Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006 Song Of The Year

Song Of The Year: "Dirty Little Secret" by All American Rejects.

My reasons for choosing "Dirty Little Secret" were many:

1. It had mass appeal, it's popularity gives it a greater chance the message will be heard and thus, the better the potential to have an impact.

2. It has a message that makes you think, pushing the boundaries of traditional pop subject matter.

3. It's irresistably catchy and rocks hard, an ironically joyful sound belies the darkness of it's content. Call it a musical spoonful of sugar, sweetening the raw medicine of it's message.

4. It gets bonus points for a great accompanying video.

The way she feels inside (inside)
Those thoughts I can't deny (deny)
These sleeping dogs won't lie (won't lie)
And all I've tried to hide
It’s eating me apart
Trace this life out

I'll keep you my dirty little secret
(Dirty little secret)
Don't tell anyone or you'll be just another regret
(Just another regret)

Who has to know?
who has to know?

"Dirty Little Secret" addresses difficult subject matter- the hidden character flaws that drive dysfunction, personal crisis and denial- yet became a wildly popular anthem.

It's now a mainstream hit and that's the point. That this song became as popular as it did means people "got it". While your average Joe might not instantly grasp the complexity of the message, there's a chance they may be humming along to it for years to come.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Plimsouls' Million Mile Journey

Peter Case

The Plimsouls took the stage at San Juan Capistrano's Coach House Friday night to the delight of many longtime fans. And a few who weren't even born when the band made it's first record!

You may remember The Plimsouls' early 1980's hit, "A Million Miles Away" from the "Valley Girl" soundtrack. It was a KROQ staple back in the day and helped launch The Plimsouls into the LA New Wave spotlight along side bands like The Go-Go's, X and The Knack.

Since the 80's, lead singer Peter Case has released several folk CDs and toured as a solo act. The Plimsouls released the mostly overlooked "Kool Trash" album in 1998. Their recent reformation is a long hoped for surprise for many early fans of the band.

Despite a harmonica malfunction, a guitar missing a strap and sporadic feedback problems, Case and his band mates stayed loose while forging through energetic versions of Plimsoul staples like "Now", "Oldest Story In The World" and "Everywhere At Once".

Between songs, Case joked that the band had just returned from an East Coast tour. A "28 year East Coast tour!", he said with a smile. Clearly, on stage is where The Plimsouls are in their element. Relaxed almost to the point of nonchalance, they retain the aura of local bar band made good.

A quarter of a century on, the band still features it's original members, with the exception of a new drummer. Case's road tested voice reveals a more gravelly singing tone than in the early days but just as much passion. Guitarist Eddie Munoz displays the bouncy enthusiasm of a kid who just discovered he could play. And bassist David Pahoa's steady rhythm helped get The Coach House crowd on it's feet and moving.

Case and company played a couple of new songs during their set and hinted that they are working on a new album. Then closed the show by giving an appreciative crowd what they came for- The Plimsouls playing a rousing rendition of the song that started their journey several decades and a "million miles" ago.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Into The Mystic

What is it about music that conjures up such strong emotions?

It ignites hearts and imaginations, inspiring joy and feelings of excitement. Music reanimates colorful memories of things long forgotten and instant transports you to places you've never been. Experiencing thoughts, feelings and pictures in one's mind could be thought of was the world's first video game. And still one of the best.

Listen to Sinatra and in your mind you're suddenly a tuxedo clad sophisticate sipping late night martinis with the jet set. Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" takes you skipping and hopping through sunlit meadows to reconnect with your first love. "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong warms your heart and renews your faith in the basic goodness of people.

In the span of three minutes your stress can be lessened considerably simply by listening and connecting to the right song. Science still hasn't explained how this happens. It is known that listening to music releases endorphins (opiate like substances) in your brain. Music can relax tension- even lessen migrains.

Centuries before newspapers, television or the internet, music was used to bond people together by sharing common ideas and feelings. Evidence of music dates back 3,400 years in the form of clay tablets with musical notation from the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit.

Music is a bringer of hope and a soother of pain. It commiserates with the downtrodden and lifts the spirits of the hopeless. It's mystical power may never be fully explained or understood.

In a world bombarded by a barrage of external messages fighting for your attention, music is the channel to reconnect with yourself and your place in the universe. It is a personal message sent from beyond that which we can consciously comprehend.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Black Eyed Peas Go Stale

B.E.P. singer Fergie

The popularity of The Black Eyed Peas 2006 smash hit "My Humps" was scary. A narcissistic ode to lead singer Fergies' own "lady lumps" and the reaction they get from pubescent young boys. As if getting horny young males to notice female body parts is a major accomplishment.

Using sexual salaciousness in place of actual talent is an age old formula that is about as challenging as shooting fish in a barrel. Whores of all types have been doing it for ages. They just don't try to pass it off as art.

Way to raise the bar, Black Eyed Peas.

Of course this was a huge hit with your average teenager and top 40 radio and MTV were quick to add it in heavy rotation. After a good run, it finally fizzled out as most pop songs do.

Just when you thought it was safe to listen again here comes "Fergalicious" from Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie's solo album. While not as sexually blatant as "My Humps", it is equally insipid.

The song uses the eighties club hit, "Give It All You Got" as a musical backdrop. Then defiles it with lyrics that sound like they were scribbled by a thirteen year old on the back of their school notebook during a quick recess:

Fergalicious definition make them boys go loco
They want my treasure so they get their pleasures from my photo
You could see you, you can't squeeze me
I ain't easy, I ain't sleazy
I got reasons why I tease 'em
Boys just come and go like seasons

A large part of the song is devoted to literally spelling out the words "tasty" and "delicious".

And then there's Fergie's lame attempt at rapping. No matter how hard she tries, ghetto she aint.

Naturally this is another huge hit, no doubt convincing rhyme challenged people everywhere that they too have talent.

Turn off your radio and maybe try again in the Spring...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Talk Of The Town

The Pretenders first two albums have been remastered and re-released through Rhino records. Both are now 2 disc sets with demos, live material and outtakes. Sound quality is excellent even on the live concert stuff.

Pretenders II remastered features live music from their 1981 Santa Monica Civic Show. Check out the spectacular concert version of "Kid"!

Off With The Bow Tie, On With The Jeans

Rod Stewart has finally returned to what he does best- stealing songs already made popular by other rockers and giving them the "Rod" treatment! Stewart's welcome return to rock after making three dismal "vocal standards" albums is long overdue. Frank Sinatra he isn't.

On "Still The Same", Rod covers 70's staples from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bread, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens and notably, Badfinger. Stewart's cover of "Day After Day" puts Def Leppard's recent attempt to shame.

If not groundbreaking, the new album is well produced and very listenable. Please support this album, if for no other reason than to keep Rod away from crooning more lounge songs.

New Music Pick Of The Week:

Belt Loops- The Films

Smart, sassy lyrics, plenty of attitude and enough hooks to catch a school of tuna!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where Have You Gone Rock And Roll?

The 80's was the last great era of Rock and Roll. Specifically, the early 80's. Before Hair Metal and Grunge came along to send Rock into a downward spiral it has yet to recover from.

Hair Metal was a fad that took style over substance to new heights. It's mascara, lipstick and spandex clad band members largely appealed to teenage girls. And boys with identity issues. Grunge turned being depressed into a status symbol as it tried to pump new life into the rotting carcass of overblown 70's dinosaur Rock. Think Black Sabbath only not so upbeat.

Sure, there have been some good bands since 1985- Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Garbage come to mind. But the spirit of experimentation, irreverence and sheer musical variety of The New Wave 80's formed a creative peak that remains unchallenged.

Don't make me drag out the history books on ALL the names of the hundreds of innovative, early 80's bands. Their music is all still there, all you have to do is LISTEN. For example, I'll take The Police, U2 and Blondie over Poison, Twisted Sister, Pearl Jam or Soundgarden any day. Even the currently popular pseudo-punk music by the likes of Green Day couldn't hold a candle to original punkers like The Clash or The Ramones.

I'll admit my guilty pleasure in enjoying the occasional Bon Jovi or Loverboy flashback. Hey, I'm only human. Like looking at old embarrassing family photos, they're good for a quick laugh and then quickly back into the closet. Then I may have to listen to some Soft Cell or Psychedelic Furs just to get the stank off of my ears!

