Archive for the 'Punk' Category


Pearl Jam: 20 Years Old!

Cameron Crowe has a new documentary film coming out very soon entitled “Pearl Jam Twenty.” So not a lot of creativity went into the title, but who cares? Pearl Jam has an amazing story to tell, and I think it’s great that Crowe is the one telling it, along with the band members and many other musicians like Chris Cornell, Neil Young, and archival footage from Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley. Pearl Jam is one of those bands that maintained their enormous success while staying true to themselves. They made the decision to not make music videos after “Jeremy,” they took Ticketmaster to court for ripping off the public, and they have been involved with numerous charities and benefits. While their records may not sell nearly as well as they did in the 90’s, their fan base has not declined; Pearl Jam still sells out just about every concert they have. They are an amazing band to see on stage – their passion, energy, and talent is as strong as it ever was. Congrats to a great band on 20 great years! I think this song below illustrates everything awesome about Pearl Jam. Enjoy.


Henry Rollins Print Release Today!

As you may well know from past posts, here at HiFi Central our walls are covered with many limited edition prints from artists we have featured in the past.  Today there is a release of the iconic punk frontman from the band Black Flag, the one and only Henry Rollins.

Artist Shepard Fairey will be releasing a print honoring Rollin’s 50th birthday this afternoon.  Fairey’s release times are always at a random time of his choosing, so you need to check back to the website every hour on the hour.  Historically his prints sell out in a matter of minutes, so if you want one you need to be pretty diligent at hitting the refresh button every 5 seconds.

The print is in an edition of 700 and is signed and numbered by Fairey.  The cost is a mere $45, so it’s a bargain for sure.  Good luck and let us know if you get one!

You can learn more about Shepard Fairey and also information about hopefully getting one of these prints by clicking here.

As of 2 / 7 / 2011 print is officially SOLD OUT! 


Joe Strummer Print Release today!

If you read my  April 2010 post  entitled “The Art of The Music Business” you will appreciate today’s release of a print by artist Shepard Fairey (of Obey fame).  The print will be released at a random time (my experience has been between exactly 2:00 and 4:00 EST), so get on early and keep hitting the refresh button on your browser.

UPDATE!!!  It went up for sale at 1:00 EST so get it if you can!

Often his prints sell out in minutes so you have a good chance of NOT getting one, it is a very frustrating process, however to Fairey’s credit he does make his prints available at very cheap prices, the Strummer print is $70 and is in an edition size of 450 (signed and numbered by Fairey).

As with most of Shepard Fairey’s prints they skyrocket in value nearly the next day so they are a worthwhile investment and if you really appreciate art, not bad to hang on your walls if you get them professionally framed.  Joe Strummer was the cornerstone the British band The  Clash and this print does a nice job of paying homage to the rock icon.  Hat’s off to you Shepard, nice one!

If you are interested in seeing this print and more of Shepard Fairey’s art, click here and good luck on getting one!


Watcher of the TV: 2010 rock & roll Hall of Fame

Normally I eschew award ceremonies (other than the Oscars), but last night I found myself intrigued by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction proceedings, which aired on the Fuse Network (whatever the heck that is).  Being inducted were Genesis, the Stooges, the Hollies, Jimmy Cliff and ABBA, along with some songwriters and music mogul David Geffen.  My initial interest stemmed from one of my favorite bands, Phish, inducting Genesis, another of my all-time favorites (at least during the Peter Gabriel years and early post-Peter years).  The show opened with Phish playing the Genesis classic “Watcher of the Skies,” and it was flawless:

Genesis has had a unique career – with Gabriel, they were a theatrical progressive rock band, known as much for their long, complex compositions as they were for Gabriel’s on-stage costumes and performance art-like expressions.  Following his departure, the band found enormous commercial success with mainstream pop hits year after year, with drummer Phil Collins now captaining the ship.  Phish recognized that era of the band as well, playing “No Reply at All” after singer Trey Anastasio officially inducted the band and Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett gave short speeches.  I had heard that Gabriel would not be attending – the official excuse was that he is planning a European tour…but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never see a complete Genesis reunion show, something that is on my musical “bucket list” (if there is such a thing).

