August 8, 2008

Soundgarden Inadvertently Reunites At Area Cinnabon

via The Onion:
SEATTLE—”At first it was pretty awkward,” said one observer. “But then it was like, ‘Yes, Soundgarden is back.’ It was so intense.”

full article

(“…In turn, the 44-year-old lead singer responded by serenading Thayil with a version of the group’s hit song “Black Hole Sun” in which he replaced the titular phrase with the word “Cinnabon”…)

May 9, 2007

Say hello to a little slice of heaven with Chris Cornell, live in Seattle last night

Oh, man, this would have been so cool to attend.

Chris Cornell (oh he of the mighty pipes, the Soundgarden/Temple Of The Dog/Audioslave legacy) played last night in Seattle at the Fenix Underground, a “private” show for fans and some Microsoft folks (?). 100 tickets were given away to fans through his MySpace for this cozy gig with a killer, killer setlist. Most of my favorite Cornell songs are here in fine form, as well as a handful off the new album, Carry On (out June 5, another collab with Lillywhite, with some guitar work by Gary Lucas – Jeff Buckley cohort).


You can stream the whole concert video here.

Live @ The Fenix, Seattle

Tuesday 05/08/07

Original Fire
No Such Thing (new)
Say Hello 2 Heaven
You Know My Name
Scar on the Sky (new) <---LOVE IT
Can’t Change Me
She’ll Never Be Your Man (new)
Rusty Cage
Billie Jean
Black Hole Sun
Jesus Christ Pose
Like A Stone
Burden In My Hand
Safe and Sound (new)
Hunger Strike


May 7, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I promise I am really not obsessed with moustaches (far from it, although I do think I had a dream with Tom Selleck in it after last week’s post) but I feel obligated to share the results of the competition I mentioned previously over at Cinco de Moustache. The results are in and the photos alone are some of the most fun you can have at work without getting fired or the clap. Check them out.

I saw evidence with my own eyes of this new holiday, if you will, on Saturday night at Sancho’s after the KOL show. An entourage of (fake) moustachioed dudes were getting down in the middle of the bar to the irresistible pull of “(I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine,” which was my selection from the jukebox. When combined with the absurdity of the facial growth, their limber grooves were wholeheartedly the best thing I’ve seen in a long time, and made me hope for the continued “growth” of the Cinco de Mustache movement.

It makes any face just a little more special.

New music for this week:

Goodnight Rose (live on Henry Rollins Show) [pic]
Ryan Adams
A friend of mine feels that this is the best thing Ryan Adams has written in 5 years, and I gotta admit that there are moments here where I want to agree with that bold statement. This version of new tune “Goodnight Rose” is long and winding, jammy and filled with noodling and clocking in at 8+ minutes, which sometimes with Ryan can be a red flag for me. But something about the combination of the chord progression and the lyrics on, “If you get scared, hold my hand. Get out of that dress . . .” just pokes a blunt stick at my heart (and yeeeah, I can see how that suggestion would work to make me feel better, Ry). I would love to hear this song reinvented as quietly haunting, like the different versions I’ve heard of “Hard Way To Fall.” I’m crossing my fingers for how Easy Tiger pans out as a whole (note: Sheryl Crow adds vocals to two songs, which could be cool) and where he goes with it after all the quick-change versions of Ryan Adams we’ve gotten over the past decade.

I smile at the the charming addition here of the four-part acapella harmonies that Ryan and band add at the beginning, middle interval, and end – “Henry Rollins Show, Henry Rollins show, Henry Rollins Show….” If this rock-country musician thing doesn’t work out for Ryan, he could always join a barbershop quartet.

They’re Leaving Me Behind
Nick Drake
The folks over at Tsunami Records were much appreciated ’round these parts when they dropped this mp3 into my inbox last week, another sample track off the upcoming Family Tree album, a collection of early rarities and home recordings left unreleased by Nick Drake before his untimely death in 1974 (at the age of 26). What I’ve heard of the album so far isn’t going to radically shake-up what we already know about Drake and his lovely folksy fingerpicking output, but it’s great to hear some “fresh” sounds. Nick Drake always sounds to me like that gauzy, hazy layer of fog that burns off right before sunrise; there’s something so ephemeral and perfect in his music.

Roll On (feat Jenny Lewis)
The new Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello, of The Postal Service acclaim) album Dumb Luck (Sub Pop) is a collage of densely fascinating electronica with a host of guest vocalists helping out along the way. Jenny Lewis’ contribution has a surprising bluegrass twist (with lyrics like “son of a gun”), with the subtle electronic layers adding interest to the song construction. It reminds me of the welcome breeze through an open window. The album also features Conor Oberst, Mystic Chords of Memory, and Grizzly Bear, among others. Up next (someday) for Tamborello is a new Postal Service album with Ben Gibbard that’s been in the works since last Spring.

