Monthly Archives: July 2012

Coal Porters Return w/5th Album

 

Produced by British folk veteran John Wood, the
album will hit U.S.
shores on September 18. Includes left-field
cover of Bowie’s
“Heroes.”

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Our London-based (but Kentucky-bred) buddy Sid Griffin, late
of the Long Ryders and a published author of numerous music biographies, has
been making a name for himself in recent years with his alt-bluegrass combo the
Coal Porters. Along the way he and the group have become mainstays of Britain’s Americana
scene. They’re set to roll out their new album on Sept.
18, titled Find the One,
via Prima Records and produced by English folk-rock legend John
Wood
(Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Beth Orton, Squeeze). Two
installments of a ten-minute film about the Coal Porters will be uploaded to
YouTube in August. Tour dates will be announced soon as well.

 

Recorded in north London
studios once used by the likes of the Clash and Queen, the new album contains
five new Griffin
songs. Guitarist Neil Robert Herd added three tunes, and fiddler Carly Frey
contributed two songs that, according to Griffin,
“wed acoustic folk with the Left Banke’s ‘Walk Away Renee.'” The band’s
longtime encore “Paint It, Black” finally got recorded. Also included is an
acoustic, campfire-style take on David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

 

In addition, two legendary guests make appearances on Find the One.
Folk-rock guitar hero Richard Thompson plays on Sid’s new song “Hush U Babe,” a
harrowing tale of escape from Dixie via the
Underground Railroad. And British DJ Brian Matthew, most familiar to Americans
as the voice introducing The Beatles on more than a dozen of their live
sessions for BBC radio, performed the same chore for the Coal Porters,
introducing Griffin’s
song “Ask Me Again” on Find
the One
.

 

The backstory: The
Coal Porters started as an electric band, “kinda a Long Ryders-Lite” according
to Griffin. But
a decade ago Griffin produced an album for U.K. folk-rockers Lindisfarne
and he caught the acoustic folk music bug. With guitarist Herd riding shotgun
the duo revamped the Coal Porters as a mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar and
doghouse bass act – no amps, no drums but lots of harmonies and hot soloing.
“Our live fees went up, our gig calendar became crammed . . . I dunno, why I
didn’t think of it earlier?” laughs Griffin
today. “My music has the same passion it always did,” states Griffin, “It is still anthemic as it was when
I sang ‘Looking for Lewis & Clark.’ But now I find myself playing to
audiences who are intensely listening, and who pay rapt
attention.

 

“For any artist such devout attention is so terrific. It is
such a blessing. I am grateful to receive it. With Find the One the Coal Porters are
paying back that devotion. And I hope you can hear it on the record too.”

 

 

Read: Exit Music – The Radiohead Story

 

Updated edition is more on fan’s mash note to band than genuine critical assessment.

By John B. Moore

Radiohead is a phenomenally creative band, having been on a
constant path of reinvention from their second album on. Record execs, critics
and even fans be damned, the band members are always going to write music that
challenges them. It’s surprising then that one of the most fascinating musical
acts to come out of the last three decades would make for such a dull music
bio.

 

Exit Music: The
Radiohead Story
(Backbeat) was first released in 2000, not even 10 years
after the band first came into our collective conscious with the hard-to-ignore
“Creep,” complete with one of the most recognizable gun cocking guitar riffs in
music history. Mac Randall’s book certainly needed revising for 2012, as the
band has had four full albums since its first printing; managed to prompt rumors of break-ups; and pulled off the most
talked about music pricing experiment of all time. But even with all this new
fodder, Exit Music still comes off
like one obsessive fan’s love note to his favorite band.

 

The unauthorized book is well-written and -researched,
relying mainly on previous interviews, but there is just very little new
information or insight revealed about what is cast her as possibly the most boring
band ever to come out of England. (Randall details a mid-‘90s tour with Belly
that ended with the two bands throwing a book party to celebrate. Seriously!)
For Radiohead completists and obsessives, feel free to pick up the revised
edition. For everyone else? Did you read Neil Strauss’ bio on Motley Crue?

