Sunday, September 30, 2012


Green Day's latest album [link], their first in a trilogy, has them finally moving away from the big, epic thematic elements of rock opera that made 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot (still their best record) so damn good, and somewhat going back to their early days of Dookie and Insomniac. It's kinda refreshing, though after a while it just bores me down with its repetitiveness. The music is more pop punk (I hate this term) and power pop, kinda like Good Charlotte (I hate this band). Sure the production is all souped-up and slick...too slick for its own good in fact, and what's missing in most of the songs are the edge, the attitude and the angst that was heard in their early stuff. And the numerous f-bombs throughout doesn't really help either. The second installment, ¡Dos!, coming out in November, will be more garage rock, so at least that's something to look forward to. And the third, ¡TrĂ©!, will be geared towards stadium rock with lusher arrangements. While on the subject of rock trios, Dinosaur Jr.'s new I Bet On Sky is simply GREAT. Great songwriting, great melodies, what's not to like? [link]

P.S. CLICK HERE for a list of more upcoming releases...


Neil Young revealed his Pono prototype a few days ago on David Letterman [link]. He's soon gonna re-revolutionize the way we listen to our music, no doubt about that; just like Steve Jobs and Apple did with the iPod and iTunes years ago. So presumably, this Pono player is gonna incorporate digital-to-analog conversion technology that will allow consumers to hear what musicians actually hear during the recording process in the studio. How all this magic is contained into one tiny device, I don't know. According to Neil, and this may or may not be entirely true, mp3 gives us only 1% of the actual sound, CDs about 15%, while analog gives us the complete picture. We're not getting full analog here, unlike vinyl, but digital wise, it's apparently the best sound that this new player can provide. While this venture is very promising, it also raises many questions....firstly, how much will Pono cost? If Neil is really serious about delivering this to the masses (which I assume is his main purpose in the first place), it should be affordable. When it comes to portable music players, Apple has pretty much a stronghold on the market. And I'm not certain, but nowadays, I think people would rather listen to their music on the go using their smart phones. The source is always No.1, and even with expensive headphones playing lossless WAV files, you're still not gonna get the best sound on an iPhone, as compared to say, a CD player and hi-fi speakers. So Pono may just be the solution, long time coming, but will people still want a standalone portable player (most importantly, will there also be a home playback system for the more serious listeners)? Which leads to another question......high resolution, 192kHz/24-bit music ain't cheap, and do people (especially the younger demographic) really wanna re-buy something they already own, only this time in a much better audio quality? And considering how big high-res files are, how much space is this new player going to hold? The majority of the music-listening public are already so used to the convenience of mp3s and lossy file formats that it's gonna be a challenge changing their mindset and convincing them to spend more money on improved quality. I'm definitely not trying to second-guess Neil's intentions. If anything, this bold undertaking is ultimately a labor of love, coming from someone like him. I'm sure all this information about Pono will be out in due time. But it's good to get the conversation going now among audiophiles and music fans. At the end of the day, it all comes down to choice. Mp3s and music portability has become a way of life. Facebook and online social media has become a way of life. Personally, I would love to have 'hearing music in pristine, uncompressed quality' become a way of life in the world too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walk Like A Giant

The new Neil Young & Crazy Horse single is up for sale on iTunes. For something less than two bucks for a 16min song, it's crazily cheap and crazily worth it. Plus you get the full trippy video. The song just about blew my mind, and I got extreme goosebumps throughout the whole thing. The whistling is as cheesy as it is awesome; something you'd come to expect from the Horse. I can just picture Neil going nuts in the studio like he does onstage, playing the shit out of his trusty 'Ol Black. Slightly over a month to go before we get to swallow that Psychedelic Pill.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New York City

Taken from Joey's recent triumphant posthumous album, this ingenious, one-of-a-kind music video perfectly captures the alternative spirit and culture of his hometown. 99.9% of today's music videos are utter crap, so this a godsend. There are a few well-known faces in there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


 Happy Birthday, Boss! I'll be seeing you again next year. 

Heads up -- This week, photographer Eric Meola, the man who shot the Born To Run cover, is releasing another hardcover book titled Streets Of Fire, a compilation of photographs from the Darkness era (1977 - 1979). 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Neil Young comes clean

photo courtesy of David Carr, New York Times (2012)

Here's a new, exclusive in-depth New York Times feature about 'ol Neil that's sure to get fans excited and talking [link]. Next Tuesday, his eagerly anticipated memoir, Waging Heavy Peace comes out. Less than a month from now, his solo concert film directed by Jonathan Demme, Neil Young Journeys, comes out on blu-ray. And then only two weeks later, we get his second new album with Crazy Horse this year, Psychedelic Pill. Now, why the hell are we still waiting for that 2007 Trunk Show to be released?

