Monday, January 29, 2007

Clipse coming soon, tell a friend

I missed out on Clipse's show at the House of Blues last year while they were still living off their good-as-an-official-release mixtapes and stuck in label Hell. I WON'T make the same mistake when they play the Belly Up on St. Patrick's Day. I'll be there in all my nonexistent hip-hop swagger but still loving every minute of it.

I don't know anything about the coke game (I've never even smoked pot; I won't do anything that might increase the chance of me enjoying Sublime or Bob Marley) and I've never lived in the hood. But I absolutely connect with the hunger and spitfire of Clipse's music. Getting jerked around by labels only poured gravel on their growl, and the eons-awaited "Hell Hath No Fury" was one of the hottest (and best) records of 2006. Its motivational power makes Nas' "I Know I Can" sound like "Don't Worry Be Happy."

Clipse: March 17 at the Belly Up. The black Martha Stewart; let them show you how to do this.
Clipse — Momma I'm So Sorry (MP3)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Brian Wilson in concert

Brian Wilson is old.

It can be easy to forget considering everything the man's been though. He made it back through the looking glass but he's still human — and he's still 66. He walks with a bit of a slouch, carries a bit of a gut and his face looks a bit like the emperor's in "Star Wars."

So on Friday night at the 4th and B, Wilson wasn't a band leader a much as a conductor. He sang but rarely touched the keyboard in front of him. Instead, he clapped along and pointed left and right, forward and back, to cue the 10 other musicians through a mixed set, then "Pet Sounds" in order, then an encore of Beach Boys surf classics. He sneaked glances at a monitor attached to his keyboard that probably showed the lyrics just in case. His voice has lost maybe half a notch, but it was still strong and instantly recognizable.

And while the concert was not a life-changing experience, the songs were written by Brian Wilson and performed by a band he put together, making for a show that never disappinted.

Only got two photos from the balcony before security told me to stop, so apologies for the blurriness. Highlights from the first set included "Surfer Girl" and a "Good Vibrations" that included the mystical, magical theremin. The other highlight was Al Jardine, the original Beach Boy who wasn't related to the Wilsons. Standing to the right of Wilson, he sounded exactly like he did 40 years ago, and in jeans and a striped shirt he looked like the Beach Boys did in all those black-and-white photos.

I'm not sure if the "Pet Sounds" set would have been as strong without Jardine there to do his vocals (most of "Sloop John B." is him, although he's all over that album). The band re-created all the music down to the bicycle bell and horn in "You Believe in Me," but much of it sounded rushed and slightly stiff, with Wilson keeping an eye on his keyboard monitor. The band didn't seem comfortable enough with the songs to just hang loose.

The encore was where the generation gap really showed. Classics like "T-Bird" and "Barbara Ann" kept the 40-something set on its feet, but I wondered if the 20-somethings, including a keyboard player and a female vocalist on stage, first heard "Help Me Rhonda" when it was used in a Rodda paint commercial. It's a kick to see those classics live, but they lack the timeless themes in "Pet Sounds," which only shows how important that album is.

Sometime around 10, as Jardine sang and the band played on, Wilson let out a massive yawn. While it was odd symbolism for a man who famously spent part of his life in bed, it didn't seem out of place. His band was doing its job perfectly, and, besides, it was probably Wilson's bed time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A British band to watch/watch out for

The whole point of the Baby Heisman name is to not overhype untested bands, to not declare a band's greatness before it's even taken its first step. But slaying a band based on just a couple of songs is just as bad as declaring them the second coming of the Clash.

With that, meet
Los Campesinos! (the exclamation point is theirs, not mine) They're British college kids playing jangly guitars, high-pitched keys and featuring male and female vocalists. They have songs but no album, a pile of potential but no proof, a gimmicky band name that each member even uses as his/her last name, Joey, Johnny, Tommy Ramone-style.

And I can't stop listening to them.

