Thanks to all of you for taking time away from the silly Anna Nicole Smith news and Arena Football League season to read my column. It is much appreciated.
The Grammys were mighty boring. I don't really care two cents about them. They are decided on by people whose musical tastes have no bearing on mine whatsoever. Plus any excuse to not see Don Henley is fine by me. I don't really care about The Dixie Chicks but I don't think they deserved to win every single award, especially when Gnarls Barkley clearly had the Single of the Year.
The Single of the Year should go to the song that crosses over and impacts the most people that year. "Crazy" clearly did this. It was on rock, urban and contemporary hit radio stations. It was played in The Gap, hotel lobbies, sports highlight clips, Starbucks and every car driving down the street. During the spring and summer months you could not escape it. Magically, despite the overkill, "Crazy" never wore out its welcome. It never made you throw your hands up in exasperation and scream "Enough already!" This is the trademark of a great pop single and Gnarls Barkley clearly deserved to win this.
The View, a great new band has been forced to cancel their pending US tour because of visa problems stemming from singer Kyle Falconer's alleged cocaine possession charges. Falconer is contesting the charges. Their newie, Hats off to the Buskers, is terrific. "Wasted Little DJs" is the first great new single of the year.
To the ancient Greeks klaxons were loud shreikers who wailed and caused trouble. Today's Klaxons are a band of brash young British hipsters who are inventing innovative music that has been called everything from dance-punk to "new rave." The shrill from across the pond will only get louder this month as Klaxons, (who recently signed to DGC Records) release their uberhyped debut Myths of the Nears Future. The band has cleverly manipulated their image and their hype, even going so far as to employ standard issue rave gear like whistles and glow sticks into their live shows. They have taken the organic togetherness and electronic clatter of the rave era and meshed it with the searing spirit of indie rock. How could they not be the darling of the UK press right now? If you are looking for an introduction to their sound check out, "Two Receivers," the opening track on their record. There is nothing that sounds like that right now. If you need further convincing delve deeper into "Magick" and "It's Not Over Yet." Even if Klaxons turn out to not be your cup of tea, at least check them out to hear what the future is going to sound like from the UK for next year or so... they will be massive.
Morrissey recently announced that he will hit the road for a forty city tour of North America.
Someone do something about Robin Thicke. He is annoying the hell out of me.
Crowded House has reformed.
In case you missed them at The Grammys, The Police have reformed and will tour to commemorate their 30th anniversary. It should be interesting because they truly do hate each other. I saw them once in the late 80s and was bored to tears. So beware.
The Beautiful South has split up.
Pretty Girls Make Graves has split up.
The Distillers have called it a day. Singer Brady Dalle has already formed a new band called Spinnerette.
Pop music aficionados will embrace Stars on the Wall by The Go Find. The songs here are stripped of the electronic underpinnings found on their debut CD in favor of nicer, warmer more distinguishly elegant collection songs.
Finland's Husky Rescue is back with a superb new album, Ghost Is Not Real, a record of very cool songs loaded with hooks and jangles.
Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals has released a new solo album, Candylion.
Radical Face (aka Jacksonville native Ben Cooper) is back with Ghost, a new collection of songs that bypass the sound of his previous project, Electric President, in favor of a more sedate album of chamber textured orchestral singer/songwriter fare. The "songs" here are vignettes that compose a concept album of sorts based on the premise that every house absorbs the memories and events of its occupants. As a result, Cooper is free to write about these experiences from an endless point of view.
Keigo Oyamada (better known by the moniker of Cornelius) is an artist of amazing diversity. He has worked in the visual arts, been featured in museum exhibitions and remixed a bevy of artists including Beck. Now, after a half decade, he has emerged from his studio with a wonderful new album, Sensuous that brings sexy back with his unique brand of minimalist electronic music back into the living world.
They aren't what they used to be, but Fishbone are back with Still Stuck in Your Throat, a surprisingly lethargic new album. I was totally bummed because back in they day they were a really great live band that made interesting records.
Absolutely dreadful is the only way to describe No Hats Beyond This Point, the 2003 record from Men Without Hats. Yes they are still around, although I didn't know that until somebody sent me this record out of the blue. Of course this is final proof that any band from the 80s that got marginal success will do anything to reform and rob you of your money. Don't be conned!
A great band from bygone days, The Sonics, are back thanks to two reissued records from their catalog, Here Are the Sonics from 1965 and Boom from 1966. The Sonics made garage music happen and had a huge influence on everyone from Sonic Youth to Nirvana to My Bloody Valentine.
As if being in Blur, Gorillaz, Mali Music and The Good, the Bad & the Queen were not enough, Damon Albarn will appear on yet another project, the new record by Massive Attack. He is joined by Hope Sandoval and Liz Fraser on the album which is yet to be titled.
Ian Astbury has left The Doors. Why is their still a band called The Doors? Don't they have a room somewhere where they can live in peace and count their money?
There are a lot of records being released this May. Here are a few of them!
Chris Cornell has left Audioslave and will release his second solo album, Carry On in early May. Cornell recently recorded solo music for Casino Royale.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will release Baby 81, their fourth studio album, on May 1st.
That is also the release date for American Doll Posse, the new record from Tori Amos.
Erasure is back in May with a new record, Light At the End of the World. The album, which was recorded in Maine and produced by Gareth Jones, will be followed by a summer tour.
