WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Celebrating the sounds and styles some would rather forget http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/celebrating-sounds-and-styles-some-would-rather-forget-110041 <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/Mad-World-Majewski-and-Bernstein.jpg" style="height: 601px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Long before rock-critic geeks engaged in tiresome debates about &ldquo;popism vs. rockism,&rdquo; an argument recently reprised as the avocation of a more &ldquo;poptimistic&rdquo; point of view, the &rsquo;80s presented a troubling dilemma for serious young music fans and aspiring scribes.</p><p>On the one hand was the blatantly commercialized co-optation of the sounds and energy of punk rock as the endlessly more marketable New Wave, first by the major labels, and then by the nascent MTV. On the flip side was a noble, communal, and anti-commercial indie underground that forwarded the explosion of punk into a true alternative lifestyle. (Popist or rockist? Choose a side and fight to the death!)</p><p>The latter sounds got their epic celebration in print back in 2001 via Michael Azerrad&rsquo;s <em>Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. </em>In terms of sonic and visual aesthetics, lyrical obsessions, and chart success, the 13 groups Azerrad championed&mdash;Big Black, Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, and Mission of Burma among them&mdash;could not have been in a more radically different universe than bands such as the Human League, Berlin, Dexys Midnight Runners, Bow Wow Wow, and Soft Cell.</p><p>But you know what? Many of us who were there were scoffing up and enjoying records from both camps at the same time. And now, without ever resorting to the words &ldquo;guilty pleasures,&rdquo; we have the worthy tome making the case for the other side: <em>Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s </em>(Abrams Image).</p><p>A long-percolating labor of love from the Weehawken, N.J. native Lori Majewski, the founding editor of <em>Teen People </em>and a veteran of <em>Entertainment Weekly, </em>and the British-born, now-L.A.-based Jonathan Bernstein, whose previous credits include <em>Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies</em>, <em>Mad World </em>makes a case for three dozen once wildly popular, now often-mocked bands from the New Wave/New Romantic era, presenting 36 songs that stand the test of time, along with their own thoughts on these tunes and acts; brief oral histories from the key players themselves, and assorted quick-hit sidebars and lists, all unfurling in a giddy, sugar-fueled rush like rapid-fire channel surfing while downing a bottle of Jolt.</p><p>You&rsquo;d expect a certain amount of sublime silliness, given the times, and the book obliges. Here&rsquo;s Mike Score, vocalist for A Flock of Seagulls, on achieving his absurd bird-wings coiffe: &ldquo;A can of Aquanet every night. Once it was up and we had gigs, it never came down.&rdquo; But the book also includes a lot of honest and poignant commentary&mdash;almost every one of these bands was chewed up and ruthlessly spit out by a corporate music machine that now is nearing extinction&mdash;and even some timeless insights.</p><p>&ldquo;Looking back to the &rsquo;80s, there was so much more room for diversity,&rdquo; says Alison Moyet of Yaz. &ldquo;A freak was more celebrated than it is now. [And] there was less sexism, bizarrely, in the creative arena.&rdquo; (To say nothing of less homophobia and much more eyeliner, hairspray, and truly distinctive sounding synthesizers.)</p><p>One could quibble with a few of the acts included&mdash;neither Devo nor Joy Division ever really fit the mold of most of the other bands in these pages&mdash;and there is one unforgiveable omission. (How <em>could </em>they have left out Culture Club and &ldquo;Karma Chameleon!?&rdquo;) But the authors declare their intentions right up front, after the foreword from Duran Duran&rsquo;s Nick Rhodes but long before the afterword by Moby.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Here&rsquo;s what this book isn&rsquo;t: a definitive oral history of the new wave era deserving of its own floor in the Smithsonian,&rdquo; Majewski and Bernstein write. &ldquo;Here&rsquo;s what it is: a random sampling of the decade, a bunch of snapshots summing up songs and artists embedded in our hearts.&rdquo;</p><p>As such, it also is a great success and a whole helluva lot of fun.