September 25, 2008

Vedder covers Nick Cave and Trent Reznor

On August 21 Eddie Vedder began a two night stand in Chicago, part of his ongoing his solo tour (which I was fortunate to catch in Berkeley back in April). I’d heard that he covered both Nick Cave and Trent Reznor during his inventive set. Fascinating.

In honor of me planning to see Nick Cave tomorrow night with his Bad Seeds, it seemed a good time to dig up the mp3s. I love it when Eddie covers Ship Song.

Ship Song (Nick Cave cover) – Eddie Vedder [stream]
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover) – Eddie Vedder

10/1/08: mp3 links removed again at the request of the Ten Club.
Hmmm, starting to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

[photo credit Andrea Latina]

September 3, 2008

you make me perfect :: Nine Inch Nails at Red Rocks last night

A lot of sentiments seem to diminish and dissipate through daily life as we grow up into adults who hold jobs, buy groceries and maybe even do responsible things like invest a fraction of our paychecks into some Orange ING account somewhere.

Me, I was once 15 and I once listened to a lot of Nine Inch Nails. Whole worlds of emotion, rage, angst, sex, God, fear and doubt all unveiled themselves to me through albums like Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. And now I’m 29 with a whole lot more living behind me, and even as life looks so different, there’s still something in me that is drawn to the stuff Trent Reznor is creating. I was surprised by that last night, in the unseasonably crisp night air of Red Rocks.

Nine Inch Nails has not gone anywhere, I am very aware of that, and of all the inventive and intelligent music that Reznor continues to produce (even bucking the commercial norms by releasing his latest album The Slip for absolute free). But I will admit that my affinity for regularly listening to him has waned, partly in the face of so much other new music and also partly because I’m occupied with things like acoustic singer-songwriters with soaring harmonies. I have, in a word, gone a bit soft.

Reznor is not only a sonic genius, but he is a man who scribes some of the most ragingly incisive and achingly honest lyrics of anyone out there. At last night’s sold-out show, NIN absolutely blew me away with a dazzling, LOUD, intense performance. My friend Adam saw them last month; it was his 22nd show and he’d place it in the top 3. This was my first actual Nine Inch Nails show (saw Trent acoustic in 2006), so count my face as summarily melted — definitely one of the best rock shows I’ve seen in years.

The one thing I didn’t expect was how I felt a churning, pent-up intensity building somewhere in my gut throughout the show — a simultaneous tension and physical catharsis, a release. There’s something irreplicable about yelling along with 10,000 people to lyrics like, “I wanna break it up, I wanna smash it up, I wanna fuck it up, I wanna watch it go down” (when seriously the last thing I broke was a favorite pint glass, on accident). I didn’t expect it to all feel so real.

The current band lineup (Freese, Finck, Meldal-Johnson, Cortini) helps Trent make some of the most blistering industrial rock music you can see in concert these days. They also did it while looking damn amazing. The light show aspect of the night was nothing short of breathtaking — between shimmering LED curtains of white that repelled away from Trent’s body and he moved closer, to sound bars of blue that rose and fell across the front of the stage through Trent’s taunts of “Hey pig piggie pig…” — it was unparalleled. We felt like kids, the way my friend and I kept oohing and aahing whenever the display made our jaws drop once again.

If the groundbreaking Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989, that means next year it will be 20. But even stretching back to the beginning, the songs that NIN performed from that record last night sounded as vital and current to me as anything I hear on the radio — nay, more vital, more current. I have always appreciated Trent’s vulnerability in his lyrics, and going live through the ebb and flow of spiritual questioning with him on songs like “Terrible Lie” still got me. For all the hatred and anger in that song (“You made me throw it all away, my morals left to decay…” ) he then flips immediately to a childlike pleading, “I want so much to believe.” It was something of a masterpiece then and it still felt that way last night.

Check out this mysterious video that just surfaced of “Down In It” into “Head Like A Hole” – no lie, I just got goosebumps watching it again:

There was an oasis in the middle of the set where the band recreated the spectral sonic landscapes of the Ghosts I-IV instrumental album and got all prog-rock with ukeleles, marimbas and heaving symphonies of string instruments. Some would call it indulgent, but I thought it fascinating. Now if only they’d found a way to put “The Perfect Drug” (possibly my favorite NIN song) somewhere in the set…

Letting You
March Of The Pigs
Head Down
The Frail
Gave Up
Me, I’m Not
The Great Destroyer
5 Ghosts III
6 Ghosts II
19 Ghosts III
Piggy (Ghosts remake)
The Greater Good
Terrible Lie
31 Ghosts IV
Down In It
Head Like A Hole
God Given
In This Twilight

In the closing moments of the show, after Trent talked about both how much he loves playing Red Rocks (“Tonight, I can see every single one of your faces”) and how unseasonably cold it was (“I don’t even know if I match, I just put on everything I own”), NIN stripped it all back and the almost-hesitant opening notes of “Hurt” floated over the sea of people.

