Monday, August 30, 2010

New Stan Ridgway - Neon Mirage and Rare Free MP3s

The greatest American singer/songwriter/guitarist/storyteller/man about town/humourist you've never heard of, Stan Ridgway, recently unleashed his newest album, Neon Mirage. You have probably heard of his former band Wall of Voodoo's Mexican Radio, but the guy's been putting out amazing solo albums now for 24 years. Please give him a listen, buy some of his stuff, I dearly want him to continue making music.

Band email marketing Quantcast

Drive She Said from The Big Heat

Can't Stop the Show (Live) - original version from The Big Heat

Goin' Southbound from Mosquitos

Camouflage from The Big Heat

Beloved Movie Star from Holiday in Dirt

Talkin' Wall of Voodoo Blues from Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads and Fugitive Songs

Lonely Town from Mosquitos

Train of Thought (Live) original version from Anatomy

If you've made it all the way down here, you deserve a prize. The following are available as free downloads from Beyond Tomorrow, which is billed "your Stan Ridgway resource on the net" and is linked straight from Ridgway's own site - so these are free, legal downloads. Live stuff, oddities, demos, music for films or commercials and more.

The Last Honest Man (Live 2000)- Download mp3

Don't Box Me In (Live 2000) - Download mp3

Roadblock (original Mix) - download mp3

Buy Stan Ridgway here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock is All Shook Up with Elvis in Memphis

Scruffy all-time favourite Robyn Hitchcock releases the second of his Tram Watch video series, this time he's in Memphis doing a tribute to Elvis and All Shook Up. The Elvis impression at the start of the song is just plain goofy, but then he gives it up and uses his own voice. Who will he do next? A Guided by Voices song when he's in Dayton? A Spoon tune in Austin? A Telepathic Butterflies track in Winnipeg? Only time will tell?

Springsteen Still Epic: The Promise & Darkness on the Edge of Town

When I was a kid, Bruce Springsteen was a guy I didn't know how to fit into my limited worldview. I was raised on Kiss and Cheap Trick and the Star Wars soundtrack (courtesy older brother) and some Beatles, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and a random 10CC record (courtesy my dad). Brucesongs always seemed so epic, or at least the ones I heard on the radio. I didn't own any Bruce when I was really young, though my brother successfully conned me into paying for half of The River, an unsuccessful trip because the record store was sold out when I got there. I didn't mind the popular Bruce staples that came out of tinny little radios, but I especially liked Candy's Room. Eventually I started to get it when a kid traded me Nebraska for some cassette I had no use for at the time (Ozzy, maybe?). Now my Springsteen collection is probably the wrong records for some people's tastes - Tunnel of Love, Lucky Town, Human Touch, Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad might not be the top records to own, but there it is. Maybe I'll get lucky and someone will buy me the monster below.

Now a remastered, re-jigged edition of Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town is coming out in a deluxe package - the guy's still epic after all of these years. Here's the skinny straight from

"Columbia Records will release Bruce Springsteen's 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' on Nov 16. The Deluxe Package comprises over six hours of film and more than two hours of audio across 3 CDs and 3 DVDs. The media contents are packaged within an 80-page notebook containing facsimiles from Springsteen's original notebooks from the recording sessions, which include alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details, and personal notes in addition to a new essay by Springsteen and never-before-seen photographs. Containing a wealth of previously unreleased material, 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' offers an unprecedented look into Springsteen's creative process during a defining moment in his career. 'The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story' will additionally be released as a 3CD/3 Blu Ray disc set.

The set will be available as 'The Promise,' an edition which consists of only the unheard complete songs on two CDs or four LPs, along with lyrics and the new essay by Springsteen."

Now you will be able to get 21 unreleased tracks from the Darkness sessions, and you can stream one of the unreleased tunes, Save My Love, here, just after the video, which features Little Steven crackin' me up but still chiming in with fine back-ups.

Bruce Springsteen - "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'" Sneak Peek from Columbia Records on Vimeo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Raveonettes do Stone Roses, Shout Out Louds do Band of Horses, Serena Ryder Stays Alive

The Raveonettes' cover of The Stone Roses' I Wanna Be Adored is cool, neither destroying the song or being too reverent. Supposedly You can download the track, as well as some other dodgy covers for free at a Doc Martens website, but I guess you have to be in England or Europe or something - Canadians are not allowed to partake. That pisses me off, just like when artists and labels throw free tracks or compilations up on Amazon US that Canucks like me cannot access. But who knows, maybe you can access a download here, 'cause I'm helpful like that.

