Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ike Reilly's Hard Luck Stories Drops 11/24!

In 2009, waiting until the official release date to hear an album is a quaint, outdated notion akin to waiting to get the morning paper to see if the Phillies magic number still hasn’t changed. With bit torrents, advance leaks, facebook, twitter, my space, text alerts and occasionally even the artist’s own website, it’s impossible not to hear a new release before the street date.

But then there’s Ike Reilly – a fiercely independent singer-songwriter who combines the snarl and abrasiveness of punk rock with power pop’s joyous celebration of melody. Along with The Hold Steady, Gaslight Anthem and Lucero, Ike’s bringing back bare knuckled rock and roll. Last week Ike mentioned on Facebook that he’s dropping his latest, Hard Luck Stories, on 11/24. And apparently that’s the only mention I can find of this release on the whole wide world web except the fab Twitpic you see above. I kinda like this media de-saturation – Ike’s kickin’ it old school.

Can anyone provide an Ike update? Artwork? Track list? Tour dates? While you surf, here are five (count ‘em FIVE) versions of Ike’s signature song “Hip Hop Thighs # 17”.

Hip Hop Thighs # 17 (Spook Brady Version)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jason Mraz Defeats America

I am left stupefied, befuddled, bewitched and frankly shocked beyond belief that “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz has recently established a new benchmark for longevity on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. This lighter than air piece of sing-song dreck has been on the Billboard Hot 100 for 75 weeks and currently sits at # 48.

How did this happen? Appearances on Saturday Night Live (oh SNL… why?), American Idol (perfect group cheese), a Verizon commercial and overall television ubiquity made this former Mraz throwaway demo (it was a Mraz throwaway!!) an unkillable monster. America – please explain yourself!

Free beers for life for any Teenage Kicks reader that knocks that mridiculous hat off his head.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lucero "Darken My Door" Video

Lucero has commisioned a homemade video for each song on their upcoming slab of dynamite, 1372 Overton Park (out October 6 on Universal Republic). Here's "Darken My Door" from big time Brooklyn fan Alex Mecum. It's a gas. And since we're in such a good mood, how about an mp3 for the first single "Smoke"?

Darken My Door from Lucero on Vimeo.

Lucero - "Smoke"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jim Carroll Band - People Who Died

A troubled, brilliant soul - another one gone too soon. It can stop now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Funk on a Friday

Get down to the electofunky sound of Claude VonStroke, featuring one Bootsy Collins.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Philadelphia’s WXPN, the station that brought Trip and me together, is asking listeners to submit lists of the ten songs they’d want to have on their iPods were they to be stranded on a desert island, an occurrence that happens far more often than the left-leaning media would have you know. These lists will then be compiled into one master list of 885 songs to be counted down by the station, and perhaps to be ridiculed – excuse me, commented upon – by the proprietors of this humble web site.

I tried (and probably failed) not to overthink my list, but once the final song came to me, it was a eureka! moment. It was plain to me, as I’m sure it will be to you, that the list is perfect, unassailable, and unimproveable. Before I unveil the list (and you may not want to look directly at it, for the brilliance could be blinding), I want to stress that sequence is important. The songs must be encountered in the proper order. There is logic to it, with synergies created. Dynamics. Pace. Crescendo. If the songs are placed in any other order, not only do they lose their power, they could be become volatile, dangerous, even deadly (under no circumstances should the offerings from Mingus and the ‘Mats be placed adjacent to one another). Please, use good judgment.

“Another Girl, Another Planet,” The Only Ones. Like all good rock and roll mixes, this one starts with a bang. One of the best songs from one of the most fertile times for rock and roll singles, this (just barely) post punk slab of angular guitars, monster melody and breathless pacing is the perfect blend of rock and roll power and pure pop bliss. I considered tunes by Nick Lowe, the Undertones, the Plimsouls, Pretenders and Marshall Crenshaw for this spot, but nothing else sounded quite so perfect.

“I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” Prince. Gotta sustain momentum with the second track, while still heading in a different direction. This was a fairly late entry, taking the place of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” and somehow it feels like sneaking Curtis and Sly Stone on to the list in a single song. This is the best of Prince crammed into one tune – the funk, the pop, and that otherworldly guitar.

“Many Rivers to Cross,” Jimmy Cliff. An out of left field choice and the last song to make the list. A few Bob Marley songs had been penciled in here, and I was ready to hit submit with “No Woman No Cry” in the three-hole, but Bob seemed to rest uncomfortably here. And then it just struck me. I have long loved this song, but I don’t think I knew how much. So beautiful, so powerful, so soulful, and so remarkably comforting. Even stranded, you can never be alone with a song like this. And the intro blends so nicely with Prince’s fade.

“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” Charles Mingus. This isn’t some awkward effort to shoehorn some jazz onto the list. This tune might be here if I were allowed just five songs. Stately, elegant, never cloying, always satisfying. And when the bass and sax flutter in unison, it sends me through the roof.

“Amelia,” Joni Mitchell. From Mingus to his most famous fan (evidence here). I loved this song the very instant I first heard it twenty-some years ago, and that love has only deepened over time. As graceful a recording as I can imagine, it provokes something powerful within me, the sort of deep connection that you spend a lifetime chasing but rarely finding. Still, the few times you find it make all the chasing worthwhile. The song gets bonus points for being about someone who may actually have been stranded on a desert island.

“Answering Machine,” The Replacements. From a song that is (largely) a woman and her guitar to one that is (largely) a man and his, but a hard shift in tone. Paul Westerberg’s greatest song is nothing less than the electrified sound of exposed nerve endings. Has anyone ever been so desperately alone at such devastating volume?