Plenty of people are already predicting this band will go big in 2007, and maybe they will. I say maybe they'll be this year's Arctic Monkeys, with everything that comes with it. In the meantime, they're raw and fun and worth watching, but also worth watching out for.

The band just put a couple of new songs on its myspace page, plus here's some "older" ones.

Los Campesinos! — You! Me! Dancing! (MP3)
Los Campesinos! — Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (MP3)
Los Campesinos! — Death to Los Campesinos (MP3)

Los Campesinos! on myspace

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My City May Be a Sucker: David Lee Roth

While all of you suckers are hunting down rumors on a Police reunion, (give it up; they're not coming to Coachella) Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal scooped ya'll. This, honest to God, is at the top of the Review Journal's Web page right now, under a little red "NEWS FLASH":

Van Halen reunion tour to kick off in Las Vegas

By Norm Clarke

A Van Halen reunion tour, with David Lee Roth back in the fold after 22 years, is in the works, with a Las Vegas launch looking good. A late April date at the Palms' new venue, The Pearl, is "99 percent" likely, a source said. It would be the latest coup for Palms owner George Maloof, who will open the 2,500-seat venue with a lineup that includes Tool, Evanescence, Gwen Stefani along with Van Halen, all in the first month. Many critics consider Van Halen the greatest party-metal rock band of all time.

1. WTF is party-metal? I doubt many critics have even considered the question, let alone considered Van Halen kings of the "genre."

2. Who the hell else is in the running for that title? I hate to ask, as we all have better things to do, but isn't GnR party-metal? If so, Van Halen is better than GnR?

3. If you band is called Tool is there a way to more fully embody your band name than play the Palms casino?

4. Will the original Van Halen come to San Diego? We have a lot of casinos, too, and the venue formerly known as the Sports Arena

And, wow, check this out...

Proving that you can see a conspiracy if you look hard enough with your eyes closed, Fox News retard Neil Cavuto trys to bait Roth into bad-mouthing, well, anyone, after getting fired as Howard Stern's replacement. While Roth is sporting a mean combover and appears to have just come back from an audition to play the Joker in the new Batman movie, he comes off as a connsumate pro. Even when he slams Eddie, you can sense a certain level of respect. Roth proves that, no matter how crazy you act, you have to be savvy as hell to succeed.

Brian Wilson concert preview/appreciation day

Brian Wilson's show tomorrow night at the 4th and B, which will include "Pet Sounds" in its entirety, is more than a concert; it's the latest step in his mission to regain control of his legacy.

At the Bridge School benefit concert last year, Wilson introduced a number of songs by saying "This is from an album I made called 'Pet Sounds.'" Maybe he wasn't lurking around blogland to see how many listed "Smile" in their top albums of 2005, and maybe he didn't see Pitchfork name "God Only Knows" the best song of the 60s, but he seems to realize that he is as inspiring and as cool as ever. That scene in "Almost Famous" where Cameron Crowe gets the albums from under the bed and he gazes at "Pet Sounds," that's happening to some elementary/high school/college kid this very moment.

Wilson wants to make sure the younger generation knows he, and not Mike Love and other touring Beach Boys, was the brains behind their new favorite music. He put the realistic, adult complexity into "God Only Knows," by starting one of the best pop songs ever with the line "I may not always love you." He's the reason the album both instantly grabs you AND slowly reveals itself over multiple listens.

But can "Pet Sounds" the concert be as timeless as "Pet Sounds" the record? Will the songs sound as good to the younger fans without the nostalgia that comes from being alive when the album came out? Without the studio wizardry and with 40 years of stress on Wilson's voice, will the performance lack a certain spark? Or will the live version add yet another dimension to one of the best records of all time?

Check back Saturday for a review of Friday night's show. In the meantime, a couple of "Pet Sounds" clips and "Heroes and Villains" from "Smile," which was co-written by Al Jardine, essentially the cool Beach Boy, who will perform with Wilson.

