Archive for June, 2010

24
Jun
10

Frank Zappa Radio – Better than a Telefunken U47!

For the Zappa fan you most likely already know that this free radio station exists on the Frank Zappa website, however, for many months (if not years) it has not been working.

The other day I decided to check out Zappa’s website and BEHOLD! Zappa radio is alive and well and full of great streaming audio.

Please take the time to check Zappa Radio out, it’s a must for the Zappa fan and since it strictly monitored and managed by the Zappa Family Trust, I’m sure there will be some rareties and special gems in the mix.  It is a great source of Zappa whilst you waste away 8 hours of your life at your mundane job and in your cubicle…er..”personal workspace”.  Grab a pair of heavy duty Zircron encrusted tweezers,  tune in to Zappa Radio, get “the Hrz on your nose”,  and rejoice!

To listen to the genius of The Central Scrutinizer click here and enjoy!

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23
Jun
10

Print Mafia – Ltd. Edition KISS Prints

Back in April I posted an article entitled The Art of The Music Business that looked at the cool side of underground and mainstream artists who create limited edition art for the music industry.

Print Mafia is made up of two artists out of Bowling Green, Kentucky who have been creating some very cool and affordable prints since 1997.  Obsessed with vintage images and retro Americana, Print Mafia often comes up with some very cool designs that appeal to broad spectrum of collectors.  Whether its vintage robots, Evel Knievel, KISS, Johnny Cash, Burt Reynolds, even KFC’s Colonel Sanders, they are incorporate the genre into their art prints. Their designs are nothing short of clever and creative. They normally produce limited runs of their prints (usually under 100) and offer them in a price range that is incredibly affordable, thus enabling a newbie or seasoned collector to obtain great art.

Print Mafia just released prints of all four members of the legendary music group KISS and they are very cool.  This run is limited to only 60 prints and right now they are offering all four prints (I would assume with matching numbers) at $90, a steal!  These are silkscreen prints(serigraphs) and are of very good quality, not cheezy flimsy poster prints.

With the newly announced KISS tour for the summer it is the perfect time for the KISS collector or KISS fan to grab some very cool wall art.

If you would like to learn more about the prints that Print Mafia offers, click here.

22
Jun
10

The SPAC-tacular Phish

Fresh off their triumphant reunion tour in 2009, Phish is keeping things rolling with a summer tour covering much of the east coast, southeast and Midwest areas of the country, plus a stop in Colorado and Berkeley, CA.  This past weekend, the jam band kings played two shows at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), a long-time favorite venue for the band.  Rather than doing a full song-by-song review like I did for their Albany shows last fall, I thought I’d just talk about some of the highlights and things that made these shows unique (every Phish show is unique, but some things are more unique than others, if that makes any sense). 

Phish has a song called “Tweezer,” a long, jammed-out tune with minimal lyrics.  They also have a song called “Tweezer Reprise,” which uses the same chords as “Tweezer” but has a much faster, hard rock tempo, and is a short song as well.  Phish tradition has been that when they play “Tweezer” at a show, they will at some point play “Tweezer Reprise.”  Sometimes it’s at the same show, sometimes they will wait and play it at a later show.  On June 15th they played “Tweezer” but did not play the “Reprise.”  In fact, it was two shows later that they played another “Tweezer,” so in the Phish process of things, they now had to play two “Reprises,” which they did on June 18th back-to-back, a Phish first.  I say all this because in an unprecedented Phish occurrence, they opened the show at SPAC on Saturday with “Tweezer Reprise,” making it the third time in a row, much to the amusement of the fans.  The rest of the set was incredibly solid with some great highlights like “Fluffhead,” the Mustangs’ “Ya Mar,” and the high-energy “Suzy Greenberg” which was punctuated by a spectacular glowstick display from the crowd on the SPAC lawn.

The second set featured some extended improvisational jamming after the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll,” and we were introduced to a new song called “Halfway to the Moon.”  This was a great new tune – dark and textured, with some good jamming potential.  It’s a perfect example of why people follow Phish from show to show – you never know what songs you’ll hear, especially when it comes to new material.  They closed the set with another new song, “Show of Life.”  This is a historic moment for die-hard Phish fans, because “Show of Life” is the first song in over 15 years played by Phish and written by Steve Pollak, better known in Phish lore as the Dude of Life.  Pollak and the band go way back together – he wrote the lyrics for a few Phish classics and has released a couple of albums.  “Show of Life” has a grandiose quality to it without being pretentious – it’s a good tune.  The encore for this show was pretty standard until Phish decided to play “Tweezer Reprise” one last time, making it four times in two shows.  Phish is anything but dull.

