Stranded In Stereo: February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band Ready Debut

It was a few weeks ago that a co-worker told me I should check out Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. From the opening ooh's and harmonies of "Who's Asking" I was sold - the band, who hails from Seattle, is totally engulfed in what I call the northwest sound. Those harmonies are totally reminiscent of The Joggers, while the production reminds me somewhat of Blitzen Trapper. They bring something new to the table, something original, with outrageous dynamic shifts in their songs. "Little Red Shoes" is all over the place that by the time it's over, you think you just went through several movements of some prog-rock mini-suite when really, it has only been not even two and a half minutes.

What's even better is the story of the band. When he was 10, drummer Marshall Verdoes had made a pact with his brother Benjamin that if he learned to play the drums they could start a band and they'd call it Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. And so he learned and here we are today. Marshall is now 14 and getting ready to hit the road with Bishop Allen. Holy crap. Their self-titled debut hits stores via Dead Oceans on March 10th. Check the dates on their MySpace.

Download: "Anchors Dropped" [mp3]

Here's a funny video they made last summer to promote their show at Nuemos:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Paschal Circus "Siegfried And Susyanna"

The song made me feel physically ill on the first listen. I feel a little unhinged even now. It begins as a waltz with a happy little "Strawberry Fields Forever" mellotron on the 1-2-3. Then they proceed to defile that feeling. The guitar distortion builds, the raw throat vocals that would have made John Lennon cry. The eerie children's xylophone starts 40 seconds in and induces nausea. At the one minute mark comes the queasy dissonant chords the rutting bear calls... they heap ruin and death at the feet of your speakers. They own you. Pull over the car to the side of the road and try not to puke on the upholstry.

DOWNLOAD "Siegfried And Susyanna" [mp3]
myspace & wordpress

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Stranded Q&A: Big Dipper

Formed in 1985 in the Boston music scene, Big Dipper has been around the block. As 1992 rolled around, Big Dipper was no more, until recently. On March 18th, 2008, Merge Records released
Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology. This "supercluster" includes Big Dipper's debut album, as well as their 2 following LP's. Along with a few other bonus items, the set includes a previously unreleased CD, better known as the "lost" album.
They might be from the mid 80's, but their fan-base continues to grow

1. Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because:
"I don't think being from Boston makes a band better than bands from other places. But I do think that the club and radio scenes were so strong back in Big Dipper's heyday (1986-1992), and there were so many bands competing for gigs and airplay and practice spaces that it made the good bands better than they would have been otherwise. I do, however, think that all bands from Dayton, Ohio are better than bands from everywhere else."

2. Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you'd love to be on a bill with, and think fit well:
"Great plains (our spiritual brothers and former label mates from Columbus, Ohio). Paul McCartney (I think our good song-writing might rub off on him if he were able to hear our songs over the course of an extended tour). Camper Van Beethoven (our spiritual brothers from Redwood, CA)."

3. Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is:
"TT the Bear's... although perhaps the question should be changed to "Your favorite Boston venue to perform in WAS," since we haven't played there in about 17 years. This is a tricky question for a "reunion" band."

4. 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 song-writing, etc.)
"This is a weird question. I guess the only real way to answer it is to say that everything we hear influences us as songwriters, in one way or another. When Dipper began, I tried to write songs that picked up where the Soft Boys left off. That didn't work out so well, but I liked the concept."

5. Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is:
"The "bar" in my kitchen, which is well-stocked with many spirits that make good fruit juice GREAT fruit juice."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Swan Lake Ready Enemy

When I was near the end of my run as a college radio DJ, I added a new feature on my show called MP3 of the Week. I was an ambitious radio host, trying to invite new fangled technology and blog stuff in to my show, highlighting a song I found on the internet from an upcoming album. The band to take the maiden voyage was the Canadian indie-supergroup Swan Lake. They really are that, Canadian, indie and a group to the super degree. The trio, Dan Bejar of Destroyer/New Pornographers fame, Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown goodness and Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes banded together to make this album Beast Moans that was all over the place. The song "All Fires", sung by Krug, just blew me away.

The band never toured or anything outside of release the album, but in early 2008 they retreated in the Great White North to record their second album,
Enemy Mine, which Jagjaguwar will release on March 24th. The Lake, they don't stray much from the formula of Moans, swapping lead vocals and instruments and meshing it all together like an intricately on purpose woven blanket. It's perfect. Songs like lead off "Spanish Gold, 2044" and "Battle of a Swan Lake, or, Daniel's Song" showcase the finer moments that can't seem to be refined by their alpha projects. On the flipside, songs like "Paper Lace" and "A Hand at Dusk" show a band trying to find an original sound, kind of like they honed in on Moans track "City Calls".

They really should tour. I know other their other bands take up most their time, but if Dio and the members of Sabbath can band up to do Heaven & Hell tours, while can't these guys leave their A team to go on tour as the B team?