To be fair, the meteoric rise of Rap and Hip Hop has helped keep Rock away from the popularity it used to enjoy. Perhaps one day the pendulum will swing back into Rock's direction. But as long as teenagers from places like south Orange County continue to try way to hard to be "ghetto", this doesn't seem likely to change.

If I've upset anyone, I'm sorry. It's just my opinion... now aren't you glad you asked!

New music that matters:


Revenge of the Black Regent- Add N to (X)
Ode to Joy- Adicts
Girls Not Grey- AFI
Swing Swing- The All-American Rejects
The Only Sun- Another Black Season
There Is No Ending- Arab Strap
Rebellion (Lies)- Arcade Fire
Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys?- Arctic Monkeys
Good Weekend- Art Brut


Wheres Your Head At- Basement Jaxx
Another Sunny Day- Belle and Sebastian
Lust- Black Tie Dynasty
Debt- Black Tie Dynasty
The Letter A- Black Tie Dynasty
Helicopter- Bloc Party
Misery Is a Butterfly- Blonde Redhead
On and On- Boy Kill Boy
Suzie- Boy Kill Boy
Unconditional- The Bravery
An Honest Mistake- The Bravery
Spent On Rainy Days- Bright Eyes
7/4 (Shoreline)- Broken Social Scene


It Dawned On Me- Calla
Sacred Heart- Cass McCombs
Modern Love- The Changes
When I Sleep- The Changes
Like the Movies- Clear Static
Radio- Client
Seems Fine- The Concretes
You're Gonna Lose That Girl Tonight- The Contingencies
Saturdays- Cut Copy
Time Stands Still- Cut Copy
Going Nowhere- Cut Copy


Out Here All Night- Damone
I Believe in a Thing Called Love- The Darkness
Lost In the Plot- The Dears
Soul Meets Body- Death Cab For Cutie
The Sound of Settling- Death Cab for Cutie
We Both Go Down Together- The Decemberists
One Night Away- Delays
Metropolitan Death 1- Delorean
Your Summer Dress- Dirty On Purpose
Walk Into the Sun- Dirty Vegas
I Love You 'Cause I Have To- Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Take It Off- The Donnas
Fall Behind Me- The Donnas


Munich- Editors
Trouble With Dreams- Eels
Gay Bar- Electric Six
Synthesizer- Electric Six


I Disappear- The Faint
Glass Danse- The Faint
The Wonder- Figurines
Poseur- Finesse & Runway
Take Me Out- Franz Ferdinand
The Dark of the Matinée- Franz Ferdinand
Over My Head- The Fray


This Isn't It- Giant Drag
Here Comes a City- The Go-Betweens
The Statue- The Go-Betweens
Oi Mate- The Gonads
Listen Up!- The Gossip
Mmmnn- Grandadbob
Satellite- Guster


Hard to Beat- Hard-FI
Best Mistake (I'd Ever Make Again)- The Have Nots
Chips Ahoy- The Hold Steady
Bandages- Hot Hot Heat
Talk To Me, Dance With Me- Hot Hot Heat
Goodnight Goodnight- Hot Hot Heat
Middle of Nowhere- Hot Hot Heat
Stalker Girl- Hypo Psycho


Maybe I Should- I Am Kloot
Pda- Interpol
Song Seven- Interpol
Slow Hands- Interpol


Sharp Edges- Jackson United
Are You Gonna Be My Girl- Jet
Praise Chorus- Jimmy Eat World
In Tune- The Johns
In the Morning- Junior Boys


I Predict a Riot- Kaiser Chiefs
Is It Any Wonder?- Keane
This Is the Last Time- Keane
Everybody's Changing- Keane
Mr. Brightside- The Killers
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine- The Killers
Mr. Brightside- The Killers
Smile Like You Mean It- The Killers
Somebody Told Me- The Killers
Gold- Klee
2 Fragen- Klee


This Life- La Rocca
Cats- La Rocca
International Dateline- Ladytron
Destroy Everything You Touch- Ladytron
A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody- The Lashes
Sometimes the Sun- The Lashes
Can't Stand Me Now- The Libertines
Up the Bracket- The Libertines
We Are Lost- The Like
Bridge to Nowhere- The Like
Everything Wrong Is Imaginary- Lilys
Love/Hate- Liz Phair
Sanctuary- Local Division, The
Officer and a Gentleman- Lola Ray
Beautiful Boy- Lola Ray
Wake Me When It's Over- Longwave
Finding Out True Love Is Blind- Louis XIV
The Key- Lovebugs
Falling Apart- The Lovemakers
Monkey- Low


Teen Angst- M83
Unrecorded- M83
Combat Baby- Metric
Beautiful- Moby
Dramamine- Modest Mouse
Ocean Breathes Salty- Modest Mouse
Fascination- Monsters Are Waiting
Hidden Spaces- The Morning After Girls
Everything Is Alright- Motion City Soundtrack
Starlight- Muse
Time Is Running Out- Muse
Hysteria- Muse
One Big Holiday- My Morning Jacket
Drop the Pressure- Mylo
In My Arms- Mylo


I Want to Be Buried In Your Backyard- Nightmare of You
Unsatisfied- Nine Black Alps


The Midwife- The Occasion
The Cahuenga Shuffle- The Oohlas
Why We're Better Now- The Outline


Barely Listening- Pilot Speed
Kind of Hope- Pilot Speed
Go Cry- Pitty Sing
The Bitter End- Placebo
So Soon- The Poems
Girl and the Sea- The Presets
Goodbye Horses- Psyche


Steady, As She Goes- The Raconteurs
Enemies Like This- Radio 4
Caroline- Radio 4
Face Down- The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Save Me- Remy Zero
Everytime- The Rewinds
Anyone Out There?- Rialto
Are You Nervous?- Rock Kills Kid
Hide Away- Rock Kills Kid
'Ol Horse Eyes- The Ronelles
I'm Shakin'- Rooney
I Wish I Was- Rule 62


Nowhere Again- The Secret Machines
Fade- Seven Color Sky
Red Flags and Long Nights- She Wants Revenge
Tear You Apart- She Wants Revenge
Out of Control- She Wants Revenge
Hands Open- Snow Patrol
Night After Night- The Sounds
Dance With Me- The Sounds
Living in America- The Sounds
Rock 'n' Roll- The Sounds
Bigtime- The Soundtrack of Our Lives
A Place In Displacement- South
Future Beat- The Spectacular Fantastic
Baby Blues- The Stills
Changes Are No Good- The Stills
Love and Death- The Stills
Still in Love Song- The Stills
This Is Forever- The Strays
Last Night- The Strokes
12:51- The Strokes
Reptilia- The Strokes
Someday- The Strokes
Electricityscape- The Strokes
The End Has No End- The Strokes
Rock & Roll Queen- The Subways


Walking With a Ghost- Tegan and Sara
Arc-Lamps, Signal Flares, a Shower of White (The Light)- Thursday
Staring at the Sun- TV On the Radio
Dreams- TV On the Radio


Celestial Annihilation- UNKLE


Noi Boi- The Velvet Teen
Nightwaves- VHS or Beta
Alive- VHS or Beta
New Way- The Vibrants
Rosa Glynn- The Village Green
Get Free- The Vines
Ride- The Vines


What's in It for Me- The Walkmen
This Is Such a Pity- Weezer
Thanks For Nothing- White Rose Movement


Cheated Hearts- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Y Control- Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Can't Look Down- ZOX
Oh Stacey (Look What You've Done!)- The Zutons

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Orleans Superdome Rocks!

New Orleans Saint's Reggie Bush "Bangs His Head"

World renowned rock bands U2 and Green Day teamed up to give the New Orleans faithful an earful of energized music during Monday Night Football this week.

This was the Saints first home game since hurricane Katrina turned the Superdome into a damaged refuge for those riding out the storm last year. The Superdome has been through major refurbishing and apparently The Saints have as well. They are first in their division at 3-0 after Monday's win.

The 70's punk song "The Saints Are Coming" rattled though the stadium as U2 lead singer Bono traded melodies with Green Day's Own Billy Joe Armstrong. Local musicians played backup for the pregame concert.

The two rock juggernauts worked together earlier this year in the famous Abbey Road studios to record a studio version of the song which will be released as a fund raiser to help rebuild New Orleans.

U2 and Green Day are both working on albums due out next year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Too Old To Rock and Roll?


