Every once in a while I wonder if I'm being an alarmist about the state of the music industry!
Pundits left and right moan about "golden circle" tickets to concerts by artists whose careers peaked decades ago costing 500 bucks a shot! Take a date, throw in a babysitter, dinner and parking, and you're talking more than a grand to see some clownheads whose sell-through date expired sometime in the '90s!
Surely things can't be that bad, you wisely reason!
"Wanna hear something funny," asked a friend of mine this afternoon on IM!
"Shipping on the Kate Nash tix from her site is $11.95"
"We just got a new toilet from Kohler that came in a huge box"
"Shipping on that was $7.95"
Toilet humor: It's never been more relevant!
Heart: Red Velvet Car (Legacy Recordings) Believe it or not, the Wilson sisters--Ann and Nancy--are still at it, rocking, rolling, and seeing past hits such as "Barracuda" being employed by careerist Alaskans with a hankerin' for Lady Liberty! Still relevant after all these years? Well, we know about females and red cars, don't we? And we know about females and their insatiable urge for red velvet cupcakes, don't we? Put 'em both together, add some groovy acoustic guitar, some high-pitched female yelping, and a distinguished legacy that simply has never gone away, and there you have it: One of the best-selling cookbooks in history! Apparently a record is involved as well!
Disturbed: Asylum (Reprise) Perhaps one of this year's most fascinating new albums is the latest from hard-rockers Disturbed, in which the gruff-but-sincere rockin' dudes finally spell out precisely what it is that disturbs them so! Apparently, in sequence, it's "man's inhumanity to man," "little kitties at pet stores," "war and intolerance," and "those plastic six-pack rings that people throw into the ocean and choke dolphins and stuff"! Who would have suspected such a fierce exterior houses a combo with a heart of gold? Some say the new CD contains actual music, but really--can that actually be the point here?
Goo Goo Dolls: Something For The Rest Of Us (Warner Bros.) There's much more to be said about the Goo Goo Dolls aside from the fact that their name is an anagram for Dog Logo Solo! For starters, they're still here, after all these years, mixing up the hard rock we all love with those soothing melodic hooks guaranteed to set the hearts of the ladies in the audience a-flutterin'! Additionally, while it may be well known the band has its own recording studio in Buffalo, few realize the latter is a biological rather than geographic term! And it's tight in there! Finally, in these trying times, when political despots take all the food and leave nothing for the starving masses, it's nice to know that there's always the option of boiling your shoes and eating the leather for its pure protein value! Something for the rest of us? If you don't face your problems head-on, you'll never conquer them! A great record!
10 Years: Feeding The Wolves (Universal Republic) It's hard to disagree with the innate hard-rocking nature of 10 Years, who have thrown all caution and need-for-hipness to the wind and simply rock out here! Produced by Howard Benson, who has a reputation for making all this loud stuff palatable, Feeding The Wolves is state-of-the-art, pure rockin' 2010-style, with the band wisely displaying a calculated eye toward the long and distinguished career awaiting them! Their plan? To eventually recruit Brit guitarist Alvin Lee and "confuse the heck out of future discographers and other morons who need to go out and get a life!" At least that's what this guy Larry told me at the 7/11 this afternoon! I can't get enough of their love!
Papa Roach: Time For Annihilation...On The Road And On The Record (Eleven Seven Music) "Papa Roach wage war every time they pick up their instruments," notes their album bio proudly! "It's a war for musical integrity. It's a war for their fans. It's a war for rock 'n' roll." Sadly, on the basis of this album, it must also be a war to find fans who are hard of hearing but really get into cool logos! With enough alcohol in your system, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is the latest Manowar album--and for forgetting that after spending years thinking this band's lead singer looked like one of the Baldwin brothers, your own mother told you her dad looked "just like Alec Baldwin. It's in the eyes"! Papa Roach may be the best band ever, but let's not forget--the capital of Florida may be Albany!
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway) After winning an Oscar and potentially stepping into a lifestyle of fame and fortune, why not call your band the Dead Horses and feature the word "junky" in your next album's title? It worked for Barbra Streisand! Produced by T Bone Burnett, Bingham's third album is a good one--filled with thoughtful songs, rockin' and ramblin', and a sense that his musical direction lies not in country music, not in rock, but in that artful area in between! By purchasing this album, you will be directly responsible for Bingham not feeling the need to repeat his "Oscar success" after struggling for the next five years, for putting actual food in his mouth, and for keeping a few janitors at his record company working for a few more days! Could you possibly be selfish enough not to?
Jenny And Johnny: I'm Having Fun Now (Warner Bros.) How fascinating that this new informal combo by Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and solo artist Johnathan Rice has made a record that's noticeably more enjoyable than any of their own past work--almost as if a cruel and tempestuous God wanted to point out the folly of their pursuing their own separate artistic ambitions when heck, he could make anything happen! Evoking those early days when fun-loving guy 'n' gal combos made melodic, pop-filled records that aimed for pure joy rather than deep emotional significance, I'm Having Fun Now is precisely the record you need screaming out of your dashboard when a policeman stops you for going 80 in a 40 mph zone and you realize his life is nothing compared to yours! Later, however, aging will ensue!
Leonard Cohen: Bird On A Wire DVD (Tony Palmer/MVD) After spending about 20 years looking for this movie and repeatedly coming up with some dorky Mel Gibson/Goldie Hawn vehicle, I'm delighted to report that that highly-regarded 1972 Leonard Cohen documentary is finally commercially available and is everything it's supposed to be: fabulous, mainly. Documenting one of our most interesting artists during the period of his creative zenith, the film, directed by Tony Palmer, follows Cohen touring in Europe and features a wealth of fascinating music moments as well as much of Cohen's finest material. The packaging here is generous to a fault--and the intimate look behind the scenes, so long ago, is priceless. Amazing stuff!
Klaxons: Surfing The Void (Polydor UK) Already a favorite purely for its cover art--and admittedly Billy Joel does look a little long in the tooth--this new album by Britain's highly skilled, highly memorable Klaxons has been long in coming and very much worth waiting for! Produced in Los Angeles by Ross Robinson--not exactly who you might think they'd turn to--the album represents a big step up from the dance/rock/electro/polka fusion of the band's debut and is catchy, bouncy, and prone to soiling your litter box! In Georgia, they'd call these guys fruitcakes!
Atom Smash: Love Is In The Missile (Jive) In the early '70s, a great band called Pacific Gas & Electric put out an album featuring a picture of a beautiful girl surrounded by a hot dog, cucumber and banana! This is like that, but it's newer!