WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Return of the Aphex Twin http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/return-aphex-twin-110978 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aphex-twin.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>From the perspective of the techno scene in 2014, Richard D. James, better known as the Aphex Twin, hails from another planet. Then again, in terms of the depth of his vision, the scope of his creativity, and his pre-social networking disdain for conventional self-promotion and the trappings of stardom, he always has.</p><p>During his heyday in the&rsquo;90s, James often was described as making the techno equivalent of <em>Nuggets</em>-style psychedelic garage rock&mdash;incredibly organic electronica, owing as much to the &ldquo;found sounds&rdquo; of Stockhausen as it did to digital technology&mdash;but he never was easily pigeonholed, and that description ignores if not slights the beauty of the ambient work that also has long been part of his mix.</p><p>Born in Cornwall, England, in 1971, James began experimenting with sound as a child, dismantling and rebuilding the piano in his parents&rsquo; living room. He discovered house music via a tape that a friend brought back from Chicago, and by age 13, &nbsp;he already was crafting similar tracks using reel to reel tape recorders and old analog synthesizers that he built or customized himself in between performing menial jobs like ditch-digging. Tape hiss, crackles, pops, and unidentifiable electronic bleeps, burbles, and glitches are all part of his music&rsquo;s charm, as are the sounds of improvised instruments.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say to my friends, &lsquo;Pick any object in the room and I&rsquo;ll make a track out of it,&rsquo;&rdquo; James told <em>Option </em>magazine in 1994. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d make complete tracks out of Coke cans and carpets. Coke cans are easy because they have a lot of good acoustic characteristics, but with things like carpets, it&rsquo;s very difficult to get a bass drum sound.&rdquo;</p><p>Slower and spacier than more hardcore rave music at the time, James&rsquo;s grooves function as well on headphones as they do on the dance floor, and he&rsquo;s been hailed by many aficionados as techno&rsquo;s premier sonic genius, though he never achieved the mainstream success of first-gen peers like Moby, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers, much less modern stars such as Skrillex or Deadmau5. His best-known track remains &ldquo;Didgeridoo,&rdquo; which used electronic sounds to duplicate the drone of the Australian Aboriginal instrument, prompting a flood of DJs incorporating other ethnic instruments at the time, as evidenced by the old Wax Trax! compilation, <em>Ethnotechno</em>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/S5UBYOv1G9A" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Watershed &rsquo;90s releases such as <em>Analogue Bubblebath</em>, <em>Selected Ambient Works 85-92</em>, <em>Selected Ambient Works Volume II </em>(which marked his signing to Sire/Warner Bros. during the brief window when techno was marketed as &ldquo;the next big thing&rdquo; after grunge), <em>&hellip;I Care Because You Do</em>, and 1997&rsquo;s <em>Richard D. James </em>(by which point he was dabbling in jungle) remain essential listening for anyone who cares about electronic music, drawing on predecessors such as Stockhausen, Can, Cluster, and Eno while simultaneously pointing at a future that still hasn&rsquo;t been fully realized. (The Aphex Twin can deliver a more varied sonic palette and a more exciting listening experience on one track than many artists who fill arenas today provide in an hours-long set, all with a singularly twisted sense of humor.)</p><p>Sought after by the likes of Beck and Nine Inch Nails to work his remix magic back in the day, James was wary of stardom and the hype machine, and shortly after the video for &ldquo;Come to Daddy&rdquo; began generating MTV airplay, he announced his retirement, saying he planned to focus on running his independent label, Rephlex, while making music primarily for himself and a small community of online devotees. And with rare exceptions&mdash;2001&rsquo;s <em>drukqs<strong>, </strong></em>the last recording released under the Aphex Twin moniker&mdash;that&rsquo;s exactly what he&rsquo;s done.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/h-9UvrLyj3k" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The question now, then, is not where James has been, but why he&rsquo;s chosen to release music again as the Aphex Twin, initially trumpeting its release via the Deep Web and on a blimp flying over London. (I said he was against conventional self-promotion, not <em>all </em>self-promotion.) Inscrutable as ever, he really hasn&rsquo;t explained. Does he want to teach the kids a thing or two about ambition? Remind us that his worst day was better than their best? Claim a piece of what he helped start now that it&rsquo;s the new mainstream? All or none of the above? I couldn&rsquo;t begin to hazard a guess; I&rsquo;m just glad he&rsquo;s back.</p><p>Recorded over a period of years in various studios, including his home base in the Scottish countryside, <em>Syro </em>is a collection of 12 mostly instrumental tracks that are typically dense, ever-evolving in moods and styles (from jungle to ambient), and both resonant of the artist&rsquo;s rich past and pointing toward new directions in terms of the sonic ingredients (the most notable addition: treated vocals from his family members). The titles are, apparently, meaningless&mdash;&ldquo;4 bit 9d api+e+6&nbsp;[126.26],&rdquo; &ldquo;fz pseudotimestretch+e+3&nbsp;[138.85]&rdquo;&mdash;but the music certainly is not, comprising a movie of the imagination with the voices of James, his wife, his children, and his parents evoking the soul in the midst of the machines, or perhaps the battle to maintain our humanity amid the overwhelming post-industrial digital onslaught.</p><p>Always challenging, sometimes very funny, and alternatingly warm and welcoming and frightening but thrilling, <em>Syro </em>is a welcome and much-needed reminder of what this genre is capable of at its very best. And some of it you might even want to dance to.