Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deniz Tek; Ivan Julian @ the Bell House

Deniz Tek; Ivan Julian
@ the Bell House
Brooklyn, NY - August 26, 2011

Why is punk rock n roll so good? I don't know. Well I do. But for tonight, let's just say the reason is that punk rock fears not an impending hurricane. It was Good Night, Irene at the Bell House as first Voidoid Ivan Julian and then Radio Birdman Deniz Tek, the Iceman himself, gave this tropical storm the middle finger. Ivan Julian ran the gamut of punk rock, shuffling his boots through the classic approach as well as through some blues, country, and that No Wave Blank Generation vibe (yes, that song was played). Deniz Tek didn't mess around, slashing between punk rock and some sludgy blues, backed by some pomade-happy, tatooed-up twins with some extra help by Keith from the Fuzztones. The "New Race" ending was smashing.

And in the ultimate expression of why it's ok to be a punk rock elitist: There were more people in the front bar at the 80's dance party (few if any of the participants appeared to be old enough to remember the 80's) than there were in the back room for the gig. These bubble gumming yuppie hipsters had no idea who exactly was back there. You know what? That's OK.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Tommy Stinson @ Bowery Electric

Tommy Stinson; the Jay Vons
@ Bowery Electric
New York, NY - August 25, 2011

Someone shouted out "Replacements!" when Tommy Stinson speculated on what to play next. His response was as follows: "I will forever be. But I will never play again. Unless Paul decides he wants to have fun again maybe." And that's all there is to say about that.

I mean...I could take this opportunity to write about my long winding come-around to loving the music of the Replacements in the last couple of years. How I only liked a few songs for a good while but liked them more as an idea, as more than the sum of their parts. And that only in the last few months have I finally gone over and decided that the entire catalog is actually worth a damn. But whatever...that's just what someone, somewhere would want me to do and in true 'mats fashion, I'll do something else instead.

Tommy Stinson played his solo work, wrapping up his residency at Jesse Malin's Bowery Electric. After years of Minnesota nice, classic rock upbringing, 80's non-stardom, his own post-non-stardom project, and an addendum in Los Angeles that has included something that used to be Guns n Roses, the result is a very-understandable, easy-to-like, sound. Tommy Stinson is just a guy that wants to play nice sounding rock music. And he succeeds. He has an able voice to go with the reserve of hooks and melodies. There's a nice run of across-the-board rock, not surprisingly absorbing country and blues in its essence. And the backing band, assembled for the residency, may as well have been his full time band.

The Jay Vons are a local soul-garage band that made me nostalgic not for the era of music they play (I can't be nostalgic for that, I wasn't born yet), but for about 5 to 10 years ago when this kind of retro-fitting rock n roll was all the rage. Before the 80's synths and the bearded folkies came back full blown, there was a lot of this going on. And it was up my alley. Boy howdy. To fit in with today's crowds, the Jay Vons have a guy with a mighty beard on the order of Garth Hudson or a Winter brother. But they don't need to fit in. They need to keep doing what they are doing.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 22: “On My Mind”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 22: “On My Mind”


“Romance” by Wild Flag

Set 1
“Color Me Impressed” by the Replacements
“Dyslexic Heart” by Paul Westerberg
“Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” by Husker Du
“I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand in My Light Anymore” by Bob Mould

Set 2
“Radioactive” by Kings of Leon
“Taken for a Fool” by the Strokes
“Julius” by Phish
“Spasticus (Autisticus)” by Ian Dury & the Blockheads

Set 3
“My Mistakes” by Eleanor Friedburger
“Ten-Twenty-Ten” by Generationals
“King of Diamonds” by Motopony
“Dressed Sharply” by An Horse

Set 4
“Scent of a Woman” by Cheap Trick
“What Do I Get?” by the Buzzcocks
“Sick to Move” by Superchunk
“I’m Gonna Change Your Life” by the Thermals

Set 5
“This Ain’t No Picnic” by Minutemen
“3 Dimes Down” by Drive-in Truckers
“Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’” by Loretta Lynn
“Fallin’ & Flying” by Jeff Bridges

Set 6
“50’s” by Pomegranates
“Collide” by Elks*
“Butch” by Saint Motel
“Albatross” by Besnard Lakes

Set 7
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
“Pop Song 89” by R.E.M.
“Excitable Boy” by Warren Zevon
“We Started Nothing” by the Ting Tings

“Rock and Roll Babe” by Cocktail Slippers

*(Update on August 30, 2011: It turns out indeed that the Elks band I mention performing in September at Union Pool is quite NOT the Elks band I played on this particular program. The Elks band that is playing is in fact a hardcore thrash band - to wit).

