Sunday, October 26, 2014

Concert Review: Carbon Leaf in Columbus, Ohio

It was almost two years previous to the day that Carbon Leaf took the stage at a Columbus venue. But last Wednesday, the band returned, this time taking the A&R Music Bar.

At about 8 p.m., the opener, Daniel Champagne, took the stage. The crowd, while polite, was not nearly silent enough to reflect his talent. Champagne came all the way from Australia, and started off by playing "The Nightingale," the first preview of his impressive guitar technique. Though Champagne took the stage alone, he created the auditory illusion of a full band with just himself and his guitar. His quick-moving hands played the guitar in the traditional sense, used it as percussion, and created a unique sound by tuning and untuning the guitar as he went.

He continued to play a total of six songs, showcasing his clear, crisp voice. "Same Enemy" featured very handy guitar work, sometimes strumming from the bridge, sometimes plucking with the fingering hand on the fretboard so that he could use the other hand on the body of the instrument as percussion again. Another song, "Fade to Black" was a cover of the blues-ey Dire Straits song that he performed with a great deal of energy.

His final piece was very impressive, with the rapid hand movements almost at their peak, and never a misstep. Unfortunately, customs had confiscated the copies of his CD or I probably would have purchased one.

Carbon Leaf took the stage around 9 p.m., after being introduced by an audio clip from The Muppet Show. They launched immediately into a piece from one of the two albums they released last year, Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle, "A Song For the Sea."

The tour was officially the "Indian Summer Revisited Tour," owing to the fact that it's the tenth anniversary of the album (they also rerecorded the entire album in order to reclaim it from their old record label). To celebrate the album's birthday, they played many songs from the great album, starting with "This is My Song!" and a version of "What About Everything?" much closer to the album version than the performance they gave last time I saw them.

Barry Privett.
The crowd involvement was quite impressive, with Barry Privett holding out his microphone to allow the audience to sing a section of "One Prairie Outpost."

They closed the selection of Indian Summer songs with "Life Less Ordinary," and launched into more tracks from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle. They began with the instrumental "Februaery Detailles," featuring Privett on electronic bagpipes, and the audience participation piece, "She's Gone (...For Good This Time)."

"Bloody Good Bar Fight Song" was followed by its successor on the album, and a favorite track of mine, "The Donnybrook Affair." "The Donnybrook Affair" may have been the best performance of the evening, although it was followed by the almost equally terrific "American Tale" (from "Ether-Electrified Porch Music").

Carter Gravatt on violin during a song from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle.

Carter Gravatt shined throughout the evening once again, notably on the extended guitar intro for (and throughout) "Grey Sky Eyes" and an extended break in "Raise the Roof."

Jon Markel
The band then moved into an amp-free semi-circle for "Comfort" and "Ragtime Carnival," both of which sound amazing as acoustic pieces. 

They closed the set with "The Dancing Song," "Desperation Song," and the fan favorite "The Boxer." The crowd remained entertained and engaged to the end. 

Carter Gravatt and Terry Clark reflected in the garage door windows of the A&R.
The band returned to the stage for an encore of "Let Your Troubles Roll By," and then moved into the center of the audience for another acoustic semi-circle of "Learn to Fly."

Carbon Leaf put on another great show. It wasn't free of mistakes, but it was a truly excellent show of skill and rapport with their audience. I eagerly await the next time they come around, and encourage anyone to check them out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Album Review: Tyranny by Julian Casablancas + The Voids

Let me start off by saying that it's impossible for me to discuss this album without comparing it to The Strokes or the former solo work of Julian Casablancas. This isn't to say it's due to similarities, but rather vast differences.

So here's a quick run-down: The Strokes formed in 1998, and and kind of a gruff rock and roll sound (like a post grunge indie thing). They took a break a few years back, and frontman Casablancas released a stylized 80s-sounding solo album with lots of synths. The Strokes regrouped and made two decent but very synthy albums reminiscent of some stuff Casablancas did as a soloist, but still with touches of the old Strokes.

This album is not like any of that.

