Monthly Archives: February 2011

Report: Yo La Tengo/Urinals Live Oakland

 

On Feb. 22 at Oakland’s
Fox Theater, Ira, Georgia and James spun the wheel
and came up aces – or, more accurately, landed in a Dump. Also on the bill were
west coast punk legends the Urinals.

 

By Jud
Cost

For Yo La
Tengo to play live twice on the West Coast within an eight-month span is a rare
treat. When they headlined San Jose’s
Left Coast Live festival last summer, they were pretty much ducking flak from
anti-aircraft ack-ack guns, flying under the radar and searchlights of Bay Area
publicity.

 

Tonight,
kicking off the 2011 Noise Pop mini-season at Oakland’s palatial Fox Theater,
the storied Hoboken, N.J. threesome were preaching to a near full-house of
longtime fans who had, perhaps, seen them more than 20 years ago at hip San
Francisco nightspots the I-Beam or the Kennel Club. “This is a nice place.
The first time we played in the East
Bay, it was kind of like
this…at Berkeley Square,”
deadpanned band leader Ira Kaplan, referring to the microscopic University Ave.
punk joint that held about 75 people, max.

 

Over
syrupy canned background music that could have been the theme for The Merv Griffin Show, Kaplan, in his
milkiest talk-show-host voice revealed how the band’s set would be determined
tonight. Someone rolled out an extra-large Wheel
Of Fortune
-style spinner with all the set-list possibilities painted on an
oversized clock face. Kaplan, as Pat Sajak, chose an audience member to try his
luck and the arrow landed on “Dump.” Which meant the first set would
consist solely of psychedelic guitar-laced numbers from bassist James McNew’s
long-running side project of that name.

 

It was an
extraordinary “coals to Newcastle” treat to hear the hulking McNew
(who usually plays bass in Yo La Tengo), featured in a 60-minute, fuzz-laden,
guitar freak-out in the backyard of such fabled “summer of love”
stringbusters as John Cipollina, Barry Melton, Jorma Kaukonen, James Gurley and
Jerry Garcia. McNew, with a little help from drummer Georgia Hubley, did all
the singing, too. Kaplan played bass and rested his pipes for the second set
which I, alas, had to miss so I could catch the BART train home.

 

Besides,
I’d already scratched a 30-year itch by getting to the Fox early for a heroic
40-minute set by legendary Los Angeles
punk trio the Urinals. Arising phoenix-like from the affluent surroundings of
UCLA in 1979, the Urinals took out their comfortable upbringing on their
classmates by waxing punk gems like “Salmonella,” “Ack Ack Ack
Ack” and “I’m White And Middle Class.” Bassist/songwriter John
Talley-Jones, guitarist Kjehl Johansen and drummer Kevin Barrett somehow fit
into a loose-knit, Velvet Underground-influenced, intercontinental scene that
also included London’s Wire, New England’s Mission Of Burma and New Zealand’s
the Clean.

 

Regrettably,
I missed the Urinals if, indeed, they ever did play San
Francisco’s punk citadel, the Mabuhay Gardens.
Growing tired of their Moms-unfriendly original name, the trio adapted and
morphed into 100 Flowers around the time the Paisley Underground bands were
venturing north in the early ’80s. 100 Flowers were slotted to play the Old
Waldorf in early 1983 with Green On Red and the Bangles, but their last-minute
cancellation was turned into a bonanza when Rain Parade took their place on the
bill.

 

And now,
28 years later (with guitarist Rob Roberge on board for Johansen), here they
were, about to ignite a crowd of about 100 of the curious, rattling around in a
room that could hold about three thousand. Barrett banged his sticks together,
one, two, three, four, and they were off to the races as though they’d never
left: real, honest-to-god, two-chord punk rock as it was meant to sound. They
must have exploded through 20 songs in 40 minutes with a blast-furnace
intensity, like the day your Mom turned up the vegetable pressure-cooker too
high and splattered the ceiling with broccoli and zucchini.

 

“It’s
been great seeing Yo La Tengo every night on this tour. We’re not used to being
the second best band onstage,” said a grey-haired Talley-Jones, breathing
hard between songs. “Yeah,” cracked Roberge. “We usually play
with three bands.”

 

 

 

Trent Reznor Eyes Fall for HTDA Album

 

Boy wins an Oscar,
too, in case you hadn’t heard.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Fresh off his and musical partner Atticus Ross’ Oscar win
last night
for the soundtrack to The
Social Network
, Trent Reznor has indicated that he’s “finished” laying down
tracks for the next How to Destroy Angels album. Speaking to Billboard, he’s
quoted as saying all that’s left now is the mixing.