The Stooges had a very profound influence on the punk movement – and they still have that punk attitude and raw power in their music.  Iggy Pop gyrated around the stage, shirtless, in his rubber-limbed style.  And then, quite poignantly, he headed into the crowd during “I Wanna Be Your Dog” – it was a very punk image, seeing Iggy bop around in front of older, stuffy tuxedoed folks who seemed a little uncomfortable but tried to keep smiling.

But the most amazing part of the show revolved around Jimmy Cliff, the Jamaican reggae star.  I was not familiar with much of his music, but I knew he was almost as important as Bob Marley in terms of his bringing reggae music and Jamaican culture to the rest of the world.  As they showed clips of his performances during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I began to realize that his brand of reggae was fairly unique – there was a lot more soul and R&B infused into his music, almost like a cross between Motown and reggae.  Cliff’s stage presence was also very entertaining – part James Brown, part Elvis.  I was captivated.  After Wyclef Jean inducted him and Cliff gave a very humble, slow-paced speech, he took the stage…and blew me away.  The first song was “You Can Get it if You Really Want it,” a somewhat straight-forward, high-energy reggae song, but Cliff’s voice was great as he danced around the stage.  He followed that with a slower tune called “Many Rivers to Cross.”  His voice was so amazing, so soulful and passionate – he made Marvin Gaye sound like Tiny Tim. By the end, I’m not ashamed to admit, I was nearly moved to tears.  It really was that good.  Wyclef then joined him on stage for “The Harder They Come,” a fantastic upbeat number.  The crowd gave Cliff a huge ovation, deservedly so.  I immediately purchased “Jimmy Cliff: In Concert” online, and it’s terrific.  I’ve never been a big fan of reggae, but I’m now a huge Jimmy Cliff fan.

Finally, I’m pretty apathetic when it comes to ABBA, so I barely paid attention during their segment on the show (only two of the members attended).  But then keyboardist Benny Anderson went to the piano and Faith Hill sang “The Winner Takes it All”:

It was a fantastic performance – best ABBA ever, for me anyway.
And that’s what I thought of last night’s festivities.  Happy listening.


Nixon’s Spirit – 3/4/10 @ Valentine’s (Albany, NY)

Well, I’m not one to normally review local gigs but I felt that tonight a band was worthy of one; or at least to a degree. Rarely do I venture out on a week night these days to head to a local dive to watch local talent, often the local talent is well, untalented to be quite honest. However, having played in a band for several years while living in Boston I do appreciate the dreamers on stage putting forth as much effort as they can to possibly be “the next big thing” ; and most will eventually realize that it’s near impossible.

Sadly, in Albany the capital city of New York State, there is only one remaining real place for indie bands and the occasional punk band to play and that would be Valentine’s. Valentine’s has been around since I was in high school in the 80’s; interestingly enough they have remained while others have come and gone. It’s a cozy dive, with very little room to have a real show (perhaps 60 patrons max if they are lucky) and the sound quality is so-so; basically if you don’t have ear plugs you are asking for ringing ears for hours afterwards. The door guy was friendly and the bar maid nice enough, although she seemed far more entranced to finishing her copy of “Twilight” rather than actually smoozing with those of us at the bar.

The band that I went to see is named Nixon’s Spirit, a self proclaimed punk rock band that was offering new music that night for us to hear. Upon entering the bar it was your typical Thursday night gig in the winter, dreadfully empty.  Man did it bring back painful memories of when I use to gig out in Boston and my band would get a third spot in the line up on a tuesday night during a snowstorm.  The result was often a painful turnout and a bar owner (TT The Bears Place specifically) giving me the evil eye and asking the question, “I thought you guys said you could draw people?”; ugh!  To add insult to injury we would never get paid and often find a $50 parking ticket on the U-Haul van we rented that night.

Suprisingly the clubs in Albany are far more understanding and polite; Nixon’s Spirit was supposed to go on at 9:00 but I was informed that the singer would not arrive until 9:30. I was in amazement that the bar was cool about it. In Boston if you are expected to go on at 9:00 it mean’s 9:00 and you have exactly a 45 minute set, no flexibility whatsoever.  So, if you’re singer doesn’t show up…tough shit, play since the clocks ticking! I was shocked that everyone was so layed back about this gig starting later. Granted, you have to keep in mind that at the time there were literally only 5 people in the bar at the time; clearly  noone was getting rowdy for the headliner to go on any time soon.

