Monday, June 30, 2008

Tonight - Tapes N Tapes on Conan

4th of July Holiday Week Rerun benefits TAPES 'N TAPES:

Back from the European leg of the Walk It Off album tour, Tapes 'n Tapes were called by the good folks at Late Night notifying them that they will be re-airing the band's April appearance on the show. Check your local listings for tonight's show time.

Re-runs can be a good thing. Sometimes lightning can strike twice.

Tapes 'n Tapes
Myspace / Web

The Influential Voice of Women - Nina Simone v Amy Winehouse

A BLOG FLASHBACK: One year ago this month I listened to a mix randomly selected from my laptop and on that day the Gods of Fate laid these two tracks back to back. I enjoyed both songs and have been thinking of this comparison ever since.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. Listen to both of these tracks... They're both sensational, and tell me it was a mistake! Sometimes music and life can prove to be even more beautiful than we believe they can be!
Nina Simone

Amy Winehouse

And then there's reality to prove me wrong..... Of course, Amy Winehouse is back in the news again this week - but, again and again, for the wrong reasons. An exclusive interview in Rolling Stone magazine has revealed more about her drug-related medical problems. As before, Amy just keeps-on-a-truckin'... Winehouse is set to perform at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party. Celebrating the life of a good man - that's the first thing on this list that Nina Simone would probably do were she alive.

More of the Same:
Nina Simone
Amy Winehouse

Carly Simon's This Kind of Love

NEW RELEASE: In stores now

Something Old, Something New - Does it Work?

I feel about Carly Simon the way Zoolander's "Hansel" felt about Sting: I don't really listen much to her music, but I respect the fact that she's still making it. (Having been raised on the music of great singer-songwriters, I have a natural affinity for the blue-collar, Everyman Genre of folk and Americana.)

Carly Simon's new album, "This Kind of Love," is an ambitious attempt at re-invention.
Here, she changes up her celebrated sound in an overt attempt to remain relevant...

What of the Past? - Simon spends about half of this record trying to sound like her old self (in an attempt to satisfy and retain her cornerstone listeners.) On these songs, the New Carly just doesn't quite measure up... (I prepared for this post by recalling some of her greatest hits. While Simon can still sing in that hot toddy voice - these songs don't serve her well.)

A Major Change of Pace - The other half of the album: Unexpectedly, it's a collaborative excursion into the steamy world of Brazilian music... The liner notes for "This Kind of Love" explain Simon's odd deviation via a confusing and hard-to-follow story about a gaucho who takes up carving. It's an unsatisfying explanation to say the least. While this music on these songs is vibrant - a real shot in the arm to the album; Simon's vocals and lyrics are lackluster and cliché. (The problem with these songs is Carly - not the backing musicians.)

I listened to the songs enthusiastically but still found the album disappointing. I had hoped that Carly Simon would find a way place herself amongst her accomplished classic peers. Whereas Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Carole King (amongst others) have found success building bridges between their honored past and their new musical lives... This is where Carly Simon falls flat.

Even with the musical assistance on the album from her two talented children: Ben and Sally Taylor, and even with the aid of all those great ethnic beats imported on this record - the majority of "This Kind of Love" would be best left as ambient background tunes for your hip, single aunt's cocktail party.

A Worthy Song from "This Kind of Love"

Carly Simon - People Say a Lot

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viral Video: Sunday Afternoon - Have you Seen this?


Sunday Afternoon

previous RSL Viral Video selections:
Psycho Killer
Running in Boston
God is a DJ

Jesse Malin's Mercury Retrograde Limited Edition Album (2008)

Alive and Well: Jesse Malin

Profoundly personal and entertaining - There's really nothing to compare to a Jesse Malin live show. Chatty, fun and insightful, Malin connects with his fans who always take more from his live shows than they expect. You can expect anything from an electric rock set to a tender acoustic telling of love lost.

Adeline Records is celebrating that spirit with a brand new Jesse Malin album recorded at New York's Mercury Lounge last Christmas. Mercury Retrograde is a limited press album with only 1,000 physical copies up for sale. If you're interested - you should act now!

Recorded Live at the Mercury Lounge, NYC

Mr. Malin, you've been a very busy musician: This live release marks the third full-length Jesse Malin release in just two years. Glitter in the Gutter (a new album of Jesse material) was an RSL Top 15 Release in 2007. Just this spring, Jesse released On Your Sleeve - a masterful collection of covers. (You should run out and get this one too!)

Another Winner: Mercury Retrograde is a live record with Jesse's material and a single cover (Neil Young's "Helpless.") This one's another necessity in the collection for any Malin fan - and certainly for those who enjoy great live performances. Jesse is extremely conversational here. He spends a considerable bit of time thanking the crowd and explains his song selections and what the music means to him. Interestingly the title of this album, "Mercury Retrograde" is an obvious reference to the club it was record in - but the phrase is an astrological term describing a period in one's life of rapid change and upheaval.