When "Take Me in Your Army" kicks off, you feel like you might have stepped into a real-life retro horror video game. The song doesn't stay that way for long, but it does go on to remind you of something you can't quite put your finger on. All parts of the song blend together perfectly, but with something deliberately just a little off, so it's unsettling. Is it the attacking beeping synths? Is it the way the title line "take me in your army" goes for both a word and a note that wasn't what we might have expected? Or is it the fact that the coming and going of the vocals altogether isn't something you can predict?

We have the perfect amount of time to ponder all this, but not come up with a solution, before the next track, "Crunch Punch" breaks in in a completely different manner. It's bookended with found audio samples from old radio programs. "M.utually A.ssured D.estruction" is one of the hardest pieces on the album, yet there are touches of Casablancas' signature vocal style peeking out from under all the sound. It's also the shortest track on the album, leaving you only time to ponder its purpose, and it never really "gets going." Of course, "M.utually A.ssured D.estruction" gives way to the longest track on the album, "Human Sadness."

"Human Sadness" is just over ten minutes, with rough sounds and synthesized strings living harmoniously together with cliche Strokes guitar and Casablancas rambling vocals. The change comes in at almost exactly halfway, and it's as though you're listening to a battle take place. The lighter sound seems to win out in the end, possibly indicating the end of human sadness. The track doesn't seem as long as it is, despite the lyrics being all but impossible to understand.

The lead single "Where No Eagles Fly" has the only truly killer hook on the album, and certainly functions as the most accessible song on the album. The only hook that comes close to "Where No Eagles Fly" is "Business Dog," which is still as odd a number as the album gets, including a self-censor in the first minute of the song.

"Nintendo Blood" almost sounds like it will be a reprise of "Take Me in Your Army," but comes into its own soon enough. The album closes with the dreary "Off to War..." which has less musicality than many of its' cohorts on the album, but is a quiet enough, it almost acts as a fade out for the album.

The way many of these tracks mesh together sounds like they weren't created as an album. So much so that I don't think it was an accident. I think each closing and intro is meant to be jarring, to let you know who's in control, to tell you the track has changed and there's nothing you can do about it. It's almost as though it's to wake you from the notion that you might have found some security even in the nonsense of the previous song.

Tyranny is gritty and unique in a way nothing Julian Casablancas has ventured into before has been. At just over an hour long, this has to be one of the longest albums I've listened to in years too. But it's worth the time.

Julian Casablancas + The Voids are a rock group side project of Julian Casablancas.

Tyranny can be purchased here for only $3.87!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

State of the Music Address: August 2014

It's been a while since a we had a new post here at Nomorebloodfromaclone, so yet again, I'd like to bring you some tidbits that don't make up full articles on their own (and hopefully explain my absence over the last couple of months).

Aretha Franklin at the Ohio State Fair.
Photo by Tammy Sedam, via Rebeat
-I moved! I was considering buying a house and all of that business kept me pretty busy for a while, but as soon as I get a consistent internet connection, you can expect hopefully more-frequent updates here. 

-The radio program One-Mind Tracks is still alive and well, and the station should be streaming online soon, which will mean my audience here will finally be able to hear my radio show! In the meantime, the theme this week was "Winds of Change" and we discussed Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." The recent and awesome interactive video can be found here.

-I've started writing for the online classic rock magazine Rebeat, so most of my classic rock articles will now probably be posted over that-a-way, such as a review of the Aretha Franklin show at the Ohio State Fair (pictured). It's there. There are also a lot of other writers more clever than me writing there too.

-Yes, I know I missed out on lots of recent albums, and I'm very sorry about that.

-102.5 Summerfest is Sunday, featuring acts like OK Go in Columbus, Ohio. Not too many shows in September though. What's up with that?

-Anyway, this time, when I say I should be posting more frequently, I mean it! Once my internet is hooked up, that is. Until then, please stay tuned!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview: Rob Cantor

Rob Cantor has been a musician and songwriter for many years now. As a member of the band Tally Hall he worked on two albums and since then he's been entertaining people with comedic tracks such as "Shia LeBeouf." Mr. Cantor also just released his debut solo album Not a Trampoline, and he was kind enough to share a few words with me about the album and his career in general.

Rob Cantor
No More Blood From a Clone: What are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

Rob Cantor: Like all of humanity, I love the Beatles. I also love the Beach Boys, Queen, Paul Simon, Elliott Smith, Dan Wilson, and many, many more. 