Here's what some aging Rock performers require in their performance contracts according to Timesonline.co.uk:

Ozzy Osbourne- An eye, ear, nose and throat doctor must be on site when Ozzy arrives at the venue. The doctor must be able to administer a B12 shot and Decadron (anti-inflammatory) shot. The venue must provide two oxygen tanks, two masks and two regulators

The Beach Boys- A licensed masseur/masseuse, qualified in either Swedish or Oriental deep muscle massage, must be available on day of engagement or any day off the artists have in the city. No form of advertising shall contain the word “oldies” in conjunction with the artists’ logo.

Meat Loaf- A mask and one small tank of oxygen, which needs to be charged and ready

Aerosmith- The venue must provide names and phone numbers of a throat specialist, a physician fully qualified in internal medicine, an osteo-podiatrist and a licensed chiropractor

David Bowie- The venue must ensure a dressing room temperature of between 14C and 18C

Paul McCartney- One large arrangement of white Casablanca lilies with lots of foliage for a dressing room containing off-white furniture

Metallica- Four oxygen tanks. These shall be portable and equipped with masks and regulators if not inclusive of tank. Very important that bacon be available at every meal and during the day

For many bands, autocues are a guilty secret. These teleprompters display the lyrics to songs, should the performer have a brain freeze or memory lapse.

“Everyone uses them, from Macca to Elton,” said Brian Larter, managing director of Autoscript UK, which provides prompts for BBC newsreaders and rock stars. But discretion is vital. “Singers like to hide them in a front-of-stage monitor,” Mr Larter said. “You don’t want cameras to pick them up or let the audience see them or the gig can turn into karaoke.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What Becomes A Classic?

What turns a hit song into a classic?

Very few hits can keep a listener's interest for a few months, let alone years or decades. Yet there are those anthems that, although played repeatedly, retain the magic to make one want to listen again and again.

Varying intangibles includes production quality, musicianship, vocal style, lyrics and choice of instruments.
The constant factor in all of these songs is their widespread emotional connection to a mass audience. Classic songs have a simple message that has universal appeal.

They might be cliches but songs like "We Are Family", "Satisfaction" and "Respect" are classics for a reason. These songs encapsulate feelings we've all shared.

From the steely determination of "I Will Survive" to the youthful exuberance of "Twist And Shout", the free spiritedness of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" and the stylish romance of Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight", classic songs connect us to our own feelings. And when played to a group of people, help bond them together.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gene Simmons' Family Jewels

Gene Genie

'Family Jewels" is another reality show featuring a washed up rocker and his family. Although Gene Simmons is way more coherent than Ozzy Osbourne, he much less entertaining. Gene wasn't the best looking guy as a young man and time hasn't done him any favors in that department. My advice- keep the makeup on ALL the time!

In case you've forgotten, Gene Simmons used to be in a rock band named KISS that used to make records. The fact that they haven't done anything of note since CDs were invented hasn't stopped them from continuing to capitalize on their past exploits.

Thanks to a juggernaut of a marketing machine, Simmons' addiction to fame and and a refusal to fade out gracefully, KISS has continued to remind us of their unseemly presence.

Like the once believed to be extinct coelacanth fish, KISS should have become a petrified artifact eons ago. They are currently in a tie with The Who for most number of irrelevant reunion tours by a band on life support.

On 'Family Jewels', we get to watch as Gene mugs for the camera, repeats tired sexual innuendos and beats every last shred of notoriety out of the dead carcass of a career he's been dragging around for the last 20 years.

Sorry, Gene. I'll take an unintelligible but loveable Ozzy over a braggadocios, former Rock God turned Ozzie (Nelson) any day.

For pure, white trash revelry, I prefer Dog The Bounty Hunter- now that's a show!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The "Wussiest" Music Of All

Check out Blender Magazine's recent list of the 111 "Wussiest Songs Of All Time"


Blender, the self proclaimed defenders of good music, hit the nail on the head for the most part. Except for some glaring oversights.

The sickeningly sugary, ode to parental over-attachment, "Butterfly Kisses", was strangely absent. And unexplainably, "Shiny Happy People" by REM was ranked #1, yet "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 didn't even make the list.

Shame on you, Blender. While REM may no longer be as cool as they once were, by not slamming Maroon 5, you just encourage them to subject us to more of the same flaccid drivel in the future.

"She Will Be Loved" lyrics...

I don’t mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved

Sung in a falsetto voice usually reserved only for Eunuchs, pre-pubescent choir boys and Michael Jackson, this song makes "Mandy" sound like "Enter Sandman". This omission is a gaping error for which the staff at Blender should be forced to listen to the complete Kenny Rogers library repeatedly!

PS While we're ripping "Wuss Music", the list failed to mention Michael Bolton even once. Does this mean that Blender considers his music a gift to modern culture? Not likely.

It's more likely that the former mulleted dynamo has fallen so far off the pop radar screen and become so insignificant that he no longer even makes a dent on "Worst Of" lists.

And that's good news!

Happy Listening,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Children Of The 70's


The 1960's were over and even as a nine year old child, I knew things had changed. One popular, charismatic U.S. president had been assassinated, another promising candidate murdered. And the greatest civil rights leader in history had been brought down by a racist's bullet.

Fear reared it's ugly head. If these prominent pillars of goodness couldn't be protected from evil how could any of us hope to be?

Thousands of Vietnamese and US soldiers lay dead during the quagmire of a war escalated by the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations. The peace and love vibration of the Hippie generation ended abruptly, seemingly punctuated by the violent deaths of four people at The Rolling Stones' infamous, 1969 concert at Altamont. That same year, Charles Mansion and his followers went on a killing spree bent on initiating a race war.

In 1971, Kent State University student peace protesters were killed and injured when fired on by police. The Beatles had broken up. Rock superstars Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix were dead from drug overdoses. Militant revolutionary groups like the Black Panthers and SLA sprung up and began a reign of domestic terror that included kidnapping, armed robbery and killing.

Something had gone seriously wrong. Life seemed ominous and dark.

Popular music had lost it's edge as the experimentation of the 60's gave way to the complacent, mellow, 1970's.

We were the first generation of latchkey children. We had long ago rejected school, government, authority and adult supervision. Now, due the rising prevalence of divorce and career demands, we were mostly without our parent's physical presence and moral guidance as well. And that was fine with us. THEY had already blown their chance at acting as competent adults. The older generation had failed at both running the government, society and their own families.

Now we were free. Free from their injustice and stifling restrictions. As we entered puberty, we grew up making our own rules. Nobody could tell us what to do. We identified with the authority-rejecting Counter Culture. The vacuum left by the gap in parental discipline was filled with marijuana, alcohol, rebellion and music. Our blueprint for life came directly out of the radio.

Our heroes were the Rock Stars who created the music we listened to- Bowie, Zeppelin, The Stones. Like us, they made their own rules. And they were doing just great. We hoped to somehow follow in their footsteps and live life on our own terms.

Lost in our immaturity, we stumbled through our teenage years with our judgement impaired, yet believing stoically that we were better off making our own decisions without interference from outside. It's no surprise that many of us grew up socially retarded, misguided and withdrawn.

We entered the adult world unprepared. With pent up anger and plenty of youthful rage at the inequities of life, we instantly bonded with the aggression and spirit of late 1970's Punk Rock. The irreverent, "spit in your face" attitude of Punk exactly matched our temperament.

We even more closely identified with the detachment of New Wave music. New Wave had at it's heart the angst of Punk but was set to a danceable beat. A mix of Punk and Disco. In the early 1980's, the "us against them" mentality that New Wave represented, slowly gave way as the music industry began to take notice of the newfound popularity of this emerging genre.

Soon clubs, radio and record stores were awash in New Wave. Formerly unknown bands with unique sounds quickly became household names. Popular music was given a badly needed injection of energy. This was the last time a mass audience had such a strong influence on changing the course of Rock music.

Like all good things, New Wave eventually became bastardized and commercialized by the mainstream. As music industry profits rose, the music got less interesting. As we began careers and started families, many of us lost touch with the sounds we grew up with. And things haven't been the same since.

With the help of family, friends and therapy, many of us have come to grips with the gaps in our upbringing. We lead productive, interesting lives. But there's nothing like hearing a "golden oldie" from 1982 to remind us of the promise of our youth and the excitement that music brought to it.

In contrast, much of today's music seems more like manufactured product than perhaps any time in history. This adds credence to the assertion that artistic "golden ages" are best defined by the long gaps of time between them when very little happens. But for a few exceptional songs and bands, nothing demonstrates this better than the last 20 years of Rock music.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What To Do With Those Old Records And Music Memorabilia

My solution: Turn them into art and proudly display them...