Download: "Spanish Gold, 2044" [mp3] // [Buy Here]

Monday, February 23, 2009

Band of the Week: Cymbals Eat Guitars

It's highly probable at the beginning of the year you saw me go nuts for New York's Cymbals Eat Guitars. I was just minding my own business, checking in with the message boards I frequent and someone had started a thread about them, saying how they would be big in '09. I heard their album, Why There Are Mountains, and was immediately on the bandwagon. I've already said it: if they aren't big by year's end, take my blogging license away. But with Pitchfork now on board featuring the band in the On Repeat section of the Forkcast, going nuts over their Modest Pavement to Spill-ness, it's only a matter of time until they are the only band that matters.

: "And The Hazy Sea" [mp3]

Monday Morning Newsletter (2-23-09)

Next week the three-day Harvest Of Hope festival will take place in St. Augustine at the St. John's County Fairgrounds. It’s proceed benefit Harvest of Hope, a non-profit bringing aid to migrant workers. Bands on the bill include Paint It Black, Against Me!, The National, Deerhunter, Propagandhi, Bad Brains, and over 100 others.

R&B singer Solange Knowles managed to overdose in Nyquil this week. The singer popped a number of Nyquil flu tablets while on an air flight. She blacked out and woke up in the baggage claim then was taken to the hospital. …But isn’t that what Nyquil is supposed to do?

The Michigan Brewing Company is working with the Bull-god himself, Kid Rock on a new line of beer, which should be in stores this spring. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority has wisely granted them a $700k tax break towards the booze-project.
Christian rocker Gavin DeGraw will be releasing a new record Free, on March 31. It was produced by Camus Celli. To promote the 10-song release, DeGraw will be doing a stretch of small-venue dates across the U.S. called the bore-us-to-death tour.

In an unnatural use of the term “super group” band Tinted Windows is composed of Ex-Smashing Pumpkin guitarist James Iha, Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger, Taylor Hanson of Hanson and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos. It’s kind of a celebrity B-list definition of “super.” Their debut album is set for a spring release and their debut performance at Billboard’s South by Southwest showcase on March 20.

Henry Rollins lost his gig at KDLD in L.A. when the station flipped formats last month. KCRW took the opportunity to snatch up the aging punk icon. His program there will run Saturday nights from 6-8 p.m., starting March 7. Welcome back Henry.

ELO Bassist Kelly Groucutt died this week. He performed on most of ELOs hits throughout the 1970s including “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Livin' Thing.” He left over a royalty payment disagreement in the early 1980s but remained active enough to cut a solo album that same decade. He died Thursday of a heart attack. He was 63.

Somebody hacked the twitter account of Miley Cyrus this week. Apart from being hysterically funny on its own, the hacker twittered such Shakespearean quips as “IM NOT A FUCKIN ROLE MODEL I HATE LITTLE KIDS I ONLY DO HANNAH MONTANNA FOR DA $$$$$$$$” and my favorite “ME AND MANDY HAD SEX IN HANNAH MONTANNA WIGS.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sleepwalking Through The Mekong chronicles the journey taken by Los Angeles based band Dengue Fever as they head to lead singer Chhom Nimol's native Camobdia for the Water Festival. The band's performance marked the first time a Western band has ever performed '60s Cambodian rock in the country where it was was created. The DVD won't be out until April 14th, but we're giving three copies away way early!

Click Here to Win!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can't Stop Spinning: Dark Was The Night

Rarely ever in life to find a compilation to be so perfect in every way, especially a comp like this one. It's kind of like a mix, based on the theme of a mood, arranged in a near perfect order, intricately tied together. The curators of said mix/comp, the Brothers Dessner of The National, teamed up with the Red Hot Foundation to put together Dark Was The Night, and the entire indie/hipster scene is swooning over the comp. The duets (Feist with Ben Gibbard! AND Grizzly Bear!), new songs from our favorites (Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Bon Iver) and even that recluse Sufjan came out to play.

Every song is like a hit single in its own way or can easily be placed in the soundtrack of one's life. For me, Yo La Tengo's cover of Snapper's "Gentle Hour" and Bon Iver's "Brackett, WI" are the perfect wander in the snow late at night in the city songs. You can people watch to Feist and Ben together on "Train Song" sounds like a cold fall afternoon, crisp be the air and the leaves. Yeasayer's "Tightrope" being dusk on a summer's night, on your best friend's patio, on your ex lover's balcony.

You know how people listen to an album, and every time they listen they find something new they love about it, whether it's a song in general or a select track's middle section or chorus? Comps can be different in that with each time you listen, you don't just find a new song to enjoy, but a new artist to explore and then even more music to add to your collection. For me, "Tightrope" was so catchy that I've finally taken the time to sit with Yeasayer's
All Hour Cymbals and I find it quite good. Maybe with a few more spins I'll finally be in to Antony or Sufjan?