Web / Myspace

Mercury Retrograde - only 1,000 copies!
Available only on Adeline Records

Saturday, June 28, 2008

THE WHO will be Honored - Party Like a Rock Star

Celebrating Who-dom:

In its third season, VH1 Honors is taking a worthy name from the past and celebrating their career achievements. The Who will be honored over four days on the VH1 network this July. A fantastic calendar of events have been lined up for July 11-14th with The Who-themed karaoke nights, rock star art exhibits, tribute band performances and The Who movie screenings.

The Who - A Career In Music

The highlight of the Who Week on VH1 will be an amazing live celebration in Los Angeles on July 12. The show will have performances by The Who, Pearl Jam, The Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters and Incubus. Those performances and bits from throughout the Who's illustrious international career will be aired on “VH1 Rock Honors: The Who” premieres Thursday, July 17 at 9/8c. For fans of The Who and the British Invasion - this will be required viewing.

(Well, sort of....)

The folks on VH1 supplied Ryan's Smashing Life with a cool VIP pack to give away to a lucky winner. The Who party prize pack includes Who guitar picks, a shot glass and a flask. If you want to win, just email us with the words "The Who Prize Pack" in the subject line. One winner will have this prime party pack shipped off to their home! (Seriously, Who doesn't want this flask?)

Win This Party Pack!

Boston's Get Help premieres tonight at Church!



Keeping You In The Know - There's an evening of righteous Boston rock tonight at Church (69 Kilmarnock Street) with headliners Spanish Armada and a great lineup of rock locals (The Daily Pravda and Shadwell). What sets this evening apart for me is the addition of Get Help - a songwriting project the brainchild of Tony Skakily from Boston’s beloved The Beatings, and Mike Ingenthron from NYC’s equally-beloved Strikes Again! The project has taken legs and is now a full band these days.

The good works of Get Help have been inked, recorded, edited and produced. I have a finished copy of this Avant Garde album and it's pretty damn amazing. You'll have to wait until you can buy this one. (It will be released on Midriff Records.) But you can attend the Get Help performance tonight (they are the 9pm openers - so don't be late) to check this amazing-ness out for yourself. Just know you have been warned about Get Help. Now, Prepare to be Entertained.

You can't Buy it Yet

You can Stream Songs on the
Get Help Myspace page

Church tonight at 9pm
Details / Directions

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Write Stuff: Wolf Parade

Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer is in stores now

The July issue of Spin magazine lands on newsstands today. This issue offers up a closer look at British Columbia's Wolf Parade penned by the talented Steve Kandell.

It's the perfect piece crowned by this single magnificent paragraph:

"Wolf Parade are Canadian. Not just in the sense that they're from Canada, but Canadian - laconic, genial, unflappable. How else to explain a band that sold 120,000 copies of their hiccupy, Bowie-tinged art-punk debut and, on the eve of their second, still don't have a manager or a website? Or that only two members own cell phones, and their cofounder is in at least four other bands? They may not be the model of efficiency, but this is by design, an ambivalence born not of laziness - Wolf Parade are anything but lazy - but maybe rather culturally ingrained, as if the very notion that people might find what they do Important violates centuries' worth of inherited humility."

The July issue of Spin is on sale now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Delta Spirit in Boston tonight!

One of the Best Bands in the Country plays the Middle East this evening

The Delta Spirit released RSL Album of the Year in '07

One Hell of a Great live rock road show rolls into Boston!
The Delta Spirit plays the Middle East tonight.

Now here's a bold prediction: The biggest year to date for the Delta Spirit will be 2008 and it begins right here, tonight in Boston. An unbelievably intimate show this evening at the Middle East will sell out tonight and only some of you will have the experience and then be able to tell your friends. The band will return in October (10/10/08) to fill the downstairs room at the Middle East. (Three predictions in one blog post!? - That's how strongly I believe in this band's abilities.)

The Delta Spirit's ridiculously perfect 2007 record, "Ode to Sunshine" was this webpage's selection for album of the year. (Just think about the number of high quality records that came out last year - here's The RSL Top 15 of 2007 - And the Delta Spirit's release was just a little bit better.)

Ode to Sunshine - RSL Album of the Year

Will Be Re-Released (below) in August

The band just announced last week that Ode to Sunshine will be remastered and repackaged for an August re-release. (Not sure how I feel about the new image - yet - based on the intensity of my original review. I just really "got it" the first time around.) But we'll see - image isn't everything and the music is what's important. In this case the music is very good.

All the attention can only be a good thing for Delta Spirit.
It can only mean that others are catching on and finally coming to believe in this amazing band. Here's a couple songs to chew on while you wait in line to buy tickets for tonight's show. Please thank me afterwards.

