Friday, October 1, 2010

New Music : September 27, 2010 - October 05, 2010

Gucci Mane "The Appeal" 
  One of the most street-loved MCs in the game is back with a diamond-encrusted smile and his second in less than a year. The album's lead cut is "Gucci Time," produced by and features Swizz Beatz, who also does the same on "It's Alive." Its first track is the menacing production from Rodney Jerkins (Brandy, Ray J, Destiny's Child and, of course, Michael Jackson) who brings alarming horns fit for a gangster-flick soundtrack. It's raw, underground, its 'hood, but it's different. The Neptunes give Gucci a club bounce on "Haterade," a record about evolution and reflection in which Nicki Minaj raps during their first time together talking in depth on personal things. On "Grown Man," Mr. LaFlare enlisted guest singer Estelle to express his newfound growth and mental freedom. 

Eric Clapton "Clapton"
 This is Clapton's first studio release since 2005's "Back Home." It features some of the same participants of the previous release - including JJ Cale and Doyle Bramhall II, but the legendary guitar front/blues man's latest includes less original material. Clapton's ONLY songwriting contribution is "Run Back to Your Side." The rest of the program is given over to covers—by icons as diverse as Tin Pan Alley legend Irving Berlin and blues great Little Walter—plus "Diamonds in the Rain," a ballad penned by Bramhall, Justin Stanley (Mark Ronson, Beck) and neo-soul sensation Nikki Costa. That cut also features a cameo by Sheryl Crow, but she's not the only notable pitching in on "Clapton". Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint and Wynton Marsalis are on board, too.

Mark Ronson "Record Collection" 
 Mark Ronson has been one of those guys that's easy to hate on for some time now. His stepdad is Mick Jones of Foreigner, and he was modeling for Tommy Hilfiger and deejaying parties for celebs like Diddy when most of his peers were wrapping up their undergrad work. Nevertheless, Ronson has matured into a formidable producer with a resume that includes breakthrough albums for Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. Like its predecessor, 2007's "Version," the new release ( credited to Mark Ronson and the Business Intl.) is heavily laden with guests, but they're not all contemporaries; in keeping with the disc's '80s electro vibe, contributors include Boy George and Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. Also on board are rappers Q-Tip and Ghostface Killah, while songwriting assistance is provided by Cathy Dennis (Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head"), Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears, and Nick Hodgson of Kaiser Chiefs.

Kenny Chesney "Hemingway's Whiskey"
 Chesney is a relentless touring machine, and not a year has passed since 2002 that he hasn't walked off with major awards from CMT, CMA and ACM. (Oddly enough, although five of his last six albums have topped the Billboard charts, he's never snagged a Grammy Award.) Chesney finally took a year off from concert treks, and returns refreshed with this latest release. The album gleans its title from a Guy Clark song, although Chesney adds that he's also a fan of both the literature and lifestyle associated with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. In addition to his recent single, "The Boys of Fall," which the singer says perfectly captures the vibe of his Eastern Tennessee adolescence, Chesney's fourteenth studio album also includes a duet with George Jones on a remake of "Small Y'all," which will hopefully introduce some new, younger listeners to the man considered the greatest male vocalist of country's Golden Age.

Bad Religion "The Dissent of Man"
 Who would have thought that Bad Religion would still be getting it on later in their years. Their new  release is produced by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool) and marks the seminal punk band's 30th anniversary! Thirty?! But that doesn't mean they're conducting business as usual. Some of the bean members feel that the last couple of records have been amongst their most conservative and have never strayed too far from the Bad Religion sound. the band tells EW News that on this release, they're taking the songs to a lot of different places, exploring their influences and trying out some new things in a way we haven't done in years." In addition to the album and the publication of Greg Graffin's new autobiography, "Anarchy Evolution," the band is also celebrating with an extended North American tour.

Phil Collins " Going Back " 
 Phil Collins has seen so much success and has definitely put out just about any type of album a man of many talents can possibly put out - solo or with a band. In the '80s, audiences worshipped Collins as a god. Between 1984 and 1990, he racked up 13 Top 10 hits in the U.S. Subsequent decades haven't been quite so kind to the Genesis drummer, but his rehabilitation is well under way with "Going Back." Having shored up his solo career early with his 1982 rendition of the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love," Collins now revisits his youthful love of R&B. Accompanied by a small combo that features members of Motown house band the Funk Brothers, Collins runs through 18 tunes made famous by acts like the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, and penned by such greats as Goffin & King, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Norman Whitfield.

Marcy Playground "Indaba Remixes from Wonderland"
 Most indie-alternative fans can remember the soultry, mellow sound of Marcy's Plaground. Their 1997 megahit single "Sex and Candy" (over 1.4 million in sales) spent an amazing 34 weeks on the Billboard's top charts. Now fast forward to 2009 with the release of  "Leaving a Fit of Rage." This album was a combination of intimate reflective music that defined the group's commitment to not submit to the corporate, carbon copied music mainstream. The release of the remixes takes from the 2009 CD and collaborates it with the group's online community, which is a community of approximately 500,000 musicians, ranging from novice to hobbyist, to Grammy Award winning artist. Marcy Playground’s collaborative produced a total of 333 submissions and 13 of whom were chosen to be featured on the CD. This gave the fans the opportunity to put their own take on Marcy Playground’s songs and the winning musicians will receive profits from the CD sales. This marks the first time that an entire CD was produced from “crowd-sourced” music. WIN.