</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, 17 Apr 2014 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/celebrating-sounds-and-styles-some-would-rather-forget-110041 Le Butcherettes are back with a vengeance http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/le-butcherettes-are-back-vengeance-110032 <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/Terri.jpg" style="height: 432px; width: 650px;" title="Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes)." /></div><p>&ldquo;I find it hard to articulate/I find it hard to pronounce these words,&rdquo; Teri &ldquo;Gender Bender&rdquo; Suaréz sings on &ldquo;Burn the Scab,&rdquo; the ferocious opening track from <em>Cry Is for the Flies</em>, the long-awaited second album from Le Butcherettes. But if the Guadalajara-to-Los Angeles transplant is indeed frustrated by the limitations of either her native tongue or her adopted second language, she communicates books full of information with the frenetic assault of her music, the passionate howl of her vocals, and, in live performance, her fearless, full-body abandon.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Burn it, burn it to the ground/Watch it melt away!&rdquo; goes the chorus of &ldquo;Burn the Scab.&rdquo; Burn what, exactly, you ask? As on the group&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-06-06/album-review-le-butcherettes-%E2%80%9Csin-sin-sin%E2%80%9D-rodriguez-lopez-productions">2011 debut <em>Sin Sin Sin</em></a><em>, </em>my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-12-07/my-40-favorite-albums-2011-94525">No. 1 album of 2011</a>, the list is rarely specific, but the candidates certainly include sexism, racism (especially of the obnoxious &ldquo;Secure Fence Act&rdquo; variety), and any other bullying impediment to free expression that you&rsquo;d care to name.</p><p>Suaréz has taken entirely too long to follow up that last disc, with little to tide us over save for her efforts with Bosnian Rainbows, a much (much!) more low-key electronic side project with key Butcherettes collaborator Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta. But it&rsquo;s been worth the wait, and that artier detour does bring a slightly more elaborate and atmospheric filigree (think PJ Harvey&rsquo;s joints with John Parish) to tracks such as &ldquo;Boulders Love Over Layers of Rock,&rdquo; &ldquo;Shame, You&rsquo;re All I&rsquo;ve Got,&rdquo; and &ldquo;My Child.&rdquo;</p><p>Mind you, this ambition, or maturity, or whatever you want to call it, is relative, since Suaréz at her most restrained is merely frighteningly intense, while in her absolute unfettered mode&mdash;&ldquo;Demon Stuck in Your Eye,&rdquo; &ldquo;Normal, You Were,&rdquo; &ldquo;Poet from Nowhere,&rdquo; or the aforementioned &ldquo;Burn the Scab&rdquo;&mdash;it&rsquo;s no exaggeration to say that you should be ready to have the top of your head sheared off.</p><p>(Buy three tracks from <em>Cry is for the Flies</em> now at <a href="http://nadiesound.com/album/cry-is-for-the-flies">the Nadie Sound Website</a> and get the album for free on May 1st, two weeks before its official May 15<sup>th</sup> release date. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-listen-le-butcherettes-return-with-demon-stuck-in-your-eye-20140413,0,6018905.story#axzz2z3dCOBZR">And thanks once again to mi amigo Todd Martens for hepping me to the doings in camp Butcherettes!</a>)<br />&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><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/Butcher%20cover.jpg" title="(Cover art by Claudia Ochoa)" /></div></div><p><strong>Le Butcherettes, <em>Cry Is for the Flies </em>(Nadie Sound)</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>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, 16 Apr 2014 09:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/le-butcherettes-are-back-vengeance-110032 Hip-hop artist Common announces Chicago youth job program http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hip-hop-artist-common-announces-chicago-youth-job-program-110003 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/common_140409_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hip-hop artist Common and the Chicago Urban League are teaming up for a youth jobs initiative as a way to prevent violence and whittle down a high teen unemployment rate in the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I see what&rsquo;s going on in the city. We all see it. Anytime I hear about anybody getting shot, young people with guns, it hurts me,&rdquo; Common said Wednesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not proud to be like, yeah, we&rsquo;re &lsquo;<a href="http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/01/chiraq_war_in_chicago_prevents_solutions.html">Chiraq</a>.&rsquo; At certain points I feel like I have to do more.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative will focus on securing year-found jobs for people ages 16-24. The target is 15,000 youth over the next five years. The program is set to launch this fall with 1,000 young people.</p><p dir="ltr">Private money will be raised to subsidize salaries for some of the jobs. A key piece of the collaborative is engaging the private sector to identify jobs, from corporate to manufacturing to nonprofit. Organizers don&rsquo;t want jobs to end when the summer ends. Employing 1,000 youth would cost approximately $2.4 million, according to the Chicago Urban League.