 

Watch: Rolling Stones/Muddy Waters ’81 DVD

 

Live At
The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981, recently issued by Eagle Rock, captures an oft-bootlegged – but majorly improved –
rock/blues summit of epic proportions. Check out the video clips, below.

 

By Hal Bienstock

 

1981 was something of a tipping point for The Rolling
Stones. It was the year they released what many consider their last significant
album, Tattoo You. It also was the
year they crossed the threshold from band to stadium spectacle, much to the
detriment of their music as anyone who had the misfortune to suffer through the
live album Still Life or VH1
Classic’s endless reruns of the accompanying movie Let’s Spend the Night Together knows all too well.

 

The DVD/CD release, Live
At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981
(Eagle Rock Entertainment), of
their oft-bootlegged appearance with Muddy Waters at Chicago’s Checkerboard
Lounge shows that it didn’t have to be that way. Mick Jagger may do more actual
singing in this one hour than he did on the entire 1981 tour when he either
shouted to the rafters or ran out of breath trying to sprint across giant
stages.

 

Clearly thrilled to be performing alongside one of his
heroes, Jagger sings with depth and
emotion, but also with a playfulness that is a perfect foil to Waters’
authoritative delivery.  Keith Richards
and Ron Wood are in top form as well. It’s tough not to be when you have to
hold you own alongside Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz, who also take
the stage to round out a legendary jam session. (It’s worth noting that despite
the packaging, this isn’t the full The Rolling Stones onstage – just Jagger,
Richards and Wood).

 

 


 

 

The quality of the music isn’t in dispute. The real question
is whether fans need to upgrade from their bootleg. The answer is a clear yes.
The sound quality and video quality is far better than any bootleg of this
performance that I’ve found. Those who only have the music will definitely want
this, as the video is full of great moments – from watching Keith climb over a
table to get onstage while a middle-aged waitress in hair curlers takes orders
to seeing Mick balance his electric stage presence with his desire not to
overshadow the headliner.

 

Bonus features are slim. There’s a nothing-special clip of
the Stones performing “Black Limousine” on the 1981 tour. I guess it was
included because it’s bluesy. And there’s another warmup track from Muddy
Waters’ band before he takes the stage. It’s the main event that makes this DVD
worthwhile. 

 

 

 

Report: Ray Davies Plays Kinks in S.F.

 

With
the hopes of a full-blown Kinks reunion fading, Ray Davies, backed by L.A. combo the 88, play
red-blooded versions of Kinks Klassics at the Fillmore on July 19.

By Jud Cost

I swore to myself that, for once, I’d just go to the Fillmore, soak it all in
and have a good time. And that I did, but the journalist inside me wouldn’t
stop thinking of things to say about this glorious performance by Ray Davies,
whose songwriting genius has gathered enough steam by now to pull into a
virtual dead-heat with Lennon & McCartney.

The last time through town, in 2009, Davies had converted a houseful of skeptical devotees who weren’t too sure how Kinks songs
would stack up, backed by a large choral group instead of a blistering rock
band. With Davies’ astute choice of material (including sensitive numbers like
“Days,” “See My Friends” and “Waterloo Sunset”)
it was one of the most enjoyable nights of the year, the modern equivalent of a
night at the opera.

With the Kinks’ fabled singer/songwriter fronting simpatico Los Angeles combo
the 88, the show tonight sounded like a slam-dunk, maybe as close as we’re
likely to ever get to a reformation of the original Muswell Hill quartet that
also featured Ray’s brother Dave Davies on guitar (still recovering from a
stroke), their late bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory. It was even
superb tonight in ways you never would have anticipated.

The first eight songs, six of them Kinks nuggets, were performed by Ray Davies
and his longtime accompanist, Bill Shanley, both on beefed-up acoustic guitars.
The surprise element was the crowd, in magnificent voice, chiming-in at all the
right places. Who the hell could have ever seen this coming? That enough people
knew the arrangement of “Dead
End Street” to add the “hey hey”
accent line at just the right moments (and volume). It almost felt like they’d
rehearsed their part.

The set began with “I Need You,” a terrific, flag-waver that slipped
through the cracks of the Kinks’ repertoire in their early years. It has all
the buzzsaw energy of their first two U.S. hits, “You Really Got
Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night,” with none of the
notoriety. 