Hold It In
Jukebox The Ghost
I’ve been hearing a bit of a buzz building behind Washington D.C.’s Jukebox The Ghost, whose herky jerky sound is a perfect complement to the warmer weather that I know in my heart of hearts will someday come to Colorado to stay for a spell. This reminds of stuff like The Futureheads or The Caesars, that is to say, it’s perfect for a future iPod commercial.

Rusty Cage (Soundgarden cover)
Johnny Cash
Although I still prefer the bloodcurdling ferocity of the original version of this Soundgarden song, which unforgettably opens their 1991 album Badmotorfinger, I have to appreciate Johnny Cash’s masterful take on it as well. Cash could take anything and loan it that dusty, apocalyptic, country-preacher feel, bringing up shaded nuances that you missed the first time it was done. And I have to say that as many times as I’ve listened to the original in the past 13 years, this cover was the first time I understand a good deal of the lyrics. This was originally released on 2005′s The Legend of Johnny Cash (the same album that gave us his cover of NIN’s Hurt).

And in case you need some paint stripping done today (Heather’s moment of specific interest in this song lies at 2:52, unreal):
Rusty Cage – Soundgarden

February 20, 2007

Hype! (“Everybody loves us, everybody loves our town”)

Somehow, someway, I made it all the way to my 27th year of life without ever seeing the fantastic documentary of the meteoric rise of all things Seattle, Hype! — and this from an admittedly huge fan of what was called “the Seattle sound.” I remember wanting to attend a screening when Hype! first came out in 1996, but the club must have been 18+ or something, because I ended up not going — and in the days before Netflix, never noticed it at a local video store. I finally watched it recently and very heartily enjoyed the experience.

Hype! is a wonderful music documentary by Doug Pray (Scratch), and highly recommended for anyone of my variety of musical come-uppance. I started high school in the fall of 1993, so I guess I missed the very beginnings of the explosion of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, but I caught up just as fast as I could (I had to go through my junior high Bel Biv Devoe phase, unfortunately).

Since I was young and somewhat naive, I never realized a lot of the background of music in the ’80s in Seattle. A point is made to lay the foundation for the film that Seattle was definitively not a cultural hotspot in the early 1980s:

Bands never used to come here . . . they’d go as far as San Francisco and then not come all the way up to Seattle ‘cuz it wasn’t worth it to play just one show.” — Nils Bernstein, Sub Pop

Well, Seattle was really lame, specifically in the early ’80s; it was like a million second cities. It had a fake Talking Heads, Pere Ubu, Killing Joke, all the fake Ramones you could shake a stick at, and, you know, people from Bellevue singing with English accents.” — Steve Fisk, record producer

That’s what made the explosion in the early ’90s all the more surprising to Seattleites, fueled largely by the Sub Pop record label. Bruce Pavitt started Sub Pop in 1979 as a cassette fanzine network where he’d make and distribute a zine along with compilation tapes of local bands. Pavitt teamed with Jonathan Poneman in 1986 to co-found the Sub Pop label with the goal of taking the sounds of their city beyond the confines of the region, with the hopes of allowing their musicians the freedom to quit their day jobs and take to the road, making it viable for them to get their music out there.

I loved a quote in the film from British record producer Martin Rushent, which captures the essence of the music scene at the time that Seattle started letting the raw rock fly: “When you’ve been through periods where you’ve had keyboard players with 50,000 lbs of kit on stage and 82 keyboards and 95 samplers, you know, after a while you just go, ‘Hang on. This is like eating too much food at one sitting; there’s too much sound, there’s too many colors, it’s all got poncey and posey. Let’s go see some bands where they just bash it out.” That ‘bashing it out’ is precisely what started to emerge from Sub Pop and other independent releases from Seattle.

In 1988, an article in the UK publication Melody Maker focused on the new sounds coming out of Seattle, and essentially wove together a story that created the myth of the city as an “explosion of subculture.” Journalists everywhere began writing about “the new Liverpool,” and what was happening in the Pacific Northwest. The NY Times article Seattle Rock: Out Of The Woods and Into The Wild (by David Browne) posited, “This fall, the record industry went in search of the Seattle sound and returned with four rock bands whose only common trait seems to be inordinately long hair.”

And so began the fever for all things Seattle. The town became a mecca for bands looking to get heard and signed. Newly-formed bands were getting record contracts with only a week of live shows under their belt, just by virtue of being there.

