Stranded In Stereo: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Morning Newsletter (03/31/08)

I went to two great shows recently and have three more this week. Jose Fritz just sits around and gets you in he know with the Monday Morning Newsletter!

Duran Duran got its world tour off to a rough start. Wednesday, at the inaugural show in New Zealand singer Simon Le Bon forgot lyrics and bassist John Taylor stormed angrily off stage. In a statement to the press the band admitted that they were very frustrated with the generally low percentage of 50-year-old groupies that put out.

The soft drink company Dr. Pepper is attempting to coax former Guns And Roses vocalist Axl Rose into releasing his album,
Chinese Democracy, in the year 2008. On the table is an offer to provide a free can of soda to every man woman and child in the United States. This is so retarded I can’t think of anything else to say.

Equal Vision Records is putting-together a new DVD/CD compilation slated for release on April 15th. It will feature videos and tracks from bands past and present including The Fall Of Troy, Converge, Chiodos and others.

Roadrunner Records will be reissuing Life Of Agony's
River Runs Red on April 29th. The new version of the album will feature 4 bonus songs tacked onto the albums original track listing. This continues their decade’s long tradition of re-releasing albums to pay the rent.

This April will see the long-delayed release of Director Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones biopic flim. Readers over the age of 50 will remember an earlier band biopic named
Gimmie Shelter. When asked about the similarities between the older film and the brand new Shine a Light Scorsese said “Well now they’re really old.”

On charges of rape Richard Ream was arrested at LAX this week. You know him better as Rikki Rockett, the sleazy 46-year-old drummer of '80s hair-band Poison. He was on a flight back from an oldies tour in New Zealand.

Yesterday, in an off-handed remark Moby explained the mid-1990s explosion of the indie-rock licensing. “Some decisions I've made were more fueled by desperation than anything; some of the more gratuitous licensing. Sorry about that.”

Champions of public drunkenness, Queens of the Stone Age will headline the SoCo Music Experience festival at Centennial Olympic Park l, scheduled for May 17. The Atlanta event is appropriately sponsored by Southern Comfort.

Anti-Emo Violence in the city of Queretaro, Mexico has escalated into flash riots. An anti-emo movement has grown into organized attacks on pink haired sissies wherever they may roam. In Mexico City gay-rights organizations suggest that the attacks are fueled by homophobia. The problem being that being emo doesn’t make you gay.; going to the bath-house at 21st and Sansom makes you gay. Read more here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

SIS CD Prize Pack Giveaway

Dany and I realized the other day that we have too many CD's sitting around and cluttering up our desk and floor space here at the office. We could throw them away, or we could let them pile up, but instead we thought we'd give you the chance to take them off of our hands. Send me an e-mail and we'll pick two winners at random on Monday to receive a prize pack of CD's from your friends at Stranded In Stereo. We'll even pick the dust bunnies off of them for you, and include a copy of Stranded In Stereo Volume 9.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Formative Years: "The Days of Our Nights" by Luna, 1999

Second Interaction with an Idol*

I recently finished reading Black Postcards, the memoirs of one Michael Dean Wareham. Yeah, yeah, most people just know him as Dean Wareham: one time front man for such pivotal bands like Galaxie 500, Luna, and currently one half of the musical (and romantic) duo, Dean & Britta. In the book, he tells his tale of coming to America from New Zealand as a child. Going to school in the heart of New York City, and coming here to Boston continue his studies at Harvard. And, yeah he also talks about being in bands and giving his beloved field of industry the ole what for.

When I was 15, Luna had released their fifth album, The Days Of Our Nights. One of my usual outlets for new music was The Sunday News, a show that, up until the end of 2007, was hosted and put together by my local hero, Mr. Bill Hanson. At this point in my life, I already discovered Galaxie 500 thanks to the Dandy Warhols citing them as an influence. I came across that Ryko box set with the entire catalog in it in Columbia for less than $25 and just bet the farm and was pleasantly surprised. Hanson had identified the number he was playing as Luna’s “Dear Diary,” the lead off track from Days. If I remember correctly, I was sitting on the floor in my brother’s room, playing N64 or something to that effect, when I had first heard those guitar chords strum, before Wareham’s trademark warble came in to the mix.

“I saw that girl again today, reading silly magazines.”

His vocals, like anyone else’s over time, had changed. Not too drastically I don’t think; only having heard the complete Galaxie 500 catalog at the point in my life, I was use to Wareham’s vocals being doused in reverb, strained at times on a song like “Snowstorm,” muddied in the mix. It was surprising to hear him with a deeper vocal tone, almost speaking the verses, but he went back to more familiar territory with the “ba ba’s” that lead in to forced singing of the chorus.

"Dear Diary" & "Hello Little One" on Later, 1999:

I don’t remember buying the album any more, I just knew I had it in my hands eventually. “Superfreaky Memories” always sticks out as the song that captivated me then; the huge drum sounds (which were just encompassed in reverb) along with the strings and vocals didn’t sound so superfreaky as much as they sounded futuristic.

The second half of that record had an off pace, with a song that starts off sounding like the theme song to Sex & The City (the cheekily titled “U.S. Out Of My Pants!”) and the strange slow number in German (“The Slow Song”). But it kicked off perfectly with “Math Wiz”. I had put this record on a few weeks ago, and “Math Wiz” still gives me chills with how it goes. It just starts off, right in the song: no counts, no building intro, just – boom – there you are, in the middle of the song. The shimmering guitars were just a breath of fresh air after the stark “Memories” right before it. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about this album, the only thing anyone should know about it, is the album’s closing cut, Luna’s drowsy take on “Sweet Child O’Mine.” The band had always done many a cover, putting their dream pop touch on songs from Donovan, Beat Happening, The Rolling Stones, and others, but this one always stuck with me. Even Sean Eden’s muted but not replication of Slash’s infamous lead guitar melody.

