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By Andy Argyrakis
Killers launch London Live
Friday, February 16, 2007
Even though satellite and cable TV seems to have tons of channels, the choices for quality music programming are few and far between. Yet specialty channel the INHD Network is a glimmer of hope amidst reality shows and re-runs, kicking off its primetime block (which programmers call the MOJO line-up) with London Live. The concert program launches its second season tonight at 9 p.m. and midnight Eastern, taking cues from Austin City Limits and Soundstage in high definition quality. The first episode in the 20-show series starts with performances by The Killers, Juliette & The Licks, The Bluetones and Lily Allen. Next week's episode has also been mapped out, featuring the highly diverse roster of Beck, Lupe Fiasco, Razorlight and Cord.
As if those artists weren't enough to set the DVD or TiVo timer on "season pass," the series is also slated to include the New York Dolls, My Chemical Romance, Tim Finn, Wolfmother and many more throughout the coming weeks. Besides London Live, the MOJO line-up is also slated to include specials such as David Bowie and Coldplay in separate Isle of Wight shows, Rush during its 30th anniversary tour and the Kaiser Chiefs live from the Fillmore. For further show previews and cable providers that feature the network, log onto www.inhd.com.
Those looking for a live show this weekend can also turn to Chicago's Park West tonight for a double bill split between Sleeping at Last and The Smoking Popes' Josh Caterer. The gig will be a DVD taping chronicling rising indie stars Sleeping at Last performing with a full string section. The group was discovered by local hero Billy Cogan and opened for several Zwan shows, followed by tours with Something Corporate, Yellowcard and Switchfoot. As for Caterer, expect a blend of band material, solo songs and perhaps a hint of Duvall tunes (his post-Popes project). The show is almost sold out, but a few seats remain at www.ticketmaster.com.
Dinosaur Jr on DVD
for first time
Thursday, February 15, 2007
When the Dinosaur Jr nucleus of J Mascis and Lou Barlow broke up in 1989, fans generally conceded that was the eternal end of the band. Though Mascis led latter year incarnations and Barlow found fame with Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, the original magic was left to a mere alt rock foot note and yet another notch in Nirvana's influence belt. However come 2005, the pieces miraculously fell into place for a series of live shows heralded by faithful and critics alike, leaving many to wonder when new music would surface. It's finally coming in the form of Beyond(due out May 1 on Fat Possum) along with the group's first ever DVD "Live From the Middle East" (out May 29 on Image Entertainment). Aside from a career spanning performance, the project features interviews with Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Matt Dillon, amongst many other appreciators.
The release radar also had a new album by the Mooney Suzuki slated for spring release, but according to a recent interview with Spin.com, the band is in limbo (along with all of V2's other artists) given the label's recent restructuring. Though the brand name remains in business, it will now focus on catalogue releases rather than new projects, leaving these garage rockers and label mates Moby, The White Stripes and Elbow's future label homes up in the air. The news couldn't have come at a more precarious time for the touring staples, who kicked off the latest leg of its never ending outing yesterday. Still, ticket holders can expect previews from the forthcoming Have Mercy, and if reception is red hot, hopefully another label will save the day.
Plans for Genesis' semi-reunion tour haven't been plagued with nearly as many problems, though the band will have to reschedule a few international dates because of logistical problems. But the Phil Collins-led trio is more than making up for the changes by staging a free show to close out the European leg of its "Turn It On Again" tour. The ticket-less gig takes place July 14 at Rome's Circo Massimo (which was also a venue for Live 8) and is projected to pull in a half million disciples from all across the globe.
SxSW acts cemented,
Iggy emerges with Stooges
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Love may be in the air over Valentine's Day, but SxSW Music Festival attendees have no time for sap now that the schedule has officially been announced. After keeping a clamp on most of the artistic action, organizers finally unveiled a highly impressive entertainment line-up after a previously announced round of speakers (which includes The Who's Pete Townshend as the keynote address, plus ex-Talking Heads front man David Byrne and godmother of country Emmylou Harris). As for the actual performances, over 7,800 applied for a coveted slot and right now about 1,000 are scheduled, including the following sampling of highlights:
Aqualung (South London UK), Badly Drawn Boy (Manchester UK), Bayside (Long Island NY), Andrew Bird (Chicago IL), Bloc Party (London UK), Blonde Redhead (New York NY), The Bravery (New York NY), Galactic (New Orleans LA), The Good, The Bad & The Queen (London UK), The Horrors (London UK), Les Claypool/Electric Apricot (Sebastopol CA), Lily Allen (Hammersmith UK), Maps & Atlases (Chicago IL), Mogwai (Glasgow UK), James Morrison (London UK), The Mountain Goats (Chapel Hill NC), MuteMath (New Orleans LA), Graham Parker (Boiceville NY), Peaches (Berlin GERMANY), The Polyphonic Spree (Dallas, TX), The Ponys (Chicago IL), Ron Sexsmith (Toronto ON), Spoon (Austin, TX), Pam Tillis (Nashville TN), The Tragically Hip (Kingston ON) and The Walkmen (Washington DC). (For a complete list, log onto
Yet even in the midst of that impressive line-up, the true stand-out will most certainly be a reunited version of Detroit's The Stooges,www.sxsw.com). led by punk purveyor Iggy Pop. Aside from scoring a headlining SxSW slot, the group is also staging a select spring tour in major markets, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and of course, Detroit. But more than just hearing the hits resurrected for another round of memories, Pop and the players promise a band new studio CD The Weirdness, which is slated to bow March 20 on Virgin.
