Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Two Legends in the Studio

New York Dolls
What started with a reunion show at the Meltdown Festival in June of 2004 at the request of Smiths legend, Morrissey, will culminate with the summer release of the first new New York Dolls material in over 30 years. Next month, original Dolls David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain will enter an undisclosed New York studio with legendary producer Jack Douglas to record their first album since 1974's Too Much Too Soon. Completing the Dolls lineup will be Steve Conte (Crown Jewels), ex-Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa, Brian Delaney and Brian Koonin. According to the Roadrunner Records website, new tracks include "Punishing World," "Plenty of Music," and "Rainbow Store."

Since 2004, the Dolls have been touring steadily, playing festivals around the world including two dates in Ireland as special guests of fans the White Stripes. The band has also been headlining shows around the US including Little Steven's Underground Garage Festival on Randalls Island, NY, shows at both SXSW and NXNE and most recently the Across the Narrows concert on Staten Island.

The BusBoys
Brian O'Neal and the BusBoys are preparing a new menu of delectable treats to be served sometime in early 2006. Yes, the band that hit the big time after appearing in the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte romp, 48 Hrs., is returning with its first new material in more than 10 years. According to the band's website, "The BusBoys took rhythm and blues roots and fireballed them into a blazing, amazing multi-dimensional rock and roll career trail. Under the creative and musical leadership of founder Brian O'Neal, they lit up the big and small screen, full-tilted the concert stage and collected multitudes of fans."

Little is known about the new material or its exact release date, but you can bet that when the boys back, there ain't a thing you can do.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

News From The Great Beyond

San Francisco's Two Gallants have released a 7" single, entitled "Las Cruces Jail," on the Saddle Creek Records imprint. This release will also include an exclusive b-side. Two Gallants was formed in 2002 by Adam Stephens (vocals, harmonica, guitar) and Tyson Vogel (drums, vocals). The duo released their first album, The Throes, in 2004. "Las Cruces Jail" is also a track from Two Gallants' debut Saddle Creek full-length, what the toll tells.

Speaking of Saddle Creek, the label will be releasing a compilation CD to benefit survivors of the recent natural disasters in the Gulf Coast. Lagniappe - A Saddle Creek Benefit for Hurricane Katrina Relief features new tracks by many of their artists, including Maria Taylor, Cursive, Bright Eyes, The Faint and Broken Spindles. All proceeds from sales will go to the Red Cross.

On The Rise Records' The Post Office Gals will be embarking on a two week tour with The Great Redneck Hope. Many of the dates will be in the eastern half of the U.S. TPOG, from New Jersey, are also preparing for the release the band’s first record to be distributed nationwide, Esbeohdes, on February 21st, 2006!

Ace Fu Records will be releasing Six Demon Bag from Philadelphia's MAN MAN on February 21, 2006. This follows their critically acclaimed debut, The Man In The Blue Turbin With A Face. The band will also be embarking on a tour as well as releasing a CD-EP in 2006.

Pink Mountaintops have released a new 7-inch on Jagjaguwar, featuring the song, "The Ones I Love," backed with the song, "Erected." It is a prelude to the new PM full-length release, entitled Axis of Evol, set to hit the stores on February 7 in both the CD and LP formats.

Finally, the 4th annual Langerado Music Festival will be held at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida on March 11th and 12th, 2006. The line-up includes Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Black Crowes, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, The Meters, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Keller Williams, Burning Spear, G. Love & Special Sauce, Steel Pulse, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Drive-By Truckers, The Secret Machines, Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, MOFRO, Slightly Stoopid, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Brazilian Girls, Kid Koala, Lyrics Born, RJD2, Kinky, Rose Hill Drive, Brothers Past, Pnuma Trio, Lotus, and Mike Relm. The event will feature multiple stages, food and crafts vendors including an extensive selection of micro-brewed beers, a children's play area, and limited on-site camping. Click on the link above for further information.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Come-Ons

TGB recently had an opportunity to exchange emails with one of the hardest working bands in Detroit, MI. Please enjoy the conversation with Deanne Iovan of The Come Ons.

Tell me about It Came From Detroit. How did your band become involved in this project?

