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


Radio Review – Hair Nation

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

Sirius XM’s Hair Nation, Channel 39

Hair Nation features “Hair Bands” from the 1980’s, in fact their slogan is “Vintage Rock From the Big Hair Eighties.”

It seems that every time I tune to this commercial-free Sirius XM station, I hear Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Poison, but they do spread the wealth and dig a little deeper into the album cuts.  It’s definitely not non-stop “Blaze of Glory,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “Every Rose Has a Thorn.” You’ll notice in the playlist below that they played one of my favorite, and under-appreciated Poison tunes.  It’s a good mix between the hits and the rest of the stuff, but the songs really are hit or miss. 

In my opinion, there’s really not enough good hair band music to justify a dedicated full-time station. It would probably be better suited for a recurring weekend show, or special holiday weekend special.

  • Poison – Cry Tough
  • Dangerous Boys – Teasin’ and Pleasin’
  • White Snake – Here I Go Again
  • Badlands – My Last Time
  • Bon Jovi – I’ll Be There For You
  • Cinderella – Push Push
  • Motley Crue – Primal Stream
  • Faster Pussycat – Babylon

Date: July, 2011

Music: 98%
Chatter: 2%
Commercials  0%



Thursday Thoughts at the Trough

Just a few random thoughts:

  • In an interview earlier this week with Eric James of The Last Royals, be mentioned Arcade Fire being the band at the top of their game right now.  Hard to argue with that. I love the band and was happy to see them win the Grammy for Album of the Year for their album Suburbs earlier this year.  Although Suburbs is indeed Grammy worthy. I think their 2008 release Neon Bible is better yet.  For fans of the band, SiriusXM’s and the band are sponsoring a free show in Montreal on September 22nd.  If you are not in the area, the show will also be broadcast live.
  • Say It Isn’t So – Van Halen is really planning a tour and new album with David Lee Roth, and without Michael Anthony? No way this turns out good. I’m a big fan of reunion tours, but this one just seems destined for disaster.
  • Former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri was charged with four felonies after a fight with his ex-girlfriend turned into a four-hour standoff with police. Oliveri was holed-up with his ex-girlfriend inside his apartment. When the 39 year-old was taken into custody, the police found a full-loaded rifle along with cocaine and meth-amphetamines. Not smart – it’s getting easy to understand why he was tossed from the band. He’s looking at 15 years in prison.
  • You’ve heard us mention The Dodos a duo out of San Francisco and their unique version of rock and roll. Well, they’re offering free tickets and downloads at their website.  Check it out at: The Dodo’s 
  • One of our Twitter followers sent us a link to listen to some new music from a Finnish band: Siberian Jay. It’s a little raw and under-produced, but there’s lots of potential there. Check it out, and thanks to FooFightHans for the suggestion. Follow us at Twitter: rarasfarm or Like us on Facebook to keep in touch and get immediate site updates.


Eric James of The Last Royals Visits RARA’s Farm

Featuring infectious melodies and riveting vocals, The Last Royal’s are riding high on the recent success of their addictive alt-rock hit “Crystal Vases” from their self-titled EP.  They’re currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on their eagerly anticipated debut album, tentatively titled Twistification.  Along with Mason Ingram, Eric James make up this dynamic new band. James, the lead singer and the creative power behind the songs on the EP, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to chat with us.

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Cretin: I first heard you guys on Sirius XM’s AltNation, when they played “Crystal Vases.” How did you guys get that break? Were you targeting AltNation?

Eric James: We had signed with, Ooh La La Records, and their radio promoter was targeting college and FM specialty radio.  Regan, who’s a great DJ as well as the program director at AltNation heard the song and actually tracked me down personally through Facebook. He loved the music and just simply wanted to work it because he liked it. They just started playing it; it caught on and they got good feedback from listeners and that’s where we’re at.

Cretin: The characters in your songs seem real, and you can feel a real connection to them. Is there anything autobiographical in the lyrics?

Eric James: It’s all real; from living around Manhattan for the last four years. Crystal Vases specifically I had in mind an Upper East Side type of woman. Nothing in any of the songs was directly from a friend or acquaintance, but it’s all real characters.  I’m sure you kind find a match somewhere in this city of 4 million if you looked hard enough.  I love to weave story telling with my own sentiments in that Dylan style where he’s singing about the Jack of Hearts and all these characters and you’re wondering if he actually encountered these people.

Cretin: You mention Dylan and in other interviews you reference other acts from the 50’s to the present. It sounds like your musical background is pretty diverse, any piece of that background that has most influenced you?