Street Date: Lucinda returns,
Van the movie man
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Given the recent re-issue of Lucinda Williams' seminal project Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury), it doesn't feel like four years since her last official album. But today's West (Lost Highway) does indeed come a near half decade after World Without Tears (Lost Highway), though her listeners are likely to find it well worth the wait. The insurgent country dust kicker is generally consistent in delivering gritty vocals over narrative storylines and this offering is no exception, especially with some help from producer Hal Willner (Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed). Expect a blues tipped southern offering that also dabbles in pop and folk with a variety of subject matter, from the loss of Williams' mother to relationships gone awry.
In keeping up with his yearly product quota, Van Morrison returns with the mildly interesting but somewhat questionable At the Movies: Soundtrack Hits (EMI). Though new material will always be welcomed from the living legend, he's had so many compilations and live concert projects that recycle the same old hits that most of this offering isn't necessary. Anyone who doesn't already own the singles "Wild Night," "Gloria," and "Have I Told You Lately" could best find them in other compilations (such as Polydor's The Best of Van Morrison) and a live version of "Moondance" could certainly be passed in light of the impeccable original (and countless other concert CD and DVD releases). But completists will probably dive right in given his unexpected cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" (from 2006's "The Departed") and a handful of other oddities.
Though he's no longer alive to celebrate its release, In My Songs (Atlantic) is Gerald Levert's farewell recording. The project was recorded just before he unexpectedly passed away last fall as the all original follow-up to 2004's Do I Speak For the World (Atlantic) continuing in his classic R&B tradition. Aside from this last round of songs, the project features a moving introduction by his father Eddie Levert (of The O'Jays fame) as yet another fitting tribute to the old school soul community's favorite "Teddy Bear."
Chicks conquer Grammies
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sometimes the coveted Grammy trophies are passed out for legitimate musical purposes and other times they're meant to prove a political point. In the case of the 49th annual award show, the top honors came with both categories of voters as the Dixie Chicks became the leading ladies of the night. Sure last year's Taking the Long Way (Columbia) was a respectable record that took the trio to the next artistic level, but then again, the message of perseverance in light of political pressure was what really made headlines. Yet despite loosing the bulk of its country music audience by bashing President Bush and even being banned on most of the genre's radio stations, the girls literally swept the show with prominent wins for "Album of the Year," "Record of the Year," "Song of the Year," and perhaps most ironically, "Country Album" and "Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal."
Though not nearly as dramatic, there was plenty of emotion from the evening's other big winners, which included the crocodile tear drenched Mary J. Blige (who picked up "Female R&B Vocal Performance," "R&B Album" and "R&B Song"), plus the alternative outfitted Red Hot Chili Peppers (who scored "Rock Album," "Rock Song" and "Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal"). Other highly deserving winners included Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder for "Pop Collaboration With Vocals," Christina Aguilera for "Female Pop Vocal Performance," Madonna for "Electronic/Dance Album," along with Rick Rubin for "Producer of the Year" (especially considering his hand in the Chicks' and Peppers' success).
Yet the night wasn't without its upsets, starting with Imogen Heap's "New Artist" loss to Carrie Underwood and Paul McCartney's submission to John Mayer in the "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance" platform. Mayer also popped up on top with "Best Pop Vocal Album," edging out the much more deserving collaborative pair Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint. Another slight snub came to Gnarls Barkley, who given the Chicks' clean sweep of the top categories, were not honored for its mega-hit "Crazy," though the omission was partially covered up by "Alternative Music Album" and "Urban/Alternative Performance" victories.
And of course, music's biggest night would've have been complete without many musical performances, which kicked off in grand fashion as The Police sang "Roxanne." Sure, it was the most painfully obvious song choice for the Sting-led trio, but the guys proved they still had the chops and that this was only the beginning of what's sure to be a very fruitful year on the road. On an even more impressive note, Smokey Robinson flawlessly nailed "Tracks of My Tears" during a tribute to old school soul segment, while a follow-up performance of "Hello" by Lionel Richie also was respectable. Unfortunately, a fellow oldies medley paying tribute to the Eagles went down in flames as commercial country stars Rascal Flatts turned in a watered down version of "Hotel California" and "American Idol" alum Underwood failed in the charisma category come "Desperado." Even more pointless was a Justin Timberlake duet with "My Grammy Moment" winner Robyn Troup, reducing the telecast to a mere moment of reality-TV styled tiredness. Yet in typical rock n' roll fashion, Red Hot Chili Peppers saved the day, turning in a raucous performance of "Snow (Hey Oh)" to wrap up the somewhat mixed evening of entertainment with attitude.
For a complete list of winners, log onto www.grammy.com.