Tonight - Live at the Middle East
The Delta Spirit: Web / Myspace

Don't show up late for this one:
DS will be flanked by Salt & Samovar (NY) &
RSL favorite Hundred Years War (Boston)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Comedian George Carlin

One of the World's Great Comedy Minds has died

RIP: George Carlin dead at 71

George Carlin, comic in search of meaning
By the Boston Globe Staff | June 23, 2008

George Carlin, a comedian famed equally for his bawdy routines about drugs and obscenities and for his ability to render absurd the most commonplace of items in modern life, died of heart failure at a Los Angeles-area hospital yesterday, a spokesman said. He was 71.

Mr. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, died at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica in the evening after being admitted in the afternoon for chest pains, spokesman Jeff Abraham told Reuters.

Known for his edgy, provocative material, Carlin achieved status as an anti-Establishment icon in the 1970s with stand-up bits full of drug references and a routine about seven dirty words you could not say on television. A regulatory battle over a broadcast of his "Filthy Words" routine reached the US Supreme Court.

TRIBUTE: Today's Broadcast Highlights

In the 1978 case, Federal Communications Commission vs. Pacifica Foundation, the top US court ruled that the words cited in Mr. Carlin's routine were indecent and that the government's broadcast regulator could ban them from being aired at times when children might be listening.

He was irascible, profane, blasphemous, and determinedly astute. Whether deciphering the American political scene, or dissecting Americans' foibles, or disassembling the English language, he had the ability to re-create the perceptions of a listener, to hilarious effect.

Seven Dirty Words - Carlin's 1972 Arrest Report:

A favorite on college campuses for the past 40 years, he maintained a busy touring schedule, last visiting Boston at the Wang Theatre in March. Before that concert, he told The Boston Globe he started his career with the desire to go beyond telling jokes, to becoming a part jester, part philosopher.

"If [a comedian] does both of those things with dazzling and marvelous language, then he . . . becomes a bit of a poet," he said. "So without trying to sound too grand about myself, I think there's a touch of those other two things going on in this common, ordinary stand-up comic, which is what I am really."

Last year, Mr. Carlin was voted the second-best comedian of all time behind Richard Pryor in a Comedy Central poll of network executive and industry veterans.

In all, he made 22 albums and wrote three books. Mr. Carlin leaves his wife, Sally Wade, and daughter Kelly Carlin McCall.

Material from Reuters was used in this obituary.

Rest in Peace George.
You challenged a lot of minds while you were here.
And, you made a lot of people laugh. Really Hard.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is Chinese Democracy for real? The New Leak!

Guns 'N Roses to release a new Album in 2008?

For those of you who were monitoring the internet this week: Nine near-finished GnR demos leaked - taking the internet by storm. The songs (identified as actual tracks from the ever-forthcoming Guns 'N Roses' album Chinese Democracy) are 14 years in the making. The long wait has done very little to extinguish the GnR homefires. The internet traffic and music chit-chat focused on these new pirated songs has been astounding. Is the band back?

Past Leaks and Old Promises: In 2006, a pair of raw demos leaked but were quickly covered up. In 2007, a few more (perhaps closer to completion) "somehow" leaked it out to the online public. People were mostly unimpressed, but many more remained loyal despite the prolonged wait. They saw the demos as cause for celebration. ) The online media mill churned. The noise about these songs has been loud - almost deafening at times.... But we keep asking, where is the music?

The "Epic Adventure" ~ Chinese Democracy: Any news about this project always has the chance to be dismissed as just another leafed page in the the unfinished novel (an Axl Rose myth that has already cost his label a reported $13 Million.) Up until now, this whole thing had the feel of a 21st Century version of Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds. (But then again, even Pet Sounds was released after the editing was all done!) In April, the ever-diligent NME (ha, ha) and had reported the project was in final edit.)

The very prospect of this material ever seeing the light of day has seemed such an obvious farce that Dr. Pepper has offered a free can of their soda to every American when Axl ever releases the material. Axl thanked the soda maker in a press release. So while we're not sipping on Pepper yet, but this is the closest we have come to enjoying the spoils of Axl Rose's labor.

What happened this week: The Leak of the new material; whether cleverly orchestrated and manipulated somehow by Axl (there is no official comment yet commenting on the leak) - or an example of outright theft from the mixing room - resulted in NINE SONGS for us to evaluate. I knew I wanted to hear the songs. Like a bloodhound, I was in hot pursuit. But demand was so high on hosting web site Antiquiet that I was unable to get the songs straight from their source. When I returned an hour or two later, the songs had been pulled down after the site owners, who had reportedly been contacted on the band's behalf by some kindly legal folks. You can read more on the legal action on Metal Sucks.

Mythic Project + Leaked Demos = High Demand + Legal Problems

As to authenticity of the recordings: I have the songs and based on what I have heard there is little question that the man a handful of these tracks is classic Axl Rose. The others represent a drastic change in the mood and form of the band - maybe capturing the last 12 years of the artist's life as he has come full circle.

