Friday, February 29, 2008

John Brazile & Friends - Boston CD Release Party


I am still sick and will not be attending my friend John Brazile's CD Release party. Brazile, who has played two RSL live music showcases in 2007, is releasing "Commencement" - a new collection of songs. I will have the full album review up shortly. Appearing with John tonight at Oliver's Nightclub at the Cask 'n Flagon are friends - both old and new, set to make this one CD release party to remember!

Boston's Talented New Stock:
One of the most talented new songwriters


John Brazile - Letting This Go mp3


The Line-up tonight will include:


Led by reclusive singer/songwriter Ben Garrett, who wrote many of the songs for the project while holding his breath underwater, Waves is a band bent on high adventure. Evident is a love of diverse musical genres. Combining handsome songs, alt-country/Americana influences with hip-hop beats, art-rock leanings and nods to a plethora of other genres, Waves is a truly unique and rewarding musical experience not to be missed.


This homegrown Boston band infuses powerful energy and strong songcraft into their live shows, creating fresh and original jams that keep every song they touch full of life. Percussive acoustic guitar and tight rhythms, strong earthy vocals and energetic piano and horn solos make for a memorable live experience.


This band combines the best of folk and funk into a new, fun sound. The perfect fusion of soul-searchin' groove and upbeat indie rock. Don't skip out on The Change Up!

The Cask 'n Flagon
tonight at 8:30 p.m.
(21+) $10
62 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215-3402

John Brazile:
buy the cd!
Myspace page

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Johnathan Rice and Matt Costa on tour


Two of today's most exciting young singer-songwriters have embarked on a two-month-long, coast-to-coast tour together. Don't miss Johnathan Rice (a part-time actor) and Matt Costa (a part-time skateboarder) when they play near you!

Proving, again, that multi-tasking is easy for the talented: The tour started in Chicago last week - the remaining dates on tour are listed below along with some new rock videos and mp3s. Definitely check these out:

2 Exciting New Artists -2 Must-Have Albums

Johnathan Rice

Matt Costa

Johnathan Rice is a tremendous talent. His "Further North" CD has not been out of my CD changer since I got the album. He's already been named an One to Watch in 2008. I look to his album (a late 2007 release) to be named as one of my 2008 records of the year.


I have spent a few hours over the last day enjoying the songs of Matt Costa. The man is a risk-taker. Having already tasted success on 2006's "Songs We Sing" - he followed that up with some daring songs - some representing a considerable departure - in the late 2007 release "Unfamiliar Faces." The songs really work for me. I think even his oldest and die-hard fans will find Costa has broadened his world for the effort. Below you will find one of my favorite new videos of the year. I look forward to hearing more from this artist - who I am positive, now, is destined for great things.


2/28 - Montreal QC - Le National
2/29 - Boston MA - The Paradise
3/1 - Brooklyn NY - Music Hall
3/3 - New York NY - Bowery Ballroom

3/4 - Philadelphia PA - First Unitarian Church
3/5 - Washington DC - 9:30 Club
3/6 - Carborro NC - Cat's Cradle
3/7 - Charleston NC - Music Farm
3/8 - Atlanta GA - The Loft
3/9 - Nashville TN - 3rd & Lindsley
3/12 - Austin TX - Stubbs (SxSW)

Johnathan Rice residency in LA:
4/7 - Los Angeles CA - Spaceland
4/14 - Los Angeles CA - Spaceland
4/17 - Los Angeles CA - Spaceland
4/21 - Los Angeles CA - Spaceland

Win Win Win Win:
Autographed 12-inch vinyl copy of "Further North"
and Johnathan Rice t-shirts!!!

Here's How to Win. Drop me an email with your contact information and mailing address. Enter the words: "Johnathan Rice Giveaway" in the subject line of the email. Tell me your tee-shirt size too. The Winner will be notified via email and will receive their prizes through the mail.

Johnathan Rice: Myspace / Web
Matt Costa: Myspace / Web

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bob Dylan Bootleg recognized by Rolling Stone


In the March 6, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, writer Andy Greene taps Bob Dylan's 1992 performance in San Jose as one of Bob's best performances of the period (pg 61). His "Bootleg" pick in the issue is a top version of "Idiot Wind" which appeared near the end of the long show - performed on May 9th, 1992 at the San Jose University Center. What Mr. Greene didn't realize, was that T-Bone Burnett had walked on stage that night to join Dylan and his band. Burnett played lead guitar for "Idiot Wind!" It's a magnificent performance and a great bootleg.


Idiot Wind
(May 9, 1992 - live in San Jose)


Bootleg Selection of the Current RS

2008's First Must See Indie Rock Road Show


It's been a tremendous 500 days for Austin indie kings Spoon . The band topped many a "Best of" list for 2007. For most, it was ironically - Spoon's indie rock anthem "The Underdog" that put them on top of the indie world. Having just see them play a show here in Boston with Cold War Kids; (Spoon was supported by the New York horns). (My thoughts: Spoon was very, very good and the Cold War Kids were fucking incredible!)

