Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gimme more

Time for the Thursday roundup, this week appearing on... Thursday.
  • Ringo Starr, fresh from his dust-up with Regis and Kelly (couldn't have happened to a more egregious pair of talk-show shills), plays a show with co-producer Dave Stewart and a seven-piece band at LA's House of Blues this Friday, January 25. Amoeba Music in Hollywood and KLOS 95.5 are giving away passes all week -- no guarantee you'll get in day-of-show, but if you're still anxious to catch the gig, it will also be streamed online at Ringo's site at 1:00 pm Pacific on Friday.
  • In another Hollywood/Billboard crossover, lead singer Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night will appear in the supernatural thriller House Of Eternity, a film set for release in the fourth quarter of 2008 from Fires At Midnight Films. Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate will also appear in the film.
  • Roxy Music, one of the music world's premier visual as well as musical artists, is set to release a two-DVD set of the band's best filmed material. The Thrill Of It All: A Visual History (1972-1982) is out February 5 on Virgin/EMI and includes 38 music videos, concert clips and television performances, many of which have never before been released, and beginning with the band’s first filmed performance in June 1972 at the Royal College of Art.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jeff's Quick Hits O' the Week

Another Monday, another batch of random observations and such:
  • It's January, which means one thing: American Idol. This year, I like Angela Martin, she really has what it takes to truly be....wait a minute, I HATE IDOL!!!! For 7 seasons now, that travesty of a television program has been foisted on the America public. You know what folks? It's nothing more than glorified karaoke, with singers who most of the time fail to stand out in any which way shape or form. Yes, some decent acts have come out of the program, but the majority have faded away into obscurity. The rest have found success, but who amongst them can be truly called a great artist? Kelly Clarkson? Daughtry? Carrie Underwood? Average at best, with a handful of catchy songs amongst them. Don't even get me started on the show's corporate sponsors, or their guest hosts, or their guest stars, or that dreadful "Idol Cares" special held last year...

  • The Writer's Guild strike has been rough for some, including myself with a few shows. However, some positives have come out of it. The Golden Globes being cancelled made me very happy, and if the same fate befalls the Oscar, this guy won't be shedding a tear. Even the Grammies have the potential to be affected. This country is obsessed with awards show, and none more useless than the Grammies. God forbid the good music actually wins an award, instead, you see the entire industry jump on the same bandwagons, lavishing praise on the album that every reviewer on the planet just adores. Sure some of the works honored deserve it, no question. However, let's be honest, their choices don't cut the mustard.

  • That's enough whining and ranting for one week. Let's close things out with an addition to Jason's post below. Yes, 2.5 million songs have been purchased by Rock Band users, while Guitar Hero III players have downloaded 5 million songs. But who are the top sellers? Metallica, as it turns out. (Those who are faint hearted and new to the game might want to hold off...just a tad difficult...) Now, these aren't songs you can put on an iPod, or a Zune, or even burn to a CD. There's is an incredibly limited functionality to these tracks; they solely play for Rock Band or Guitar Hero. However, users have found it worth it, and purchased 7.5 million songs. That states a lot about the continuing digital music revolution, and that when given a price and package that seems fair, consumers will respond favorably.

Guitar Hero-ics

I'm not sure this constitutes a new business model for the music industry, but it's definitely an interesting development...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bryan Master needs your help

Only a handful of artists have been featured as our Indie Friday guest more than once. One of those is the extremely talented Bryan Master, an LA-area singer-songwriter with New York roots who reminds me of a slightly poppier Shawn Mullins (and I think Shawn Mullins is amazing). In the past we've reviewed Bryan's LP Out At Sea and his EP Incommunicado. Now he's one of 25 finalists (out of thousands of entrants) in an LA-area radio station contest whose grand prize is a recording contract with Dave Matthews' ATO Records. You can view his wonderful video and vote for him and his song "Moments Like This (Don't Come Along For People Like Us)" here. Vote early, vote often, go Bryan!

Tuesday roundup: Blues/genes

Lots happening once again as we segue into this week's roundup. Today's theme is Blues and genes:
  • Eagle Rock Entertainment is preparing to release a CD and DVD of one of the late great blues guitarist Albert Collins' last live performances. Live At Montreux 1992 and its companion 102-minute DVD are due on March 4.