Other New Releases Worth Checking Out:
(Have not listened to, but please feel free to post a review)

  • Ben Folds & Nick Hornby: "Lonely Island"
  • Neil Young: "Le Noise"
  • Deerhunter: "Halcyon Digest" 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Top Concerts/Shows To Check Out ...

 Monday, September 27th 
  World Cafe Live:
  Headliner: Avishai Cohen
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 6pm / Show: 7:30pm 

  Trumpeter Avishai Cohen is a leading figure on the international jazz scene. As an assertive and accomplished trumpeter with a taste for modernism who is deeply rooted in the bebop and post-bop tradition, Avishai is taking jazz in new directions. He's making waves as an improviser, composer and bandleader. Originally from Tel Aviv, he began performing at age 10. He toured the world with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and went on to become the trumpet player of choice for many leading jazz, rock, pop, studio and television projects. He received a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and in 1997 he placed third in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition.

Tuesday, September 28th 
  Headliner: The Swans
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 7:30pm 

  This band has been an influential American post-punk band who was initially active from 1982 to 1997. Led by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira, the band was one of the few groups to emerge from the early 1980s New York No Wave scene and stay intact into the next decade. The Swans employed a shifting lineup of musicians until their dissolution in 1997. Besides Gira, the only other constant members were keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Jarboe from 1984 to 1997, and semi-constant guitarist Norman Westberg. The band was noted for droning vocals and strange instrumentation.  After dissolving Swans, Gira formed Angels of Light, continued his work with Young God Records and Jarboe continued her solo work. In 2009, Gira hinted that he may one day resurrect Swans In January 2010, Michael Gira reactivated Swans and began work on a new album, titled "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky." The official MySpace page for Swans was changed to display "SWANS ARE NOT DEAD",and a bulletin was posted containing a link to Young God Records' MySpace, where a new song had recently been uploaded. To help raise money for the upcoming new Swans album, Gira released a new solo album, "I Am Not Insane," via his Young God Records website. In January 2010 LAS Magazine posted an article on alternative financing in "a cash-strapped music industry, unable to rely on record label financing, [that] is positioning its own quid pro quo: fan dollars to fund projects in exchange for exclusive material and a sense of involvement" that cites the Swans selling out of the 1,000 signed and numbered copies of "I Am Not Insane" as an example of reverse financing where proceeds from one project are rolled over to finance the next.  The album is set to be released on September 27, 2010.

Wednesday, September 29th
  Theater of the Living Arts:
  Headliner: Justin Nozuka
  Opening Act:  Alex Cuba / Ry Cuming
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 
  Tickets: $25

  Justin Nozuka, when performing live, is completely engaged with the crowd and music. He doesn’t just sing, he performs and feels the music. Gifted with a voice and talent that's difficult to categorize. His music is a mixture of singer-songwriter storytelling, with elements of rock, soul, reggae, and funk. Several songs are anthemic, while others are chill, mellow and inspiring. He is a story-teller and his songs have immense depth and are positive/inspiring. 

Thursday, September 30th 

  World Cafe Live:
  Headliner: Howie Day
  Opening Act: John Wesley Satterfield
  Doors: 7:30pm / Show: 8:30pm 
  Tickets:$24 - $34 

  Several years after releasing his commercial breakthrough album "Stop All The World Now," singer and songwriter Howie Day breaks his silence with his long-awaited third studio album "Sound the Alarm." The album is a stunning collection of the kind of emotionally resonant, melody-minded pop-rock gems that have earned Day a legion of devoted fans over the past 10 years.His one man band shows rocked both intimate venues and arenas alike. Howie's shows were best known for his live and "ad-lib" style of making the music as he feels it and as the energy of the crowd creates it. With his fancy pedals and mics and soundboards, his current shows don't stray too far from what made millions of fans love him even before all of his commercial success... and that's a GREAT thing!!

  Electric Factory:
  Headliner: Bullet For My Valentine
  Opening Act: Escape The Fate / Black Tide / Drive A
  Doors: 6:30pm / Show: 7pm 

  This Welsh heavy metal band from Bridgend, formed in 1998 is composed of Matt Tuck - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, Michael Paget - lead guitar, Jason James - bass guitar, backing vocals and Michael Thomas - drums. First formed under the name Jeff Killed John, they started their music career by covering songs by Metallica and Nirvana. Jeff Killed John recorded six songs which were not released; two of these tracks were reworked later in their career as Bullet for My Valentine. Financial difficulties dictated the name change, which was followed by a change in music direction. In 2002, the band secured a five-album deal with Sony BMG. The band has stated that their music is influenced by classic heavy metal acts such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Slayer. The band is part of the Cardiff music scene. Bullet For My Valentine — which sounds and acts like a band trying to be the Metallica of this generation have heavy radio hit “Your Betrayal” to kick things off on their show, followed by two songs with fast, aggressive opening riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on the first three Slayer records.