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RUAJ8KLGqis" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Aphex Twin, <em>Syro </em>(Warp Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/return-aphex-twin-110978 Contemplating suicide in the opera house men’s room http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/contemplating-suicide-opera-house-men%E2%80%99s-room-110967 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SWSOCover.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>At 71, American-born Scott Walker, long a cult hero to the Brits, has stretched the meaning of that phrase further and asked for more indulgence from his small but devoted audience than just about anybody else in the history of cult heroics. He&rsquo;s moved from a pioneer in orchestral pop with the early &rsquo;60s Walker Brothers, to an acid-damaged MOR pop star in his mid-period solo years, to a decidedly eccentric and esoteric devotee of the musical avant-garde for his final act&mdash;&ldquo;Andy Williams reinventing himself as Stockhausen,&rdquo; as <em>The Guardian </em>once proclaimed.</p><p>More than a little &ldquo;out there&rdquo; themselves, Stephen O&rsquo;Malley and Greg Anderson, the Seattle duo that records as the experimental metal/drone/noise band Sunn O))), first approached Walker about appearing on a track on their 2009 album <em>Monoliths &amp; Dimensions. </em>A few years later, the singer proposed something even more daring and ambitious: having the pair back him on a set of new material, creating an entire album together. Bravo to both parties for daring to think outside the box; as an idea, <em>Soused </em>is a grand one. Unfortunately, as a listening experience, it makes the harshest outings by Diamanda Galas, the only artist who even springs to mind for previous attempts to combine sonic clamor and operatic grandiosity, sound like a sunny-day pop trifle.</p><p>&nbsp;No doubt somewhere in the Afterlife my Italian forebears grimace to read this, but my tolerance for opera is minimal to non-existent, so barrier number one is Walker&rsquo;s extremely theatrical, often highly affected baritone, virtuosic though it may be. Barrier number two is that Sunn O)))&rsquo;s dark, dense, often arrhythmic waves of drone, undeniable on their own, never actually mesh with Walker&rsquo;s Gilbert and Sullivan Tour Hell routine. Finally, there are the lyrics and subject matter, heavy on the fascism and sado-masochism with a splash of absurdity tossed in. And, at the end and just to lighten the mood, we get a cover of a tune by Ute Lemper.</p><p>Given all of that, and with five songs that each clock in around nine minutes or more, this clearly isn&rsquo;t an album for everybody. But pondering the question of who its intended audience is, I can&rsquo;t come up with anybody&mdash;except, perhaps, the hapless host of a Halloween party looking to clear out the last recalcitrant guests with something guaranteed to horrify (and not in a good way).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UwSveFnWzhI" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Scott Walker &amp; Sunn O))), </strong><strong><em>Soused </em></strong><strong>(4AD)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: .5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/contemplating-suicide-opera-house-men%E2%80%99s-room-110967 Kirk Swan unloaded and back where he belongs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/kirk-swan-unloaded-and-back-where-he-belongs-110965 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kirk%20Swan.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Kirk Swan" /></div><p>Of all the bands in Boston&rsquo;s fertile indie-rock scene during the early to mid-&rsquo;80s&mdash;Volcano Suns, Salem 66, Big Dipper, Dinosaur Jr., and even the vaunted Pixies&mdash;my favorite by far was Dumptruck, the group co-founded by Kirk Swan and Seth Tiven. As guitarists, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PpX85Vp3XE">the duo&rsquo;s intertwining leads rivaled those of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd in Television</a>, while as singers and songwriters, the pair <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_hdokYK-r0">confidently tread its own path down a road that started with Big Star and continued with the early, Mitch Easter-produced R.E.M.</a></p><p>The band debuted with the self-recorded <em>D is for Dumptruck </em>in 1983, and Easter was at the helm for the follow-up, <em>Positively Dumptruck</em>; both are brilliant, and the band was even better live. Alas, by &rsquo;86, things started to fall apart: Swan departed, and while Tiven pressed on, the sort of epic legal problems that make those of our generation cheer the long-awaited death of the major-label system caused him no end of migraines. <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News2004/Mar22SXSWwrap.htm">The band&rsquo;s co-founders have reunited on occasion</a> since, often in Tiven&rsquo;s new hometown of Austin, and in between touring with Steve Wynn&rsquo;s band, Swan has released some low-key but always rewarding solo albums. The third and latest is this longtime fan&rsquo;s favorite.</p><p><em>Unloaded </em>began as a Dumptruck reunion record but ended up as a solo outing, Swan told me (though he didn&rsquo;t say why). Nevertheless, &ldquo;Seth is on a couple tunes, so there are hints of the &rsquo;truck.&rdquo; Indeed.</p><p>As a lyricist, Swan was emo almost before emo was emo. Some cynics can be put off by his earnest and unapologetic Romantic streak&mdash;he loves to muse about things like snowflakes (&ldquo;World Stops Spinning&rdquo;), slate-gray skies (&ldquo;Dark Cloud&rdquo;), and Autumn leaves (ah, those Northeastern roots!), and his earnestness is painful and palpable when he sings about things like the end of a relationship (&ldquo;Walk Alone&rdquo;) and the suicidal stupidity of youth (&ldquo;Walking a Thin Line&rdquo;). But the sporadic clumsiness of some of his words is elevated to a glorious poetry by the strength of his melodies and the alternating fragility and ferocity of those guitar lines, which remain as vital and thrilling as ever. (Go, Kirk, go!)