On September 21st, Boston based Ryan Montbleau Band will release Heavy on the Vine, the band’s third, independently released studio CD. The recording of the CD was financed by sales of a live, Ryan solo CD, Stages Volume II. Ryan was named the Best Local Male Vocalist in the 2007 Boston Local Music Awards, and won two awards the same year in the International Songwriting Competition. The band has become a regular on the festival circuit, and spent the past four months touring the country along side Martin Sexton (who produced Heavy on the Vine) as his opening act as well as his backing band for Martin’s own songs. Though the band has made a name for itself among the jamband crowd with a rigorous tour schedule, the real beauty lies in the poetic and lovely lyrics of the 33-year-old Villanova graduate, accentuated by the rhythmic roots rock from the six-piece band. The group has begun recording intimate videos of the 14 new tracks from Heavy on the Vine, and will post a new video each week until the new CD is released. Enjoy the video for the song “I Can’t Wait” below, and keep an eye out here at Mixed Media for the new videos each week until September 21st.
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Brooklyn’s Living Days specialize in the sort of glammy new wave that headlined the mid-‘80s. That means they know their way around a catchy tune, know how to dress snazzy and have a commanding lead vocalist (Stephonik Youth) with serious pipes. “Let’s Kiss” is the lead single off Living Days’ upcoming debut album, Make Out Room Part 1, releasing 24 August. The tune shows influences from the Human League, Flock of Seagulls and other romantic new wave leading lights and the VHS-look of the video plays off that ‘80s aesthetic quite nicely.
Nick Cave and half of the Bad Seed’s side project, Grinderman, will release a new album entitled Grinderman 2 on September 13 (UK) and 14 (US). The new video for first single “Heathen Child” provides us with a taste of what is likely to come, a taste that summons countless (uniquely awesome) associations.
The video is directed by filmmaker and longtime Cave collaborator John Hillcoat, most recently notable for helming The Road. While that film, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, was a dour and monochrome experience, Cave seems to incite Hillcoat’s more playful side. Perhaps it’s the other way around. Bad Seeds videos have been hit or miss, but they have largely been stellar when Hillcoat has been involved. This time around, he has combined quality filmmaking, stock footage, and Nick Cave’s underwear into a mindmash of splendor. The video is a tad not safe for work, but if you minimize your browser and blast the song, you have the option of turning your workplace into a palace of depravity.
The premise of the cartoon Super Chicken is deceptively simple. A send-up of the comic-book superheroes also found on the small screen and large, the cartoon aired on Jay Ward’s George of the Jungle in 1967, and fit nicely with the show’s simple silliness, also found in other Ward shows like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
But as with much of Ward’s output, there was something more sophisticated lurking beneath. Put aside the thematic correlations between Super Chicken and the war in South Vietnam. On a less politicized level, the parody of superheroes often times (and certainly in this case) is as much a jab at the source as it is at the recipient. The intended audience for much superhero fare tends to be the young, the unathletic. The ineffectual. The weaklings who, despite the astronomical odds against them, want so desperately to be heroic, to be seen as heroic. It is precisely because he is neither the brightest nor the most admirable that Super Chicken is a true hero for the disenfranchised.
In the insanely catchy opening theme, we can see two very quick shots that strengthen this claim. First, within the opening seconds, during the lyric “When you’re threatened by a stranger”, an elderly woman is pounding on an over-sized thug with her purse. Simple reversal of fortunes equals a quick laugh. But pause the YouTube video here and think about it: do we know this “thug” was at all threatening this woman? What if he had been offering her assistance across the street? Asking for directions to the local charity hospital so he could volunteer? That ever-present polarization between the elderly and the young was probably never more at the forefront of the American mind than it was during the late 1960s, and here Jay Ward has, however briefly, captured that. Who else to save a “thug” from a “granny” than Super Chicken?
This notion of the generation gap is reinforced with the very next lyric/image (“When it looks like you will take a lickin’”). A young man is about to be spanked. We know not his dastardly crime, but we all know that position, that feeling of terror: “An authority figure is punishing me!” Ineffectual. Weak. It hits an immediate emotional core, and that extended caaaaaall for rescue reverberates from within.
Even if it is for a chicken and a lion in an egg-shaped flying car.
It’s St. Paddy’s Day at the White House. Nancy Pelosi introduces the musicians. Speaker Pelosi says she agrees with the Wall Street Journal in its high assessment of the duo, the one time she agrees with the paper’s assessment of anything. President Barack Obama watches with interest, while the rest of the crowd seems oblivious to the great music performed as the guests munch of cookies and chat. But the musical duo seems genuinely inspired to be there. They play fast and loud and clear. You don’t have to be Irish or from Chicago to enjoy the show!
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article