Last November, Green Day sneaked into Austin and played a few “secret” shows at the tiny club Red 7. One of the tunes they played was a new one, “Let Yourself Go.” It’s on the band’s new album ¡Uno!, coming out Sept. 25. That is only the first of a trilogy of albums – ¡Dos! comes out Nov. 13 and ¡Tre! comes out Jan. 15. Or you can buy ’em all in one big box set.
Archive for July, 2012
KISS and Mötley Crüe are on tour this summer … is the world ready for that? Here’s the last part of “Rock and Roll All Nite,” from a few nights ago in Tampa.
For the sake of an attention-grabbing headline, we call these “crazy covers” and for the most part they’re not crazy at all.
Back in the day it was fairly common practice for even the biggest artists to do covers, because they were cheap and easy to license. And besides – when the songwriters of the day were Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards, Ray Davies and this cat named Dylan, why not toss in a cover?
So here we have a handful of cover versions, mainly of tunes from the 1960s when the giants listed above still ruled the world. Each cover version sheds a new light on each song, in their own initimable way.
A few of these are kind of sneaky: Clarence Clemons is of course “covering” a song he originally played on as part of the E Street Band. Neil Diamond and Carole King are here “covering” songs that they actually wrote, but were made famous by others.
We had a great time at the SXSW event this past March in Austin, we got to meet some fine folks and experience some truly strange times. The coolest thing, though, is all of the music out now that we got a preview of at the conference. Let’s go through some of it:
Jimmy Cliff, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gave us a taste of his new album Rebirth. It’s his first album in eight years, and certainly a return to form for the reggae master. Produced by Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, songs like “One More” and “Ship Is Sailing” embraces Cliff’s classic sound while snapping it right up to date. This album is just one great moment after another: from the righteous “World Upside Down,” to the scathing “Children’s Bread,” to the soulful “Cry No More.” Jimmy hits a peak on his cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” which name checks Jimmy Cliff’s own masterpiece The Harder They Come.
YouTube: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff at Waterloo Records
We kinda fell in love with Norah Jones (again) at SXSW, when we saw her play with her roots-country band The Little Willies. We didn’t get to see her solo showcase, which previewed her new pop album Little Broken Hearts. While the songs explore the hurt and confusion of a fractured relationship, the sound is dark but very rich. Thank Norah’s co-producer/co-writer Danger Mouse and Norah’s own adventurousness for push-the-envelope gems like “Miriam” and “Happy Pills.”
Let’s call out a fresh talent now: Cory Chisel fronted a band he calls the Wandering Sons at a show for the Gram Parsons Foundation, but most of the players were apparently on loan from Cory’s musician friend Brendan Benson. We did like backup singer-keyboardist Adriel Denae, and she’s prominent on Chisel’s new Old Believers. Hailing from Minnesota, Cory has a winning roots-country sound that isn’t afraid to ride rough and rock out. “Times Won’t Change” was a crowd favorite, and “This Is How It Goes,” which kicks off the album, has a lovely vocal turn from Adriel. Best of the lot are “I’ve Been Accused” and the rousing come-to-meeting stomper “Over Jordan.” Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons are on tour right now, opening for Norah Jones – we strongly suggest you get out and catch this killer ticket.
YouTube: Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons “This Is How It Goes/I’ve Been Accused” on “Late Night With David Letterman”
We took some of Austin’s awesome Hey Cupcake! pastries to PUJOL because they are so cool, they are great rockers and frontman Daniel Pujol helped us get in to see Jack White’s showcase. Be that as it may, PUJOL’s first full-length LP United States of Being is a fine effort, front-loaded with rockers like “DIY2K” and “Providence.” Don’t miss “Black Rabbit,” Daniel’s tribute to his real-life pet, and “Each And Every Day,” which would be a radio hit if such a thing still existed.
YouTube: “Black Rabbit” by PUJOL
We gotta give some love to our friend and SXSW regular Alejandro Escovedo, for his rockin’ new album Big Station. Al played some of the most popular gigs at SXSW this year, nearly shutting down traffic on South Congress when he played in the parking lot of the San Jose Hotel and opening a show at ACL Live for some guy named Springsteen. Also, a shout out to Hacienda, who we saw at the San Jose in 2011; they have a new out too. It’s called Shakedown, and it’s produced by Black Keys guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach.