The Boss- notice the 8 track!

Blondie, assorted 80's stuff and Psych Furs

Above the stove

A great use for Johnny Rotten

My dishwasher

Monday, June 26, 2006

Academy Of The Underrated

Dave Alvin's grimacing mug- a testament to the passion of The Blasters

This is the first blog in an ongoing series on artists that haven't received due credit for their talent, output and musical contributions.

The Blasters were like distant cousins of The Stray Cats... only without the flash. But they never got the MTV, radio or media exposure they deserved.

This straight ahead, blue collar, rockabilly band hailing from Downey California, featured brothers Phil and Dave Alvin. Dave has also been known to play with X and their alter ego The Knitters.

Phil and Dave's driving guitars and Dave's passionate vocals make you want to get up and dance. This infusion of musical energy is more powerful than any caffeinated concoction you will find at Starbucks. And it's cheaper too!

The Blasters best known songs, "Marie Marie" and "Border Radio" got played a lot locally in So Cal back in the 80's. The Blasters still tour together and Dave Alvin has solo albums out.

Other great Blasters songs:

American Music
I'm Shakin'
Long White Cadillac
So Long Baby Goodbye

Next time you need a fix of Rockabilly and are tired of hearing "Rock This Town", check out The Blasters. Their 2003 live album, "The Blasters Live: Going Home" is a good place to start.

Friday, June 16, 2006

New Wave Keeps Rolling 20 Plus Years Later

Ure Gonna Like It!

Some of the latest releases from original New Wave Heroes:

Reap the Wild Wind- Midge Ure
album- Re*Live

Solsbury Hill- Erasure
album- Other People's Songs

Blackened Blue Eyes- The Charlatans UK
album- Simpatico

No Orders (single)- J. Peter Schwalm featuring Brian Eno

In the Future When All's Well- Morrissey
album- Ringleader of the Tormentors

Life Is a Pigsty- Morrissey
album- Ringleader of the Tormentors

A Town Called Malice- Paul Weller
album- Catch-Flame! (Live)

Nothing's Impossible Depeche Mode
album- Playing the Angel

John the Revelator- Depeche Mode
John the Revelator - EP

Blind Love (single)- Dave Alvin

In the Margins- Echo and the Bunnymen
Scissors In the Sand - EP

Gloomy Sunday- Elvis Costello & Marian McPartland
album- Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast

Watching the Detectives- Elvis Costello
album- My Flame Burns Blue (Live with the Metropole Orkest)

On Your Way Down- Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
album- The River In Reverse

This Time You Got It- Cheap Trick
album- Rockford

Riddles- Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
album- Sinner

Reena- Sonic Youth
album- Rather Ripped

Planet Earth- Duran Duran
album- Live from London

Minimal- Pet Shop Boys
album- Fundamental

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"New Cars" Backfires

Out Of The Wrecking Yard

I am glad that those who enjoy this refitted version of The Cars are enjoying it, I really do. More power to ya.

After witnessing a recent performance, I realize why I won't be able to match the level of some people's enthusiasm for The New Cars.

It's simple, really. I just can't see Rundgren, the purveyor of melodic, feel good, 70's rock (most of which I like) as the lead singer in one of the groundbreaking bands that brought the "New Wave" mentality to the mainstream.

New Wave was the antithesis of the "Have A Nice Day", "I'm OK, You're OK" attitude that permeated pop music for much of the 70's. To me, one of the major messages of New Wave was, "I'm NOT OK and life is NOT a frickin' bowl of cherries all the time". New Wave cloaked itself in darkness, disenchantment and detachment.

While I appreciate each of these genres independently, combining their elements creates a strange melange.

Todd, the former 70's Flower Child, posing as frontman for a band of dark, New Wave icons is like mixing oil and vinegar. To me, It's like The Doors returning with David Cassidy at the helm. Todd's singing, which is fine in it's own right, just can't match the spookiness and reticence of a Ric Ocasek.

Of course, it's my own small minded perception and prejudice that frames things that way. Those that have more flexibility in their outlook on this band are probably reaping benefits I have yet to aspire to. So while I may be limiting myself, that's where I am.

It does look like, in an attempt to create a New Wave image, Todd took his hair coloring tips from Debbie Harry, whom he will be touring with. The black locks underpinning a thick shock of overbleached, fright wig hair is as disturbing as his attempt to fit in as a New Wave Hero.

Friday, May 26, 2006

IRS Agent Dies; Music Industry Mourns


Ian Copeland, the pioneering booking agent and music promoter, has died at age 57. Copeland succumbed to melanoma on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles where he was surrounded by family members, his publicist said.

Ian Copeland was instrumental in launching the "New Wave" movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's. His booking agency, F.B.I., and record label, I.R.S., focused on artists outside the mainstream Rock scene.

Copeland boosted the careers of New Wave stalwarts like The Police, The B-52's, R.E.M, Adam Ant, The Bangles, Nine Inch Nails, The Go-Go's, UB40, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Oingo Boingo, The Dead Kennedys, The Cure, Wall of Voodoo, General Public, The Smiths, Sting, The Thompson Twins, Squeeze and The Fixx.

Copeland and I.R.S. Records are responsible for helping create the "alternative music" genre that has become so popular today.

Miles Copeland said in a statement, “I am sorry to announce that my brother Ian passed from us last night at 11:20 PM. He was with his two daughters and later we all joined him. It is hard to believe but he had an exciting life and was grateful for it. He was also grateful for all the friendship shown to him over the past few months from so many people. He was much loved by so many. He will be greatly missed.”

Younger brother Stewart Copeland, a founder and drummer of The Police, told Billboard,"I was the luckiest kid brother in the world."

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Grammy In Heaven: Johnny Cash

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye

2 1/2 years after his passing, the influence of legendary performer Johnny Cash still reverberates.

Johnny Cash was a drug addict, a man of God, an alcoholic, a thoughtful and kind- hearted soul, a jailbird, an admitted sinner and in the eyes of many, a saint. He was quick to expose his faults and foibles both in person and in song.

That's what made him so endearing, human and approachable.

Johnny's simple, ubiquitous tag line, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", may at first glance seem a bit generic. This humble introduction came to represent the straightforward style that was Johnny's trademark. It represented a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, was real and free from pretense.

"I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, / Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town, / I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, / But is there because he's a victim of the times"

- "Man In Black"

The careers of most music performers start with a big bang and then an eventual cooling off. Often it takes the form of several years of intense popularity followed by slow steady decline into irrelevance. Johnny seemed destined to follow this same pattern, especially in the 1980's when after thirty years, Columbia Records dropped his contract.

But in the 1990's Johnny's career magically resurrected. After being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992, the immensely popular rock band U2, long time Cash admirers, invited Johnny to sing on their 1993 album, "Zooropa".

Cash then recorded his own album, "American Recordings", in his living room accompanied by just his guitar. This album won a Grammy in 1994 and began one of the most monumental comebacks in music history.

Subsequent albums were met with equal success and critical acclaim. Like a fine wine, Johnny seemed to get better with age.

Nearing the end of his journey on this planet, Johnny's voice cracked under the stress of illness and a long, harrowing life. This added even more character to his songs, revealing the tenderness and vulnerability of a man who had come to find peace with God and himself.

At the age of 70, Johnny found himself nominated in seven categories at The MTV 2003 Video Music Awards for his cover of Nine Inch Nails' song "Hurt". Up against artists nearly 50 years younger than him, including 50 Cent and Eminem, Johnny took home an award and the recognition of a whole new generation.

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor admitted that he was initially "flattered" but worried that "the idea [of Cash covering "Hurt"] sounded a bit gimmicky", but when he heard the song and saw the video for the first time, Reznor said he was deeply moved and found Cash's cover beautiful and meaningful. He later said in an interview, "I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore."

"Hurt" went on to win both The 2003 Country Music Awards Single and Music Video Of The Year. The accompanying album won The 2003 Country Music Awards Album Of The Year.

In May of 2003, Johnny's longtime soulmate, June Carter Cash, passed away following heart surgery. Johnny was holding her hand when she died. Less than four months later, Johnny followed her. His passing was attributed to complications of diabetes, probably exacerbated by a broken heart.

Cash's song "Hurt", went on to win a Grammy in 2004.

In 2005, a movie based on Johnny's life, "Walk The Line" was nominated for 5 academy awards. In 2006, Reese Witherspoon won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash.

