Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grow up and get your own band

Troy Van Leeuwen has been mooching off of his friends for far too long. Playing guitar for A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age, Failure, EODM, and Mondo Generator, the guy was always a tag along with the big players. It's like he had the talent, but just lacked the motivation to do something on his own.

But as his parents likely said... he just has so much potential.

Which is why you and I should both be excited for his new band Sweethead. Not unsurprisingly, Sweethead has a bouncy-yet-driving, depressed-yet-happy feel similar to some of the aforementioned bands. In fact, with female vocalist Serrina Sims, the group even sounds a bit like Brody Dalle's new project Spinnerette. Throw in a dash of the Mark Lanegan Band on bass and drums and I suppose you have one of those new-fandangled 'supergroup' thingies.

In short, thanks for not being lazy anymore, Troy.

-With everything you did right, how could you go wrong?

Monday, May 25, 2009

I want a white cowbell

So, the thing that makes the band White Cowbell Oklahoma even better than the awesomeness of their name is the fact that they're from nowhere near Oklahoma. In fact, they're from Toronto of all places.

These guys appear to be both PR geniuses and also complete alcoholics. They're currently signed to Universal, and have three full-lengths to their name; Cencerro Blanco (2004), Casa Diablo (2007) and Bombardero (2009). A troupe of 6 mounts the stage in full take-yer-sister-home outfit. To really understand how mind-blowingly rock and roll this band is, you need to realize; they have a guy in the band who's sole job is to play the cowbell.

I wish I could make this shit up.

Throw in a dash of Tricky Woo-via (their latest effort was produced by Adrian Popovich at Mountain Studios in MTL) and you have a band which has no intention of taking things easy, for any reason, ever. You know what? I'm just going to let you listen to this already:

-Noble in mind but a rogue at heart

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The model T of guitarists

A few months back I wrote independantly about Chris and Rich Robinson; the two brothers behind one of the greatest jam bands of our generation, The Black Crowes. I thought I had kicked that horse to death, but low and behold, these boys have been busy.

In addition to the brothers, Marc Ford has also done some solo work. Ford was with the Crowes from 1991 until 1997, when he was dismissed from the band, reportedly for excessive drug use (which in that band must have been ASTRONOMICAL). Since '97, he's released 3 solo albums and done collaberations with Ben Harper, Gov't Mule, and Lucinda Williams. He even had a brief reunion with the Crowes, however in the end broke back out on his own.

I'd be lying if I said Ford's stuff is as good as the Crowes, or even either of the Robinson's solo work. The fact of the matter is that Ford is not a phenominal songwriter. However, what he lacks in songwriting, he makes up for by being one of the most vicious blues-rock shredders this world has ever seen.

-My kingdom ain't worth a horse, of course

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The cradle will rock

So, this is something which I stumbled across a while ago but have been saving (read: I don't have a damned thing to write about and I'm too lazy to do some hunting). This is not the introduction of a new band, but more a new medium, and an entirely new way to mess with small children.

Because really... one can never get too much of that.

The website is called Rockabye Baby! and since 2006, they've been finding ways to do increasingly disturbing things to the infants of today (which I can always respect). The premise is simple; let's take a bunch of famous recording artists from the past 50 years and re-arrange their classic songs into a lullabye-muzak form. It is genius marketing, as we're now getting a generation filled with anxsty teens growing up and having eye-shadow-wearing kids of their own.

Covering bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Radiohead, Coldplay, Metallica, and Nirvana, Rockabye has created one of the most clever business models I've seen in a while.

The only worry I have is that they've also started to cover bands like Tool. Now don't get me wrong, Tool is one of my favorite bands and if (god save us all) I ever have a kid, I would love to hear Hooker with a Penis playing in the background of my nursery. However, I really have to question what this 'third eye opening' music is going to do to our kids' heads.

On one hand, we could create a generation of musical genius snobs, who have passed through their inevitable 'Zeppelin phase' by 2, become bored of the Beatles at 3, and are suddenly getting into coke at the age of 4.

And on the other hand, suddenly the new rock n' roll age is going to be Forever 7.