While Saturday’s show was good with some great moments, Sunday’s show will go down as one of the greats in recent Phish history.  Things got off to a great start with “Brother,” the lyrics of which are merely “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Someone’s definitely jumping in the tub with your brother!”  It’s set to a funky beat, and with Sunday being Father’s Day, Phish did what they did last year on the same day when they played “Brother” – a giant ovular tub was brought on stage and gradually a bunch of kids came out and squashed themselves into the tub as the band played on.  When the song ended, guitarist Trey Anastasio introduced the kids – they are all the band member’s kids – and shouted “Happy Father’s Day!”  It was a very cute moment – the littlest kids had giant headphones to protect their ears.  From there things just kept getting better – Phish sounded tight and precise.  For “Gotta Jibboo” they brought Tony Markellis on stage to play bass guitar.  Tony plays bass for Trey’s solo band and co-wrote the song for Phish 10 years ago.  Mike Gordon, Phish’s usual bass player, switched to guitar for the song, but the two-guitar sound didn’t really add much to the song.  The end of the set featured keyboardist Page McConnell stepping out to center stage for the lounge tune “Lawn Boy,” and then they closed with a scorching “Run Like an Antelope,” with Trey’s fingers flying so fast I thought they’d fall off.

The second set was full of fantastic jamming and high-energy tunes, highlighted by the Who’s “Drowned,” which featured some great exploratory jamming.  The songs flowed seamlessly into one another, with little “down time.”  The set ended with the ultra-funky “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (the theme from the movie 2001) and the classic “You Enjoy Myself,” which featured a fantastic vocals-only jam at the end.  The encore was the Edgar Winter Group’s instrumental classic “Frankenstein,” which featured McConnell playing a “keytar” at center stage.

All told, they sounded terrific.  While their penchant for taking risks with songs and doing a lot of extended jamming has waned in recent years, their shows are still full of magic and musical moments that make your jaw drop and silently thank the music gods that Phish is still touring.  They will wrap up the tour in mid-August – we have yet to know if there will be a Halloween festival this year, or even a fall tour at all, but whatever the band decides to do, the faithful will follow.  And with good reason.

These two Phish shows get 4.5 out of 5 stars!

22
Jun
10

Jack Johnson – New song “Spring Wind”

If you enjoy the mellow lullaby’s of Jack Johnson you might be interested to hear a track he created for the soon to be released movie 180 Degrees South: Conquerers of the Useless; a movie about a couple of guys who took a road trip from Ventura, California to hike Mt. Fitzroy in Argentina in the 1960’s.  This movie takes them there again as they reattempt the  hike and recollecting the initial 60’s roadtrip through the wild and rugged roads of Central and South America.  The movie compares trips past and present.

Johnson contributed  his version of underground folk singer-songwriter Greg Brown’s Spring Wind as part of the soundtrack.  Spring Wind is appearently a song that Johnson has played off and on his live shows and decided to officially record in the studio.  The song is good, nothing particularly mind blowing, but keeps constant with Johnson’s normal sound and style.

To hear Johnson’s rendition of Spring Wind click here; sadly you cannot download it but listen to it streaming, it’s worth a listen if you are a Jack Johnson fan. 

If you are interested to learn more about the movie, click here.

18
Jun
10

The Mother Truckers (Austin, TX)

I stumbled upon this band by pure accident one night while recollecting my college days  and the bands that I loved at the time.  I remembered a band named Protein out of Austin, Texas.  They were a interesting band that sang catchy hard songs about “Lemonade” and “Sitting on the Roof of a Mexican Restaurant”, and other random things.  Of their two albums released, 1997’s Ever Since I Was A Kid and 1999’s Songs About Cowgirls, Cowgirls remains to be one of my all time favorites. Sadly, Protein was a band who’s members (although very  talented) and contribution were simply overlooked; their demise (in my opinion) was simply being among too many bands being released at one time.  Although they had a very short life in band years, they did produce some quality music that you should take the time to discover. 

Of the members of the band, the highlight would be the main vocalist and lead guitar player Josh Zee.  Zee’s talent is reflected in those two albums and really created a unique, fresh, and fun sound of for the band.  Protein was a bit of alternative, a bit of jazz, and Texas blues/rock all rolled up into one.  To my surprise and delight, Zee has started another venture called The Mother Truckers based out of Austin, TX.  Although I have not had a chance to listen to any of their albums, I do like what  I hae heard through their website (www.themothertruckers.com); the songs from their most recent release Van Tour (2010), specifically Break-Up Sex and  Alien Girl are fun, energetic, and really show how much fun Zee’s newest project probably is live.