Johnny's music continues to inspire. The rock group Coldplay has added a tribute to The Man In Black on their current world tour. They are playing the classic, "Ring Of Fire" at their sold out shows.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Hits That Never Were

The Charts Don't Rank Quality

What do all these songs have in common?

Badge- Cream

Good Times Bad Times- Led Zeppelin

Street Fighting Man- Rolling Stones

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix

Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix

Gloria- Them

My Generation- The Who

Cinnamon Girl- Neil Young

Layla- Derek & The Dominoes

Truckin'- Grateful Dead

Tiny Dancer- Elton John

You Can't Always Get What You Want- Rolling Stones

Dream On- Aerosmith

Tequila Sunrise- Eagles

Rebel Rebel- David Bowie

Changes- David Bowie

Moondance- Van Morrison

Surrender- Cheap Trick

Highway To Hell- AC/DC

Life During Wartime- Talking Heads

They are all great, Classic Rock anthems you say? Yes.

But they all share another distinction.

None of them were number one songs. In fact, only ONE of them made it into the top 10. Only TWO were Top 40 singles. And the only reason these two exceptions made it that far is because they were given a second chance. "Dream On" and "Layla" recharted, both going higher years after their initial release.

Every one of these songs charted in the Top 100, which should have given them enough exposure to push them higher. So why were they initially so ignored and overlooked?

In some cases, they may just have been ahead of their time. Jimi Hendrix was incredibly advanced as a guitarist but appreciation for his music didn't reach its peak until long after his death.

Sadly, it's more likely a case of radio programmers, music industry moguls and the record buying public playing it safe. Staying with the status quo rather than risking embracing challenging new music.

There is a price to be paid for this security. Much of the claptrap that does make it into the Top 40 and even the Top 10 turns out to be embarrassingly vapid in retrospect. The fate of most Top 40 songs is to quickly fade from view like a falling stars and ultimately end up as obscure trivia.

The songs listed above are so well known only because they have stood the test of time. These dirges became classics by not because they made a huge impact when they were first released. But because of having been consistently and repeatedly played, long after other songs have become forgotten relics.

For example, 1972 was a good year for music. Even so, "Day Dreaming" by Aretha Franklin, "How Do You Do" by Mouth & Macneal, "Scorpio" from Dennis Coffey and "Clean Up Woman" from Betty Wright were all in the Top 10. If you remember even one these songs you are to be congratulated for your Rain Man like memory.

'72 was not an anomaly, other years reveal similar results. It stands to reason then, that there is great music out RIGHT NOW that is not getting its due, while other songs are getting all the attention. To find these future classics now you might need to look in places you haven't before considered.

If you are ready to trade the "mainstream" for something a little more progressive, a bit of effort is required.

Try scanning your radio dial for a local station that plays alternative music. In So Cal, Indie 103.1 fm and 94.9 fm are good places to start. You can also search on the internet and stream music right to your computer from both traditional radio stations and internet only stations across the country and the world.

Check Apple's iTunes Music Store for new music releases every Tuesday. Join an internet message board or newsgroup for recommendations on independent and alternative bands.

Ask your musically savvy friends what they are into.

Get XM or Infinity satellite radio.

There are more music resources at your disposal now than at any time in history. Only you can stop yourself from being musically shortchanged.

Here are the (still hard to believe) actual Billboard chart results for the Classic Rock anthems listed above:

Gloria- Them #71 1966

My Generation- The Who #74 1966

Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix #65 1967

Street Fighting Man- Rolling Stones #48 1968

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix #67 1968

Badge- Cream #60 1969

Good Times Bad Times- Led Zeppelin #80 1969

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendryx #67 1968

Cinnamon Girl- Neil Young #55 1970

Layla- Derek & The Dominoes #51 1971 (Charted again at #10 in 1972)

Truckin'- Grateful Dead #64 1971

Tiny Dancer- Elton John #41 1972

You Can't Always Get What You Want- Rolling Stones #42 1973

Dream On- Aerosmith #59 1973 (Charted again at #6 in 1976)

Tequila Sunrise- Eagles #64 1973

Rebel Rebel- David Bowie #64 1974

Changes- David Bowie #66 1972 (Also #41 1975)

Moondance- Van Morrison #92 1977

Surrender- Cheap Trick #62 1978

Highway To Hell- AC/DC #47 1979

Life During Wartime- Talking Heads #80 1979

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Keith Richards Does His Own Stunts

Hard To Kill

Rollingstone.com is reporting that the 62 year old Rolling Stone guitarist suffered a concussion while taking a time out from touring with his bandmates last Thursday. The thrill seeking Rocker was vacationing in Fiji when a series of mishaps occurred. Richards apparently fell out of a coconut tree while fishing and later the same day had a jet ski accident.

Richards has been released from a New Zealand hospital in good condition. Barring any more daredevilish behavior, The Stones are expected to continue their current world tour in Europe this summer. No word on whether the aspiring hexagenerian stuntman will arrive to the shows by limo or parachute in.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Morrissey's Tortured Soul

"You Have Killed Me!"

In the early 1980's, The Smiths led the dark side of the New Wave scene with songs about self loathing, impending doom and personal disconnection. Lead singer Morrissey often boasted in song of his chronic broken heart due to his obsessive, misguided attempts at romance and general unloveability.

Morrissey's despair became a running joke among Smith's fans and became the trademark that followed him into his solo career. On Morrissey's new solo album, "Leader of the Tormentors", he continues the legacy of creating catchy, pop songs about the seedy side of the human spirit. And setting himself up as a sacrificial lamb at the altar of love.

He croons, "I walk around somehow but you have killed me, you have killed me" on the standout track, "You Have Killed Me". A tongue-in-cheek hit that proves this sad dog hasn't lost it's bite.

In support of the new album, The Smiths' former frontman has started a 38-date world tour where tickets for the UK shows sold out within 20 minutes.

For the sake of fans and music lovers, let's hope Morrissey never finds the elusive happiness he so desperately seeks.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Scary Truth About Apple, iPods and iTunes


Before you purchase an iPod consider the potential downside. Once you are an Apple customer, your dependence on them may work against you.

iPod- a word that was practically unheard of five years ago has so thoroughly become part of the common vernacular it hardly needs explaining. For those living in a cave since 2000, the iPod is Apple's wildly successful MP3 music and video storage device. The iPod is high tech, easy to use and beautifully designed. While Apple sells these units by the truckload, the real profit is in selling CONTENT for them. That's where Apple's iTunes Music Store comes in. And where the trouble begins.

Content Is King

Recently, Apple's iTunes Music Store celebrated its one BILLIONTH download to iPod users across the globe. Apple's success, as a result of its progressive technology, has its stock shares riding high as smiling executives and investors calculate their rising profits.

Per their recent marketing campaigns, Apple would have you believe that their system is infallible. Get an iPod, download some music and you too can tune out the world, dancing and roller skating through life without a care. But a closer look at the operation of Apple reveals that your gleeful listening experience may be stopped suddenly and without notice.

Is Anyone There?

When you have a problem with your iPod, Apple computer or other hardware, Apple offers person to person, technical support over the phone. And although you will likely end up spending several times what you paid for your iPod on iTunes music, customer support for iTunes is practically non existent.

You may experience trouble with iTunes downloads, for instance. If you call Apple, they will direct you to email your problem or question to the proper iTunes department. It may take several days for you to get an email response. That response, when it arrives, may not address your specific question. It is more likely to consist of a generic, prepared answer that, if you are very lucky, solves your problem.

Or you may be asked to clarify what is wrong. Your response to that will be followed several more days of waiting for another generic return message, and so on. A surprisingly non-efficient way to handle problems for a world class leader in consumer friendly technology. This might have you deciding that getting the music you need from your local store is easier and quicker than dealing with iTunes' archaic email support.

Welcome To The Labyrinth

Apple also offers a discussion board on it's website. Here you will find a myriad of subjects to sift through concerning various problems and fixes. Apple will also refer you to this board for iTunes issues in lieu of giving bona fide, personal, technical support. You can spend hours fruitlessly searching different topics using keywords and still not find your answer. On the plus side, you may find information here that Apple's Tech Support representatives are either unaware of or are forbidden to give. The point is, if iTunes is the source of the problem, the phone tech support for your iPod or Apple computer is of no use here.

