Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creepy Dudes and Scarey Songs

Who are the scariest dudes in rock and/or roll? The first one that popped into my head was Nick Cave. Not only does he look like the spawn of Dracula, but his music sometimes freaks me out too. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the Aussie and his band are, "renowned for its highly dark, challenging lyrics and violent sound." That's putting it nicely!

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - I'm Gonna Kill That Woman.mp3
Buy (MP3 only): Kicking Against the Pricks (1986)

Roky Erickson has made a career of being all psychedelic and freaked out. Many of his songs were influenced by horror movies. He played in Toronto last week with my favorite Canadian band, The Sadies, and I am irritated that I missed it.

Roky Erickson and the Aliens - Bloody Hammer.mp3
From: The Evil One (1981, out of print)
Buy: The Evil One (plus one) (2002 reissue with lots of bonus tracks)

I heard this song for the first time while driving from Calgary through the desolate Rocky Mountains to Banff, Alberta, and it scared the bejesus out of me!

Tom Waits - What's He Building?.mp3
Buy: Mule Variations (1999)

In my opinion, this is the creepiest song of all time. The narrator misses his dead girlfriend so much that he digs up her grave and climbs into her coffin just to be with her. Eeew!

Downliner Sect - I Want My Baby Back.mp3
From: Sect Sing Sick Songs (1965, out of print)
Buy: The Country Sect (2005)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Concert Review: Lucero at Lee's Palace, October 20, Toronto

More photos by Steffen at Turn It Up Or Turn it Off.

There has been a lot of hoopla among Lucero fans such as myself over the new album 1372 Overton Park about Lucero's use of horns on much of the album. My first impression was that lead singer/songwriter Ben Nichols has been spending way too much time with Craig Finn and The Hold Steady, but after several listens the album has really grown on me and I would say its just about as good as anything that Lucero has done. It sounded even better at Lee's Palace in Toronto on Tuesday, October 20.

I was standing to the left of the stage, mostly out of the range of the asshole 19-year-olds who somewhere along the line decided that Lucero was a mosh band. Not that I didn't have to go home and shower and do laundry to clean all of the sprayed beer off of me. Seriously dudes, its a waste of alcohol. I mean, I know you saved your allowance for months to piss it away on spraying beer and everything, but you are angering people and keeping real fans away from the show. This only hurts the band in the long run. Hell, at one point Nichols even said, "Dudes, this ain't the Warped Tour." Here's a song for you punks - note the lyrics: "Its not the band I hate, its their fans." Now go to a Fucked Up show.

Sloan - Coax Me.mp3
Buy: Twice Removed (2005)

But ANYWAY, Lucero sounded fan-fucking-tastic. From where I was standing, the two saxes were slightly more muted than on the record, and, to me, it sounded like how 1372 Overton Park should have been mixed. The "horn section" was actually two dudes who switched between baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones.

And how bad-ass is bassist John C. Stubblefield, aka "John C." The dude was wearing a Merle Haggard T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. He was doing crowd safety when the shit-head punks got out of control. He handed out shots of whiskey to the purdy ladies in the crowd (apparently I'm ugly). And he lit up cigarettes in the smoke-free venue. The only other person I've seen do that is Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers.

Speaking of the DBT, this was another one of those shows where the dudes in the audience seriously outnumbered the chicks. During "Goodbye Again" there was some serious bro-mance going on. And damn, I thought some of them were going to start making out with each other during Nichols solo section, not that there is anything wrong with that. When taking requests Nichols mentioned that he was "partial to the slow, sad shit." And damn didn't he nail them. "Mom" from the new album was especially amazing.

Lucero played for two full hours. Nichols maybe took a 30 second break before bringing the band back out for an encore. Including the two opening acts, I saw over three and a half hours of music. I certainly got my $20 worth of entertainment. And at least $20 worth of beer sprayed on me.