Eric James: Everybody kind of grows up listening to what their parents listened to. My dad was a Beatles guy through and through. The musical pop elements were implanted in my brain as a young kid through the Beatles.  Lyrically speaking I feel it was Dylan who always explored the most territory.  He had that way of challenging people with hard concepts through whimsical lyrics (pauses) and also through whimsical melodies. Ultimately I feel that’s what my favorite bands do. It’s sort of the beauty of rock music. You can sing a very depressing line or very hard concept and put it with a beautiful major melody and somehow that juxtaposition is a beautiful thing.

Cretin: The way your band does that reminds me a bit of the Smiths from back in the 80’s.

Eric James: They were great at that.

Cretin: More recently, Foster The People’s “Pumped up Kicks” is kind of like that: a whimsical song with dark lyrics.

Eric James: I listened to that song for months before I realized what he was saying, and then I read the lyrics and couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Cretin: On the EP, all of the songs are very different.  Do you have a personal favorite, or any one style that you really enjoyed more than the other?

Eric James: I love the remix of Backseat, the Crayon mix. It’s real off the cuff.  It reminds me of the fact that one of the great qualities of being a musician is that you get to recreate these songs night after night. I have a bad habit of altering songs as we go along and the band learns them. Some of the label people don’t like that I keep doing that, but I can’t seem to stop.  The fact that made the EP was a big win for me.

Cretin: Are we going to hear any of these songs on the forthcoming album?

Eric James: We’ve re-cut “Come Take My Hand” and nobody has heard it yet as it’s still being mixed and we remixed “Backseat” in a whole new way. “Crystal Vases” will remain the same, as it seems to be working. And we’ll also have seven or eight new tracks. Almost everything is done, still working vocals and synths, but we’re getting there.

Cretin: Will we see this album before the end of the year?

Eric James: We’ll be done and in our hands in a few months, and then it’s up to the record company. It depends; the sooner the better for me.

Cretin: What’s the attraction to playing those older analog keyboards?

Eric James: It’s that those instruments are so volatile. We literally don’t know what it’s going to sound like day to day, because the circuits are constantly changing with the weather. It creates an excitement, a sense of newness. It’s a living art, and if we don’t capture the sound this hour it could change, or be a sound that does not inspire us.

Cretin: Being from Philly, have you ever heard the Hooters?

Eric James: I know Eric Bazillian a little bit. We were going to collaborate on something, but it never worked out.  I wrote a song with their keyboard player and I know the band, but I don’t know the music real well.

Cretin: They were famous for using a melodica.

Eric James: Yeah, that’s great stuff. We use an old thrift store air organ that’s out of tune. It’s actually what we used on the Backseat Lovers remix. It’s a 1970’s toy air organ that cost me about $20.

Cretin: OK, let’s wrap this up with some quick questions.  Do you smoke two packs a day?

Eric James:  (laughs) Absolutely not, I do not smoke.

Cretin: Favorite place in NYC to see live music?

Eric James: Rockwood Music Hall. It’s always free and for that reason you see a lot of musicians every night.

Cretin: You have a teepee as your EP Cover Art, as you were shooting for the TP-EP theme, did you ever consider a roll of toilet paper instead?

Eric James: (laughs) No, our hope would be that some crazy fan a few years from now would make a version like that.

Cretin: You guys have some great covers on your website: EMF, OMD and Prince. Is there one cover form a different artist that you really enjoy?

Eric James: I have some friends in a band called Lovedrug– they were doing a kick start campaign to raise some money to record a full-length. Someone who donated money asked them to cover a song from Willy Wonka a song called “Pure Imagination.” It was amazing, and I love the idea of throwing the wackiest song possible at a band and seeing what they can do with it. I was inspired. (It is cool and different. Check it out: Pure Imagination)

Cretin: When your album comes out you hit it big and you’re doing the festival circuit next year, who are you ready to share the stage with?

Eric James: We’ve talked about Arcade Fire sort of being the top of the game right now. Why not shoot for the top?

Cretin: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Eric James: I just want people to know that I’m thrilled that the music is getting out there and we feel very blessed to be staying alive and doing this music. We hope to become great songwriters someday and keep it coming.

To hear or purchase Last Royals music visit one of the following websites:

Check out my recent interview with Lovedrug’s Michael Shepard


Monday Night on the Farm – Random Musings

Random Thoughts on a Monday evening.

Today is the 50th Birthday for both Richard Allan Ream and for David Howell Evans.  If you don’t recognize the names, keep on reading…

Cage the Elephant’s “Around My Head” is my favorite song right now. I’ve liked most of their music the past few years, but this one is their best yet.  They are playing on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show tonight (Tuesday, August 9th).  Not sure what they’ll be playing, but you know what my vote will be for.