Nixon’s Spirit did eventually go on and the first few songs were mediocre at best; the singer seemed off and the band still in the mode of warming up. The band became much tighter by the third song (but I could not tell you what the name of the first three were)  yet the lead singer was far more focused on drinking his beer than interacting with those of us in attendance. This was a facet I found odd, for much of the time the singer seemed to want to have his back to the audience and sing his song’s to his band; much of the first part of the gig seemed like we were mererly spectators at a rehearsal space.  Perhaps that’s being punk rock, right?

It was my understanding after talking to the bass player (Chris Cappadozy) that this gig was merely a last minute thing that they were using simply to test new material and see what worked and what did not. I have to admit that as the evening wore on the band got tighter and the song’s became more appealing to listen to; especially songs like 58,000 and 8 and X-Rated Man.  These songs had a very catchy punk rock rhythm and clearly the crowd dug what they were hearing.  The band ended the night with a song called Substance Abuse and it was ok, but not great. 

Nixon’s Spirit has potential, I really do think that if the refined their sound and picked particular songs from their catalog to play at live shows they would gain fans rather quickly.  If you are in the Albany area and have a chance to catch these guys playing, take a chance and check them out.

You can learn more about Nixon’s Spirit by clicking here


GWAR’s Brutal Truth

I am going to write this review of Friday’s GWAR show at Northern Lights in Clifton Park, NY with the assumption that many people reading this have never heard of the band, and/or have never seen them in concert.  To state it as simply as possible, GWAR is a heavy metal band that has now been around for 25 years.  There is an entire mythology as to their alien origins and their path of metal music and destruction here on Earth.  It’s an amusing tale that you can read about on their website, if you’re so inclined.

From a strictly musical standpoint, GWAR is a decent metal band – they throw in elements of thrash, speed metal, and even a little punk for good measure, but mainly they’re pretty straightforward heavy metal.  Their music is not necessarily memorable, but they do have some catchy riffs and head-banging beats.  But GWAR has not stayed around this long because of their music.  GWAR’s live act is what has kept them playing for 25 years to a diverse and devoted cult following.

As you can see from the photo, the costumes are quite elaborate.  They’re a cross between alien technology, sado-masochistic bondage gear and demonic ugliness.  Lead singer Oderus Urungus sports a cartoonishly large black phallus to compliment his thong underwear.  So just seeing these guys perform their songs in this getup is quite amusing.  But it’s what happens during the songs that truly defines the band’s shtick.

Weird alien characters, politicians and pop culture icons manage to appear on stage during each show (in the form of giant foam rubber costumes).  GWAR and/or their minions then proceed to kill, maim, torture, rape, cannibalize and otherwise dismember these characters, while the band blasts their metal music into the crowd.  And if that’s not enough, when these poor souls are being ripped apart, fountains of fake blood, vomit, semen and other excremental fluids are sprayed into the adoring throng of mosh-pitters and crowd surfers; red, blue, green and black streams gush forth from intestinal cavities, decapitated heads, and even from Urungus’ giant black unit.

Each GWAR tour utilizes a narrative of sorts, derived from their mythology, to half-heartedly explain the appearance of weird characters during the songs.  It’s half-hearted because the audience really doesn’t care – they just want to see blood and guts.  It’s all very silly and immature and cartoonish, but the band obviously knows this, and thus doesn’t – nay, can’t – take themselves seriously.  But they keep it just serious enough that you get sucked into their world for 80 minutes or so, and enjoy the fun, mindless entertainment while you’re there.

Northern Lights was packed on Friday night, and GWAR draws an eclectic mix of people.  There were metal-heads for sure, eager to mosh it up.  There was a punk element as well, which makes sense since GWAR embraces a punk attitude of non-conformity and absurdity.  The Goth scene was also represented, attracted by the horror and evil.  From the opening notes of GWAR’s set, the crowd responded very enthusiastically, and GWAR did not disappoint.  I will admit that I did not bother to check out the names of any of the songs they played, because honestly, it really doesn’t matter.  The show is what counts for GWAR, and put on a show they did.  Michael Jackson made an appearance with a giant mutated baby – after dancing around a bit, Urungus ripped off Jackson’s face to reveal a bloody mess beneath.  That horrific infant would later get impaled by Urungus’ giant sword, much to the crowd’s delight.  A 7-foot robot appeared during a later song, looking like something out of Godzilla film. But we soon discovered that it had flesh and blood underneath its metal frame; when its arms were ripped off, a fire hose-strength stream of blood doused the crowd.  For the encore, our president himself, Barack Obama, jaunted on stage wearing a crown and carrying a cane.  He presented GWAR with some sort of medal for kicking ass, at which point Urungus grabbed the cane and nearly decapitated Obama with it (nearly, because his head was dangling from his neck).  The song began, blood began to spurt from Obama’s neck, and then he danced around to the song, head dangling and blood flowing.