Last week, Wareham made a few appearances in Boston, reading from Black Postcards, playing a few songs with Luna bassist turned wife Britta Phillips. Afterwards he let us know to come say hi and he’d sign our copies of the just published memoir. I was already three quarters of the way through it, and had a plan to call him out for naming Days his least favorite Luna record, calling it “a bloated dud with two or three songs” on it. And when it came my turn, we greeted and exchanged names, and I had told him of my quarrel.

“Is that your favorite album?” he asked me with great enthusiasm, amidst the hints of a New Zealand accent that still penetrated his speak from time to time. I had quickly said no, and that it was just my introduction to Luna for fear that an idol of mine was going to tear me a new one for citing that bloated dud of an album as the highpoint of their career. As he handed my book back to me, he let me in on a little secret.

“My favorite album changes all the time,” he said. “I used to hate Lunapark, but I listened to it the other day and now it’s my favorite.”

I guess I should’ve just been up front with him.

"Blue Thunder," from the Lizard Lounge last week

*I had actually first met Wareham on Luna’s farewell tour, the only time I got to see them live, in November of 2004. He signed my copy of Rendezvous, not once, but twice sort of. After signing it with a pen, he eventually got a hold of a sharpie. “I will sign this – in full,” he said sitting on the stage after the set that night. No, I didn’t mention this to him last week, either.

Buy: The Days of Our Nights [Here] // Buy: Black Postcards [Here]

Darlings Of The Splitscreen Video

Check out the video from current Band of the Week Darlings of the Splitscreen. It's for the tune "I Know What You're Doing."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Duke Spirit Return to US from "Neptune"

We recently saw them play a show in NYC, and maybe we caught them at SXSW, but the Duke Spirit will return to the US next month in full swing to celebrate the state side release of Neptune.

They'll be spending most of April and the first few days of May on the road with San Francisco psych rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who are still playing out in support of last year's rather phenomenal Baby 81. Before that, though, the UK group will play some headlining shows on the east coast.

Headlining Shows:
4/8 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
4/9 Boston, MA - TT The Bear's
4/11 Philadelphia, PA - Northstar
4/12 Columbus, OH - CD101 Radio Show

Shows with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4/13 State College, PA - State Theatre
4/15 East Lansing, MI - Rick's
4/16 Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection
4/17 Toledo, OH - Headliner's
4/18 Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
4/19 Lexington, KY - The Dame
4/22 Charlotte, NC - Visualite Theatre
4/23 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
4/24 Knoxville, TN - Valarium
4/25 St Louis, MO - Pops
4/26 Kansas City, MO - Liberty Hall
4/29 Columbus, OH – Skullys
4/30 Champaign, IL - Canopy Club
5/2 Milwaukee, WI - Turner Ballroom
5/3 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
5/4 Chicago, IL - Metro

The Stranded Local Q&A: Red Sails

Usually I'm totally down for celebrating St. Patrick's Day bar-style in one of Boston's many watering holes. Unfortunately the day o' the Irish fell the day after I got back from SXSW (no bar hopping for me!) Although I was music and partied to the limit, I stopped by the Middle East Upstairs for a hot minute and luckily caught the set from the Red Sails.

There's a definite punk influence under the band's folky exterior with some accordion and catchy melodies to boot. As most of you were probably celebrating your St. Patrick's Day and not nursing the post-SXSW overwhelmed state of being, I strongly suggest you check out Red Sails this Saturday at the Lilypad in Cambridge.

Red Sails was formed by Tom Tierney (vocals, guitar, accordion, keys) when he started playing solo shows,
performing indie folk tunes with a bluesy vibe. "I played anywhere I could, from the Middle East to the streets of Cambridge to make some scratch," says Tierney.

He enlisted pal Dan Pirello to play guitar with him in 2006. At the time Tierney was also studying at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, NY, where he met Patrick Southern (bass) and Colin Fahrner (drums). Southern and Tierney formed Red Sails in the fall of 2006 with drummer Nate Smith. They recorded two EP's and toured briefly around the
Northeast before Smith left the group due to irreconcilable musical differences. Fahrner replaced Smith and since then the quartet has been working on a serious of two-song singles. One will be released every couple of months, which will ultimately end up in a full length.

"The most exciting thing so far is a single series we're doing," says Tierney. "We decided to release them serially to constantly be pushing forward with the music, and not trapped into a long-winded album concept."

See below to read Tierney's answers to the five questions SIS always asks local acts.

Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
I think coming up as a musician in Boston builds a healthy musical mindset. Bands that come up in huge cities like L.A. or New York City have the disadvantage of trying to compete on an international level – success means celebrity. That mindset can usually be heard in the music. I feel like musicians from Boston know that success is playing to a good crowd and having a good time while doing it. There is a great scene here, but the industry isn’t oppressive. It allows musicians to cultivate a good DIY ethic that keeps you working hard. I knew in high school that playing in bands in Boston meant I couldn’t really look to anyone else for help – I had to make it happen myself by working with the musicians and spaces around me (rec. halls, churches, basements, etc.). That’s a beautiful thing, and it shows in the art. Boston’s music is honest and from the heart. What could be better?

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
More than anyone right now, I want to share a bill with Akron/Family. They are just the most engaging and energetic performers I’ve seen in years, not to mention some of the most elegant recording artists. I got to sound tech for them recently, and I was more than psyched.
I would really love to play with St. Vincent. Annie Clark’s writing brings me to my knees. I think our sound fits well with hers – it could be a pretty dynamic bill. Also I think Dr. Dog is one of the best live indie rock bands out there right now. Their music is so fun, but their writing is honest and their layers are complex and texturally very lush. Dig Dr. Dog.