Friday, October 1st

  Kung Fu Necktie:
  Headliner: Fight Amp
  Opening Act: Batillus / Kowloon Walled City / Ladder Devils
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 7:30pm 

  Hailing from South Jersey, this group spent most of their six-odd-year career playing shows in and around Philadelphia. Anyone who’s spent much time in Philly knows that it’s a tough, pessimistic town, and its urban filth and nasty attitude radiate from this band. They are supporting their second album, "Manners and Praise" from Translation Loss Records. Their sound is brutal noise rock/punk played with single minded focus and very real intensity. They’ve clearly done their homework and have a sound that embellishes the music of Melvins, Black Flag, The Jesus Lizard and various other sundry  abusive rock bands of the last twenty years.  Bassist Jon Dehart’s über-gravelly bass tone coats even the band’s more restrained moments in knee-deep sludge, and Mike Howard’s tom-heavy skinsmanship is equally propulsive during both speedy segments and the band’s miles-deep grooves. The guitars sound bristling and barely in control at times, but the band as a whole never gets mired in their own murk. These guys draw just as much from a punk-rock sense of unease as they do from metal’s sonic firepower. 

  Electric Factory:
  Headliner: B-52's
  Opening Act: Gang
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 

  Get in and be put on with panache by Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Keith Strickland and Fred Schneider of the iconoclastic band that makes the glockenspiel seem like the coolest instrument on the globe. Yes, they're kitschy as all get out, and therein lies the appeal. Schneider should get things going by belting out the question, "What's that on your head?" Cindy Wilson, magnificent in a black, shiny micro-mini and go-go girl hair will step in to keep the groove on with their sounds that are prime examples of the punk-y, camp-y, rock-y cool music and wackadoo lyrics that make sense somehow in their shows, but nowhere else. Many of their tunes are fizzy and irresistible, they give listeners no choice but to cave in and come along for the ride as most of the crowd will buckle in for the loop-de-loop that is a B-52s show.

  Headliner: Teenage Fanclub
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 8pm / Show: 9pm 

  This band has been around for about 20 years now and they’ve still got it.  The Scottish power poppers are touring behind "Shadows," their first album in 5 years.  The new material is good and their harmonies are still solid … although physically, the 20 years are starting to take their toll.  These guys are starting to look a bit like Dads … which we guess they probably are, but that’s neither here nor there.   

Saturday, October 2nd

  Electric Factory:
  Headliner: !!!
  Opening Act: Les Savy Fav / Fol Chen.
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8:30pm 

  Known for their dance punk music, the Sacramento-based group has the perfect genre to set the mood for any show night. !!! will be taking to the main stage with their bright funk and disco-infused dance punk music. Their fans and newcomers will altogether love the grooves in their music, but will get a kick out of watching lead vocalist, Nic Offer. His little boy shorts always seem to add a slight endearing, comedic effect to all his dancing - according to most of his loyal concert followers.  The entire collective works really well together on stage. There is a dynamic that both rock and electronica fans can both enjoy as you will take notice when you look around and all the moving bodies around you are in agreement.

Sunday, October 3rd 
  Electric Factory:
  Headliner: Switchfoot
  Opening Act: The Almost
  Doors: 6:30pm / Show: 7:30pm 

  This long time American rock band from San Diego, California is composed of Jon Foreman - lead vocals, guitar, Tim Foreman - bass guitar, backing vocals, Chad Butler - drums, percussion, Jerome Fontamillas - guitar, keyboards, backing vocals and Drew Shirley - guitar, backing vocals. Their style from earlier albums with independent label Re:think Records consisted primarily of guitar-driven alternative rock, characteristic of a three-man lineup, though they also incorporated string arrangements with slower songs. After early successes in the Christian rock scene, Switchfoot first gained mainstream recognition with the inclusion of four of their songs in the 2002 movie "A Walk to Remember." This recognition led to their major label debut, "The Beautiful Letdown," which was released in 2003. It went on to sell over 2.6 million copies and produced the band's best-known singles, "Meant to Live" and "Dare You to Move". Switchfoot is hailed as one of the greatest bands of the modern rock era. According to Jon Foreman, the name "Switchfoot" is a surfing term. It stuck with the band due to all of them being involved in surfing and loving the sport/activity. The name is about change and movement, a different way of approaching life and music.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Music : September 21, 2010 - September 27, 2010

Maroon 5 "Hands All Over"
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 cited that "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was one of his childhood faves. The opportunity work with super producer Mutt Lange did not have to be voted by the band. They were thrilled to be working with the legend, who not only worked on Def Leppard's "Hysteria" and "Pyromania," but also huge hits for AC/DC, Foreigner and Shania Twain, when he offered to produce their new album. This latest release from the group puts together their smart mix of pop and R&B hooks with production so polished. Cuts like lead single "Misery" and the catchy "Stutter" will garner raves from fans of classic M5 fare like "This Love," but there are surprises, too. "Out of Goodbyes," a collaboration with Lady Antebellum, sounds more like vintage Fleetwood Mac than modern-day Music Row, while the title tune boasts enough hard-hitting swagger to make it as popular with exotic dancers as the aforementioned "Pour Some Sugar."