“Your Little Hoodrat Friend,” The Hold Steady. Much has been made of Craig Finn being Bruce Springsteen’s spiritual heir, but at least half of his DNA comes from fellow Minnesotan Westerberg. This is the song that indoctrinated me into the cult, the one that first made me feel at forty the way the ‘Mats made me feel at twenty. The way we deify The Hold Steady has become a bit of a running joke around here, but down deep, it’s dead serious. I love this band. I love everything about them: the riffs, the words, the ambition, the respect for the audience’s intelligence. Everything. And I love this song best.

“All Down the Line,” The Rolling Stones. Everything I love about rock and roll can be traced back to the Stones’ perfection of Chuck Berry’s imagination, and this is the epitome – the best song on the best album. The way Mick sings, the way Charlie swings, the way Keith sends it hurtling down the tracks, the way Mick Taylor dances on top, the way Bill Wyman anchors it at bottom. It’s a lesson in chemistry, in physics, and in literature. “Open up and swallow, yeah!”

“Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen. If you complain that this is obvious, I’ll remind you that obscurity isn’t the object. I’ve heard this song a million times and I can’t wait till the next. When the E Street Band explodes – is there any other word for it? – into the song, I feel the rush every time. It’s like fight-or-flight with guitars, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to pump my fist and sing with abandon and hear something new with each listen as layer after layer of sound peels away. That a scruffy Jersey kid could conceive of such a thing at 25 was audacious. That he could achieve it was supernatural.

“Marquee Moon,” Television. My “Stairway to Heaven,” and the only way I could end this thing. “Marquee Moon” is pure mystery to me. I don’t know why I should love such a long song with a medium tempo and an odd construction, but I do, and more than I can express. It is pure majesty, and the long, winding, ascending guitar dance between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd is a musical/sexual path to higher consciousness. This song is last because I don’t know what could possibly follow it.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Oh Chameleon Club, If You Are Trying to Woo Me...

The Felice Brothers (amazing!) plus $2.00 bottles of Yuengling were an excellent start. Now just move your club closer to my house.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Music From The Garage (And The Library)

The inbox has filled up with new music in the past week or so. And much of the best possesses the raw-boned thrum that made us love rock and roll in the first place.

The Black Hollies would sound right at home on a Nuggets compilation, tucked neatly between The Seeds and The Barbarians. The single “Run With Me Run” is chock-a-block with grimy guitar and organ topped by heavenly harmonies. Those of you in Philly can catch the band on Sunday (Sept. 6) at Johnny Brenda’s.

The Black Hollies, “Run With Me Run”

Speaking of Philly, the city’s own Nixon’s Head has just unveiled the new album Enemies List. The whole thing’s a treat, combining Mitch Ryder-style Detroit muscle with Merseybeat melodicism. Locals can catch them on September 11 at Puck in Doylestown, PA. “Done Dealing” is the lead track to the album. A keeper.

Nixon’s Head, “Done Dealing”

Birdmonster is back with its own brand of revved-up, snarling Americana. The album (out Sept. 22) is Blood Memory, and “I Might Have Guessed (Mean Version)” got under my skin before the verse even kicked in.

Birdmonster, “I Might Have Guessed (Mean Version)”

The Library may be the most appropriately named band in rock and roll history. They make a whisper-quiet music reminiscent of The Clientele or Elliott Smith (minus the despair). The Life and Times of Rosa Lee is a winning collection of songs perfect for bringing the curtain down on a long day.

The Library, “TomKat”

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Sun's Out For James Maddock

“The sun hasn’t set on this boy yet”
-- Nils Lofgren

There’s a million ways to say you’re not giving up and James Maddock has found a dozen of them on his decade in the making return, Sunrise on Avenue C.

His 1999 debut, Songs From Stamford Hill, under the nom de stage of Wood, was an americana-centric collection of lovelorn pop, highlighted by the Triple A hit “Stay You”, which was featured in several TV shows and landed on the first Dawson’s Creek compilation. It appeared that Maddock was headed for stardom, and then life happened. A follow-up to Stamford Hill was recorded and not released, he got married and divorced, moved to New York City and was ultimately dropped by his record label, Columbia Records. End of story, right? No sir.

James Maddock is back with an exquisitely crafted song cycle of ruminations on the promise of love and the creative spark, the courtship of his muse (“I may not say much but I mean every word”) and the uncertainty that plagues the lover and the writer. Alternately buoyant and melancholy, Sunrise on Avenue C is a cozy marriage of Ben Folds cracked piano ballads and Bruce Springsteen’s melodic romanticism.

The album opens with “Chance”, a bouncy call-to-arms that announces he’s back in the game (“I’ve got nothing, with you I’m something, I think you’d call it a chance”), followed by a trio of declarative love songs that shows budding commitment to women, words and The City (“Ain’t you gotta kiss for me / the Village is a symphony / where else would you want to be”). Next up is song of the summer contender “When The Suns Out”, whose infectious chorus has been stuck in my head for weeks, and captures the maddeningly fleeting elation of a perfect day.

Maddock’s gift here is making the everyday memorable, catching all aspects of a relationship in deftly worded short stories, and delivering good, old fashioned songs – well produced (the judicious use of strings sweetens a few tracks), loaded with strong melodies and a real beginning and an open-ended ending in album closer “Together”. Will this relationship work? No one’s saying, but it feels like there’s more to the story because the sun hasn’t set on this boy yet.

James Maddock will be appearing Wednesday, September 9th, at The Tin Angel in Philadelphia for a cd release party.

Sunrise on Avenue C is out now on Ascend Records and available from amazon.com, cdbaby, itunes and Main Street Music in Manayunk (215-487-7732).

James Maddock - "Chance"
James Maddock - "When The Suns Out"
Wood - "Stay You"
Nils Lofgren - "The Sun Hasn't Set on This Boy Yet"