Archive for the 'Rock' Category

12
Dec
14

Bob Dylan and The Band – Basement Tapes Complete

Dylan_BasementThe 7 Modern Wonders of the World are as follows: Itaipu Dam, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Empire State Building, CN Tower, Panama Canal, Channel “Chunnel” Tunnel, and the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, however, I feel there is now an 8th, the release of Bob Dylan and The Band’s Complete Basement Tapes, finally in their entirety!

I have been a die hard Dylan fan for years, and the legends and myths surrounding the legendary basement sessions is well known  among Dylan fans worldwide.  Although Dylan and The Band (his backing band during his initial going “electric” and the primary musicians on the Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde albums were known as “The Hawks”) released a snippet of these recordings in 1975 as an actual album, the 24-songs released were a mere “crumb” of the actual 130+ songs  recorded between 1967 and 1968, now available in the 6-cd set just released this past November.

I’ve only delved into 3 of the 6-disc set and so far it’s been very impressive; you hear a mature Dylan jamming with a group of musicians, often free form, making up lyrics on the fly, and sometimes just re-working some of his own songs, and those of others, such as Johnny Cash (Big River and Folsom Prison Blues) in a relaxed atmosphere of artistic freedom and exploration.  Absent are the artistic pressures of multiple takes in order to “get it right”, instead the mood is melancholy and silly at times, as heard in “See You Later Allen Ginsberg”. The majority of the recordings were made in the basement of Big Pink, a house in West Saugerties, NY that was rented by members of the band, thus the recordings allow the listener a raw and unadulterated room full of musicians doing what they love.  The music allows you, even briefly, into the world of Dylan’s writing and creative spirit, and also the talents of his peers who roll with the every changing tempo and mood that Dylan wanted at a moments notice.

Although it may sound outlandish to say, I really love every track on what I have heard thus far; it would not be an exaggeration to say so.  The Basement Tapes are a fun collection of music that allows the listener just another glimpse into the mystery of Dylan as an artist.  There has always been a shroud of mystery with Dylan; it is well known that he is a recluse, often avoiding the limelight and media a majority of his career; although it is gems like this whereas one feels that Bob is toying with his fans; giving them just one more taste of what they crave, more mystery, more unheard of tracks lying around in a moldy box awaiting to be discovered 40 years later.   And that is what the Bootleg Series has been about, about: Dylan not allowing the fan to truly know who he is, not willing to open up entirely, but yet giving hints here and there and keeping the fans enthralled.  Dylan is not quoted in any of the liner notes, and from what I believe, has not provided any interviews regarding the release of the official bootleg series; so on one hand he is exposing the essence of his inspiration and creative genius, and on the other hand hiding behind the curtain that he always has.  The release of The Basement Tapes Complete is the 11th volume of the Bootleg Series that Columbia Records has made available thus far; so who knows how much more is out there?

I recall many years ago while visiting a long forgotten record shop in Saratoga Springs, NY, right down from Café Lena (a folk mecca where a young Dylan spent a great deal of time), I came across “Great White Wonder”, a well known and well sought out bootleg album that circulated for years; this album contained a few of the songs found on the Basement Tapes, an other rarities, many bootlegs have surfaced since then as well.  Each bootleg, of which there are many, contained odds and ends of other songs from the Saugerties basement sessions, so the myth for so long has been that there clearly were more, but where, and who had them?  Often waived off by members of The Band and perhaps Dylan himself, that additional tracks existed, clearly they did.  It is my understanding that last year someone was able to obtain the collection of the remaining basement tapes (100+ songs) and put out a bootleg for the masses; upon learning about this Columbia Records (in partnership with both Dylan and remaining members of The Band) decided it was true and that the majority of unreleased tracks had been made available decided to make an official release (with even more tracks!) available finally.  My question  is why had they waited so long, and perhaps worse, allow time for someone to release the additional tracks?  These guys had 40+ years to get this stuff out there!