My Sister-In-Law turned me onto her cousin’s band, Walk The Moon. They made a big showing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, playing three shows over the weekend.  Check out this song, and it’s quirky video on Youtube and see if you can’t get the lyrics out of your head.  Fun Stuff: Walk The Moon’s” Anna Sun” 

I realize that it’s a few years old now, but Mother Mother’s “Hayloft” is pretty damn fun. Sort of like the strange spawn if The Red Hot Chili Peppers and B-52’s had a little baby band.

The birthday boys? You’d know them better as the drummer from Poison and guitarist from U2. Happy Birthday to Rikki Rocket and The Edge!


The Last Royals EP Review

I recently had a chance to check out The Last Royals self-titled debut EP on Ooh La La Records, and find myself anxious to hear some more. The 5 song EP includes four original tunes penned by Eric James, one half of this New York City based duo. James had previously released these songs as part of his Early Hours solo project. The other member is drummer Mason Ingram, and since he has paired up with James, they’ve taken a new cut at these tunes.

The EP kicks off with “Backseat Lovers” probably the most raw song on the EP. It’s a song that is incredibly easy to listen to, and each time I hear it, I find something else to enjoy. The piano and keyboards lend a unique sound that is pervasive throughout, and it’s just a fun song to listen to despite the edgy lyrics.

I had previously heard the next track, “Crystal Vases” on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation; a quirky upbeat song oozing urban angst. The song was a hit on AltNation, and has been a constant in their Alt18 count-down for weeks, and for good reason. It’s a catchy song that gets better every time I listen to it. It reminds me of old Smiths’ records where you were driven to skip along happily despite the gloomy lyrics. It’s a great story, backed with fantastic lyrics, wrapped in a song you won’t be able to get enough of.

“Always To Belong” is the closest thing to a ballad on this EP and is another one that grows on me with every listen. The guitar and piano is subdued, highlighting James’ superb vocals. I’m not positive that I understand the message in the lyrics, but I wouldn’t be surprised hearing it on a soundtrack as we watch two friends on the screen coming to the realization that they’ll never fit in.

“Come Take My Hand” is another cut that is just easy to listen to. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one included on the forthcoming album, tweaked a bit and released as a single. The chorus is addictive, and again the vocals are excellent.

The EP closes with the “Crayon Remix” of “Backstreet Lovers.” It’s a more stripped down version of the song, and although less likely to be a hit, I like the feel of this version more than the original.

That’s it. Four plus songs; just 20 minutes of a sample, but clearly a nice debut that’s left me anxious to hear more. They evoke memories of Cake, Luna, MGMT, Foster the People and a slew of other Alternative rock bands, but it wouldn’t be fair to pigeonhole them as sounding like any of them. Their style stands on it’s own; it’s The Last Royals’ sound, and I’m thinking it’s going to be around for awhile.

Track Listing:
1. Backseat Lovers
2. Crystal Vases
3. Always, To Belong
4. Come Take My Hand (Demo)
5. Backseat Lovers (Crayon Remix)

Read our interview with The Last Royals’ Eric James

If you’re interested in hearing more of their music, including three interesting covers, check out their website at:

The Last Royals

Ooh La La Records

Top Albums from 1991, In honor of Lollapalooza

2011 is the 20th Anniversary of the wildly successful Lollapalooza festival, where Eminem is entertaining a few hundred thousand smelly, tired and likely inebriated folks at Chicago’s Grant Park as I type this…  I remember Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails leading the bill on that first circuit, but couldn’t recall whether it was really a good year for music.  Digging  through my vinyl collection, I’d say there weren’t really too many worthwhile albums, but the top few were absolute killers – leaving a lasting impression on the Rock and Roll landscape for many years.

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So, here they are, according to me:

      10. Guns and Roses – Use Your Illusion II

        Volume II of this set was clearly the better of the two.  This one included classics like “Civil War,” “You Could Be Mine,” and a tremendous version of Dylan’s oft-covered “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.”

Use Your Illusion II - Guns N' Roses

      9. Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears

        This was Ozzy’s biggest hit album since his Blizzard of Oz debut effort, and featured the title track, “Time After Time,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home”

No More Tears - Ozzy Osbourne

      8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

        This was the Peppers breakthrough album and biggest commercial success. You’ll find “Give It Away,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Under the Bridge” and my all-time favorite Chili Peppers tune “Breaking the Girl.”

Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers

      7. Voice of the Beehive – Honey Lingers

        This album got a wee bit of airplay on college radio, but deserved much more attention. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend that you check out the great harmonies and poppy tunes. The whole album is good, particularly “Monsters and Angels,” “Little Gods,” and a great cover of the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.”