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just jobs, it&rsquo;s mentoring and support so they [young people] know that there&rsquo;s a group around them supporting their success so they know there&rsquo;s a future for them in this city,&rdquo; said Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League.</p><p dir="ltr">Teen unemployment in Illinois is among the highest in the United States, and for low-income minorities the rates are even higher.</p><p dir="ltr">Researchers at Northeastern University released a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/stagnant-employment-picture-illinois-teens-105108">report </a>last year noting that teens&#39; lack work of experience adversely affects their future employability and wages. The conclusions mirror previous studies that suggest job experience can help deter teens from involvement in the criminal justice system.</p><p dir="ltr">The report&rsquo;s authors found only 8.7 percent of black teens in Chicago were employed in 2010-2011. The rate for Asians, though, was 15.5 percent. Twenty percent of the city&rsquo;s Hispanic teens were employed, and the rate for whites stood at 21 percent.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, across Illinois, the teen employment rate fell from just under 50 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2012 &mdash; the lowest rate in the 42 years for which such data exist. If Illinois teens had been able to maintain their 1999-2000 employment rates during the past year, there would have been another 151,000 teens at work in Illinois in 2011-2012, the report said.</p><p dir="ltr">Native son Common, whose mother Mahalia Hines is an educator and Chicago Public Schools board member, recalled meeting with young people in Englewood, a neighborhood with high crime and unemployment.</p><p dir="ltr">They told the rapper they needed money and jobs, underscoring the link between poverty and violence.</p><p>&ldquo;What do they want? They want opportunity and a chance,&rdquo; Common said.</p><p>This summer The AAHH! FEST, a two-day concert in September, will kick off. Common&rsquo;s foundation will partner with Kanye West&rsquo;s <a href="http://dondashouseinc.org/">Donda&rsquo;s House</a> in which emcee Rhymefest is the creative director. Part of the money will fund the year-round jobs initiatives.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hip-hop-artist-common-announces-chicago-youth-job-program-110003 Jim + Carmel's TV + Dinner Episode 3 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/jim-carmels-tv-dinner-episode-3-109995 <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/Burger2.jpg" style="height: 319px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>In Episode 3 of our still newish podcast, Carmél Carrillo and I review the season finales of AMC&rsquo;s <em><a href="http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead">The Walking Dead</a> </em>and HBO&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.hbo.com/girls">Girls</a></em>. This time, however, we chow down first, and discuss some quick-and-casual bites at Chicago&#39;s <a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.com/elevencitydiner.com">Eleven City Diner </a>(1112 S. Wabash Ave.),&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epicburger.com">Epic Burger</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.com/bigandlittleschicago.com">Big &amp; Little&rsquo;s</a> (1034 W. Belmont Ave.), as well heading out of town to <a href="http://www.zingermansdeli.com">Zingerman&rsquo;s Deli</a> in Ann Arbor, Mich., and <a href="http://www.lambertsaustin.com">Lambert&rsquo;s Downtown Barbecue</a> in Austin, Texas.</p><p>Stream here or at <a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.com/">our Web site</a>, or better yet, subscribe <a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.com/rss">via RSS</a> or <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimcarmeltvdinners-podcast/id822171130?mt=2">iTunes</a>!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/2766720/height/360/width/640/theme/standard/direction/no/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/" style="border: none" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/jim-carmels-tv-dinner-episode-3-109995 Two worthy causes: the CHIRP Record Fair http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/two-worthy-causes-chirp-record-fair-109994 <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/Flyer.jpeg" style="height: 750px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><p>The coolest flea market you&rsquo;ll ever attend (at least if you&rsquo;re a music lover), as well as one of the worthiest benefits (if you care at all about Chicago&rsquo;s musical community), the 12th annual CHIRP Radio Record Fair takes place this Saturday, April 12, at Chicago Journeymen Plumber&rsquo;s Union,1340 W. Washington, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.