</p><p>This record may not be easy to find: Never a master of self-promotion (he hasn&rsquo;t updated his Web site since 2007), Swan seems as if, to paraphrase Brian Wilson, he just wasn&rsquo;t made for these digital times. Bug him on Facebook <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kirk-Swan-music/250293009090?sk=photos_stream">here</a> or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/kirk.swan.33/about">here</a> to get these tunes out there for the audience they deserve. Meanwhile, enjoy this clip on YouTube.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tFe4CLPYo_k" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Kirk Swan, <em>Unloaded </em>(D.I.Y.)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/kirk-swan-unloaded-and-back-where-he-belongs-110965 The Preatures: Walking on sunshine with blue planet eyes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/preatures-walking-sunshine-blue-planet-eyes-110949 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The-Preatures_Blue-Planet-Eyes.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div></div><p>With singer Izzi Manfredi&rsquo;s leather-jacketed, self-assured, coolly disaffected update on the classic Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde stance and the band&rsquo;s percolating rhythms charting a tuneful course somewhere between Motown, New Wave, and electronic dance music, the Preatures <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-2-panels-preatures-hungarians-wytches-oh-my-109846">made a strong impression at SXSW 2014</a>. Yes, the buzz bands of March sometimes disappoint by the time a full-length debut arrives in October. But working with producer Jim Eno of Spoon, the Sydney quintet has crafted the most irresistible album in this vein since Katrina and the Waves, rising above a bevvy of obvious influences to take the sound in new directions via the subtle use of electronics.</p><p>Pinpointing those influences has been a theme of most of the reviews the band has garnered so far, almost all positive. But charting the ingredients recipe-style shorts the strength of the finished dish; it&rsquo;s the songwriting and the sound as a whole that sucks you in and keeps you coming back. The absolutely exuberant &ldquo;Cruel&rdquo; and &ldquo;It Gets Better,&rdquo; the slyly seductive title track, the fonky-in-a-good-way &ldquo;Somebody&rsquo;s Talking&rdquo; and &ldquo;Is This How You Feel&rdquo;&mdash;heck, every one of the 10 tunes on this exquistely short and sweet 34-minute debut&mdash;not only stand on their own but combine for one of the most impressive introductory bows in recent memory.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/77_uwLYz55A" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>The Preatures, <em>Blue Planet Eyes </em>(Harvest Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/preatures-walking-sunshine-blue-planet-eyes-110949 The Real Deal: The best of WBEZ's Richard Steele, according to his colleagues http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/real-deal-best-wbezs-richard-steele-according-his-colleagues-110914 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/10377257_10152545879726000_8391299994939377138_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-real-deal/embed?border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-real-deal.js?border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-real-deal" target="_blank">View the story "The Real Deal: The best of WBEZ's Richard Steele, according to his colleagues " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/real-deal-best-wbezs-richard-steele-according-his-colleagues-110914 The Death Star to buy Walmart on the Lake http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/death-star-buy-walmart-lake-110907 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Logos_0.jpg" style="height: 325px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p>Confirming rumors that had been swirling around Texas for months, <em>The New York Times</em>&rsquo; ace music business reporter Ben Sisario <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/07/business/media/live-nation-in-talks-to-buy-stake-in-c3-presents.html?src=twr&amp;_r=0">had a major scoop on Monday</a>: C3 Presents, the Austin-based promoters with an exclusive deal to present Lollapalooza in Grant Park in perpetuity, are about to sell a majority stake of the company to Ticketmaster/Live Nation Entertainment, the giant national concert and ticketing monopoly many call the Death Star of the music world.</p><p>So what does this mean for Chicago?</p><p>Here are 10 things you should know about these companies and their dealings with Chicago city government and the local music scene. (And we should note that neither company has yet commented on the pending deal, which Sisario quotes sources as saying is worth about $250 million, and which would give Live Nation a 51-percent stake in C3, making it one of the largest festival promoters in the world.)</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong><strong>—1. </strong>Lollapalooza&rsquo;s deal for Grant Park lasts <em>forever.</em></strong></p><p>Often misreported as a 10-year deal struck between the Park District and C3 Presents in 2012, a close read of the Lollapalooza contract (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/city-releases-lollapalooza-contract-98324">which this blog posted in its entirety after filing a Freedom of Information Act request</a>) reveals that it is in fact a contract in perpetuity: When the agreement expires in 2021, Lollapalooza and the city are free to add another year after that year&rsquo;s festival&hellip; and the next, and the next, and the next, for as long as both sides desire, and free from public scrutiny or competition. Which means a Ticketmaster/Live Nation/C3 Lollapalooza in Grant Park forever.</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong>2. The original Lollapalooza deal reeked of favoritism.</strong></p><p>The first contract the Daley administration approved in 2005&mdash;and later amended in 2008&mdash;included an unprecedented and very questionable arrangement whereby the concert partnered with the Parkways Foundation, a favorite charity of Maggie Daley, and operated as a non-profit venture. Despite generating considerable income, it thereby avoided the city and county amusement taxes paid by every other entertainment event in Chicago that draws more than 750 people, costing taxpayers millions in lost revenue for the concert&rsquo;s first seven years.