Honey Lingers - Voice of the Beehive

      6. Spin Doctors – Pocket Full of Kryptonite

        Their debut album, and by far their most successful.  This one was packed with great tunes, including “Jimmy Olsen Blue’s,” “What Time Is It,” “Two Princes,” amd “ Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

Pocket Full of Kryptonite - Spin Doctors

      5. REM – Out of Time

        This is not the band’s best album, nor most successful, but there’s lots of good stuff packed in here, including the under-rated “Texarkana.” You’ll also hear “Radio Song,” “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People”

Out of Time - R.E.M.

      4. Pearl Jam – Ten

        These next four albums are clearly in a different league than anything else we heard in 1991.  Ten was the explosive debut of this Seattle band’s powerful new sound.  It ushered them onto the scene and along with our #3 selection, inspired the Grunge period of rock and roll for the rest of the decade. The album features “Once,” “Even Flow” and one of rock’s greatest songs ever. “Jeremy.”

      3. Nirvana – Nevermind

        No, I am not on drugs. I realize this is a great album, made a marked impact on the direction of rock music and sold over 30 million copies, but I truly feel it was only the 3rd best album in 1991.  Along with Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, Nirvana led the Seattle area grunge scene.  This is the album where you’ll find rock anthems such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “In Bloom” and “Come As You Are.” It’s a great effort, but I truly feel it gets more credit than it deserves primarily due to Kurt Cobain’s untimely death.

      2. Metallica – Black album

        This is the one that put these heavy metal monsters on the world-wide map.  This album sold 20 million copies and was still releasing singles 2 years after it was rolled out.  Every song is great, and they are all timeless; as good and as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. The biggest hits on the album “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Wherever I May Roam” and “Nothing Else Matters” caused some of their original fans to claim they had sold out. Although the music was more refined, it still contained the same passion, drive and energy as their early 80’s stuff.

      1. U2 – Achtung Baby

        In ’91, U2 was at a cross roads, their last album Rattle and Hum kind of meandered, and it seemed as though the band didn’t know where they should be headed.  I recall this album’s release delayed a few times, and then when I finally heard it, thought ‘wow’ this is something different. A little alternative, some industrial techno and a dash of dance: as it turns out, it was a recipe for success.  The tracks are very diverse, but every song is a great listen, and they actually seem to go together very well. The track listing includes “Zoo Station,” “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “One,” “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways” and my favorite “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).”

25 Years of Cinderella in the Shadows of the Castle

One of the 1980’s premiere Hair Bands made a return to Orlando’s House of Blues on Saturday night, as they celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their hugely successful debut album “Night Songs.”

I remember stumbling across them in a local Philly club in the mid-eighties and thinking they did not have much of a future. Jon Bon Jovi saw them shortly afterwards and saw the talent, and over the years they’ve sold millions of albums, and packed a slew of arenas.

Tom Keifer, is clearly still the heart and soul of this Philadelphia area quintet. His vocals were fantastic. He’s gone through two difficult surgeries on his vocal chords including one just 5 years ago, but you’d never know by listening to him. His distinctive voice is still powerful, and he hit every note perfectly.

Keifer also showed off his musicianship throughout the evening, playing an assortment of guitars, as well as they keyboards and piano. While he played impressive leads and solos, the rest of the band didn’t really shine. They were all adequate, but no one really stood out and sounded good, despite the majority of them being original members.

“Heartbreak Station” featured drummer Fred Koury stepping up front to share the vocals, and Keifer playing a slide guitar solo. During “The More Things Change, Keifer and guitarist Jeff LeBar traded off the lead and seemed to be having some fun on stage.  The highlight for me was Keifer sliding behind the piano for one of their biggest hits “Don’t Know What You Got.”

Overall, the show was good, although brief. They played the exact same set list that they’ve been rolling out nightly throughout this tour, and the show seemed a bit devoid of energy.

The set list featured 11 songs, and clocked in at a meager 57 minutes, and they followed that with a ten minute encore which closed with a smoking version of “Shelter Me.” Overall, the song selection was excellent and a diverse sampling of their catalog, both metal hits and bluesy rockers.

Here’s the Setlist:

  • Once Around the Ride
  • Shake Me
  • Heartbreak Station
  • Somebody Save Me
  • Night Songs
  • The More Things Change
  • Second Wind
  • Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
  • Nobody’s Fool
  • Gypsy Road


  • Long Cold Winter
  • Shelter Me
Here’s a link to a small snippet of “Nobody’s Fool.”

The evening opened with an acoustic set from rock and roll nomad John Corabi. Corabi’s voice sounded great and he interacted with the crowd throughout, and was a very nice surprise. His set was highlighted by an abbreviated version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” reprising his role as the group’s lead singer he held for 15 minutes in the mid-nineties. He closed with a fantastic cover of The Beatles “Oh! Darling” that featured the full range of his powerful voice.

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