</p><p>As usual, local record stores and plenty of independent vendors will present a treasure trove of used, rare, and out-of-print vinyl while DJs spin CHIRP&rsquo;s Austin Harvey hosts a Music Quiz. <a href="http://recordfair.chirpradio.org/">More info can be found here.</a></p><p>Another benefit of note is Rock-It Fest, which takes place Friday, April 11, from 7 to 10 p.m. at aliveOne Chicago, 2683 N. Halsted, featuring performances by Swamp Heat, bq, and aboveandbelow. The $30 admission includes an open bar and benefits the Art of Life, an art studio that employs developmentally disabled adult artists. <a href="http://artsoflife.org/rockitfest">More info can be found here.</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/arts-of-life-rock-it_wide.jpg" style="height: 309px; width: 550px;" title="" /></div><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, 09 Apr 2014 09:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/two-worthy-causes-chirp-record-fair-109994 The Both isn’t what you might expect http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/both-isn%E2%80%99t-what-you-might-expect-109993 <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/Both.JPG" style="height: 350px; width: 350px;" title="" /></div><p>Critics make a fatal mistake when they review the album (or film, or book, or any other <em>objet d&rsquo;art</em>) that they&rsquo;d wish an artist had made instead of the one they actually produced. Some fans of one, the other, or the Both were puzzled by the pairing of singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, that champion of beautiful songs chronicling ugly heartbreaks, and Ted Leo, the earnest punk-rock troubadour, but I thought, &ldquo;Of course!,&rdquo; and eagerly anticipated a set of angry, hard-hitting, but ultimately irresistible set of smart political pop.</p><p>Sure, it&rsquo;s disappointing that that&rsquo;s not what we get on the duo&rsquo;s self-titled debut; <em>The Both </em>merely is a collection of the usual exquisitely crafted tunes these two give us, this time written as a tag team. The tunes are perhaps a little more rocking on Mann&rsquo;s part, and a little more tuneful on Leo&rsquo;s, but in general this is a smooth merger of two strong voices and a partnership that spurs two sharp writers to hone their best lines even more. Mann&rsquo;s had this before of course, with her husband Michael Penn; it&rsquo;s more of a revelation for Leo, who&rsquo;s always been the center of all of his projects.</p><p>The musical coupling isn&rsquo;t without its missteps, however, chief among them the dreadful &ldquo;Milwaukee,&rdquo; which recounts a stroll through that fine burg that includes a contemplation of its statue in tribute to Arthur Fonzarelli paired with a chorus about &ldquo;a nucleus burning inside of itself.&rdquo; (Don&rsquo;t ask me; I don&rsquo;t get it, either.) But tunes like &ldquo;Volunteers of America,&rdquo; &ldquo;You Can&rsquo;t Help Me Now,&rdquo; and &ldquo;The Prisoner&rdquo; are pretty darn swell&mdash;even if they fall short of Mann&rsquo;s last, brilliant solo album <em>Charmer </em>(2012), and even if they aren&rsquo;t quite what we&rsquo;d hoped they&rsquo;d be.</p><p><strong>Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, <em>The Both </em>(SuperEgo Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 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, 09 Apr 2014 09:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/both-isn%E2%80%99t-what-you-might-expect-109993 The return of Mike Oldfield http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/return-mike-oldfield-109988 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/oldfield.jpg" title="One-man orchestra Mike Oldfield back in the day (Virgin Records)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Pressed to name a long-lost &ldquo;buried treasure&rdquo; who&rsquo;s way overdue for a Nick Drake or Neu!-style rediscovery by the rock underground, Mike Oldfield is at the top of my list.</p><p>Forever best-known for the 1973 album <em>Tubular Bells</em>, which provided the most memorable musical moments to that year&rsquo;s classic religious horror flick <em>The Exorcist</em>, the British guitarist started his career playing what might be called epic, symphonic psychedelic-surf instrumentals, with the unique twist that he largely was a one-man orchestra, recording most of the instruments himself via a pioneering use of multi-track overdubbing that arguably leads in a long, twisting line to the best of today&rsquo;s most innovative bedroom-laptop auteurs. (Hello, Dan Deacon!)