Set List
(full band with saxes)
1. Sounds of the City - 1372 Overton Park (2009)
2. That Much Further West - That Much Further West (2004)
3. Can't Feel a Thing - 1372 Overton Park
4. The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo - 1372 Overton Park
5. Nights Like These - Tennessee (2002)
6. What Else Would You Have Me Be? - Rebels, Rogues, and Sworn Brothers (2006)
7. Joining the Army - That Much Further West
8. Last Night in Town - Nobody's Darlings (2004)
9. Sixes and Sevens - 1372 Overton Park
10. Goodbye Again - 1372 Overton Park
(saxes leave)
11. Kiss the Bottle - The Attic Tapes (Jawbreaker cover, 2006)
12. I'll Just Fall - Tennessee
13. Chain Link Fence - Tennessee
14. Slow Dancing - Tennessee
15. Sixteen - Nobody's Darlings
16. Hey Darlin' Do You Gamble - 1372 Overton Park
17. Wandering Star - Lucero (2001)
18. Johnny Davis - 1372 Overton Park
(Ben Nichols on guitar, plus dudes on pedal steel and keyboards)
19. The Last Pale Light in the West - The Last Pale Light in the West (Nichol's solo, 2009)
20. Mom - 1372 Overton Park
21. The War - Nobody's Darlings
(full band with saxes)
22. Smoke - 1372 Overton Park
23. Darken My Door - 1372 Overton Park
24. I Can Get Us Out of Here - Rebels, Rogues, and Sworn Brothers
25. Nobody's Darlings - Nobody's Darlings
26. Tears Don't Matter Much - That Much Further West
27. Other Side of Lonesome - recorded for 1372 Overton Park but not included
28. All Sewn Up - Lucero
29. Fist Full of Tears - Tennessee

Tears Don't Matter Much.mp3
Buy: That Much Further West (2004)

The Last Pale Light in the West.mp3
Buy: The Last Pale Light In The West (2009)

Hey Darlin' Do You Gamble.mp3
Buy: 1372 Overton Park (2009)

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm opened the show with a forty minute set of blues rock. I was highly entertained by these two fellows, and wow, can they make a lot of music for just two dudes. Burnside wailed on the drums while Malcolm cranked on the guitar. So good! Check these two out if you like hard rockin' blues.

So Much Love.mp3
Buy: 2 Man Wrecking Crew (2009)

Amy LaVere followed with a set of upright bass blues rock. While she didn't have the energy or the stage presence of Burnside and Malcolm (her drummer looked completely bored), she still put on a decent set. I actually liked their sound more when her guitarist sang lead.

Killing Him.mp3
Buy: Anchors & Anvils (2007)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rocktober: Corb Lund tonight at the Horseshoe

No rest for the wicked, or weary, or something. Why are all of the bands that I want to see playing the same week?

Corb Lund has a new record out. I haven't heard it yet, but if its anything like his earlier releases its going to be good. He played last night and is playing again tonight at the Horseshoe. Yeee-Haw!

Five Dollar Bill.mp3
Buy: Five Dollar Bill (2003)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rocktober: Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle

Roctober continues tonight and tomorrow night with Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle performing their new album Let's Just Stay Here at the Dakota Tavern. I haven't heard very much of this album yet, but what I have heard I have liked very much. The album has a cover of Justin Rutledge's "Too Sober to Sleep" which I am dying to hear. I really like both of these artists individually, and together they sound fantastic.

All Time Low.mp3
Buy (Maple Music): Let's Just Stay Here (2009)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rocktober: Lucero tonight at Lee's Palace

Rocktober got off to a kick-ass start with The Hold Steady (yeah, it was late September, but close enough), then the Avett Brothers, and now that I have had a few weeks to recover, I am totally ready to rock my ass off at the Lucero show tonight at Lee's Palace.

Their new album 1372 Overland Park came out in early October. I pre-ordered it, but it hasn't arrived yet. Anyone else in Canada have this problem?

Here's one of my favorites off of their previous release. Its a really mellow, melancholy song which I am pretty sure that they are not going to play tonight (prove me wrong?), but I fucking love this song.

Buy: Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers (2006)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Night Football Epic Crap

Thank god I am too young to remember much of the 1970s, but whoever thought that a disco song to fire up an NFL team was a good idea was very, very mistaken.

I found this info on the San Diego Chargers 1979 fight song from
Written and produced in 1979 by Jerry Marcellino and David Sieff and performed by Captain Q.B. & The Big Boys (who?), "San Diego Super Chargers" hit the airwaves the same year the team went on to win the first of three consecutive AFC West titles behind the potent "Air Coryell" offense led by quarterback Dan Fouts, wide receivers Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson and tight end Kellen Winslow.