The fun things about this box set is that all is revealed “warts and all” of what actually happened in that basement in West Saugerties; with most bootleg recordings one would normally expect grainy poor quality but these recordings have a haunting quality of clarity. If you are a Dylan fan this is a must listen without question. If not, and are then curious about Dylan, although an exhaustive collection for the first-time Dylan listener, this is a great introduction to the dynamic range of style Dylan was capable of, and introduces one to the persona of Dylan himself.

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25
May
12

Chronic Future “Lines In My Face”

Another personal favorite of mine to catch the -itis. Chronic Future had one hit in the summer of 2004 with “Time and Time Again” but never sustained any type of popularity due to a terrible job of marketing, but more importantly, America’s growing taste for terrible music. I’m looking at you Beliebers.

But Chronic Future holds a special place in my heart for speaking out in an era of uncertainty in my younger life. Back in 2005 there were rumblings of a military draft to support the growing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most bands turned completely against government, military, and the troops.

The usual wartime rumblings of abuse, babykillers, and torture circulated and they began calling these two plights my generation’s Vietnam.

So, while yes I was terrified to see if our then-president was going to make a life decision for me, I felt that the soldiers in this conflict were getting the short end of the stick. Painted in a terrible public view, all while fighting “insurgents” with no real barometer for winning this war.

So while the outlash against the establishment raged in the usual punk circles. Chronic Future took a different approach. These were our friends giving life and limb in a country exactly halfway across the world where they baked in the desert all while our national media and pop-culture turned on them.

With songs like “Time and Time Again” and “Shellshocked” they reminded me that they were more than the average punk band.

They had a unique way of saying what everyone felt. Saying what I felt but couldn’t verbalize.

It’s still difficult for me to fathom. My respect for the people that make these sacrifices so you and I can go about our day like we always do. To be so against what they have to do, but support them for doing it. It’s a conundrum that gets lost on most people who just throw their friends, their family, into a group of soulless and heartless bastards because they carry a gun into someone else’s country.

These are our friends, these are our family. These are other peoples’ friends, their family
. They sacrifice years, limbs, life. Just so you can buy your coffee at Starbucks. Just so you can go shopping at the mall without the idea of it exploding ever entering your mind.

This weekend is for them. For those that come back to us less than they were. Those that come back stronger than they were. They have made the sacrifices that make our country so great for so long. Do not forget to thank them for what they’ve done for you, even if you haven’t noticed. You haven’t noticed, because they’re doing their job.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. Thank a troop this weekend.

05
Apr
12

Get Back! Rise of The Little Beatles?

Could you imagine if the spawn of the Fab Four were to get together and form a band, hiliarious eh?  From what I have read though, life is stranger than fiction. Reports are that there has been talk between James McCartney and Sean Lennon; clearly most of it has been baseless rumors and unfounded gossipy BS (like found on this blog!) and is sheer speculation at this time, nothing more. 

I recall there was a band about a decade ago called “Bloodlines” that was comprised of Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis), Waylon Kreiger (son of Robby Kreiger), and Berry Oakley Jr. (son of Berry Oakley Sr., duh!), but the band amounted to zilch.  I think the notion of the a revival or tribute band comprised of the children of The Beatles is a fun idea, I’m not sure that I could take it seriously to spend the money.  Iv’e not been overly impressed by Sean Lennon’s past work, but his older brother Julian was as close you would get to the sound of their late father, but apparently his day has come and gone.  As for Dhanni Harrison, he looks almost exactly like his father but can he play?  And as for James McCartney, he’s apparently a musician and songwriter, but who knows what his talents.  Zak Starkey on the other hand is a well accomplished drummer who has been a member of both Oasis and toured with The Who is recent years, so he doesn’t really  need the work nor seek the validation.

I would imagine as the child of a celebrity, there is always the want to vicariously experience or attempt to achieve the level of success of your parents.  But here is the dilemma, on the one hand you’ve got a huge leg up in the industry, yet on the other hand the public will may or will constantly compare your parent  good or bad.

Anyhoo, I thought it was worth informing the readers about since is fun, but I’m more impressed with how much they look like their parents, crazy!