NMBFC: Most people will know you either from “Shia LaBeouf” or from Tally Hall. Are you alright with being known that way, or would you rather have started fresh with this album?

Rob Cantor: I don't think this album is incongruent with "Shia LaBeouf" or with anything Tally Hall released, and I'm proud to be "known" from either of those endeavors. Not a Trampoline has a bit more depth than "Shia LaBeouf," for instance, but it's also not afraid to be silly and stupid at times...I think there's plenty of overlap.

NMBFC: If you had to categorize Not a Trampoline as a particular genre, how would you describe it?

Rob Cantor: The album is pretty varied. Most of it could be called alternative rock, though there are certainly outliers. "In Memoriam," for example, would not work very well on KROQ.

NMBFC: Would you say the tone of this album is: comedic, serious, or whimsical?

Rob Cantor: Yes. All three, I hope.

NMBFC: How has it differed having mostly complete creative control over your work rather than having to share it with a band? Is it harder or easier or just different?

Rob Cantor: Good question. At first, it was terrifying. I was very used to funneling my ideas through a four-man quality control machine. I knew if an idea was approved by the rest of the Tally Hall guys, it must have some merit. When I started working with my producer Gregtronic on this album, there was no such safety net. It was paralyzing for a minute- I second-guessed everything. But after a while, I grew increasingly comfortable with autonomy, and now I really like it. It's a lot quicker, I'll say Tally Hall, ideas might be bandied about for months or years before any kind of execution ever came into being. The same is not true of making a solo album, and the ability to be decisive is quite nice.

NMBFC: Where does the title “Not a Trampoline” come from?

Rob Cantor: The title is factual- this is an album of songs, not a trampoline. Jumping on songs is not only impossible, it's unsafe. DON'T DO IT.

NMBFC: What’s your favorite track on Not a Trampoline?

Rob Cantor: favorite track seems to keep changing. Early on, it was "Flamingo"- I enjoy the simplicity and the absurdity. At the moment, it's "All I Need Is You." My friend Randall Maxwell and I made a music video for it, and it breathed new life into the song for me.

NMBFC: “Ghost” seems to come from a pretty personal place. Is there anything you can share about it?

Rob Cantor: Ghost is about regrets. We've all got 'em!

NMBFC: Was there any particular inspiration behind the distinct sound on “The Rendezvous”?

Rob Cantor: The sound of "The Rendezvous" was a collaborative effort between my producer Gregtronic and Andrew Horowitz, my bandmate in Tally Hall. Greg and I had an early version that was dancier and less distinctive. It wasn't really fitting with the rest of the songs, and we'd all but discarded it. Andrew heard that early version, and liked the song. He insisted we give it another go. He took the session file and tweaked our arrangement. He added new sounds and took some away- he revitalized the track. When he sent it back, we knew it belonged on the album.

NMBFC: I’m sure some people will recognize “I’m Gonna Win” from an early Tally Hall song. Can we discuss the creative process behind the development of this song into what it is now?

Rob Cantor: We were just trying to do justice to a wonderful song, written by my bandmate Joe Hawley.

NMBFC: What other contributions did you get from your previous bandmates?

Rob Cantor: Andrew Horowitz and I wrote "Perfect" together, and he co-produced the track. He also added production and keyboards on "The Rendezvous." Ross Federman helped write the drum part for "Old Bike," and Joe Hawley graciously let me record his song "I'm Gonna Win." All four of the guys gave me great feedback on the whole album throughout the recording process.

NMBFC: Who is the female vocalist featured on the album?

Rob Cantor: The female singer on "The Rendezvous" is called Madi Diaz. She's a very talented vocalist, and also a great songwriter. She has a new record coming out soon, and you should definitely take a listen. I've heard some of the tracks, and they are super cool.

NMBFC: Is music definitely your career at this point, or is there still a plan b?

Rob Cantor: Music is, and has been for many years, my sole career. There is no Plan B!

NMBFC: That's good to hear. What do you hope the response to this album will be?

Rob Cantor: I hope the response is "HOORAY."