  • Proving that talent is at least partially genetic, AJ Lambert is set to release her debut solo recording, an EP called, well, EP that features five new tracks plus a ten-minute film. Lambert is also bassist/singer/songwriter of the NYC band Looker, the daughter of 60s pop diva Nancy Sinatra, and the granddaughter of music legend Frank Sinatra.
  • Blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd recently traveled the South with a documentary film crew and a portable recording studio to capture several veteran blues players on their home turf. The resulting album and film, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, has been nominated for two Grammy Awards (Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Long Form Music Video) and is touted as “…a blues fan’s dream…” The album and film features Blues greats B.B. King, Etta Baker, Gatemouth Brown, and many others. Trailer is here; iTunes link is here.
  • Justin Townes Earle will launch a full U. S. tour to celebrate his debut album, The Good Life, in stores March 25th. Kicking off 2008 with select dates in January and February, his schedule also features a showcase at the Bloodshot Records Party at SXSW on March 14th. The son of legendary singer/songwriter Steve Earle, Justin's genre is acoustic blues-folk with influences as diverse as his namesake Townes Van Zandt, The Replacements, Ray Charles and The Pogues.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"The cover of the Rolling Stone..."

Okay, so we didn't actually make the cover of anything just yet, but we did rate a mention in today's edition of USA Today's Pop Candy column/blog. Woo-hoo! And thanks to longtime Vault contributor Sean McCarthy for the shout-out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jeff's Quick Hits O' the Week

  • The New Year has begun, and with it comes boundless opportunity, limitless optimism, and any other warm and fuzzy thoughts you can think of. Here at the Vault, the New Year presents a chance for us to erase the memories of terrible albums, and to purge our LP collections of unworthy material. Let's say that five minutes from now, Doc Brown is going to pull up in the Delorean and take you back to a point this year when you made a terrible mistake in buying an album, and undo it. What terribly misguided abomination against mankind are you choosing?

  • For those who received a CD or perhaps an iTunes gift certificate for Christmas, and are pondering the multiple options available to you to listen to said music, do not automatically jump to the conclusion you need an iPod. A great alternative has arisen lately, that being Microsoft's Zune 2. As an Apple fanboy it pains me to say it, but the Zune is the iPod's equal in terms of hardware, and some may argue it's greater. With an iPod you have access to the whole world of iPod accessories and iTunes, but the Zune 2 is no slouch.

  • When artists die, there is usually a rush to snap up their material and lavish them with praise. I always find it ironic that the person isn't around to enjoy this renewed success, but I imagine most would be happy people are listening to their music again. Dan Fogelberg was a man I knew by name only; gun to my head I could not have named a single song of his. So, when he passed, I decided to throw in the Greatest Hits disc my Mom had lying around. Shame on me. I realized that I knew a lot of these songs, and they were favorites of mine as a kid, "Same Old Lang Syne" in particular. I may have been late in joining the party, but I don't believe Mr. Fogelberg would begrudge me that.

  • "Download of the Week": In a glimpse at a future review, I offer up "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles. Normally I am not one to to be influenced by advertisements on television, but whilst I was gorging on poorly played bowl games, a commercial came on featuring this song. After doing some research and reading up on the lady, I took a plunge on the album. Those thoughts I will save for a later date, but I can tell you that "Love Song" is a terrific slice of piano-pop/rock that will put a smile on your face.

Tuesday roundup

Just to prove we can do the roundup any day we please, here's another collection of the latest and greatest items to cross the DV blotter:
  • Iowa roots rockers The Nadas, reviewed by the Vault, made national headlines last month when frontman Jason Walsmith recorded and released the timely cut "Get Outta Our Town (Caucus Lament)." The band subsequently fielded calls from the political desks of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, and appeared on NPR. The clever DIY video is here.
  • One of the secrets of the surprise hit film of the Christmas season, snarky teen pregnancy comedy Juno, is that it features a 20-song soundtrack that mixes classic tunes with fresh new material, including eight songs from Kimya Dawson, who is featured as a solo artist as well as member of the groups The Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants. Classic acts rounding out the soundtrack include Mott The Hoople ("All The Young Dudes"), The Kinks ("A Well Respected Man"), Buddy Holly ("Dearest"), and Sonic Youth ("Superstar").
  • Sheryl Crow's new disc Detours is due out February 5 and you can now catch the video from first single "Love Is Free" on YouTube.
  • The Black Crowes return March 4 with the new album Warpaint and will do a special series of shows March 2 through 20 in which they will play the entire new album live. This swing will include a headlining show at SXSW in Austin March 15. Then they're off to play Australia and a couple of exclusive European dates in London and Amsterdam before returning to the States in May for a full-fledged summer tour.