Buy: Dark Was The Night [here]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Living Things are Zune's Artist of the Month

So I guess the title of today's post just sums it all up, but I guess we could go in to a smidge more detail.

To tie in with the release of the new Living Things album
Habeas Corpus that came out this week, the fine folks with Zune have named the band their Artist of the Month. Hooray! What does that mean for you Zune users? There will be a set of exclusive features unleashed upon the Zune Marketplace, including track-by-track album commentary, exclusive playlists and starting this Monday, February 24th, a download of the non-album track "Hellfire Waltz".

Get all the Zune-related Living Things info you need right here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Rumble Hits NYC Tomorrow Night

**NOTE: Drink Up Buttercup is no longer playing!**

Now that you've filled up on chocolate from your sweetheart, come dance it off at this month's Rumble in NYC presented by Stranded in Stereo and Future Sounds.
Operahouse, who are playing the SIS/Future Sounds how in Boston tonight, will be on hand to play alongside Plushgun and Jean on Jean! Do be there!

Stranded in Stereo & Future Sounds Present: The Rumble
Wednesday, February 18th - $5 - 9PM
Fontanas - 103 Eldridge Street - (BD to Grand Street; FJMZ to Delancey)
Plushgun (9:30 PM)
Jean on Jean (10:15 PM)
Operahouse (11 PM)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stranded in Stereo & Future Sounds Tomorrow Night in Boston!

**Note: Nassy is replacing Drink Up Buttercup at this month's gig**

Now that you've stuffed your face with chocolate from your Valentine and honored the presidents, come out to this month's edition of Stranded in Stereo and Future Sounds Present at Great Scott out in Allston. DJ Ryan from Ryan's Smashing Life will be on hand to spin between the bands!

Great Scott
1222 Commonwealth Ave. (Harvard Ave Stop on the Green 'B' Line)
9PM, $8
Tuesday, February 17th, 2009:
Nassy (9:30 PM)
The Orange Ocean (10:15 PM)
Operahouse (11PM)

See you there!

Band of the Week: Copy Haho

Scottish group Copy Haho aren't just from Scotland -- they're really from Scotland, hailing from the Aberdeen area, more specifically Stonehaven. The band's debut EP is set to be released on quickly rising micro indie Big Scary Monsters. The label has a proclivity for stunning math rock, and they have a knack for picking the cream of the genre's crop. Those of you in England can catch the very tail end of the band's short tour, where you'll be sure to see plenty of spiky and skewed guitar theatrics.

Download: "Pulling Push Ups" [mp3]

Monday Morning Newsletter (2-16-09)

This week Gossip singer Beth Ditto is getting naked on the cover of the British magazine Love. If you were unfamiliar with Ms. Ditto I’ll warn you now that she is obese, and the cover-shot does nothing to obscure her alabaster fat rolls. They did airbrush out her nipples which is bizarre looking but not as repulsive. You have been warned. I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

The Bob Marley estate has signed a new deal with Hilco Consumer Capital to license/whore out the image of the Reggae icon. His likeness and the Marley surname will be added to products including shoes, guitars, rolling papers and water bongs.

Gaverick de Vis from Giddy Motors is now is in a new band called Poino. The have announced a week of dates in the UK this month with the Belgian duo I Love Sarah. Giddy Motors is one of Jose's all time favorite bands.

Green Day
has announced their impending LP 21st Century Breakdown. They have been working on the album since 2006. It’s presently slated for a release on Reprise on May 26th. Butch Vig is producing.

If somehow you had not heard, pop artist Chris Brown beat up his girlfriend. His girlfriend happens to be pop singer Rihanna. She suffered a split lip, bloody nose and scratches to her face. Mr. Brown has been arrested and charged with making a criminal threat and is being investigated for domestic violence. Jose predicts a tragic Tina & Ike turner type of reunion.

March 25th Papa Roach will release their new album, Metamorphosis. Presently the band is touring with Avenged Sevenfold. The first single drops this month, and in April they head to Europe to promote the album. (yawn) They are proof that 10 million people can in fact be wrong. I liked it better when their drummer was suing them.

On Friday February 20th The White Stripes will be the last musical guest of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. This will also be Meg White's first gig with the band since that bogus sex tape gave her a series of panic attacks in 2007. (Seriously dude, that didn’t look like her at all)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Win a set of HBO Comedy DVDs, Watch this Eastbound & Down Clip

I know I just talked about this show yesterday, but I couldn't resist to blab about it again. Especially when I can give you all sorts of fun things in the process!

We're bringing you nothing but luck this Friday the 13th. Enter this week's giveaway and you'll win the following fun items:

Entourage Season 4 on DVD
Flight of the Conchords Season 1 on DVD
Little Britain USA Season 1 on DVD
An Eastbound & Down Foamy Finger!!

I have a foam finger - I wish it was here in the office so I could give you all the ... finger.