CLICK HERE to watch Walk Like A Giant!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Away From The World

I've sorta stopped listening to the Dave Matthews Band studio stuff a long, long while ago. After going through the many live albums they have, I rarely went back to the originals. The band finally took a break off extensive touring last year, presumably to start work on their new album. I'm glad they chose to work with producer, Steve Lillywhite again -- their previous collaborations were Under The Table & Dreaming and Crash. He understands them like no other producer does, and he knows exactly how to bring out the best in each of the crazily talented members. Away From The World is a stunning album, musically. It has a very classic '90s DMB vibe. Melody, melody, melody -- that's what it's all about. Unfortunately Dave Matthews has decided to impart lots of lyrical cliches into several of the songs.

Mercy, the lead single, is one of those 'we can change the world if we love one another' kind of songs. The theme continues into Gaucho, which I initially thought was a Steely Dan cover. It's good, but the lyrics are just too unoriginal, and I actually cringed once when I heard the children singing. It then transitions into Sweet, perhaps the first DMB tune to feature ukulele. It's exactly what it is; sweet, and as catchy as anything they've ever done. The Riff is a monster; signature DMB sound. The instrumental breakdowns sound like Grateful Dead's Terrapin Station on acid.

Belly Belly Nice (poor title) reminds me of Shake Me Like A Monkey from Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King. There's a lot of sexuality in the lyrics, which Dave can pen really well. Saxophonist Jeff Coffin has long assimilated his skills into the band, ever since the tragic passing of LeRoi Moore in 2008. Big Whiskey might have sounded like as if Roi were still in the band, but on here, there are no more of his distinctive licks. With Jeff together with trumpeter Rashawn Ross, they make a powerful duo. Meanwhile, violinist Boyd Tinsley is the reason why this band remains so great. And not to mention Tim Reynolds, guitar extraordinaire, bringing some balance. So it's a bigger band now, though that doesn't necessarily mean bigger sound all the time. The instruments breathe well, thanks to Lillywhite's production.

My favorite is If Only. DMB just knows how to create sexy grooves. Classy songwriting. The words flow so beautifully with the addictive rhythm. Rooftop is as blues rocksy as it gets. Snow Outside has the band going into jam band mode, and it once again, showcases the insane fluidity of Carter Beauford's drumming. This one will probably be much longer in concert; and that can be said the same for the epic closer, Drunken Soldier. Even the song's long outtro takes a page from the famous chord progression of Pink Floyd's Breathe In The Air. Solid album overall, so much better than Everyday and Stand Up, but in my opinion, it can't beat Big Whiskey. I still very much wanna see DMB live again.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Celebration Day

There has been a countdown the past five days leading up to a big announcement on the official Led Zeppelin Facebook page. A reunion tour wasn't ruled out entirely, though it would never have been possible, given the current circumstances. All clues and rumors could only point to one thing....a concert film of the band's one-off reunion gig at London's O2 Arena in December 2007. It was actually part of a larger tribute concert in honor of the late Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary Atlantic Records founder and producer. It is perhaps the hardest concert ticket in history....20 million people (including me) worldwide entered the lottery, but only 18,000 got in. Celebration Day will be shown in select cinemas across the world on October 17 [link]. And on November 19, the film will finally be made available on multiple video and audio formats. This year just keeps getting better and better for music fans!

1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Ramble On
3. Black Dog
4. In My Time Of Dying
5. For Your Life
6. Trampled Under Foot
7. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
8. No Quarter
9. Since I’ve Been Loving You
10. Dazed And Confused
11. Stairway To Heaven
12. The Song Remains The Same
13. Misty Mountain Hop
14. Kashmir
15. Whole Lotta Love
16. Rock And Roll

UPDATE: Here are the available formats [link].

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

it's called Psychedelic Pill

Earlier this year, while promoting Americana through press interviews, Neil Young also mentioned he and Crazy Horse have recorded a batch of entirely new songs and that they might see the light of day sooner than later. Well, knowing how Neil works, who would've thought he'd actually keep his word! It's finally coming out on October 30th on double-CD, with the triple-LP vinyl to follow in late November. There will be a blu-ray version also, which will include videos of the songs. Indeed a funky album title with a funky album cover. I reckon almost every fan will completely forget about Americana once this is released. It's gonna be magnificent [link]. 