If you'd like to check out Not a Trampoline, it can be previewed and purchased at Bandcamp.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I've Got This Covered: fun.: Some Nights"

It's been a while since the last I've Got This Covered, so if you've forgotten what it is, this is where I take an album and imagine what artists could cover it. In this edition, I've taken fun.'s album Some Nights and imagined which musicals the tracks could have been removed from.

1) Some Nights (Intro) - Sweeney Todd
I hate to start by going out onto a little bit of a limb, but I feel like this could be a dark song for just after "Epiphany," perhaps after Todd has claimed his first couple of victims and starts to feel just the smallest bit of remorse.

2) Some Nights - The Lion King
When this song first came out, I saw a couple people describe it as having a Lion King feel, but even in terms of concept, The Lion King fits. "Some Nights" reminds me of Hamlet, and The Lion King is technically a Hamlet adaptation. This one would be sung by Simba somewhere between the middle and the end of the musical.

3) We Are Young - Oliver!
I see this number as one with several narratives. Both Oliver! and this song have to do with the meshing of youth and naivety with adult concepts and dangers, so in Oliver!, this track would have been sung in part by Nancy and Bill Sykes and in part by the orphan children.

4) Carry On - West Side Story
"Carry On" could have been an alternate song for "There's a Place." It's perfect for the story, especially with the allusions to "knives in a fistfight."

5) It Gets Better - Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening isn't a musical I have a great deal of familiarity with, but from everything I know, a song about losing your virginity could find no better home.

6) Why Am I the One - The Music Man
Although it's not a perfect match, this song seemed to me to coincide beautifully with the scene in The Music Man in which Harold Hill bemoans "for the first time in my life, I got my foot stuck in the door."

7) All Alone - Easter Parade
Considering this song almost sums up the first fifteen minutes of Easter Parade, where else could it go? In the film, Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) buys an Easter rabbit for Nadine Hale (Ann Miller) just before she breaks up with him. Hence, this scene would involve Hewes singing about the rabbit (who is now a wind-up doll, but close enough).

8) All Alright - Scrooge
This song would be performed either during Scrooge's visit to Christmas past (as he watches himself let the love of his life go) or Christmas present (as he realizes he's pushed away anyone who would care about him).

9) One Foot - Rent
Rent is another musical I'm not intimately familiar with, but the attitude of this song seems to fit it pretty well. Perhaps an alternate for "La Vie Boheme"?

10) Stars - The Girl Can't Help It
A great forgotten musical that I've paired with my least favorite song on Some Nights. "Stars" would be sung by Tom Miller about Julie London instead of the fantasy sequence with London singing "Cry Me a River."

11) Out on the Town - My Fair Lady
"Out on the Town" has always reminded me of It's a Wonderful Life, but since it isn't a musical, "Out on the Town" would function as a reprise of "On the Street Where You Live."

That's how I think it should go down. Questions? Better ideas? Drop me a comment. Or if you have lots of pull in the musical theater community, feel free to make this happen.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Album Review: Not a Trampoline by Rob Cantor

Rob Cantor isn't new to the music business, but Not a Trampoline is his first full-length solo work. Prior to this, Cantor released two comedic singles, "Shia LeBeouf" and "Christian Bale is at Your Party." Going even further back, he was a member of Tally Hall. It's very exciting to hear what he has to offer with his first album.

Not a Trampoline begins with the deep and dark "Ghost," which seems to improve with each listen. "Ghost" represents a natural step in the progression of Cantor's talent as a songwriter. It works on multiple levels: first as a catchy pop tune, next as a spooky story song, and finally as a philosophical piece. "Ghost" was a great choice for a single, and it's followed by the first single Cantor released off of this album: "Old Bike." I initially believed "Old Bike" to be just an attempt to recapture the success of Queen's "Bicycle Race," but it's really its own piece. The female vocals bring to mind Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More." "Old Bike" is a lighthearted Cantor track that will be perfect for any bicycling playlist.

"Garden of Eden" is an energetic piece about a Frankenstein-esque creator and his creation. The delivery is beautiful and unique, but the song's failing comes in the ending fade, the likes of which I haven't heard on anything since a 60s album. "Garden of Eden" is followed by "Rendezvous." On first listen, "Rendezvous" is very simple with a dance beat, but the song really works. The vocals Madi Diaz adds to the track help it not only with its complexity, but with the illusion that it could have come direct from the Drive soundtrack.