While in 1979 through 1981 the Chargers set a few total yardage marks, the squad never made it to the Super Bowl. The closest coach Don Coryell’s squad would come was a showdown against AFC West rival the Oakland Raiders in the 1980 AFC championship game. Although San Diego captured the division, the wild-card Raiders beat the Chargers in the AFC championship fracas 34-27.

"San Diego Super Chargers" is a grim reminder from an era of what-coulda-beens and if-onlys. What’s worse is it’s disco, and not even good disco to (platform) boot.
All I know is that Ladainian Tomlinson better get off his ass so my fantasy team can start getting some W's.

I can't remember where I found this mp3, but it cuts off at 1:26 so I suspect that it is actually a ring tone. However, if you make it all the way to 1:26 without turning it off, you are a stronger person than I am.

Captain Q.B. & The Big Boys - San Diego Chargers Fight Song.mp3 (1979)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rocktober Feel Bad For You Comp

A little bit of rock, a little bit of roll, a few Halloween tracks, and a few random songs. The monthly comp from our friends at Download the zipped comp for one week only. Enjoy!

1. Dixie Whiskey - "Odelay"
Dixie Whiskey (2009)

2. Old Californio - "Mother Road"
Westering Again (2009)

3. Munich Meistersingers - Aber Heut' Sind Wir Fidel (Ein Prosit Der Bemutlichkeit).mp3
Buy: German Drinking Songs (1993)

4. The Love Me Nots - "Give Em What They Want"
Detroit (2008)

5. Metric - "Help I'm Alive"
Fantasies (2009)

6. The Beach Boys - "Sloop John B" (a capella)
Pet Sounds Sessions (Early Mix, 1966)

7. Fucked Up - "Son the Father"
Chemistry of Common Life (2008)

8. The Paladins - "Slippin' In"
Slippin' In (1999)

9. The Everly Brothers - I'm On My Way Home Again.mp3
From: Big Ball (1970, out of print)

10. Dada - "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"
Puzzle (1992)

11. Dar Williams - Flinty Kind Of Woman.mp3
Buy: The Honesty Room (1995)

12. Reigning Sound - "Love Won't Leave You A Song"
Love And Curses (2009)

13. Judas Priest - Metal Gods.mp3
Buy: British Steel (1980, reissued 2001)

14. John Fogerty - "Haunted House"
The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again (2009)

15. Deer Tick - "Friday XIII"
Born on Flag Day (2009)

16. The Avett Brothers - "Tin Man"
I and Love and You (2009)

17. Stone Axe - "There'd Be Days"
Stone Axe (2009)

18. Valkyrie - "Dawntide's Breeze"
Man of Two Visions (2009)

19. Nashville Pussy - Go To Hell.mp3
Buy: High as Hell (2000)

20. Artimus Pyledriver - "Dixie Fight Song"
Artimus Pyledriver (2006)

21. Stompin' Tom Connors - "The Hockey Song"
Souvenirs: 25 of the Best (2000)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazing Lineup Touring Spain

This poster was posted by The Sadies on Facebook yesterday and my jaw hit the floor. If I was independently wealthy I would be on the next plane to Madrid. Holy mother of pearl, what a lineup! If any of my fine readers happen to be from Spain, and happen to attend one of these shows, I will post your review on my blog, even if it is in Spanish. Or, even better, if you want to fly me to Madrid to attend this show, please contact me at rockstaraimz at gmail dot com. ¡Increíble!

John Doe & The Sadies - It Just Dawned On Me.mp3
Buy: Country Club (2009)

Magnolia Electric Co. - Whip-Poor-Will.mp3
Buy: Josephine (2009)

The Handsome Family - When You Whispered.mp3
Buy: Honey Moon (2009)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jay Farrar Friday: Covers Edition

Sweet drawing, eh? Its the Nov-Dec 2001 cover of the now defunct roots music magazine No Depression, which is now a thriving on-line community of music enthusiasts. You can find all kinds of cool stuff in their archives. This edition of Jay Farrar Friday is all about the cover tracks. Let's get into the music, shall we?

Originally recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1975, this track is part of the bonus material on the reissue of Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne. Edit: a Swedish reader pointed out that Joe Ely plays guitar and sings lead on this track. I should have noted that in the first place. Thanks for the reminder! Yee-Haw!

Uncle Tupelo - Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?.mp3
Buy: Anodyne (1993, reissued 2003)

Farrar dives into psychedelic rock covering the late, great Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd.