The Silent Treatment

When it comes to living in denial, Apple is more dysfunctional than anyone you'll see on Dr. Phil. Early last year, Apple's Discussion Board was flooded with posts complaining that the iTunes music store suddenly stopped working. This widespread glitch left many longtime users as well as those who had just gotten iPods as holiday gifts with nothing to listen to. Apple's response was painfully slow. No official statement, press release or acknowledgment of the problem ever came from Apple. It took several weeks for iTunes to be functional again.

At least when there is a problem at rival Microsoft, it is openly admitted and users are kept in the loop concerning fixes and patches. Apple's hubris seems to have reached a level of where their attitudes is, "Even though we've sold you technology which makes you dependent on us, we don't have to tell you anything. If there's a problem, just sit and wait."

Not that Apple doesn't have a record of dragging their feet. Many iPod owners are still waiting for their settlement checks from the Apple iPod battery fiasco from YEARS ago. This was a problem Apple initially tried to ignore, then deny and finally had to make good on. But only after a class action lawsuit was initiated.

Upside Down

At Apple, It used to be that hardware sales was the main thrust. That drove the need for peripherals, accessories and software. Selling content was a distant afterthought. That has changed.

iTunes is now a driving force behind Apple's hardware sales. Downloadable content creates the need for people to buy iPods. Sales of which were up 220% in 2005 according to iLounge.com. As a result of this exposure, many iPod users end up buying Apple computers and peripherals. In January, 2006, Apple announced a 20 percent growth in Macs and 207 percent growth in iPods over the year-ago quarter. With content pushing hardware sales, iTunes is becoming the tail that wags the dog.

In 2006, iTunes will account for 5% of Apple's total revenue, according to iLounge.com. As iTunes continues to add music and video content, that number will surely grow. Apple's business model is becoming more and more dependent on iTunes for its revenue. And that means Apple's business platform is turning upside down. This may turn out to bean unstable structure.

When the bottom of this inverse model fails (iTunes), everything else comes crashing down. If people ever get fed up with iTunes and/or find a better content provider elsewhere, Apple is in for a world of hurt. A vital part of their lifeblood, download purchases, will plummet. This will cause a chain reaction of slower sales of iPods, computers, accessories and peripherals.

You'd think keeping iTunes customers happy should be a paramount concern for Apple. It's the very thing that created their recent popularity and increasingly supports the rest of their infrastructure. Yet iTunes customers remain on the lowest rung when it comes to viable customer support.


Another drawback to iTunes is that the 30 second sample they provide to entice you to buy a song is often poorly chosen. The sound snippets do not always reveal the main riff, hook, chorus, vocals or enough of a part of the song that really matters, for consumers to make an informed decision. Sometimes listeners are left with little more than a repetitive beat on which to base their buying decision. More focus on representing critical parts of songs in iTunes samples is sorely needed. It's only fair to the artists who work so hard to create music that it be given a respectable chance to be heard and purchased.

It's true that the risk of downloading a song you don't like is limited to the 99 cents you pay and your time. However, many people will not gamble on downloading a song they are not sure they like. The loss of potential download revenues to Apple and the artists they represent can be huge. Keep in mind that 99 cents, multiplied by several hundred purchases a year and millions of iTunes customers, adds up to a lot of money. As we've seen, eventually it can be in the billions.

Roach Motel Design

iPod owners also have to deal with the fact that Apple designed it as a "one way" device. Music gets in but it doesn't get out. Your computer's hard drive may unexpectedly crash one day. Or you may experience a malfunction that otherwise causes you to lose your computer's music library. This happens more often than you might think. Unfortunately, you cannot use your iPod to reconstitute your music library. Or so Apple would have you believe.

As you desperately seek an answer to replacing your lost music, what Apple Technical Support Personnel will not voluntarily tell you that is that there is a simple way to get it back. There are inexpensive, third party applications that do allow you to transfer data from your iPod back to your computer. Or to another computer. For only 8 dollars, Podworks from Scifihifi works quite well. For those that have lost entire music libraries and have gotten no help from Apple Tech Support, this is a godsend. Podworks is available at http://www.scifihifi.com/podworks/

What Me Worry?

Perhaps the mindless dancers and skaters in Apple's iPod ads are really meant to represent Apple executives in some Nero like parody. Instead of playing fiddles while their empire is on fire, they zone out with iPod music leaving their followers to deal with the aftermath of a frustrating lack of tech support, non existent communication and unrevealing song samples.

Getting To The Core Of Apple

Investing several hundred dollars in an iPod and iTunes downloads, only to find a lack of support when you really need it, can be quite disconcerting. The fun fantasy portrayed in Apple's iPod ads soon turns to harsh reality. Short of counseling with a qualified therapist, there are some things you can do.

If you experience a problem with iTunes, call Apple's Sales Dept. and act as a potential new customer interested in buying an iPod. You will get faster and more helpful service than if you call Apple Tech Support. Let them know you are concerned about a problem your "friend" has with iTunes. Ask if they can help resolve this before you make your "purchase". This also has the benefit of letting Apple know that an iTunes problem could be affecting iPod sales.

You can access email and phone numbers to Apple executives directly to express your concerns (see below). This may not solve your problem but at least you will have informed them about what is wrong and how you feel. As oblivious as Apple can be, at some point even they need to be concerned about their image and potential negative publicity.

Post your problem on the Apple Discussion Board. You may get an answer from someone who knows more than your average Apple Techie (there are lots of these folks around). At the least there will be a posted record of the problem should the higher ups at Apple ever care to look.

Post your complaint on various message boards and blogs on the internet. Get the word out about the problem and how it is being handled. Perhaps if enough weight is brought to bear by enough people, Apple will eventually change their policy regarding iTunes support, and overall disclosure and accountability.

Apple Sales: 1-800-MY-APPLE

Apple Contact Information:

Steve Jobs

Katie Cotton
Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications

Natalie Kerris
(408) 974-6877

Tom Neumayr
Manager, iTunes & iPod
(408) 974-1972

Amy Gardner
(408) 974-2292

Jaime Schopflin
(408) 974-3314




Message Boards:



Apple Headquarters:
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Wave of Swing Reinvents Timeless Music

dj craig
The Brian Setzer Orchestra

The new rise of Swing and Martini Culture explodes into the mainstream.

Big Band music is as popular with today's 20 and 30 year olds as ever. Perhaps as a reaction to today's disposable Pop music and transitory yet ubiquitous fame, a new generation is reaching for cultural substance and heritage.

A few years ago, Rock & Roll's "Grunge" era stormed the world with its thrashing guitars and flannel covered angst. The Seattle sound seized the airwaves like an irritated Pitbull with lockjaw. Radio programmers were quick to jump on the bandwagon, piling up their playlists with one abrasive, Nirvana influenced band after another.

Curiously, during this onslaught of primal scream "Rawk", an unexpected resurgence of sophisticated, Big Band music began appearing under the radar. An explosion of young, new bands playing Swing music quickly turned into a widespread movement.

What used to be your father's music was reinvented by artists like Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Royal Crown Revue, Cherry Poppin' Daddies and The Blue Hawaiians. They led the New Wave of Swing and quickly jumped to the head of the list of cool culture.

Many of these bands mixed a bit of rock with Swing and scored Top 40 hits. Songs such as "Zoot Suit Riot" and "Go Daddy-o", rocketed up the charts. MTV began playing videos by New Wave Swingers, while big budget movies incorporated the revamped sound into such box office hits as the aptly titled, "Swingers". Brian Setzer's updated cover of Louis Prima's "Jump Jive An' Wail", became a massive crossover anthem.

Traditional Swing music experienced a resurgence in the 90's as well. Natalie Cole's rerelease of "Unforgettable", as a duet with her late father Nat, became a smash hit. Tony Bennett's long dormant career took off again after his appearance on MTV's "Unplugged" series. Etta James' bluesy ode to romantic perseverance, "At Last", became one of the most requested love songs at weddings. 1993's surprise hit movie "Swing Kids," payed homage to the original 1940's Swing Era, featuring music from Benny Goodman, Louis Prima, Count Basie and others.

As a result of its reentry to the forefront of pop culture, Swing music has experienced a surge in popularity among 20 and 30 year olds. Trendy nightclubs have incorporated "Swing Night" into their weekly promotions. Generation X is learning to dance the Lindy, Jitterbug, West Coast and East Coast swing dance styles. Places like Hollywood's Derby, an original Swing hotspot, have experienced a rise in popularity not seen since their heyday in the 1940's.