One of the best cultural snapshots in the entire film is a shot of a sedate ride down an escalator in a department store. Piped in over the speakers is a tinny Muzak-synth version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ and the mannequins are all shown in their $180 “grunge wear.” It made me remember just how stupid and out-of-hand it all got once it was leeched onto by the fashionistas. Jeff Ament is quoted as saying, “More than anything else, I just think it’s funny. We wear long johns cuz it’s f*ckin’ cold!” (I’ll cop to wearing flannels pretty much my entire freshman year of high school. And Docs. And thermal shirts . . . okay, okay!)

The Supersuckers talk a bit about the excitement of the do-it yourself ethic in Seattle at the time, which I found inspiring: “That was the whole lesson we learned when we moved up here – just do it. We saw other bands no different than us just putting out records, zines –you know– a radio show, their own label, plus live shows.” That sounds to me a bit like the music scene at this very moment, with music blogs replacing the word-of-mouth of zines, MySpace streaming everyone and their gramma’s band on-demand, eMusic sales skyrocketing, and live shows like Daytrotter disseminating independent music faster than ever before.

The film’s got a very interesting (and humorously lo-tech) segment with Seattle musician Leighton Beezer, who constructed a computer program charting the inbred Seattle “family tree” for bands – linking musicians throughout a spiderweb network. It’s almost like ‘Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ through shared band members: Screaming Trees –> Nirvana –> The Melvins –> Mudhoney –> Green River –> Mother Love Bone –> Pearl Jam. Hours of endless entertainment in exploring those connections.

In addition to roiling, raw, cathartic live performances by everyone from Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to The Gits and The Posies, the film also includes the first ever live performance of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ with Nirvana in a tiny club. It gave me the chills, with the grainy home video, the alternate lyrics, but that undefinable quality that always made it a great song.

When I was watching Hype, it struck me as sort of a companion piece to one of my favorite movies Singles, which was conceived by Cameron Crowe as a love letter to the city, but also served to glamourize the whole “scene” to a whole generation of wide-eyed teenagers (like me). Hype! is firmly based in reality of the era, while Singles is admittedly fictionalized, scripted, and styled, but they both document an era. I remember wanting to live there soooo bad (I almost went to college in Seattle), imagining in my subconscious that, you know, I’d be sitting outside my apartment building and Chris Cornell would walk by and nod at my new stereo system, or Jeff Ament would pop his head in the basement of my building and ask me to move my car. Ha.

Surprisingly, Pearl Jam’s role in the film was muted. Ed Vedder gives a reflective interview (sitting next to his ex-wife Beth Liebling, in an uncredited appearance) on fame and hype during a time when he was still very much struggling with it publicly, and is shown jamming on the drums with Hovercraft (a side band that he’s toured with). I loved the very ending of the film, which shows Pearl Jam conducting their rad Self-Pollution Radio program in their Seattle studios. A few of their friends are shown stopping by (Mark Arm, Kim Warnick from The Fastbacks, Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees, Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana), and the lyrics from the song shown here are a most fitting way to end the film:

“Small my table, sits just two
Got so crowded, I can’t make room
Ohh, where did they come from? Stormed my room!
And you dare say it belongs to you . . . to you . . .
This is not for you!
. . . Never was for you!”

Not For You (live on Self-Pollution Radio) – Pearl Jam

Here’s some more music documenting the sounds of that era, from tunes featured in the film. The full soundtrack to Hype! is also available on Sub Pop Records.

K Street (live) – The Fastbacks
Definite Door – The Posies
Touch Me I’m Sick (live) – Mudhoney
Negative Creep – Nirvana
The River Rise – Mark Lanegan
Low Beat – Young Fresh Fellows
Throwaway (live) – The Posies

Hype! also features a clip of Soundgarden performing this killer song off Badmotorfinger, in a bendy, sweaty, screaming performance with those notes being nailed by Chris Cornell. I saw Soundgarden in 1996 at the Henry J. Kaiser in Oakland, and it remains one of the best shows I’ve seen.

With My Good Eye Closed (live in 1996) – Soundgarden

And this is purely a bonus track from me; Green River is the now-defunct Seattle band of Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, with Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney.

Queen Bitch (David Bowie cover) – Green River

Ultimately, it’s interesting to see how disparate and unique all the bands were that were lumped together under the headline “Seattle sound” when no one sound really ever existed. Hype! does a fine and entertaining job dissecting these years in American musical history. Director Doug Pray has made a convert of me to his productions; his next project is a film called Surfwise (about the life of Malibu surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz) and I have a feeling it will include some choice tunes. Bring it on, Doug!