</p><p>Granted, this is a bit of a guilty pleasure on my part&mdash;those 14-year-old progressive-rock obsessions die hard&mdash;but when a publicist pitched me on the arrival lo these many years later of new Oldfield&mdash;via his old label Virgin Records, no less&mdash;my heart leapt with joy, despite the fact that previous comebacks have been somewhat disappointing (he has twice &ldquo;re-imagined&rdquo; <em>Tubular Bells </em>for new digital technology, with vastly underwhelming results) and that much of what he&rsquo;s done in the last three decades has been just vaguely pleasant New Age music.</p><p>Alas, <em>Man on the Rocks </em>fails to live up to this fan&rsquo;s expectations, sharing more in common with latter-day pop excursions by fading prog heroes (see: Mike + the Mechanics or the dreaded Asia) than with quality vintage Oldfield, or even those <em>Tubular Bells </em>remakes. For his 25<sup>th</sup> solo album, our boy apparently wanted to do something a bit rockier and more song-oriented, so he recruited some studio musicians and a particularly bland and generic singer (Luke Spiller) and collaborated with them largely via Skype, resulting in thoroughly unmemorable, hook-free, and meaningless ditties such as &ldquo;Sailing,&rdquo; &ldquo;Dreaming in the Wind,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Following the Angels,&rdquo; redeemed only slightly and briefly by his typically elegiac guitar solos.</p><p>Oh, well; we still have old Oldfield, and I&rsquo;m sticking with my contention that a lot of that is very much worth rediscovering and celebrating, starting with that infamous musical millstone around his neck. Oldfield recorded some 28 instrumental parts for <em>Tubular Bells</em>&mdash;including everything from Spanish guitar to Lowrey organ to glockenspiel&mdash;saturating the master tape with some 2,000 overdubs. The album sold more than 16 million copies, putting Virgin Records on the map, and introducing classical music for people who wouldn&rsquo;t otherwise touch the stuff, or rock &rsquo;n&rsquo; roll that rejects conventional song structures, vocals, and instrumentation. (And who ever said you couldn&rsquo;t rock out with a glockenspiel?)</p><p>A masterpiece of headphone rock, the lulling tour of Oldfield&rsquo;s bedroom world is interrupted only when Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band makes his grand entrance to introduce each of the instruments: &ldquo;Double speed guitar&hellip; one slightly distorted guitar&hellip; plus&hellip; tubular&hellip; bells!&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s as likely to prompt you to freak out and spill the bongwater today as it was way back when, especially if you&rsquo;re listening via the preferred method of headphones.</p><p>Classic stuff, I tell ya, and very nearly as strong were two follow-ups also adhering to the formula of one long instrumental per vinyl album side: <em>Hergest Ridge</em> (1974) and <em>Ommadawn</em> (1975). But Oldfield wasn&rsquo;t only a studio wizard.</p><p>The first live performance of <em>Tubular Bells</em> drew together an all-star ensemble featuring Mike Ratledge of the Soft Machine, Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones, Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen of Gong, and Fred Frith of Henry Cow. The guitarist also popped up alongside Ayers, Nico, John Cale, and Brian Eno in the ultimate art-rock supergroup recorded on the album <em>June 1, 1974</em>. Later, he toured with a fifty-member band captured on the excellent 1979 live album <em>Mike Oldfield Exposed</em>. When I saw him in the early &rsquo;80s fronting a somewhat smaller but still pretty impressive big band, not long after the release of <em>Five Miles Out </em>(a much better song-oriented album that, curiously enough, included the tune &ldquo;Family Man,&rdquo; later a hit for Hall &amp; Oates), he blew my teenaged mind&mdash;just like his best albums still do today.</p><p><strong>Mike Oldfield, <em>Man on the Rocks </em>(Virgin)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 1.5 stars.</strong></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/oldfield%20album%20new.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>The Oldfield You Really Need to Own</u></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</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/oldfieldTubularBells.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p><strong><em>Tubular Bells, </em></strong><strong>1973 (4 stars)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Hergest Ridge,</em></strong><strong> 1974 (3 stars)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Ommadawn</em></strong><strong>, 1975 (3.5 stars)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Mike Oldfield Exposed,</em></strong><strong> 1979 live album (3.5 stars)</strong></p><p><strong><em>Five Miles Out</em></strong><strong>, 1982 (3 stars)</strong></p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em> and </em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/return-mike-oldfield-109988 Music for your next black mass http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/music-your-next-black-mass-109958 <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/warfaring-strangers-darkscorch-canticles-1.