Obviously GWAR is not for everyone.  It’s over-the-top offensive for the sake of being offensive, it’s gross, it’s goofy and disgusting and so much fun! A GWAR show is not a music show – it’s performance art.  But most performance art is supposed to be taken seriously, even though when you see it you want to laugh sometimes at how silly it is.  GWAR knows it’s silly – ridiculously silly – and so everyone laughs, including them.  GWAR is an entertainment machine, pure and simple.  I don’t own any GWAR music – I don’t think it’s good enough (or interesting enough) to stand on its own.  But when you see the show, it all works marvelously.  And judging from the soaked clothes and smiling faces leaving the venue Friday night, the GWAR machine can probably roll on for another 25 years.

Hitting the stage before GWAR was Phoenix-based Job for a Cowboy, who may want to consider taking their name literally and look for work elsewhere.  As death metal bands go, they were extremely average, uninventive, and dull.  There were occasional moments of good riffs and guitar soloing, but there were few tempo changes and little crowd interaction by the lead singer, who was very hard to understand during the few moments he did try and address the Capital Region mass.

By contrast, opening band The Red Chord was much more enjoyable.  The Boston-based grindcore/death metal band had some killer riffs, a sharp sound, and their short set featured a great 5-minute instrumental segment.  Lead vocalist Guy Kozowyk was very engaging, even going so far as to call out the type of mosh-pitting he wanted to see, like a square dance caller at a hoedown:  “Circle pit, right now!”  “Crowd surfing, let’s go!”  It was very amusing, and the crowd, many of whom had apparently made the trek from Beantown to see the band, gleefully obliged.

This GWAR show gets 4 out of 5 stars.


Long Beach Dub All Stars – Right Back (1999)

It would seem that whenever I choose to work out in the gym  (which is quite rare these days) I’m always challenged with the issue about what I will listen to; usually it is a decision between Tool, Pantera, or some metal mix that seems appropriate.  Yet last night I decided to go past the normal flavor and explore the other 400 albums on my iPod.  I had forgotten about a lost gem of an album by the now defunct Long Beach All Stars entitled Right Back released in 1999.

With the death of  Sublime’s vocalist Brad Nowell in 1996 bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh decided to pursue other musical ventures thus founding The Long Beach Dub All Stars along with free form guest artists, a horn section, and a DJ.  The debut album Right Back was a refreshing sound that resonated with a culmination of reggae, hardcore, dub, and hiphop.  If you are a Sublime fan, this album is a nice continuation of where Sublime left off, minus the vocals of Nowell, it is consistent with the tempo’s and rhythm’s of the Sublime sound.

The beginning of the album starts off with Righteous Dub, a nice dub song to ease one into the album on a mellow but upbeat note.  Songs like Rosarito , My New Life, and Like a Dog resonate pure Sublime and provide some clarity that the bands unique sound did not die with Nowell.  The lead singer of the band Bad Brains (Hr) makes a cameo on the song New Sun and does a nice job adding a hardcore/reggae type funk and tempo to the album. 

Although I’m not the biggest fan of rap I have been drawn back several times to the song Kick Me Down which features a great beat and great vocals.  Perhaps that is why I like this album so much, the variety of different angles the album provides.  Most albums today, in my opinion, songs are often to repetative and monotonous in their style and sound, yes the album might be good, but the songs are begin to sound the same and that is where I begin to lose interest. 

Right Back is a fun album that seems to be an amalgum of styles that keeps the listener wondering what the next song will be, I like that.

Several albums followed after 1999’s Right Back, they are Wonders Of The World (2001), and Sunny Hours (2002).

Sadly, The Long Beach Dub All Stars broke up officially in 2002, but members continued until 2007 under the name Long Beach Shortbus.

The Long Beach All Stars album Right Back gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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