Next comes "I'm Gonna Win," a song fans of Tally Hall might recognize from the earlier incarnations including "All of My Friends." This final product, credited as written by both Rob Cantor and Joe Hawley is more empowering and with more direction than "All of My Friends," and has more dimension than Tally Hall's version of "I'm Gonna Win." That's not to say it doesn't lose something by being less haunting than "All of My Friends," but overall, "I'm Gonna Win" has been developed into a great song.

Things are wound down for the more acoustic "All I Need Is You." "All I Need Is You" is almost like a lullaby in parts, but picks up in others. "All I Need Is You" wouldn't have been out of place on Tally Hall's Good & Evil, and I wonder if it's a leftover from the years Good & Evil was in production. Either way, it has an outstanding, gif-based music video:

The album continues with "Flamingo," which I could hear as a club dancing song apart from how incredibly bizarre it is, in a very Cantor manner. The narrator states "I feel like I'm a shy enormous pink flamingo man." "Flamingo" gives way to "La Telenova," which is a departure from anything Cantor has produced to this point. "La Telenova" means "the soap opera," and is a collaboration with Jhameel. "La Telenova" is a very modern song, which also features some aspects of 60s folk pop in the melody, 90s pop in the bridge, and latin pop rhythms.

"In Memoriam" is a flowing, melodic tribute to Alan Alda, speaking of his life in the past tense, despite the fact that he's still alive. After "In Memoriam" (which is just over a minute long), comes "Let Your Mother Know." "Let Your Mother Know" is one of the strongest tracks in the latter part of the album. It's upbeat and catchy, and makes you want to move your body.

Nearing the end of the album, "Perfect" is a collaboration with Andrew Horowitz, and features his signature keyboards and sentimentality. Cantor adds his own style to "Perfect," but it's very noticeable that Horowitz had a hand in it.

Not a Trampoline closes with "Lonely (But Not Alone)," another personal-sounding piece, more acoustic than anything else on the album. As a closer, "Lonely (But Not Alone)" is near-perfect, winding the album down to an end.

Rob Cantor has a lot of musical talent, as a songwriter and lyricist, a vocalist and instrumentalist. Not a Trampoline is a great display of these talents. Not every song is perfect, but as a first solo work, Not a Trampoline is incredibly well done. I look forward to hearing more from Cantor and I encourage everyone to check out Not a Trampoline.

Rob Cantor is a singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. Not a Trampoline is his debut solo album.

Not a Trampoline can be purchased here.

Check out my interview with Rob Cantor here!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Album Review: Pure Fiction by Eric Hutchinson

Almost two years ago to the week, Eric Hutchinson released his sophomore album, Moving Up Living Down. And now, he returns. Each time Eric Hutchinson comes out with a new album, there's a moment in which one has to wonder: "Is this the album where he tips over that line into the mainstream? Is this the sellout album?" Yet despite his early album entitled "Before I Sold Out" and despite the fact that he was signed to Warner for a while, Hutchinson manages to maintain integrity to his central sound.

The first track and lead single is the most uplifting track on the album, "Tell The World." "Tell The World" sounds like a hit, and I'm not sure if it's fortunate or unfortunate that this song wasn't created until after his departure from Warner. On a mainstream release, "Tell The World" could have become a song that got overplayed on the radio. "A Little More" is the second track and single, and possibly the actual best song on the album. "A Little More" has a power pop feel unparalleled by anything else on the album. It probably has the most energy of any of the songs on Pure Fiction. It's catchy, pop-based, and yet soulful.

Right around "Forever," I started to worry that my fears about this album being a sell-out were founded. "Forever" has very few redeeming qualities. It's incredibly repetitive, with something more false than "wall-of-sound" going on in the backing track, and for some reason what sounds like a music box. But "I Got the Feelin Now" is a much better track, with genuine complexity and direction. "I Got the Feelin Now" is a smooth blend of disco and early 80s synths, with a pleasing rhythm.