So yes, click here, write-in and you win! Best of luck!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eastbound & Down Premieres This Sunday on HBO

So I was out on the town last night and ended up at the premiere for the new HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down. I found myself laughing at every other line coming from main character, washed up baseball pitcher/now PE teacher Kenny Powers. Powers is by the hilarious Danny McBride; the name might not seem familiar but you'd know him as Red from Pineapple Express and his role in Tropic Thunder as well. And with Will Ferrell's name attached as Executive Producer, you know the show has the opportunity to be big and make McBride a household name. His character already has a great catchphrase already ("You're fucking out!") so .. it's only time.

Check out some great behind the scenes footage right here.
Eastbound & Down premieres this Sunday at 10:30 on HBO

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hush Now. New Album Now. Download Now.

The Hush Now are having a CD release party tomorrow night here in town at TT The Bears. It's in celebration of their new self-titled full length. They're doing it all in an interesting fashion, though: sure you can buy the album and support them with your hard-earned dollars, or you can just download the whole album. Right now. For nothing. Or you can just download the rad track "Sadie Hawkins Dance" and do the right thing.

Download: "Sadie Hawkins Dance" [mp3]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Band of the Week: The Lea Shores

Not too sure about this, but we might be the throes of a psychedelia revolution right now as there are a glut of great bands on both sides of the Atlantic producing some pretty mind-blowing music, including the Brothers Movement, the Black Angels, Sweet Jane, and Darker My Love. Add the Lea Shores to this list, a band that I neglected to check out until Friday.

The band has been hailed by the likes of the NME and Andy Bell (of Oasis/Ride), while they have supported the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Kasabian, and the Dandy Warhols. The band's debut EP, B
utterfly, is out now.

Download: "Fear SOS" [mp3]

The 2009 Grammys or Why do I Still Watch This Shit?

Seriously, the title should sum it all up - why do we tune in to this anymore? I tune in, year in and year out, hoping that deserving bands win Album of the Year mostly. This year there was great reason to tune in: the Grammys were actually relevant! Talented, decent artists were nominated. Kings of Leon won a Grammy; M.I.A was pregnant, performed and nominated for Record of the Year; Album of the Year was between two amazing albums, two not so bad albums, and an album of seasoned veterans that won the day nominations were announced. It's how the Grammys always goes. Oh, and Radiohead played "15 Step" with the USC Marching Band and owned the damn night.

So Alison Krauss & Robert Plant won every award they were up for basically. They then got to perform right before taking home the night's top honor Album of the Year. Coveniently enough they had to walk all of 10-25 feet from backstage. It then got me to thinking, and going to the source to be reminded of how the Album of the Year category always goes. Typically, they are 3-4 really solid, culturally noticed albums vieing for the top prize. Typically, these albums lose to a record put out by bands of longevity, bands who deserve for putting the time in. During his acceptance speech, Plant acknowledged that back in his day, this would have been called him and Zeppelin selling out. Now, it's just a nice way to spend his Sunday evening.

So what am I getting to? My point is that in a flailing industry where sales of the record decline more and more each year, the industry needs to come up with a plan to see more records get sold. Typically, albums see a spike in sales after winning a Grammy - this time next week, Billboard will report that the Krauss/Plant collab Rising Sand will see a sales increase of 113% or something. But with people downloading music illegally these days more than going to their big box/chain store to purchase the record, they need to come up with a tactic to make profit. This is done by awarding Album of the Year, the highest honor, to an album with a buying demographic. The other nominees typically will win the top prize in their genre - Radiohead: alternative, Lil' Wayne: rap, Coldplay: ...rock - and then give the big one to the one that will move most units. When the record by the man who fronted one of the world's biggest rock bands and a legendary country singer gets the recognition of Album of the Year, their fans will buy the album because their fans are older people who don't know how to download music; they might not even know how to buy things online, so they go to Wal-Mart, spend $15 on the CD and everyone wins.

But look at this year's other nominees: Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter III has a feat that no one has done in a long time, selling over a million copies in its first week and thus becoming the top selling record of 2008. And then there is that Radiohead band who defied all odds, told the industry to fuck off, and should have been recognized last night with their ballsy name-your-own-price method for In Rainbows. They even disclosed with the public how many copies were sold and how much money was made. They even sold 100,000 copies of a limited edition discbox of it that retailed at $80 bucks. But I guess NARAS couldn't recognize them for defying the industry and releasing it themselves.

And it wasn't like this year was the first. Last year, the Foo Fighters, Kanye, Vince Gill and Amy Winehouse lost to Herbie Hancock doing a bunch of Joni Mitchell covers! No one's gonna waste their time downloading that for free. In 2005, Ray Charles had passed so he automatically won, beating out Green Day, Usher, Alicia Keys and Kanye again. The years that stick out to me the most are 1997 and 2001 particularly. In '97, Celine Dion beat out such heavyweights as Beck and Smashing Pumpkins, while in '01 we saw Steely Dan beat out Beck, Radiohead and Eminem. I still can't believe Outkast won Album of the Year in 2004. Then again, they were up against Evanescence.

