Category Archives: Music News

Focused specifically on what’s of interest in the world of Rock News.

Bobby Long Concert in the ‘Burgh

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So, after some prodding from the editor, I finally have a show to write about for RARA’s.  I recently moved back to the Pittsburgh area, so am in the process of developing a social life and finding fun places to go for live music.  Going into this show, I didn’t have any intention of writing an article about it, as I knew very little about Bobby Long. A friend of mine asked me to go to the show with her as she had stumbled across his music while wandering around the internet one night, and I agreed, because I love discovering new people and I adore British singers for some reason.

I was optimistic… the location of the concert was absolutely my speed, a small bar in the South Side of Pittsburgh called Club Cafe. It only holds about 100 people max, and was set up with small tables and some bar stools. We sat in the second row, and I love having the chance to be up close and personal with musicians.

After the opening act, Bobby Long got on stage. Just him, his guitar and harmonica. The best description of his music that I can come up with is a cross between rock, blues and folk. It’s not a hard rock sound by any stretch, but his faster songs will have you tapping your foot to the beat. His lyrics are heartfelt and seem to hint at experiences beyond what a normal 24 year old should have. He told stories in between songs that were funny and gave some insight into his personality. His guitar playing is impressive both live an on cd.

Two of his songs really stuck with me, one titled “Who Have You Been Loving” and “Penance Fire Blues” (video of it live from a different show. The second is the most he rocked out during the evening and is just a great song overall.

At the end of the night, after playing for about an 90 minutes straight, he was done for the evening, and went to a small table to sell shirts, posters and CDs. After that show, I knew I wanted a CD, so after a brief wait in line, I bought my copy and Bobby signed my CD and posed for a picture.

This young musician is just starting out, and I personally think that this is someone a lot of people will be talking about in the next one to two years. So I’ll hold on to my picture and autographed CD (that also has my name spelled correctly on it!) so that I can say that I saw him before he hit it big.

Kari

Wednesday Evening Random Thoughts

So – Orlando Calling has come and gone.  We asked for press access to the inaugural event so that we could dazzle you with our amazing coverage, but the Festival organizers ignored us.  Truthfully, I can’t really blame them, we’re still a small player on a huge stage.  You can help us for next year – follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. Then tell your friends to do the same thing.  And finally – post on our Facebook page, share your pictures, provide your thoughts, and offer tips on new music, beer tasting and your favorite Modern Family episodes.  OK – got it?

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As for the first iteration of Orlando Calling, we’ve talked to a bunch of people who were there, and all of the reports have been positive.  Personally, Day 1 was much more appealing with The Killers, Gogol Bordello, Pete Yorn and The Pixies among the many bands spread across their five stages.  Day 2 had a totally different vibe with Bob Seger, Kid Rock, The Doobie Brothers and Blake Shelton headlining.  Truthfully a little schizophrenic.  Next year, they need to decide what they want to be when they grow up and have the entire weekend gel better as far as the line-up is concerned.  Seriously, what would a Bob Seger fan think when they saw the antics of Gogol Bordello???

Although we weren’t there, a few of our website members (oh yeah – you can register there, too) did attend, and we’ll be sharing some reviews shortly.

We’ve reviewed a bunch of great new music lately to tide you over.  Here are quick links to the last handful, if you want to check them out:

They were all good – honestly (we are not just schmoozing for more free music, although we are certainly open to that).  My favorite was Grouplove’s effort – and fortunately, they’ll be hitting the Sunshine State shortly for a few shows in early December.

We also had a great interview with Lovedrug’s Michael Shepard.  The band has a great story, a unique sound and their talented front man is a helluvanice guy.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this little tidbit from The Last Royals, who we interviewed a few months back.  Here’s a recording studio that is truly a “head” of its time: Crystal Vases

 

Monday Afternoon Rock Thoughts – 90’s Alt-Edition

I’ve got a few tidbits from some of the greatest 90’s Alternative bands in this post, and a few of the bands are still featuring great new music…

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The more I hear it, the more I love “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” Flea said in a recent interview on Sirius XM that he came up with the bass line and couldn’t stop playing it. He went into the studio and the band loved it, too, resulting in the creation of this addictive song.  The bass is fantastic, and the song gets better with each listen.  “Monarchy of Roses” will be released as the second single from the album I’m With You next month.

