Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I came across the following video on the website for the great band Venice. Venice webmaster Matt Levitz is an acquaintance of mine, and works tirelessly on many levels doing great things for the band, and in the meantime has a regular fulltime job as a DVD producer. He produced the following video to help promote the annual arts education benefit featuring for the 5th year in a row, Jackson Browne and Venice, plus many special guests. The benefit is presented by For The Arts, and Artists for the Arts Foundation.
Watch this video for a good example of why I have been a lifelong fan of music. Through music, we are indeed all connected, and with that connection, we can do great things.
This video is a great snapshot of legends like Jackson, David Crosby, and others, using their musical gifts to help inspire the next generation. Musically, these guys are paying it forward, without a doubt. I'm inspired watching this video, and inspired by the talents that are displayed by the young adult musicians in this video. Hopefully you will find inspiration with this, as well...
Man, I would LOVE to go to this show!zero
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I have more than the occasional random thought, and I'm going to share one of them with you now.
First of all, before I get to that, this post is Death Cab for Cutie related, and related to that, you'd probably be interested to know that Death Cab recently recorded a live session for Daytrotter, which I found out about from my much loved Pop Candy blog. The band turns in a great set, including 2 brand new tunes from the upcoming album Narrow Stairs, which hits stores on May 13th. Check it out, it's great. You'll thank me later.
Recently, Death Cab for Cutie made the first new music from Narrow Stairs available for free download on the internet, in the form of the 8 minute plus lead single from the album, a track called I Will Possess Your Heart.
I Will Possess Your Heart (right click to download)
I downloaded the track, thought to myself "great title," and listened to it a couple of times, and moved on.
Yesterday, I found myself discussing the track randomly with a friend. Imagine if you will, if you're a songwriter writing songs, and you decide to write a song for that certain girl that you really dig.
Now, if you're Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, it goes something like this.
Ben - Hey there, I thought you might like to hear the new song I just wrote for you, called I Will Possess Your Heart.
Girl - *swoon*
Now, let's say that I'm a songwriter (which I'm not,) and let's apply the same scenario to a similar situation in my world.
Me - Hey there, I wrote this new song for you that I thought you might dig hearing. It's called I Will Possess Your Heart.
Girl - *girl runs away screaming* OR if on the phone....*click* *dial tone*
By this point, hopefully you're listening to the song via the download link above.
Let's say that she doesn't run screaming, and actually sticks around to listen to the song?
Chances that she's not going to be weirded out by the track after she hears it?
The Daytrotter session brought me back to listening to I Will Possess Your Heart again, and it finally got its musical hooks into me on that third listen. I'm more of an album guy - I very rarely get into something from just hearing a track, or a single. The track/single might intrigue me, but ultimately, unlike some people that will listen to that song 95 times, I have to hear it in context with the rest of the album. As a track, I get bored very quickly and move on.
But in these digital times, the concept of a single has found renewed life. Via the bands that put a free track out there for download (Death Cab, Counting Crows, Coldplay, etc.) Via regular promotions like the free "Single of the Week" from Itunes.
The single certainly worked for me with the new B-52's album Funplex. When the band put a download out there for the title track, I heard it and immediately got stoked to hear the first album from the band in 16 years, an album that I had previously had great reservations about. Once I heard Funplex (the song,) I knew that the B's wouldn't let me down.
Back to Death Cab: I Will Possess Your Heart is brilliant. And also brilliantly disturbing. It takes nearly five minutes to get to the initial vocal, and when you open the door to the initial vocals, it's creepy, yet you want to stick around and hear where it's going. Again, the single concept worked here once again. I can't wait to hear Narrow Stairs, to hear the rest of what Death Cab for Cutie has in store for me.
How about you?
p.s. - check out the video, it's genius stuff.
p.s. part two - I just found this great live set from earlier in the month, which features a total of 7 new tracks from Narrow Stairs.....plus all of your Death Cab favorites! You want a good preview? Surf on over to this link!one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
He urged Warner Brothers and Petty to put Crystal River online in all of its 9 minute glory, and WB were indeed paying attention, and now have a stream of the full track available for your listening pleasure.
Hey Bob -- You asked, we (and WB) deliver -- Crystal River is now
available for free streaming on imeem:
The more I listen to it, it really is a fantastic album, but in my opinion, demands to be listened to in full. You won't get what this one is about from hearing song snippets, or a couple of songs.zero
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
The official website has been slammed, so here it is for your listening pleasure.