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Masters of the ultra-high-quality, beyond-esoteric, near-obsessive reissue, Chicago&rsquo;s Numero Group takes a sharp left turn in its usual trailblazing through the tarpits of musical history to spotlight an era and a sound that previously have been lost to the sands of time: those early days of heavy metal when blues and psychedelia were first being melded in imaginative ways to form a new genre; when kids in American basements were putting their own Midwestern stamps on the early innovations of the Brits in Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep, and when the haze of pot smoke parted to reveal by the light of the lava lamp sweaty-palmed fascinations with Dungeons &amp; Dragons, <em>The Lord of the Rings</em>, Aleister Crowley, Anton Lavey, and other such artifacts of darkness that almost seem quaint in these post-Internet days.</p><p><em>Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles</em> serves up 16 tracks from the early &rsquo;70s by bands with names like Wrath, Stonehenge, Wizard, and Gorgon Medusa. As on the early Sabbath albums, songs sometimes break down as a heavy-handed guitarist shifts from a massive riff to a tenuous lead; things stretch on for a few minutes longer than they should have; bassists solo when they should be grooving; drummers bash through passages emotive and operatic singers intended as moments of quiet drama, and the lyrics occasionally far surpass the cheesiest lines in <em>Horrific: Weird Tales of Terror, It&rsquo;s Midnight: The Witching Hour, </em><em>a</em>nd other classic horror comics of the day. But it&rsquo;s this endearing amateurism, on-the-fly immediacy, and dare I say punk primitivism that make songs such as &ldquo;Twelve O&rsquo;Clock Satanial&rdquo; by Air, &ldquo;Sealed in a Grave&rdquo; by Triton Warrior, and &ldquo;Tasmania&rdquo; by Stoned Mace so timeless, so appealing, and so much dang fun.</p><p>Ultimately, this collection does for modern-day stoner rock what Lenny Kaye&rsquo;s <em>Nuggets</em><em> </em>did for punk in the &rsquo;70s, illuminating the sonic and spiritual predecessors, as well as arguing for an alternative aesthetic. And it&rsquo;s every bit as vital to your collection.</p><p><strong>Various artists, </strong><em><strong>Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles </strong></em><strong>(Numero Group)</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><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong>Facebook</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, 02 Apr 2014 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-04/music-your-next-black-mass-109958 The Black Lips hone their songcraft without getting slick http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/black-lips-hone-their-songcraft-without-getting-slick-109944 <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/1%20Black%20Lips.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>The Black Lips&rsquo; soon-to-be 32-year-old frontman Cole Alexander may be aging&mdash;he and his Atlanta, Georgia-based bandmates are less likely to vomit or strip naked onstage these days&mdash;but no one could say they&rsquo;re maturing. In fact, they were the wildest act in the recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-3-farewell-tribute-lou-reed-deserved-109862">four-hour Lou Reed tribute at SXSW</a>, with Cole literally rolling on the floor as the band tore through the Velvets&rsquo; &ldquo;Run Run Run.&rdquo; But the performance didn&rsquo;t stand out only because of the antics; they also slayed musically.</p><p>Throughout a career that now stretches through 15 years and seven albums, too many people have lauded the quartet&rsquo;s live shows and slighted its recordings. Some fans hail <em>Good Bad Not Evil </em>(2007) as the disc to own, and they pretty much overlook the rest. The shortsighted knock on the group&rsquo;s latest is that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;too slick&rdquo;&mdash;as if focusing a little more on the hooks and splitting the production chores between the Black Keys&rsquo; Patrick Carney and the Dap Kings&rsquo; Tommy Brenneck is the underground equivalent of turning to Max Martin&rsquo;s Swedish hit factory.</p><p>It ain&rsquo;t, and for me the extra modicum of focus on killer hooks only brings the band more in line with the sort of classic singles that Lenny Kaye compiled on the first (and still the best) garage-rock compilation <em>Nuggets, </em>with standouts such as &ldquo;Drive-By Buddy,&rdquo; &ldquo;Waiting,&rdquo; &ldquo;Do the Vibrate,&rdquo; and &ldquo;I Don&rsquo;t Wanna Go Home&rdquo; standing with the best the band ever has given us, live or on record.