 

“I just finished recording a How to Destroy Angels
project with my wife [Mariqueen Maandig],” Reznor said. “We have to mix
it. [It will be out in the] early fall, most likely.”

 

The record will be offered up as a free digital download as
well as a higher-quality physical release (for pay), as was done with the first
HTDA EP
.

Report: Gang of Four Live in D.C.

At the venerable 9:30 club on Feb. 9, two of
the original Marxist rockers, along with their new rhythm section, displayed
their recent album
Content alongside vintage GoF tracks. Meanwhile, go
here
to read the recent BLURT interview with GoF vocalist Jon King.

 

Review and Photos by
Logan K. Young

Any review of Gang of Four, now, has to consider the Gang of
Four then.

Alas, such is the case when Britain’s
leading post-punk Marxists decide to get the band back together. Ideally, a new
GoF record like Content
– their first since 1995’s surprisingly relevant
Shrinkwrapped – would be judged on its own merits. And as good as Content actually is, really, the fact matters naught whenever that Kinect 360! advert
featuring 1979’s “Natural’s Not In It” comes on the tube.

Gang of Four shilling for Microsoft? Say it ain’t so, blokes!

 

Then again, in a world where PiL plays late night talk
shows and Steve Ignorant assembles a tour to perform vintage Crass music sans Penny Rimbaud, perhaps it’s petty to beg discretion of nostalgia — especially
for a band so of its time. For starters – ding-a-ling dong! – Thatcherism’s
dead. No longer do Brittany’s
downtrodden have to suffer the vestiges of her trickle-down syndromes. Closer
to home, though, in a U.S.
capital where Henry Rollins isn’t scooping Georgetonians ice cream, Inner
Ear has moved to Arlington
and the new 9:30 is one OK Go show away from Live Nation hegemony, we the Whigs
have never needed Jon King’s voice and Andy Gill’s guitar more.

Yes, that is a partial swipe at the present GoF rhythm section — bassist
Thomas McNeice and Mark Heaney on drums. Just as Chairman Mao was nothing
without his full quartet, this gang is certainly lacking the verve and
insistence of the original, reunited lineup that ripped it up and started again
back in 2004.

 

It has little to do with the material, too. Set opener (and recent Letterman
feature, itself) “You’ll Never Pay for the Farm” is about as classic
Gang of Four we’re gonna get, now that founding drummer Hugo Burnham is firmly
ensconced in the ivory tower of academia. Followed by a song like Entertainment‘s
“Not Great Men,” however, and it’s readily apparent that McNeice and
Heaney possess neither the chops, nor the context, that Burnham and original
bass player Dave Allen could replicate in spades.

 

And honestly, that’s why you go to a Gang of Four gig here in 2011. Not that
newer cuts late in the set list like “Do As I Say” or “A
Fruitfly in the Beehive” don’t cut deep. They do. It’s just that, for
those of us who missed them in their prime (or maybe had a problem letting them
go in the first place), it’s the encored numbers like “Damaged Goods”
or “At Home He’s a Tourist” or, in spite of the BBC, “I Love a
Man in Uniform” that cut the deepest. And it’s for precisely this same
reason that I have Wire tickets for April 7. And it’s also how Peter Hook can
charge thirtysomething
quid
to hear him and his son’s friends play Unknown Pleasures back
to front. But when the songs are good enough, and their message remains potent,
it hardly matters — not in the long run of rock ‘n’ roll anyways.

To be fair, Gang of Four mattered much more then, than they ever can now. And
as everyone from Alphonse Karr to G.B. Shaw to Kurt Russell himself have noted,
the more things change…the more they only stay the same. To wit, some
thirty-odd years later for these post-punk proles, God save the queen is still not what she seems.

 

 

Next Round of Nick Cave Reissues Due

 

Let Love In (1994), Murder Ballads (1996), The Boatman’s Call (1997)
and No More Shall We Part (2001)
arrive May 17.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues are is
in the wings for May 17 via EMI. Let Love In (1994), Murder Ballads (1996),
The Boatman’s Call
(1997)
and No More Shall We Part (2001)
— their eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh studio albums, respectively – are en
route as separate deluxe double-disc Collectors Edition.

 

These latest releases are
the third set of reissues from a series that will ultimately see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ entire
album catalogue digitally re-mastered and remixed for 5.1 Surround Sound for the first
time since their original release.

 

Each deluxe double-disc
Collectors Edition contains the re-mastered stereo album, the new surround mix,
a specially commissioned short film made by UK
artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, plus b-sides from the singles, videos
and exclusive sleeve notes.