Coldplay are a guilty pleasure for me that I got into a long time after many had finished drooling over the band. Safe to say, there are still many that continue to drool over Coldplay, and I enjoy their recorded output, even though it doesn't vary much from album to album.zero
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Before I get into this, I'd like to throw a brief recommendation towards the new tunes just posted by one of Detroit's greatest rock and roll bands, the Dirty Americans. Surf on over, and give 'em a listen.
I just wanted to put up this post in case you're feeling any skepticism about picking up the new Tom Petty release today, which is a reunion album with his pre-Heartbreakers project Mudcrutch. The Mudcrutch lineup features core Heartbreakers members Mike Campbell on guitar, Benmont Tench on keyboards, Petty (who moves to bass,) and original Mudcrutch members Tom Leadon on guitar/vocals, and Randall Marsh on drums.
I know that there are people that are hesitant about checking out new Petty, in fact, here's exhibit A from a mention about the new Mudcrutch to a co-worker.
"i haven't heard the mudcrutch record yet. it's gotta be better than
petty's last couple of stinkers..."
Mudcrutch - Lover Of The Bayou
And indeed it is. I particularly love the saloon style piano parts that are sprinkled throughout the album, and with Petty moving over to bass for the album, the bass is high in the mix, and vibrantly alive, as are the other players on this Mudcrutch disc. I've heard Wilbury comparisons, and I guess I hear a bit of that, but only with the musical interplay between the members of Mudcrutch. For those that are expecting this to be a straight out Heartbreakers record under the name of Mudcrutch, it isn't. For me, it sounds like a Tom Petty record where Tom decided to throw out everything he learned about making albums, both solo and Heartbreakers. Instead, the Mudcrutch album sounds like what you might experience if you walked into a bar and a really great band was playing, that just happened to have Tom Petty sitting in in the lineup.
Make no mistake, Petty's stamp is all over this album, and it does sound like a Tom Petty album, but it's different. And it is a good kind of different. The sprawling track Crystal River has been written about, most often making mention that at 9+ minutes, it is the longest song that Petty has committed to tape in the studio. After hearing it, I don't know that it needs to be 9 minutes, but I don't mind it. It's a good track, for sure.
Mudcrutch - Bootleg Flyer (live in Santa Barbara, April 2008)
Bootleg Flyer is a song that flies just as high as its title, and as I was hearing it I had the thought, 13 tracks into the Mudcrutch album, what a great driving album this is. In my opinion, you think of great "driving albums," you think of albums like Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers, and I'd throw Into The Great Wide Open in there as well.
It's been a while since Petty has made a great driving album, and it's been a while since we've heard a great Petty album, period. Highway Companion had good points, but in the end, there were still tracks that I would have left on the side of the road. This time around, Petty succeeds, and on his own terms no less, with this Mudcrutch release.
I dig it. That's my three word review
As far as purchasing options, the CD comes in a beautiful digipak package (I never thought I'd say that about a digipak, back in the early 90s when they first came around,) and also is available on vinyl. The vinyl edition is a 2 LP 180 gram gatefold release that includes a "full dynamic range" audiophile CD in the package, which is exciting to me. The vinyl is a must buy for me, so if you're looking for the best overall bang for your buck and you have a turntable, I would say that the vinyl is where it's at for this one.
If not, Best Buy and the usual outlets are running this one on sale this week for as low as $9.99. And on a final note, for the kids that dig Itunes, there is a version that has 1 bonus track and 2 bonus videos.
Visit the official Mudcrutch website and hear a stream of the entire new album.
The Mudcrutch Storyone
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Yeah, this isn't going to REALLY be a daily thing, but I will feature great quotes, when appropriate, as I come across them. Like this one from Tegan, of Tegan and Sara.
There is nothing more un-rock & roll than shorts. We learned this on our first tour. Our first tour was opening for Neil Young and the Pretenders and we wore fucking shorts onstage every night because it was hot. Except now I look back at it and we look like stagehands.