Spoon has been on the road - touring extensively since 2001. Based on what I've seen and how dedicated the band is to impressing audience - All I can say is the new tour with The Walkmen is going to be hot! This April brings the first must-see tour of the year. Too bad it's so short!

Brit Daniel and Spoon - Running the Road in 2008

THE "Don't You Evah" EP: - The News about the new tour comes days before Spoon will release some pretty damn cool re-inventions of the "Don't You Evah" single from the "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga album." The EP hits stores shelves on April 8.

EP tracklist
Don't you Evah (album version)
All I Got Is Me
Don't You Evah (Ted Leo's I Want It Hotter Remix)
Don't You Evah (Diplo Mix)
Don't You Evah (Matthew Dear Mix)
Don't You Evah (DJ Amaze Mix)
Don't You Evah (Doc Delay Fixerupper Mix)
Don't You Ever (The Natural History version)

And then there's tour partners The Walkmen. This group is incredible and extremely under exposed based on their talent. It's hard to imagine, but this band can perform almost any song, any style. I have never seen them live but I have heard many a live recording. I would love to catch this tour.

APR 2 - Kansas City, KS - Uptown
APR 4 - Chicago, IL - the Vic Theatre
APR 5 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
APR 6 - Detroit, MI - Emerald Theater
APR 7 - Pittsburgh, PA - Carnegie Music Hall
APR 9 - NYC, NY - Terminal 5 *
(*Spoon with White Rabbits - No Walkmen)
APR 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
APR 12 - Norfolk, VA - Norva
APR 14 - Atlanta, GA - Centerstage
APR 16 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution
(Sorry Boston, no appearances)

More individual dates for both artists
Check their Myspace pages

Spoon: Web / Myspace
The Walkmen: Web / Myspace

Monday, February 25, 2008

Goodbye Blue Monday (Sixty Dollar Indie Rock)


I'm sure that Jeremy Fisher has heard many a comparison to great artists of the past. The one that springs to mind the most easily is probably Simon & Garfunkel. This being said, that pair was never this upbeat. He's also somewhat a troubadour like Dylan, but isn't that the requisite comparison? These types of comparisons and similarities come easy when there's such strong evidence of talent. Fisher released the "Goodbye Blue Monday" album last September and it's been a steady drive forward for him ever since.

There's the brand new video for the single Cigarette that is just emerging now. It's not an endorsement of nicotine, but rather a tale involving romance, a kind of dependence, infatuation and surrender. This one has it all. Here's the amazing & fun new video that cost just $60 to make:

Jeremy Fisher - Cigarette

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jeremy Fisher hails from Vancouver, Canada. He brings a fresh, new take on indie-pop, sharing his personal side while telling the tale of youth and vitality as well. He's definitely one to watch in 2008

GOING OUT - BOSTON: Jeremy Fisher plays here in the city tonight at the Paradise Lounge. He appears in an impressive line-up: with Jim Bianco and Brooke Wagonner. Definitely catch them if you get the chance!

Feb 25 - BOSTON (tonight!) - The Paradise Lounge
Feb 27 - PITTSBURGH (6pm show) - The Club Café
Feb 28 - CHICAGO - Schubas Tavern
Mar 1 - MINNEAPOLIS - The 400 Bar
Mar 3 - COLUMBIA, MO - Blue Fugue
Mar 4 - ST. LOUIS - 2 Cents Plain
- The Village at Blue Mountain
Mar 11 - Little Rock, AR - Juanita's
Mar 12 - AUSTIN, TX - South By Southwest

JEREMY FISHER - Web / Myspace
The Paradise Lounge (tonight's Boston show)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

HOT CHIP teams with Microsoft - FINALLY releases the "So Deep" track exclusively on Zune


London's HOT CHIP (Astralwerks) debuts an exclusive track on the Zune Marketplace on February 26th. The story of the "So Deep" song from Hot Chip is a bit of an interesting tale. It was during a show late last year in London that Hot Chip gave away a limited-edition of just 200 copies of this song. "So Deep" (EMI) was received by the first 200 people through the door at Hot Chip's Electric Ballroom show in November. (They got the super-exclusive "Normal" 7"-vinyl.) Since that time, "So Deep," shared on-line and repeatedly squashed - until now. Here's your chance to get your hands on the song...


On Tuesday - February 26th, "So Deep" will be available online through Zune and Microsoft. Having just released the "Made in the Dark" album, Hot Chip find themselves in the unique position of having one of the top indie releases in the world while still releasing new and limited material. It's a good place to be.