When a band you like covers another artist you enjoy, maybe hopes are raised as little too high, like with Shout Out Louds' cover of Band of Horses' Is There a Ghost. A mellow take on the original, a ghostly, muted heartbeat instead of the quiet-to-loud epic build - not what I would have expected, which would have been a sunny, sparkly pop version. It seems people like to do stripped-down versions of BOH songs, though, like Torontonian Serena Ryder's cover of Band of Horses' The Funeral below.

Buy Raveonettes here.

Buy Shout Out Louds here.

Buy Serena Ryder here.

Manic Street Preachers - I'm Leaving You for Solitude Free MP3

Manic Street Preachers new one Postcards From A Young Man is released on September 27. In general, I prefer the band's grittier songs, but over a number of albums now the boys have shown an affinity for Queen, Beach Boys, and The Beatles - doesn't this one remind you of Hey Jude a teeny bit?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dabbles in Bloom - I'm Afraid of Jazz

I like to think that I enjoy a wide range of musical varieties. But when I'm honest, I have to admit that I don't like all kinds of music. Nu-metal and death-metal have never been my thing, for example. The kind of rap/dance/pop typified by Black-eyed Peas leaves me cold. But to really lay bare my shortcomings in well-roundedness, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of one whole genre - jazz.

That's not to say I don't appreciate, say, Miles Davis. I do, and I even own a couple of records. And there are many pop/rock acts exhibiting jazz influences that have hooked me over the years, from Steely Dan to latter day Talk Talk. But my ignorance and appreciation of jazz have largely remained the same for years and years.

So when I received a submission from Walla Walla's Dabbles in Bloom describing the band as a "young indie-pop band with jazz influences", I wasn't sure what to expect. I read the bio, which includes one band member who confesses:
"As do most typical college students, I enjoy absurd amounts of irony and repeating overly-used slang phrases that will cease to be popular long before I will cease to say them."

Okay, so at least there's some sense of humour there. Then I listened to the music. Most tracks on the new album Found It don't display overt jazz tendencies to me, maybe less so than Vampire Weekend's afro-pop tendencies. Some songs remind me of The Beautiful South with their male and female vocal interplay, but without the biting edge. Faint echoes of folk-rock (say, for example, mellow tones of Nick Drake) slip in now and again, such as in the beginning of Greetings.

There's a fair amount of sunny pop on this record, joyous singing and happy handclaps. Like on this one, Eclipse.

Eclipse by Dabbles In Bloom

I Stepped Down

I Stepped Down by Dabbles In Bloom

You can purchase Dabbles in Bloom on iTunes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two Hours Traffic Stay Summery with Happiness Burns Video

Just discovered a new video for Happiness Burns by Charlottetown's Two Hours Traffic. It's a summery song, a summery video, short and sweet and a sugar-free treat. Why are so many Canadian east coast artists masters of melody and harmony? Visit the band's web site to download a free mp3 of the song Territory.

Here's another one from last year's Territory album, Noisemaker.

And a few videos from the 2007 album Little Jabs, which won an East Coast Music award for Best Pop Recording and was a finalist for the Polaris Music Prize. Some of them, namely Heroes of the Sidewalk, Jezebel, and Nighthawks as well as Backseat Sweetheart are being tagged on to Territory for the Australian and US releases.



Heroes of the Sidewalk

Stuck for the Summer

Buy Two Hours Traffic here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Luke Doucet: Let's Make His a Household Name

Every once in a while, I rediscover an artist I like and find that I am head over heels for their music. Luke Doucet is now that guy. His fine new album, Steel City Trawler, will be released August 31 in Canada and September 21 in the USA.

I first got into Doucet through his indie rock band Veal. Listen to Spiderman (2000) below.

The new album showcases Doucet's versatility. You Get It crosses Neil Young & Crazy Horse's fuzzy gee-tar and Tom Petty's roots rock. A cover of Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown sounds like Jim Cuddy fronting Drive-by Truckers. The Ballad of Ian Curtis offers a Hookian melodic bassline, flatly echoing Joy Division drums, and vaguely New Order meets The Cure guitar sounds over hyper-melodic vocals, listen below, then go to Doucet's MySpace and give up an email address for a free download.

Get the low-down on Steel City Trawler from the horse's mouth.