Gin Blossoms "No Chocolate Cake"  
The Gin Blossoms were victims of having to coexist with the early '90s mania for Seattle grunge groups like Nirvana and bubbling up in the wake of that groundbreaking band's demise. Their post-grunge jangle and lovelorn alt-rock angstdid a lot to get them noticed as it was easy to separate their sound. Now they're suddenly back and in the blink of an eye they're offering listeners a refreshing time-travel experience beginning with "I Don't Want to Lose You Now" and the new single "Miss Disarray." These guys have been in the industry long enough that they can perform this melodic stuff in their sleep. Their songs are accompanied with an electric 12-string guitar or jangling chorused guitar on almost every track, adding bounce to the sadness of songs such as "Somewhere Tonight."

Carlos Santana "The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time"
Carlos Santana has enjoyed a huge career resurgence with star-studded albums like "Supernatural" and its sequels. He adds on to those successes but puts a twist in the formula for his latest album. Collaborating with Chris Cornell, Rob Thomas, Scott Weiland, Chris Daughtry, Gavin Rossdale, Ray Manzarek and others, he sets out to put his interpretations of his generation's awesome guitar solos. Conceived while collaborating with Clive Davis, the twist this time is the song selection, which eschews originals for classic rock favorites by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream, T. Rex and Deep Purple. Personally, we would have preferred the legendary axe man to take on Van Halen's "Eruption" instead of the pop-laden "Dance the Night Away."  His interpretation of AC/DC's "Back in Black," which features hip-hop oddballs Nas and Janelle Monáe should be interesting.

John Legend & The Roots "Wake Up!"
Philadelphia's music family has been so large and still growing that most were wondering when such a team up effort could ever come up on an album. Well, one composed of John Legend and the Roots has just occurred. The two have joined forces for a different kind of covers set. Conceived during the tumult and excitement of the 2008 presidential election, "Wake Up!" is a bracing mix of socially conscious and soulful protest songs, ranging from the familiar ("Compared to What," the 1970 jazz-funk hit by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and "I Wish How I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free," popularized by Nina Simone) to esoteric fare from the back catalogs of Mike James Kirkland and Baby Huey and the Babysitters. Throw spirited readings of Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway into the mix, and you've got an ideal soundtrack.

Billy Currington "Enjoy Yourself"
 Georgia native Billy Currington  recently racked up his sixth No. 1 country hit with the laid-back "Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer." Working with top-notch Nashville songwriters like Troy Jones, Shawn Camp and Dave Barnes, Currington delivers a disc that makes him seem like the kind of guy who'd truly be fun to toss a few back with, full of good-natured ruminations like "Bad Day of Fishin'"—which beats a good day of anything else—and his paean to man's best friend, "Like My Dog."

Matt Costa "Mobile Chateau" 
 Singer/songwriter Matt Costa isn't shy about emulating the classic songwriting of the Byrds and Donovan, but on his new album, Costa also draws from the catalog of Bob Lind who was his favorite songwriter. Costa thought so highly of the Lind song 'Ask Your Man,' he actually took the lyrics and reworked them into a new song called "Drive." It's a piano-driven pop track that sounds like it could be a long-lost Beach Boys tune with its shimmering summery feel.

Selena Gomez "A Year Without Rain"
Disney star Selena Gomez, who turned 18 this year, says her sound has matured as well. The sophomore set from Selena Gomez and the Scene builds on the success of her techno-tinged No. 1 club hit, "Naturally." "There's a feeling when I perform that song that I love, so when I was going back in the studio, I had a better understanding of where I wanted to be musically," says Gomez. The successor to her Gold-certified "Kiss & Tell" also features some ballads, including English and Spanish renditions of the title track, and "Ghost of You." And another Teen Choice favorite, Katy Perry, co-wrote "Rock God" and contributes backing vocals. 

Other New Releases Worth Checking Out:
(Have not listened to, but please feel free to post a review)
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead "The Sound of Sunshine"
  • Walker Hayes Walker Hayes (EP)"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Music : September 14, 2010 - September 20, 2010

Robert Plant "Band of Joy"
After making a masterpiece like 2007 "Raising Sand," Robert Plant needed to concoct a mighty impressive follow-up. After all, his collaboration with Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett entered the charts at No. 1 and won Album of the Year honors at the 51st Grammy Awards. Percy meets the challenge admirably on "Band of Joy," wrapping his pipes around meticulously chosen country, folk, blues and indie rock offerings. Nashville vet Buddy Miller, the man dubbed Artist of the Decade in the final issue of "No Depression" magazine, serves as producer, while Patty Griffin plays Plant's vocal foil. The disc is a knockout from top to bottom, but highlights include an eerie interpretation of "Monkey" (one of two selections by Minnesota trio Low), a lively romp through Barbara Lynn's "You Can't Buy My Love," and "Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday," a variation on the traditional "Cindy, Cindy."