So, yes, the Grammys will always be political. They'll never recognize great albums anymore, just ones by people who follow the rules, who are still amidst the confines of record labels, and, most importantly, to those who can still sell records.

Monday Morning Newsletter (2-9-09)

The 13th Annual Millennium Music Conference & Showcase begins this Wednesday, February 12th. the four day fest will be held at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel in Camp Hill, PA. The MMC features two days of presentations, panels and workshops with four nights of showcase performances by 300+ bands. Do the math, that means you have time to sober up every other day.

HORSE the band have reportedly signed a record deal with Vagrant Records. They are scheduled to begin recording a new LP in March for a summer release. They are also pressing forward with previously announced plans to self-release a tour DVD and photo book.

Lux Interior a.k.a. Erick Lee Purkhiser died this week. He was the vocalist for the iconic punk band The Cramps. The band’s publicist released a statement attributing death to a preexisting heart condition. He is survived by his wife Cramps guitarist Kristy “Poison Ivy Rorschach” Wallace. He was 62.

Jason Null, the lead guitarist of the Christian rock group Saving Abel and guitarist Brandon J. Danger are being charged with felony counts of forced oral copulation with a minor. Police claim the duo lured a 17-year-old girl onto their tour bus with promises of appearing in a rock video. Guess that works better than the old kittens and candy routine.

Former Buffalo Springfield Dewey Martin drummer died this week. His body was discovered at his home in Van Nuys, CA. He had been a session drummer in Nashville before joining Buffalo Springfield in 1966. After the band broke up he whored out the brand recognition by continuing to tour with new members as the “New Buffalo Springfield.” The old Buffalo Springfield sued and euthanized the eponymous sequel. He soldiered on and did the oldies circuit in the 80s. He was 68.

Etta James and Beyonce are on the verge of a catfight. The 71-year-old singer said that she intended to "whip" Beyonce for singing her song at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball. She was referring to "At Last" her signature piece. Of course Etta didn’t’ write the song. It’s by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren. Just the same, beware of angry divas.

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Peter, Bjorn & John video: "Nothing To Worry About"

So a few weeks ago, Kanye got the honor premiering the first single off of Peter, Bjorn & John's new album, Living Thing. He was all stoked, talking about the big beat, the kids on the hook. I download it and was pleasantly surprised. And after a few listens that I've been privileged to already have, I can happily reported the Swedish trio have not made a sequel to Writer's Block, there is no "Young Folks II." Instead, there's a band who made an abitious record that's missing lots of guitars and replaced with awesome, awesome things. Get ready.

Until then, here's the video for "Nothing To Worry About." They are called Japanese greasers, or so I have been told.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

10 bands that time (but not Jose Fritz) forgot

Stranded in Stereo Editor-in-chief Dany issued me a challenge two weeks ago. My mission was to name and pine upon 10 bands of not just underrated, but utterly lost greatness. But there are rules. There must always be rules. The bands must have have ceased activity and have only been active only between 1990 and 2004. It's not a list of one-hit-wonders, or total unknowns; in order to be forgotten, you must once have been known.

Low Pop Suicide - World Domination was not a record label with a lot of long-term vision. It was owned by bassist Dave Allen from the band Shriekback. As Low Pop Suicide he and Rick Boston did 4 records. In that time I think they went through 8 drummers. But man their songs were dark, mean and lyrically vicious. They scored the film "the Harvest" under the name "Crash Baptists." But even as they started to find commercial success Allen got distracted by other projects and they faded away.

Tad - Tad Doyle just wasn't pretty enough to get famous. That's all there was to it. They rocked live, they did an album named God's Balls. They even got banned on MTV. Hell, they even got sued by Pepsi. They were a pretty awesome band really. But, Seattle had too many other young bands without love handles and back hair.

Into Another - When they put out Seemless on Hollywood records I thought it was a sure thing. Their single "T.A.I.L." actually hit #39 on the billboard chart. But there was no follow up from the label. They didn't drop a second single, they were too busy feuding with the band. Into Another went into the studio to do their next record, and recorded an unexpected electronic album, Soul Control. Hollywood got pissed. They shelved the record and gave the band the finger.

Rust - Critics were merciless to this band for being slightly commercial in a San Diego scene focused more on Rocket From the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu. But it was 1996 and Atlantic records was looking for another Nirvana. They were not another Nirvana, and chronic over-hyping ruined any shot they had at their own success. The single 'Perhaps?" is terminally under-rated.

Mucky Pup - They broke up in 1996 but have had reunion shows as recently at 2002. They're all musically active individually, but not collectively. They started out as a joke band like Ugly Kid Joe and Scatterbrain. Once you write a funny song you're doomed, stained forever. They never got press, I mean never... Nine albums later they still had zilch. Totally blackballed from day one they toured shitholes across Europe on word-of-mouth alone.