</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong>3. That deal was negotiated by then-Mayor Daley&rsquo;s nephew, and C3 recently repaid Daley and his kin with a big fat contract in Austin<em>.</em></strong></p><p>C3&rsquo;s hired attorney and paid lobbyist, Daley nephew Mark Vanecko, negotiated that first deal with the Park District, despite the obvious conflict of interest. Late last month, <em>Sun-Times </em>reporter Dan Mihalopoulos <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/ex-mayor-daleys-firm-profits-lollapaloozas-promoters-deal/tue-09232014-105pm">had a tasty scoop</a> revealing that C3 is paying the Austin Parks Foundation specifically to hire the former mayor&rsquo;s consulting firm to work on a $100 million project essentially privatizing an Austin park for major events like the Austin City Limits Festival, the predecessor of and model for Lollapalooza. It&rsquo;s hard not to see that as payback.</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong>4. The current deal is almost as sweet as the first one<em>.</em></strong></p><p>While the new contract generates more income for the city&mdash;around $3 million a year total&mdash;it contains a number of problematic concessions. The biggest: Lollapalooza has an exclusive lock on Grant Park, prohibiting any other promoter from staging a similar event there. It also fails to stipulate penalties or set deadlines for post-concert repairs (and these have been extensive in years with bad rain). Bottom line: The city&rsquo;s biggest and most prestigious public park now is handed to a private business for the third of the year with the best weather.</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong>5. When Live Nation becomes a co-owner of Lollapalooza, it will now have sweetheart deals for <em>two</em> lakefront concert venues.</strong></p><p>Live Nation initially got a sweetheart deal from the Daley administration in 2005 for a temporary, mid-sized concert venue on Northerly Island, where the former mayor had bulldozed Meigs Field in the middle of the night. In 2013, the Emanuel administration made the arrangement permanent, allowing Live Nation to build a massive fixed venue for 30,000 people&mdash;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/did-chicago-park-district-sidestep-competitive-bidding-northerly-island">all without public hearings and sidestepping competitive bidding</a>.</p><p><strong>6. Rahm&rsquo;s ties to Lollapalooza and C3 are even closer than Daley&rsquo;s.</strong></p><p>While C3 does all the work, Lollapalooza actually is co-owned in a 50/50 partnership by the Texas company and Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor, which is run by Rahm&rsquo;s brother, Ari Emanuel. (The concert&rsquo;s founder, Perry Farrell, sold his stake to William Morris back in the alternative era, and is now basically a corporate spokes figure&mdash;the Gorton&rsquo;s Fisherman of the music world.) <a href="http://www.livenationentertainment.com/leadership%20http://www.livenationentertainment.com/leadership">Ari Emanuel also sits on the Board of Directors of Ticketmaster/Live Nation.</a></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ari%20Live%20Nation.jpg" style="height: 290px; width: 600px;" title="Ari Emmanuel's bio from the Live Nation Website listing its board of directors." /></div><p><strong>7. Rahm promised to appoint an independent negotiator to handle all city deals with C3 and Ticketmaster/Live Nation.</strong></p><p>In addition to his nepotistic ties with C3/William Morris and Ticketmaster/Live Nation, Emanuel received campaign contributions from 15 William Morris employees and the top two corporate executives at Ticketmaster/Live Nation, totaling $156,000 during his first mayoral campaign. In response to this blog&rsquo;s reporting on those contributions, then-campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-02-08/rahm-emanuel-pledges-hands-all-dealings-ticketmasterlive-nation-and-lo">&ldquo;Given his brother&rsquo;s position at WME [William Morris Endeavor] and on the board of Live Nation, Rahm would ask the City Council to appoint an outside negotiator to handle any negotiations with these companies so that there wasn&rsquo;t even a question of favoritism.&rdquo;</a></p><p><strong>8. Rahm broke that promise.</strong></p><p>As mayor, Emanuel failed to appoint that independent negotiator to oversee the new contract with Ticketmaster/Live Nation for Northerly Island or with C3/William Morris for Lollapalooza. The administration has claimed the mayor had no role in those deals, since they were struck by the Park District. But Emanuel hand picks the Park District&rsquo;s board and top executives.</p><p><strong>9.—</strong><strong> Rahm is raking in the cash for his second run from C3.</strong></p><p>The real reason for the mayor&rsquo;s much-ballyhooed goodwill trip to Austin for South by Southwest 2013 <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-08/news/ct-emanuel-austin-fundraiser-met-20140308_1_campaign-fundraiser-charles-attal-lollapalooza">was revealed by <em>Chicago Tribune</em> reporters John Byrne and Bill Ruthhart</a>: Emanuel made the trip to collect &ldquo;campaign donations at a fundraiser thrown for him by the promoters who hold the 10-year contract to put on the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.&rdquo; Doesn&rsquo;t this blatantly contradict the executive order Rahm signed forgoing political contributions from city contractors, the <em>Tribune </em>asked? Once again, mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton countered that the rule does not apply because C3 has its deal with the Park District, not with City Hall, a fine distinction many would dismiss.</p><p><strong>—</strong><strong>10. Lollapalooza never has &ldquo;played nice&rdquo; with the Chicago music scene, but Ticketmaster/Live Nation&rsquo;s been even worse.