The Zune Ignition program gives recording artists with new releases a unique channel to potentially reach tens of millions of consumers, whether those consumers are browsing music online, playing games or catching up on the latest news. For the first time, Microsoft Corp. has packaged promotional opportunities across Zune, Xbox and MSN to help artists more efficiently reach consumers in all three audiences

As the band expands its sound beyond pure dance-floor mayhem to include some authentically indie sounds, 2008 promises to be a year to remember. Here are two tracks from the new album:


The "Ready for the Floor" 12"-singles

1. Ready for the Floor - Extended Mix
2. Ready for the Floor - Soulwax Dub
3. Ready for the Floor - Jesse Rose Mix
4. Ready for the Floor - Shake a Fist (Diplo Mix)

Here's How to Win. Drop me an email with your contact information and mailing address. Enter the words: "Hot Chip Giveaway" in the subject line of the email. Winners will be notified via email and will receive their singles through the mail.

Hot Chip Web / Hot Chip Myspace / Hot Chip Zune ("So Deep" on 2/26)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The FRENCH KICKS return to Boston - Free Show!


The French Kicks - a tremendous live band I haven't seen for more than a year returns on Tuesday (2/26) for a FREE (21+) Boston Show. The NYC band will perform at Harper's Ferry with the Bon Savants and Harris.

The Return of the

Tuesday - 2/26/08 at Harper's Ferry - Allston - 8pm

This is a Going Boston event sponsored by Miller Lite. ("The Great Taste Music Series") They pick up the door cost for you! All you have to do is register to get your name on the list! This is Going Boston's second recent of night (they just brought you Bang Camaro and Snowleopards.)

It will be great to see the French Kicks again. The last time I saw them was in September 2006 - in a great line-up with the now defunct Sound Team (rest in peace). Get ready to be impressed!


VIP Pass includes: VIP entry (no waiting)
Invitation to the VIP pre-concert reception (8-10 p.m.)
Reception includes "complimentary Miller Lite Product"

Email me with your contact information for a chance.
Enter: "French Kicks VIP" in the email subject line.

All entrants should pre-register with Going to ensure entry.
Winner will be contacted Sunday 2/24.

Maxim Magazine grades and pans the new Black Crowes without listening to the album


They can't be serious... Maxim magazine - every 14-year-old boy's best friend - a publication about bikini-clad models (the only slightly redeeming factor in the overseas versions is that they have a less puritanical presentation on nudity), lame practical jokes, and dream cars with shiny paint jobs - has actually reviewed a new album without even taking the time to listen to it. The victim in this case is Black Crowes - with "Warpaint," their first album in seven years, panned. The magazine gave the record (a definite comeback effort) a low 2.5 out of five stars rating (mediocre at best).

Unfair Practices?
Without even hearing the music . . .
the unreleased album was given 2.5 stars

Warpaint will be released on March 4th

When word reached Black Crowes manager Pete Angelus that there was a review of the unreleased album in the Maxim publication - even though no copies were sent to them for review... He was shocked.

"The writer, who has not heard the album since advance CDs were not made available, wrote what appears to be a disparaging assessment anyway, citing, `it hasn't left Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth,'" said a statement on the band's official Web site.

After consulting, Angelus said the magazine explained that its review was an "educated guess."

"It speaks directly to the lack of the publication's credibility," Angelus said in a statement. "In my opinion, it's a disgrace to the arts, journalism, critics, the publication itself and the public. What's next? Maxim's concert reviews of shows they never attended, book reviews of books never read and film reviews of films never seen?" (Source: The AP)

The March issue of Maxim

Angeles and the Crowes claim that when confronted about the fake review and album rating, they were told that the Maxim review of "War Paint" was: "an educated guess preview."

All I can say is, "Huh?" Maxim magazine is offering a monthly music section to its readers (a selling point) and they pull this move? Not good for your credibility. The "don't need to listen to the album to give you your grade" technique by Maxim hurts them and it discredits sister music magazine "Blender" as well.

The Associated Press, Newsweek, MSNBC, and several news outlets are starting to get all over this story. The label might as well used one of it's aforementioned 14 year-old readers to write the album reviews. Now to be fair, Maxim hasn't confirmed or denied the claim that they told the Crowes that the "Warpaint" review was just "an educated guess" but you tell me - here's the actual review.... So vague and yet a grade is clearly provided to the album.

Ridiculous - the Proof in Print:

The low Maxim rating of the Crowes' "Warpaint"

Immediate Aftermath: Rolling Stone magazine online rushed their review of "Warpath" into the breach - possibly at the band or the label's request. They issued the album a most-impressive 4.5 out of 6 albums.

A personal favorite:
Black Crowes - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
(covering The Band)

I look forward to the album.

Listen to the new material (streaming audio)

Friday, February 22, 2008

THE KOOKS will tour the States in May & June


Brighton boys, The Kooks to embark on an 8-week U.S. Tour

The Kooks will release "Konk" - their second full-length album in April. A supporting tour through the US is planned through the months of May and June. (This is exactly what I was looking forward to when I wrote this last November!)