 

The first three
consecutive albums in the re-mastered deluxe edition series — From Her to Eternity, The Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking Against the Pricks
were released in 2009. The next four in the series — Your Funeral…My Trial, Tender Prey, The Good Son and Henry’s
Dream –
were released last year.

 

 

Tracklistings:

 

Let Love In [CD/DVD;
digital audio]


CD

Do You Love Me?

Nobody’s Baby
Now

Loverman

Jangling Jack

Red Right Hand

I Let Love In

Thirsty Dog

Ain’t Gonna
Rain Anymore

Lay Me Low

Do You Love
Me? (Part 2)

 

DVD

Let Love In (re-mastered
album in DTS Surround Sound 5.1,
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo)

Additional Audio Tracks (in DTS Surround
Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo)

Cassiel’s Song

Sail Away

(I’ll Love
You) Till The End Of The World

That’s What
Jazz Is To Me

Where The
Action Is

 

Videos

Do You Love Me?

Loverman

Red Right Hand

Short Film: Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 8: Let Love In)

 

 

 

Murder Ballads [CD/DVD;
digital audio]

 

CD

Song Of Joy

Stagger Lee

Henry Lee

Lovely Creature

Where The Wild
Roses Grow

The Curse Of
Millhaven

The Kindness
Of Strangers

Crow Jane

O’Malley’s Bar

Death Is Not
The End

 

DVD

Murder Ballads (re-mastered
album in DTS Surround Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo) 

Additional Audio Tracks (in DTS Surround
Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo)

The Ballad Of
Robert Moore And Betty Coltrane

The Willow
Garden

King Kong
Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O

Knoxville Girl

 

Videos

Stagger Lee

Where The Wild
Roses Grow

Henry Lee

Short Film: Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 9: Murder Ballads)

 

 

The Boatman’s Call [CD/DVD;
digital audio]

 

CD

Into My Arms

Lime Tree
Arbour

People Ain’t
No Good

Brompton
Oratory

There Is A
Kingdom

(Are You) The
One That I’ve Been Waiting For?

Where Do We Go
Now But Nowhere?

West Country
Girl

Black Hair

Idiot Prayer

Far From Me

Green Eyes

 

DVD

The Boatman’s Call (re-mastered
album in DTS Surround Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo)

Additional Audio Tracks (in DTS Surround Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
and stereo)

Little Empty
Boat

Right Now I’m
A-Roaming

Black Hair
(Band version)

Come Into My
Sleep

Babe, I Got
You Bad

 

Videos

Into My Arms

(Are You) The
One That I’ve Been Waiting For?

 

Short Film : Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 10: The Boatman’s Call)

 

 

 

No More Shall We Part [CD/DVD;
digital audio]

 

CD

As I Sat Sadly
By Her Side

And No More
Shall We Part

Hallelujah

Love Letter

Fifteen Feet
Of Pure White Snow

God Is In The
House

Oh My Lord

Sweetheart Come

The Sorrowful
Wife 

We Came Along
This Road

Gates To The
Garden

Darker With
The Day

 

DVD

No More Shall We Part (re-mastered album in DTS Surround Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Surround and stereo)

Additional Audio Tracks (in DTS Surround
Sound 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and stereo)

Good Good Day

Little Janey’s
Gone

Grief Came
Riding

Bless His Ever
Loving Heart

Fifteen Feet
Of Pure White Snow (Westside Session)

We Came Along
This Road (Westside Session)

God Is In The
House (Westside Session)

And No More
Shall We Part (Westside Session)

 

Videos

As I Sat Sadly
By Her Side

Love Letter

Fifteen Feet
Of Pure White Snow

Short Film: Do You Love Me Like I Love You (Part 11: No More Shall We Part)

 

 

 

 

Watch/Listen: New Pierces Video/EP

Watch the steamy (in
more ways than one) video, below. Firestarter alert.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Admittedly, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world
right now to distract ya – the civil war in Libya; celebrities on the red
carpet at the Oscars; Charlie Sheen having his brain abducted by aliens; the
late Ted Kennedy’s FBI file disclosing that he rented a whole houseful of
Chilean hookers
in ’61; etc. So we’ve got something guaranteed to take your
mind off all those things: a new digital EP, song and video from that gorgeous
sister group The Pierces.

 

 

Listen to track: “Love You More”

 

 

It’s called Love You
More
(EP, track, video) and it was produced by Guy Berryman from Coldplay,
and the tunes are a prelude to a full-length coming later this year, which
would be the long, long overdue to 2008’s Thirteen
Songs of Love and Revenge
. Wait’ll you see the steamy, twangy,
hotpants-in-the-desert video, complete with a brain-melting, neo-Phil Spector
arrangement, below: you’ll be booking a trip westward in an instant. (Here’s hoping those are special effects in the
video; is memory serves, burning down a Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) is a no-no, at least in Arizona
and Nevada,
where it enjoys protected species status.)