The desire to hear these tracks set off an Indiana Jones-like journey through the back alleyways of the internet. The large sites and best blogs had nothing. (This is, after all, a legal hot potato.) I needed to hear the tracks for myself so I ended up walking down some dark corridors of the web: (you know these spaces) torrent sites, chat rooms and mostly un-noteworthy blogs. And, finally I found them. The 9 new songs - And, you know what? A couple of them (not all, though) were truly great.

My favorites of the leaked songs were "Chinese Democracy" (very loud, wailing guitar and storm cloud crackle) and the untitled "New Song #1 (a kick ass GnR classic with Mr. Rose screaming over some fantastic guitars and kickin' drums.) Check out another review, here. And this one, here.

If the finished product (Chinese Democracy has been rumored to be a massive project consisting of as many as 20 or more songs!) is anything like the two tracks I mentioned and doesn't get bogged down in engineered sound effects and insincere ballads with poor lyric selection (there are examples of this kind of horseshit in the demos), Guns 'N Roses will have a huge return to fame and a massive financial year. Stay tuned.

Guns 'N Roses Web

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Okkervil River - A New Album and Tour

Greetings from Austin

The righteously talented Okkervil River

Okkervil River will release The Stand Ins, on Jagjaguwar this fall. (Released September 9th in the US and October 13th in the UK and Europe.) It's O.R.'s fifth full-length record to be released in the last seven years. And if last year's Stage Names (RSL Top 15 Album Pick for 2007) is any indication of where the band is headed - this will be one to remember!

Album Cover (click for tracklist)

9-12 Lawrence, KS - The Bottleneck
09-13 Omaha, NE - Slowdown
09-14 Madison, WI - Barrymore Theater
09-15 Fargo, ND - Aquarium
09-17 Seattle, WA - The Showbox
09-18 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richards on Richards
09-19 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
09-21 San Francisco, CA - Treasure Island Festival
09-23 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre
09-24 Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
09-26 El Paso, TX - The Blue Iguana
09-26-28 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Music Festival
09-30 New Orleans, LA - The Republic
10-1 Birmingham, AL - Matthew's Bar & Grill
10-2 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
10-4 Richmond, VA - The National
10-6 New York, NY - Webster Hall
10-7 New York, NY - Webster Hall
10-8 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street Nightclub*
(* Sorry Boston - this is the closest show)
10-9 Millvale, PA - Mr. Smalls Theatre
10-10 Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall
10-11 Montreal, QC - Les Saints
10-12 Toronto, ON - Phoenix

Okkervil River
Web / Myspace

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hold Steady Boston

Free Concert: here's the lowdown...

Don't miss The Hold Steady!
The band releases the "Stay Positive" album in July.
is the show that kicks off their 2008 Album Tour!

Photography: Marina Chavez

On Thursday, June 26th, indie rock phenomenons The Hold Steady will rock the Paradise. The tickets are free - courtesy of sponsors and Miller Lite. All you have to do is RSVP (register ahead of time) and show up early (*the line will be ridiculously long and don't think I'm kidding.)

Thanks to the good folks at Miller Lite and Going for bringing the music to the people. They already hosted a few of these great free concerts this year: Everclear, The French Kicks and Bang Camaro were all spotlighted.

Special guests are Boston's own Aberdeen City (these talented sons have been hiding out recently, working on a new album!)

Miller Lite Music Series
- RSVP (for free) -

June 26 @ the Paradise

WIN VIP passes from the RSL!
The RSL Weblog has acquired two VIP passes to giveaway.
Forgo the long lines. Get Treated like Royalty!

Here's How to Win the Golden Tickets:
Send an EMAIL with the subject
"Hold Steady Boston."
We are going to get
a ton of these so be creative to get our attention.
Winner will be notified early next week. Only one winner - Good Luck!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Bit of Glasgow in Boston - Don't Miss THE HERMIT CRABS

RSL sez: Love that Glaswegian Sound!

A very beautiful thing happens tonight. Scotland's The Hermit Crabs have crossed the Atlantic to play just 2 dates in the States. One of those is at PA's Lounge in Somerville tonight!

The Hermit Crabs, a wonderful example of the light hearted, melodic Glaswegian Sound, will hold session this eve with the groovy throwbacks The Specific Heats - who are themselves preparing for a summer tour. If you were waiting for a special night to go out and see something unique this one's a winner!
The Hermit Crabs

Live tonight - One area show @ PA's Lounge in Somerville

The Hermit Crabs
Myspace / Matinee Page

PA's Lounge Tonight!

Also Appearing tonight at PA's:
One Happy Island and Shai Erlichman

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hey Boston

It's been 22 years since the last one!
The Victory Parade's on Thursday.

Coverage: Globe / Herald

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fujiya & Miyagi - A New Album and Tour

One to Watch in 2008:

Fujiya & Miyagi - Just Keep Getting Better

In 2007, a year which F&M played SxSW and the Pitchfork Music Festivals, they added a third member. Dave Best (vocals, guitar and keys), Steve Lewis (beats, backing vocals and keys) and Matt Hainsby (bass, keys and backing vocals) performed all the sounds recorded on Fujiya & Miyagi without traditional drums. Well, that was until now...