18 - San Diego, CA – House of Blues
19 - Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
22 - San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
24 - Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
26 - Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
28 - Salt Lake City, UT – Avalon Theatre
29 - Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
31 - Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Café

1 - Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
2 - Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
4 - Toronto, ON – Kool Haus
5 - Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore @ TLA
6 - Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
7 - Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
11 - New York, NY – Terminal 5

Myspace / Web

BIRD NAMES - One to Watch in 2008


A proper description of Bird Names: a group of promising dissonant geniuses from the nation's heartland. Bird Names' jangled and fantastically disembodied collection of songs - the "Wooden Lake Sexual Diner" is a welcome throwback to an age where energy, creativity, personality and passion were more important than image in music. Chicago can likely predicted to both be appalled and enthralled - all at once. I can't wait to hear more!

Chicago's BIRD NAMES

Wooden Seas / Sexual Diner

Boston show tonight!!! (2/22)
- P.A.'s Lounge in Somerville -
(webpage, directions, times, etc. etc. etc.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hello Boston, We're Back (Tapes ticket pre-sale)


Tapes 'n Tapes - Hang Them All
1st track from Tapes 'n Tapes' brand new album

4/17/08 - The Paradise - Boston
Tickets on-sale to the public tomorrow at noon

Here's how to buy them TODAY:

1) Go to Tapes 'n Tapes' Ducat King Page
2) Register for free - get your password
3) Purchase tickets (before they sell out!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

VIDEO: Improv - Do Nothing and Feel Good About It


Thought I might share this video with you. It looks like a lot of fun!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Ready? Go! - - Boston's ACTION VERBS


One of my favorite things is sharing great new music. I get to match you readers up with some of the best, the newest and unsigned talent out there. It's music that you would otherwise never get to hear.

For the talented, yet-underexposed, subject bands, being showcased on this webpage is a great chance to show what they've got... They get the opportunity to shine before a wide, new audience and to make friends. If the band is from Boston... All the better.



Today's spotlight talent is Boston's own Action Verbs - an emerging, unsigned band with a majestic, authentic sound. Action Verbs is Mike Norman (guitar), Jacob Hapern (guitar), Alex DiCicco (drums), Brad Beaston (bass) and Joe Chehade (vocals).

Here for the first time: Check out two of the band's great new demos. They are definitely worth sharing with a friend! Check these out:

Feb 25th - THE ABBEY LOUNGE - Somerville
March 27th - THE CHURCH - Boston

FILM: Nirvana's Kurt Cobain - ABOUT A SON


The legacy of a dead artist - a legend, a rock star - is a long shadow cast by a bright light. Dancing images on cave wall, epic rock songs - insanity's wide brush. This is the legacy of Kurt Cobain. Until now we have thought we perceived his mind and understood his art through listening to Nirvana's music. There is a ghostly and reminder of the man's brilliance and his penchant for self immolation. Tomorrow, the powerful "About a Son" movie will be made available on video. If Cobain had lived he would be 41 years-old tomorrow.

The movie is filled with the sights and sounds of Kurt's life - but for the first time ever he explains his own life. The results are remarkable.

Biography of a Rock Sinner

Kurt Cobain's story in his own words. A Must-See DVD.
Original Artwork by Jack Morefield

In 1993, Cobain recorded 25 hours of personal footage, revelations and anecdotes with author Michael Azerrad. Some of the footage was used by Azerrad to record, "Come as You Are." Azerrad met with Cobain after "Nevermind" was released and prior to "In Utero." Complete in June, 1993 - the book does not address the last tour of Nirvana or Cobain's final weeks. The many hours of recorded audio have now been edited and compiled into the greatest biographical telling of Cobain's life.. and in his own words. It is wonderful and absolutely chilling to his his voice... to hear him tell you what's its like to be alive. "About a Son" is a highly recommended movie.

If I were to tell you that the 1989 Nirvana debut album, “Bleach”, was one of favorite records from my youth – I wouldn’t be lying. I had a copy of it on cassette long before it became available widely. By the time I got my hands on it, it was already a contemporary underground classic. I acquired the tape in ’91 from a stranger I met at a party. He left it on my car seat. I never saw him again.

There was something in the songs… I could only imagine what Nirvana would look like playing an all black stage under unforgiving bright lights. The drums and bass both plodded and exploded. The guitars wailed. Kurt was always leaning and stumbling about like a wounded scarecrow.

I guess none of this comes as a surprise… What I always knew about Kurt – and just from the songs, is that he is at his best when he’s his most vulnerable.

With the recent DVD release of the "Nirvana: Unplugged" (highly recommended) and now "About A Son," our culture has marked it's hunger for all things Kurt Cobain. I have been thinking about the man and the artist recently.

I've been running concepts through my head in an effort to frame Curt's existence. For instance - put yourself in his shoes: Cobain releases one album on Subpop and then is given a major record deal right away with Geffen. Nirvana was literally on top of the world in 1991, following the release of "Nevermind." You don't have to understand the music to appreciate how awkward and strange the world must have seemed.