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is

Hm. This is tough, but probably the Middle East Upstairs. Great vibes, good space, and the sound techs are always on it. Loud as hell.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear
from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
We’re all big into jazz, and play and study it a lot. It doesn’t show much in our music, but it’s there. Colin actually was primarily a jazz drummer before joining the Sails. I think a lot in terms of Jazz harmony when building chord structures and voicings. Danny and I dig Celtic folk tunes a whole lot – he spent last semester in Ireland playing in pub sessions, and I’ve spent countless hours busking on the streets screaming traditionals. I love 20th century modern composers – Schoenberg, Debussy and Part have been big influences for sure. More obviously – post punk, blues and psychadelia.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
Well Sunset Grill is my favorite for the esoteric beers for sure, but I find myself dropping more green than I’m comfortable with there. When it’s right in front of you, it’s hard not to order a Stone Ruination or a Great Divide Hercules. Trouble for the wallet, man.
For a faithful PBR, dig the Silhouette Lounge. See you there!


Dock band photo by John Francis McCarthy

Download: "River Gods" [mp3]

Catch them live: This Saturday, March 29th at the Lilypad in Cambridge with Face of Cain.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Nerf Herder: "(Stand By Your) Manatee"

They once sang of Van Halen, Courtney Love, and all those ways to die (it was 5000, right?) and everyone's favorite vulcan, Dr. Spock. Now, the boys of Nerf Herder return to the fold with their upcoming album, the so epically titled Nerf Herder IV, and use the device of song as a way to pay tribute to one of most underappreciated species of the sea: the manatee. A fan has even gone so far as to make a rather clever video for the track "(Stand By Your) Manatee," and I must say it's one of the the funniest things I've seen in quite awhile.

Who knew manatees were so lovable?

Nerf Herder IV
won't be out until April 29th, but the band is already streaming the whole record at their website. Do check it out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Throw Me The Statue Beam On First National Tour

Easily one of my favorite albums from the first quarter of 2008 would be Moonbeams, the debut album from Seattle based band Throw Me The Statue. In celebration of their Secretly Canadian effort, the band kicked off their first headlining tour in the US this weekend, and they will be playing with a handful of different bands over the course of their month long jaunt. Make sure to check them out when they come to your neck of the woods.

03-24 - Fargo, ND - Aquarium
03-26 - Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville News
03-27 - Davenport, IA - The Redstone Room
03-28 - Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern^**
03-29 - Bloomington, IN - Art Hospital
03-31 - Lexington, KY - TBA
04-01 - Columbus, OH - Skully‘s
04-02 - Cincinnati, OH - Gypsy Hut
04-03 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop***
04-04 - Toronto, ON - El Mocambo
04-05 - Ottawa, ON - Zaphod Beeblebrox
04-06 - Montreal, QC - Zoobizarre
04-08 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs *
04-09 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge*
04-10 - Philadelphia, PA - Khyber
04-11 - Ewing, NJ - Ratskeller
04-12 - Norfolk, VA - Boot**
04-13 - Wilmington, SC - Soap Box**
04-14 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn**
04-15 - Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree Cafe**
04-16 - Houston, TX - The Mink**
04-18 - Austin, TX - Mohawk**
04-19 - Fort Worth, TX - Lola‘s **
04-21 - Santa Fe, NM - College of Santa Fe
04-22 - Flagstaff, AZ - Mia‘s
04-24 - Los Angeles, CA - Silver Lake Lounge
04-26 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill^^
* w/ White Hinterland
**w/ The Ruby Suns
*** w/ Born Ruffians, Cadence Weapon
^w/ Bodies of Water, Le Loup
^^ w/ The Heavenly States

They recently were filmed cavorting about their hometown of Seattle, performing songs for La Blogotheque, doing acoustic renditions of some of Moonbeams finest moments, and a cover of the GBV classic "My Valuable Hunting Knife."

"About To Walk"

"My Valuable Hunting Knife"

Monday Morning Newsletter (03/24/08)

Do I need to say any more?

Puff Daddy has issued a statement denying the Los Angeles Times article connecting him to the 1994 murder of Tupac Shakur. It states that his employees were responsible for the shooting death of Shakur at a New York recording studio. He said “That’s wack. Everybody knows OJ did that shit.”

Lawyers for The Beatles sued Friday to prevent the distribution of the unreleased 1962 recordings of Ringo Starr's first performance with the group. John Lennon was reported to be spinning in his grave like a turkey on a spit over the horror of the world hearing Ringo at his worst.

Velvet Revolver is reportedly breaking up over internal disputes and personality issues. Scott Weiland spoke out from via his spokesperson in rehab. “Our current plan is to spend the next 10 years recording an album that will never see release.”

SPV has announced the signing of world-famous rock-icon Alice Cooper. The Hanover, Germany-based label has agreed in an amazingly detailed contract to cover the expenses for his guillotines, gallows, electric chairs, snakes, and fake blood. Was anyone else let down the first time they say him golfing?

Warner Brothers Records has announced that Madonna’s 11th studio album, Hard Candy, will be released April 28th. This follows her heretical induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on back on March 10th.

The first Jay Reatard 7-inch in their singles series for Matador Records will hit stores April 8th. The singles "See Saw" and “Screaming Hand" were recorded at Shattered Studios this past January. Jay would like his fans to know that they can stop calling label head Chris Lombardi at home. It’s creepy.

The new Raconteurs record, Consolers Of The Lonely, dropped early last Friday on iTunes. Was it an accident or part of Steve Jobs sinister plan to control the world? Stranded’s Rusty Elucidates.

Despite a violent van wreck on I-71 North in Ohio, the band Genghis Tron managed to avoid mortal injury. They were about 90 miles North of Columbus when the rear right wheel of their vehicle fell off sending them into a ditch at 60 miles per hour. Vocalist Mookie Singerman was quoted as saying “Dude, I feel like Cliff Burton, except not dead.”