The Beach Boys — God Only Knows (MP3)
The Beach Boys — I'm Waiting for the Day (MP3)
Brian Wilson — Heroes and Villains (MP3)

In other Wilson news, a DVD of a 2005 tribute concert will be released next month. Plenty of jokes to be had in the pairings of artists and songs.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "I Get Around"
Richie Sambora - "City Blues"
Jeff Beck - "Surf's Up" and "Surfin' USA"
John Legend - "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times"
The Backstreet Boys - "When I Grow Up to Be A Man"
Shelby Lynne - "Surfer Girl"
Michael McDonald and the late Billy Preston - "Don't Worry Baby"
Earth, Wind & Fire - "Don't Talk, Put Your Head On My Shoulder"
Darlene Love - "Wouldn't It Be Nice"

Also, just FYI, the San Jose Mercury News reports Wilson doesn't own an iPod.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My City's a Sucker: The Thermals/Coachella

The number of bands that skip or arrive tardy to San Diego is only made worse by the number of bands that seem to play here constantly. If didn't see Yeah Yeah Yeahs play in '03-'05 you either didn't want to or you're an ER surgeon.

The Casbah just posted that The Thermals are coming back to town, I believe for the third time since "The Body, the Blood, the Machine" came out last year. I'm always up for another visit from one of my hometown's current heroes, and that album still smolders. But the announcement just comes at a bad time, on the heels of the Coachella lineup. I'd rather see so many of those bands in shit-box SOMA than drive two and a half hours to scorch with a million people to see them play for 20 minutes. Lots of them will go to L.A. before or after the late-April fest, but I have so little faith than many of them will stop in S.D.

(Try to spot the two-second PDX celebrity cameo)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The other album released today

New Shins out today, along with new albums from Of Montreal, Deerhoof (I've never been able to get into Deerhoof; please don't revoke my blogger license) and PDXers Menomena. But I'm most excited to check out this guy from Chicago named David Vandervelde.

Straight-up rock might be the easiest music to get wrong. The line of talent separating Jet from the White Stripes is probably thinner than we'd like to admit. Vandervelde's first songs walk that line extremely well, seeming a bit like the Black Crowes, maybe a little Bowie, maybe even a little ... Jet. He's been getting some blog buzz but people aren't flipping for him, which is all the better for letting him grow on his own terms. A track from the album...

David Vandervelde - Jacket (MP3)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cashing in: Wolf Parade

Are any indie kids watching the Sci-Fi Channel? If we are or, like me, happen to catch a commercial for Sci-Fi on another channel, we can hear a snippet of Wolf Parade's "It's a Curse" in the promo of the upcoming series "The Dresden Files." The show looks like "CSI" meets "Medium," although I'm basing that entirely on commercials, as I don't watch any of those shows.

Gotta love the character stereotypes. Dangerous but gifted leading man; tough but feminine female lead; older veteran who hates the leading man's rogue ways; black dude.

But if you haven't pulled out the Wolf Parade album in a while, or never bought it to begin with, DO IT. I picked it up again a couple of months ago and it sounds just as good post-hype.

Wolf Parade — It's a Curse (MP3)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Menomena stream of consciousness

Looks like the next band from my hometown to blow up might be Menomena. I feel kind of bad for sleeping on them. I've known about them for what feels like three years, saw other bloggers pimping them up. But today Pitchfork gave them the "Best New Music" tag, which has been all the talk on the Internets.

Finally listening to more than 30 seconds of their music kind of sent me on a stream of consciousness. Enjoy.

Menomena — Wet and Rusting (MP3)

Which leads to this...

...which leads to this...

...which leads to this...

...which leads to this...

Yep, I could probably watch Sesame Street clips all night. Yepyepyepyepyepyepyep

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Camera Obscura obscures San Diego

One big reason why my city's a sucker is the number of bands that skip San Diego. Some play two nights in L.A., which I can't really fault Sometimes they play L.A., then just jump over us to Arizona, which makes no sense. The damn freeway runs through our town. It's more than a frustration; it furthers our image as SoCal's second fiddle.