“I never would have thought I’d be playing the Fillmore again,”
Davies reminisced, even though the Kinks never actually worked the venerated
hall, abandoned by Bill Graham in 1968 for the larger Carousel ballroom,
renamed the Fillmore West. As Davies noted, the Kinks were banned from playing America for
four years. When they finally returned to the U.S. in 1969 to tour for their Village
Green Preservation Societ
y LP, it was the Fillmore West where they first
played locally.

After a brief nod to longtime San
Francisco pals Mike and Trish Daly, Davies announced,
“This is where I belong.” And, of course, burst into the song of the
same name, another obscure single the crowd knew like the back of its
collective hand. “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” with its “when
he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight” line titillating the
crowd, as always, was a rousing hit. The massed voices were right there again
to chime in on “telling’ tales of drunkenness and cruelty” on major
Kinks smash “Sunny Afternoon.”

“Apeman,” from 1970’s overlooked masterpiece Lola Vs. Powerman And The
Moneygoround
, cleared up one point, once and for all. When the song became
a turntable hit on S.F.’s KSAN-fm, they played a dubbed version that went,
“I look out the window but can’t see the skies/the air pollution is
a-foggin’ up my eyes” to placate the FCC. Davies made it loud and clear
tonight that the air pollution was no less than “a-fuckin’ up” his
eyes.

And that was just for openers. The 88 wandered onstage during “Dead End
Street” and helped Davies rip through “Till The End Of The Day,”
the third (and possibly best) retooling of “You Really Got Me.”
Surprisingly, the mob really got into “Where Have All The Good Times
Gone” from their third U.K.
longplayer, The Kink Kontroversy. I once mentioned to Davies, during one
of our four interviews over the past 20 years, that “I’m Not Like
Everybody Else” might serve as a proper epitaph for his tombstone. It was
the only awkward moment we’ve ever had. Great tune, nevertheless, whether
carved in marble or lighting up a musty old dance hall.

During a more recent chat with Davies, I asked him to consider singing my
favorite verse of “Celluloid Heroes,” (“If you covered him with
garbage, George Sanders would still have style/And if you stamped on Mickey
Rooney, he’d still turn ’round and smile”) and he said he would. But not
yet. He did, however, rescue the Marilyn Monroe line and swap it out for the
one with Bette Davis in a previous verse. By the way, one astute Kinks fan
nearby identified an instrumental break, played by the 88 without Davies, as
the backing track for “Celluloid Heroes.” Nice catch. 

“Victoria,”
a highlight of the Kinks’ Arthur album, was good enough to lead off the
stellar 1972 best-of compendium, The Kink Kronikles, curated and
annotated by noted rock scribe John Mendelsohn. “20th Century Man”
ratcheted the theme of “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” to the breaking
point. “This is the age of machinery, mechanical nightmare/The wonderful
world of technology: napalm, hydrogen bomb, biological warfare.” Davies’
bottom line was, “I’m a 20th century man, but I don’t want to be
here.” And things haven’t changed much well into the 21st century with its
morning headlines spilling out the abhorrent pedophilia of Penn St. football coach Jerry Sandusky
and the recent mass murders at a Colorado
cinema showing a Batman movie.

Revived by its double-barreled shotgun blast, “You Really Got Me” and
“All Day And All Of The Night” should have sent everyone packing into
the damp San Fran fog with a warm glow. Since I had a train to catch to Seattle the next day, it
did for me. Apparently, I missed the encore, a song that (along with Tony
Bennett’s “I Left My Heart”) should be made San Francisco’s municipal anthem:
“Lola.”

The thing that will keep people coming back to hear this same perfectly-forged
lineup is the Kinks’ marvelously fertile back catalog, accurately sung by the
man who penned the stuff. Davies could have played 25 completely different
songs tonight, and the show would have been every bit as exciting. Name another
artist, short of Paul McCartney, who could pull that one off.

Billy Corgan Assails Pitchfork, Radiohead

 

Former is about
“whether you’re wearing the right t-shirt”; latter stands for “pomposity.”