Iconic West-coast punk rock band the Dead Kennedys are seeking a new front man after lead vocalist Jeff Penalty quit this past week. Penalty of course was filling in for Brandon Cruz who quit in 2003, who had taken over for the infamous Jello Biafra who gave them the finger in 2001. Ronnie James Dio is rumors to be in talks with the band.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New R.E.M. Video - "Living Well Is The Best Revenge"

R.E.M. have been spending a lot of time with Vincent Moon lately as they prepare to drop Accelerate on April 1st. He was there when they played those Dublin shows last July that are forever immortalized through clips on the Ninety Nights site, he directed the video for first single "Supernatural Superserious," and now the band unveiled he's filmed a clip for Accelerate's rousing opener, "Living Well Is The Best Revenge." You can download the video for free, right now, via iTunes.

Also be on the lookout for the newest issue of Spin, in which the Athens legends grace the cover. Oh, aren't they still dreamy?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Walk The Line Giveaway

One of my favorite films from 2005 was the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon gave performances of the award-winning caliber; Witherspoon even won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of June Carter.

The movie was originally released on DVD in a standard and special two-disc set that featured some postcards and extra special features, and now there's another version to add to the shelf for you collectors. The new extended cut of Walk The Line comes out on two-disc DVD this Tuesday, featuring a new 153 minute cut of the film (up from the original running time of 135.) I don't know if it's never before seen footage, or deleted scenes from the previous releases, but your friends at Stranded In Stereo and 20th Century Fox want you, faithful blog reader, to get your hands on this DVD before it goes on sale. Shoot me an e-mail and we'll select two winners on Monday.

Ready. Set. Go!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A few pictures from SXSW, Part Three

Kate Nash & Billy Bragg:
Look See Proof:
The Indelicates:

SIS Upcoming: Taste of Choas

Looks like our man Kevin Hakansson wants you to come hang out with him this Friday if you are in the greater Boston area . . .

A few years back, Warped Tour creator and music business pioneer Kevin Lyman had an idea. If his outdoor punk rock summer camp had been so successful, what’s to say kids wouldn’t come out to a smaller, indoor, winter version of such a tour?

As it turned out, there was nothing to say that they wouldn’t, and come out they did. The Taste of Chaos tour, sponsored by Rockstar, debuted in 2005, featuring scene favorites like The Used, Underoath, and My Chemical Romance. From the beginning, this mini-Warped setup featured bands big and small, able to boast an evening of non-stop music, thanks to a smaller side stage, as well as vendors of all kind sporting the types of ware for sale one would expect to find walking the grounds of TOC’s summer counterpart.

Four years (and a total of six tours, three U.S and three international) later, Taste of Chaos is still kicking. Lyman's experiment seems to have worked, with lineups focused primarily around post-hardcore type bands drawing the Warped crowd in droves. Hoping to keep the momentum going by this year's tour is Avenged Sevenfold. This over the top metal act gained national prominence in 2005 with the release of City of Evil, the band's major label debut on Warner Brothers Records. The colorful video for the record's hit single, "Bat Country," gained considerable airplay, and brought the band to the American public. They're touring in support of their new, self titled album, released this past Halloween.

Avenged Sevenfold is also, not surprisingly, a Warped Tour veteran, as are a few other bands on the tour. Both Atreyu and Bullet for My Valentine have done summer stints, no doubt gaining the attention of Lyman and company, landing themselves prime support slots. Other bands performing this year include a trio of acts from across the Pacific; Japanese rockers Mucc, D'Espairspray, and The Underneath comprise an all-Asian second stage.

The main stage also features Idiot Pilot, a band that makes its return to Taste of Chaos after being a part of the initial 2005 lineup. A band with one of the fullest post-hardcore sounds you'll hear is, in person at least, considerably more unassuming than you'd expect. That's because while Idiot Pilot may sound like a fully instrumented musical outfit, they're a mere duo. Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson are, quite frankly, talented enough to carry the load of a full band themselves, thank you very much.

Harris and Anderson, natives of Bellingham, Washington, grew up together, and started playing in bands at a young age with other local youths. It didn't take long, though, before they realized there was a band contained simply between the two of them. They began recording acoustic demos together, and before long, had themselves an act. Their debut album, Strange We Should Meet Here, was produced largely by the two band members themselves with the help of a local studio that taught them the ropes of music production. Some local radio play gained the duo some national buzz, leading to (appropriately enough) Reprise Records re-releasing the record in 2005.

Idiot Pilot is touring in support of a new record, released on Reprise just this February. Wolves proves what a perfect clash of extremes Harris and Anderson comprise. While both compose the electronic music that make up the songs on Wolves, both also show off distinctly different vocal styles. While Harris' soaring, frequently falsetto, Thom Yorke-conjuring vox carry the majority of the melodies, Anderson frequently chimes in with blood-curdling shouts. Take "Red Museum," one of the new record's finest tracks, for example. Harris' cutesy vocal melody, set on top of a compelling background of electrono-pop, is often interrupted by Anderson’s cries, accompanied by a blistering double-bass pedal line, with the song not missing a beat. Anderson takes over later though, as his frightening screams drive the closing bridge section.

It'll be interesting to see how Idiot Pilot, at times subdued popsters, at others intense headbangers, fit in with Taste of Chaos’ hard rock dominated lineup. It's a pretty good bet that their interesting take on rock and roll will be well received by a curious young audience. Boston-area concertgoers will have their chance to find out this Friday, March 21st, north of the city at Lowell's Tsongas Arena. General admission tickets are available at the tour for $35, but be sure to get there early to catch all the bands; doors open at 4:30, with the show slated to start at 5:30.