</strong></p><p>In addition to dominating the summer concert scene by its sheer size and scope, Lollapalooza wields unequaled power over the Chicago music world via the radius clauses C3 places on every act that plays its stages. These prohibit artists from performing for six months before the festival and three months after anywhere within 300 miles of Grant Park, which includes Milwaukee, Madison, Iowa City, Detroit, and Indianapolis. C3 claims it waives the radius clause for any band that asks; some artists have disagreed. Either way, the policy remains intact.</p><p>C3, which does not even have an office in Chicago, claims to be a good neighbor to the music scene by making sanctioned after-shows available to local venues. Some promoters and club owners have said that doesn&rsquo;t come close to compensating for the nights they now are dark, but they&rsquo;re almost always hesitant to speak for attribution lest they lose the handful of shows they do get.</p><p>For its part, Ticketmaster/Live Nation has been an even more problematic neighbor. Ticketmaster&rsquo;s egregious &ldquo;convenience fees&rdquo; and poor customer service are notorious, as are its exclusivity agreements with venues. (These mean artists must use Ticketmaster or they cannot play that facility.) Live Nation has aggressively bought up or driven independent local promoters out of business from coast to coast; Chicago is one of the few major cities that still has an independent competitor, Jam Productions, but court testimony has included statements by top Live Nation execs promising to &ldquo;crush, kill, and destroy&rdquo; its smaller rival. And Live Nation&rsquo;s radius clauses are as troubling as C3&rsquo;s.</p><p>Though Ticketmaster&rsquo;s merger with Live Nation in 2010 was roundly criticized by the music industry and legislators on both the left and the right, <a href="http://voices.suntimes.com/arts-entertainment/music/ticketmaster-live-nation-meet/">it nevertheless won the approval of the Obama administration</a>. (At the time, Rahm Emanuel was the president&rsquo;s chief of staff.) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/jderogatis/2010/06/breaking-illinois-attorney-general-investigating-lollapalooza-for-anti-trust/27523">And though the Illinois Attorney General investigated Lollapalooza and C3 for possible anti-trust violations in 2010</a>, the probe ended with no action taken. Complaints about the bullying practices of both companies have fallen on deaf ears.</p><p>Also worth noting: The city never has contracted for a thorough, independent Economic Impact Study weighing the benefits of the lakefront concerts staged by C3 and Ticketmaster/Live Nation against the detriments to local music businesses, especially the clubs and independent venues that operate here 365 days a year.</p><p>While the ramifications of the merger remain to be seen, two things are undeniable and don&rsquo;t augur well for the future: Under Ticketmaster/Live Nation, concert tickets and service fees have only gotten more and more expensive while customers have increasingly been treated worse, marketing has grown more obnoxious, and bookings have grown ever more conservative. And competition has dwindled while the giants have thrived, leaving music lovers with fewer alternatives all the time.</p><p><strong><u>SOME OF THIS BLOG&rsquo;S KEY REPORTS ON THE SHENANIGANS BEHIND LOLLAPALOOZA, TICKETMASTER/LIVE NATION, AND THE CITY</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/lollapalooza-gift-keeps-giving%E2%80%94-daley-110839">Sept. 24, 2014: Lollapalooza, the gift that keeps giving&mdash;to Daley</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/did-chicago-park-district-sidestep-competitive-bidding-northerly-island">May 30, 2013: Did the Chicago Park District sidestep competitive bidding for the Northerly Island concert venue?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/city-oks-expansion-ticketmasterlive-nation-northerly-island-106215">Mar. 21, 2013: City OKs expansion of Ticketmaster/Live Nation on Northerly Island</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-08/lessons-lollapalooza-2012-101501">Aug. 6, 2012: The lessons of Lollapalooza 2012</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/city-releases-lollapalooza-contract-98324">April 17, 2012: City releases Lollapalooza contract</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/new-lollapalooza-deal-blown-opportunity-98257">April 15, 2012: The new Lollapalooza deal: A blown opportunity</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-14/lollapalooza-finally-will-pay-what-it-owes-97309">March 15, 2012: Lollapalooza finally will pay what it owes</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-14/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-01/county-lollapalooza-pay-96038">Feb. 1, 2012: County to Lollapalooza: Pay up!</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-14/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-04/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-01-29/state-rep-probes-lollapalooza-sales-tax-95937">Jan. 29, 2012: State rep probes Lollapalooza sales tax </a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-14/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-04/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-01/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-01-23/county-targets-lollapalooza%E2%80%99s-tax-exemption-95730">Jan. 25, 2012: The county targets Lollapalooza&#39;s tax exemption</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-09-18/another-pa-lollapalooza-92124">Sept. 18, 2011: Another pass for Lollapalooza: Restoring Grant Park</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-08-08/demand-builds-probe-lolla-sweetheart-deal-90218">Aug. 8, 2011: Demand builds: Probe Lolla sweetheart deal</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-08-02/rahm-city-will-review-lollapalooza-tax-exemption-90008">Aug. 2, 2011: Rahm: City will review Lollapalooza tax question</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-08-01/does-lollapalooza-hort-chicago-89911">Aug. 1, 2011: Does Lollapalooza $hort Chicago?