28
Mar
12

AWOLnation “Megalithic Symphony”

AWOLnation is frontman Aaron Bruno, formerly of Under the Influence of Giants, Christopher Thorn, Hayden Scott, David Amezcua, and Kenny Carkeet. The band’s name was derived from Bruno’s inexplicable avoidance to say ‘goodbye’ to anyone, hence the term AWOL.

They are signed to Red Bull Records, after Red Bull offered Bruno some free studio time where he recorded a couple songs for the band’s first album Back From Earth

You’ve undoubtedly heard the first single from the album “Sail” all through last summer and fall. As this album was released in March 2011.

They have a unique mix of punk and electronic music that brings out the best of both worlds. They are what, to me, is a perfect amalgamation to be an appealing live show. No completely pre-recorded tracks *cough* Skrillex *cough* or a DJ just sitting there tapping buttons on a sound board with an Apple symbol burning into your forehead. This style preserves the uniqueness and fun that a live show should offer.

They are the epitome of what music has lost in the past decade of the digital revolution. Something that is embodied by the Foo Fighters (and probably why we still love them) and this carries over to AWOLnation as well. FUN.
Just having fun with what you’re doing, you make music, you’re not going to get Isreal and Palestine to drop their guns Bono. You’re not going to stop the killing in Sudan by standing outside an embassy in the USA George Clooney.

Somewhere along the way musicians forgot their place. You’re here to entertain us. You want to spend all that money you make off of album sales to help those people? Go ahead. But to preach to the public that WE need to do more is stupid, especially considering you don’t pay taxes in Ireland (of all places) U2.

Hypocrisy runs rampant when you make a ton of money and tell people to do more with theirs. Which is why the term “they sold out” permeates bands that we once held near and dear (yes, Green Day too.) Remember when they were just about having fun? Now we have to listen to “Jesus of Suburbia” yuck.

AWOLnation reminds me of a time when bands knew what they were their purpose was. That they were making a living traveling the globe and brightening peoples’ days. Megalithic Symphony is just that, an album that let’s you find meaning in your own way.

“Not Your Fault” is a perfect example of this. They took an opportunity to make a really heavy handed music video but took the road that seems to be cracked and unkempt. They had fun with it. So besides these two singles that’ve made waves on the charts, my favorite track has to be “People” as it gives a nice little gem that speaks to me as the problem with the world today:

We were born to rage
We’re the price of pain
We’re a single voice
We’re the second choice
We were born to rage

What happened to our passion and sticking together? Where is the next great revolution going to come from? What is the next big “movement” going to be? It feels like between the government and corporate America, we’ve lost the world that was once our oyster. That it feels nobody can change it, that the machine is just too big to throw a cog into. That’s what this song says to me and this is why punk rock will live on; even if the sound we remember from the 80’s and 90’s has changed.

I found something in Megalithic Symphony that I like. A different sound in a time where punk bands seem to be a dying breed. Where the next generation identifies more with electronic beeps and boops than they do lyrics that help them understand and derive answers to the world.

Bob Dylan is not amused.

4/5

26
Mar
12

Black Keys Print Releases!

Hot on the news of the Dan McCarthy print release for the recent Boston show posted last week, it would now appear that famed street artist Shepard Fairey will be offering his prints for the MSG show, wow!

As always, and I love Shepard for this, his prints are being offered for a mere $45 and are limited to an edition size of 550 each.  Usually the release times are super random which limits your ability to grab his prints (often selling out in minutes, so be forewarned!).

This time Fairey has been kind enough to inform hopeful buyers that there will be two release times on 3/27  for each print:  Between 10:00 and 12:00 PST for the first print and between 3:00 and 5:00 PST for the second, be mindful that these release times are PST and not EST. 

As usual, Fairey works in his trademark red and black silkscreen colors with a brilliant use of negative space, as always his creations result in vibrant and striking imagery.

You can check out more about these prints at www.obeygiant.com  and good luck grabbing one…or two!

Dan McCarthy’s print is also now available for $40 at www.danmccarthy.org  but I’m unsure of the edition size.  If you know, please update us here at HiFi Central.