"Goodnight Goodbye" assures us that this is the Eric Hutchinson that we've grown to know with the heartfelt vocals that Hutchinson specializes in. "Goodnight Goodbye" is followed by the pleasant "Love Like You," which starts with some synthesized strings before jumping back to the sound of Sounds Like This, complete with keys and backing vocals.

Moving forward, "I Don't Love U" is catchy and well-arranged, although I'm not sure whether the narrator is to be despised or sympathized with. "Sun Goes Down" is a decent, but ultimately skippable story song. It's almost the pop-folk version of a country song, in which the narrator receives yet another a postcard from his runaway wife, and seems finally able to let go of the memory of her.

The remaining two tracks on the album are for some reason labeled as acoustic, which seems wrong as a label for official album tracks somehow, but they're both decent songs. "Forget About Joni" has a Spanish feel and recounts the tale of a woman who seduces all the men, but is actually a lesbian. "Forget About Joni" is the home of the standout couplet on the album "She's the kind of a girl who wants a girl in her bed//you can give her your heart she wants your sister's instead." The final track isn't quite as strong. "Shine on Me" is a good tune, but not notable in any way.

Although it's a hodgepodge of styles and feelings, Pure Fiction proves that Eric Hutchinson still has it. It isn't as smooth or solid as his previous two albums, but it also has some of the highest-quality production so far. If you like top twenty hits, Pure Fiction might be a good gateway into Eric Hutchinson, but if you're more a fan of Motown or indie pop, this album should probably be a last resort.

Eric Hutchinson is a singer-songwriter.

Pure Fiction can be purchased here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

State of the Music Address: April 2014

This is a new feature for odds and ends, and to give you a preview of what's coming up in music and on Nomorebloodfromaclone. So without further adieu...

-There are quite a few new albums coming out soon:
  • April 8th, Eric Hutchinson Tell the World
  • April 14th, Rob Cantor Not a Trampoline
  • April 15th, Ingrid Michaelson Lights Out
  • May 5th, Lykke Li I Never Learn
  • May 27th, Miniature Tigers Cruel Runnings
  • June 9th, Chrissie Hynde Stockholm
-As such, there have been a few single releases, including Rob Cantor's "Ghost":

-...and Miniature Tigers' "Swimming Pool Blues," the video for which is as perfectly done and humorous as anything the band has done.

-It's going to be a great summer for concerts here in Ohio.
  • The Ohio State Fair is featuring Blue Oyster Cult, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Beach Boys, Heart, Joan Jett, America, and Aretha Franklin.
  • The Monkees are touring again, with the three remaining members.
  • Cher and Cyndi Lauper have joined forces for a tour.
  • Of Montreal are coming to Cincinnati. I wish they'd do a Columbus date at some point!
-Record Store Day 2014 is fast approaching. fun., Of Montreal, and Deerhoof are all releasing stuff, just to name a few, so I'm excited for April 19th.

-And finally, here at Nomorebloodfromaclone, you can look forward to an exclusive interview soon, as well as yet another "I've Got This Covered." If all goes according to plan, you can expect more frequent updates here in general. Stick around!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One-Mind Tracks: Sinners

Here are a collection of songs about knowing you're a bad guy.

Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Since they're the quintessential "bad guy" band, it was tough to limit myself to a couple for AC/DC, but since this one is Hell-centric, it was an easy choice.

Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood
Another easy choice. This one seriously makes me feel like a cool, bad guy. And I'm a girl.

I'm Going to Hell by The Long Blondes
This was one of the songs that inspired the whole playlist. The Long Blondes have a few songs about questionable morals, and their lyrics are always pretty clever.

Bad by Michael Jackson
Is it cheating when the title makes the choice this obvious? Too bad. And does everyone these days realize that the video for this song was directed by Martin Scorsese? It also featured a younger Wesley Snipes. Originally planned as a duet between Michael Jackson and Prince, this song was actually based on a true story of a kid from the streets who tried to make something of himself by going away to school. When he returned home on a Thanksgiving break, his jealous friends ended up killing him.

Troublemaker by Weezer
Yes, Rivers Cuomo, you're such a troublemaker! Influenced by Eminem, this is the fictional account of a self-proclaimed troublemaker's rise to fame. Interestingly though, there's still an underlying isolation such as in the line "I'll party by myself because I'm such a special guy."