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-04-07/two-key-differences-between-mega-fests-dave-matthews-caravan-vs-lollap">April 7, 2011: Two key differences between the mega-fests, Dave Matthews Caravan vs. Lollapalooza</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-02-24/dear-rahm-how-quell-fears-about-your-ties-ticketmasterlive-nation-and-">Feb. 24, 2011: Dear Rahm: How to quell fears about your ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza and fix relations with the Chicago music scene</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-02-08/rahm-emanuel-pledges-hands-all-dealings-ticketmasterlive-nation-and-lo">Feb. 7, 2011: Rahm Emanuel pledges hands off all dealings with Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza</a></p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-02-07/rahm-emanuel-pal-thuggish-concert-giants-ticketmasterlive-nation-and-l">Feb. 4, 2011: Rahm Emanuel: Pal$ with thuggish concert giants Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/jderogatis/2010/06/its-official-ticketmasterlive-nation-free-to-devour-the-concert-business/27048">June 21, 2010: It&rsquo;s official: Ticketmaster/Live Nation free to devour the concert business</a></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 16:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/death-star-buy-walmart-lake-110907 Foxygen's 'Star Power' a black hole of wretched excess http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/foxygens-star-power-black-hole-wretched-excess-110883 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/And-Star-Power.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>As both a devoted fan&mdash;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/TURN-DECADES-GREAT-PSYCHEDELIC-SOFTCOVER/dp/0634055488/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1412191836&amp;sr=8-1-spell&amp;keywords=derogatis+turn+on+your+mnd"><em>heck, a scholar</em></a>&mdash;of psychedelic-rock experimentation and a defender of the merits of Foxygen&rsquo;s 2013 breakthrough pop-pastiche <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/pastiche-or-parody-foxygen-much-more-sum-its-parts-105631"><em>We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace And Magic</em></a><em>&mdash;</em>even after the group proved to be far from stellar onstage&mdash;the third album from California studio wizards Jonathan Rado, Sam France, and collaborators comes as a major disappointment.</p><p>In fact, I can&rsquo;t remember the last time I was so eager to hear the next release by a band that turned out to suck this royally.</p><p>A bloated, sloppy, sprawling, 82-minute, way-too-impressed-with-itself 24-track double album, <em>... And Star Power </em>veers far from the beautiful, orchestrated psychedelic pop of the last album, overshooting psychedelic noise to arrive at psychedelic mess. Sorry, kids, but there is such a thing as taking too many drugs; what the Romantics called &ldquo;the systematic derangement of the senses&rdquo; in pursuit of spiritual and musical transcendence is one thing, but getting so deranged that you can no longer tell the difference between otherworldly studio experimentation and the aural equivalent of burping, farting, and laughing at your own clever self for doing so is another matter.</p><p>This time, rather than drawing inspiration from Love, the Northern California bands, and the British groups of the initial psychedelic explosion,<em> </em>Rado and France seem to aim for disorienting sound collages like the Beatles&rsquo; &ldquo;Revolution 9&rdquo; or the attention-deficit genre-hopping of the Mothers of Invention, but they don&rsquo;t even match the amateurish chaos of the Zappa-helmed GTOs. What makes this muddle more infuriating are the occasional glimpses of the old pop genius: &ldquo;How Can You Really&rdquo; or segments of the four-part &ldquo;Star Power&rdquo; suite. But these are far outnumbered by sheer clatter (&ldquo;Star Power Airlines,&rdquo; &ldquo;666,&rdquo; &ldquo;Wally&rsquo;s Farm,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hot Summer&rdquo;), sub-Syd Barrett navel-gazing (&ldquo;You &amp; I,&rdquo; &ldquo;I Don&rsquo;t Have Anything/The Gate&rdquo;), and the many attempts to imitate the unfocused confusion of Brian Wilson&rsquo;s aborted <em>Smile</em> album.</p><p>Foxygen should have just said no to the excessive impulses that created this double disc. Thankfully, you can say no to wasting your time with it.</p><p><em><strong>Foxygen, </strong></em><em><strong>... And Star Power </strong></em><em><strong>(Jagjaguwar)</strong></em></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: .5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/foxygens-star-power-black-hole-wretched-excess-110883 Eat to the Beat: 'The Banana Album' and the meal of a lifetime http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/eat-beat-banana-album-and-meal-lifetime-110879 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/John-Cale-of-Velvet-Under-001.jpg" style="height: 372px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/events_e2b.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>&ldquo;Modern music begins with the Velvets,&rdquo; the great rock critic Lester Bangs wrote when the Velvet Underground still was a going concern, &ldquo;and the implications and influence of what they did seem to go on forever.&rdquo; In the years since, that bold and prescient statement has proven unimpeachable. As the band&rsquo;s co-founder, John Cale famously provided the avant-garde noise foil to Lou Reed&rsquo;s songwriting craftsman, and though the Welsh-born virtuoso left the band after its second album, his now 44-year solo career has been every bit as rewarding and influential as his work on <em>The Velvet Underground and Nico </em>(1967) and <em>White Light/White Heat </em>(1968),<em> </em>as well every bit as strong as the late Reed&rsquo;s solo catalog.</p><p>For our third &ldquo;Eat to the Beat&rdquo; fundraiser, <em>Sound Opinions </em>is beyond honored to have renowned chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, avec, the Publican, Big Star) and Matthias Merges (Yusho, A10) cooking their interpretation of the Velvets&rsquo; debut, the timeless &ldquo;Banana Album,&rdquo; for none other than Cale himself&mdash;and, of course, for YOU&mdash;at Kahan&rsquo;s newest restaurant, <a href="http://www.nicoosteria.com/">Nico Osteria</a>, which not coincidentally was named for the chanteuse of the band&rsquo;s early, Andy Warhol days.</p><p>This once-in-a-lifetime dinner takes place at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12. <a href="https://www.eventbrite.com/e/eat-to-the-beat-tickets-13180177265">More info and tickets can be found here</a><u>.