You kind of look like a kid in shorts unless you wear little short ones. Then you’re like a hooker. I opened up my suitcase today and pulled out the one white shirt and put in on and was like, fuck, and went and put my black shirt on and felt better.one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Ah, the record store, my first true love, and a relationship that remains true to this day. I worked at a record store as recently as 2006, when I picked up a Saturday shift to have fun and talk music. I saw it as a good potential opportunity to blow off steam from the week, and have some fun talking music with fellow music fans. It was a great chance to get back to my roots, if only for a few months. As it happened, the job came along at the right time, and conveniently went away at the right time too, ending as I was preparing to move from the east side, back to the west side apartment where I had spent the previous 10 years prior to 2006. I look at that as part of the overall power of music. Music seems to have a great way of knowing what you need, when you need it - it's good like that. But that's another conversation for another day....
On April 19th, I was one of the music loving sinners who unexplainably missed Record Store Day. But then again, I would argue that in my world, Record Store Day is everyday!
"Independent record stores are a vital source of the ever-changing cool. They respond to the street faster than the chains can. They help us telegraph to each other what's "now" and what's not, what we should be telling our friends and neighbors about, and what's about to take off, or, no longer hot. Musical trends are confirmed at the local independent record store, by you and me... Why would we want to do away with all that?" – Joe Satriani
You want inspiration? Read this post. It really hits it on the head, what it's like to be a music fan, and to be this kind of music fan, takes many words, because you've got so many memories to share. You've got so many experiences, let me tell you how I got into THIS artist....sit down, because this is going to take a while, etc. etc.etc.
For me, it started sometime in the early 80s, living in Odessa, TX, and as I like to tell people, it was the home of oil wells, Permian Panthers football, and not much else. Perhaps you saw the story of the Permian Panthers, as immortalized in the movie Friday Night Lights. My dad took me to the local mall, and there it was: Record Bar. I got my dad to let me go into Record Bar where I spent some time, but not nearly enough. In that trip, and in the next several, I picked up the single for Duran Duran's The Reflex, with the commemorative poster that did double duty as the 45 sleeve as well. I got Hooked on Classics with the entire album, and got sucked into Pac-Man Fever by Buckner and Garcia.
In 1985, our next stop was Cloudcroft, New Mexico, a village of 500 at the time. I was happy that 45 minutes down the mountain led me to Hastings Books and Music. It wasn't ideal, but it was a place that continued to feed my growing need for music.
1987 found us in Joliet, IL - fictional home of the Blues Brothers, and my first exposure to the true greatness of independent record stores. Crow's Nest Music was, and is still the coolest record store I've ever been to. Music in every format as far as the eye can see, and an incredibly knowledgeable staff. If you were looking for it, Crow's Nest had it, and if they didn't have it, they could get it, and it wasn't a problem. You know that feeling, of asking the record store clerk if they can order something, and getting that disgusted look, like you're wrecking their day. That never happened at Crow's Nest.
After I moved from the Chicagoland area, I would make trips back for concerts and to visit friends, and each trip included a necessary stop at Crow's Nest Music, often to introduce friends that were traveling with me, to a great record store, as if it was an old friend. Sadly, Crow's Nest closed a few years back, a victim of the same problems in the industry that have wiped out so many other great independent record stores. Events like this, make Record Store Day a powerful effort for awareness. These days, there's a store called Disc Replay which is part of a small chain of stores in Illinois and Indiana, but it's not the same.
Before we leave Illinois, let's give honorable mention to Toad Hall. My dad was working in Rockford, and while visiting Rockford, I found Toad Hall, which the link above describes as "a wonderful repository of books, comics, games, prints, old toys, memorabilia of all kinds, posters and most importantly, to me at least, records." It was Toad Hall where I found old issues of Rolling Stone from the 70s and 80s, a great stock of used CDs, and I believe, even old radio shows (Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, etc) on vinyl.
I was happy to hear recently that Toad Hall is still around, and I need to make a trip to Rockford to visit that musical haven again. I think now that I am older, I would appreciate it more.
1989 found me in Cleveland, home to many great record stores that have come and gone through the years, including two of my favorites, My Generation in Westlake (R.I.P), and for a brief period in the 90s, Repeat The Beat, which illustrates my view of dangerous record stores. Dangerous record stores are the ones that have SO much cool stuff, yet not much in the way of foot traffic. I've seen many a store like it with great inventory, but a small customer base, come and go in the past 20 years. And that sucks. You love it, and you get it...where are the rest of the music fans. Don't they know? That was my definition for Repeat The Beat - a great idea, but too much of a great idea. I bought some great music during the times that I was there though, for sure.