 

 

 

 

More Cayamo! 2011: Photo Gallery

 

Images from this year’s
cruise: more twang than any reasonable human could possibly imagine.

 

Photos by Alisa Cherry

 

Ed. note: Elsewhere on
the BLURT site
you can find contributing editor Lee Zimmerman’s frontline
report from this year’s Cayamo! cruise in all its Americana-centric glory.
Meanwhile, enjoy these photos from the cruise. (pictured above: Fans on the
ship, already in full, er, flight)

 

Allison Moorer / with Buddy Miller / with Steve Earle

 

 

Brandi Carlile / with the Indigo Girls

 

Buddy Miller with Joel Guzman / with Guzman & Steve
Earle / with Patty Griffin / with Lee Zimmerman (!)

 

 

 

Cody Dickinson

 

 

Colin Hay

 

 

Dan Wilson

 

 

Ellis Paul

 

 

Indigo Girls

 

 

John Prine / with Brandi Carlile

 

Keith Sewell

 

 

Lee Zimmerman talkin’ all things Bob Dylan

 

 

Loudon Wainwright / with Richard Thompson

 

Lucy Wainwright Roche

 

 

Patty Griffin

 

 

Richard Thompson / with Lee Zimmerman

 

Scott Miller / with new BFF Lee Zimmerman

 

Shannon Whitworth

 

 

Shawn Mullins

 

 

Steve Earle

 

 

The WPA

 

 

Sky Saxon Royalty Dispute Goes to Court

 

Free Sky Saxon! Late garage rock
godfather never received any royalties; his Estate appeals on the basis of “unconscionable”
contracts that he signed during his lifetime. Watch a classic Seeds video,
below.

 

By Fred
Mills

 

It’s an
old story: a respected, revered, beloved or otherwise influential musician pens
a hit song (or several), but ultimately gets screwed out of his royalties,
either due to youthful carelessness (particularly back in the ‘50s and ‘60s,
when artists were notoriously un-savvy about the way the music biz works) or by
falling prey to an unscrupulous manager or record label head. In recent years,
there have been the occasional efforts by individuals or organizations to help
musicians or their surviving family members finally receive a just and
equitable payment, and once in awhile there has even been the notable person
willing to step forward and do the right thing by the artists even if specific
legal technicalities didn’t require him to do so.

 

Apparently
that ain’t the case for the late Sky Saxon, frontman and chief songwriter for ‘60s
garage legends The Seeds. Saxon – born Richard Marsh – passed away in 2009
(read our obituary here), but long before then he’d passed into the realm of
the iconic, a genuine godfather of the Nuggets generation thanks to such Seeds hits in the mid ‘60s as “Pushin’ Too Hard,”
“Can’t Seem to Make You Mine,” and “Mr. Farmer,” tunes often covered by young
artists coming up through the ranks, as well as his subsequent journeys in rock
‘n’ roll, from his involvement with the Source Family in the ‘70s to his
latterday appearances at garage rock festivals such as Cavestomp.

 

Now we
learn that Saxon received no royalties from record sales or music publishing
for most of his career, a matter that his label and publishing company attributes
to his selling his artist’s and producer’s royalties for $350 and his music publishing
royalties for $250 back in 1973. Apparently both Saxon, while he was living,
and his widow attempted to recover royalties but were repeatedly turned down,
so the matter has now landed in L.A. Superior Court and a hearing is scheduled
for March 8. Here are the details, provided by the Saxon camp:

 

***

 

Saxon
signed a record deal in 1965 with GNP Crescendo Record Co., Inc., a Los
Angeles-based company that specialized in jazz recordings, run by Gene Norman,
a former concert promoter and disc jockey. At that time, he also signed a music
publishing deal with Neil Music, Inc., which is a sister company of GNP.  But
for 37 years, since 1973, GNP and Neil Music have stubbornly refused to pay
Saxon, or his heirs, any royalties whatsoever. These companies maintain that
Saxon signed away all of his royalties, forever, based upon three minor
transactions:  A $500 payment for “Pushin’ Too Hard” in late 1972, a loan
for $250 in mid-1973 (that Saxon did not pay back), for all of Saxon’s other
songs, and a loan for $350 from late 1973 (that Saxon also did not pay back),
for all of Saxon’s record and producer’s royalties.