</u> All proceeds benefit WBEZ/Chicago Public Media and help keep <em>Sound Opinions </em>on the air.</p><p>In honor of this auspicious occasion&mdash;and because I&rsquo;m ridiculously stoked&mdash;here are a baker&rsquo;s dozen of the most extraordinary moments from Cale&rsquo;s career, presented more or less in chronological order, and with the footnote that I easily could have picked 100. (Cale also has appeared on <em>Sound Opinions</em> twice: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/soundopinions/001-john-cale">on our very first show on Public Radio</a>, and a<a href="https://soundcloud.com/soundopinions/363-john-cale">gain performing live in 2012</a>.)</p><p><strong>1. &ldquo;European Son&rdquo; (with the Velvet Underground)</strong></p><p>In this explosion of sonic chaos from the Velvets&rsquo; debut, Cale sets the standard for all noise-rock to follow, as well as presenting a startling contrast to the other sounds of the Summer of Love. That tremendous crash and explosion after the first verse is Cale banging some metal folding chairs and smashing a bottle.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/igWyYA_r06Y" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>2. &ldquo;Fear Is a Man&rsquo;s Best Friend&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bo96vU8__2w" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>3. &ldquo;Gun&rdquo;/<strong>&ldquo;</strong>Pablo Picasso&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/WPgnzBzEgvo" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>4. &ldquo;Guts&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Three of Cale&rsquo;s many high points from the mid-&rsquo;70s punk era, which reinvigorated the artist who&rsquo;d helped set the template for it, and which capture the depressing decay and paranoia of New York in the era of &ldquo;Ford to City: Drop Dead.&rdquo; That live performance of &ldquo;Gun&rdquo; folds in some of Jonathan Richman&rsquo;s &ldquo;Pablo Picasso&rdquo;&mdash;Cale of course produced the debut by the Modern Lovers, as well as the Stooges and Patti Smith&mdash;and features my pal and sometimes Reed sidewoman Jane Scarpantoni on cello.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ao7zhZaaYTE" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>5. &ldquo;Buffalo Ballet&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Yng-tpVTOhY" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>6. &ldquo;Leaving it Up to You&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wJis65pCrJI" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Cale wasn&rsquo;t all anger and energy during the punk years, as these gorgeous, lilting ballads amply testify.</p><p><strong>7. &ldquo;Heartbreak Hotel&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/73Bn0Kq7rls" width="420"></iframe></p><p>It takes a lot of vision and personality to steal a song from the King of Rock and claim it as your own, but for many, this is <em>the </em>definitive version, and certainly the most horrifying.</p><p><strong>8. &ldquo;Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night&rdquo;</strong></p><p>From 1989&rsquo;s <em>Words for the Dying, </em>written in response to the Falklands War, and using the poetry of Cale&rsquo;s fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas. Here he performs in tuxedo with an orchestra and a boy&rsquo;s choir.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/maISWZ8Tpsc" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>9. &ldquo;Cordoba&rdquo; (with Brian Eno)</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/yHg7Yad0L9g" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>10. &ldquo;Style It Takes&rdquo; (with Lou Reed)</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kzzgFOLa63A" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Though he has a reputation as a stubborn and singular visionary, Cale was part of two great collaborations in 1990: <em>Wrong Way Up </em>with Eno and <em>Songs for Drella, </em>a tribute to Warhol with his old bandmate Reed. Both of those artists were better for working with him.&nbsp; The way Cale channels Andy delivering the lines, &ldquo;This is a rock group called the Velvet Underground/I show movies on them, do you like their sound?/&rsquo;Cause they have a style that grates/And I have art to make&rdquo; slays me every time, and I count the concert at St. Ann&rsquo;s Church in Brooklyn where he and Reed premieried this song cycle among the best shows I&rsquo;ve ever seen.</p><p><strong>11. &ldquo;Dancing Undercover&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6v2vRPliEcA" width="420"></iframe></p><p><strong>12. &ldquo;December Rains&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/TYSIXnfeuSU" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Cale&rsquo;s recent output has not diminished in quality a bit, as these tracks from <em>Walking on Locusts </em>(1996) and <em>Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood </em>(2012) demonstrate.</p><p><strong>13. &ldquo;Hallelujah&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Another song&mdash;this one by Leonard Cohen&mdash;that Cale has forever claimed as his own. (And sorry, even if you love Jeff Buckley, his version does <em>not </em>top this one.)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Nzu4LE667VM" width="420"></iframe></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em>Facebook</em></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/">Sound Opinions</a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/">Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-10/eat-beat-banana-album-and-meal-lifetime-110879 Mary Timony cast a spell on me http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/mary-timony-cast-spell-me-110849 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex%20Hex%20band%20photo.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 640px;" title="Ex Hex; Mary Timony center." /></div><p>While Carrie Brownstein got most of the attention in Wild Flag&mdash;and, hey, even if you never worshipped at the altar of Sleater-Kinney, who doesn&rsquo;t love <em>Portlandia</em>?