T.N.T. by AC/DC
Another AC/DC so soon! An explosive ladykiller who is ready to kill you with his bare hands.

Who Do You Love? by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
George Thorogood is really great at recreating that same song over and over, but that one song is pretty okay, so here's another one about how "bad" he is.

Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel
A songwriter sometimes tells stories, and this Billy Joel tale about a bad boy trying to convince a Catholic girl to go all the way is certainly an example. But this one sure did alienate a lot of Joel's Catholic fans, and caused many people to try to get it removed from radio playlists.

Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield
Turned down by Aretha Franklin, and later recorded by her older sister Erma Franklin, this was a big hit for Dusty Springfield. Aretha Franklin, a preacher's daughter, turned the song down originally because she thought it was disrespectful, but after hearing Springfield's version, she ended up recording her own version a couple of years later.

Missionary Man by The Eurythmics
Dave Stewart wanted to create more of an arena rock song, so they jazzed up this Annie Lennox poem and voilĂ !

Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
Some of the religious imagery in Modern Vampires of the City went slightly over my head, but this one is apparently about how everyone is an "unbeliever" to someone else, seeing as everyone believes something slightly different.

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett
Another song that always makes me feel tough. This one sprung from the fact that no record labels wanted to sign Joan Jett because of her bad reputation.

You Know I'm No Good by Amy Winehouse
The golden days of Mark Ronson drums and brass are over, but this soulful track by the late Amy Winehouse recounts the tale of a serial cheater in her own words.

Creator by Sanogold
The highly under-rated Santogold rap/sings of her unrelenting power.

What's your favorite "bad guy" song? I'd love to hear!

And if you live in the area of Marion, Ohio, be sure to catch most of this playlist Thursday night at 7 on One-Mind Tracks on 97.5 WDIF.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Concert Review: Paul Simon & Sting in Auburn Hills, Michigan

For my dad's birthday, my mother and I bought him tickets to see two of his favorite artists perform on stage together: Paul Simon and Sting. While I was never the biggest fan of Sting or The Police, I've always enjoyed the music of both Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, so I was excited for the possibilities.

We arrived at The Palace just before eight o'clock to find that our seats had been ungraded. However the reassignment table was such a mess that I was still standing in line when "Brand New Day" began to sound from the main stage. It sounded great, but I didn't get to see any of it performed, and in fact missed part of "Boy In the Bubble," in which Sting's distinctive voice joined Paul Simon's for the chorus. The first song I heard fully was a favorite Sting track of mine, "Fields of Gold," which was played as a gorgeous duet. 

Photos by Kenneth Sedam
Paul Simon left the stage, and Sting launched into some of his classics including "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," "Englishman In New York," and a very staying version of "I Hung My Head." He then played two more Police classics, "Driven to Tears" and "Walking on the Moon." "Driven to Tears" was really where the band began to show how great they were, with some impressive electric guitar and a killer violin solo. 

Paul Simon returned to the stage for the perfect crossover song with Sting, a performance of "Mother and Child Reunion" even more reggae-riddled than the original. Sting then left the stage, and Paul Simon played "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover." 

The intro to "Dazzling Blue" was another showcase for the band's talents. The drummer began to play a sitar-style slide guitar, and other percussionists came in to create a tabla feel. Nothing really does justice to "Dazzling Blue" quite like hearing it live with Sting and Paul Simon's band. 

After "Dazzling Blue," they played a slightly more country "Graceland" and "Still Crazy After All These Years." Paul Simon and band then played one of the most exciting tunes of the evening in terms of energy from both the performers and the audience. "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" was incredibly fun and high-energy. My only complaint was that Paul Simon opted for avoiding the high note in the "goodbye Rosie" line, whether due to the fact that his voice isn't as agile as it used to be or because he just wanted a different feel for the live song.

Sting returned to the stage for a joint cover of  "Fragile" and "America." Although I missed part of it, "America" was still as tear-jerkingly beautiful as the original Simon & Garfunkel version. 

Again, Sting was left alone on-stage to play "Message in a Bottle" and "Hounds of Winter."

He continued with "They Dance Alone" and "Roxanne." Finally, Sting and the band performed an impressive "Desert Rose." 