So maybe it was just me, and the very specific and personal things about my night last night, but I don’t want to forget sentiments like the beautifully sad ones that Trent surgically excises. For as many times as I’ve heard “Hurt” on the radio, I felt such a huge and surprising resonance as Trent and then the whole crowd passionately swore, “If I could start again, a million miles away, I would keep myself, I would find a way.”

Wouldn’t we all.

[top photo from last night credit Chad Fahnestock,
other shots from this Flickrer

April 23, 2008

Trent Reznor seeks discipline

Check the rad new Nine Inch Nails track available for free download via the official website starting shortly after midnight last night. When it starts out, it reminds me some of the big beats of “Only” off With Teeth, but as usual that dirty angry undercurrent and bottled frustration starts to seep out when Trent’s imperfect voice cracks just a little.

He muses in this song if his viciousness is losing ground; I certainly hope not. Not only is this song fantastic, but it’s one more way Reznor is seeking to transform his little corner of the music industry (free the music!).

Download: Discipline – Nine Inch Nails

November 27, 2007

Who am I, where am I, and no more Polish women

1) I’m finally back but I am sick. Dang airplane recycled air.

2) California was excellent. In addition to all the wonderful Thanksgiving-related things, I adopted the spirit of appreciating what CA offers that CO doesn’t; I got some really cute chocolate-brown corduroys at H&M in San Jose that I am wearing today, and I found a wrap dress that I want to wear every day. Plus, Trader Joe sent me on my merry way with cocoa almonds and some two buck Chuck. I could be in love with that strapping Trader man.

3) My high school reunion was the weirdest thing I think I’ve done yet. To see all those faces in one room – walking into that was strange. And great.

Since I can’t even get my head clear enough to attack the hundreds of emails waiting for me, here are some random odds and ends that jumped out at me today, for you, since I miss you all:

Ûž The new Nine Inch Nails remix album is out: Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D (took me a while but hey look that spells out “Year Zero Remixed,” which is what I think I’ll call it in polite conversation). After getting out of his relationship with Interscope and going all free-agent, sounds like Trent has some new innovative ideas; he’s posted tons of master tracks from his songs at and invites his fans to play with them and share their results. If I had any idea how to do that, I would, but for now I will settle for listening to The Faint (whose song “Posed To Death” is on my very favorite running playlist) remix “Meet Your Master” –

STREAM – “Meet Your Master” (Faint Remix)

I think it sounds pretty good. If you think you could do better, try your hand at it over on

Ûž Black Crowes announced details today on their new album Warpaint, due March 4th. It’s their first new studio record in seven years, since Lions was released on V2 in ’01. Since V2 is no more, this album will be out on the band’s own newly formed Silver Arrow Records, and the new lineup includes Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars on guitar.

You can read the full tracklisting here.

Ûž I stumbled across a raw demo version of The National‘s “Slow Show” over on Sixeyes. Now, you know how I feel about The National; My friend described this song perfectly when he wrote to me, “the national writes songs to drive through the darkness listening to, they are the best late night/early morning band i’ve ever heard, 20 years from now when they remake almost famous they are going to be playing fake empire or slow show in the bus scene instead of tiny dancer.” I thought that was lovely. So go see what you think.

Ûž Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
are heading back into the (Mexican) studios in January with the creative mission to write, compose, and record an album in 8 days . . .

According to their MySpace blog, Roger, P.H., Steve, Nick, Jason Boots with his video camera, and the talented Clif Norrell (producer of Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy and No More Beautiful World) will be relocating for the week to a house in Rocky Point, Mexico, and I am excited to hear what is to come. Roger told me a near-mystical story once about how the song idea for “Leaky Little Boat,” (one of my favorites) sprung unexpectedly from the fertile beaches of communal Mexico living, so let’s hope that same inspiration is present come January. Read Roger’s latest story of white-knuckled traffic travails and the details on the album here.

Ûž New tour dates announced in 2008 for Ryan Adams (and then while you’re at it go over to the MySpace try and figure out WTF is going on with the Axl Rose-channeling on the streaming new Ry song “Sexual Fantasy”)

Ûž New tour dates announced in 2008 for the Foo Fighters (and they’ve got that new video for Long Road to Ruin that reminds me of the adolescent days when I used to follow General Hospital – a dark secret)

Ûž The Fader Magazine has a really interesting article on New York rock in “the years to be hated” (early 2000s) and includes some cool silent black and white video footage of The Strokes shot in the style of Andy Warhol’s Factory screen tests.The article talks about the Strokes in their genesis days (lower-case g), and also bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, !!!, the Rapture and DFA. The article has several punch-fantastic photographs in it, but this absolutely gorgeous photo instantly became one of my all-time favorites – that saturated hue, the skyline, that perfect time of night, all lovely and blue.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →