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by John Bohannon

2 Mar 2009

I’m about 100% positive that I’m not the only sucker out there for some vintage psychedelia. Radio Moscow is the type of down-home bred band we all imagine. You know, the no name town (Story City, Iowa), the direct influences (Peter Green, Nuggets compilations, really any psychedelic guitar god), and the boy prodigy (insert Parker Griggs). But make no mistake, these boys are the real deal, and the proof is coming on their upcoming album, Brain Cycles, releasing April 14th.

Having the backing of the Black Keys and Alive records, the band has recently been able to find themselves in a perfect position to stone minds all around the country and have a little fun in the process. But hear, hear! Don’t come into this with a nasty attitude against psychedelic music, because if you do, then a band like Radio Moscow will never be for you. But if you want to sit back and let the wah-wahs and blues-driven guitar solos blow your mind, do yourself a favor, and check out the new single “Broke Down”.

Radio Moscow
“Broke Down” [MP3]

by Sarah Zupko

2 Mar 2009

Justin Townes Earle’s tunes have more of an old-timey classic country feel than those of his father Steve. Blending Hank Williams style honky tonk with a little bit of ragtime, swing and bluegrass harmonies, Earle is on his way to becoming one of roots music’s young stars. Earle sings of being like his dad on “Mama’s Eyes” and twangs through a sweet country shuffle on “What I Mean to You”. Both of these songs appear on Midnight at the Movies, out this week on Bloodshot Records.

Justin Townes Earle
“Mama’s Eyes” [MP3]
“What I Mean to You” [MP3]

Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life

by Chris Catania

2 Mar 2009

In the work of British emcee/visual artist Kid Acne, two elements of hip-hop culture—emceeing and graffiti art—converge to calibrate and stimulate the eyes and ears of hip-hop heads, punk rockers and visual art lovers. And on his latest album Romance Ain’t Dead (2008) the evolution of his work is even more sly, personal and urgent.

Making full use of his skillful this-is-my-life reporter rapping, Kid Acne takes you through a sophisticated trip racing over a seamless production mix of old school hip-hop and punk rock riffs (Req One and Ross Orton). Front to back, the journey is just as fun, vivid and engaging as flipping through his portfolio of t-shirt designs and street art.

Song to song, he might be happy, sad or mad; but whatever the emotional undercurrent, Kid Acne’s sonic aesthetic celebrates the banging pleasure of old-school hip-hop drum machines while splicing in mangy guitars riffs that bleed the beautiful brevity of punk rock’s cut-to-the-chase credo. The production and careful study of his crafty comical rhymes demand repeat listens as he pokes fun at himself via “the two phones of drug dealer” on “Worst Luck”. The swift and sweet romance of Kid Acne’s idiosyncratic storytelling is clearly still in full effect since his first releases in 2001, and it’s also safe to say that this entry way into his perpetual world of visual and recorded art is wide open and demands jumping into.

by Thomas Hauner

2 Mar 2009

The Watson Twins and Ben Kweller. Both equal parts Nashville and hipster. Both singers and songwriters of heavy harmonies and simplified melodies. But only Kweller, however, came away from Town Hall with a commanding and energetic performance, aided towards the end by a dancing infant.

Starting off with poor sound didn’t help the Watson Twins. What sounded muddled with overwhelming bass drones in the balcony sounded more balanced in the orchestra. But the twins’ vocals got lost in the shuddering bass.

During “Only You”, keyboard played the high-pitched guitar strums that appear during each chorus. But it failed to emulate the electric guitar’s other quavering and haunting holds. Instead a nylon-string guitar was innocuously thrummed. This same guitar didn’t suffice for their popular “How Am I to Be”—during which they suggested shoulder dipping as a substitute for actually dancing; be careful what you wish for.

All this begs the question: Where was the strikingly bright guitar that provides such a pivotal counterweight to the twins’ soaring harmonies?

They floated through the Bill Withers standard “Ain’t No Sunshine”, but as people they’re too sanguine to seem heartbroken or lonely. (Maybe because they always have each other around?) In general their vocals were soft and beautiful, but too light. They exuded no energy in their 45 minutes, leaving behind a pretty banal set.