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cheap Trick @ Coney Island

Cheap Trick
@ Coney Island
August 18, 2011

Cheap Trick is often a duality, a yin-yang unto itself. Back in the day, they were both a pretty-boy-pop-band and a classic rock n roll phenom. In the later years, this translated to being both a perceived-has-been-relic and a reliable-still-damn-cool-almost-punk-in-their-spirit legend. And let's not forget the time they did a hair band ballad better than any hair band could muster on their best day ("The Flame").

I used to hate this band. "I Want You to Want Me" was ruined for me by smug, suburban assholes of America. This was all I knew. Then in 2003, "Scent of a Woman" was released. Who would have thunk that not only did Cheap Trick make a song of the year, they made a song of my life? To this day and beyond, that recording will be one of perennial favorites. When that broke, I had no choice but to give the band a second chance. And it worked. They even made That 70's Show tolerable.

That duality remains. This is a band arrogant enough to come out on stage to the tune of their own music, but also a band humble enough to come out to the audio of all of the references made to the band on The Simpsons.

Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen hide behind sunglasses at night and their usual off-kilter fashion senses. Nevertheless, the pretension drops when the riffs wail, and the band pumps rock n roll like "Rocket '88" never went out of style.

Now a dose of reality: the truth on this August night is that Cheap Trick is freaked out. We nearly lost them at a storm-caused stage collapse last month in Ottawa. They made no bones about that in this abridged set, still feeling it from that incident (and not helped by last weekend's deadly stage collapse in Indiana and today's deadly stage collapse at Pukklepop in Belgium). "Union rules" caused the storm-threatened show to cut short (and there was no opener to boot because of the storms) but I gathered from Zander's emotional distance and Nielsen's "make the best of it" earnestness, that the band was a bit rattled. Also, no Bun E. Carlos on the drums. That doesn't help (not that Nielsen's son Daxx is a slouch). I briefly worried Bun was still in Tinted Windows. Someone assure me that is not the case.

So only a handful of songs. But there's that Cheap Trick duality. It wouldn't surprise me as I walked away that the band would come back for a full set. They are that kind of band. They always have been.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 21: “Elwood’s Blues”

The Sonic Parthenon Show – Episode 21: “Elwood’s Blues”


“Early in the Morning” by the Gories

Set 1
“Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” by Robert Johnson
“Stop Breakin’ Down (Live, at Maida Vale)” by the White Stripes
“Stack O’ Lee Blues” by Mississippi John Hurt
“Stagger Lee” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Set 2
“Low Down Mojo Blues” by Blind Lemon Jefferson
“What is a Soul of a Man?” by Blind Willie Johnson
“Broke Down Angel” by Blind Willie McTell
“Blind Man Blues” by Muddy Waters

Set 3
“Boogie at Russian Hill” by John Lee Hooker
“Madison Blues” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers
“Midnight Special” by Leadbelly
“Bluebird” by Howlin’ Wolf

Set 4
“T’aint Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” by Bessie Smith
“Foreclose on the House of Love” by Marcia Ball
“What am I to You?” by Norah Jones
“Black Cat Bone” by Mr. Airplane Man

Set 5
“John the Revelator” by Son House
“Bundle Up & Go” by Dooley Wilson
“Goin’ Back to Memphis” by Soledad Brothers
“Birdsnest” by Mr. David Viner

Set 6
“Red House” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
“Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
“Shotgun Blues” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
“Are You Gonna Go My Way? (MTV Unplugged) by Lenny Kravitz

Set 7
“Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers Band
“If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” by Eric Clapton
“Spoonful’” by Scott H. Biram
“Hey, Hey (What Can I Do)” by Chris Thomas King

Set 8
“The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King
“You Gonna Need Somebody When You Die” by Charly Patton
“Way Down in the Hole” by the Blind Boys of Alabama
“Sweet Home Chicago” by the Blues Brothers

“Ride On” by AC/DC

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