I get the feeling Doucet can do almost anything, alt country or amusing 80's pop. He could play with Sarah McLachlan (which he's done and still doing), produce NQ Arbuckle (did that one, too), or play with Social Distortion (which he hasn't done...yet).

The Lovecats

Broken One

Luke Doucet - Broken One by sikandar


Luke Doucet - Outlaws by TheAgencyGroup

Here's Doucet's Tour Dates. In Winnipeg, he's headlining the River Barge Festival at the Forks, which is really a floating dock with a real stage. Since he's already done cruise ship shows, Doucet is is evidently unafraid of unusual gigs on the water. How about we talk him into playing on an icebreaker in Hudson Bay? He's a former Winnipegger, he can perform in any weather, right?

08.28.10 Winnipeg, MB
River Barge Festival at the Forks 9:30pm

09.07.10 Los Angeles, CA
Hotel Cafe 8pm

09.13.10 Grand Rapids, MI
One Trick Pony 8pm

09.16.10 Nashvilla, TN
The Basement w/ Deep Dark Woods

09.16.10 - Atlanta, GA
Old Smiths w/ Deep Dark Woods

09.22.10 Buffalo, NY
Ninth Ward, 8pm (doors 7pm)

10.19.10 - WINCHESTER, UK
The Railway

10.20.10 - LONDON UK
Luminaire, 7:30PM

10.21.10 - BRIGHTON UK
The Prince Albert, 8PM

10.25.10 - BRISTOL UK

10.27.10 - WAKEFIELD UK
Henry Boons, 7:30PM

10.28.10 - SHEFFIELD UK
The Grapes, 8PM

Buy Luke Doucet's music from Six Shooter Records, buy Veal from the same dang place.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guitar Heroes of the Non-Video Game Kind, Part 2

photo by Sean Rogers

This is part 2 of this series, see Part 1 here.

Pop Dose recently threw up their list of the top 50 guitar players of all time. I was surprised by some of the omissions and decided to create a post or two to respond, then I noticed that Pop Dose's list was actually created in response to the LA Times magazine's top 50. Okay, so a number of the players missing on one list can be found somewhere on the other. One list skips the Edge, Robert Fripp, Angus Young and Randy Rhoads, but then we see Eddie Hazel, John Mayer, Charlie Hunter, Neal Schon and John Frusciante. Huh? Of course, there are always complaints about lists like these, who got snubbed, who is wrongly placed at the top or bottom, and so on. Sometimes I think the choices are coloured by how much a guitarist sticks out, especially to other musicians or guitar god wannabes (Yngwie Malmsteen, anyone?)So, since I'm a non-guitarist (no musical ability whatsoever, actually) I've compiled a short list of stringbenders I like without any thought to how technically proficient they are, how difficult their music may be to play, or how wizardly they wield their axes. They might not be flashy, might just be rhythm players, but they've made some noises I like and they're not always included on favourite guitar player lists.

Wherever possible, I've tried to include live videos so you can see guitar grandeur without studio trickery.

Canadians already know Rob Baker, as The Hip have been at or near top of the rock heap in this country for years. But we probably take him for granted now, even though he's still pulling out new tricks, Like on Love Is a First, where he yanks out some muted Tom Morello-type moves at about 3:18. For some more new six-string sweetness, impossibly-long curtain of hair half-obscuring, try Morning Moon, or Grace, Too from Saturday Night Live if ya wanna check some older, more-restrained but satisfying licks.

The Tragically Hip - Love Is a First

Rick Nielsen writes the catchiest riffs and plays nice little licks, always looks funny and is a fine showman. Even when he's just playing fuzzed-out simple stuff he's worth a deuce. But what about the guy in the white jumpsuit? What the heck is he playing...a 12-string BASS? Can I nominate a bassist for my guitar player list? Tom Petersson doesn't just fatten up the bottom end, he sometimes manages to make it sound like there's three guitarists onstage, not just Rick and ballcap and goofy mugging. And neither one of them feel the need to show off and overplay on an uncomplicated song such as Southern Girls.

Cheap Trick - Southern Girls

The Church have been making the same hazy guitar rock for 30 years, and it ain't broke. Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes have been making beautiful sounds playing beautiful guitars without paying any attention to what is hip or commercially viable, which may account for a) the fact that many people don't know the band's still around and b) people not "getting it". For me, even if you don't like Steve Kilbey's songs or voice, the guitar almost always makes up for it. And also: Rickenbacker.

