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By Andy Argyrakis
Weekend Report: Brace yourself for Bjork
Friday, Mach 23, 2007
It may be Friday and time to unwind from the week, but considering a brand new Bjork tour announcement, diehards may want to stay in and save up some cash. That's right, the somewhat reclusive pop chanteuse is coming out of the woodwork in support of this spring's Volta, a concept album revolving around her opinions on the state of today's world. Though a full itinerary has yet to be divulged, shows on the books thus far include the Coachella Festival, three separate New York City shows and one offs in Chicago, Denver, Vancouver and San Francisco. Presales for the San Francisco show started yesterday for any member of Bjork's online fan club, while general public tickets are on sale March 24. The remainder of North American presales launch March 28 with general public sales starting March 30.
Reggae tinged hit maker Akon is stepping aside from artistry to create the record label Kon Live, an imprint of Geffen Records. His first act signed is Jamaican sister duo Brick&Lace who are slated for the release Love Is Wicked on June 26. But today curious onlookers can have a first crack as the video "Never Never" premieres on Yahoo.com (also hitting iTunes in the audio format March 27). Aside from all the online attention, the new group will be strutting its stuff on stage alongside Akon and Gwen Stefani on one of this summer's hottest shed tours.
Though it's already been mentioned in the Livewire interview section, there's still time to grab tickets to The Beach Boys with the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra on Saturday, March 24 at the Rosemont Theatre (www.ticketmaster.com). Not only does this mark the band's first ever symphonic foray in the Windy City, but it's also on the tail end of the Pet Sounds 40th anniversary celebration. No, Brian Wilson won't be there, but co-founding singer Mike Love and longtime keyboardist/vocalist Bruce Johnston will be leading the line-up. As for the set list, expect plenty from that landmark Capitol classic, along with a lushly orchestrated trip down memory lane.
Sneaker Pimps' singer solo, Stones reload
Thursday, March 22, 2007
When the Sneaker Pimps debuted in 1995, the Reading, England based band brought electro-pop to the post-new wave generation. And now a decade later, singer Chris Corner (who now operates under the alias IAMX) is blazing those trails all over again with the independent release The Alternative. Early reports indicate a cross between Roxy Music, Muse and Prince, along with a sensually charged lyrical base. Though the singer's already opened for the likes of Placebo, Franz Ferdinand and The Cardigans, he's had no trouble selling out by himself, including shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles this week.
After having a somewhat difficult 2006, plagued with canceled concerts and rescheduled shows, The Rolling Stones are rebounding with a headlining slot at the U.K.'s acclaimed Isle of Wight Festival on June 10. The gig comes in response to the band pulling out of several European dates last summer and is once again in support of A Bigger Bang (Virgin). For those sick of seeing that album and the regularly scheduled Forty Licks set list, the festival also includes Muse, Snow Patrol, Amy Winehouse, Wolfmother, Kasabian, Paolo Nutini, Keane and James Morrison.
Remember the good old days when Carson Daly hosted MTV's "Total Request Live (TRL)," the fan friendly countdown special that aired live every weekday? Well, not many people have paid attention to the program since he left in 2003, nor have fans stayed up to watch his late night talk show. As a result of the dip in ratings and constant efforts to cut costs, some episodes will now be taped (thus making part of the title obsolete, though producers are leaving the "Live" tag in check). Followers of the program can still crowd around Times Square and cast votes for top tunes on Mondays and Wednesdays, but it's merely auto-pilot the other days.
Bon Jovi's back, White Stripes woops
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Considering Bon Jovi recently released a CD and launched a global 2006 tour (stopping in several cities multiple times) it seems a bit early for Jon and the boys to be repeating the process. But as a testament to the guys' desire to please fans (or perhaps more realistically, keep their pockets' full), Lost Highway is slated to hit stores June 19 on Island/Mercury. Though the group might not have realized that title shares the namesake of an insurgent country record label, its music has leaned in the southern direction as of late. Bon Jovi's most recent single "Who Says You Can't Go Home" is a duet with Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, which not only topped the country charts, but picked up a belt buckle at the Country Music Television Awards. The band reprises its presence on the CMT program April 16, performing "(You Want To) Make a Memory."
The White Stripes haven't been nearly as speedy with album releases and show schedules, but faithful are doing everything they can to speed up the process. The web was buzzing yesterday with several reports of a full blown tour itinerary, though it was merely a re-posting of the duo's 2005 dates. A tour behind Icky Thump (on a yet to be determined label) will indeed happen, but only a handful of gigs have been announced at this point. So far it's merely the festival circuit, including Germany's Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park, England's O2 Wireless Fest and Manchester, Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music Festival.