Sasha Dobson "Burn"
 The highly anticipated new release from this American jazz singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz, California, who is now based in New York City, is finally here and really delivers. Right on time to be supported by her current tour. Dobson is participating in Norah Jones' "The Fall" tour, providing guitar and percussion accompaniment as well as vocal harmonies. She is the opening act on the tour. The album is a 6-song EP that showcases her singer-songwriter talents, balancing between acoustic material and slightly more muscular electric workouts. Fiddle accents season the country-ish opener “Family,” while the simmering title track benefits from some ethereal pedal steel guitar. Dobson’s previous full-lengths The Darkling Thrush and Modern Romance earned her characterization as a jazz crooner, but there is scant evidence of that here apart from “The Day We Met,” a soft number that embellishes Dobson’s breathy delivery in a lush cushion of plucked strings and ukulele. It’s pleasant enough, but in the crowded field of female singer-songwriters, it will take more than an EP of unobtrusive songs to stand out.

Grinderman "Grinderman 2"
 This band is the latest in a long line of musical ensembles led by Nick Cave They certainly don't waste too much time on album titles. This is their follow-up to their eponymous 2007 debut simply titled "Grinderman." The 2nd album builds on the musical character of its predecessor from singer-guitarist and cohorts Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos. The band delivers an angst and guitar-driven squall of post-punk that Cave is known for shelling out with his previous groups. It's co-produced by the band and Nick Launay (Public Image Ltd., Birthday Party). The sound exhibits ferocity, yet also experiments more with the songwriting form, yielding explosive results like the trippy, tribal "Heathen Child" and the climatic, elastic freak-out, "Bellringer Blues."

Weezer "Hurley"
 Not much to really distinguish this new album from Weezer and the large chunks of Rivers Cuomo's back catalog. Although they're bolstered by the crunchy, power-pop guitar riffs and sunny vocal harmonies that longtime fans of these alt-rock favorites expect, selections like "Trainwrecks," "Memories" and "Smart Girls" seem fun while they last. The albums similar sound structure doesn't give much for fans awaiting for such a new sound from an old fave. But, why mess with what has worked over and over and over again, right. Maybe. Most of the songs on this album may prove largely forgettable especially you already own their back catalogs.

Of Montreal "False Priest" 
 This indie group is known to be so freaky-deaky you'll be hard pressed to shake off its impression after taking a listen. Front man Kevin Barnes puts a very weird spin on funk, soul and R&B, complete with flights of falsetto and hypersexual lyrics. Like Prince, OutKast and Parliament/Funkadelic, Barnes and Of Montreal create their own bizarre, colorful universe—no wonder the cameos by Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles seem right at home. This latest release gets help from producer, Jon Brion, making it possibly the slickest Of Montreal effort on record. One of Barnes’ most charming musical qualities is how sonically messy his LPs have been, almost as if there were too many ideas stewing in the pot that some of the ingredients boiled over.  It made for fascinating listening, like finding a razor blade in a blueberry pie; it could cut you, but it still tasted sweet. The rough edges are sandpapered down by the heavy, nay hamfisted hand of Brion, turning the compositions into something most fans have heard before... Could be a good thing or a bad thing...but we'll let you decide.

Jamey Johnson "The Guitar Song"
   Co-writer "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," which is the crossover smash that put Trace Adkins over the top. It was good enough to give this country music maverick a golden ticket in Nashville. The sussess has possibly enabled the moderately successful, albeit critically lauded, recording artist to stretch his fourth album across two CDs. Divided into discs labeled "black" and "white," the 25-song set starts off grim and menacing, yet gradually turns more uplifting and redemptive. Along with a spate of the polished originals that have won Johnson multiple songwriting awards, it also includes his distinctive interpretations of tunes popularized by Vern Gosdin, Kris Kristofferson, and Mel Tillis.

Linkin Park "A Thousand Suns"

 Yet another long awaited album from LP. This one promises to bring the west coast band to new levels. That may necessarily not be a good thing as evident from a very mixed, more negative than positive reaction to their first single, "Catalyst." The last three studio albums by this rap-rock sextet—"Meteora" (2003), "Collision Course" with Jay-Z (2004), and "Minutes to Midnight" (2007)—all shot to No. 1. This new album features the current hit and reunites the band with Rick Rubin, who co-produced the disc with vocalist Mike Shinoda. This may turn out to be an experimental album for the group with the strange collaborations and arrangements that fans aren't accustomed to. Their angst ridden,message driven lyrics and delivery are still there, but seem shrouded. You almost feel it wanting and struggling to burst out, but can't seem to climax in each song.  For the most part, the album is nothing more or less than a return to form for the California six-piece. ‘Burning of the Skies’ sees lead singer Chester Bennington wallow in the territory that best suits him - self-pity. They retain the same formula for their dual front men with different styles - Chester, the sensitive, persecuted soul and Mike, the abrasive front for the same feelings.

Other New Releases Worth Checking Out:
(Have not listened to, but please feel free to post a review)

  • The Black Angels "Phosphene Dream"
  • The Chapin Sisters: "Two"
  • The Charlatans "We Who Touch"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weekly Top Concerts/Shows To Check Out ...