SIS At The Club: Rufus Wainwright

Resident Stranded In Stereo writer Joey Coombe recently took in a set by famed singer Rufus Wainwright last month, and he's gotten back to us with his report from the field.

The Wiltern Theater sits at the intersection of Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Built in 1931, The Warner Brothers Western Theater was originally a movie house but through renovations done in the mid 1980s, the theater now functions as a performing arts center hosting live music and other acts. The renovations have remained true to the building’s original art deco design; it was declared a historical landmark in 1979. The Wiltern Theater, considered one of the larger venues in Los Angeles, was sold out for Rufus Wainwright’s L.A. tour stop in support of his album Release the Stars.

On Release the Stars, Wainwright moves further away from his singer/songwriter persona and into the territory of showman/entertainer. Those early Gap commercials from the mid 1990s, the ones where Wainwright sat at his piano against a quintessential white backdrop playing a song of our grandparents’ generation, seem half a world away.

The early appeal of Wainwright’s music as an old soul, out of time but not out of step, is gone. With Stars, much like the Want One, Want Two double punch, Wainwright’s music feels very much timely and very much relevant. “Oh What a World,” the first track on Want One, includes the line ‘Why am I always on a plane or a fast train. Oh what a world my parents gave me? Always travelin’ but not in love.’ “Going To a Town,” from his latest effort, continues this modern world commentary with a ballad of displacement and disappointment worthy of a Billy Joel comparison. But, Rufus has morphed into the ultimate Billy Joel / Elton John mash-up; inheriting Joel’s depth and masked darkness along with John’s performance and panache.

That night's show featured a majority of songs from Release the Stars. The title track started off the show like a Broadway first act. Wainwright’s 7 piece backing band was isolated in spotlights prior to his entrance stage left. As the song began a disco ball revolving light show covered the stage in tiny white twinkles, hence releasing the stars. But this being Los Angeles, the song was not about those that fill the night sky but those that fill the stage and screen, stars who no doubt were in attendance that night.
As Wainwright mentioned Melrose Avenue in “Release the Stars,” many from the crowd cheered. Wainwright then proceeded to play more tracks from his recent record, including “Sanssucci,” “Tiergarten,” and “Do I Disappoint You?”

The night included a brief intermission, which meant a wardrobe change for Wainwright; from a very colorful suit both bright white and a rainbow of colors from the warmer side of the color wheel to a lederhosen clad outfit of a young German lad. This would not be the only wardrobe change of the evening.
The last two songs were off Want One, the glorious “Beautiful Child” followed by “14th Street,” which ended with a long and sustaining banjo solo that played as band members left the stage.

There was a short encore involving a Judy Garland tribute. Rufus Wainwright played two songs from his Rufus does Judy at Carnegie Hall album that featured not just musical accompaniment but choreography as well. “Poses” also made an appearance, the title track of Wainwright’s 1999 album. Sounding somber and sentimental compared to his more recent material, “Poses” was still a crowd-pleaser.

As Wainwright makes clear in his song “Oh What a World,” it’s a much different world for a gay performer now. Gone are the closeted days of Liberace. With Release the Stars, Wainwright seems to be leaving behind the cult figure of songs like “One Man Guy” and “Matinee Idol.” Release the Stars celebrates America. In Greil Marcus’s most recent book: The Shape of Things to Come, he speaks of the American artist, the one voice speaking for the whole. It is in this way Wainwright speaks on Stars, not from his own unique perspective but from the space we occupy together as Americans. This is the way gay culture has always been in American culture: from Walt Whitman to Cole Porter.

When Wainwright sings in “Going to a Town,” ‘I’m going to a town that has already been burned down,’ he’s showing us our past and our future. American exceptionalism is blessing and a curse. Through the promise and prophecy of our past, we may never know humbling. It’s from such high horses that condemn homosexuality causing Wainwright to write the lines “Do you think you go to hell for having loved?”

The backdrop for the stage show of this tour is a black and white flag; black and white stripes and in black rather than a blue square at the top left corner are not stars but broaches. The black stripes Wainwright said represented all the pain and the white all the joy in our history. For the broaches, Wainwright insisted they were because he was poor and couldn’t afford stars. But perhaps broaches, the fabulous and flamboyant pendants are actually used to represent the once hidden glittery jewels of America’s closet. Release the stars indeed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A few pictures from SXSW, Part Two

Darla Farmer:
The Wombats:
The Indelicates:
Teenage Cool Kids:

New Raconteurs Album Next Week

A few days ago, I was reading a post on a message board I sometimes frequent from a person who works at a record store claiming there was a new Raconteurs album coming out today. No one really believed it, but then again with the way rather large artists have been dropping things out of the sky these days (Radiohead, NIN, etc.,) maybe Jack White had a trick up his sleeve. Did he really have the band finish their new album, go to Warner Bros., and demand it be released ASAP? Yes. Yes he did.

And with that, Jack White's other band will release their sophomore album, Consolers Of The Lonely, next Tuesday.
What's special about this compared to the NIN and Radiohead releases, though, is that this isn't just a digital release, it's a normal release: it will be out via CD, vinyl, and as a digital download via iTunes from your friends at Third Man/Warner Bros. Wow. Mighty impressive I must say, now we just have to wait and see how impressive the record is when it lands.

Until then, there's always Pee Wee's cameo in this video:

Monday, March 17, 2008

A few pictures from SXSW, Part One

Lightspeed Champion:These New Puritans:
The Pigeon Detectives:

Monday Morning Newsletter (03/17/08)

You have your SXSW hangover and St. Patty's Day hangover, and the only cure for that is Jose Fritz's Monday Morning Newsletter.

Lou Pearlman, the NAMBLA member and former manager of Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering and lying at his bankruptcy hearing. The guilty plea was the end to a federal probe that Pearlman stole over $300 million dollars from banks and investors.