The Church - Reptile

If you've been following along, you know of Scruffy's love for the varied work of Adrian Belew. A guy once tried to tell me that all of Belew's songs were simply vehicles for his guitar sounds, but I have always felt that his weird noises and weird songs were showcases for one another - no tunes without the tone, and vice versa. Anyhow, if you listen to how he puts his own spin on Bowie's Heroes (originally played by his King Crimson band mate Robert Fripp), maybe you'll feel like I do; the guy can do anything. If I was sentenced to explain the difference between rock musician and rock star, I might look to Belew for the former - I mean, just look at him.

Adrian Belew & Martha Wainwright - Heroes

Dream Syndicate's Karl Precoda and Steve Wynn did the slow burn and guitar freakout as well as anyone but never got past cult band status. In fact, I'm a little pissed off at the dearth of quality sound AND video available on YouTube. So they get two, from two classic albums that haven't yet received their due. When Wynn gets deep into the song and the rhythm drives the tune, Precoda takes the lead somewhere else, maybe into an alternate universe where Television was part of your daily vitamins and The Velvet Undergound was piped into every crib.

The Dream Syndicate - The Medicine Show

The Dream Syndicate - Halloween

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Metric Giving Away Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack

Metric is tooting their own horn by giving away music. Here's the message I got on Twitter and MySpace:

"retweet or comment to win the @ScottPilgrim vs.The World soundtrack on CD or Vinyl signed by Emily Haines!"

I don't know how long you have, so do it now. The band has contributed the song Black Sheep to the soundtrack, which you can listen to on their MySpace page - it's typically excellent, fuzzy guitar, pounding drums, cooing vocals, pulsing synth - what's not to like? After snagging track inclusion on the last Twilight flick, I gotta wonder if it's becoming obligatory to have Metric on every monster songtrack. I hope so.

The Telepathic Butterflies Wow, Flutter, Pop and Crackle

Not everyone has the time, inclination, ambition or guts to put that extra bit of time and work into their songs to make them timeless. And there's nothing wrong with recording live or bashing one out.

But Winnipeg's The Telepathic Butterflies have clearly put Herculean efforts into crafting the kind of songs and recordings that add up to more than just the sum of their parts. It's that kind of songcraft that made The Kinks great, The get where I'm going here, right? Telepathic Butterfly singer/songwriter/guitarist Réjean Ricard once felt strongly enough about a conversation I was having with a friend to jump in and correct my misconception about the one Nick Lowe song I didn't like; he seems like a scholar of rock, a fanatic about not just The Yardbirds and Buzzcocks but lesser-known greats such as Winnipeg's Grand Theft Canoe and The Flashing Lights. It shows in their music, a nod to past greats and future classics.

Go ahead and download away, hit the downwards arrow again and again, then buy their albums - come on, at least the new one, Wow & Flutter. Admit it, it's a brilliant blend of singalong harmonies, smart but not too clever lyrics, jagged and jangly gee-tar, and powerful secret weapon drums. And you know Rob Pachol is a shit-hot lead player - a spoonful of Mick Ronson, a dash of Rick Nielson, a cup of Paul Weller - give this chef his own show, for crying out loud. I've been listening to this band everyday for a while now, and so should you.

Three tracks from Wow & Flutter:

Circle Man

The Telepathic Butterflies-Circle Man by scruffy the yak

Between the Lines

Between the Lines - The Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak


Two tracks from Breakfast in Suburbia:

A Scathing Report

A Scathing Report - The Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak


Telescope - Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak

Two tracks from Songs From a Second Wave


Bohemie - Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak

The Cutting Elm

The Cutting Elm - Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak

A track from The Telepathic Butterflies (self-titled):

A Final Word

A Final Word - Telepathic Butterflies by scruffy the yak

Need more? Listen to a whack of tracks here. Buy the music at any decent store or online retailer (or go here for now), or you can try Rainbow Quartz Records, the online store should be back up soon, I hope.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock Gives You Free Time & Violet Rain

photo by Nathan Gallagher

Ah, it's been raining for days and nights, it feels like someone's idea of England. Which is fitting, because this morn I awoke to find my favourite English guy, Robyn Hitchcock, has chosen to once again give us a couple more free mp3s in his Phantom 45's series, and one of them is entitled Violet Rain. Well, the rain in my part of the world hasn't been violet...yet. Here's to hoping. Anyway, you want the tunes, you must be quick, the songs are only free for one week at The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock.