Tuesday, September 14th 
  Johnny Brendas:
  Headliner: Bilal (Album Release)
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 8pm / Show: 9pm 
  Tickets:$20 - $25
  Bilal Oliver was born and raised in here in City of Brotherly Love. He attended college at the New School for Social Research. While in NYC, he became acquainted with The Roots, Q Tip, Common, Erykah Badu and Mos Def. Bilal would also take part in jam sessions with his New School professors and classmates. It was during one of these sessions that Bilal met Aaron Coleman of the Spin Doctors. The two hit it off and soon private jam sessions in Coleman’s home gave birth to a demo of songs that would land Bilal a record deal with Interscope. Later sessions with Questlove, of The Roots, introduced Bilal to J Dilla and sparked a fruitful working relationship between the two. Once the album was near completion, label pressures coerced Bilal into working with more commercially prominent producers like Dr. Dre and Mike City. For years, label politics prevented any significant progress to occur on Bilal's follow-up album and years had passed with a lot of red tape and more controversy. In spite of the setbacks of his last album, Bilal had a dedicated fan base and they wanted more. The encouraging feedback began to re-inspire Bilal to write songs again and he set out to accomplish what he had started in 2001. Late 2009, Bilal announced his official second album is to be released  and it was out this past summer. He's doing the tour to show fans that all his hard work was for something cool, slick, driven and with style. Even if it took years to perfect it.

  Theatre of the Living Arts: WXPN PResents ...
  Headliner: Broken Social Scene
  Opening Act: The Sea & Cake
  Doors: 8pm / Show: 9pm 
   Every BSS show is a special one because you never know what incarnation of the group will be on stage. The group has over 15 members resulting in a tour that is often difficult. and this one had a few of the bigger names missing from the show. Even if not all the members could make the tour, their set turns out to be a perfect mix of old and new members as well as a perfect example of a band with multiple albums being able to give fans of old and new a complete experience. From new songs like the spacey jams of “Texico Bitches” to the instrumental classic “KC Accidental,” BSS will show long time fans that they can do it all on stage – and that stage will be a packed one. Their performances are known to have band members switch off places and instruments to allow others to float around in the ever changing collective. Everyone is so immensely talented in the group that at any moment a member could take control of a song or change the direction.

Keswick Theater:
  Headliner: Todd Rundgren
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 7:30pm 
  Tickets:$35 - $95
   At 62, this young rocker is still the new pop-wunderkind that he was when he first broke into the music industry. The singer/songwriter and producer has had a great and extensive career thats supported by a certified gold solo double LP "Something/Anything?"  and a successful band, Utopia. He has also been extremely active as a producer and engineer on the recorded work of other musicians. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rundgren produced big-selling albums, including "Bat Out of Hell" by Meat Loaf, "We're an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad, and "Skylarking" by XTC. His best-known songs include "Hello It's Me" and "I Saw the Light" which have heavy rotation on classic rock radio stations, and "Bang the Drum All Day" featured in many sports arenas, commercials, and movie trailers. As legendary as his works in production and songwriting has been, his shows has been as equally impressive. You're not getting any younger and neither is he ... GET IN!!

  Wells Fargo Center: The Monster Ball Tour
  Headliner: Lady Gaga
  Opening Act:
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 
  Tickets:$85 - $305.50

  Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, from Yonkers, New York is bringing her infamous tour to Philly for two days. Born to an Italian family consisting of an internet mogul and business partner- this aspiring exhibitionist began her career singing Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper tunes into a plastic tape recorder, her parents were the only ones who sprung for Lady Gaga tickets then. She earned her stage name from the Queen song "Radio Gaga." First signed to Def Jam recorders at 19, LA Reid, however, they dropped Gaga after only 3 months - it was hip hop star Akon who gave Lady Gaga another chance, signing her to his Konvict label. Since then, Lady Gaga has written songs for Britney Spears, Fergie, The Pussy Cat Dolls and New Kids on the Block. After sparking the interest of Interscope records, Gaga struck a joint deal with the two labels. One of the first songs that Lady Gaga would produce would be a mashup (combo of music from one song and a capella from another) of the AC/DC song "TNT" and the Motley Crue song "Girls, Girls, Girls" and the rest is history!!

Wednesday, September 15th 
  Johnny Brendas:
  Headliner: Charlatans UK
  Opening Act: Sherlock's Daughter
  Doors: 8pm / Show: 9pm 
  The Charlatans (known as Charlatans UK in the USA to avoid confusion with the 1960’s group of the same name) were originally formed in Birmingham, England by bassist Martin Blunt, who recruited fellow West Midlanders; Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Brookes (drums), John Baker (also known as Day) (guitar) plus vocalist Baz Ketley. Former Electric Crayons singer Tim Burgess (from Northwich) replaced Ketley before the release of The Charlatans debut single “Indian Rope” in 1990 on the band’s own Dead Dead Good Records label. It proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of The Only One I Know which reached the Top 10 in the UK singles chart. A further single, Then, and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year to great commercial and critical acclaim.

  Mann Music Center:
  Headliner: Cake
  Opening Act: None Listed
  Doors: 6pm / Show: 7:30pm 
  With a unique sound embodying elements of funk, hip-hop, new wave pop and guitar rock, Cake has continually paved their own path across the alternative rock landscape. Sporting a thick collection of hits drowned in lyrical non-sequiturs, pop culture references and smirky satire, the multi-platinum rockers tour and hint at some new songs from their six studio album to be released later this year.
The band was recently honored as one Billboard's top 10 "greenest" bands on the planet after they converted their entire Sacramento recording studio - where they recently recorded their forthcoming album entirely with solar energy - to solar power.