YouTube: Hacienda sizzle reel for Shakedown
Finally, a couple of faves from past years at SXSW … We caught The Gaslight Anthem under a tent in a parking lot in 2007, and since then they’ve carved out a great rock and roll niche for themselves. Their new album is Handwritten and it’s chock full of rockers (the great “Howl”) and passion (the title cut).
And if you missed our interview with rock royalty Michael Des Barres, you should not pass up on Carnaby Street, his new album. It’s our favorite album of the summer – with the blistering title track, the soul rockin’ “Forgive Me,” and Texas steamy “Hot And Sticky” you can’t go wrong. Mike and his expert band sound a bit like Rod Stewart fronting the Rolling Stones, and on “My Baby Saved My Ass” they manage to out-rock even those geriatric superstars. If you like your rock and roll old school and below the belt, Des Barres is the man for you.
YouTube: “Obsession” by Michael Des Barres at SXSW 2010
In Austin over the weekend to visit the college student, we killed some time down on the South Congress drag and dropped by Güero’s Taco Bar. The outdoor patio on a Saturday night is cozy and inviting, and those misting devices everywhere kept us all really cool.
But the coolest thing was the opportunity to catch up with the Le Roi Brothers, an Austin rock and roll fixture since the early 1980s. They played for free at Güero’s, and there were many in the crowd experiencing the Le Rois’ roots-rockabilly for the very first time. We’ve loved the LeRois since 1984, when we caught ’em in a small club in San Antonio.
Weathering personnel turnovers and tragedy, the Le Rois have over the years become an Austin tradition. One of the main reasons is that Steve Doerr, the founding member/lead guitarist/singer, is such a nice guy. He dropped by our table after the Le Rois called it a night and we had a great chat about the “old days.”
Steve’s brother Joe is still in the band, he just had a family thing on Saturday. So, apparently is drummer Mike Buck – Buck was one of the Fabulous Thunderbirds before he was a Le Roi Brother and he’s played with many different Austin artists over the years.
Buck (who is one of the co-owners of Antone’s Record Shop in town) was also absent Saturday; he had a gig with his wife Eve Monsees. Eve is of course the “Eve” of Eve and the Exiles, and we were lucky to have the Exiles’ hot guitarist Grady Pinkerton also sitting in the Le Rois on Saturday.
When my wife and I caught some Le Roi Brothers shows in the 1980s we were dating; on Saturday we had our kids in tow. So it was kind of like family night at Güero’s.
Here’s “Pretty Little Lights Of Town,” an Austin classic (from 1985)!
And for good measure, let’s include “Ain’t I’m A Dog,” with Joe and Steve Doerr on vocals from 2009 at the Continental Club.
Back in the day, radio was the only way to get out the word about a new album. Of course, it helped that disc jockeys actually played songs from a new album – but record labels wanted to rack up sales right out of the box. And movies too – what better way to get the word out to the “kids” than through that boss, groovy local radio station?
So they worked up little spots to play on the hip-cool radio station in your town. Nowadays, with traditional terrestrial radio pretty much dead, these old radio spots are fodder for CD re-releases. Let’s queue up a bunch and spin ’em!
On this day in 1969, man set foot on the moon for the very first time. Looking at the photographs the astronauts shot that day, the moon seems like a fairly peaceful place. In fact, they called the landing site “Tranquility Base.”
Back on Earth, things weren’t so tranquil. Americans marched on Washington, D.C., to protest our involvement in the Vietnam War. The story of the My Lai massacre, where women and children were lined up in a ditch and shot, broke in the news. British troops were deployed to try and calm tensions in Northern Ireland. And so on.
It seemed like, on that one Sunday afternoon and evening, everything and everyone in the world just kind of stopped – if only for a few minutes, while two humans kicked up dust on the lunar surface. Many of us watched the shadowy figures on TV, live and in glorious grainy black and white.
Probably nobody really stopped what they were doing, but a teenager in Texas back then thought it would have been really cool if they did. And if we would have paid attention for a while, maybe we would have stopped fighting and yelling long enough share a little bit of wonder and pride in human accomplishment.
For just a minute or two … then we could get right back to killing each other. Which is what happened anyway.
Maybe one day we’ll go back to the moon, but many people will tell you there are infinitely more important ways to spend our time and money. And I suppose they are right. Still, somebody is going to get back there eventually. Tranquility Base will always be there, ready and waiting for us to start dreaming again.