Disc One:
01. Driftin’ Back (27:36)
02. Psychedelic Pill (3:26)
03. Ramada Inn (16:49)
04. Born In Ontario (3:49)

Disc Two:
01. Twisted Road (3:28)
02. She’s Always Dancing (8:33)
03. For The Love Of Man (4:13)
04. Walk Like A Giant (16:27)

Bonus Track:
05. Psychedelic Pill (Alternate Mix)


Monday, September 10, 2012


Even at age 71, is there nothing Bob Dylan can't do that's still refreshing and kick-ass as ever? The man has been constantly touring the world every year (been doing that since the late '80s) and prolifically churning out new stuff. Most artists can only dream of having a career like this. When news of his latest album was announced, many speculated what if this could be his final farewell in recording (the title was after all, taken from Shakespeare's final play). Fortunately he publicly dispelled those claims. Tempest follows closely the same vein as his previous three (not counting Christmas In The Heart) since 2001's Love And Theft. So musically he's not breaking any new ground. But he can still pen songs as riveting and passionate as his thirty year old self. That's why people keep coming back to Dylan.

Duquesne Whistle (co-written with Grateful Dead collaborator, Robert Hunter) begins kinda unexpectedly, at least in a Dylanesque sense. The short intro evokes a very charming, 50s American Suburban outlook. Even when the song is in full swing, there's this juxtaposition of the somewhat unhappy lyrics against the chirpy innocence in the music, that only someone like Dylan can pull off. Lovely instrumental breakdown in the middle. I love the uncompromising raggedness and godlike quality in his voice; his singing is the absolute shit, and I mean it in a perfectly good way; he can do marvelous things to his words. Soon After Midnight fits right in as the second track, a tender old-fashion ballad with a melody we've all heard somewhere before, and it's easily one of the best slow love songs he's sung in a while; the subtle pedal steel makes it more gorgeous. Long And Wasted Years....oh my God; that's where it's fucking at, man. Infectious melody, infectious chord progression, and a powerhouse vocal performance that's sure to give lots of goosebumps. I only wish it were longer. 

Narrow Way is a rollicking 12-bar blues tune with a very similar groove to Summer Days; he's done this kind of thing thousands of times before, but it never gets old. There are other musical similarities elsewhere; most noticeably on Early Roman Kings, a stab at the greedy corporate pigs of America, which sounds exactly like Muddy Waters' Mannish Boy, but with the accordion providing the main lick. The mysterious and haunting Scarlet Town is reminiscent of Ain't Talkin', the underrated closing tune off Modern Times. Even Pay In Blood, a very catchy straight-up rock tune, sounds like something from the Stones catalog circa late 70s/early 80s. Really dirty, really badass growl. I'll even dare say it's his most accessible song in a decade. Tin Angel is another classic example of Dylan's prowess as a narrative songwriter. Here is a tragic love tale told in nine minutes. It's so damn good you won't mind the monotonous melody.

The title track is another one of those epic-length songs (fourteen minutes -- almost as long as Highlands, close in spirit to Cross The Green Mountain), done in Irish Waltz style, in which Dylan tackles a subject you'd never thought he'd do; the Titanic and its maiden swansong. He's a visual storyteller -- you can almost picture yourself going down with the ship. Lastly Roll On John is a tribute to Lennon, one I'm sure he would love if he were still alive today. Tributes aren't really Dylan's forte, but seriously, this is one of the all-time top songs in this category. He drops a few Beatles lyrics throughout the verses; he sings the chorus everytime with slight variation, and everytime it cuts right to the heart. It's a fitting closer.

This record boasts a great production, with a solid low-end. The players are from Dylan's current touring band, some of the best live musicians you'll ever hear -- they are extremely tight onstage. To sum up this new album in one word, it's sublime. And the flow from song to song is just flawless. Countless brilliant one-liners. May be a bit too early to say, but to my ears already, this could easily be his best work since 1997's Time Out Of Mind. It's a combination of the best from Love And Theft, Modern Times and Together Through Life, all strong albums in their own right. An all-encompassing trip through the great, big American Songbook. Roll on, Bob.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bruce & Eddie

My Hometown; Wrigley Field, Chicago (Sep 8, 2012)
Atlantic City; Wrigley Field, Chicago (Sep 7, 2012)


Yes, it's that time of the year again!