  Theater of the Living Arts:
  Headliner: Of Montreal with Janelle Monae
  Opening Act: NONE LISTED
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 
  Of Montreal is an indie rock band from Athens, Georgia who is known for putting on a whimsical and musically captivating show. The band is composed of band leader Kevin Barnes, Bryan Poole, Dottie Alexander, Davey Pierce and Clayton Rychlik who all came together after years of members shuffling in and out of the group. As a long time fan, you should expect a new sound, look and feel to the band with the new direction they are taking their style to. Moving away from the psychedelic-fantastical sound of past albums, and toward a heavier use of guitar, they not only wail with Barnes' high-pitched voice, but also place it over a rock background with only hints of the quirky sound that has placed them in a few top bands lists for half a decade. Barnes acts the narrator to a symbolic play happening on stage - naked women and men eating apples out of each other's hands, while a cartoon of a cock (rooster) and a priest flashed on the projection screen and other theatrical displays that are very visual. 

  Wells Fargo Center: The Monster Ball Tour
  Headliner: Lady Gaga
  Opening Act:
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 
  Tickets:$85 - $305.50
  As Lady Gaga concerts started becoming more and more popular as Lady Gaga , she would find set and fashion inspiration in the form of Lower East Side DJ Lady Starlight. The two went on to perform at Lollapalooza in 2008 where Lady Gaga was given a summons for indecent exposure due to her hot pants addiction - from this, more and more fans were learning of the outrageousness of a Lady Gaga concert and wanted Lady Gaga tickets of their own. Emulating the pop-art lifestyle, Lady Gaga concerts are anything but drab - with outlandish outfits dripping with faux crystals, faux meat, balls dropping to the theme of A Clockwork Orange and mounds and mounds of hot pants, Lady Gaga tickets are your passes to some serious eye candy. Lady Gaga shows guarantee a blast into the past and a glimpse into the future of pop. So get yourself in and just dance.

Thursday, September 16th 
  World Cafe Live:
  Headliner: Matt Hires
  Opening Act: Matt Santry / Zach Williams
  Doors: 7pm / Show: 8pm 
  When you listen to Matt Hires, what comes across is the sound of an artist self-assured, authentic, and at ease with being completely and utterly himself. On his debut F-Stop/Atlantic release, Take Us To The Start, the 23-year-old Florida native fuses the intimacy of the great singer/songwriters with indelible pop/rock hooks and propulsive rhythms. The result is a mesmerizing collection of songs that are immediately enchanting, while becoming more deeply rewarding with each listen.

Friday, September 17th 
  North Star Bar:
  Headliner: Biffy Clyro
  Opening Act: O' Brother / Bronze Radio Return 
  Doors: 8pm / Show: 9pm 
  Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock band from Ayrshire comprising of Simon Neil - guitar, lead vocals, James Johnston - bass, vocals and Ben Johnston - drums, vocals. After their first three albums, the band expanded their fanbase with the release of their fourth, Puzzle in 2007. The album went gold in the UK, selling over 100,000 units. Biffy Clyro's popularity grew even stronger with the release of the singles "Mountains" and "That Golden Rule", which both reached the top 10 of the UK singles chart. Their latest album, "Only Revolutions," reached #8 in the UK chart and went gold within days of its release in 2009, later going platinum in 2010 and became nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Even though, Simon Neil does most of the vocals, all three band members contribute to vocal duties. The band is best known for using complex and interwoven guitar riffs, unusual time signatures and chord sequences and melodies that often change throughout songs, and not to forget about their great presence on the stage.
  Mann Music Center:
  Headliner: Pavement
  Opening Act: Kurt Vile
  Doors: 6pm / Show: 7:30pm 
  After years of speculation, veteran indie rockers Pavement are back on the stage with the lineup of Mark Ibold, Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West reuniting for dates around the world in 2010. They are touring to support their newly released compilation album entitled "Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement." Pavement made their mark when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first EP, "Slay Tracks" (1933-1969), was released in 1989, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the late '80s, Pavement brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. Combining ringing guitar hooks with mumbled, cryptic lyrics and a D.I.Y. aesthetic borrowed from post-punk, the band simultaneously sounded traditional and modern.

Saturday, September 18th 
  Susquehanna Bank Center:
  Headliner: Rascal Flatts
  Opening Act: Kellie Pickler / Chris Young
  Doors: 6pm / Show: 7:30pm 
  Tickets:$44.85 - Lawn; $88.15 - $116.15
  This popular country trio are known to always open up their shows with a loud bang playing one of the many fan favorites. Their fist pumping country blasts gets any corwd riled up to start and end the night off. Their shows promises to take fans through a musical journey through their multi platinum selling albums. They definitely are all about the music and less of the talking and that’s what they show. Expect hit songs including "Bless The Broken Road", "Me and My Gang", "What Hurts the Most", "Here Comes Goodbye", "These Days", "Life is a Highway", "Feels Like Today" and many more. For anyone who has never seen Rascal Flatts in concert before - definitely check out a show.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 MTV Video Music Award Winners

There were a lot of jeers, cheers and talks about Kanye West's interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech in last year’s awards during this year’s 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, but happy to report Taylor made it through her performance with only applause interrupting her. The night belonged to Hip-Hop and Pop with Eminem and Lady Gaga dominated ownership of the MoonMen. So it was time to let bygones be bygones and the show offered a handful of trophies that felt less meaningful than ever, as viewers held their breath for a potential act of contrition from Kanye West. Although, the draw of the VMAs is the wacky frisson of having pop’s A-list all squished into one auditorium and hoping they fight, make out or both.

