Sunday, April 13, 2014

Best of 2012 - Top 5

5. Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't

That shy, balding guy who seems a little off and looks the guy from High Fidelity's Championship Vinyl that's not John Cusack or Jack Black? That's Jens Lekman and he just happens to write some of the most wonderfully awkward conversational love songs this side of Stuart Murdoch. Listen here.

4. Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears

Since I am writing this about 16 months late, it seems like 3 Pears came out a decade ago. Of all the resurgent alt country artists that blossomed in the 80's (Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, etc. etc.), Yoakam is the one that has maintained the highest level of consistency in his recordings. 3 Pears brims with timeless honky tonk that puts the current big hat poseurs to shame. His best since Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.

3. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

The purity of voice of Klara and Johanna Soderberg is the kill shot here. The foreigners' embrace of Laurel Canyon sweetness , Gram Parsons' Cosmic American Music and the immediacy and earnestness of Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley is addictive, and they wrap it up in a delicate, homesick bow and sell it back to us much like every British rock band from 1963 to 1975 used American rhythm and blues as the template for rock and roll world domination. What's so great about The Lion's Roar is the promise of greater things.

2. Allo Darlin' - Europe

I did flinch a little when I realized that 2 and 3 were adorable female fronted bands but so be it. Allo' Darlin's Elizabeth Morris will win your heart then break it with sophisticated pop songs that pack considerably more wallop than the ukulele sweet treatments that sometimes threaten to undermine the top flight songs. Absolutely gorgeous.

1. The Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Rock and roll ain't dead. Am I right, Jake Hartline?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Craig Finn on The Replacements

My interview with Craig Finn yielded more material than could fit in print, including this exchange about seeing the recently-reformed Replacements play last fall.

You've made no secret about how big an influence The Replacements were on you. I know that you saw one of last fall's reunion shows. What did you think?

I loved it. I thought it was great. I mean, I saw them with Bob Stinson [original guitarist who was dismissed from the band in 1986 and died in 1995], so it was obviously not going to be the same, but it was ultimately a celebration of these songs. And I loved the fact that [band leader Paul] Westerberg looked like he was having a blast at the show I saw, and was really excited about that.

I saw them in Colorado on the night they came out in orange skirts. It was, um, transcendent.

Yeah, I've seen video of that. That looked pretty amazing. There are these songs, and they haven't run themselves into the ground, they haven't made, you know, a techno album or anything, so for them to come out and play rock and roll, obviously, they're down a few members, but I don't begrudge them that. I just had a fantastic time and I thought they sounded great.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My interview with Craig Finn from The Hold Steady.

It turns out that this blog is only mostly dead.

Last week I talked to Craig Finn from The Hold Steady for this week's issue of The Providence Phoenix. You can read the results here. If you go back through the archives, you'll know that The Hold Steady is the great whale of Teenage Kicks. It was good to be able to talk to the man who wrote the words to "Your Little Hoodrat Friend."