Sometimes it's freeing to take a break from playing tunes and kick back with a book of poetry. A who's who of alternative rockers have done just that, but rather than reading, they're putting pen to paper for Revolution on Canvas, Volume 2: Poetry from the Indie Music Scene. The book launches on May 9 through Warner Books and Ad Astra Books, featuring a variety of funny antidotes, serious reflections and sometimes sad observations. Though the list of contributors is incredibly long, some highlights include members of Deftones, Fall Out Boy, Motion City Soundtrack, Meg & Dia, Firescape, Something Corporate, The Hush Sound, Cobra Starship, Reel Big Fish, Hey Mercedes, Chiodos, Rise Against and Circa Survive.
Street Date: Ted Leo stays tenacious
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Advance copies of the latest Ted Leo & The Pharmacists offering had several dozen tracks, suggesting upon initial stereo insertion that this was a marathon concept project. In reality, each song was broken up into several separate installments to prevent bootlegging and internet leaking, but even with the intense security measures, songs were still passed to various file sharing sites. Yet today is the day for full-length, legal copies of Living With the Living to hit streets, complete with artwork and loads of attitude. As expected, Leo and company turn in an excellent round number five, moving seamlessly between Lookout to Touch & Go. There are plenty of the band's rabble-rousing indie rock traits present, including lo-fi guitars loaded with jarring distortion, gritty garage-derived percussion and the front man's signature snarl. Influences also dip a bit further back in time on this outing, including The Kinks, The Clash, Billy Bragg, The Jam and even bits of Squeeze.
In keeping with the lengthy title of 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Epic), Modest Mouse returns with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank on the same label. Though the band has always been a favorite amongst quirky shoe gazers and avant-garde appreciators, it was exposed to an entirely mainstream audience thanks to the single "Float On." The new disc attempts to balance the best of both worlds, offering complicated, cerebral rhythms one minute with foot stomping simplicity the next, making Modest Mouse incredibly hard to pinpoint. Perhaps the record will please both factions of its fan base or maybe neither, but then again, it could entertain a third category of artistically minded radio listeners.
After a pair of albums on In the Red, The Ponys are making a more substantial jump to Matador for Turn the Lights Out. This follow-up to 2005's Celebration Castle is a more mature, less random affair filled with post punk rebellion and 80s alternative rock undertones. Though lead singer/guitarist Jered Gummere remains the nucleus of the band, longtime guitarist Ian Adams bowed out and is replaced by Brian Case on this album. If anything, the slightly retooled line-up gave the gang a breath of fresh air, not to mention a change of producers from the previous Jim Diamond and Steve Albini to John Agnello.
Moz on the move, Rock on the Range
Monday, March 19, 2007
Last fall, Morrissey announced he'd play a single American show to promote his most recent Ringleader Of The Tormentors (Sanctuary). At least the setting was centrally located in Chicago, but naturally his disciples flocked from all over the globe to catch his stunning Aragon Ballroom set. However, they could've saved themselves all the trouble of booking hotel and airfare since Moz is supposedly plotting a full-fledged North American trek this summer. Fans who haven't seen him in awhile will be happy to know he's pulling out mounds of The Smiths' songs, along with ample amounts from a pair of excellent comeback discs in the 2000s.
Rougher rockers will be migrating in full force to Ohio's Columbus Crew Stadium for the inaugural Rock On The Range festival at the tip of summer. The May 19 event boasts all heavy bands, though who would've ever thought the burly beards of ZZ Top would co-headline with the princess of cutesy darkness Amy Lee and her band Evanescence.On a more worthwhile note, there's also Velvet Revolver and Chevelle, though the strong acts end there. A mixture of soggy stadium rockers and jockers abound, including Hinder, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, Buckcherry and Puddle of Mudd.
Fans of WTTW's recurring concert program "Soundstage" can now flashback to the program's initial run for a stellar show with lauded tunesmith John Prine. He releases Live On Soundstage 1980, which hits stores March 27 on Oh Boy Records/ Shout! Factory. Aside from that flashback, look for a new collaborative project from Prine and bluegrass player Mac Wiseman on that very same label April 24. Standard Songs for Average People is a duets album of classic American songs, covering the unforgettable likes of Kris Kristofferson, Lefty Frizzell, Tom T. Hall and many others.