As illuminating as the movie is, however, "About a Son" answers only those questions which Curt wanted to address for the recorder- but it's still more insight than we have ever had before. One is left wondering, critically, if Curt is more famous for his days leading up to his death and his ultimate demise than he is for his music. (A re-invention of his entire life based on the last few days or final moments?) It's a fair question.

The culture and religion of dead rock stars is one explored in great detail in author Chuck Klosterman's stellar 2005 rock novel; "Killing Yourself to Live." I just finished it. It's a first-person telling about exploring this very concept. It's a story about music and death but, ironically, it's about musical discovery during life.

During a cross-country road trip, Klosterman - who is a senior writer at Spin magazine, attempts to understand the culture of death in rock and our fascination with fallen musicians. Obviously the story ends in Seattle, with its apparent hunger for rock star lives. The trip from coast to coast is spent listening to the author's favorite songs (and flashing back on his life) all the while we examine the "successful careers" of dead musicians who were never permitted by fate to grow old or disappoint the fans.

"It's normal for someone's death to change how we recall what a celebrity was like, but the situation with Cobain is more complex; this is a situation in which a celebrity died, and many private citizens - including countless individuals who were wholly unconnected to Kurt or Seattle or grunge or even popular music - suddenly chose to remember themselves in a completely different way. Kurt Cobain didn't need to die to get integrity, because he already had it. However, his dying seemed to give total strangers a sense of integrity they had never wanted while he was alive."
- C. Klosterman, "Killing Yourself to Live".

After reading Klosterman's book I think I understand the music fanatic in myself just a little more. You have a little of this creature in you - although a little less, I'm sure than me. The author has convinced me that when a great man with a guitar dies he sometimes lives forever. Good, bad or indifferent... people need stories and they need heroes. I think we all want to touch the things that make us feel the most alive. Even when - in the case with Cobain - those very things are no longer with us.

"About a Son" will not change the way you feel about Cobain - it will likely just make you feel more strongly. For that reason alone it's worth watching. It's not often a late musician has another chance to change your life, again.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bad Flirt - One to Watch in 2008


Having just appeared at the Middle East - Montreal's Bad Flirt, a 6-piece punk pop band destined for great things, are making quite a name for themselves just in time for their new album to be released her in 2008. (It's untitled and unmastered as of yet. They sent me an early copy and it already sounds great without the additional attention it will receive.) Here's a look at the band's first single to be released and the new video they crafted:


Bad Flirt - Heart of Darkness mp3


February Tour Dates:

Web / Myspace

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Songs of the Week

DATELINE: My Heart, Your Ears -

You know, for someone who lives his life for great music - and for someone who expounds on the virtues of misunderstood and unappreciated artists and remarkable songs.... I don't listen to as much music as I would like, or I should (or that I need to - based entirely on my inbox and mail backlog.)

Life gets you messed up worried and twisted around. I'm behind at work (not so much that anyone gets on my case - I'm a type-A person and I want to be caught up at all times. I get on my own case.) My kitten is sick and has to see a specialist. The bills are due and I just found out about a very old one that somehow got lost in the shuffle and has been killing my credit score. These are my plights right now - but you know exactly what I'm talking about. What am I getting at? I really enjoy sharing music - but I like it best when it's songs that have already moved me. That exactly what happened with five short songs this week.

Probably at the busiest, most problematic point of my week (the literal apex of stress) - I found 40 minutes to use my ipod. Sitting in my office I knew not what to expect. I had loaded the songs randomly. These five songs changed my day and my week. Here they are in the original order that they appeared for me. Please take a listen and enjoy the music. Now that's passion.


Weezer - Freak Me Out


Neil Young - Old Man (live at the BBC, 1971)


Wilco - Magazine Called Sunset
(Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demo version - unreleased)


The Editors - Orange Crush (REM cover)


Frank Black - Los Angeles


Shortcuts to the Best on the Page this week:

Jonathan Rice - One to Watch in 2008
Day of the Dead - a look back at Valentine's Day
David Ford, Matthew Perryman Jones and Ingrid Michaelson
The Adam Duritz Interview
Georgie James to appear on Conan O'Brien
WORK SONGS - mp3s for the Job
Justice of the Unicorns - Something Special
Artist to Watch - THE MOTION SICK
Bob Dylan - the San Jose Concert (1992)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Johnathan Rice - One to Watch in 2008

DATELINE: Los Angeles -

On the "Must-See" List in '08


I'm going out on a limb - Johnathan Rice is probably going to be my solo artist of the year in 2008. (Well, that's at least how I feel right now.) Last year we saw the promising Rice embarked on tour with Rilo Kiley (RSL *top 40 2007) and Grand Ole Party. He did not disappoint. Indie rock fans who wanted to see Rilo Kiley perform songs from their "Under the Blacklight" album and arrived early enough were treated to Rice's unique blend of alt-country of indie rock. The Scottish-American singer performed duets on select with girlfriend Jenny Lewis. It was a memorable tour for an already accomplished performer. (Check out Rice's IMDB page for his film and acting credits - yes, he acts too... Most notable is his role in 2005's "Walk the Line.")