According to Filter, a fourth member will soon be added - just in time for their album tour supporting their sophomore release: The Lightbulbs album will be released on Sept. 16th

Lightbulbs Tracklist:
1. Knickerbocker Glory
2. Uh
3. Pickpocket
4. Goosebumps
5. Rook To Queen's Pawn Six
6. Sore Thumb
7. Dishwasher
8. Pteradactyls
10. Pussyfooting
11. Light Bulbs
12. Hundreds And Thousands

Fujiya & Miyagi's decision to add a full-time drummer can only mean one thing for certain: More Live Shows and Touring. For people who have heard the band and were blown away by their beats - that's just fine!

Fujiya & Miyagi - Ankle Injuries Video
The Recommended Extended Version

The Ting Tings and Anni Rossi in Boston - Free Tickets

Get Some Strings with Your Ting Tings!

One Lucky Blog Reader will get 2 Passes!

The Ting Tings - Hot as they Come right now

BragginBilly here again. For those who took some time to peruse my old blog, you already know that I think rock n' roll cello is pretty cool. So imagine my surprise when I was checking out the lineup for this week's sold out Ting Tings Show (Thursday, 6/19) at Great Scott.

OPENING ACT: Apart from John Cale of The Velvet Underground, I knew exactly zero other viola, not to be confused with violin, players. Anni Rossi officially makes two and also makes a hell of a good reason to get there early for a very cool performance.

Anni Rossi opens the show

Stringed Talent

I don't know a ton about Rossi, other than that she's from Chicago, she's "possibly" 22 and she's a one-woman band. She does a mix of strumming and plucking with some cool rhythmic foot stomping. From the variety of YouTube videos of Anni, she is a quirky and entertaining performer. Check out her videos on youtube.

If you dig Regina Spektor you will certainly dig Anni Rossi...other people add Joanna Newsom, but personally I don't hear it.

One Free Pair of Passes to the Sold Out show
This Thursday at Great Scott!

Email Us: Subject Line - "Anni Rossi & the Ting Tings"
(Make sure you email us your telephone number.)
You can't win if you've won anything in the last two weeks.

Anni Rossi
Myspace page

Monday, June 16, 2008

Win Tickets - The Middle East - Hot Show!

One of the Best Shows of the Summer!

TWO Winners will Each Get a Pair of Passes!

Austin, TX
Vancouver, BC

Also featuring: Two Boston Bands
Action Verbs and Anthems MA
(both highly recommended!)

Full Band Bios & Download mp3s - Click Here!

Email Us: Subject Line - "RSL Music @ the Middle East"
(Make sure you email us your telephone number.)
You can't win if you've won anything in the last two weeks.

Winners will be notified by 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday!
Two winners will nab a pair of tix and will attend one hell of a show!

Live at the Middle East - Tuesday Night - 8pm
For those who don't win - Tickets are just $8

Jose Gonzalez Live at the MFA Boston - Free Tickets!

Jose Gonzalez Live - A Near Mystical Experience

MFA Concerts in the Courtyard
Jose Gonzalez plays Boston on Wednesday

Two Shows: 7:30 (Sold Out) and 10pm
Tickets: $20 - $25

Hello everyone. BragginBilly here at my new home at the RSL Blog. Thanks to Ryan for the invite as I leave behind my solo blog to join the hardest working man in blog biz. So, I get to kick things off in my new home by talking about one of the most amazing and unique musical experiences from last year that you can catch for yourself this week.

I caught Jose Gonzalez at The Paradise last year, and I don't kid when I say that a performer like this is a rarity. There's a hypnotic quality to the cycling, circling, finger-picked notes that are interrupted by the occasional sharp strumming on his nylon-stringed guitar. In a packed Paradise Rock Club, you had complete silence as people were entranced by the complex rhythms and rich vocals. To give you an idea, he's so good that he can even sound great playing in the back of a moving pickup truck.

In general, I'm not a huge fan of the singer/song writer form. There are some great ones, but since most have a tendency to blend together for me, an artist needs to be special to get my attention. Jose Gonzalez with his blend of classical guitar and bossa-nova is in an entirely different world. He smatters his deep, gorgeous, original songs with a selection of eclectic covers from bands such as Joy Division, Swedish Art/Pop band The Knife and Nick Cave's favorite artist, Kylie Minogue. His ability to make these songs his own and take them to another place is another statement to his talent.

The only issue that I have is that his recent videos kinda disturb me. The naked pig-man with a giant goiter on his head is not an image that I really want to associate with such beautiful music. Which, of course, is a great reason to see him live instead.

Jose Gonzalez is another example why today's indie music scene is so great. Variety. Many sounds, many flavors. And, this is one not to be missed. Lucky for folks here in Boston, he's going to be at MFA on June 18. His 7:30 show is already sold out, but tickets are still available for the 10pm.