 

By Blurt Staff

 

With both a new Smashing Pumpkins album (Oceania) and a deluxe,
expanded reissue (of Pisces Iscariot)
in stores recently, mainman Billy Corgan has been doing press. And, in
typically Corgan fashion, he’s not being shy about voicing his opinion on
non-Pumpkins matters.

 

Gigwise reports (via Antiquiet) that Corgan took on the
issue of Radiohead versus classic rock: “” I can’t think of any people outside
of Weird Al Yankovic who have both embraced and pissed on Rock more than I
have. Obviously there’s a level of reverence, but there’s also a level of
intelligence to even know what to piss on. ‘Cause I’m not pissing on Rainbow.
I’m not pissing on Deep Purple. But I’ll piss on f*ckin’ Radiohead, because of
all this pomposity. This value system that says Jonny Greenwood is more
valuable than Ritchie Blackmore. Not in the world I grew up in, buddy. Not in
the world I grew up in…. I’m attacking the pomposity that says this is more
valuable than that. I’m sick of that. I’m so fucking sick of it, and nobody
seems to tire of it.”

 

Meanwhile, biting the proverbial hand that doth feed, Corgan also tackled
the thorny issue of Pitchfork and hipsterdom, as Gigwise (via Daily Beast) also
reports:
“Let’s say you’re the next Kurt Cobain. You will be appropriated on
your first album by the Pitchfork community. Your record company will rally
round that idea because that’s your marketing platform. But the minute you’re
in that world you’re frozen. Those Pitchfork people are very much about social
codes, about whether you’re wearing the right t-shirt. That orthodoxy is no
different than the rigidity of the football team at school. You can’t break the
social order if you’re preaching to the choir – and the choir already has cool
haircuts!”

 

Er, we feel a sudden urge to go get our hair cut…

He Cares A Lot: New Mike Patton

 

On Luciano Berio:
Laborintus II (out this week on Patton’s own Ipecac Recordings), the
avant-indie Renaissance-man sculptor-of-sound
dives headlong into the oeuvre of experimental, provocative classical Italian
composer Luciana Berio – and with stunning results.

 

By Steven Rosen

Mike Patton showed he cared a lot about Italian music with
2010’s glorious Mondo Cane, in which
he boldly and expressively sang with molto
bella
contemporary Italian pop songs with support from the Filarmonica
Arturo Toscanini, back-up singers and band. It was a tour de force, or however they say that in Italy. His love for
Italian music, as well as the language, came about as a result of his marriage
to an Italian woman – and settling down in Bologna – during the 1990s, according
to Wikipedia. That love has outlasted the marriage.

 

And so has his dedication to experimentalism, evident on Luciano Berio: Laborintus II (Ipecac
Recordings), a venture into the work of the provocative classical composer
Luciana Berio, who died in 2003 at age 77. Patton is the narrator – a turn that
requires dramatic, oratorical swings in expression and intonation – on a
recording of a concert performance of “Laborintus II,” a composition that Berio
and Edoardo Sanguineti wrote in 1963-1965 to honor Dante’s 700th birthday. (Berio had been commissioned by French and Italian radio; Sanguineti
was a Dante scholar and poet.)

 

 

This slightly-more-than-half-hour work was recorded at the
2010 Holland Festival, with the Belgian Ictus ensemble, Nederlands Kamerkoor Chorus under Klaas Stok, plus three
female soloists (Annet Lans, Margriet Stok and Karin van der Poel.) Berio,
himself had conducted a performance of “Laborintus II” at the same festival in
1973; this recreated that to honor him.

 

Berio
was Italian, yes, but he was also part of the international avant-garde that
included John Cage – especially in the 1960s, when he composed “Laborintus II”
and also turned folk songs into classical music. He was reportedly an influence
on the Beatles and his close collaborator and former wife, operatic singer
Cathy Berbarian, recorded an album of Beatles arias, Revolution.)

 

He
was like a more academic version of the filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, whose
artistic progressivism at the time got him invited to Britain (for Blow-Up) and the U.S.
(Zabriskie Point) to make cinematic
sense of his times. Berio was teaching at Oakland’s
Mills College – an outpost for experimental
New Music – while composing “Laborintus II,” and his students there included
Steve Reich, Louis Andreissen and Phil Lesh.