Somebody knocked up Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie Presley. The father is probably Michael Lockwood but might also be one of those Aliens that Elvis used to hang with. Where is world weekly news when you need them?

Scott Weiland has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of drugs when he crashed his car in November. Weiland had been arrested on November 21, 2007 after crashing his car on a California highway. In a lengthy statement given by his lawyer he claimed “I did not know that Keith Richard’s dad’s ashes contained actual drugs when I smoked them.”

Announced just this week, the prog-rock impresario band Yes is going to be back on tour. Original members Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White are booking a world tour. This will be their seventeenth reunion tour but the first one in 3 whole years.

The band Guystorm continues to not to exist despite two shows in their imagined hometown of Minneapolis and a gig at WEfest scheduled for May 25th. (Note to all who may think they are real and not figments please check for expired medications in your bathroom cabinets. In the case of accidental ingestion call the Poison control center.)

Inexplicably in the middle of SXSW Rachel Ray held a music showcase. The Beauty Bar will never live down the shame of letting Rachel Ray cater a show in the middle of BBQ country let along host one. The Cringe led by her hubby John Cusimano headlined. He was quoted as saying “Don’t look at me man, I can’t stop her.”

This week Merge Records joined the throngs of indie labels offering digital downloads. They now offer a selection of sides from their current and back catalog in both MP3 and FLAC formats. Label president Mac McCaughan said “Digital downloads are the new black, suing people over a download is so passé.”

SXSW wraps up this week leaving a legion of indie snobs, scensters, hipsters, and music fans bloated, sleep deprived and hung over. Stranded in Stereo Head Editor Dany Sloan was on scene to catch the countrified festivities. After 96 hours of straight rocking Dany was quoted as saying “mmm Frito pie.”

Prostitute Ashley Alexandra Dupre, now famous for banging Governor Spitzer at an hourly rate of over $1000 is now rumored to be signing to Koch records. Her self-released singles "What We Want" and "Move ya Body" have already made it into rotation on the New York pop station WHTZ. PD Sharon Dastur said “even I’d hit that.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Sob" : Bands Who Broke Up To Soon

We can all come up with them: the bands who folded in before they were lucky enough to capitalize on success, and instead have to live on in infamy, capturing an audience and having them be remembered for only a dozen, or maybe at times, two or three songs that filled up the wax of a 10" record. Bands always come and go, but these are the bands who broke up to soon, leaving us only with those one or two perfect releases, and the long standing "What If..."

Dany says:

Mother Vulpine: These guys formed in early ’06, and they were easy to miss because by the end of ’07, they had called it quits. While it may have been the right thing for them, England lost what could have a potentially great band. Combining the buzzsaw guitars of Drive Like Jehu with the yelping earnestness of Les Savy Fav or Q & Not U, this quartet deserved much more than the little bit of attention that they got. Their one single and handful of compilation of tracks are flawless bits of post-math madness. One member has moved on to the equally as promising Pulled Apart By Horses.

Ultrasound: In the late ‘90s, these guys were press darlings, riding a wave of hype on the brilliant singles “Best Wishes” and “Stay Young.” Early on, their mix of prog and glam could not be matched, but after a layoff of nearly a year, the much-anticipated debut album, Everything Picture, crumbled beneath its own expectations and ambition. Although this triple LP had a few great songs, most of it lacked focus and was middling. By the end of ’99, the band had split.

JJ72: Seven years might be stretching the whole “broke up too soon” thing a bit, but these guys only released two albums (with another one ready to go) before they called it a day in ’06 due to record label struggles. At the turn of the millennium, their eponymous debut made them both critical and commercial darlings, and although the follow-up (I to the Sky) sold less, it documented a dynamic band that avoided the sophomore slump.

Bald Rapunzel: This might be a DC thing, the whole breaking up after an album thing, because it happens a lot in the Capital. The mid to late ‘90s saw yet another renaissance in the music scene around the District, as bands like Q & Not U, The Dismemberment Plan and The Make-Up were starting to hit their stride. This DC/Maryland group combined the aesthetic of DC with the sound of the Pacific Northwest to create a winning formula and while their debut, Diazepam, was spotty, the highlights were indicative of a band that had much more in them.

Larrikin Love: A few years ago, what was loosely dubbed the Thamesbeat scene (which is now acknowledged as never having existed) began to sprout up around London, with the biggest purveyors being The Holloways, Good Shoes, Mystery Jets, Jamie T and Larrikin Love. These guys released their first two singles on indies Young & Lost Club and Transgressive before dropping their full-length debut in late ’06 on the latter label. Despite the promise of the disc and its impending release in Europe, the band split in May of ’07. Band leader Edward Larrikin is now focused on his side project, Pan I Am, which is also rooted in gypsy and Irish folk stylings.

Rusty thinks:

Chavez: Back in the 90s, before he had that Superwolf project with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, or was a member of Zwan, Matt Sweeney got his start in this Brooklyn based math rock quartet. The band recorded only two albums and an EP for Matador, and then they ceased to be. When the band got back together to play their first shows in the fall of 2006 to coincide with Matador reissuing their entire catalog in the Better Days Will Haunt You set, it was reveal that the band didn’t ever break up per se, they just got “busy.” Well then, I say, make a third album already.

The Golden Republic: From the beloved lands of Kansas City came a band lead by cousins Ben Grimes and Ryan Shank who wore their glam rock fandom on their blazers. Their catchy hooks and love for T-Rex got the band once known as The People a deal with Astralwerks. They toured with Nada Surf, opened up for and played the supporting role for Sondre Lerche at one point, released their self-titled debut, and couldn’t get it together to record a sophomore effort. Songs that would’ve made the second album ended up in other places, though: “Buildings & Mountains” was released as the first single by The Republic Tigers, the new band fronted by TGR guitarist Kenn Jankowski, and their last known recording is on a Kansas City comp somewhere.