Silver Age - Bob Mould (Sep 4)
Tempest - Bob Dylan (Sep 11)
Away From The World - Dave Matthews Band (Sep 11)
Love This Giant - David Byrne & St. Vincent (Sep 11)
Heat Lighting Rumbles In The Distance - Patterson Hood (Sep 11)
Tomorrowland - Ryan Bingham (Sep 11)
The Carpenter - The Avett Brothers (Sep 11)
Privateering - Mark Knopfler (Sep 11)
The Magic Door - Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Sep 11)
How Music Works (book) - David Byrne (Sep 12)
I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr. (Sep 18)
Look To The Sky - James Iha (Sep 18)
Charmer - Aimee Mann (Sep 18)
The Devil You Know - Rickie Lee Jones (Sep 18)
Battle Born - The Killers (Sep 18)
Life After Death (book) - Damien Echols (Sep 18)
Bad (25th Anniversary Edition) - Michael Jackson (Sep 18)
Live In New York City - Paul Simon (Sep 18)
Document (25th Anniversary Edition) - R.E.M. (Sep 25)
Uno - Green Day (Sep 25)
A More Perfect Union - Pete Seeger (Sep 25)
Waging Heavy Peace (autobiography) - Neil Young (Sep 25)
Sugaring Season - Beth Orton (Oct 2)
Born To Sing: No Plan B - Van Morrison (Oct 2)
Glad All Over - The Wallflowers (Oct 2)
Glad Rag Doll - Diana Krall (Oct 2)
Who I Am: A Memoir - Pete Townshend (Oct 8)
Magical Mystery Tour (blu-ray) - The Beatles (Oct 9)
Live In Texas '75 - The Who (Oct 9)
Neil Young Journeys (blu-ray) - Neil Young (Oct 16)
I'm Not The Same Without You - Donald Fagen (Oct 16)
Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran - Jamey Johnson (Oct 16)
Blak And Blu - Gary Clark Jr. (Oct 22)
Live At The Bowl '68 (blu-ray) - The Doors (Oct 23)
The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Edition) - The Velvet Underground (Oct 30)
Prince From Another Planet - Elvis Presley (Oct 30)
Psychedelic Pill - Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Oct 30)
Charlie Is My Darling - Ireland 1965 (blu-ray) - The Rolling Stones (Nov 6)
King Animal - Soundgarden (Nov 13)
Dos - Green Day (Nov 13)
Three Chords Good - Graham Parker & The Rumor (Nov 20)
Peter Buck - Peter Buck (Nov 20)
Grrr! - The Rolling Stones (Nov 20)
Midnight Ramble Sessions Vol. 3 - Levon Helm & His Band (Nov 20)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Love This Giant

is this twisted or what??
David Byrne is another artist over sixty whom I greatly admire. He's one of those musicians you either get or you don't; there's no in-between. His work has a commercial and accessible quality and at the same time borderline avant garde. The solo show of his I saw a few years ago was boldly brilliant; a mix of rock & roll and interpretive dance. On the other hand, I don't know much about St. Vincent's work. But I will definitely check out Annie Clark after hearing this new collaboration. And this album is nothing like Byrne has ever done before; it's not something he would do even solo. It's music out of a nonsensical dream. It's music that jumps out at you and grabs you immediately. It's catchy, it's eclectic and very weird. There are PLENTY of horns; the albums starts and ends with horns. They are arranged and played in ways I couldn't have imagined, usually not what you'd associate with soul/r&b or funk music; it's almost like the brass section is a whole new genre in itself. I also dig the creative use of the different drum machines, which somehow makes the whole horn thing cooler. During my first listen, I feared this record would slowly tread into dangerous territory of artistic self-indulgence, after the opening song and single, Who, which is something most probably the average listener can appreciate. I am strangely repulsed and addicted to several of the tracks, for example I Should Watch TV and Lazarus. But the more I listen to the record, the more it sticks. I'm gonna get a lot of miles outta this.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Duquesne Whistle

From the upcoming album, Tempest. Early five-star reviews from publications like Rolling Stone, Uncut and Mojo suggest that this is another late-period Dylan classic.


UPDATE: Tempest is currently streaming for free on iTunes, until its Sep 11 release date. My review will follow soon.