September 4, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

I am sad about the news this morning that Steve Irwin (“Crocodile Hunter”) apparently died today in Australia while on a dive. Stingray strike to the heart. That sucks, although I can’t say I am surprised. Everytime we would watch Crocodile Hunter, I would shake my head at the insane stuff he would do, and comment that that was how he was going to die someday. I appreciated his childlike joy at the rad animals he would work with, but he’d always mess with the animals, and be like, “Crikey! She’s a beaut! Now I’m going to stick my finger in her butthole! Wow! She’s a feisty one!

So, I guess in a way we can’t be surprised. But it sucks that he leaves behind a wife and a kid. Here’s to hoping he goes somewhere with lots of wild animals he can frolick with all day long, with no fear of bodily harm. Cheers, mate.

“I Ain’t Saying She’s Better Than You”
Donovan Woods
This is a slip of song, just a lovely acoustic guitar and eviscerating lyrics from Donovan Woods, a Canadian artist. As many times as I have listened to this song over the last few days, it makes me ache — and I have never even had someone say words like this to me: “Like all your men set in the past, it’s better to leave without being asked / So tell me again you’ll let me go, without saying things you already know / Like it’s over, and you don’t know her / But let me tell you honestly: I ain’t sayin’ she’s better than you, you see. She’s just better than you for me.” He tries to make it sound nice but that’s just guttingly harsh. But it’s a really lovely song, oddly enough.

His music is a bit hard to track down, but he has a MySpace and a label, and this is from his EP The Hold Up. Not that appearances matter, but he looks more like he’d come by to fix your plumbing, or drink PBR with you while you watch football, rather than spin these bittersweet melodies. (thx again Clea)

“These Streets”
(live from Bush Studios)

Paolo Nutini
I’d heard about this fella at the Boulder music conference — you know when you hear straight men talking enthusiastically about how good looking another guy is, he must really be something. I missed his live performance, which apparently was quite impressive, but did pick up a live EP which has pleasantly introduced me to his retro-tinged rootsy pop sound. Despite a name that is fully Italian, one listen to Paolo Nutini and it’s clear he is a Scottish chap, and he’s only 19 at that. “Feel good” is an overused descriptor, but it is impossible to listen to this without feeling happy, an excellent end-of-the-summer tune. His album These Streets is currently only available as an import in the U.S., but cites The Drifters, Ray Charles, and Van Morrison as influences.

This single is a charming little chronicle of when he first moved to London, roaming the busy roads: “These streets have too many names for me / I’m used to Glenfield Road and spending my time down in Ochy / I’ll get used to this eventually I know, I know / Life is good, and the girls are gorgeous / Suddenly the air smells much greener now . . . ” Having spent a little time in London myself, it makes me smile.

“Until We Fall”
(YouSendIt link, open in new window)
When this song kicks off, you wouldn’t think of it as Audioslave (with their Soundgarden/Rage Against The Machine past). With a bouncy Beatles-esque guitar intro, it sounds like a pop song until Chris Cornell’s trademark wail kicks in. I love his voice. Love, love, love. Overall there’s more of a bluesy-soulful vibe to Revelations, Audioslave’s third release (out tomorrow). This track is much better than the “Original Fire” tune that was leaked, which I think is actually one of the weakest cuts on the new album. This and other tracks take more of a funky/melodic approach and I like it.

“The Rain”
Kasey Chambers
This was a new name for me, even though Kasey Chambers is loved in her native Australia and has built quite a solid grassroots following in the U.S. through extensive touring in support of her last 3 albums. Her voice has a plaintive warm and slightly warbly quality to it that reminds me strongly of Kirsten Hersh (remember “Your Ghost” with Michael Stipe?), and she is also frequently likened to Lucinda Williams for her sharp & sly lyricism. This track is from her forthcoming Carnival album (September 12, Warner). Rootsy-bluegrass with a bit of twang, but not country.

“The Boys Are Back In Town”
(Thin Lizzy cover, Dublin 8/23/06)
Pearl Jam
It’s good to see Pearl Jam continuing to have fun with their covers now into the European leg of their tour. Here in the hometown of Thin Lizzy, they bust this one out to the absolute delight of the crowd. It’s a fun night with Mike nailing the bombastic riffs and Vedder clearly enjoying himself and mirroring the joy of the crowd. Makes me want to tease my hair a little bit, maybe even “be on the floor shaking what she got.”

One final note in the continuing quest for the perfect t-shirt (which is funny, because I don’t even really wear t-shirts): Knock Knock has expanded their mission to educate the public in popular slang.

Moving forward from their radically hilarious Slang Flash Cards, now you can wear the shirt and help your peeps learn when the proper time is to use words like freak, tight, player, fly, bomb, and grill. Big ups to them for this hilarious line, one of my favorites.

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 →