Time Traveler Music is one example of a great record store that is still in existence here in the Cleveland area. It requires a bit of travel, because it is located in Cuyahoga Falls (about 40 minutes away or so), but the selection and diversity remains unmatched, and it is still a great place for import and indie stuff. I started going there in the early 90's when Sarah Mclachlan was just beginning to break as an artist. Time Traveler was the only place that I could count on to have all of Sarah's Canadian stuff readily available, and the owner was a huge fan - another great record store person to have conversations with about music, and in the case of Sarah, I'd see him at shows for Sarah, and other artists that he was a big fan of. Time Traveler was also a great source to feed my laserdisc habit - they had a great selection, and lots of import music laserdiscs that you couldn't get here in the U.S. They're still going strong - grab an address here, and go visit.
I could spend a lot of time writing about the record stores that I've loved here in Cleveland. I think I spent 80 percent of my time growing up in record stores, and the remaining 20 percent hanging out with friends. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but not by much. I worked at record stores throughout high school, and got both jobs because I spent so much time hanging out in the stores, that the managers said to me, "you come here so much, I'm going to give you a job." One of my best friends, is someone that I met while he was managing a CD Warehouse location.
As far as notable record store closings here in the Cleveland area, when My Generation closed, that was one of several store closings in a short period, and it was a bummer - My Generation was something to talk about.
These days, I remain on a quest to visit the next great record store. I haven't been to Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, but man, I want to. I would go to LA just to go there. I have a list of stores like that, that I would travel to the city, just to go there. That's the sickness of a music fan - we'll do stuff like that, and it's completely normal. It' s a must (or inevitable) that I will find my way into a record store at some point while I am in the city. My parents actually made sure to locate Cheapo Discs, prior to my visit a few years back to the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, and I visited that, and several other stores while I was in the area.
My favorite haunt at the moment, is to take a Saturday, and head up to Ann Arbor, MI to visit the record stores there, particularly Encore, which is a must for any music fan within driving distance. That's a perfect day in my book - drive to Ann Arbor, visit Encore, go see a show, perhaps at The Ark, and drive back to Cleveland. Awesome.
Even though I love my Ipod, I still live and breathe for physical product. Albums get lost on my Ipod, and there's no replacement to me for holding it in my hands, reading the liner notes, and sharing the overall experience with a friend.
And if I believe Lars Ulrich from Metallica, perhaps we'll always have record stores.
God, I hope so.
But it's not going to happen without our support. Visit these great havens of music, even if you just need to buy that latest album from whoever, or perhaps you're like me, and looking for a few things to fill nagging holes in your collection. Your favorite record store has all of these things, for all people, come one, come all, let's rock!more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
The original lineup of Jane's Addiction (with Eric Avery!) reunites for the first time in nearly two decades for a four song performance at the NME Awards USA. The band reunited to accept the inaugural NME Godlike Genius Award for the U.S., presented at past UK Award ceremonies to U2, Paul McCartney, New Order, and others.
The band's four song set included Jane Says, Mountain Song, Ocean Size, and Stop.
It's one of my great musical regrets that I haven't seen Jane's Addiction. I've had several chances, and for one reason or another, haven't been able to get there. Hopefully this will maybe open up the chance that MAYBE, I'll get to see Jane's Addiction after all!
Interview with the band
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I knew there was someone that was going to be on late night television that I wanted to see. I couldn't come up with it. And now, thanks to Kathleen Edwards, now I remember. It was Kathleen Edwards, who actually performed one of my favorite songs, The Cheapest Key, which comes off of Kathleen's new album Asking For Flowers.
The video is online now at Youtube, but unfortunately not embeddable, so check it out via this link.
And on a side note, she doesn't sing "bull" on the album. Watch the video, and you'll perhaps catch my drift.
If you aren't hip to Kathleen's music....wow, you really should be. She's been called among other things, Canada's answer to Lucinda Williams. I call her simply "great," and her new album joins her previous two releases for a catalog of three albums that are must own material in my book.
I first became aware of her via her touring and overall support from Canadian faves of mine Blue Rodeo. Kathleen's husband Colin Cripps also plays guitar in BR frontman Jim Cuddy's solo band, and for those of you that dig a great guitar player, Colin is one to check out.
Kathleen is out on the road currently, and putting on a live show that deserves your attention if she is in your city/state/town. I'm crossing my fingers that Cleveland will get a date soon, and plotting a road trip otherwise if we don't.one