The Highly Recommended album

By the end of last year, Rice had released the amazing "Further North" album to some rave reviews. My advice: run out and pick up this ironic, twangy indie classic. The record provides ample material for a 2008 tour that is bound to blow away audiences. Here is the title track which is currently just about the best thing I am listening to. Enjoy!

Johnathan Rice
Myspace / Web

Day of the Dead - a look back at Valentine's Day

DATELINE: Third Layer of Hell


Feelings, nothing more than - feelings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Adam Duritz Interview

On March 25th, Counting Crows will release the double-length CD "Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings." It's their eighth album and their first since 2006's "New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall," - a 2003 performance of their songs recorded in front of an audience. The new record represents the first new material from the band in studio in five years ("Films about Ghosts" - 2003).

The new album represents a return to form for one of America's best bands and arguably one of its most creative songwriters in Adam Duritz. What follows is my exceedingly frank and open interview with Duritz - a gifted creator and producer. These are his words. Together we explore the new album and listen to his heart...

ADAM DURITZ - the RSL Interview

image of Duritz by Danny Clinch

"The song’s still busy being born as long as you play it like it is. For me, for us, songs after the finish of the album process become almost like coffee filters. You pour your life through them every show and they come out a little different every time, because your life’s a little different every day... They never really stop growing and changing."

. . . . . . . .

"Adam, thank you for doing this interview! I worked hard to get you some though-provoking questions – hopefully these haven’t been asked 100 times already...

"Let's talk a minute about the new project. The new album has a dualism approach. The very nature of the “Saturday Night” versus 'Sunday Morning' outlook seems to point to a greater vision. Realizing there are always 'befores' and 'afters', how and why did you choose this approach for the new material?"

"I think it was really more a case of the material choosing the approach. Listening to and thinking about “1492” really drove me towards the Saturday Nights record - which is all it was going to be, to begin with. And, with changes in my life and the songs that sprung from that, inspired the idea that there was a Sunday Mornings album that would be a companion piece.

"Now that's something I definitely would not have considered. I guess we live in a day and age where you see a double-disk on the rack. You would never stop to consider that it was a happy accident, of sorts, that led it to all that material. But the truth is, that it's an organic process. You showed up in studio to record 'an album' and this is the result.

Counting Crows - 1492
From the new album due in March

"How do you view yourself at this point in your career?"

"Well, I’ve never really looked at what I do as any one thing. There’s always been more than one component to that. Songwriting is the first burst of creativity when you take something insubstantial inside you and turn it into something substantial and real. But that’s only really a skeleton. When you work with the band, you flesh it out into the thing it’s supposed to be. Recording it and finding its place as part of a body of work that all fits together to make a greater whole as part of an album is another aspect of it.

"It’s no less difficult or important than the initial writing and it may actually be more difficult process now that I think about it. Playing live, at least for us, is a very vital and living part of the process too. The way I look at it, the song’s still busy being born as long as you play it like it is. For me, for us, songs after the finish of the album process become almost like coffee filters. You pour your life through them every show and they come out a little different every time, because your life’s a little different every day. As long as you don’t just play them by rote, you can learn a little more about your own songs every time you play them. So they never really stop growing and changing."

"What would you call yourself then? Are you more a journeyman, a stage performer or a songwriter?"

"As far as how I view myself specifically, I’m just a musician, like anyone else who does it. The core of it hasn’t changed much since I was first writing songs in my bedroom or first playing in clubs. You are one because you choose to be one. The life and the people around you certainly change but the motivation and the work doesn’t. I think, at least for someone like me, when it does, you’re done."

"When you are with the band or out on the road performing for an audience, are there any Counting Crows songs you particularly enjoy playing more than others?"

"My taste in playing OUR songs changes from night to night. Lately I’ve been really enjoying the return of the electric version of “Have You Seen Me Lately”, maybe because this new album wants to be played loud, but I’m also loving “Perfect Blue Buildings”, another song we hadn’t played in years before last summer. “Hard Candy” is always a blast because it rocks but it’s still a very emotional song about a very poignant memory. You know, my favorite right now is the acoustic version of “Miami” we came up with. It’s just beautiful."

"Which artist and song would you like to most cover on the road in 2008?"

"My favorite covers are “The Ballad of El Goodo” by Big Star, “Start Again” by Teenage Fanclub, “Blues Run the Game” by Jackson Frank, and “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead. We almost never play it but we also have this great cover of Madonna’s song 'Borderline'."

"I would like to spend some time talking about your songwriting... The characters who live in your songs are often complex. The songs, themselves, are often about second chances, forgiveness and redemption..."

"I just think people are complex. It’s no deep thing. I just think there are motivations that you have which come with doubts about those motivations and there are dreams that come true which come with consequences you didn’t think of when you were busy dreaming. You say one thing and you mean another. You love someone but you can’t stand the way that feels so you leave.