 

The
Estate of Sky Saxon (represented by Evan Cohen, and S. Martin Keleti and Sommer
Issaq of Cohen and Cohen) has brought a lawsuit against GNP and Neil Music for
rescission of Saxon’s record and publishing deals, and for royalties for the
past four years.  In response, the companies (which are now run by Neil
Norman, son of Gene Norman) have taken the position that the three petty deals
from 1972 and 1973 are “buy-outs” of any and all royalties forever
The Estate has asked the court to set aside these three transactions, on the
grounds that they are so oppressive and unfair that they should be void, as a
matter of public policy, that is, “unconscionable.” “Unconscionable” contracts
are deals that are so oppressive and one-sided that they literally “shock the
conscience” of the court and of civilized society, or which have no place in
the legitimate business world.  In that the alleged “buy-outs” fit that
description exactly, the Estate has asked the court to set them aside. 
The Estate has also asked that on account of the 37-year failure of GNP and
Neil Music to pay any royalties, that the original 1960s deals be rescinded,
and the Estate be given back all of the musical properties.

 

In recent
years, GNP and Neil Music have exploited Saxon’s songs and recordings to a
substantial extent. “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” has recently been used in a
commercial for Axe Body Spray. “Pushin’ Too Hard” has been used for numerous
film and television projects, as have other songs by The Seeds.  The songs
have been covered over the years by numerous artists, including The Ramones,
Johnny Thunders, Billy Corgan, Garbage, Alex Chilton, Murder City Devils, and
Yo La Tengo.

 

The
motion to determine the issue of unconscionability will be heard on March 8,
2011.

 

 

First Look: New R.E.M. Album

Collapse Into Now, out March 8 on Warner Bros., finds
our heroes “shaking loose the head fuzz” of the recent past and even touching
upon – literally – their punk roots. Check out some preview music, below.

 

By A.D. Amorosi

 

That sinking feeling that
R.E.M. seem to be on about in their new album’s title doesn’t manifest itself
within their most sonically diverse body of work since 2001’s Reveal. Mind you, it’s not that this is
a positivist manifesto for the new decade. The now-ness is simply about shaking
loose the head fuzz that marked their last 15 years.

 

This R.E.M. sound present-or
at least as much as they did on 2008’s Accelerate.
When Stipe croons through the grungy ring of “All the Best” the line “it’s just
like me to overstay my welcome,” you’re not looking for something sarcastic to
say back to him. Stipe’s got a lot of shopworn platitudes and attitudes used as
lyrical motifs here: he’s “never felt so calm” (“Discoverer”) and he “earned
his wings” (“It Happened Today”). Luckily these are some of Collapse‘s brightest moments, the former
borrowing its crusty melody and guitars from PIL’s “Seattle” and the latter, one of the trio’s
chillier anthems.

 

The album is at its best on
the piano-driven “Walk It Back” and the raveup “Alligator Aviator Autopilot
Animator.” Both benefit from Patti Smith’s influence, the previous track a
Smith-attack on her Phil Spector period, the second actually featuring punk’s
godparents Patti and Lenny Kaye attacking their instruments and R.E.M.’s melody
like rabid dogs. (Eddie Vedder and Peaches also guest on the record.) While
most of its soft ballads are on the OK side, their finest moment is the
twinkling Velvets-like lullaby “Everyday is Yours to Win.”

 

Funny, that. I think R.E.M.
won this round, big time. Welcome home.

 

 


Dave Alvin to Appear on “Justified”

 

New song will also be on his next album.

By Fred Mills

According to a report at Billboard.com this morning, Dave Alvin will be a featured performer in the upcoming episode of FX series Justified (the third of the new season). He’ll be playing a new song, “Harlan County Line,” due in June on his next album on Yep Roc.

Alvin told Billboard, “I got a call out of the blue asking me do I have anything that might fit. I thought I had something that would fit,
nudged it lyrically and gave it to the director.”

The show’s script was subsequently tweaked to include Alvin performing in a bar in Harlan County, KY.

 

 

Dave Alvin to Appear on "Justified"

 

New song will also be on his next album.

By Fred Mills

According to a report at Billboard.com this morning, Dave Alvin will be a featured performer in the upcoming episode of FX series Justified (the third of the new season). He’ll be playing a new song, “Harlan County Line,” due in June on his next album on Yep Roc.

Alvin told Billboard, “I got a call out of the blue asking me do I have anything that might fit. I thought I had something that would fit,
nudged it lyrically and gave it to the director.”

The show’s script was subsequently tweaked to include Alvin performing in a bar in Harlan County, KY.