In contrast, Ben Kweller showed up to play his heart out. He prompted the light tech to turn up the houselights so he could size up his excitable crowd and then pursued a relentless setlist covering all the bases. Charging through old favorites like “Walk On Me” and “Falling” Kweller was urbane and sincere, his voice easily seizing the hall’s wide space.

Buttery smooth, his band (drums, bass, pedal-steel guitar) infused Kweller’s country roots into his indie lyricism and punk ethos to form a powerful and cohesive musical synthesis. Whenever Kweller added throwback vocables to a verse it pointed to a past era of pop.

While Kweller sampled material from his latest fare, Changing Horses, its lead track (“Gypsy Rose”) was surprisingly the best song of the night simply because of its delicate balance and Kweller’s sonorous tenor praising love as the saving grace.

His new song “Fight” was a stellar showcase of his band’s three-part chops and unleashed an unshakable melody during the encore.

I found the ending a little awkward, though, as everyone in the crowd decided to get up and dance for the last three minutes of the show. I couldn’t stop thinking, why didn’t they just get up and dance the entire show? Was the setting too intimidating? Too reserved? But what really stole the show was Kweller’s toddler son, Dorian, upstage, rocking out to his daddy’s big finale at the end.



by Matt White

2 Mar 2009

The Old Grey Whistle Test was a live music show that ran on the BBC from 1971 to 1987. The three DVD collections that have been released of Whistle Test are some of my favorite music DVDs, not just for showcasing amazing live (and the occasional mimed) performances by bands I love, but for introducing me to band’s I had yet to hear or had heard only a song or two from (usually the hits). The discs, for me, have been a treasure trove of musical discovery. Thanks to YouTube more performances from this seminal show have been made available and I’ve decided to start showcasing some of my favorites in a possible ongoing series of blog entries. Keep in mind these are just my own personal favorites and not necessarily the “best” or most important.

In 1972, two days before starting the Ziggy Stardust tour, David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars stopped by the Old Grey Whistle Test to tape what would become a historic performance. When it was broadcast on February 8, 1972, no one had ever seen or heard anything like him. With his androgynous look and lyrics like “A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest and a queer threw up at the sight of that”, Bowie really was an alien as far as the British public was concerned. Kids in 1972 though, were starving for something unique and exciting and this legendary performance of “Five Years” is both of those things.

Magazine’s appearance on Whistle Test is nothing short of spectacular. Starting with a drum beat and bass hook that quickly gets enveloped in a mess of synthesizer noise, the song suddenly explodes with soaring guitar and keyboards. It’s somehow both dark and upbeat, angry and happy, pop and avant garde. Music that doesn’t tell you how to feel but rather lets the listeners make their own interpretation. Post-punk at it’s best.

The first thing that struck me when I first saw King Crimson’s 1982 performance of “Frame By Frame” was how much singer Adrian Belew sounded like Chris Cornell. Or rather how much Cornell sounds like Belew. The second thing I noticed was Robert Fripp’s guitar playing blowing my mind. Bassist Tony Levin, looking like Doctor Mindbender, plays an incredible instrument called the Chapmin Stick. Besides Cornell, you can hear where Thom Yorke, Tool, Primus, and countless other bands drew inspiration from.

Perhaps my favorite Whistle Test performance I’ve seen is Orange Juice doing “Rip It Up” in 1982. Edwyn Collins seems so full of nervous energy and youthful exuberance. The band sounds great and this song is a classic, somehow mixing motown, punk, ska and soul with Collins quoting the Buzzcocks and immediately acknowledging “my favorite song’s entitled ‘Boredom’”. Towards the end he’s bouncing around so much his guitar falls off. He simply puts it down and continues dancing.

//Mixed media

Robert DeLong Upgraded for 'In the Cards' (Rough Trade Photos + Tour Dates)

// Notes from the Road

"Robert DeLong ups his musical game with his new album In the Cards and his live show gets a boost too.

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