"We live in such a soundbite world. You say something and it gets boiled down to something simpler than it is. But people aren’t actually living one-dimensional lives. Everyone lives complex contradictory lives because that’s the way the world is."

"That - that's pretty accurate and its truth shows how reflective we can be as humans. What is it about the theme of redemption, which has emerged in your albums?

"As far as the themes of forgiveness and redemption are concerned…well, I fuck up a lot and that puts me in a lot of situations where I need a lot of the one to have any sort of chance at the other."

"Ok, well that's pretty honest... Adam, so many of the people who listen to your music, hear it 'spiritually.' I know that a great number of your fans really love your music – perhaps, I think, more than many other musicians and artists. Do you ever speak to your fans through the songs directly?"

"I just write songs about me. It’s the only thing I really feel like I know anything about. When we started, I didn’t think people would relate to them because they’re just so personal. But now I think that’s actually WHY people relate to them.

"You open yourself up to people when you play music and the more you open up and let them in, the more they’re able to see the parallels in their own lives. I’m honest with them about things that mean so much to me. I think that means a lot to them."

"Can you take us, briefly, through the song-writing process? How does it all happen?"

"First of all, let me say that I don’t think I’ve ever written the words to a song before the music. I don’t think I could. They’re too tied together in my head. The words are a product of the mood and the rhythms of the music. I either write them at the same time or I write the music first..."

"One of the questions I try to ask of all the artists I do interviews with is how they arrived at the final product. – Can you take a song from the new album and tell us how it came to be?"

"I think the most interesting song to talk about for the 'whole process' discussion is probably 'You Can’t Count On Me'. I started writing it a few years ago sometime during the latter end of the long touring period that followed Hard Candy (2002-2005), probably around mid-2005. It fascinated me that I’d written four entire albums worth of reasons why any sane woman should stay as far away from me as possible and that THAT was somehow still 'romantic'.

"I wanted to write a song about leaving someone that alternated between honest sad feelings about the loss and brutally honest admissions about the damage done. However honest my regrets have been and however much I 'did the right thing.' I don't cheat.

"There's still no changing the fact that people I cared about were hurt very deeply. So I wanted to write lyrics that drew you in with the honest beauty of the reminiscence and then punched you in the face with the truth about my own culpability.

"So in the 1st verse:
You watch the sky
It’s a pale parade of passing clouds
That cover the bed upon which we laid in the dark
And the memories that I made of a laughing girl
But you’re just my toy and I can’t stop playing with you baby

"Or in the last verse:
I watch all of the same parades
As they pass on the days that you wish you’d stayed
But all this pain gets me high
And I get off and you know why

"It pulls you in and then punches you and both sides are just statements of honesty. They’re contradictory but they’re still true. And that’s why the 'Can' in the chorus has a 't' on the end of it. You’d almost always expect the line to be 'You Can Count On Me' but it’s not. No one ever says 'You Can’t Count On Me' because it’s not a very nice thing to say about yourself. It’s also not as 'hit single'-y in people’s minds. I know this because people actually suggested removing the 't'. I know some of them were joking but not all of them.

"Wow this is some amazing stuff, Adam. Really... How did the music and the words for "You Can't Count on Me" finally come together?"

"I wrote the song on the piano and my original music was very much like a combination of the picking acoustic guitar part and the piano part Charlie plays on the record. The two parts are, in fact, derived from different parts of my original piano recording. I always knew the song was never supposed to be pretty.

"The music had to be like the lyrics: sentimental, punch, sentimental, punch. This proved to be harder than I thought. We tried it a few times over the years at sound checks and it always sucked. Eventually I gave up on it and completely forgot I had ever written it."

"What was your inspiration for this one? To see it through, I mean?"

"When we were beginning to work out the songs for Sunday Mornings, my friend Dave Gibbs, formerly of Gigolo Aunts and now Low Stars, said 'Why don’t you record ‘You Can’t Count On Me’?' I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. He said it was one of his favorite songs of mine and sent me an mp3 of my original demo.

"I listened to it and realized it was the perfect song for the middle of Sunday Mornings because Sunday Mornings needs to NOT be a record about redemption. It’s a record about struggling to get your shit together after you’ve wrecked your life; not necessarily a record about getting your shit together. But the songs are mostly very sad and very beautiful, especially in contrast to Saturday Nights, which can land you in the trap the song’s about. Sunday Mornings needed 'You Can’t Count On Me' for the same reason I needed to write 'You Can’t Count On Me.'

"And that reason?..."

"So that you don’t make the mistake of getting to the end of 'Anyone But You' thinking 'Poor Adam, if only I could make all the pain go away'. Because 'Poor Adam' will still hurt you very badly if you’re not careful. If you don’t still feel that, the rest of the record that follows doesn’t really work."

Thanks... Tell me about the recording process.

The acoustic demos we cut at my apartment while we were finishing Saturday Nights all sucked for the same reason my original demo sort of sucked: they were too pretty. So when we went out to Berkeley to record Sunday Mornings, we took a different tack.