 

He
viewed this project as a kind of abstract-expressionist opera – Sanguineti’s
libretto featured his own poetry as well passages from other 20th Century poets, Dante’s writings and the Bible. (There is a snatch or two of
English in the spoken-word parts.) It has a true operatic feel in the first
movement, as the male and female voices shout, wail and confide – separately
and in unison – while the music grows eerily cacophonous and dynamically
exciting. You can also hear how it grows out of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,”
as does so much of mid-20th Century classical music.

 

 


Laborintus 3 by Jay Homeless Mind Theory

 

In
the second movement, Berio’s interest in free jazz moves to the fore as the
trumpets, trombones and clarinets of Ictus start to rise and fall and the drums
kick up a storm. Patton and choir members shout as if they are falling ever
deeper into the frightening Afterlife, and it’s gripping. It raises the kind of
ruckus Art Ensemble of Chicago would admire; it’s modern classical music
responding to other music of its time. And there appears to be use of echoing,
vibrating electronics here that’s chilling.

 

The
short third part serves as a mournful elegiac coda, a reflective ending to what
has been – like its source material – a profound journey.

 

Bat For Lashes – Naked!

 

And of course all the
hairy-palmed indie lads are busily at work, doing their, um, business as they
stare at the photo.

 

By Perez Mills

 

Eyebrows raised across the indie nation (er, well, there’s a
lotta major label input here, but indier-than-thous shall have their say, eh?)
yesterday when Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, “unveiled” her the artwork to
her forthcoming album The Haunted Man. It’s hardly NSFW, unless you work at, say, Chick-Fil-A, but at any rate, the
full album arrives Oct. 23 on Capitol, and it is preceded by a video for the
first single, “Laura,” which you can check out below. And don’t worry, kids:
you can sling those chik’n sandwiches while watching the vid on your
smartphones without fear of getting canned….

 

Report: OFF!/Refused Live in Brooklyn

 

July 18 at the Europa Club: after a
hastily-rejiggered amphitheatre show was moved indoors (due to thunderstorms)
to a smaller venue, a packed house received the proverbial
sledgehammer-to-cranium from two of the best punk bands on the planet.

 

By Evan Haga

One of the
grossest untruths about punk bands is that they can’t play. If you care to put
that lie to rest, check out one of the remaining dates of the tour featuring
the reformed Swedish hardcore band Refused and OFF!, the SoCal-based hardcore
quartet fronted by Keith Morris. Both bands’ sets at Brooklyn’s Europa Club on Wednesday
were evidence of experience and elbow grease. Prog-rockers would have had a
hard time putting them down.

 

There is some
backstory to this gig. Originally booked at the new, amphitheater-sized Williamsburg
Park
venue in Brooklyn,
thunderstorms caused the Refused-headlined event to be cancelled and refunds to
be issued. Very quickly, OFF! secured the relatively nearby club, and an
admission-free, first-come-first-serve show was organized as a kind of
replacement. An incident-free feeding frenzy ensued, and several hundred people
were treated to two explosive hours of music in a sauna-like room.

 

Since its
formation in 2009, OFF! has made much of its members’ time in other excellent
bands, but it doesn’t need to. Morris, of course, was the first singer in Black
Flag and the frontman for Circle Jerks; guitarist Dimitri Coats is a member of
Burning Brides; bassist Steven McDonald is of Redd Kross fame; and drummer
Mario Rubalcaba’s credits include Earthless, Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes and others. All of which really adds
up to the idea that these men have accrued a lot of stage time, because OFF! is
its own entity, despite how much it leans on Morris’ early work as its guiding
light.

