make up for their past 'mistakes'. This year's honorees come from the early generation of rock & roll: the Comets (Bill Haley), Blue Caps (Gene Vincent), Crickets (Buddy Holly), Famous Flames (James Brown), Midnighters (Hank Ballard) and of course, the Miracles (Smokey Robinson). So it's pretty obvious that the next-generation backing groups like Crazy Horse, Silver Bullet Band (Bob Seger), the Wailers (Bob Marley) and the Belmonts (Dion) will get in sometime within the next few years. Glad to see the Hall going in the right direction, but c'mon, they should've done this a long fucking time ago. And of course I couldn't be happier that the E Street Band is gonna get the recognition they rightfully deserve.

Friday, February 3, 2012


By this point I've totally given up on the Grammy Awards, but now there's a reason to watch it, come Feb 12. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band has been added to the list of performers, which comes as a huge but pleasant surprise. This would mark their first public performance without Clarence Clemons. Will it be a tribute (and will we get to see the new sax player), or will it be Bruce's new single, We Take Care Of Our Own? Given the way Grammy performances has worked in the past, in line with efforts to promote new singles/albums, it's probably the latter, though with Bruce you never know. Still it's gonna be exciting finally seeing the guys back together on primetime television again. Then on March 9, the band will be playing a special pre-tour show at the historic Apollo Theater, to be broadcast live on SiriusXM Radio, so look out for that too.

On a side note, I know getting tickets for the North American shows have been major disasters, especially for those NY/NJ gigs. Seems like Spring 2009 all over again, the fucking scalpers still have the upper hand. And we're not talking about those people who sell tickets way above face value outside the venues, we're talking corporations linked to Ticketmaster. I feel sorry for all the real fans getting shut out. Thank God this isn't a big issue in Europe. I'm sure when they return to the States in the summer to play stadiums and ball parks, it'll be much easier getting tix. Also, it has been said that this is gonna be a long tour, taking up more than a year, so chances of them venturing out to Australia, Asia and South America in 2013 are quite likely.

Another big Grammy-related news is the 2012 MusiCares Person Of The Year ceremony honoring Paul McCartney. Neil Young & Crazy Horse are one of the bands paying tribute to Sir Paul, their first performance together since 2004. Just one sure-fire sign that they may be touring or releasing a new album very soon; the other one being the recently recorded 37min jam video posted (Fuckin' Up and Cortez The Killer) on the official website, which every fan must've seen by now. It sounds exactly what you'd expect from the Horse; they haven't lost their chops one bit. Ultra-casual, ultra-raw, and lots of kick-ass attitude.


New releases:
Still waiting for the Leonard Cohen, Kathleen Edwards and Craig Finn albums to arrive. I tell ya, our country's music stores are fucking slow bringing in all the good stuff, so I resort to Amazon.

40th Anniversary L.A. Woman by The Doors. Average packaging, decent liner notes by David Fricke. It's in the original stereo mix, but remastered, thankfully quite different from the one that was released in '07 (that was the remix, also done by engineer Bruce Botnick). The second disc contains alternate versions of seven songs, which certainly justifies getting this set, but the interesting stuff lies in the studio chatter before and after the takes. Jim Morrison sounded rather chipper. Though we all know what happened when he left the sessions for Paris.


Finally, the Stones Archive has just released the second official bootleg: Hampton Coliseum, Live 1981. Very very good setlist, contains epic versions of Beast Of Burden, Imagination, Miss You and Jumping Jack Flash and a couple of new ones then from Tattoo You; for those who liked the loose, raw vibe (and outstanding mix by Bob Clearmountain) on Brussels Affair, getting this one's a no-brainer! Still I prefer the first one, cause Mick Taylor was in the band.