-When everything's smooth, I would have been rough

Monday, May 11, 2009

The lady-baron

So, I was amazed when I stumbled upon a recent piece of information and realized that I'd never even talked about a certain band before. That band was Baroness, and to give you an idea of my surprise, you must first understand conversations that Jesse and I used to have around a year ago:

"Dude, do you know how awesome Baroness is?"

"Oh yes, I'm quiet aware, but I don't feel as though you fully understand the depth of their awesomeness."

"No no, you're just mistaking my current state of being. I've actually come to understand their level of awesome on a whole new ethereal plane which you can't quite comprehend... but it's cool... you'll probably figure it out sometime."

That's a rough approximation, but honestly, not that far off from the truth. Jesse actually started changing into pure energy at one point but then he started listening to Krunk hip hop again and got too busy flossing his bling or something.

Right... I'm going off topic (yeah Shane, that's the whole point of this blog). Baroness is awesome. I read a quote from Exclaim once which went something like "There must be something in the Georgian water that starts bands off as massively aggressive then slowly calms them down after a while." It happened to Mastodon and it happened to Baroness. I'm guessing that something is acid.

The Red Album reminded me why I still can enjoy listening to heavier music; because not all metalheads stop learning at 4 or 5 chords (or alternatively learn too many notes on the guitar and try to fit them all into one song). Baroness was able to create heavy, but still beautiful melodic music which could both tame the savage beast, and release it.

And the good news is that they're back in the studio and we can expect a fall release. Only time will tell if they will suffer sloppy seconds syndrome (yes, I just made that up) but I have high hopes for this talented group.

-Crying with you all the time

Friday, May 8, 2009

Strange How that Works

The first time I heard Spotlight, the first single off Mutemath's new album, I was actually a bit pissed off. The viral videos of the boys recording process had gotten me gleeful with anticipation of an epic album to follow up their self-titled 2006 release. Then, they went and released a song which ended up being the anthem for a shitty teen-romance vampire movie and I got incredibly angry.

Somehow, video saved the radio star.

I don't know what it is about this troupe of 4 overly energetic N'Orleansers, but when you put them in front of a camera, amazing things happen. When I watched this video, suddenly all was forgiven and the song became good again.

And I started to get excited for the album... again.

-You'd commit suicide to martyr yourself

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Like a million tents were just pitched

I wish I had something witty to say, but fuck it:

If you're not quite sure why this is significant, simply go place your hand in an open door and slam it as hard as you can.

Good, now that you understand things a little better and are on my wavelength, we can get down to things. The Sled Island Music Fest in Calgary just announced their lineup for 2009 and low and behold... I've got wood. When asked about their reformation by Chart, a whole whackload of insanity about nuts was spewed.

Back in my days of yore, when fledgling-wanna-be-rock-stars were offering me coke on New Years' eves, but pre-said-rock-cocks becoming paranoid about me hitting on their fiance, I had a chance to visit the Tricky Woo rehearsal studio. Even without the amps on, it felt like sex was being amplified through the air. The place had soul, meaning, and a coating of white powder on nearly any flat and smooth surface.

What really mattered though, was the music. Tricky Woo would become one of the bands not to define my childhood, but to define my inner rock star. I listen to One Great City! when I'm homesick. I listen to Grey Mountain Lullaby when I'm lonely. I listen to Heart Attack American when I'm angry. I listen to Lover Don't you Lie when I AM THE KING OF THE BLOODY UNIVERSE.

I'm glad we had this little chat.

-Bring back the old, to hell with the new

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just in case you've been hiding under a rock

I've been listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens this past week and it dawned on me that not everyone knows who the guy is.

To sum up, he's had one of the biggest sways on the folk genre in the last 10 years... even if simply due to numbers. He released an inordinate 7 records in the span from 2000-2006, added in a few xmas EPs and even undertook a project to write an album about each of the US' 50 states (which so far, he's completed 2).

He's definitely a bit of a strange guy (though I think you have to be to write that much music). He's been recently heard floating around projects like a musical about the NJ turnpike, and a 'symphonic and cinematic' project called the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

I guess, I just thought you might want to take a listen.

-Roll me over and pick me up