</p><p><strong>The Black Lips, </strong><strong><em>Underneath the Rainbow </em></strong><strong>(Vice 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, 31 Mar 2014 16:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/black-lips-hone-their-songcraft-without-getting-slick-109944 SXSW 2014, Dispatch #3: The farewell tribute Lou Reed deserved http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-3-farewell-tribute-lou-reed-deserved-109862 <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/1Reed%20poster.jpg" style="height: 696px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/fatal-vehicular-assault-mars-sxsw-2014-109848">After the sad news that broke early Thursday morning</a>, casting a pall (if only temporarily) on the swirl of festivities and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-1-well-least-it-ain%E2%80%99t-snowing-109840">underscoring the questions I raised Tuesday</a> about whether SXSW has at last become so big that it&rsquo;s unmanageable, the days and nights began to blur, and I decided to just keep filling the notebook to compile one final dispatch on the most remarkable of the rest of my experiences in Austin, 2014.</p><p>On Thursday afternoon, a panel discussion led by former Warner Bros. Records publicist and rock historian Bill Bentley paid tribute to Lou Reed, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-10/remembering-lou-reed-dead-71-109015">who died in October at the age of 71</a>, via stirring reminiscences from the second of his three wives, Sylvia Morales; his college buddy Garland Jeffreys; Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and the Modern Lovers, and others. The session perfectly set the scene for the musical tribute at the Paramount Theatre on Friday night, with which I intended to end my festival.</p><p>Each in their own way, the panelists contended that the notion of independent music, or music in opposition, began with Reed and the Velvet Underground. And an event like SXSW&mdash;or what SXSW was when it began, and still might be, on occasion and far on the margins&mdash;would be unthinkable without his groundbreaking contributions.</p><p>Thursday night I devoted the evening to my annual blind wander through the chaos of 6<sup>th</sup> Street, sans plan and in search of musical surprises. And two stood out.</p><p>Desert is a duo of electronic musicians from Barcelona, Spain that plays exquisitely sensual electronica, with slyly seductive grooves accented on stage by producer Eloi Caballé, and other-worldly vocals from his musical partner Cristina Checa. Comparisons to the Cocteau Twins are apt, and all the more so for the fact that Checa sings in the exotic (at least to me) language of Catalan.</p><p><a href="https://soundcloud.com/desertgrup/camins">(Sample the group&rsquo;s sound here.)</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/1Desert.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Thursday&rsquo;s other discovery: Opus Orange, a quintet from Santa Monica, California with two guitars, keyboards, percussion and drums that summoned an anti-folk Feelies crossed with some of Arcade Fire&rsquo;s inspiring anthemic qualities, especially since the vocals never were delivered with less than three-part unison singing (and sometimes with all five musicians singing together). The group is led by the appealingly frumpy everyman Paul Bessenbacher, who attended the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, and his songs were not only ridiculously catchy, but smart and moving.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YF3ICKMETSw" width="560"></iframe></p><p>On Friday morning, I decided to say the hell with Lady Gaga&rsquo;s keynote address, knowing full well that <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/turnitup/chi-lady-gaga-sxsw-20140314,0,1885653.story">my <em>Sound Opinions </em>colleague Greg Kot would cover it</a> (along with countless other journalists), and suspecting that the diva of sexual diversity would not answer the question I&rsquo;d submitted about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-10/lady-gaga-collaborates-r-kelly-108981">the ethics of cosigning R. Kelly</a>, who has been charged with hurting so many underage women. (And guess what? Not a peep on that issue!)</p><p>Instead, I headed to the Convention Center&rsquo;s Radio Day Stage, where Damon Albarn of Blur, Gorillaz, and so many other memorable ventures performed a mostly acoustic set to preview his new solo album <em>Everyday Robots, </em>due at the end of April<em>. </em>Ambitious as ever, Albarn augmented the quiet, melancholy tunes&mdash;think &ldquo;End of a Century,&rdquo; 20 years later and in an even more introspective frame of mind&mdash;with piano, percussion, a string quartet, and a mini-choir borrowed from an Austin church.