The meteoric resurrection of Swing continues to have wide appeal. Many dance clubs offer Swing dance lessons and music to both eager newcomers and seasoned veterans as a weekly promotion.

In Orange County, Tia Juana's Restaurant and Club offers Swing night every Wednesday. The Atomic Ballroom in Irvine features Swing dancing each Friday. And on Friday and Saturday evenings, Newport Beach's Avant Garde Ballroom transforms into the "hottest Ballroom Night Club around!"

Swing and it's sophisticated martini culture has grown steadily since the 90's. It's an anachronistic irony that the once seemingly invincible Grunge movement has been reduced to a relic of a bygone era faster than you can say, "Yowza!". The younger generation is learning what their elders already knew. That the classic sound of Swing never goes out of style.

For more info. on So Cal Swing venues, check these sites:



Monday, March 20, 2006

8 Things Your DJ Doesn't Want You To Know Pt.1

dj craig

1. Aren't DJs all the same?

There are Club DJs, Radio DJs and Mobile DJs, each specializing in their chosen field. Many Mobile DJs can't beat mix while many Club DJs would be lost trying to coordinate and announce formalities at a wedding. Some DJs are quite experienced, others are just starting out. Generally, it takes about 2 years of training for a DJ to become competent enough to handle every possible occasion. For your event you may not want to risk having someone who's still on the learning curve.

Even among Mobile DJs there are specific categories. Some Disc Jockeys are "Hip Hop", others concentrate on Karaoke. Some do corporate events and others primarily do kids parties. Obviously you wouldn't want a DJ for your wedding who's training and experience is mostly limited to Bar Mitzvahs.

It's good to have experience in all DJ disciplines, types of events and styles of music. A DJ who can coordinate and work with staff and other event pros, expertly pick and mix songs and has a good personality has the versatility for any event.

2. Do you do special things to make my event fun?

Some DJs resort to corny games, group dances or wacky costumes during their "performance". It may seem fun at the moment but is likely that you and your guests will look back on these gimmicks as hackneyed and embarrassing.

The best way to get people involved and create positive memories is simply to PLAY GREAT MUSIC! A dynamic music mix that includes variety, requests, old favorites and hot new songs is key. A good DJ will monitor his dance floor constantly and respond accordingly. He does not need the crutch of lame gags or bad Elvis impersonations. Your guests will enjoy themselves more without "forced spontaneity".

The right music and lighting can make your party look and sound like no other.

3. Are large entertainment companies a good resource to find a DJ?

They can be but you do not always have the opportunity to personally meet DJ candidates at a large DJ Farm or third party Entertainment Broker. You may see a few minutes of video but it is difficult to measure the DJ's temperament, personality, spontaneity and ability to communicate based on that. We always offer a live audition for our clients.

Usually you do not speak directly to your DJ at one of these companies. Your information or question is transfered via a third party and can be distorted, miscommunicated or lost.

4. I saw a really low price for a DJ, should I hire them?

It depends on what they supply and what your needs are. If you are having a backyard party that doesn't necessitate coordination, announcements or even a personality, you may be fine. Keep in mind that low budget DJs are less likely to use top quality equipment, have adequate back up equipment, reliable transportation or liability insurance. This puts the ultimate success of your party at risk.

DJ Craig has experience as a Club DJ, On Air Jock and Mobile DJ. He has coordinated and played music for thousands of private events in Southern California over the past 15 years.

8 Things Your DJ Doesn't Want You To Know Pt. 2

dj craig

5. What if people don't dance?

This is extremely rare. Keep in mind that, as the hosts or guest of honor, your guests will often take their cue from you. If you are on the dance floor they are more likely to be as well.

There are some events where promoting dancing is more difficult than others. For example, events that are early in the day, outdoor, sunlit, do not serve liquor and have less than 40 people attending can be a challenge. But I've even had those parties often turn out fantastic.

It sometimes takes a while for the dancing to get going. A good DJ will not panic. He will just keep on playing a great mix, as if his dance floor is already packed. If people aren't dancing, it just means they are not yet ready. Usually, even the most hesitant partygoers eventually come around.

6. My friend (or Uncle or Cousin) is a DJ, maybe I should use them.

It's true there are lots of DJs around, everybody seems to know one. Since there is no official, universally accepted Disc Jockey certification, anybody can buy some sound equipment and proclaim that they too are a DJ. It's kind of like buying a sports car and claiming you are now a race driver. You still need good training, experience, a reliable track record and a good reputation. I've heard too many horror stories about "DJs" who either didn't show up, were late, sent a replacement, dressed badly, played the wrong music or otherwise didn't act professionally.

Part time DJs may not have the same devotion to their craft as a full timer. If it is his livelihood and primary source of income, he HAS to be good at it to generate referrals and repeat business.

7. What if I don't want any (fill in the blank) _________ Music?

Beware of absolute generalizations. It's completely understandable if you have specific songs you just do not like. But to exclude an entire category of music may be shortsighted. For instance, I've had some clients tell me they don't want any Rap. That would then exclude Usher, Will Smith, Nelly and much of the hottest current dance music. Music their guests may really want.

The power of music is that it's an inclusive thing that brings people together. Being open to any musical possibility the situation may call for, frees up your DJ to be creative and let your party flow naturally. You may not like a certain type of music but you may want to consider allowing it (assuming it's non- offensive) if that's what makes your guests happy. By the same token, plenty of attention should also be given to the music you do really like.

8. Why are some DJs so expensive?

It comes down to exclusivity and what the market will bear. There are only 52 weekends a year. A DJ can only do one gig at a time. If there is a preponderance of clients vying for the same DJ on the same date, he can charge more than others.

On the other hand, if your date is on an "off night" or unpopular time, you may be able to negotiate a better deal. And if your event is coming up very shortly and the DJ has an opening, he may be willing to substantially discount his normal fees.

DJ Craig has experience as a Club DJ, On Air Jock and Mobile DJ. He has coordinated and played music for thousands of private events in Southern California over the past 15 years.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Nu Muzik

Morrissey Still Puts Out

DJ Craig's Latest Recommended Downloads:

Everything Wrong Is Imaginary- Lilys

A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody- The Lashes

You Have Killed Me- Morrissey

Lust- Black Tie Dynasty

Suffer Well- Depeche Mode

DOA- Foo Fighters

King Without a Crown- Matisyahu

Talk- Coldplay

In the Sun (With Coldplay)- Michael Stipe

Drop the Pressure- Mylo

Synthesizer- Electric Six

This Is Such a Pity- Weezer

Future Beat- The Spectacular Fantastic

Munich- Editors

Fly- Pinmonkey

The Wonder- Figurines

It Ain't Supposed to Be- Exene Cervenka & The Original Sinners

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sex Pistols Snub Hall Of Fame

Only one thing will be missing when the infamous Sex Pistols are inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 13, 2006. The Pistols themselves. According to a note posted on frontman Johnny Rotten's website, "Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We're not coming."

The Sex Pistol's induction into The Hall comes via the enormous impact of their one and only album- 1977's "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here Comes the Sex Pistols". On it, a sneering Rotten and his mates rage through songs about anarchy, self destruction and rebellion, simultaneously spitting in the face of the music establishment and creating a punk springboard for all bands that followed.

The album served as a wake up call for a generation of angry young music fans who felt alienated by increasingly complacent, radio friendly music that had lost it's Rock bite. Although the volatility that made The Pistols great also caused them to break up soon after, their influence has continued to inspire new generations of rockers, including Nirvana and Green Day.

The Pistol's decision to flip the finger to the Hall isn't a huge surprise. Perhaps The Pistols, eligible for induction since 2001, are upset about not being voted in sooner. Their punk credo, however, has always been about defying the mainstream and rejecting the status quo. Give them credit for being consistent.

Members of Black Sabbath, Blondie and Lynyrd Skynyrd are expected to attend to accept their own inductions into The Hall.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Twenty-First Annual Induction Ceremony will be held Monday, March 13th 2006 in New York at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

- DJ Craig

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Coldplay "Chills" At The Pond

Last week Coldplay brought their atmospheric, uplifting sound to The Pond and an appreciative, sold out crowd.

In many ways, Coldplay is an anachronism. This is supposed to be the era of Hip Hop, Rap, Bubblegum Pop and hard edged "Rawk" by the likes of headbangers Linkin Park and Korn. So the popularity of Coldplay's melodic, feel good sound is both disarming and surprising.

No screaming, cathartic angst or overly aggressive guitars. Coldplay's riffs are instantly catchy (think U2's The Edge at his happiest moments) yet they retain their appeal upon repeated listenings. While their lyrics are playful and may not inspire deep thought, they do stick in your head.

Coldplay's good natured sound carries over into their stage presence. After playing piano on a couple of songs, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin sang from a raised platform on one side of the stage. Martin explained apologetically to the crown nearest him that it is only fair they get a close up of his front as they will be seeing a lot of his backside when he returns to the keyboard.

Spontaneous and loose onstage, this unassuming quartet openly discussed what to play next. Even though they only hit the big time three years ago, Coldplay has amassed an impressive playlist. Top 40 staples like "Yellow", "Trouble", "Speed of Sound", "Talk" and the ubiquitous, "Clocks" peppered their set.

Martin stopped between songs to ask the crown at The Pond, "Is everybody ok at this juncture?", with a genuine concern. It is clear that he and his bandmates love performing and the opportunity their popularity has given them to do it.

The band assembled at the front of the stage for a quick "Unplugged" set that included a cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire". Chris Martin then sprinted to the far end of of The Pond for a couple of Coldplay originals, giving those in the "cheap seats" an unexpected thrill.

Coldplay's lack of pretense and feel good sound carry such wide appeal that their audience spans far beyond twenty-to-thirty somethings. Chances are, even your grandmother would not have felt out of place here.

They may not save the world but given a chance, Coldplay may rekindle your faith in new music.

- DJ Craig

Monday, January 30, 2006

Don't Call It "The Comeback"

The Cars

Reggae stalwarts UB40 return after a long absence with a new album, "Who You Fighting For?" The album features covers of The Beatles' "I'll Be On My Way" soul classic, "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and original tracks.

"The solidest album from UB40 in over a decade."- All Music Guide

OMD is scheduling concerts and have a new album on the way. The quartet plans to tour extensively in Europe, remaster the Dazzle Ships album, release a DVD and release previously unreleased material.

Romeo Void's 1982 album, "Benefactor" has never been released on CD. Until now, that is. Digitally remstered, this CD release includes four bonus tracks, including a 12" single version of "Never Say Never."

Missing Persons' 1982 debut album (previously reissued in 1995), Spring Session M, is once again available and features two bonus tracks- "Mental Hopscotch" and "Hello, I Love You," which previously were not released on CD.

New Order are working on songs for the film about their late Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis.

The new film, "Control" is based on Touching From a Distance, the book by Curtis's widow Deborah. The film is being made by director and rock photographer Anton Corbijn, who has worked with U2 and Depeche Mode.

According to Peter Hook, bass player for New Order and Joy Division, they wanted to record new songs for the film as Joy Division. Hook says the impending soundtrack, "May include new stuff. Anton wants to use songs by Joy Division so that each song becomes a video. Like the way the Atmosphere video was filmed, he wants to write videos that appear in the film."

The Manchester band are also considering playing all Joy Division sets at future gigs.They played such a set at the October tribute concert for John Peel in London.

"The Way It Is" a new song from NextWave group The Sunshine Underground may have you digging through your record collection wondering where you've heard it before. It's awfully reminiscent of Gene Loves Jezebel. And awfully good.

The Shout Out Louds are getting attention for their album, "Howl Howl Gaff Gaff" featuring Cars sounding hit, "The Comeback".

Speaking of The Cars , a reunion of sorts is planned. Unfortunately, without original members Rick Ocasek and the late Benjamin Orr. Which means only two members of the original band will participate plus, get this, Todd Rundgren taking over lead vocals.

We love the Todster but without Ric Ocasek there are no Cars. Kudos to Ric for using good judgment and not going for the easy money an otherwise pointless reunion tour will generate. And shame on Rundgren for even considering it.

-DJ Craig

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ziggy Stardust Turns 59

A look back as Rocker David Bowie celebrates his birthday this month.

The 1960's were over. The Beatles had broken up and legends like Jimi Hendryx, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin were gone forever. The early 1970's seemed like a bad hangover resulting from an overindulgent and turbulent decade of drug experimentation, war, protest, assassination and political scandal. Aching psyches were now soothed by pop (The Partridge Family, Osmonds, Jackson 5) and mellow singer/songwriter stuff (Carpenters, James Taylor). And for those who still wanted it, hard rock (Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin).

Then David Bowie broke the mold.

After several early albums that didn't garner much commercial attention, "Ziggy Stardust" was born in 1973. Bowie reinvented himself as a flamboyant, guitar wielding, androgynous space alien bent on conquering the Earth through music. Omnipotent and self assured, he even predicts his own rise to fame in the song, "Star". The Ziggy album was an instant success, it's dramatic, electrified, space age rock energy ushered in a new era of Rock and Roll known as "Glitter/Glam".

Bowie's continued boldness in creating characters and bringing theater and a visual aspect to rock music was unlike anything before. He wore inventive costumes, cross dressed, wore makeup and was both effeminate and masculine at the same time. Unlike Elton John who hid from his sexuality, Bowie embraced his own and explored it openly, sometimes onstage.

Bowie's characters and corresponding albums and tours had elements of camp and high drama. His everchanging incarnations kept his audience guessing and enthralled: spaceman Major Tom, the anarchic Man Who Sold The World, the dress wearing Queen Bitch, rock demigod Ziggy, the apocalyptic Rebel Rebel, Aladin Sane, the Thin White Duke, and the list goes on. Never satisfied with mere commercial success, Bowie discarded personas like a snake sheds it's skin. Then created new ones.

Likewise, Bowie's fearless willingness to experiment with his music kept it creative and unique. His music spans Dylan inspired Folk, high energy Electro-rock, Disco and Soul, synthesizer and electronic drum based Pop and World Music. Rock's Chameleon smartly surrounded himself with top notch talent. Members of his ever revolving band line up have included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Fripp, Carlos Alomar, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn, Adrian Belew, Roy Bittan, Brian Eno, Peter Frampton and Mick Ronson.

Bowie's motifs of alienation and ability to thrive outside the mainstream created a new category of rock expression. Long after the Glam era faded, it provided fodder for those wanting to explore fantasy and the dark side of life in their music. Without Bowie it's likely there would not have been a Depeche Mode, Cure, Morrissey or Duran Duran. He was THE major influence for much of the New Wave music of the 80s and beyond. Madonna, who inducted Bowie in to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame In 1996, admitted to being "terribly inspired" by Bowie.

As a live showman, Bowie has always been on the cutting edge of performance and technology. His sound, lighting and special effects push the envelope. And there's that voice. Vulnerable without being whimpy, dramatic without being over the top. One that blended as well with Bing Crosby as it did with John Lennon or Freddie Mercury.

Bowie's later releases have not been as compelling as his earlier ones. Yet as always, he forges on trying on new sounds and ideas. David Bowie will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy at this year's Grammy awards on Feb. 8, 2006.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

NextWave- Back To The Future!

There is an exciting new music movement that is not Rap, Grunge, Emo or Pop. It's called NextWave and is heavily influenced by The New Wave movement of the 1980's.

NextWave songs are synthesizer driven, feature detached vocals and otherwordly themes, much in the style of predecessors like The Cure, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. And they're gaining in popularity.

Many Nextwave bands are receiving mass airplay, selling out concerts and moving millions of CDs. NextWavers like The Killers, Hot Hot Heat, Interpol are reviving the essence of a musical niche that was thought to have become extinct long ago.

It's enough to make you want to break out a skinny tie and "Members Only" jacket from back in the day.

Here is a suggested list of a few of the latest and greatest NextWave anthems:

Tear You Apart- She Wants Revenge
I Want to Be Buried In Your Backyard- Nightmare of You
Sometimes the Sun- The Lashes
This Isn't It- Giant Drag
Trouble With Dreams- Eels
Hysteria- Muse
Helicopter- Bloc Party
It Dawned On Me- Calla
Spent On Rainy Days- Bright Eyes
I Predict a Riot- Kaiser Chiefs
Here Comes a City- The Go-Betweens
Hidden Spaces- The Morning After Girls
Maybe I Should- I Am Kloot
We Both Go Down Together- The Decemberists
Unconditional- The Bravery
The Letter A- Black Tie Dynasty
Rebellion (Lies)- Arcade Fire
Goodbye Horses- Psyche
Out of Control- She Wants Revenge
Anyone Out There?- Rialto
Bridge to Nowhere- The Like
Goodnight Goodnight- Hot Hot Heat

Happy Listening,

-DJ Craig