Weekend Recap: Record Store Day, Norah Jones, Kill The Alarm

Saturday marks the ten-year anniversary of Record Store Day, an event which began back in 2007 as an attempt to revitalize the dwindling independent record store business. Since its humble beginnings, when Metallica visited fans at Rasputin Music in San Francisco to promote a limited-run EP produced specifically for the event, Record Store Day has grown from a grass roots Americana gathering to an international sensation, with both independent and major labels getting in on the action.

Adding to the uniqueness of this happening is the fact that audiophiles can grab limited-edition releases, made only available on the day of the event - often containing rare and previously unreleased material which will never see the light of day on an album proper. In fact, this year's roster of commemorative releases is so huge, the PDF on their website is over 8 pages long, and includes both alternative (The Claypool/Lennon Delirium, The Lumineers, Avenged Sevenfold) and major label heavyweights…

Modern English: A Viable Resurgence

It has come to my attention recently that this month marks the 30-year anniversary of The Joshua Tree, U2's game-changing album that, with a little help from MTV, became a watershed moment for four unassuming lads from Dublin, and would forever inform the musical landscape of 80's rock'n'roll. And so here we are, three decades later - and besides feeling the ravages of time and space, we are also bearing witness to a resurgence of many of the innovative bands ushered in by the era of  The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" releasing new music for a new generation.

Two such artists in particular, Depeche Mode and Modern English, have given us new albums in 2017 - Spirit, DM's fourteenth CD, comes out at the end of the week. And only weeks earlier, Modern English (best known for the new-wave hit, "I'll Melt With You") quietly dropped the engaging Take Me To The Trees, marking the first new music by members of the original group in near…

Hanging On The Telephone With.........Mike Watt

My conversation with Mike about "Ring Spiel Tour, '95", politics, music and.......Happy Days?

© Kevin Mazur

DG: Hey Mike, I wanna thank you for sharing some of my work with the blueprint conspiracy (including the collaboration with Morphine's Dana Colley) on your podcast, The Watt From Pedro Show. I'm thrilled to be included with other eclectic artists on your playlists....
MW: Well, I dig the stuff you're doing, man. But I guess we should be talking about the Ring Spiel album right? I'm a little tight on interviews today. Whaddaya want to know?
DG: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the album captures a leg of your tour in 1995 in support of your solo debut, ballhog or tugboat?
MW: Yeah. That tour and album turned twenty-one last year. I guess that makes it legal now. But I mean, you can't call it a solo album.....not really. There's 48 musicians working with me on ball hog or tugboat?. Even if it's "your own band", there's still t…

Ten Albums That Mattered In 2016

A Heart Shaped Pool • Radiohead -

2011's King of Limbs album felt like Son of Eraser (too much minimal techno beats, not enough gravitas) - in other words, a solo Yorke disc, accompanied by the rest of the band. Luckily, what transpired in the interim was drummer Philip Selway's extraordinary Weatherhouse (which ended up on my Ten Albums That Mattered list in 2014) and much of that record's stately, baroque beauty informs A Moon Shaped Pool. Jonny Greenwood's nuanced orchestrations unveil the affectivity lost from Limbs, the guitars shimmer and strum, their sounds augmenting other instruments, imbued with sonic detritus that instead of overwhelming the songwriting, seasons the overall mortality-gazing angst of Thom Yorke, who was in high Sea Change mode following the dissolution of his longtime relationship. And yet, A Moon Shaped Pool transcends its "breakup album" pathos to become a larger meditation on the fragility of life, ambiguity, regret and consolati…

The Weekend Dispatch: Underwhelming Grammys, Orpheus (Re)Ascending

DISCLAIMER: The following article on the 2017 Grammy Award nominations contains sentiments of a disgruntled nature, which some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

This week saw the announcement of the nominees for the 59th annual Grammy Awards (airing as usual on the CBS television network - date: February 12th, 2017), by former trophy-holder (and Berklee school grad) Meghan "All About That Bass" Trainor. Needless to say, anyone who's spent time in a vehicle with Sirus XM radio over the past year has heard the artists and/or songs who received a nod for their contributions to the musical landscape: from pop heavyweight Adele's ubiquitous "Hello" (nominated for Record of the Year), to the battle-royale between Adele's 25, BeyoncĂ©'s pop/crossover hybrid Lemonade, country newcomer Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide To Earth and chart-idol Justin Beiber's Purpose for Album of the Year. 

Surprisingly, releases by Radiohead and g…

WEEKEND RECAP: Mike Watt And Lady Gaga - Two Kinds of Spiel

Well folks, the most historic Presidential election in recent times is now one for the history books - still many music and film stars haven't taken the loss of Hillary Clinton well. Example A: Lady Gaga, who took it upon herself to stage a vigil/protest directly outside NYC's Trump Tower, owned by you-know-who.

Brandishing the iconic (and over-simplified) "Love TRUMPS Hate" sign, and positioning herself on top of a NYC sanitation truck, Gaga has spread her message and barely-concealed outrage on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, Instagram to bring that message home. Anti-Trump sentiment has also been echoed pre and post-election by everyone from Sean Penn to Bruce Springsteen to Beyonce, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Robert DeNiro (who didn't stand by his own ideologies when his Tribeca Film Fest premiered Vaxxed and was met with similar outrage), Ugly Betty's America Ferrera, Neil Young, Miley Cyrus and Adele.

"I want to live in…

iPod Confidential: My Top Ten Tunes In Heavy Rotation

Expect to see this on best albums of 2016

"Birth of an Accidental Hipster" by The Monkees

First off, let me say that I am still astonished this album was ever made: a band that had nothing to prove proving yet again what a-holes the folks at that unmentionable-hall-of-fame are. Their new album Good Times! feels like a post-modern postscript to 1967's Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd: a combination of originals by surviving members Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork with contributions by contemporary tunesmiths. And while there are some gems provided by songwriters from Death Cab and Fountains of Wayne, this collaboration between Oasis' Noel Gallagher and The Jam's Paul Weller sums up both their musical career and their personal trajectory brilliantly. Dolenz again demonstrates his is one of the finest voices the 60's ever produced; psychedelic trappings that pay homage of both Pink Floyd and Nesmith's "Writing Wrongs" and the…