Speaking of “Maggie” songs; are there any crappy ones? This one is great, Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” is a masterpiece, Rockin’ Rod’s “Maggie May” is a classic and The Door’s “Maggie McGill” doesn’t exactly suck either.  So, for any new bands out there, it appears a secret to success is to throw “Maggie” in your song title.

Jane’s Addiction is also about to release a new album, but to much less fanfare.  The new single, “Irresistible Force,” is a different and more progressive sound from these lads from L.A.  Perry Farrell’s vocals are better than ever, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of The Great Escape Artist.

For you Morrissey fans, the ex-front man of The Smiths will be touring the United States ever so briefly later this fall.  Check out the dates here: Morrissey Tour. Fellow 80’s/90’s Alt Rock/Dance/Synth legends New Order will also be hitting the stage again soon. New Order will only be playing a few charity events across the pond, and will do so without bassist Peter Hook who still does not get along with his old mates.

Finally – A-ha, the one of the greatest palindromic bands form Norway ever, played a reunion show in Dublin last night.  10 Bonus RARA’s points if you can name two of their songs.

 

Social Distortion – On the Road Again

Social Distortion, or as they are more commonly known by their passionate fans, Social D, is back on the road for another world tour, and they’ll be back in the United States this weekend at the Austin City Limits Festival.  The band has made a nice transition from Punk ambassadors to a solid, energetic, hard-driving rock act.  The sound of their new music is still punctuated by Mike Ness’s distinctive and powerful vocals, a hard-driving rhythm section and crisp guitar riffs.  They play ACL Sunday night and then hit 24 more cities over the next two months.

While you wait for the band to hit your neighborhood, check out this great interview from BunchTV with the band’s fantastic front man Mike Ness.  He’s interviewed by an interesting “Folk/Punk” British artist Frank Turner.  Turner was touring Germany with Social D at the time, and you can tell from the interview that he and Ness are quite comfortable together.  It’s a great peek into the mind of the legendary front man, who has been the face of Social Distortion for the past 30 years. (There’s a quick 15 second German commercial up front, but after that it’s all in English)

The band is touring in support of their first new album in seven years, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes. The album is the first produced by Ness, and in the interview with Turner, he notes that they’re currently working towards a follow-up.  The interview is 30 minutes, but well worth the time, and it wraps up with a question regarding the five songs he’d provide to aliens once aboard the mother ship; some surprising answers including a surprise from one of their early influences The Clash.

So, follow the link below and watch the interview, buy some tickets and go see them live, this tour.  You won’t be sorry.

Mike G.

Related Links:

Mike Ness Interview

 

Radio Review – The Spectrum

Tractor Tunes are our 30 minute radio station reviews. So, grab an Old Milwaukee, slide on your headphones, hop on the tractor, and decide if this one is for you…

SIRIUS|XM‘s The Spectrum, Channel 28

The Spectrum features five decades of rock music targeted to listeners of adult rock.

They feature bands like Dave Matthews, U-2, Coldplay, REM, Wilco and Tom Petty. In truth, it is a fairly diverse cross-section of generally softer rock and roll, but this is clearly not music to put you to sleep. They play some brand spankin’ new stuff like The latest from The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Arcade Fire, and then quickly slide back 40+ years for something from a classic icon like Van Morrison.

There’s a nice mix between mainstream hits and some much lesser known tunes.  I guarantee you’ll hear something you’ve never heard before, an old favorite, and a deep cut off a great album (and probably a few that make you grown).

Overall, it’s good stuff, and would probably make a great soundtrack to a day at the office, or on a dock by the day.

