Monday, June 21, 2004

Just last weekend, I was at the monthly Pop Gear party when I was introduced to Richard and the Young Lions -- a garage band from the 60s who reformed a few years ago and were busy recording new material with Steve Van Zandt. Drummer Twig was on hand for a few just-recorded songs to make their world premeire. The songs sounded great and the Twig's enthusiasm was so contagious, I felt certain that big things were in store for the band.

In one week's time, I would learn from Pop Gear co-hostess Dawn Eden that lead singer Howie "Richard" Tepp was dead.

Friday, June 18, 2004

THE CURE Concert (Fiction)
At my count, the Cure has released four live albums. This is their first. It's not necessarily my favorite one (Entreat takes that honor, if only for its inclusion of a fiesty rendition of "Disintegration"), but is still pretty good.
It's compiled from a handful of shows in May 1984, which was a volatile time. The Cure had recently reformed after a brief breakup, although bassist Simon Gallup was still absent from the lineup and not speaking to Robert Smith -- who was often found off in his own little psychedelic world. The band was also about to make their first American tour later on that year and, in America, drummer Andy Anderson would go berserk and leave the band.
Despite the drama, they managed to pull together a good live recording and actually sound more coherent here than they do on their studio album (the Top) from that same year. The band has neither the gloomy atmospherics which marked their sound until then, nor the whimsical pop they would soon explore. Rather, their sound here almost hints at the peripheral role they had in the late 70s punk scene.

One thing about the Cure's earlier albums which I found both annoying and kind of cool at the same time was their tendency to release one version of an album on cassette and a different version on cd. Although Concert was readily available here on cd, it was never released in the States on tape. The cassette version, however, is essentially a double album backed with Curiosity -- a collection of odds and ends from Smith's personal tape library. It boasts a really good demo version of "Boys Don't Cry" as well as early live recordings. Probably not an essential release, but an interesting look into a very influential band.

For more info:
There's an official Cure website, a few fan sites, and an AMG entry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I'll be going to the Williamsburg Rock Fest tomorrow (Thursday) night and you should go too.

Shiny Mama, the Motel Creeps, Eyelash, Kino, NYCSmoke, and Starling Curve will be playing.

The first band goes on at 7:30. The address is 135 Metropolitan Ave (between Berry & Wythe Sts). There's a $3 cover and smoking is allowed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In the future, perhaps, everyone will have their own blog. In the meantime, most of the people I've played in bands with have one now. Including yours truly, 100% of my first band and 3/4 of my second band can be found on the internet.
For your reading pleasure, here's Jessica (both bands), Mike (second band), Yaron (first band), and Ethan (first band).

Monday, June 14, 2004

Scot at Bluestarblog comes to the defense of Ringo. Although John was by far the best songwriter in the band, I always thought that Ringo was the coolest and most likeable of the four. Since most people tend to slag him off, it's nice to read someone else with kind words to say about him.

And here's some Beatle trivia I learned from VH1 Pop Up video a few years ago: If you compare the solo careers of the four, Ringo has had more number one songs in proportion to the amount of albums released than John, Paul, or George.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

JOLIE HOLLAND @ Joe's Pub (New York, NY) - June 3, 2004
The first thing noticed is her voice. Although she's white and in her twenties, she sounds like a black woman from long ago. All of those Billie Holiday comparisons she seems to get can be justified. Her voice is just captivating. Not just it's richness, but her phrasing and melodies as well.

The music isn't very innovative or groundbreaking. Most of her songs actually sound like they could've been written 70 years ago, but there's a sense of genuinity -- a feeling that behind that old fashioned sound and beyond the Southern inflections when she sings (but not when she talks), she's not trying to put anybody on or be something she's not.

The musicianship was there. She played both guitar and violin, and was joined by a drummer and another guitarist. The two of them were clearly sidemen -- literally playing in the shadows on stage, although Jolie was quick to give them the acknowledgements they deserved. The songs themselves tended to be sparse and the accompaniment subtle, but I particularly liked the percussion during "Alley Flowers."

Her stage presence was that of just being present. With the exception of complaining about mic feedback to the soundman and telling the audience a story about her friend's son, she didn't talk in between songs. Neither she nor the band were there to entertain us; rather they were just there to provide the music. The music did everything else that night.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I think I'm going to see Jolie Holland tomorrow night at Joe's Pub. I listened to the mp3s on her website and they're really good.
I was playing guitar the other night and stumbled across "Suicide is Painless," AKA the theme song from M*A*S*H. I haven't watched the show in a long time, but it still remains my favorite tv theme song to this date.
They really don't make theme songs anymore. Ever since Seinfeld came out with that ba da ba bum bum bassline, all the new shows decided that having a song was irrelevant. It's quite a shame, really, but I guess it's asking too much from the networks to even bother coming up with some theme music when they can't think up an orignal premise or interesting idea anymore.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The CF Martin Stinger was my first guitar. My parents bought it for me when I was 13 and it came part of a student package, complete with a 15 watt practice amp. It was cheap but looked good.
The week in between the time the guitar was paid for and the time the store received the shipment from the warehouse felt like the longest week of my life. During that time, I came across an ad for Stingers in Circus magazine, in which a cool looking guy (by 1989 standards) was playing one while standing on top of some wall. I tore out the ad and kept it within plain view somewhere in my bedroom.

In the years that followed, I would acquire acoustic guitars and a bass but none of them could ever attain the status the Stinger held in my eyes.

Then I began to notice the different guitarists I'd see live who had more than one guitar on stage. The subliminal peer pressure began to sink in. Maybe I should get a backup guitar, I thought. I began going to stores and each time I'd spend an afternoon checking out all the different guitars for sale, I'd come home and see the Stinger lying on the couch -- waiting for me to play it. It made me feel guilty, like a philandering boyfriend. Here I was, picking up every Fender and Gibson aound town while the Stinger faithfully waited for me at home.

But an upgrade was still overdue. When I turned 26, my girlfriend bought the Fender Telecaster I had my eye on. I was thrilled, of course, but this created a dilemma. Although I had the Stinger for literally half my life, it was the first time it ever had to compete for attention with another guitar.
I quickly solved this problem by delegating specific roles to each one. The Telecaster had the glamorous responsibility of playing shows and band practices, while the Stinger was expected to maintain its workhorse load of songwriting and in home practice.

This would be a happy arrangement until I ceased playing in a band. The Telecaster came home and I tried switching between both guitars until I broke a string on the Stinger. Rather than re-string it, I decided to put the Stinger to rest for a little while. It's in need of some work and I figured I would get that done before I played it again.

That was over a year ago.

After exclusive Telecaster playing for all this time, I decided to re-string the Stinger this weekend. No I haven't bought new tuning pegs for it yet, nor did I clean up the electronics or get the frets fixed. I just missed it and wanted to play it again, even if it is a beaten up old guitar.
After I finally got it tuned properly, those first few notes screamed out of my amp. It sounded noisier than ever, but just felt right in my hands. I'm glad it's back.

For more info:
Here's an article about Martin electric guitars. Although they're widely respected for their acoustics, Martin could never break into the electric market. The Stinger was only made between 1985 and 1993.

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