Monsterland - They cut this pink heart-shaped single called "Nobody Loves You" and dropped it on Valentines Day1993. I thought it was clever but man, it got taken the wrong way. It was maybe over-clever and sort of cute. They were bang-dead before the CD came in the mail.

Paw... This band was a money pit. A&M won the bidding war, and serviced literally seven singles with B-sides trying to get a single to move. But it was too countrified for rock and rocked too hard for country. Everybody agreed that it was badass but nobody had a cojones to spin it. Trapped between an ingrates and a homogeneous playlists they faded fast. But Dragline, Death to Traitors, and Keep the last Bullet for Yourself were absolutely rock solid albums.

Metal Molly - Probably the only record I own by any Belgian pop group. They rose quickly and then just evaporated as if they know they'd only done it by accident. Fresh from the garage they won a talent contest and scored a record deal. Brinkman records showcases them in New York and the single "Orange" just got picked up. Shazam! the toured on it and then went back to Belgium leaving very deliberately on a high note.

Machines of Loving Grace - They were picked up on the strength of a demo in 1991 by Mammoth records. The demo was a little stiff but their follow up got a single those skate shows MTV was airing, they got on the Crow Soundtrack, the Megaman soundtrack, the Hackers sound track and all sorts of comps. The label was putting out. But industrial-flavored rock was fading. As they prepared to do the follow-up to their very well-received album Gilt, the label was too busy selling out to Disney to do anything. The delay turned fatal and the band separated.

Sweet Lizard Illtet - The Illtet was probably the only band as hard and funky as Faith no More, more political then RATM, and catchier than the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They got signed to Warner Bros, cut a video, and played Lollapalooza in 1992. They were going places. But there was a problem. They were drug-addled maniacs. On tour they scared Pearl Jam, terrorized Metallica and drove their label batty. There was no second record. Mike Ill and Zef both went solo and the band became a footnote.

Making this list was disturbing.. not because they were unknown, but for the ones I thought were dead. Bands like Push Monkey, Quintain Americana, Jesus Jones, Critters Buggin and Pop Will Eat Itself, are all still active but now operate totally below the radar like Christian fundamentalists stockpiling guns at undisclosed locations. My new thesis is that bands dont' die, they just go into denial.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Rumble in Los Angeles Tomorrow!

To bring you even more excitement in 2009, The Owl Mag, Future Sounds, and Stranded in Stereo are bringing you another Rumble event in Los Angeles at 9pm on February 5th at 3 of Clubs (1123 Vine St., Hollywood, CA). As you may know, our Rumble events present the best up-and-coming indie-rock artists who we think the world should know. Don't miss your chance to catch them before they become huge. This time we are introducing the music of Jukebox The Ghost, The Ringers and The Voyeurs, who will undeniably show you a fun time. So, if you know what's good for you, bring yourselves and your friends for a great night of live music.

As always, our resident DJs Michael will be there, as well as our blog partner for this month, Rock Insider

RSVP here for free entry

"DC's Jukebox the Ghost are an extremely entertaining piano-pop trio that writes cleverly optimistic songs. Their music gives off an aura that vaguely resembles happiness"-OH MY The singer/piano player Ben
Thornewil shares strong vocal similarities to Ben Folds while incorporating a dramatic and stimulating flair. The talented and ambitious piano players of Jukebox the Ghost will entice and energize any listener, you don't miss
these guys perform.

The Ringers are a four-piece Los Angeles-based rock n' roll group. They have been referred to as a tight band of pirates out to rape and pillage your senses with their unique sound and explosive show. "We're not trying to re-invent the wheel, just roll it OUR WAY." The Ringers have a very exciting sound much like The Hives and early Rolling Stones. Their second album Headlocks & Highkicks will be in progress in the month of November and will also feature their new single "Apocolypto."

The Voyeurs release their infectious debut album "Well Known Drag" on January 27, 2009. They are a southern California based indie rock band who delve into pusle-pounding rock songs. They incorporate a fabulous mix of
'60s pop and down n' dirty classic rock. Their debut album will keep you encapsulated from beginning to end, and stand out songs such as "Things People Say" will be on repeat in your brain all day.

The Owl Mag, Future Sounds, and Stranded in Stereo have a deep love and respect for the indie music community. Having produced successful events and promoted emerging indie artists, their collaboration promises to continue a
tradition of supporting independent music, while at the same time providing locals with a place to party. Through the reach of an online music publication, indie rock internet radio station, indie retailers, and online social networking sites, our connection to the music community is broad.

The Stranded Q&A: Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys

You probably wouldn't expect an army of broken toys be able to make good music, but Walter Sickert's army does just that. Based in Boston, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys is made up of Walter Sickert and Edrie (one of the broken toys).