To help you out we even have a pair of tickets to give away and a limited edition "In Out Nature" iPod skin:

Limited Edition Jose Gonzalez Ipod Skins!

Here's your chance to enter to win this cool I-Pod skin!

Send an email with "I-Pod Skin" in the subjectline.
Tell us which Style I-Pod you have with your contact info.
(No info will be shared with others. Winners will be notified.)

FREE PASSES TO SEE JOSE: And we're giving away two passes to the show this week. Send us an email with "Win Jose Gonzalez MFA " in the subjectline. Tickets are non-transferable (you must be able to attend the late show on Wednesday night.) Include your telephone number for notification purposes. You will get two tickets with a combined value of $50 and a lifetime of great musical memories!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adventures with John Williams - A Look at the new Indiana Jones Soundtrack


A Look at John Williams' Work on the Soundtrack for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
[Editor's Note: From here forward the title for this film will only be referred to as "Crystal Skull" or "Indie 4."]

The soundtrack, released on Concord Records, is in stores now.

I don't listen to much orchestra, but through my passion of powerful music and film - I have joined the legions who have come to appreciate John Williams' expansive body of work. Since the introduction of sound in movies, the role of music has been instrumental in their success. First dubbed in as filler and independent of the images...

Compositions and songs have shaped our visual film experiences by finding new depths through textural sound. Long before 3-D, great music soundtracks had already helped transported a new generation to strange new worlds. This of course brings me to the discussion of great soundtrack geniuses.

Say hello to John Williams. The worthy possessor of five Oscars and more Grammy Awards than I can count, Williams is the creator of the epic sounds behind Star Wars. He was instrumental in making you cry during E.T. You were witness to the majestic in Jurassic Park. He made you fear the water in Jaws. Williams lifted you up in the Harry Potter series. You were changed by his stuff in Schindler's List. And now Williams has provided the soundtrack for two of the movies in the Indiana Jones series (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Crystal Skull in case you were wondering). It is with this impressive body of work in mind that I visit the Indie 4 Soundtrack. A brilliant change of pace.

John Williams

The new soundtrack is good. But here's why John Williams is So Great... A sampling of the greatest works to ever grace movies.... A great selection:

Listen/Buy the New Soundtrack at a reduced rate:
John Williams / Indiana Jones at

Recurrent: So Many Ways To Die from Theo & The Skyscrapers

The 2007 record I'm playing right now:
It was last July that I found out just how deadly Theo Kogan - lead singer of Theo and the Skyscrapers can be. The band's second full-length album "SO MANY WAYS TO DIE," is gritty, electro-, post-punk brilliance. It found it's way back into my CD player this weekend and I am enjoying it again.

Kogan is one of the premiere woman of rock. Attending one of her live shows is a must! This woman has magical control and unbeatable stage prowess. Theo is the legendary songstress behind the Lunachicks - an all-girl band that rocked stages in ways unimaginable. That was until I saw the Skyscrapers play live in 2006. I would see this band play again in 2007. Wooo-weee! There is heat in the kitchen!

Theo and the Skyscrapers

The Red Carpet in Berlin

After leaving the Lunachicks, Kogan teamed up with guitarist Sean Pierce (former Toilet Boys) and drummer Chris Kling to form the Skyscrapers (there is no one in the band shorter than 6'5" tall. No joke!) - When Kogan (tall, blanched hair and tattoo-sleeved arms) walks into the room she definitely makes an impression!)

"So Many Ways to Die" is a 12-track album with a duality theme. The songs are about beauty and death; vitality and decay; sensuality and destruction. The publicity shots for this album even have the musicians (healthy looking and clean) showcasing fresh wounds - as if there was a recent battle - or worse; they might be at death's door. These are themes perfect for this band and their sound. Highly recommended listening!

The Skyscrapers - Theo Kogan's band releases a great sophomore album

Friday, June 13, 2008

Indie Rock Blowout at the Middle East

Next Tuesday: 4 Hot Bands
Rock the City's Best Live Venue

The second RSL Live Showcases of 2008: (There will be Blog Music Parties all over the city this summer.) I bring in great talent and offer opportunities to top new talent. You are invited! It's a beautiful thing.

The talent showcased at the Middle East next Tuesday (6/17) is just incredible. Here are some bios and mp3s for each of the bands. Think of it as a sneak peak for one of the best shows in Boston this summer. This is where you should be on Tuesday night:


Scott Butler photograph by Alexa Jones (Spin)

Having made their name through back-to-back SxSW blowouts, a well-received life performance at New York's CMJ Music Festival and a landmark performance in Europe's MIDEM music festival - The Black and White Years are a live music force to be reckoned with. They have already toured sold out shows this year with The Presidents of The USA.

On Tuesday they will be playing in Boston for the first time ever!