  • Bodeans – Dreams
  • Sheryl Crow – Steve McQueen
  • Broken Bells – The High Road (live)
  • Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
  • Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
  • Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall
  • Wilco – Heavy Metal Drummer
  • Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey
The day I listened, Jenny Eliscu was the DJ. She was the perfect host, adding interesting tidbits throughout the show, without being the least bit annoying.

Stats:
Date: August, 2011

Music: 98%
Chatter: 2%
Commercials  0%

Bonus Tip: Celtic Crush, hosted by Larry Kirwan. A great diverse mix of Celtic music from a guy who knows what he’s taking about. Kirwan is the front man from the fantastic Irish band Black 47.

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Rock Music Musings – Rancid, Hazard…

Last week, I saw the following concert line-up: Rancid, Blink 182, Against Me! and My Chemical Romance.  Are you kidding me? Those four bands on the same bill? The folks in Vancouver had a great night! Four of today’s best punk and alternative bands under one roof.  Nice! Hard to believe, but next year is Rancid’s 20th Anniversary, and they are planning a big tour to celebrate. We’ll provide more details as we get them.

Here’s one of my favorite Rancid tunes to whet your appetite: “Red Hot Moon.” Great tune, which is made even better by the site of the video shoot.  This was filmed in front of the official favorite all-time club of RARA’s Farm, the now departed, CBGB’s. I still remember those sticker-clad, graffiti-covered claustrophobic backstage spaces, and miss them 🙂

Watch the video it really captures the essence of the band and the club.

Listening to Sirius XM’s 1st Wave, I had a flashback to some great years in the Philly live music scene. First, they played Robert Hazard’s “new wave” hit “Escalator of Life” and followed it with Joe Jackson’s “I’m The Man.” I realize Joe Jackson was a Brit, but the rocking title tune off of his 1979 album was covered fantastically by an under-appreciated Philly band, The Chasers.

As with many other Philly bands from the 80’s and 90’s, The Chasers and Robert Hazard were great live, and tore up the local stages for many years. Add in a host of other great live bands like The Hooters, Beru Revue, The A’s, The Daves and Tommy Conwell, and we were blessed with one hell of a good local music scene.  Great days indeed!

Today, I’ll leave with you a cover tune that I stumbled across on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Remember Ronnie James Dio and his hit “Rainbow In The Dark?” Check out this cover from Paola. I think she’s Swedish, but the internet is not exactly flowing with information about her. I can tell you that the song was released in 2003.  Not sure how I missed it until now..  Enjoy – “Rainbow In The Dark.”

Later – Cretin

Of Journey, Cars and Poppy Fields

Admit it, as Rock and Roll Animals, we all discriminate against old folks. Right?

You can deny it, but it’s true.  Journey is touring again this year. They are supporting Eclipse, their new studio release, and playing each night in front of thousands of fans, yet no one has bought the album or heard any of the new songs. Eclipse has been out for four months, written by long-time members Neil Schon and Jonathan Cain and featuring the vocals of Amel Pineda (who sounds as good as old Steve Perry).  Have you heard any of the tunes? Of course not.  Why? Because they band members are old now.

Radio stations treat them as an oldies band playing their old hits, and fans aren’t much better. (For the record, the album is decent middle-of-the-road Journey stuff). We’ll all go out there and sing the Glee-ly rejuvenated “Don’t Stop Believing,” and then run to the beer counters and bathrooms when they kick into their new rocker “City of Hope.”

The Cars have also released Move Like This, their new album this summer, . “Sad Song” was the first single and it’s an excellent song. But, you’d have to take my word, because no one plays it. I have a feature on my XM radio that notifies me when a favorite band is played anywhere on their network,  They have about a dozen stations where the song would fit the format.  Since setting The Cars as a favorite, I’ve seen about 100 notifications that they were being played. Only once was the notification for “Sad Song” and the station that played it? Out – their gay music station. Maybe you need to be gay to appreciate the old rockers out there? (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

If they had marketed that song as Rick Ocasek’s son and his hot new band, we’d have Ryan Seacreast fawning all over it. Take a few minutes to listen to it, and see if it’s not carbon copy 80’s hit music. Half of the new bands are trying to emulate 80’s rockers, and now we have the real thing emulating themselves, and no one is paying attention???