Jay Farrar - Lucifer Sam.mp3
From: Stone, Steel & Bright Lights (2004, CD out of print)

Kelly Willis duets with Farrar on this Townes Van Zandt classic.

Son Volt - Rex's Blues.mp3
Buy: A Retrospective: 1995-2000 (2005)

This is more of a reworking than a cover, but I don't care because I love this track. Farrar teams with Anders Parker to reconfigure a bunch of folks songs under the moniker Gob Iron. This track is originally by Reverand J.M. Gates, who probably first wrote this song in the mid-1920s.

Gob Iron - Death's Black Train.mp3
Buy: Death Songs for the Living (2006)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ralph Stanley: Man of Constant Sorrow

I was perusing the New York Times today at lunch and I came across an article about country music legend Ralph Stanley. Stanley is best known as a bluegrass artist, or as he calls it, "that old-time mountain music." He is 82-years young and still plays over 100 gigs a year. The NYT article previewed his autobiography, which goes on sale Thursday, October 15. Someone want to get their favorite blogger an early Christmas present???

Buy: Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times (2009)

Stanley played with his late brother Carter in The Stanley Brothers and with various musicians in the Clinch Mountain Boys, an act that is still touring today.

Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys - Man of Constant Sorrow.mp3
Buy: Man of Constant Sorrow (2001)

Although he is mostly known for his unique banjo playing style, Stanley won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2002 for his a capella rendition of "O Death" from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack.

Ralph Stanley - O Death.mp3
Buy: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, movie soundtrack)

Here's another cool one form the Rockstar collection. Ralph Stanley sings and plays banjo with Bob Dylan on the below track which is originally from Stanley's 1998 release, Clinch Mountain Country.

Bob Dylan with Ralph Stanley - The Lonesome River.mp3
Buy: Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8 (2008)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Canadienne

I've been sick as fuck for the last week and haven't had the energy to get out of bed, much less to blog. If anyone has a good sore throat/dry cough remedy, I'm all ears. I'm sort of on the mend now, just in time for the long weekend here in Canada.

Yes, its that wild and wacky holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving. Poster DeadManSaloon from Newfoundland (one of my favorite places) posted this tidbit on the forums about Thanksgiving in the Great White North.
Hey, who wants some pretty much useless information!?

Thanksgiving in Canada used to be celebrated in November, but after WWI, Armistice Day was, of course, placed on November 11th, and the two dates were celebrated at pretty much the same time (one on Sunday, the other on Monday, I think). However, due to the the joyousness related to Thanksgiving, and the reflection with Armistice Day, they were eventually split up and Thanksgiving, like the weird, step-child, holiday it is in Canada, was thrown back to October (and Armistice Day became Remembrance Day).

I'm taking a Newfoundland Folklore class at uni this term, and picked up this tidbit yesterday, along with the knowledge that one of the origins of Thanksgiving in Canada is American refugees (who were still loyal to the English) who came up here after the Revolution. You imperialist assholes (I kid, I love you guys!). There were some First Nations from what is now Canada that picked it up from the Europeans too, probably right before they were killed.

I don't have a "The More You Know" image, sorry.
Its always a weird holiday for me. Its on a Monday, there is no football (see note below), and there is no shopping. I have no plans to eat lots of turkey and pie, and tomorrow I plan on going to work to try to catch up from being sick last weekend. Either that or watch an eight hour marathon of The Office on cable (in Toronto on Rogers cable channel 90, 11 am - 7 pm).

I am very thankful for Canadian musicians. Here are three of my favorites:

Neil Young - Rockin' in the Free World (acoustic).mp3
Buy: Freedom (1989)

The Sadies - Wasn't Born to Follow.mp3
Buy: Tremendous Efforts (2001)

Great Lake Swimmers
- Everything is Moving so Fast.mp3
Buy: Lost Channels (2009)

Note: OK technically there is football, but its the CFL so it doesn't count.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Concert/Album Review: The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers played a sold out Horseshoe Tavern on Wednesday, September 30, the day after the official release of their new album I and Love and You. I couldn't believe how packed the 'Shoe was! When they toured Toronto in support of their 2007 release Emotionalism, there were maybe 60 people in the audience.