Together, they are able to create unique, deep and somewhat soothing music. The vocals and melodies seem to blend together almost perfectly and put your mind in a relaxed, thought-filled state. You can check some of their tracks out at their MySpace page at

In March, they will be performing live in conjunction with their video for "Sacrilege" being featured at this year's Boston Underground Film Festival. This video, has been accepted at several other film festivals.

1. Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston based bands because:

"The support we receive from our Boston fan base is incredible. Not only do they support us locally by going to shows and buying tons of CDs and merch, but they help promote us internationally as well. When we were touring with Amanda Palmer in Europe, we had a fan come up to us letting us know she was from Boston and loved us and was going to school in Amsterdam and brought 15 of her friends and classmates to the show just to see us. It was a sweet thing to do and made us feel very close to home."

2. Name at least 3 bands that are still around and touring that you'd love to be on a bill with, and think fits well:

The Tiger Lillies, The Decemberists, Clinic, DeVotchKa, Nine Inch Nails and Rasputina

3. Your favorite Boston venue to perform is:

"We love the Theatre space at the ICA and at the A.R.T.'s Zero Arrow, both are exquisite venues for putting on big theatrical shows. Somerville Theater is up there as well. If we're looking at bar/club type thing, Harpers Ferry has been kind as well as the Middle East and TTs! Of course, the Cloud Club is full of spectacular art and people who make it. It's too hard to pick one favorite."

4. 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 song-writing, etc.)

"There is a smattering of bits and pieces of everything from early roots and blues music to hobo anthems like Big Rock Candy Mountain. Other types of music sneak in represented by artists like Zoe Keating, Rasputina, Vashti Bunyan, Marilyn Manson, NIN, Johnny Cash, Kurt Cobain, Radio Head etc. Polka's and early 1900's pop songs make an appearance. Anything we had on the Victrola is fair game. We also love how story records for kids were put together, particularly the adaptation of the Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, that was released by Wonderland Records in 1977. Both of us are fond of Krakens and a good story."

"Of course, both of us are also influenced heavily by visual art; more so than music in some cases. Salvador Dali is a favorite of ours; you can see his direct influence not only in the art Walter produces, but also in our music. Jan Svankmajer is also a profound influence; his visuals and spare dialogue really focus a viewer. We mix this visual art with our musical influences not only for the live show, but also for what goes into each song."

5. Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is:

"We recently had dinner with friends at Columbus in the South End. It is a truly lovely neighborhood spot - great for intimate chats and fantastic iPod shuffles. We also HEART big time the bar at Craigie on Main ( It's a special place and the staff are so wonderful and the drinks are 100% out of this world!"

You can check Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys live, at their next gig, February 12th at 7pm @ the Dada Show @ The Lily Pad, in Cambridge, MA.

Stream: Various Tracks [MySpace]

My Formative Years: Course of Empire

The year was 1994 and I'd just returned from another suspension for saying inappropriate things on-air at a college radio station. I said inappropriate things off air as well but that's considered endearing somehow. I sat down with a stack of new music to preview. I was exposed to many artists that day. But this one stands out despite their eventual commercial failure. The single was "Infested." In particular, the Darwin Goodman mix.

The song was remixed by overdubbing portions with segments of Benny Goodman's 1937 single "Sing, Sing Sing." What's wild about that is how tightly it fit. This was most than a decade before Moby did the album
Play. Nobody had remixed from 78rpm mono source before. Course of Empire's two-drummer attack had a strange rhythmic mein that just worked with the 56-year-old dance number. It was a rock remix that was more radically re-imagined than anything even hip-hop had attempted yet. It was genius. I actually reached out to their guitarist Mike Graff to ask about it's genesis.
"The Darwin Goodwin mix was really producer David Castell's idea. He stumbled upon the notion while mixing the original version of the song. It was a triumph at the time, because the technology was so primitive at that point. There is one thing I can tell you: One night during those sessions, we had to carry our drummer Chad Lovell back to the studio after a bit of over-indulgence. We put a Shure 57 on him to record his drunken babblings, and caught a sample of him moaning, just before puking into a trash can. You can hear that sample in the mix right before the horns kick back in at the end. A classic Chad moment, recorded for posterity!"
With that tidbit from Graff I also got a hold of Dave Cassell He was able to offer even more insight.
"I spent a lot of hours a/b'ing various swing grooves for the album version of "Infested!" I don't even think Zoo Music contracted me to do a remix initially - it just kind of started with gene krupa's 4 measure tom groove and 14 hrs later it was the Darwin-Goodman mix. The funniest or saddest thing about it was that the label released it as an alternative single early in that COE tour and fans of the remix, too stupid to realize they were hearing extended samples of the 1934 recording, were showing up disappointed cause there was no horn section on stage. I seem to recall that the "Goodman Estate" almost denied zoo permission to use the material."