The Mother Truckers clearly are a culmination of modern country, Texas roadhouse rock, and something all their own.  Clearly there is a lot of passion, energy, and forethought put into the arrangements of their songs.  The band appears to have kicked off a tour this summer and it looksl like most is focused on Texas and California cities.  I do hope that the band swings by the East Coast and performs a date in HiFi’s city of Albany, NY. 

Here are the dates reflected on their website as of 6/17/2010:

Jun 26, 2010 9:00 PM Antone’s Night Club Austin, TX
 i 
OFFICIAL CD RELEASE PARTY!!
Jul 15, 2010 10:00 PM The Continental Club Houston Houston, TX  
Jul 16, 2010 9:00 PM The Aardvark Fort Worth, TX  
Jul 17, 2010 11:00 PM The Boiler Room Denton, TX  
Jul 18, 2010 9:00 PM Scout Bar San Antonio, TX  
Jul 30, 2010 9:00 PM Threadgill’s World Headquarters Austin, TX  
Aug 5, 2010 TBA Rhythm Room Phoenix, AZ  
Aug 11, 2010 TB Harlow’s Sacramento, CA  
Aug 12, 2010 TBA Moe’s Alley Santa Cruz, CA  
Aug 13, 2010 TBA 19 Broadway Fairfax, CA  
Aug 14, 2010 9:00 PM Slims San Francisco, CA  
Aug 15, 2010 9:00 PM McNear’s Mystic Theatre Petaluma, CA  
Aug 18, 2010 TBA Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, CA  
Aug 28, 2010 11:30 PM The Continental Club Austin Austin, TX  
Sep 13, 2010 TBA AMAGER BIO    
Sep 14, 2010 TBA Fermaten    
Sep 15, 2010 TBA POSTEN    
Sep 16, 2010 TBA Tobakken    
Sep 17, 2010 TBA Kulturhuset Pavillonen
15
Jun
10

KISS – Summer Tour 2010

Very cool news just released yesterday that the legendary rock group KISS will be playing in HiFi’s backyard at The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on Tuesday, August 17th.

Although a Tuesday night for a rock concert sucks, we here at HiFi prefer Friday’s or Saturday’s for hard rockin’; we will simply have to deal I guess.  I find it funny though that KISS is touring again, I think the last time I saw them at SPAC was for their bogus 2000 “Farewell Tour”; what a crock and I bought in to it too!  Classic Gene Simmon’s working the angle to milking the KISS fans as usual.

I’m sure that this show will be a fun family experience (my past experience at KISS shows rarely was a dissapointment); if you have not had the pleasure of seeing KISS live, do it, it’s a quality show.  The only remaining original members are Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley; I believe that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are no longer interested in continuing the KISS legacy.  Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thayer (guitar) are their replacements since around 2002 and 2004; regardless they do a good job at replacing the original members.

This tour is labeled “The Hottest Show on Earth Tour”; I’m sure they will bring the heat on this tour to a many cities.

I find it humorous that the same night there is The Saratoga Chamber Music Festival taking place around the same time at the little theater on the property…talk about a clash of cultures, yikes!  I hope the classical crowd doesn’t mind hearing “Calling Doctor Love”  or “You Were Made for Lovin’ Me” in the background to their Mozart, Bartok, and Beethoven.

11
Jun
10

DEVO Tour 2010 – Northern Lights 7/31

Yes, brace yourselves…the rockclub Northern Lights (Clifton Park, NY ) will have their venue honored with the presence of the legendary group DEVO on July 31, 2010.  I’m sure this show will be sold out in no time and promises to be a fun time listening to DEVO music past and present.

DEVO is touring in support of their new album Something For Everyone which is their first album in 20 years.  Although here at HiFi Central we have not had the pleasure to listen to it yet, there is an good blog review of the album at this link, so check it out if you are interested.

In 2009, prior to the Something For Everyone release, the band was doing 2-night shows where they played Are We Not Men? (night 1) and Freedom Of Choice (night 2) in their entirety; I’m curious what they will do with this tour, I’m sure it will be a culmination of all three albums so clearly there will be a little bit of everything for everyone at this show.  I’ve read past reviews of their shows and nearly everyone was happy with the performance and selection of songs they choose to play, oddly one reviewer was shocked that they never played their identifiable hit Whip It, is this possible?  I can’t imagine a DEVO show without this classic, can you?

I’m not sure how much tickets are, but from past experience they usually run around $45, which is a bit steep for DEVO.  Get your tickets as soon as they go on sale, I’m sure they will sell out quickly!