The Avett Brothers are some talented dudes. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett alternated on lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and keyboards, while Scott also played drums and banjo. Bob Crawford rounds out the trio on upright and electric bass, and Joe Kwon played rock cello on a few tracks. I greatly enjoyed the rock cello.

The knowledgeable crowd, which was heavy on the "dudes with beards and glasses" side, sang along to the older songs, and danced to the newer tunes. Scott and Seth were working their asses off. During "The Perfect Space" Scott was literally running between the drum set and the keyboards.

Most of the Avett Brothers music can be described as bordering on alt country or folk, with a hint of bluegrass and garage rock. I and Love and You is very similar to Emotionalism, with clever, catchy lyrics and beautiful harmonies. I and Love and You is the Avett Brothers first major label release, produced by Rick Rubin for American Recordings, a subsidiary of Sony Music. It is more polished than Emotionalism, and doesn't have near enough banjo for my liking, but it is overall a solid album.

The only song I really did not like at the show, and this also goes for the album, was "Slight Figure of Speech." It sounds like some 60s go-go song with some bad garage rock and a rapping/screaming part that sounded brutal live. The Avett brothers did an excellent garage rock song with their closer "Gimmeakiss," but "Slight Figure of Speech" hurt my ears. The only other song on the new album that I don't like is "Kick Drum Heart" because it sounds like something I wrote on my Casio keyboard circa 1987.

After the encore the audience coaxed the boys back out by singing the "La La La La La La" part of "Go to Sleep." The audience participation here was pretty amazing. In fact, it was almost as if there were two completely different audiences at this show. One that was obviously huge fans of the music, and one that was there just because they had nothing better to do.

I unfortunately got stuck in the latter half of this group towards the back of the venue. I have never seen so many dudes checking their Blackberries/iPhones at a concert before! One guy was checking his Crackberry every two to three minutes. It was so distracting that I had to move. Another guy checked and commented on his fantasy baseball team during the show! Why do people pay to see a band, and then spend the night on their iPhones? It was driving me crazy.

The show was sold out to the point of making me claustrophobic. And of course this 5'5" reviewer got stuck behind the guys who are 5'10" or taller. Some of these guys were just at the show to drink and talk to their buddies. There was lots and lots of jabbering between songs and during the lesser-known tunes, and some of the guys were being real assholes. Finally, some nice dude from Calgary let me stand in front of him so I could sort of see the stage. Thank you!

When you see a sports event and the official blows a major call that effects the outcome of the game, what do you remember more? The excellent athletics, or the blown call? I felt this way after I left the Avett Brothers show. Yeah, they are excellent musicians who put on a great show, but the annoying people that I was stuck standing with ruined it for me.

Set List
1. Laundry Room - I and Love and You (2009)
2. Paranoia in B-flat Major - Emotionalism (2007)
3. At the Beach - Mignonette (2004)
4. Shame - Emotionalism
5. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise - I and Love and You
6. Die Die Die - Emotionalism
7. Salina - Emotionalism
8. I and Love and You - I and Love and You
9. Colorshow - Four Thieves Gone (2006)
10. Murder in the City - The Second Gleam (2008)
11. The Perfect Space - I and Love and You
12. Distraction #74 - Four Thieves Gone
13. January Wedding - I and Love and You
14. Slight Figure of Speech - I and Love and You

15. Bella Donna - The Second Gleam
16. Go To Sleep - Emotionalism

Bonus Encore
17. Gimmeakiss - Four Thieves Gone

I and Love and You.mp3
Buy: I and Love and You (2009)

Buy: Emotionalism (2007)

Buy: Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions (2006)

One more thing: when I bought the I and Love and You CD at the show (for $15 CND - cheaper than Starbucks!) the merch guy told me that Scott painted the cover art, and also painted the portraits in the interior album cover (all oil on canvas). So not only is Scott Avett one hell of a musician, he is also quite a talented visual artist!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hockey Lives Here

Opening night of the NHL! I'm not a huge fan, but in Canada its a way of life. Here's a Canadian classic, and a rock and/or roll version of it by some other hockey, um, legends (?).

Stompin' Tom Connors - The Hockey Song.mp3
From: 25 of the Best (2000, out of print)

The Hanson Brothers - The Hockey Song.mp3
From: Sudden Death (1996, out of print)
This version is not actually by The Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot, but by a Vancouver punk band of the same.

Buy: Slap Shot (1977, 25th anniversary edition 2002)