Course of Empire made the leap from Zoo Entertainment to TVT essentially based on the strength of this single. Zoo was merged into Volcano Entertainment, then into Zomba and shortly thereafter faded into the ether at BMG. How does that matter? Well in every respect, Their record on TVT, Telepathic Last Words was their last shot at making it big. Producer John Fryer (NIN Love & Rockets) emphasized their darkness but not their industrial side. That record was stark, intimidating and stunning.

COE did a final show in 1998 at Trees in Deep Ellum and all their old fans came out. The same fans that brought them to renown came again to say goodbye. They recorded the show, and in 204 released an album of B-sides Phone Calls From the Dead which included 11 tracks from that show. I am proud to say I did make that gig. Then as a surprise they self-released a double disc compendium of demos just last year. I bought both.

Download: "Infested Darwin Goodman mix" [mp3] // "Automatic Writing No. 17" [mp3] // "Respect" [mp3]

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Rumble in San Francisco Tomorrow!

Join us as we celebrate the opening of the 2009 Bay Area Roller Derby Girl season with another explosive Rumble event! The Owl Mag, Future Sounds, Stranded in Stereo, and Sonic Living are presenting The Rumble on February 4, 2009 at The Harlot in San Francisco 46 Minna St. - SF. You don't want to miss The Ringers & Music For Animals! These two exciting bands will also be joined by two DJ's, DJ BAGeL Ted and DJ Omar of Popscene. Doors open at 8pm. Free with RSVP or $5 at the door. The night is co-sponsored by the Bay Bridged.

The Derby Girls will be in full garb rolling around, they'll have a table with info about their upcoming season and we will be raffling tickets to one of their bouts. Anything else we can raffle off will help fund their season.

The Ringers are a four-piece Los Angeles-based rock n' roll group. They have been referred to as a tight band of pirates out to rape and pillage your senses with their unique sound and explosive show. "We're not trying to re-invent the wheel, just roll it OUR WAY." The Ringers have a very exciting sound much like The Hives and early Rolling Stones. Their second album
Headlocks & Highkicks will be in progress in the month of November and will also feature their new single "Apocolypto."

Music For Animals are a four-piece indie rock band from San Francisco. Music For Animals is signed to Three Ring Records, with whom they released their debut self-titled album in 2007. A follow-up release for their debut album is to be expected soon. "MFA's role in the big picture will be to try and utilize the new resources in technology to spread the music as far and wide as possible without any major support from a company or record label" says the band.

DJ OMAR OF POPSCENE spinning 10-11
DJ BAGEL TED spinning 8-10

Sonic Living, The Owl, Future Sounds and Stranded in Stereo have a deep love and respect for the indie music community. Having produced successful events and promoted emerging indie artists, their collaboration promises to continue a tradition of supporting independent music, while at the same time providing locals with a place to party. Through the reach of an online music publication, indie rock internet radio station, indie retailers and online social networking sites, our connection to the music community is broad.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Band of the Week: The Good Natured

Berkshire act The Good Natured (aka Sarah McIntosh) is one I've been sitting on since August. She released her debut EP, Warriors, late last year to a surprising amount of excellent reviews. Her is music is straight-up electro-pop, filled with hooks that the Postal Service wish they had written and lyrics that show more depth than all of the Kate Nashes in the world. While sometimes the music may veer into the melancholy, each tune is equally memorable and shows that there is quite a bit of potential here.

Download: "Warriors" [mp3]

Monday Morning Newsletter (2-2-09)

John Martyn died last week. While his immediate cause of death was not disclosed, his life-long history of drug and alcohol abuse is well-known. He had been in a wheelchair since a leg amputation last year. He was a renowned British Folk artist and was wildly popular at the height of his career in the 1960s. He was only 60.

The band Good Charlotte continues to breed a new generation of superfluous pop punkers. Guitarist Billy Martin and his wife Linzi just had their first offspring which they named Dreavyn because they want her to be ostracized by her future peer group.

Dead this week is Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell. In 1977, he survived the plane crash that claimed the lives of three of his bandmates. Powell had rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987 for a tribute tour and remained with the band. He called 911 complaining of shortness of breath EMS responders arrived to find him already deceased. He was only 56 years old.

Kelly Osbourne is back in rehab mere days after an assault arrest in London. The assault charges stem from an incident in Soho six months ago wherein the first chunklet of rock-royalty slapped some drunken socialite. The rehab stems from being a blood relative of Ozzy. Sharon Osbourne was quoted as saying “She knew that it was the right thing to do at this point and we're proud that she did it."

The jazz legend David "Fathead," Newman, has died at the age of 75 of pancreatic cancer.. His career was unspeakably long and accomplished. He was a tenor sax player with Ray Charles, Herbie Mann, and Aretha Franklin and hundreds of others. His last show was on New Years Eve in Chicago.

Living out a common music critics metaphor, a Slipknot fan actually dropped dead at a show last week. Corey Nickels was pronounced dead after CPR failed to resuscitate him. It is not the first time a fan has died at a Slipknot show. They induced another heart attack in another fan back in 2004.