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X with The Detroit Cobras – The Fillmore at TLA (Philadelphia, PA) – Thursday, May 22, 2008
What a spectacular night. Although I’d seen the original lineup of X several times before (reviews here and here), they were really “on” during this show, once again not playing past their fourth album, More Fun in the New World. I would describe this concert as a religious experience. Of course, that has a lot to do with my fandom for this great band, though I can assure you all that the show was great even though EXENE CERVENKA’s voice seemed to be a little off on this evening.
X – Wild Gift (Slash/Warner Brothers/Rhino)
A record that’s been on my playlist since I first heard it when I was 16, I consider it an all-time favorite and was psyched that they played almost every single track off of it the other night. In case you’re wondering, they didn’t play “Universal Corner” or “When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch.”
Flight of the Conchords (HBO)
I’ve been obsessed with this show lately. Yes I’m a bit late to the party, but I don’t have HBO and thus had to wait to see it on DVD. In any case, it’s funny as hell and such songs as “Inner City Pressure,” “Boom” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room (Part-Time Model)” will get lodged into your skull for days if you let them and thus cause all kinds of spontaneous laughter.
The Detroit Cobras – Tied & True (Bloodshot)
After enjoying this band’s set opening for X the other night, I bought their latest album, mainly because it has their great rendition of LITTLE WILLIE JOHN’s “Leave My Kitten Alone,” which has also been covered by THE BEATLES and ELVIS COSTELLO. This version replicates the meowing sounds of the original but plays it about twice as fast. Overall, the album is a nice mix of ‘50s and ‘60s R&B and Motown covers (none of which I recognized aside from “Leave My Kitten Alone”), all done in a garage rock style, though nowhere near as untamed as their live sound. Still, it’s quite enjoyable.
No Age – Nouns (Sub Pop)
At first, I was a little put off by the hype surrounding this record (even though I enjoyed last year’s Weirdo Rippers and their live show here a few months back), but the more I listen, the more I like it. Perhaps I was initially put off by the fact that the shoegazer-like, more atmospheric elements are minimized here (though they are still present on a few tracks). Instead, the focus is on the more straightforward, punkier elements of No Age. This is not a bad thing by any means, as shown by such songs as the absolutely stunning “Sleeper Hold” and the last track, the appropriately named “Brain Burner.” At twelve tracks and thirty minutes, Nouns goes by quickly, but repeated plays prove quite satisfying. This is on its way to becoming one of my favorites of the year.
Spiritualized – A&E (Sanctuary)
Although it won’t be out until Tuesday, this album was streaming on their MySpace site earlier in the week. After a few listens, my early conclusion is that I like it more than their previous album, 2003’s Amazing Grace. It’s impossible to listen to without considering frontman JASON PIERCE’s life-threatening illness, especially with song titles such as “Death Take Your Fiddle.” Almost as if chronicling his recovery from the respiratory affliction that nearly took his life, the second half of the album finds Pierce in better voice than the first half, though the entirety of the album is eerie and disconcerting.
Laura Veirs with Liam Finn – World Cafe Live (Philadelphia, PA) – Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A nice double bill of unique singer-songwriters. Veirs’s set was highlighted by a wonderful and funny shout-out to BARACK OBAMA (who held a rally in Veirs’s hometown of Portland, Oregon with 75,000 people a few weeks ago) and a confession of how she earned the nickname “Two Beers Veirs” (also the title of her recently released EP). Liam Finn’s set showed that father NEIL FINN’s talent definitely passed down to his son. A few songs sounded a lot like his father’s, but most of it sounded like Liam’s one-man band schtick, playing guitar and banging on a drum kit throughout the performance. Aided by backing singer EJ and a liberal use of tape loops, he pulled it off, though I get the feeling he could use a full band.
Lard – The Power of Lard (Alternative Tentacles)
One of only two records made by this collaboration of JELLO BIAFRA with members of MINISTRY (though Jello provided vocals on one of Ministry’s recent albums), I found this for a dollar at a tag sale yesterday and I’m glad I got it. Although I’m familiar with their full-length The Last Tempation of Reid, I’d never heard this “EP” before. I put EP in quotation marks earlier because while this is ostensibly an EP since it only has three tracks, the overall length is over 40 minutes. This is because the third track, the mind-bending “Time to Melt,” is a 30-minute sludge feast that would give THE MELVINS (with whom Biafra would collaborate later on) a run for their money.
Joy Division – Substance (Factory)
Without giving away too many spoilers, I should say that my revisiting of this excellent compilation was inspired in part by the chapters dedicated to Joy Division and NEW ORDER in the book listed at #10 below. Nevertheless, this compilation was my introduction to this great band at the age of 19 and it remains my favorite of theirs. Sure, their full-length albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer have their charms, and indeed their stature and influence seem to grow over time, but this compilation contains their absolute peaks such as “She’s Lost Control” and “Transmission” and spans from their first recordings as WARSAW to their final single, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
John Sellers – Perfect from Now On (Simon and Shuster, 2007)
Though he’s a few years older, the author of this book clearly undertook a musical journey similar to my own, starting with Top 40 and MTV hits in the ‘80s, shifting to the Anglophilia of late ‘80s and early ‘90s 120 Minutes-inspired alternative and modern rock, and finally ending up in the indie-rock world, with much of the book taken up with his GUIDED BY VOICES obsession. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to have a fascination with all things hardcore, punk, and post-punk, but otherwise I recognize a lot of his baby steps to get to the music he loves as similar to my own. Although I don’t bemoan the fact that music is so much more accessible now than when I first got into it, since there are many advantages to this, reading this book made me wonder if these steps are even possible now with everything available at the click of a mouse.
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