The Black and White Years
Web / Myspace

RSL Exclusive Interview: 2007 following their first SxSW
My Album Review: Breakdown of the Great 2008 Release

From Vancouver, it's PARLOUR STEPS

It was the addition of Vancouver, British Columbia's Parlour Steps that took this live show from very damn good to plain sensational. If this group were playing in the states they would have been absolutely huge long ago.

Parlour steps just released Ambiguoso - a masterful new album that you should check out. One listen to this band's brand of witty indie rock, or "thought rock", and you will be won over. I was! Do not miss this very rare appearance in Boston on Tuesday night!

Web / Myspace

RSL ALbum Review: Highly Recommended!

Boston indie rock: ACTION VERBS

Action Verbs have (somewhat) quietly become one of the most promising bands in the city and I figured it was about time that everybody knew how good they are. There's a lot to like in their compositions. Competent and increasingly tight, they bring a crazy energy to a stage. (Hence the name?)

Action Verbs were an obvious choice to play one of the RSL shows this summer. I expect they will leave the stage next Tuesday night with a slew of new friends.

A CRAIGSLIST BAND?? - In their own words: "We like to refer to Action Verbs as a craigslist love story. Once upon a time, Mike needed someone to sing on his album, because his singing makes birds attack humans. So Mike put out a craigslist ad for a singer. The second person to respond happened to be none other than current Action Verb-er Joe.

After finishing the album, Joe and Mike thought it would be a good idea to start a full fledged band. So what did they do? That's right, they posted and ad on craigslist for a drummer and bass player. The bass player they found was a 19 year old Jacob. Sure he played guitar in his other band, but he thought it would be fun, so he signed on. Then he turned out to be our second guitarist. Life's funny like that.

The band would go through two more drummers (both found on craigslist) before settling on Matt. Bass? Well as previously mentioned, Jacob played that role for the first year. Then we used craigslist to find another (Will). That didn't work. (am I getting repetitive yet?) So we found Brad...on craigslist. And here we are."

Action Verbs - ... to never again

Myspace page

Boston's ANTHEMS MA - The Brightest of Futures!

Plodding Bass, Squealing Guitar... Just listen to "Bullet!" I have to be honest, I have very quickly become a big Anthems MA fan. Everything about the band and their dramatic songs strikes me as "big time." The addition of this band to the Tuesday night lineup at the Middle East is absolutely huge!

Anthems MA has opened for The Cinematics (TVT Records), Roger O'Donnell (The Cure), Summerbirds in the Cellar, and the 80's New Wave bands Missing Persons and Gene Loves Jezebel.

In their own words: Anthems MA has the shimmer and pop of a high-class whore's lip gloss. Their carefully crafted sound wafts between swirling atmospheres inspired by dream pop, and rock-steady rhythms rooted in funk, jazz, and drum n' bass. In March of 2007, the four piece ensemble hailing from Boston introduced their debut EP 'Come Blister the Sea'.

Anthems MA's next full length record, 'Time Starts Now' is slated to be released this year. Anthems has somehow managed to stretch at the seams of their creative paradigm in order to deliver an affecting and emotive ride.

Anthems MA
Myspace page

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Updates from Ryan's Smashing Life - Live Shows & New Writers


photo by Jeffrey Panis

It's time for a pre-summer roundup here on the blog. These have been very busy days. As I approach the 2-year anniversary of the RSL Blog (August 1st) I looked for a way to celebrate this summer. Continuing on a tradition I started last year, I am hosting live music parties throughout the city this year. (Think of these as one-stop shopping for amazing talent.)

RSL LIVE EVENTS: In '07 I booked three RSL Live Shows which many of you showed up to last fall. I have upped the ante in '08 and am trying to book at least one RSL Music Showcase each month in Boston through the fall. These will be in Boston's finest establishments (places you already know and love) - right now this list includes: The Middle East, TT the Bears, Great Scott and Harpers Ferry.

As far as I am aware, no one has every done anything like this in Boston
- and I couldn't do it alone. I want to thank the booking agents and bands who have helped me undertake this insane personal challenge. If I fall short, it won't be due to lack of effort.

Already Underway: I started in May with one sensational gig starring Aloud, Murder Mystery, Miss Fairchild and Scuba. I want to thank all those bands and TT the Bears for making it a special night! If you missed that one - no fear - there are many more to come. The next RSL Live Showcase takes place in just days!

Art by Surgeon General

Tuesday, June 17th at the Middle East..... This incredible lineup could prove to be the best indie rock lineup this summer (that's how strongly I feel about it!) The RSL will spotlight Austin's Black and White Years, Vancouver's Parlour Steps and two amazing Boston bands: Action Verbs and Anthems MA. This event is in the upstairs - and tickets may be scarce as the night draws near. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster and at the Middle East box office. There will be more on this show tomorrow (mp3s, bios and links!)

Stay tuned as I plan to announce the July and August dates. Details soon!