Proving that MTV's Video Music Awards is not your typical awards show, show producers chosen carpet for the VMAs was white. Any celebrity who walked and gave their strut onto the white carpet took a back seat to the woman who owned the night - Lady Gaga. Her over-the-top gowns (most designed by the late Alexander McQueen) and coordinating headpieces, not only made her presence known in the world of fashion, she also cleaned up with multiple wins. She won Video of the Year, Best Female Video, Best Pop Video and Best Collaboration with Beyonce. In a rare moment, a designer was mentioned in an acceptance speech; Lady Gaga thanked McQueen for supplying clothing for her videos. Perhaps the only thing that rivaled Lady Gaga's get-ups were the elaborate onstage sets. And maybe, just maybe, 
Kayne West's red suit.  

Justin Bieber made his VMA debut with an outdoor performance in front of hundreds of screaming girls. Kim Kardashian introduced the JB’s performance by joking about her inappropriate crush on the young star. Did you happen to catch JB as he flailed away inexplicably at a silver drum kit and a drumstick went flying from his hands. Pop-R&B's reigning prince, Usher, came and took over the stage shortly after his buddy Bieber and of course put his dance moves to good use to get the the audience dancing in their seats!

Other memorable performances of the evening included Florence and the Machine's beautiful and impressive vocal performance of “Dog Days are Over” and Taylor Swift’s performance. Opening with a video recap of Kanye interrupting her acceptance speech last year, Taylor then dressed as a 1920’s pin-up girl to sing a new song from her "Speak Now" album. Swift premiered a new tune of her own with lyrics clearly directed at the rapper, and none of them naughty. “Thirty-two is still growing up,” the country-pop princess squeaked, wearing her most serious face. “Who you are is not what you did. You’re still an innocent.” Mary J. Blige and Swizz Beatz helped Drake give his first VMA performance of his song “Fancy.” New sensations B.o.B, Bruno Mars Hayley Williams and Paramore gave a long montage of favorite hits from this year. Lincoln Park even gave a remote performance at the Griffith Observatory. Gaga announced the name of her new album, "Born This Way" and Kanye wrapped up the show by performing his song, “Last Call.”

Here are the List of Categories, Nominees and WINNERS:

Best Female Video:
  • “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga **WINNER**
  • “Tik Tok” – Ke$ha
  • “California Gurls” – Katy Perry
  • “Video Phone (extended remix)” – Beyonce feat. Lady Gaga
  • “Fifteen” – Taylor Swift
Best Male Video:
  • “Airplanes” – B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams
  • “Find Your Love” – Drake
  • “Not Afraid” – Eminem **WINNER**
  • “In My Head” – Jason Derulo
  • “OMG” – Usher feat.
Best New Artist:
  • Broken Bells, “The Ghost Inside”
  • Jason Derulo, “In My Head”
  • Justin Bieber feat. Ludacris, “Baby” **WINNER**
  • Ke$ha, “Tik Tok”
  • Nicki Minaj feat. Sean Garrett, “Massive Attack”
Best Pop Video:
  • “Nothing on You” – B.o.B feat. Bruno Mars
  • “Video Phone (extended remix)” – Beyonce feat. Lady Gaga
  • “California Gurls” – Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
  • “Tik Tok” – Ke$ha
  • “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga **WINNER**
Best Dance Video:
  • “Evacuate the Dancefloor” – Cascada
  • “Sexy Chick” – David Guetta feat. Akon
  • “I Like It” – Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
  • “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga **WINNER**
  • “OMG” – Usher feat.
Best Rock Video:
  • “Kings and Queens” – 30 Seconds to Mars **WINNER**
  • “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + the Machine
  • “Flash Delirium” – MGMT
  • “Uprising” – Muse
  • “Ignorance” – Paramore
Best Hip-Hop Video:
  • “Airplanes” – B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams
  • “Forever” – Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem
  • “Not Afraid” – Eminem **WINNER**
  • “On To The Next One” – Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz
  • “Pursuit of Happiness” – Kid Cudi feat. MGMT & Ratatat
Best Collaboration:
  • 3OH!3 feat. Ke$ha, “My First Kiss”
  • B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams, “Airplanes”
  • Beyonce feat. Lady Gaga, “Video Phone (extended remix)” **WINNER**
  • Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
  • Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce, “Telephone”
Video of the Year:
  • “Kings and Queens” – 30 Seconds to Mars
  • “Airplanes” – B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams
  • “Not Afraid” – Eminem
  • “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + the Machine
  • “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga **WINNER**
  • “Telephone” – Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce