For all those music lovers out there, you can now follow my blog HERE.
Hope to see you soon!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Ryan Bisio established himself as a CrazySexyCool Monterey folk fixture some years back. But like the longtime local venue, Monterey Live, he once loved to play, the former Italian basketball star turned singer-songwriter, disappeared.
The heartfelt musician and his 3-day-old beard are back. And he has a brand new website, almost as dreamy as he is.
Bisio sent out a email statement about the site:
It's been a while since I've strutted confidently through your inbox. Just wanted to let you know that my new website is up and running. Feel free to stop by and throw a party.
It truly is hard not to dig the dude as a person and as a musician...and now as someone that can construct one hell of a good website.
Here's a little peak:
Sunday, January 16, 2011
American Burger (373-7573)—a pint-sized eatery in a Monterey stripmall—is shaping up to be a promising, all ages music venue with versatile offerings that have included everything from Hawaiian music to Saturday's monster lineup of politically-charged hip-hop.
Posters of Dylan, Hendrix and The Beatles line the restaurant walls and a pungent aroma of burgers and fries is ever present. The fact that there's such limited space works to the advantage of the entire experience, bringing the stage and the audience together as one.
Billed as Palabreando (West), the show featured five eclectic acts: Bocafloja, Cambio (of Para La Gente), Guerrilla Queenz, Projeck Seer and Divine Daughters.
For me, the highlight of the evening was the energetic and powerful punch of the Los Angeles girl duo, Guerrilla Queenz. The fiery young emcees can't be much taller that five feet but the sound of their voices is more than ten feet tall.
Mexico City's Bocafloja spat his masterfully crafted rhymes in Spanish. I couldn't understand many of the lyrics but the intensity of his flows needed no translation.
And Cambio—known for his work the hip-hop rock outfit Para La Gente—rounded out the 4-hour show with rhymes inspired by childhood dreams of becoming a basketball star.
I didn't have the opportunity to sample one of the burger joint's more than 20 burger options yet, but with selections like America's Messiest Burger (a chili and cheese smothered burger) and the Breakfast Burger (a burger with two eggs and bacon), I may have to get my American Burger grub on soon.
Friday, January 14, 2011
There's no doubt that the crazy talented band that is Battlehooch, made a lot of new fans last week at their show in Monterey. But I think that's the case wherever they play.
Avi Ben-Zvi—who works for BreakThruRadio in NYC—is one fan the Bay Area crew seduced during its extensive stay in New York last summer. He passed a great video on to me featuring the sextet performing "Someone to Remind You" in their "Battlewagon" as they cruised the streets of Brooklyn last summer.
Check out the video below. It's a blast.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Bay Area experimental rockers, Battlehooch, are known for their raucous and loud live shows. But on Saturday night at East Village the sextet played its first set unplugged to a capacity audience of about 50. Just to give you an idea of what this ragamuffin crew is all about: Drummer Ryan Huber used a plastic bucket in a garbage can as his bass drum.
Check out "Honest," Battlehooch's first tune from its acoustic set, below.
The concert was part of an acoustic/electric series—that's past programs have included Matt Baldwin and Mike Beck—concocted by music promoter/musician Keigan Skydecker. Stay tuned for more from Skydecker in the future.
Looks You Can't See
Electric Set: (not necessarily in this order)
"Giggy Smile" - By Faust
Looks You Can't See
Electric Set: (not necessarily in this order)
"Giggy Smile" - By Faust
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
About a month ago, local renaissance man, Dan Linehan, witnessed one of last year's most talked about live shows. Here's his blow-by-blow account—including video—of the mind-bending experience.
Speechless is the only way to describe how I fumbled for words when first asked, “How was it?” I’m not alone.
The night before, on 7 December 2010, two of my writer friends separately went to see former frontman Roger Waters perform Pink Floyd’s double album The Wall in San Jose, California, at the HP Pavilion.
I had emailed them afterwards to get a heads-up. Kelly, a hardcore fan, could only muster a reply of, “F'ing incredible show!” And all that Mark replied was, “BIG, buddy. BIG.”
I will now try to find the words.
“Your lives are to be spared. Slaves you were and slaves you remain. But the terrible penalty of crucifixion has been set aside on the single condition that you identify the body or the living person of the slave called Spartacus.”
Flooding the arena, these lines from Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick were followed by slave after slave from the film proclaiming that he was Spartacus, the man who so boldly defied the old world order of the Romans and was so mercilessly hunted by them.
These other slaves were not protecting Spartacus from certain death in doing this but had finally come to realize that they all were Spartacus. This is how The Wall began.
Moments later the crushing “In the Flesh?” shook the stadium as Roger Waters sang the first line of the rock opera, “So ya thought ya might like to go to the show?”
Fireworks exploded everywhere as a giant World War II fighterplane streaked over the crowd, crashed behind the partially constructed wall, and burst into a ball of flames. Easily ten times more fantastic than most concert finales, this was just the first song.
Alice may have fallen down the rabbit hole to get to Wonderland, but it was the feelings of desperation and desolation that sunk Pink, the star of The Wall played by Waters, into a world where playing cards don't march but giant, goose-stepping hammers do.
I was a kid when The Wall first came out in 1979. I remember walking down the road and stopping in a driveway where two older boys were listening to it on a cassette. When I was old enough, I got the vinyl. Two years later, The Wall was made into a film.
Though I’ve seen Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell, solo Waters playing The Dark Side of the Moon, and even Laser Floyd in planetariums plenty of times, Waters’ performance of The Wall truly has no equal.
Performed in its entirety, the concept album chronicles the deterioration of Pink, whose father died in the war, from “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1”:
“Daddy’s flown across the ocean/Leaving just a memory/A snapshot in the family album/Daddy what else did you leave for me?”
Teachers domineered him, from “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”:
“When we grew up/And went to school/There were certain teachers/Who would hurt the children/Anyway they could.”
And his mother was way overprotective, from “Mother”:
“Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you/Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing/She won’t let you fly/But she might let you sing.”
They all drove him further into a downward spiral.
Overcompensation lead Pink to become a rock star, but fame and broken relationships only fueled his alienation. The emotional wall he constructed to shield himself from everyone and everything only got higher and higher. And so did the physical wall.
Spanning from one side to the stadium to the other, by time the 240-foot-long wall was fully erected at a height of 35 feet, it reached up to the nosebleed seats.
Brick by brick, the wall sealed off the band from the audience as Waters moved between openings to sing from.
Twisted characters from Pink’s warped imagination appeared as gigantic puppets throughout the show, such as a schoolmaster, standing taller than the wall itself and looking more suitable to preside over the torture at Gitmo than over the education of schoolkids.
The sound systems and sound effects were state-of-the-art: As helicopters and airplanes raced across the screens, you felt the pulsation of the rotor blades and propellers vibrating throughout your body.
The wall also acted like an enormous screen for the leading-edge projection systems, which continually displayed intensely captivating and provocative images. And one soon realized, this show was not just about Pink. You weren’t just watching Pink’s isolation, fears, and delusions, you were riding shotgun with him.
Midway through the first set, Waters made a poignant tribute. “It was thirty years ago today that John Lennon was killed,” he said before the stadium quieted into a moment of silence. “He was a crazy old bugger, but he brought a lot of light to all of our lives.”
This all sounds like one great big downer—and it even gets worse for Pink before it gets better. However, the show was anything but.
Waters left Pink Floyd after The Final Cut, which released in 1983. No other original band members performed with him this night.
With the North American tour now over, the European leg begins on 21 March 2011. The Wall is Pink Floyd’s second best-selling album behind The Dark Side of the Moon, both of which are among the top-selling albums of all time.
Based on his life, Roger Waters wrote most of The Wall. His voice was strong and clear. Waters was also happy and having fun, which was a big contrast to how he was when The Wall first toured in 1980—“Poor, miserable, fucked-up Roger from all those years ago,” he described himself during the concert.
On his website he said:
It took me a long time to get over my fears. Anyway, in the intervening years it has occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss, with its concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame, and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns: nationalism, racism, sexism, religion. Whatever! All these issues and ‘isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.
This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.
In some quarters, among the chattering classes, there exists a cynical view that human beings as a collective are incapable of developing more ‘humane’ i.e. kinder, more generous, more cooperative, more empathetic relationships with one another.
In my view it is too early in our story to leap to such a conclusion, we are after all a very young species.
I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other.
I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to express my, albeit guarded, optimism, and encourage others to do the same. To quote the great man, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
True to his words, The Wall didn’t hold back—not for one second.
In “Goodbye Blue Sky”, Waters deftly protested the influence of religion, governments, and corporations on war. No stronger were the images of streams of dark-silhouetted jet bombers opening up their bomb bay doors and dropping vibrant red bombs shaped like religious symbols, dollar signs, and cooperate logos. These bombs annihilated everything below.
He even took shots at the overuse and addictive nature of technology, warning about being plugged-in, mindless sheep that fall in-line with what everybody else is doing just because it seems like it’s the thing to do.
At the height of Pink’s self-imposed ostracization, he became a fascist dictator. It was a frightening portrayal of how mobs and hordes can be sparked by zealous fervor. Pink had reached the deepest depths.
Waters sang the words of the beginnings of Pink’s self-realization: “Stop!/I want to go home/Take off this uniform and leave the show/And I’m waiting in this cell because I have to know/Have I been guilty all this time?”
Pink stood trial and was cross-examined by each of his ferocious fears. Found guilty, his sentence was to tear down the wall. Pink’s wall crumbled as the giant stadium wall toppled over with a thunderous roar.
Walking from the show, all I felt was that I wanted to do something that mattered. I didn't want to part of this insanity. What could I do to get outside my wall? I felt recharged and empowered, which had nothing to do with the second-hand effects of the pervasive herbal atmosphere.
If a feast of the senses could have its own feast of the senses, then The Wall was it.
1. In The Flesh?
2. The Thin Ice
3. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1
4. The Happiest Days of Our Lives
5. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
7. Goodbye Blue Sky
8. Empty Spaces
9. Young Lust
10. One of My Turns
11. Don't Leave Me Now
12. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3
13. Goodbye Cruel World
14. Hey You
15. Is There Anybody Out There?
16. Nobody Home
18. Bring the Boys Back Home
19. Comfortably Numb
20. The Show Must Go On
21. In The Flesh
22. Run Like Hell
23. Waiting For The Worms
25. The Trial
26. Outside The Wall
Saturday, January 1, 2011
I have to say, New Year's Eve 2010 was one of the more surreal live musical experiences of my life. The setting: the historic Brookdale Lodge (currently undergoing major renovations) in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The band: Izzy Ozborne (pictured above on the right)—a tribute to the music of the dark metal God featuring a 200-plus pound Ozzy look-a-like and a Randy Rhoads reincarnation, who even played Rhoads' trademark Flying V axe.
Izzy and his crew began with "Crazy Train" and flew through more than an hours worth of Ozzy materiel including Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." The show also included fake bats and a lot of drunken mountain folk, who actually started to believe they were watching Ozzy, not Izzy.
Ozzy lost his mind...well, so did Izzy.
After the clock struck midnight, The Gator Alley Band—a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd—took the stage and I went elsewhere. One tribute band per night is my limit.
Monday, December 27, 2010
It was often a journey that spanned three or even four sets over many hours. For many years, New Year's Eve with The Grateful Dead was a Deadhead tradition. And still is sorta, with Further at the Bill Graham Auditorium. But it's nothing like it used to be, with Jerry and often times special guests like Etta James.
Below is a sweet video from 1982 New Year's Eve, when the Dead played "Hard to Handle" with Ms. James and the Tower of Power horns section. Definitely an amazing way to ring in the new year.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This ain't no joke: According to Billboard.com, Bon Jovi earned a whopping $146.5 million in 2010 touring North America. The Jersey Boys also impressively sold out every one of its shows. When I told a friend the news he said he wasn't very shocked—though he couldn't guess. He believes the 80s rockers stirred up a lot of nostalgia for its longtime fans. They must be doing something right to sell more tickets than acts including U2, Paul McCartney and Metallica.
Here's the breakdown of Bon Jovi's 2010 tour:
Total Gross: $146,507,388
Total Attendance: 1,591,154
Number of Shows: 69
Number of Sell-Outs: 69
I guess Living on a Prayer has worked out well for Bon Jovi after all.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
10. Gorillaz: Plastic Beach (Virgin)
Damon Albarn—former Blur frontman—put together one of the most entertaining albums of the year and definitely, the Gorillaz best effort to date. Albarn took care of most of the production himself—on the Gorillaz two previous releases, he enlisted the revered Dan the Automator and Danger Mouse. And the more than a dozen contributors—from Lou Reed and Paul Simon to Mos Def and De La Soul—ain't no gimmick; it all adds up to a tasty, focused and infectious genre-bender that easily gets under your skin.
9. The Fresh & Onlys: Play it Strange (In the Red)
I've always dug the San Francisco garage band for its authentic psychedelic sprinklings of yesteryear; but until now, their studio albums tend to become slightly abrasive after listening to a few songs. Play it Strange is proof that the foursome is growing into its own jeans and landing on a grove that's more focused and rooted in late 60s Los Angeles pop music fused with a hearty dab of punk. Check out my blog post from The Fresh & Onlys recent show in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
8. The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
For a Swede, Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth, constructs prose in English better than most Americans. His gravely voice, raw fingerpicking and transcendent lyrics have yielded obvious comparisons to Bob Dylan, but Matsson isn't trying to become the next Dylan with The Wild Hunt. He's blossoming into one of our generation's most important singer-songwriters and continues to dazzle with poignant words: "And for so I lived a thousand years, a thousand turns of tides/ Just a thousand leaves in autumn and a thousand ways to try." I happened to catch Matsson's performance at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur.
7. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)
The 7-minute plus, "He Would Have Laughed," was the track that drew me to this album like a fly to a garbage truck. The haunting song is an ode to 29-year-old Memphis punk rocker, Jay Reatard, who died of a drug overdose earlier in the year. After listening to the Halcyon Digest in its entirety, I was addicted—I really wasn't a fan of Deerhunter's 2007 breakout Cryptograms. But there's something more earnest about this record that recalls Neil Young's most intimate stuff.
6. MGMT: Congratulations (Columbia)
I was looking forward to the electronic, tongue-and-cheek duo's Congratulations, which they generously streamed for free in its entirety on their website. Overall, the album received less than favorable reviews, but it hits all the right notes, especially on the 12-minute epic, "Siberian Breaks." Like its debut, Oracular Spectacular, this 9-tracker is a sweet piece of pop candy and a gas to listen to. I don't give a shit what Pitchfork says.
5. The Black Angels: Phosphene Dream (Blue Horizon)
In the tradition of Austin-psych rockers like 13th Floor Elevators, The Black Angels come at you armed with a dark creepiness that you never hear in San Francisco psych-rock. Though I dug the last couple Angels albums, this one extends beyond channeling 40-year-old acid trips, droney vocals and fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Each of the ten songs has its own unique flavor; and that's an important attribute that didn't exist on its previous records.
Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Columbia)
Yes, I'm aware that this 2-CD collection may not officially qualify as a 2010 RELEASE, however, 2010 was the year The Boss's buried gems were unearthed. Springsteen wrote more than 30 tracks for his 1978 classic, Darkness at the Edge of Town, and 21 tunes never saw the light of day. After 30 years and a legal battle with a former manager, the previously unreleased material from the Darkness sessions was finally made available. It's about goddamn time cause the additional songs add some delectable frosting to an already incredibly introspective masterpiece. Check out "Save My Love" and "Spanish Eyes" and you'll feel me on this one.
3. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam/Roc-a-Fella)
Grandiose, complex, earth-shattering. These are just a few adjectives that come to mind about one of the most ambitious hip-hop records ever made. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first: I thought West was overly compensating and there was too much hype surrounding it. But Kanye came through with a work of art that knows no musical boundaries and is just as large as originally anticipated. It all works together like a finely seasoned steak: King Crimson samples, guest spots from Elton John, Rick Ross and Bon Iver, and personal, unapologetic lyrics. Bravo Kanye!
2. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)
Kanye wasn't the only one who brought larger-than-life sounds to 2010. The Montreal outfit, Arcade Fire, has steadily (and quickly) gone from playing theater venues to selling out stadiums. With its third LP, The Suburbs, the band shoots for the moon with flawless aim resulting in a 16-track opus arranged with orchestral precision. With tunes like "We Used to Wait" and "Rococo," frontman Win Butler's vocals evoke tangible feelings: from alienation to attempting to understand a rapidly changing world around him. I can't wait to hear what they do next. Check out my coverage of their intimate Big Sur show.
1. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (XL)
There wasn't one album from 2010 that I listened to more than Titus Andronicus' The Monitor. The record concept initially sounds crazy: A Civil War-themed punk album intertwined with snippets of speeches from important figures like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. But lyrics about getting "fucked up" in your parents' basement on a Saturday night juxtaposed with Lincoln's Lyceum Address—"We must live forever or die by suicide"—make for a beautiful and original marriage. Every time I listen to the album, I never skip a song. It's just one of those records. Even if you're not a fan of punk rock, you'll love The Monitor. And you may even learn a little something about American history. Here's a blog post from one of their recent San Francisco shows.
Friday, December 17, 2010
I clearly remember hearing Captain Beefheart for the first time because he sounded black, though I already knew he was white. The iconic experimental musician—who passed away today at the age of 69 due to complications from multiple sclerosis—was truly able to channel the deep soul sound of an old time bluesman. Throughout Beefheart's more than 40-year career he's inspired everyone from John Lennon and Tom Waits to The White Stripes and Sonic Youth.
His 1967 Safe as Milk stands out for me as his most masterful work as does the 1969 Frank Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica.
The Captain will be missed.
Below is a killer live performance with his Magic Band in Cannes (1968).
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
After a year of writing, recording and traveling, Kim Boekbinder's The Impossible Girl has finally been released. The album is available at Kim's online store.
Here's Boekbinder's video for "Stalker."
Kim's sister Zoe has also been hard at work with the release of her covers-themed EP Over the Top. Be sure to check her out when she plays the Paper Wing Theatre in Monterey on Dec. 30.