So, this all gets me started reminiscing about the curious English band the Poppy Fields.

Back in 2004, they came smashing onto the UK music scene with an infectious punk rock tribute to the Clash called “45 RPM.” The group put out a video featuring the early 20 punk rockers bouncing around the stage.  The song took off. All fo the big Dj’s across the pond loved it,Virgin Music Stores sold out all of their stock, and it hit the charts at #28.  The young lads had captured a sound similar to the popular Welsh band The Alarm, with vocals eerily reminiscent of Mike Peters, The Alarm’s original front man.

Word somehow leaked out that there was good reason for the similarities. The guys in the video were actors, the real musicians? Mike Peters and The Alarm! So what happened when everyone learned of the old switcheroo? Radio stopped playing it, people stopped buying it and it became another new song by an old band.  The music never changed, but the image of the guys strumming the guitars, beating the drums and belting out the lyrics changed.  That’s kind of sad. Sad, and a lame reflection on the music buying public (us).

Mike Peters mentioned afterwards that consumers assumed old guys couldn’t write meaningful new songs anymore (he was in his early 40’s), and he was afraid that image trumped talent.  He was right.

I found this Mike Peters interview about the whole incident. As you watch the music video snippets, they’ve interspersed the original video with the young actors, with the real 40 something band.  Oddly, the music sounds the same in both cases.

So, let’s try to change this a little bit, ok? Give a listen to the new stuff by the older bands, especially if you’re going to be seeing them live on their next tour. C’mon that’s the least we can do, right? Ah, forget it, we’ll all need a respite from the hits at their next concert for our race to the concession stands…

Journey: Eclipse

The Cars: Move Like This

The Alarm performing 45 RPM
Cheap concert tickets

 

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musical Musings

Monday Morning Musical Musings – or abbreviated, we could go with “Mo Mo Mu Mu?” I know it sounds stupid, but maybe it will grow on us?

Today a few thoughts on the Handsome Furs, Matt Mays, Y&T and a new Florida band: Innercoastal

I mentioned how much I liked The Handsome Furs a few weeks ago when they released a cool new tune “What About Us,” a catchy danceable song eerily reminiscent of the great alt rock I danced to back in the great Philly after hours club, The Revival 20 years ago.  Their brand new release is “Repatriated” and it is just as good.  I haven’t listened to the entire album yet, but that’s next.  If you like dance rock, check this Canadian duo out now. If your in the Midwest, Texas or California, you may be in luck, as they are touring those areas over the next two weeks.

Keeping with our Canadian theme, one of our contributors from North of the Border, Luc,  just got turned on to a band call Innercoastal. They are a new band from Central Florida who are playing around Orlando. According to Luc, “If you ever get a chance, LOOK THEM UP! I checked it out and liked the ska feel to their music.

I heard Matt Mays on the radio over the weekend and couldn’t help but think how under-rated this Canadian artist is. He’s had a handful of great well-written songs that never got a sniff of commercial airplay on the vast wasteland of US commercial radio.  He continues to put out great rock ‘n roll, despite the lack of attention. Check out “On the Hood,” “Travellin,” “Cocaine Cowgirl,” “City of Lakes” or the just released “Digital Eyes.” Good stuff with a unique sound.

OK – and this one has nothing to do with Canada, but it’s fresh in my feeble mind, and if I don’t write about it now, I’ll probably never remember.  Y&T’s “Summertime Girls.”  Is it the best crank down the windows, cruising to the beach, stereo blasting, sing along, feel good summer song ever?  I just love that song from the hard rockers from California (who still tour today). Lead singer Dave Meniketti never got his just due as an excellent rock voice. Here’s a copy of the video to keep you entertained for a few minutes (just ignore the horrible outfits the band is wearing – that was really the style 25 years ago): Summertime Girls