The Unicorns: A lot of people would probably just say they still live on since Nick Thornburn fronts the similarly tinged Islands, but there’s something missing. I think that Islands is a more serious version of The Unicorns, who released an EP (Unicorns Are People, Too) and only one album, 2003’s near perfect Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? I guess the title was a bit of a premonition as the band would break up not even two years later, leaving behind a (what I think is) concept record about wanting to live life (“I Don’t Wanna Die,”) getting famous (“Let’s Get Known,”) and accepting fates (“Ready To Die.”) Oh, and “Les Os” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Stranded Local Q&A: The Sinister Turns

This week's Stranded Local Q&A comes to us via Cambridge, Ma., with the indie pop act The Sinister Turns. With impressive performances opening up for Mates of State and Nightmare of You on the band's campus of Harvard University, it's only a matter of time before the band takes the local scene by storm.

The Sinister Turns got its start when Susan Putnins got to Harvard University and wanted to add the musical exchange of a band to her experience of writing music and singing while in high school. Putnins asked a
few pals if they would play a show on Harvard's campus at the Quincy Cage in the spring of 2005. "It was a blast, and we decided to keep at it," Putnins says. "What began as a ragtag mix of songs and arrangements began to cohere as a pop that was decidedly bubblegum on the surface but had a dark richness to it.

The band's most recent show was at The Democracy Center in Cambridge as part of a mental health advocacy and action week at Harvard. Putnins says, "The energy of the band and the audience just clicked, and I shared a lot of mental health issues that the songs were about with everyone who was there - I think the openess of our set and the whole event turned from vulnerability to empowerment and everyone was just nodding and rocking out, on stage and off."

With several line-up changes over the course of The Sinister Turns' history, the band's future plans include recording more of their songs. Make sure to grab the mp3's "The Last Time," "I Support Women in Science" and
"Zolpidem" below after you read Putnins (keyboard, ukulele on occasion) of The Sinister Turns answers to the five questions Stranded In Stereo always asks…

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
We've been able to develop in a city and a music community that's just the right size - not big enough to get lost in, but big enough to be able to see local and national acts of all genres and positions. Although I'd say all of us are at least fairly liberal, those positions have been solidified in our music and lyrics by the people we meet and the things we see in the Boston area, good and bad, particularly in regards to feminism and openness about our vulnerabilities and foibles. Plus I doubt our drummer Sam would want to come to practices if we don't give him clam chowder every once in a while.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you'd love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
We played as Third Eye Blind for Halloween of 2005, so that band is a definite. Throw Me the Statue is coming to Boston soon and we asked them if we could open for them because they have similar pop introspection, and hopefully if they read this it will persuade them (please?). And I think we have the same sort of energy as Loney, Dear or Office, in a way. Of course, there are tons of bands we HAVE played with that we'd love to play with again: Mates of State, Titus Andronicus, Dog Day, Butter Days, Okay Thursday, Guardians of Forever.

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
PA's Lounge (ok, Somerville) has been a blast, but I think nothing could really beat our Quincy Cage (on Harvard campus).

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can't hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
Hmm - this is a challenging question. I think that electronic/eclectic acts like Bjork and Xiu Xiu have influenced the songwriting a lot, in terms of the dynamics of a song, trying to get the listener to go somewhere. Song structure, verse/chorus and all, is more set up to lead the listener down, as lame as it sounds, some sort of journey of feelings, rather than a simple harmonic pattern. When I asked our violinist Annemarie about how she would describe the inspiration and function of our songs, she replied, "emotional devastation."

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
Well, half of our members are under 21, so alcohol consumption as a band has been limited to 30 packs at co-ed sleepovers. But although we don't go upstairs, I'd say the Hong Kong in Cambridge is where we typically converge. That being said, my personal favorite is Grendel's Den.

Above pictures by Christina Xu

Download: "The Last Time" [mp3]
"I Support Women in Science" [mp3]
"Zolpidem" [mp3]

Monday, March 10, 2008

SXSW Preview: Skewer BBQ 2008

It's everyone in the music industry's Spring Break with the SXSW shindigs getting ready to go down in Austin. To get you ready, we've got a preview over on the main site of everyone who will be playing our party this Thursday at Maggie Mae's.

PS - Have you RSVP'd yet?

Monday Morning Newsletter (03/10/08)

While you are packing your bags to board your flights to Austin for the clusterfuck that is SXSW, Jose Fritz has all the news you need to know beforehand in the Monday Morning Newsletter.

Nine Inch Nails have released a new 36 track instrumental album dubbed "Ghosts I – IV." The album is currently download-only. A 9 track mp3 preview, is here.

Parlor Mob, the long lost classic rock band of the last 1970s has been released from their cryobank in Paramus, NJ and will be releasing their first album in 30 years this week.

Russian Circles will be releasing their new LP Station on May 6th this year on Suicide Squeeze Records. The band is currently on a headlining East coast tour with Dalek and Young Widows. For the record, they are the only indie band in America today who uses male models for their T-shirts.

The Black Keys, the Ohio the retro scuzz-blues duo are releasing their fifth album, "Attack & Release," on April fools day. The 11-track album will see release through Nonesuch and was produced by Danger Mouse of all people. Apparently Steve Albini was busy.

Jessica Simpson will join rock act Disturbed and comedian Carlos Mencia in Kuwait during a concert for US troops March 10th. It will also be broadcast live on the social networking site MySpace. The concert will be followed by an auction of her Thong on the popular auction site eBay.

Puscifer is releasing a new V Is For Vagina remix EP on April 29th. The set includes remixes by Slipknot, Isis, Ministry and some old unemployed nu metal dudes. as they take stabs at tracks "Queen B" and "Dozo", plus a vinyl version of V Is For Vagina on April 29th as well.