13
Mar
12

The Black Keys Live @ MSG

There comes a time when you know you’re seeing something special, in its prime. Like how America was captivated by the Home-Run chase of 1998, the Miracle on ice in the 1980 Winter Olympics, or the Beatles stepping off a plane in America to rabid fans…

that’s how Madison Square Garden felt last night. Everyone knows who they are, their blues attitude and their rock riffs. They are rock stars at their peak and they proved to the world’s most famous arena that this is where they belong. Loud and center stage. Both guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney know this fact. They came out and made no mistake, leading with Brothers’ “Howlin’ For You” instantly getting the crowd into a frenzy.

They continued with their supporting cast that helped make the new album El Camino, the fullest and most polished of their seven studio productions. But as they left the stage the Keys did something of an unexpected move when they went back to material from the early days of the band. They played the title track of their 2003 album Thickfreakness and “Girl is on my Mind” from their 2004 album Rubber Factory. Then into “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion and finally came back to their newest material.

They engaged the crowd, not in conversation or meaningless chit-chat, but spoke through claps and foot stomps, the universal language for anyone who adores rock and roll. They ended their set with a brilliant duo of “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy.”

After they left the stage and the lights fell dim, the crowd erupted to its loudest levels of the night. Begging for an encore and did we get it! In the dark two gigantic disco balls dropped from the ceiling and began spinning. The lights were turned back on and, no, it was no disco. Hearing them go through “Everlasting Light” with the entire arena awestruck at the genius of such a pun.

They ended their hour and a half show with “I Got Mine” and an illuminated sign:

The Black Keys

Rock. Stars.

The lights came back up, the crowd chanted and cheered for them, nobody rushed out Madison Square Garden, everyone lingered, buzzing about what might’ve been the greatest 90 minutes of music their ears have ever endured.

30
Jan
12

Marilyn Manson “Born Villain”

I’m not a Marilyn Manson hater. I believe that he… she?… came along at just the right time in American social strife. He was weird, he was the next evolution of shock-rock. Nobody understood where he was coming from with his songs and his look. He freaked the hell out of Republicans and he freaked the hell out of Democrats. He was an unknown quantity that was only labeled as one thing: a freak. He was the perfect scape goat for a tragedy he had nothing to do with and he has seemingly faded to his rightful place in the memory of Columbine.

But now he’s back with this new album and I have to say. I am not impressed. His earlier stuff was listenable. The albums Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals were iconic, from the songs to the album covers. Which riled everyone’s mother up. He disputed god, he hated religion, he hated the establishment, he was everything teens wanted to hear because let’s face it, as a teenage boy, you’re angry at everything.

He pandered to his crowd, shifting to a message of rebelliousness and how hard it is to be a teen. How people seem to look down on you for your age. How nobody stops to try to understand you and you feel like you’re living in a hell of eternally having to flip burgers.

We related to that as teenagers.

and latex, we all relate to latex

But he doesn’t have much of a crutch to stand on now. He didn’t take the quick and easy route (as did one, Skrillex) by switching his musical style to the fad of the generation.

I’m just not impressed by this. It’s all about self deprivation and abuse. It’s about things that a guy who’s sold well over 5 million albums in the United States alone has no right to be talking about. You wonder why nobody knows or cares what happened to Good Charlotte? Because 1) they were terrible and 2) their credibility went out the door when they became millionaires. That’s what tends to happen with these sorts of bands and male divas. They’re only sustainable for a couple of albums before their popularity and wealth spoil the message. They’re no longer in touch with the audience that received them so well.
I don’t mean to preach, but Manson should know that he’s not creating any new fans with the new album. He’s not even retaining old ones with it. Just take your show on the road and keep playing the life out of “Personal Jesus” and “Rock is Dead.”
You were a martyr for the late 90s. The shift that seemed to come too swift with that Colorado high school. You were the sign that the media has become too big and overbearing on our lives. That politicians were morons for blaming you. You were the only positive thing to come out of that whole story, stop trying to live up to it with titles like Born Villain and be just that. You’re too self aware and it bores me now.

2/5