Brian Eno is producing the fourth studio album from Coldplay. Expect the band to release a singles compilation later this year.
His ex-partner Bryan Ferry is releasing an album of Bob Dylan covers.
Also in the studio are The New Pornographers who are readying new music for the fall.
The Flaming Lips will spend April in the Southern US with a short tour.
Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckley have reformed The Jam, without singer Paul Weller. They plan to tour and release a new album this year.
The Howling Bells are set to release their fourth single from their self titled debut LP. The new single, "Low Happening," will be released as a single with remix help from The Presets and Forward Russia!
Carlos Santana announced recently that he is going to open his own national franchise chain of Mexican restaurants.
The Kooks will tour North America in April and May. Meanwhile the band has begun work on their next album.
Also touring stateside in May is Art Brut who are readying their sophomore record.
The Prodigy has signed to Cooking Vinyl.
As further proof that Hollywood is clueless, Universal has green lighted a biopic film on the "career" rise and fall of Milli Vanilli. I guess they ran out of bad comic book film ideas and now have to mine the bottom of the music industry.
A biopic about Miles Davis is also in development starring Don Cheadle.
Dr. Dre has worked out a deal with New Line Cinema to develop and eventually direct feature films. In the meantime look for Dre to drop Detox, his third solo album, sometime this year.
Tim Robbins is producing a film on the life of Joe Strummer of The Clash. No casting information has been made available at this time.
A venue made famous by The Clash, The Hammersmith Palais, is closing. This is sad. It is to London what CBGBs was to New York. Almost every great band of the last three decades played there and it was a London musical institution. Once again condos and development are the death of us all!
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are set to record their next record in July. His new band, Grinderman, has a new album out in the UK. By the way, Cave made a great movie last year called The Proposition that brought back the Western genre with grit and raw emotion.
!!! (make three sounds of your choice here in repetition to get the name right) has released Myth Takes, their debut record for Warp Records. !!! has augmented their housy blues experimental funk pop electronic throwdown with clever lyrics, disco maturation and thunderously groovy beats that illustrate that they are a force to be reckoned with. The album demonstrates that !!! is a smart and confident band basking in their success without damaging their musical expansion.
Camera Obscura has released a new single, "If Looks Could Kill" supported by two new b-sides.
?uestlove of The Roots will produce the new record from soul great Al Green.
David Byrne recently completed a series of sold out performance piece shows at Carnegie Hall.
When actresses and actors start to sing things get wonky. Case in point: Jena Malone, the actress from Saved! and Donnie Darko. Her band, Jena Malone & Her Bloodstains, is playing a series of dates on each coast this month. She has no record deal as yet but she has recorded some demos and a 7" single. She joins a rather un-illustrious group of actresses including Juliette Lewis and Brittany Murphy who have all recorded albums recently with little big time success.
American Idol is the end of decent American television as we know it. It is killing the serial as a TV medium and it also is keeping people form reading, thinking or using any sense of imagination. TV is wretched to begin with but any great strides that dramas like House, Heroes or Lost make are completed detracted by the moribund shallowness of crap like this!
Bjork will be back again in full force this year with live dates at Coachella and Glastonbury. She also is readying a spring album with production help from Timbaland and vocal help on two tracks from Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons. It's nice to see that she has (for now) set aside making wacky films about petroleum jelly and gotten back to recording music.
Virgin Records has re-released the four Monty Python records in its vaults. The Meaning of Life, Previous Record, Another Record and The Life of Brian have been remastered with extra tracks. It's not surprising that these records remain so timeless today. After all, a lot of people first got turned onto Monty Python on record in the States well before their episodes made it to PBS in 1974.
The Smithereens has released Meet the Smithereens, an album featuring the band in full stride covering Meet the Beatles in its entirety.
"Beautiful" by James Blunt is the end of civilization as we know it.
Get ready for the onslaught. Arcade Fire is going to blow up and be massive!
Horror flick fans should look forward to seeing a terrific South Korean film called The Host at their local art house. The Bong Joon Ho film is just plain fun and loaded with enough gore and scariness to make the faintest of heart flee after only a few minutes.
See Pan's Labyrinth.
See Hot Fuzz!
STUFF I AM READING:
M Is For Magic by Neil Gaiman. This is Neil's forthcoming collection of twelve short stories aimed for kids. It is pretty intense and great. Neil's short work is often overlooked when held up to his novels, but this is a terrific collection.
Love Is A Mixtape by Rob Sheffield. This is a very quick and powerful read. It's a story of love, loss, sadness. Regret and musical fervor told via a series of mixtapes made by Rolling Stone scribe Sheffield to his girlfriend then wife Rene. Sheffield's personal accounts of each tape's creation are moving stories of the power of music and how it shapes our memories, personal identity, relationships and sense of belonging.
Starter for 10 by David Nicholls. Nicholls' novel about Brian, a man at University in 1985 who sheds his reservations and embraces his desire to appear on University Challenge. This funny and emotionally rich story has been made into a big fancy picture with James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall. The book is better. Very witty and fun.
Margrave of the Marshes by John Peel. John Peel's unfinished autobiography is a great read full of humor, observation and loads of nostalgic banter about music!
Watch out for Brighton! The UK city is about to become the next big "it" place. Brighton bands Fujita & Miyagi, The Pipettes, Electrelane and Brakes are all poised for acclaim in the States throughout the next year. More on this next month!