NEW WRITERS - Over the Next Few Days you Will be hearing from exciting new writing talent on the page. I have invited a few trusted friends to help write reviews, cover live shows and plot the future here on Ryan's Smashing Life. Actually a couple of people asked and as you can imagine - I am grateful. You know I'm a prolific writer and I attack an empty page or a blank screen with vigor. But it will be nice to have a break at times. I know myself too well - there won't be too much rest & relaxation. (I really look forward to doing more interviews, features and journalistic pieces.) More time also means I should be able to help more young bands and get exposed to more great music to share.

As for the new writers - I will allow each to introduce him/herself as their pieces are published. Be sure to read the page this weekend!

Art by Eldorado Rampage

Name Change? - I struggled for sometime of the concept of changing the name of the website as new writers join, but the brand is fairly strong and recognizable at this point. The bottom line as one musician recently put it, "RSL is about the music and your passion...It's not really about your name. Your name is just what makes it different." I'll go with that. So Ryan's Smashing Life soldiers on with additional help. A new age begins - with more and better content.

MGMT - Time to Pretend
original version

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weekend Hot Spot - PA's Lounge


Looking for something fun and new to check out this weekend? Want the most for your entertainment dollar? PA's Lounge in Somerville is the place to be as a five act lineup will compete to see who will be the first to blow your mind. This one should be great!

New York's Heroes of Popular Wars

Joins four Boston acts at PA's Lounge:
The Sharking,
One Eyed Stanley,
Cyanide Valentine
and Ted Billings (of Age Rings)

PA's Lounge
Saturday, June 14

18+ / 8:30 Doors
$8 for 21+ / $11 for 18-20

from Heroes of Popular Wars

Heroes of Popular Wars
Myspace / Web

Aloud - Two Shows from these Boston Hotshots!


Boston's own ALOUD is playing two good shows this month - it's a great chance for you to start your summer. Catch tomorrow night's show and then mark your calendar for the next date. Get a taste of one of the hottest bands going. Tell them RSL sent you!

Album Art (photos by Mick Murray) from Aloud's new one

June 12th (tomorrow)
The Middle East Downstairs
Aloud at "Rock The Runway"
A night of indie music and fashion
Doors at 8pm - Aloud at 10pm
Acts: Aloud, Lannen Fall, Rogue Heroes and True 2 Life Music
with fashion designers Bank Clothing and Don’t Say Bingo,
18+/$10 cover

Friday, June 27th
Acts: Aloud, The Lights Out, Brian McGee & The Hollow Speed, Johnny Nobody
18+/$8 cover / 8pm doors

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deerhoof - How I Spent My Summer Vacation


It's kind of hard to believe that Offend Maggie, Deerhoof's new record on the KRS (Kill Rock Stars) label - out on October 7th, will be their 13th professional release. Because of their individuality and ever-changing nature, I still find myself thinking of Deerhoof as a new band. They certainly keep it fresh.

This fine indie rock band from San Francisco has proven to be one of the most prolific and talented of the era. And while Deerhoof is an acquired taste (and certainly a band's band) there is much to enjoy for beginners. Deerhoof's sonic meanderings are challenging and sophisticated.

As time has passed and I look back on Deerhoof's accomplishments, I realize again that this is a band ahead of their time. Here's to hoping they finally get some well-deserved attention in 2008.


Prediction: Will Have A Great 2008/2009

(Tentative - Oct 7th, 2008 release)
1. Offend Maggie
2. Fresh Born
3. Chandelier Searchlight
4. The Tears and Music of Love
5. Buck and Judy
6. Don’t Get Born
7. My Purple Past
8. Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back
9. Numina
10. This Is God Speaking
11. Eaguru Guru
12. Snoopy Waves
13. Jagged Fruit
14. Family of Others

BONUS MATERIAL: According to Filter magazine, Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier spent some time this year working with members of Wilco on the soundtrack for the new Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly comedy titled, "Step Brothers" set for a theatrical release in July. I don't have any of that music for you (yet) but I do have a link to the trailer.... (YouTube - "Step Brothers"). How's that for Extra Credit?!

Web / Myspace

The Morning Benders

Opening Up and Stepping Out: The Morning Benders played in front of the Kooks last night in Boston at the Paradise - an opening gig they will only have for a couple more days as their new friends from the UK wrap up their brief American tour this week. It will soon be time for the Benders to step out on their own and hit the road for their own album tour.

The Morning Benders have a brand new album, Talking Through Tin Cans to check out - they will be touring behind it this summer. Here's your chance to hear the brand new material and check out some new video clips featuring the Benders that are out floating around the net. This band is one to watch in '08!

The Morning Benders

Boarded Doors
Official Video:

Morning Benders - This Week:
June 10th NYC Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT) - With The Kooks
June 11th NYC Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT) - With The Kooks
June 12th Brooklyn, NY Union Pool - Solo Performance

The Morning Benders on Vimby

The New Album:

The Morning Benders
Myspace page / Official Web