Twee poppers Camera Obscura are playing a string of West Coast dates, ending in L.A., before getting out of this country for Europe. No San Diego date. They're so darned cute, though; I don't know if I'd be able to stay mad at them.

Camera Obscura – Let's Get Out of This Country (MP3)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say MySpace

Baby, it's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Wait, don't hang up.

Baby, I've been thinking about you so much lately, how hot and heavy we were back in 2005. I still remember how we met on the Internet. You were looking for something new and I was trying to be all cool, playing hard-to-get. We agreed to meet in the record store, but the clerk said I wasn't there. I know it just made you want me even more. And when we did hook up, damn, the sparks flew. Some of your friends didn't like me; you're parents hated me. They said I didn't sound right for you; you didn't care. Nothing was going to change the way you felt. But something that burns so hot has to cool off. So I understood when you said you wanted to see other bands. But that was 2006, and it's over now.

I know you look at my Myspace page using your fake profile so I won't know you're still thinking about me, but you should go there now. I'm striving to be your '07 lover, to give you "Some Loud Thunder" where I know you're craving it. I'm restarting our love-hate relationship with a song that sounds like it's coming through a blown-out speaker. Don't worry baby, I'm not hurt, I'm just being me.

I know you're worried about getting burned. Will it be as good as the first time? Was it even that good the first time to begin with? Baby, I say it doesn't matter. You know you want to give it another try.

Your Loud Thunder lover,

"Some Loud Thunder" streaming on myspace
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Love Song No. 7 (MP3)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Underwater (You and Me) (MP3)

David Byrne Appreciation Day

Over the weekend the New York Times did a good piece on David Byrne, pointing out the many ways he's still the godfather of indie (Link to story at the end). He may not have the same history or swagger of Lou Reed or Iggy Pop, but, then again, neither did THE Godfather, and there's something to be learned of that. Remember, Vito dies in the garden; Sonny, for all his bada-bing, gets blown to hell at the tollbooth.

The Talking Heads are one of those bands with a deep catalog but only a handful of songs that get played. They're also a band that truly turned their songs into completely different creatures live.

For those looking to get past the greatest hits, "Stop Making Sense" is a good primer But a better album is the two-disc "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads." One disc is from a show in the 70s, the other is from the early 80s. Think about how "Once in a Lifetime" would sound if Phil Spector and Steve Albini got ahold of it and you get an idea of the album. Two clips from it are below.

David Byrne article in the New York Times
The Talking Heads — Crosseyed and Painless (live) (MP3)
The Talking Heads — Cities (live) (MP3)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cashing in: The Flaming Lips

A new PSA on MTV urging HIV testing uses "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" by the Flaming Lips (lead singer Wayne Coyne is famous for wearing protection). No clip yet, although there's a load of other PSAs that combine YouTube-era production with Reagan 80s moral themes.

Sam Jackson sings the blues

I still don't know what to make of "Hustle and Flow." It was a combination of "Cinderella," "Wall Street," and "Working Girl." Like all those movies, you root for the guy, but to get you to root for him, he has to be SO syrupy. It's hard out there for a pimp? Duh.

Just the cast listing makes the writer/director's latest movie, "Back Snake Moan," sound just as confounding. The movie, out February 23rd, has Sam Jackson, Christina Ricci, David Banner (yes, the rapper) and Justin Timberlake (flanked by Timbaland at all times, I'm sure). Throw in theme of race and sex in the South, and it's one of those movies that likely will either be a triumph or an overblown borderline snuff film

Samuel plays a bluesman, and apparently he has fully immersed himself in the part. The soundtrack has — I wouldn't say it's a version as much as a song inspired by — the blues classic "Stack 'O Lee." Or it's just another excuse to record Sam Jackson throwing out cuss words.

Samuel L. Jackson — "Stack 'O Lee"

For some reason, when I listen to the song, I think of this:

And to compare, here's one of the originals
Mississippi John Hurt — "Stack O'Lee Blues"

Cashing in: The Postal Service

Let's play Match Game!