 

Before the set
began, McDonald tooled around with the bassline from the Led
Zeppelin-associated “Dazed and Confused.” It provoked a few chuckles from the
crowd, but the reference made good sense. OFF! plays earthy, blues-natural
hardcore with an unshakable pocket. The band ripped through more than 20 songs
in about 40 minutes-well over half of their recorded oeuvre-as if they were
part of some extended punk-rock suite; if well-rehearsed bands are “tight,”
OFF! was impenetrable. Coats’ low-slung single-note riffing and power-chording
seemed to flow from instinct rather than memory, and his performance offered a
tutorial in drawing and directing feedback in meaningful ways. Evocative of
Keith Moon in the Who, Rubalcaba thrusted along with his bandmates rather than
relegate himself to static backbeats. His sound was huge and splashy yet
somehow melodic; he and Morris formed an axis.

 

Morris, probably
due to the tight schedule, curtailed his trademarked between-song dialogue,
except where it counted. He thanked
the audience and the venue; he paid homage to his deceased friend Jeffrey Lee
Pierce of the Gun Club; he gave some political background regarding “Borrow and
Bomb.” Elsewhere, his lyrics embodied disaffection and apprehension in
uncertain terms. The bigger point was that this was a terrific rock and roll
band.

 

The same could
be said for Refused. In the 1990s, they built their reputation as a thinking
man’s hardcore group, musically curious and politically audacious. After they
disbanded in 1998, their legend grew thanks to a fantastic album released that
same year, The Shape of Punk to Come.
They’re playing mostly from that canonical record on this year’s reunion tour,
and headlining venues they might have been lucky to open at in the ’90s. Here,
the quintet sounded stupendous, and the audience was combustible. Certain
moments gave the crowd serious bragging rights: Cro-Mags singer John Joseph
joined Refused’s smiley vocalist Dennis Lyxzén for two classic hardcore covers:
“We Gotta Know,” by Cro-Mags, and Bad Brains’ “Attitude.” And then there was
the closer, “New Noise,” whose opening line the majority of the room shouted in
unison.

 

 

[Photo of OFF! via the band’s Facebook page]

 

 

Watch Orb/Lee Scratch Perry Video

 

It’s almost fluffy!

 

The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry unleash a brand new video in
anticipation of forthcoming single ‘Golden Clouds’, out July 30th (digital EP)
and September 3rd (7″) on Cooking
Vinyl. Check out the track, which references the band’s classic ‘Little Fluffy
Clouds.’

 

 

The ‘Golden Clouds’ video was filmed and directed by Volker Schaner from Fu
Foo Film, with additional footage and editing by Mike Coles of Malicious
Damage. It includes scenes from the forthcoming movie ‘Lee Scratch Perry’s
Visions of Paradise’, also directed by Volker Schaner.

 

Therapy? Returns?!?

 

And you thought they
had broken up… new album already doing gangbusters in the UK and Europe
following initial release.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Irish rockers THERAPY?’s 13th album (and first in nearly four years) A Brief Crack Of Light is finally headed for a North American
release via MVD on September 11. The
band – Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Neil Cooper – recorded in two separate
sessions; from December 2010 to February 2011, and in June 2011 at Blast
Studios, Newcastle, England. The first session was
mixed in March 2011, while the second session was mixed in July 2011. Produced
by Adam Sinclair & Therapy?, the album’s title comes from Vladimir Nabokov,
who describes life as “A brief crack of light between two eternities of
darkness.”

 

Check out the pummeling album promo:

 

 

 

 

 

The album was preceded by a single entitled “Living in
the Shadow of the Terrible Thing” on January 23, 2012, a video of which
was filmed in November 2011 and premiered on the bands’ official page on
January 9, 2012. The song was debuted at a gig in Cork, Ireland
in October 2010 and later played at various European festivals in Summer 2011.
“Before You, With You, After You” was debuted at a festival in Torhout, Belgium
in September 2011. A Brief Crack Of Light has received
almost universal high acclaim overseas, with Kerrang!, Rock Sound, Metal Hammer, Clash and Metal Revolution giving it high marks.

 

Tracklisting:

 

1. “Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing”
3:55

2. “Plague Bell”
4:11

3. “Marlow” 4:36

4. “Before You, With You, After You” 3:32

5. “The Buzzing” 3:38

6. “Get Your Dead Hand off My Shoulder” 4:07

7. “Ghost Trio” 5:20

8. “Why Turbulence?” 3:33

9. “Stark Raving Sane” 2:36

10. “Ecclesiastes” 5:42