RH has assembled what he calls a "new psyche 'n' western group" called The Hungry Moment. For him, that means banjo, fiddle, guitar and three voices, mostly voice for these two tunes, all recorded in Nashville (which seems to be the "western part" of the description). Sounds like regular acoustic Hitchcock to me.

photo by Michele Noach

Thank You, Time Girl

photo by Robyn Hitchcock

Violet Rain

Here's a couple of previous Phantom 45s.

Commetoujours by scruffy the yak

Halomary by scruffy the yak

RH has also debuted the first instalment of Tram Watch on his site's video page, which is purported to have new footage up every week and find the man performing in unexpected locations. Such as my back yard, I hope. The first one didn't happen in my neighbourhood, but I have two words for you: musical saw.

There's also some footage I haven't seen anywhere else, such as "Robyn Hitchcock visits Trolleybus 215", with his guitar shimmering brightly. Here's a typical Robyn Hitchcockian video of a track found on his latest album, Propellor Time.

Buy Robyn Hitchcock stuff here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plumtree, Scott Pilgrim & the Halifax Pop Explosion

With all of the hype about Michael Cera's new movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the retired Halifax band Plumtree is getting new attention for the old song Scott Pilgrim. If I have my info right, the graphic novel that the film is based on took its name from the song.

I was never a big Plumtree fan, but I don't know why. The band's simple, infectious pop is enjoyable, and Scott Pilgrim is a joyous little ditty. Maybe, like Jale, I thought I heard echoes of Juliana Hatfield in their music and I already had enough Hatfield. These are all unfair comparisons, now that I hear them back to back, but there you go.

At any rate, Plumtree and Jale were both Halifax bands, and they remind me of the whole Halifax Pop Explosion. Wikipedia calls the original 1993 Halifax Pop Explosion music fest "a platform to celebrate Halifax's new found fame as the "Seattle of the North" and home of Canadian grunge". I don't think you could call any of the bands involved grunge, but that's always been a slippery, greasy term anyhow. But I sure liked a lot of those artists. Everyone knows Sloan, but there were a lot more Halifax-and-surrounding-area artists worth your attention.

Thrush Hermit you've already heard of because of Joel Plaskett's well-deserved success. Thrush Hermit may not have loaded as many singalong songs and hummable melodies into radio-ready tunes as Sloan (especially when the Hermit covered Budgie), but to me they were right up there. Here's an early one:

Hardship Post was originally from Newfoundland but became based in Halifax later. Out of all the dead bands in the world, this is the group I would most like to reform and come play in my basement or living room or anywhere really.

Superfriendz were a supercool Halifax power pop band. I'm pretty bummed that I couldn't find the video for Karate Man on YouTube. It's a bleedin' shame.

Moncton's Eric's Trip were lo-fi before lo-fi was lo-fi. Not that they invented it, but they ran with it way before people used that term up.

The Inbreds were originally from Kingston, but moved to Halifax. Which made sense, 'cuz Halifax seemed like the place to be for clever indie-pop. You can download many free rare Inbreds mp3 from the band's web site. Also, I recommend former Inbred guy Mike O'Neill's solo stuff, which you can sample here. I think the song Alsatian is an underappreciated gem.

Halifax's Bubaiskull I didn't really get into at the time. I never liked the name, so I never went out of my way to check 'em out. All of their stuff is free to download from their website.

I was into music from anywhere on the East coast, I even picked up Hip Club Groove, which was pretty far out of my league. You will recognize at least 2 or 3 people in this 1994 video.

If you're quick, you can listen to the entire Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack at Spinner (featuring Plumtree, Beck in a couple of different guises,Frank Black, Metric, Black Keys, even The Bluetones!) as well as the score.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Robert Palmer in the Early Eighties- Plastic or Perfect?

photo by Blekske/Rudy Denoyette courtesy Creative Commons

I hope people don't just remember Robert Palmer for videos with undulating models pretending to play instruments, or even as a frontman for Power Station. He was a talented guy who for the first half of his career made some great music and curious choices. At least up until the big hits of the MTV age, he refused to keep making the same record again and again (Editor's note - I know, I know, I just did two "Robert" posts in a row. So sue me.).