"Such Great Heights" is a song by ______________

The band picked its name because it swaped tracks via ______________

One of UPS' main competetors is _____________________

Yeah, it's the same answer for every blank, and, god, this is just sad. The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" is the music for this massive new ad campaign for UPS. It features a guy who kind of looks like the dude from "Wings." I first saw the TV spots here in San Diego over the weekend, but UPS also has a Web site specifically for the ad campaign. If you keep the site up with a bunch of other windows, the Flash slows down the music into a funky remix of sorts.

The Postal Service are allegedly working on a new album. I guess if Ben absolutely, positively has to get a track to Jimmy overnight, they can probably get a sweet discount. But what would they call the band then? The UPS? The Brown?

UPS TV spots
UPS ad campaign site

Oh, and to come full circle, there's now a Match Game DVD

My City's a Sucker: Kite Flying Society

Today's installment:

Kite Flying Society, the only worthwhile San Diego band, (someone PLEASE prove me wrong) are doing something of an "artist in residency," playing the House of Blues side stage every Wednesday night in February. HOB has all the dates, but the KFS myspace just has the show on the 28th.

In other KFS news, the band is already working on the follow-up to its debut, "Where is the Glow," one of the best indie pop albums of the year, let alone one of the best local debut albums. Looks like some of the new tracks will get a test run during the shows.

While so many San Diego bands sound, at best, like a promising local band, Kite Flying sounds like a promising band period. When I first heard them, it reminded me of when I heard Death Cab's first album.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My City's a Sucker: Bayside

Today’s installment...

Rock shows at San Diego’s promising bayfront venue have been shut down after complaints about the noise.

The Port Commission, which owns the land at the Embaracadero Marina Park venue, sometimes just called Bayside, voted to ban hard rock performances there after people across the bay in Coronado said the noise was disrupting their peace and quiet. (You can see the Embarcadero at the top of the map just to the right of the downtown label.) The Port also put limits on the decibel level and set a 10 or 10:30 cutoff time for shows. The company that books the rock shows there says it will shift to bands with a softer sound.

Sure, there are plenty of other outdoor auditoriums and amphitheaters in the county. The sad part is that Viejas, which books Bayside, put together an impressive lineup last summer. Radiohead played two nights. Death Cab, Spoon and Mates of State filled a bill. Country fans got Martina McBride. Everyone in the classic rock set from Paul Simon to Santana to Huey Lewis played there. The plan seemed to be coming together.

Enough bands already skip San Diego to play two nights in L.A. (Bloc Party just announced they’re doing just that). Bayside seemed like a perfect way to raise our profile. There are multiple parking garages and a Trolley stop nearby. It’s right off of downtown’s shops and restaurants.

The other frustration is how broad and ambiguous the rules are. Nobody would call Radiohead “hard rock,” but they probably would be too loud to play there now. And REALLY nobody would call Death Cab hard rock, but if a band is right on the line, it’s doubt able Viejas is going to risk it, as the Port also approved fines for violations to the new rules.

So, cheers to San Diego, for further limiting a major piece of entertainment for that niche 14-to-50 age group.

If you want to e-mail the Port commissioners about this, click here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Get ready for the judgment day...

...The "Neon Bible" says so...

Since the new Arcade Fire album is going to be the ONLY thing that matters in 2007, a post on it seemed like the best way to kick off the blog. The second coming is March 6. Start repenting now for all the bad music you bought in 2006. (Wolfmother, perhaps? Or the Fergie album you hide behind the toilet so nobody finds it?)

Even the band is getting in on the hyperbole...

All joking aside, but sticking with the religious theme, I’m keeping the faith. If any band can actually deliver on unreasonably high hype and pressure, it has to be the Arcade Fire. So, un-blogger-ish as it is, I’m not posting any of the tracks from the new album that are floating around. But I am keeping a countdown to Neon Judgment Day along the right rail.

In the meantime, enjoy these other awesome things made of neon:

And, of course, Neon Deion (check out the curls)