</p><p>The effect was quiet but stunning, with only one misstep. &ldquo;Mr. Tembo,&rdquo; a song about an elephant fallen victim to poachers, is a fine children&rsquo;s ditty, but it felt slight during this otherwise solemn morning reverie. On the other hand, Albarn closed with the gorgeous &ldquo;Heavy Seas of Love,&rdquo; performed as a duet on album with Brian Eno, though here he handled both parts himself.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rjbiUj-FD-o" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Later in the afternoon, I returned to the same stage for Temples, a young British dream-pop band that recalls many of the best &ldquo;shoegazer&rdquo; groups of the early &rsquo;90s&mdash;as well as the original psychedelic heroes that inspired bands like Ride, Slowdive, and the Boo Radleys&mdash;without ever seeming derivative, and arguably with stronger melodies than any of those combos.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/K0pc1bFUbLo" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Finally, though there still were plenty of bands on my list of &ldquo;new artists to explore,&rdquo; I felt a need both because of the loss of such a tremendous artist and the nagging desire to recover a measure of what the SXSW community once was to end my festival with the tribute to Reed arranged by two of his countless and wildly diverse acolytes: New York-area singer and songwriter Richard Barone of the power-pop band the Bongos, a friend of Reed&rsquo;s and a fellow guitar geek, and Austin resident Alejandro Escovedo, who has covered and drawn inspiration from Sister Lou in all of his many guises through the years, from the Nuns to Rank and File to the Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra.</p><p>SXSW does musical wakes well&mdash;one recalls Chris Stamey&rsquo;s impressive all-star rendition of <em>Big Star Third </em>at the Paramount in 2012&mdash;but the Reed concert was on another level entirely, thanks to the incredible catalog of indelible tunes that the artist produced over a nearly five-decade career.</p><p>For four hours, a stellar procession of guests fronted a crack house band that included Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan of the Patti Smith Band, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and Ivan Julian of Richard Hell and the Voidoids (whose second guitarist, the late Robert Quine, played on some of Reed&rsquo;s best solo albums, though his name never was mentioned).</p><p>As might be expected at such a long and chaotic event, there were a few missteps, including an attempt by Escovedo&rsquo;s new project the Fauntleroys to cover &ldquo;Waves of Fear.&rdquo; (If Alejandro ever has heard the harrowing tune from <em>The Blue Mask</em>, there was no evidence of that on stage.)</p><p>But the moments of musical transcendence were much more plentiful and thoroughly unforgettable. Among them: Steve Wynn with a heartbreaking &ldquo;Coney Island Baby&rdquo; and, fronting the Baseball Project as Mike Mills of R.E.M. and my old friend Linda Pitmon held down the rhythms, an epic, eardrum-threatening &ldquo;Sister Ray&rdquo;; drag queen Sharon Needles singing &ldquo;Candy Says&rdquo;; Jesse Mallin tearing it up on &ldquo;Sally Can&rsquo;t Dance&rdquo;; the Fleshtones chanting in the aisles during &ldquo;Real Good Time Together&rdquo;; Suzanne Vega making &ldquo;Walk on the Wild Side&rdquo; her own; Sean Lennon relishing every note of &ldquo;What Goes On&rdquo;; Spandau Ballet doing a much better &ldquo;Satellite of Love&rdquo; than U2 ever gave us, and Barone singing his heart out on &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll Be Your Mirror.&rdquo;</p><p>The end, of course, was a group sing-along to &ldquo;Rock and Roll,&rdquo; the lyrics of which ended many Reed tributes and obituaries last fall, and which sounded newly poignant as a reminder amid the relentless corporate shilling, drunken debauchery, and unbridled greed of too much of SXSW about what really matters: the music, which retains the power to save our lives, despite all the amputations.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/aBPzxUqQZec" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OpwjBRYR8V4" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>This blog&rsquo;s coverage of SXSW 2014</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-1-well-least-it-ain%E2%80%99t-snowing-109840"><strong>Mar. 11, Dispatch #1: Well, at least it ain&rsquo;t snowing: Crowds, Rahm, Bieber &amp; corporate weasels descend on Austin.</strong></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-2-panels-preatures-hungarians-wytches-oh-my-109846"><strong>Mar. 13, Dispatch #2: Panels, Preatures, Hungarians &amp; Wytches, oh my!</strong></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/fatal-vehicular-assault-mars-sxsw-2014-109848"><strong>Mar. 13: Fatal &lsquo;vehicular assault mars&rsquo; SXSW 2014</strong></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> Sat, 15 Mar 2014 00:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-03/sxsw-2014-dispatch-3-farewell-tribute-lou-reed-deserved-109862