I recently read a blog post about Palmer that frowned upon one of his attempts to use some different sounds in his music. Writer Matthew Boles was commenting on Palmer's dalliance with Gary Numan and electronic, synth-and-fake-drum music.

Boles says that songs Palmer wrote after meeting Numan were "plastic", as well as suggesting that Palmer's song Looking for Clues was "terrible", although it isn't clear why the writer hates the song. Is it the song itself, or the instrumentation, or the production? I'm guessing mostly the latter two were the problems from the use of the word plastic, because there is a purposefully artificial sound to, for example, the drums. I never would have called the song terrible, and even another Pop Dose writer, Jeff Giles, uses the word brilliant when describing it.

Boles also goes on to cite the video for Looking for Clues as groundbreaking. I don't remember it and couldn't find it anywhere, but I did find the other big video from that era, Johnny and Mary. If Palmer was the first guy to make a video like that one, he's got a lot to answer for in the realm of music video, such as the use of mime/modern dance and literal interpretation of lyrics that add nothing to the song's impact.

At any rate, I couldn't watch the whole video, but I could listen to the song, which I did and have done again and again. I was always fascinated by the mix of songs on Clues, the album from which the aforementioned songs are taken. The "plastic" songs are interspersed with rockin' tunes like Sulky Girl and Not a Second Time; I like that kind of musical schizophrenia, it's like my mix tapes were and cd mixes are. Actually, even Boles feels compelled to remark that Palmer was cool for doing his own thing.

Anyway, here's a few more of those synth and electronic drum tracks. What do you think, are they plastic, fake and soulless, or are they finely-crafted tunes featuring an artist successfully trying out new technology?

This one's from Maybe It's Live, featuring the guitar genius of Adrian Belew.

There's a good concert from this era (1983) available from Wolfgang's Vault.

For your curious side, here's Palmer doing Motorhead's Eat the Rich. I think he liked to keep people guessing, doing a Devo tune here, a Kool and the Gang cover there...I wish he could come back and shake things up again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Rebirth of Robert Plant, Forget Zep Already

Good thing Robert Plant has been vetoing the Zeppelin reunion. Otherwise, he wouldn't be making the fine records that he has lately. Zeppelin would just be a nostalgia trip; the Page and Plant album shows that new writing endeavours would only be passable.

Who would have guessed that Plant would be working with Alison Krauss, T-Bone Burnett, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller? No one. That's why he's still cool. Who would have predicted that his new single would be faithful cover of a Los Lobos tune? Not a soul. I heard this song on my local Three Days Grace/ Nickelback/ Godsmack/ Disturbed sausagefest of a rock station, which made for a sweet change from that growling angst sludgepit. Plant could be making millions playing Stairway to Heaven over and over again, but he's leaving the reputation-tarnishing to the Rolling Stones; I can appreciate that.

Angel Dance

Los Lobos - Angel Dance

My only complaint with the craggy-faced about-to-turn-62-year old fella is that his new album, Band of Joy, has terrible album art. It looks like rejected Marillion cover art.

The album's out September 14th in North America as far as I can tell. You can watch the man talk about it here.

If you didn't pay attention to Plant's collaboration with Aison Krauss, you should have.

If you haven't done so yet, Krauss and Union Station are worth checking out.

You can pre-order Band of Joy now here, the single Angel Dance is available now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guided by Voices and Taming Scruffy's Rock Snobbery

I was unfashionably late to the Guided by Voices camp. I happened to catch the video for My Valuable Hunting Knife on the boob tube one day, and I said to myself, this song is the cat's pyjamas. I bought the album Alien Lanes which ostensibly included the song. It was a slightly different version, but I still loved the song. Still do. It may be my favourite song of all time, and I've given it hundreds of spins.

Over time, I discovered that the band released numerous versions of My Valuable Hunting Knife - I've got four now. I also learned that GBV main man Robert Pollard seemed to be on a mission to release more music than any mortal man. Has he written 1500 songs yet? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised; check out the complete Pollard/GBV song database here (which only gives output up to 2004) or read about his plan to unleash 5 albums in the next year here). Last time I checked, he was listed as writing more than 1300 tunes.

Anyway, by the time I got into Guided By Voices and Robert Pollard, there was already a lot to catch up on, and new solo releases, side projects and mammoth box sets made being a completeist a near-impossible task (at least for me). I did my best, but I still loved Alien Lanes the most - many good memories attached. But after Alien Lanes, things changed. The band signed to a major label, lost the lo-fi vibe, and put out a well-produced, Ric Ocasek knob-twirled record, Do the Collapse, which included the big rock/new wave single Teenage FBI. I liked it and didn't join in on the inevitable cries of "Sellout!" from fans disheartened by the major sound change.

