Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Best Kept Secret in Music"

I feel fairly confident in saying that most of the bands out there that are unsigned or relegated to a teeny tiny indie label are there for a reason - they pretty much appeal to no one (including the band members themselves).

Then there are scads of groups out there selling millions with about as much musical savvy as a lip syncing act at a middle school talent show (Look at me when I'm talking to you Maroon 5!).

Lastly, there are those few musicians who genuinely deserve a far bigger audience then they currently have.

With that in mind, here's a new feature I want to try out: "Best Kept Secrets in Music".

Today's entry is Baltimore's J-Roddy Walston and The Business (thanks Dorie for tipping me off to these guys). Sounding like a cross between a "Shake Your Money Maker"-era Black Crowes (when they knew how to smile), a butcher version of Queen and Ben Folds with a full backing band and a fistful of Lexapro, this band plays straight ahead rock that would make Elvis fall to his knees and weep tears of joy.

Anyone have a band to suggest?

On that note, hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CD Reviews

Here's a few more CD reviews. If you've heard any of these albums, let me know what you think... or don't. Life will still go on regardless.

In Theory
This is it (Shelter From the Storm Records)

Punk rock has thrived for decades in the underground thanks, for the most part, because it was largely ignored as a genre. Photocopied zines, basement shows and word of mouth was enough to turn the small, but loyal crowds onto better bands. Now that the spotlight from major labels and mainstream glossy magazines has been shined on the scene, every kid that steps into Hot Topic is now trying to throw together a punk band.

Group’s like LA’s In Theory, though certainly not the main cause of the problem, are defiantly one of the symptoms, threatening to ruin the genre. Their debut This Is It, is so formulaic it could easily have been created on a laptop. Taking cues and liberal amounts of inspiration from every flash in the pan band from the last two years (Panic at the Disco: check, Fall Out Boy: check, Cartel: check), polish off anything remotely resembling an edge, create a MySpace page and rush the single to radio station before their sound is deemed passé.

It’s not that In Theory are offensively bad musicians, it’s just that their debut lacks any semblance of an original musical thought. Here’s hoping the record-buying public will collectively decide to move onto the next big thing and allow punk rock to go back to rebelling against whatever that sound happens to be.

Todd Snider – Peace, Love and Anarchy (Oh Boy Records) and Live at Grimey’s (New Door Records)

In a perfect world, Todd Snider would be headlining arenas, his songs would be popping up in car commercials and his house would be staked out by paparazzi. But this is reality, so Fall Out Boy and Gwen Stefani get all the glory, while Snider quietly packs tiny clubs, perches on a bar stool and strums out some of the best songs never to be heard by the masses.

In the midst of promoting his latest release, The Devil You Know, Snider is back with two quickie releases: a collection of B-sides and rarities from his old label and a seven song live record.

A decent number of the 14 tracks on Peace, Love and Anarchy have been heard in one form or another on other records and at live shows. The demos and alternative takes are interesting, but pretty much prove Snider was right to record the versions that made it on the proper albums. But even Snider’s cutting room floor tracks are stronger than many songs currently charting.

The EP, Live at Grimey’s, offers a stronger look into just why Snider has managed to build up such a loyal, cultish following. The song intros and audience banter are all captured from the October show recorded in Nashville. Focusing mainly on songs from his latest record (which include some of his best, like “You Got Away With It” and “Happy New Year”), the only strike against the album is that it is far too short.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Prince: What's That Purple Freak Up to Now?

I honestly never thought Prince was crazy, just a tad bit weird.

But ticking items off the list it's starting to add up to a big pile o' crazy: Wearing nothing but skimpy purple undies throughout the 80's, the ass-less chaps, the unpronounceable symbol, going door to door in Minneapolis as a Jehovah's Witness, and now threatening to sue fans.

Prince = Not all there.

It's been reported recently that Prince has had his lawyers reach out to his fansites and order them to immediately take down all lyrics, pictures, album covers, etc. (please note the unauthorized use of a Prince pic in this posting.)

As if that's not bad enough, a letter from his purple lawyers asks those running the fansites to provide "substantive details of the means by which you propose to compensate our clients [Paisley Park Entertainment Group, NPG Records and AEG] for damages".

Suing your fans. Why didn't Metallica think of that!

Prince is dead. He is now The Artist Currently Known as Jackass.

Let's Go Crazy!