The duo rejoined yet again for "The Boxer." It wasn't a perfect rendition, but it was certainly a good one.

Minus Sting yet again, Paul Simon played a rousing "That Was Your Mother," followed by "Hearts and Bones." He then did two songs back to back, almost in a medley fashion; "Mystery Train" and "Wheels." He hailed them as his favorite songs before kicking off the acapella opening to "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." Simon closed his set with an energetic "You Can Call Me Al," the lyrics to which he altered slightly.

A very brief pause separated the encore, at which point Sting and Simon returned to the stage to do "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Every Breath You Take" and "Late in the Evening" together.

The band left the stage, but Paul Simon and Sting returned for one final encore, a duet cover of The Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved." The audience then provided a standing ovation as the lights came up after the great show.

Paul Simon and Sting put on a very respectful, under-stated dual show. Both musicians still sounded near the top of their musical game, despite being past their respective heydays. It was a fan-pleasing show, loaded with big hits by both artists and their previous bands. The sounds managed to mesh better than I'd ever imagined, to create a great sound throughout the whole show. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One-Mind Tracks: Love Lost

Valentine's day is over, so we can now fully celebrate the concept of "Love Hurts" without offending the happy couples. So today's playlist is a collection of songs about lost love.

While I Cry by The Monkees
A breakup song to rival any other, this Michael Nesmith-penned piece explores the fact that the protagonist was warned about the female antagonist ahead of time, but was so blinded by love that he just stumbled on.

Here I Sit by The Ronettes
Yet again, a forewarned protagonist looks back on a lost love they should have known better about. Plus there's that extra part where it was co-written by Harry Nilsson based on a dirty bathroom graffiti joke.

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid Michaelson sings of the intense pain of lost love that allows you only to "keep breathing."

Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats
The poetry John Darnielle brings to a piece is so perfect in this song, and for these emotions, that even if you haven't lost love, you can feel it.

Black Coffee in Bed by Squeeze
The memories, "the hurt and the anger and the joy and the pain" are all discussed in this tale of a former love.

One by Harry Nilsson
Made famous by Three Dog Night, this song, written by Harry Nilsson, represents a cross-section of the late songwriter's interests; sad love songs and numbers. Plus if you're part of my generation, you might remember this song from the episode of "Even Stevens" in which Ren loses her stuffed monkey.

Thank You For Breaking My Heart by Ben Folds Five
One of the most tear-jerking songs on the list, yet it has a somewhat uplifting message "thank you for breaking my heart//now I know that it's in there." Alright, so not very uplifting, but it reminds us that each broken heart just helps us realize we still have a heart to break (just like the Tin Man!).

The End of the World by Herman's Hermits
In a soft and beautiful way, Peter Noone delivers this Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee tune about thinking lost love is the end of the world (just a reminder, it's not).

Photograph by Ringo Starr
If you watch the Concert For George rendition of this song, you will cry your eyes out. Even as a single though, this song is a winner in the category of being sad (unless Morrissey is in the mix, but that's another topic).

She by The Monkees
One of my favorite things about The Monkees is the fact that this song is completely different from the other Monkees tune on this list. Different musical era, different genre and style, and even a different attitude to betrayal and loss.

Last of Days by A Fine Frenzy
A similar premise to "Keep Breathing," this song theorizes that the narrator will be lost without their beloved. I hope they came to their senses.

Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox
Had this playlist been a little less mopey, I would have included The Eurythmics' "Thorn in My Side" instead, but that seemed a little too positive amongst the rest of the songs.

Love is a Bourgeois Construct by Pet Shop Boys
My favorite thing about this song is that the narrator has totally not learned that "Love is a Bourgeois Construct," that's just the view he's pretending to hold, though he still expects his lover and relationship with love return ("so I'm giving up the bourgeoisie//until you come back to me").

Now I'm All Messed Up by Tegan & Sara
Out of all of these songs, this is the one that perfectly captures a feeling in the pit of your stomach, imagining your former lover with someone else.

Any More? I'd love to hear them.

And if you live in the area of Marion, Ohio, be sure to catch most of this playlist Thursday night at 7 on One-Mind Tracks on 97.5 WDIF.