MACRoCk has begun to announce bands for 2008. The first confirmed bands include Elf Power, Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Forms, Fin Fang Foom, and Antlers. This is the 9th annual Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference, that’s almost a decade of being the only game in town.

The Old 97’s will release their seventh studio album, Blame It On Gravity, May 13 on New West Records. This is their first studio album in 4 years. For the record Rhett still is in desperate need of a haircut.

Rocklahoma has announced it ‘s line up including Warrant, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, and Kix. Most band members were easily found working fryolators across southern New Jersey.

The Vines are hav a new album ready for the new year. No release date is set, but their fourth album is titled Evolved. You may remember their singer Craig Nicholls torpedoing their rise to fame in 2002 by throwing tantrums before after and during shows. In 2005 he was diagnosed with lead vocalist disorder and refocused on his career.

Friday, March 7, 2008

French Kicks Go "Swimming"

Two Thousand remains to be one of the best album's of my life over the past few years, so now that there's a new French Kicks album on the way, I can only be oh-so excited.

Entitled Swimming, the Brooklyn based rockers bunkered down in December and January to record and produce the 12-track affair themselves. Vagrant will be releasing the album digitally on April 1st, while people who desire a tangible copy of the album will have to wait until May 20th. Head over to their MySpace and stream lead off track "Abandon" to get yourself ready for their next masterpiece.

Stream: "Abandon" [Here]

Thursday, March 6, 2008

SiS Club Night Returning

With a new month brings another one of our monthly Stranded In Stereo Club Night shindigs at Club Midway in NYC. Here’s the details for the first event you’ll feel inclined to show up to after your adventures to SXSW.

SIS Club Night – Wednesday March 19th – 9PM - $3
at Club Midway (25 Avenue B) NYC
F or V to 2nd; F, J, M, or Z to Delancey/Essex


The GoStation
Transporting listeners to a place where melody reigns, cultures clash and combine, and feedback fills the sky, The GoStation is a state of mind as much as a band. Hailing from New York City, this five-piece force is on a musical mission to restore rock to its rightful place — the hearts and minds of the people. Embracing the art of the anthem, The GoStation have willfully eschewed the structureless noise of many of their contemporaries.

The sound of the Parisian underground has reached our shores once again and is about to nestle it’s refined yet raw rock and roll self amongst our own indie scene. Neïmo offer their unique sonic sphere accompanying Bruno’s husky and melodic vocals, the guitar morphs under electronic impulses – and it’s impossible to not capture your attention. Catchy, effective pop and arrogant, sensual rock come together with a resolutely Anglo-Saxon benediction.

Saints And Lovers
Born from the ashes of two of New York City’s most exciting bands, the Saints and Lovers story begins with the auspicious meeting of Dennis Cahlo, formerly of the Realistics, and V guitarist Scott Meola. Sharing a love of noise, minimalism, and a music-as-art aesthetic, the two musicians bonded immediately. Meola’s ghostly, layered guitar work was the perfect complement to Cahlo’s supernal voice.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Air Traffic Giveaway

You guys like Air Traffic, don't you? You want some free swag? Well, the first two people to e-mail me will win the following:
1 "Shooting Star" 7"
A: "Shooting Star" (alt version)
B: "This Old Town"

1 autographed copy of their album,
Fractured Life, on Caroline/Astralwerks

Ready. Set. Go!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Team Grizzly & SiS at SXSW

Your friends here at Stranded In Stereo will be co-sponsoring a party with our friends at the Team Grizzly label on Saturday, March 15th. The party will be going down at the Pangaea Patio located at 27th & Guadalupe. It might not be on 6th Street, but by the time Saturday rolls around, you could probably use a nice trek to walk off all the beer and BBQ you will consume.

The Line-Up:

2PM Johnny Foreigner
3PM The Indelicates
4PM Mumpsy
Darla Farmer

See you there!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Morning Newsletter (03/03/08)

More arrests, breasts, and slanderous jests from Jose Fritz in ye olde Monday Morning Newsletter.

Greg Graffin’s ego expanded recently as he is being honored by the Humanist Chaplaincy and Harvard Secular Society at Harvard University. He is being awarded the 2008 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism. An event is scheduled this April. The rest of Bad Religion will continue to be jealous.

After numerous lineup changes through the years, all original Killing Joke members have reunited for a new album and world tour. Drummer Martin Atkins was not invited as he still owes money to all other living members.

Mastodon has recorded a cover of the over-played 1980s hit "One" Thus continuing a tightly held tradition of credible metal bands doing ridiculous cover tunes for comic effect. The single will appear in the ad campaign for the videogame "Army Of Two."

Meshuggah's new album obZen will be in stores March 11th on Nuclear Blast. Fans were comforted in the fact that it sounds like everything else they’ve ever done.

SIS Writer Tom Jönze has taken a sabbatical to begin a tour of the East Coast playing 1940s blues songs about venereal disease and whore-mongering under the name “Old Blind Willy.” Tour dates will be announced shortly.

Jose Fritz has vowed not to cover any news of Amy Winehouse as she is literally smoking crack and missing court dates completely eliminating his normal arenas of comedy.

Recently released documents indicate that Michael Jackson is behind on his mortgage payments to the tune of over $150,000. Pasadena-based mortgage lender IndyMac Bancor will be putting a lean on the 7 million dollar home shortly. Through his press secretary jackson said “ I blame predatory lenders, the man is always trying to hold the brother down. Fight the power!”

Atlanta rockers Black Crowes demanded and got an apology from Maxim magazine over a review of their album Warpaint. The reviewer admitted to only previewing one song before on the unreleased CD before writing the review. Maxim editorial director James Kaminsky responded Tuesday “Come on dude, they’ve sounded the same for twenty years! Chack out the babe on page 17!”