We started out electric, figuring it would make a jarring centerpiece to the latter album. It didn’t work. The drums and bass made the song too bombastic. It wasn’t jarring at all. It was just turning into an arena rock power ballad. Which sucked."

(Note to Readers: Amazing! There is the potential here that this was going to be an all-electric album. Read on:)

"So then we took the drums and the electric guitar out and went back to playing it acoustically with a dobro, an upright bass and some percussion but that just had no balls at all so we had to abandon that as well. Because that really sucked.

"Finally, after singing about 20 versions of the song that day, I went out to dinner and most of the guys went home. I came back a few hours later to find our drummer Jim and our producer scurrying around the hallways excitedly between our studio and one down the hall that was empty. They’d had an idea.

"They set up a really stripped down drum kit in the small square room with only three mics: two over heads about 3-ft above the kit and one kick drum mic about 6-7 feet away from the kick (as opposed to inside the drum where you’d normally put it. By setting it up this way, you could beat the living crap out of the drums and they never sounded big or bombastic.

"They’re violent but they go 'crack' instead of 'boom'. We called our bass player Millard, woke him up, and made him run back to the studio with this little Hofner Beatle Bass. Then, with everything we’d recorded muted (except the piano track so we had something to play to), Jim, Millard, and me played the song as hard and as loud as we could play it. We had Jim keep his high hat open so it sounded really sloppy and we just beat the crap out of the song until we had this insane aggro version of it. Then we went home."

"The next day when the other guys came in, Brian had them set up to play the pretty acoustic version but made them play it to these insane drums, bass, and vocal tracks. And that didn’t suck at all. It worked.

"The song would seem really pretty and then it would blow up in your face. You could hear all the violence and the edge in the drums and bass without overwhelming piano arpeggios or picking acoustic guitar. The last step was finding the thing to go on top. I’d always wanted someone to slash at it with a distorted electric guitar like a Replacements song and Dan had been trying out just that sound on some other song so I had him play it on this song instead.

"We made him play as hard as he could because we wanted mistakes and bad notes and some dissonance. Dan just killed it. He was inspired and a little disturbing. We actually got more than HE wanted. Brian and I loved it but we had to talk Dan out of fixing some of it.

"Although I think some more 'economically-minded' people would probably prefer it had stayed 'prettier', for me, I was just happy it finally turned out to be the song I’d always wanted it to be. I had no idea how to get it there but that’s why we’re a band. We collaborate and find a way to take this thing I bring in, which is really just a skeleton or a blueprint at best, and turn it into a song... From top to bottom, that’s how we took one idea and turned it into a song."

YOU CAN'T COUNT ON ME (streaming audio)
from the new album to be released in March!

Counting Crows: Webpage / Myspace
Adam Duritz: blog

Monday, February 11, 2008

Georgie James to appear on Conan O'Brien


If you don't know Georgie James this is your crash course. I named the band's 2007 release "Places" a Top Fifteen Album of the Year and Georgie James was my Best New Artist of the Year!

Soon the world will know how good these guys really are... On Wednesday, February 27th, Georgie James (Saddle Creek Records) make their national television debut on the Conan O'Brien Show!


John and Laura will perform live on Conan - Feb 27th!

The "Need Your Needs" Video

Georgie James' Laura Burhenn
live performance of "Karma Police!"

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Justice of the Unicorns - Something Special


Justice of the Unicorns could be the best new band of 2008. The Brooklyn band has begun to, as Bob Dylan said: "Change my way of thinking." They, with with the "bizarro name," are ever part as wonderful and similarly artistic as three highly revered and successful modern "bizzaro acts" - Ween, the Flaming Lips and solo artist Beck - and yet still somehow Justice of the Unicorns is still its own animal.

JOTU's new album (their second full-length release) will hit store shelves next month. Change is the way of the world and I promise you - there will be much, much more to be said on this band. Read on brave of heart - we are entering The Age of the Unicorn.


They will rock you. Justice of the Unicorns is: Russell "Rusty" Dungan - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Jason Lam - Guitar, Daniel Forbes - Bass and lap steel, Anthony Cangelosi - Drums, and Yasmin Reshamwala - keyboards.

The talented Dungan and Lam are guilty conspirators in Tigers and Monkeys - another amazing New York band which released a tragically good rock album, "Loose Mouth," in 2007. For all their work, Tigers and Monkeys earned a spot on last year's very exclusive RSL Top 40 Artists List. I suspect there might be room Justice of the Unicorns on this year's list...

With song lyrics that sometimes make you laugh (lyrics about the movies Krull and Labyrinth) and stories that touch the heart and make you want to cry, Justice of the Unicorns' INCREDIBLE new album is one to have. "Angels with Uzis" - will be released in March on Little Lamb Recordings. It comes to you HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - one of the year's first must-have indie rock recordings.

The recommended album set for release this March:

Justice of the Unicorns
Myspace Page