Anyhow, I was at a show one night and an amazingly-inebriated acquaintance stumbled into my buddy and started talking about GBV. My friend mentioned that I was a fan. Drunk Guy wavered and tried to fix me with a piercing stare, but his focus was off, so it looked like he was trying to shoot lasers out of his eyes through my ear or shoulder.

"What's your favourite album?" He glared at me, ready to pounce.

"Alien Lanes," I replied.

"YOU'RE what's wrong with new Guided by Voices people!" He spluttered, jabbing a pointed finger at me. Then he REALLY vented his spleen, letting me know in no uncertain terms that only the earlier tunes were essential. It cracked me up, because Drunk Guy was not just putting down the shiny Ocasek record or well-produced follow-up Isolation Drills, he had drawn an even smaller circle in the sand - only real GBV fans can come in here, we only like the first records, pledge allegiance to Bee Thousand or you will be doomed for eternity to miss the brilliant bits, you can't nod thoughtfully while listening to twisted genius as evidenced by what sounds like bedroom, basement, and kitchen recordings, you are spreading the wrong message and creating new ear-borne diseases, and so on and so forth.

Well, it was kind of humbling, and since then I've tried to restrain my own rock music snobbery. At least as much as I can.

At any rate, Guided By Voices broke up in 2004, and sadly I never got to see the band live. From what I've heard and seen, the shows could be joyous, ramshackle, marathon-like, surprising, chaotic, beer-soaked, or beautiful, maybe akin to a Replacements show. But hey! A reunion of the Guided by Voices "Classic Line-up" was recently announced. If you get to see them, send me a badge or button. If only the guys would come a little closer to my sleepy little burg...

Auditorium/Motor Away

My Kind of Soldier

Glad Girls

The Official Ironmen Rally Song

Here's two tunes that supremely pissed off Guided By Voices Fans. A pretty straightforward rock ballad and the Ocasek-produced, new wavey, radio-friendly Teenage FBI.

Hold On Hope

Teenage FBI

Teenage FBI - Guided By Voices by scruffy the yak

You can download dozens of free, legal mp3s, (including rare tracks and live tunes) straight from the the Guided By Voices website and buy the music and other merch here. Same for Robert Pollard, download his songs here and buy his music here.

You can also download live or rare GVB in many other places, like Web in Front, or captains dead, where there are many GBV mp3s (use the search).

The Hallway Of Shatter-Proof Glass Tour

all on sale times are local

9/29 - TX Palladium Showroom Dallas TX
On Sale 7/26 at 10am
with Times New Viking

9/30 - East Side Drive, Austin, TX
On Sale 7/16 at 12pm
with Times New Viking

10/3 - Pearl Theatre @ Palms Hotel, Las Vegas NV
Matador at Twenty-One Las Vegas

10/4 - Wiltern, Los Angeles CA
On Sale 07/24 at 10am
with Times New Viking

10/5 - Warfield, San Francisco CA

Regular On Sale SAT 7/25 at 10am
with Times New Viking

10/7 - Crystal Ballroom, Portland OR
On Sale 7/20 at 10am
with Times New Viking

10/9 - Showbox So Do, Seattle WA
On Sale 7/26 at 10am
with Times New Viking

10/12 - First Avenue, Minneapolis MN
On Sale 7/16 at 12pm
with Times New Viking

10/13 - The Riviera, Chicago IL
Additional tickets on sale 7/31 at 10am
with Times New Viking

10/15 - Southgate House, Newport KY (Cincinnati)
with Nick Mitchell

10/16 - Outland Live, Columbus OH
with Nick Mitchell

10/21 - 9:30 Club, Washington D.C.
200 remaining tickets will be sold Thursday 9/9 at 10 AM
with Sweet Apple

10/22 - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC
with Sweet Apple

10/23 - Buckhead Theater, Atlanta GA
On Sale 7/24 at 10am
with Sweet Apple

11/4 - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
On NBC at 12:35/11:45C

11/5 - Paradise, Boston MA
with Blitzen Trapper

11/6 - Trocadero, Philadelphia PA
with Blitzen Trapper

11/7 - Terminal 5, NYC
with Blitzen Trapper