<em>&mdash;</em>that short-lived supergroup was very much a four-piece band, and the joys of making a glorious noise as such were the subject of its best songs. The Richard Lloyd yang to Brownstein&rsquo;s Tom Verlaine yin (or maybe that was vice-versa), guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Mary Timony was Wild Flag&rsquo;s secret weapon, as I duly noted <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-09-08/album-review-wild-flag-%E2%80%98wild-flag%E2%80%99-merge-91659">in my review of the band&rsquo;s one self-titled album in 2011</a>, and as she proved during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/wild-flag-performs-sound-opinions-wbez-studios">the group&rsquo;s appearance on <em>Sound Opinions</em></a>.</p><p>Alas, if there was any good news about the end of Wild Flag&mdash;&ldquo;We had a fun run&hellip; but all the logistics started seeming not quite worth it,&rdquo; Brownstein said in 2014&mdash;it was that Timony was free to return to a stellar career as a solo artist and band leader, even if it is one that never has garnered the attention it&rsquo;s deserved.</p><p>Born in Washington, D.C., where she formed her first widely known combo Autoclave and recorded for the godhead Dischord Records, she went on to become the leader of Helium, a key part of a vibrant &rsquo;80s scene in Boston that also included Dumptruck, Salem 69, Dinosaur Jr., and the Volcano Suns. Helium made two strong albums and three EPs for Matador, then Timony went solo, giving us three more albums on her own that brought a more witchy, psychedelic-folk/progressive-rock vibe to Helium&rsquo;s Velvets-influenced indie-rock drone. Now she has a new group, which may or may not be named after her last solo release, <em>Ex Hex </em>in 2005.</p><p>Ex Hex the band finds Timony fronting a power trio completed by drummer Laura Harris and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Betsy Wright. Recorded in part with legendary &rsquo;80s producer Mitch Easter, the man behind R.E.M.&rsquo;s <em>Murmur</em>, <em>Rips </em>has less of the pagan murk you might expect from this pairing and more ferociously punky garage-rock drive than anything the band&rsquo;s leader has delivered since Dischord. In its Merge Records bio, Ex Hex describes its debut as &ldquo;twelve songs about underdogs, guys stealing your wallet, schoolyard brawls, and getting bent,&rdquo; recorded in a relatively quick-and-dirty two-week span, and inspired in part by the timeless art-punk of Richard Hell and the Voidoids.</p><p>No doubt that when it comes to singular sounds, inventive solos, and memorable riffs, Timony rivals even the late, great Robert Quine, the Voidoids&rsquo; lead guitarist. But she also always has been an underrated pop craftswoman&mdash;&ldquo;Probably the happiest I am is if I&rsquo;ve written a melody that I feel is really cool and catchy but it&rsquo;s also a little bit different or new-sounding,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News2003/TimonyMar21.htm">she told me back in 2003</a>&mdash;and with stand-outs such as &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t Wanna Lose,&rdquo; &ldquo;Beast,&rdquo; &ldquo;Radio On&rdquo; (a nice nod to the ultimate Boston rock anthem &ldquo;Roadrunner&rdquo;), &ldquo;New Kid,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Hot and Cold,&rdquo; she never has sounded better or more beguiling.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2bhLw3v_tiY" width="560"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/525_exhex_rips_2500px.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Ex Hex, <em>Rips</em> (Merge Records)</strong></div><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/mary-timony-cast-spell-me-110849 ‘V for Vaselines’ is very, very good http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/%E2%80%98v-vaselines%E2%80%99-very-very-good-110844 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vaselines%20right%20size.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>For the vast majority of music lovers, cult-hero Scots the Vaselines will forever be known as &ldquo;Kurt Cobain&rsquo;s favorite band,&rdquo; via his penchant for frequently talking up Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee in interviews, as well as Nirvana&rsquo;s covers of three of their songs: &ldquo;Molly&rsquo;s Lips,&rdquo; &ldquo;Son of a Gun,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Jesus Doesn&#39;t Want Me for a Sunbeam.&rdquo; Hardly prolific during their initial run&mdash;they released only one studio album between their formation in 1986 and their split in 1989&mdash;they were rediscovered in the &rsquo;90s thanks to Nirvana and Sub Pop&rsquo;s 1992 compilation <em>The Way of the Vaselines</em>, and they reunited midway through the first decade of the 2000&rsquo;s, finally releasing their second album <em>Sex with an X</em> in 2010. (The group <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/video/vaselines-perform-sound-opinions">stopped by <em>Sound Opinions </em>for a live performance and interview </a>during its tour the following year.)</p><p>Now, at long last, comes album number three, <em>V for Vaselines</em>, which is as strong as anything they&rsquo;ve given us. The trademark snark remains (&ldquo;Being with you/Kills my IQ,&rdquo; Kelly sings in &ldquo;Number One Crush&rdquo;; &ldquo;If you know what I&rsquo;ve been thinking/It&rsquo;s no use that we&rsquo;re pretending,&rdquo; McKee adds in &ldquo;Crazy Lady&rdquo;), though the lyrics are notably less lewd than the band has been in the past. Arguably, there&rsquo;s more of the linear rhythms and Velvet Underground drones than we&rsquo;ve heard from Kelly any time since his wonderful side project Eugenius (which released two killer albums in 1992 and &rsquo;94). The Vaselines&rsquo; biggest strength, however, remains theirs indelible melodies, a glorious, sunny contrast to the darkest of thoughts, which, no doubt, is what appealed so much to Cobain. And from beginning to end&mdash;&ldquo;High Tide Low Tide&rdquo; to &ldquo;Last Half Hour,&rdquo; with eight more gems in between&mdash;the album is a very welcome success.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-aNWiCjVlPg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>The Vaselines, <em>V for Vaselines </em>(Rosary Music)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-09/%E2%80%98v-vaselines%E2%80%99-very-very-good-110844