James Petix, the creator of It Came From Detroit, has been a big fan of local music for years. I'm sure we met at a show, although I can't remember specifically where. He taped and edited The ComeOns only music video. He's filmed probably hundreds of live performances from Detroit bands. I have a bit of trouble speaking to a camera, so my involvement will hopefully be limited. But he's interviewed a lot of people for his documentary and he's put a lot of time into the process and what I've seen so far looks great. I don't know how much interest the rest of the world has in the Detroit music scene.

From Motown to MC5 to Iggy Pop to Mitch Ryder to the White Stripes, Detroit has a rich musical legacy. If you were writing the chapter on the current scene, what would be included? How would you describe what is happening in Detroit today?

The current scene is a bit fragmented. If I was writing a chapter about today, I would want to talk about the White Stripes. I saw their show a few weeks ago and I thought it was great - as good as any I've seen from them. They continue to inspire musicians everywhere. The Dirtbombs write great songs and play exciting shows. They just played a Baht Mitzvah, which is a pretty funny thing. You know, I guess I would write about anyone here that was working hard and loving what they do.

On your four song vinyl disc, you covered Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." Describe how that came about. Is there a closet disco diva hiding inside your body?

The Donna Summer cover came about when our friend, Chris Sutton, was in town last year. He's played guitar for us on and off. He played with us in Spain, recorded the "Higher" 12" with us. We were just sitting around listening to records and Chris suggested it. I really like the bassline and singing was a stretch for me, a challenge. So, I'm not a closet disco diva. The band has always played dance music and disco does fall into that category. I'm not glamorous enough to be a diva.

What's the scoop on your new material. Title? How is/has your sound evolving/evolved? Where are you in the recording process?

We just finished mixing the new record with Jim Kissling at the Tempermill. No title yet. We're still arm wrestling over that. The material is a bit broader than past recordings. Still, some dance songs and love songs like "Hipcheck." All originals this time.

You've done several tribute songs. Are there any bands you've longed to pay tribute to on disc that you haven't yet? What song(s), in particular, would you record?

We did a cover of Velvet Underground's "Who Loves The Sun" for a German b-side. That was one that Patrick always wanted us to cover. Tribute songs just sort of happen. I don't usually set out to cover any specific song or band. I'd rather they seeped into our subconscious and stewed in our brains for a while until they come out sounding like a new song. I love to do new arrangements of other people's recordings. That's probably my favorite thing to do musically. We just finished mixing a Christmas single that has a fun version of a Peggy Lee song called "Don't Forget to Feed the Reindeer" and it's completely new. It sounds like it could have been a Come Ons original.

There is a long history of Detroit acts fronted by women. The majority came from the Motown days. Is that something that has ever crossed your mind, and how, if at all, do you honor such a history?

I love almost everything that comes out of Motown. The women of Motown were all wonderful singers, glamorous performers, definitely DIVAS!!! But they didn't front their own band or write songs so much as sing and put a personality on the songs. They had a lot of guts getting on a bus with a bunch of crazy musicians, touring and enduring heaps of obstacles. And that is respectable and deserving of a bow or two. That's not exactly where my head is at. I have to compensate for my diva-less-ness by writing better songs and playing an instrument. I don't know if I would ever be able to just rely on my singing and sparkling personality. I could maybe be a back-up for the Vandellas, but I can't touch Martha Reeves.

What are the top three things on your long term "to-do-list." Have you set a time table for achieving these goals?

I have a loose to-do list as long as I am working toward something. It's okay if I get derailed now and again. If you try too hard setting an agenda for your life, you'll end up disappointed.

When will the new material see the light of day?

The new record should be out in a few months. We have a Francoise Hardy single to be released on Larsen soon. I also mentioned early on about the German single and a 45 (RPM) of holiday favorites that should be out in a month or so.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Review & Interview: Pilotdrift

Water Sphere
Good Records Recordings

If the Electric Light Orchestra courted Queen, each deciding to combine their talents and expertise to create a Broadway musical, the resulting soundtrack would be Pilotdrift's Water Sphere, released on the Good Records Recordings imprint owned by Tim deLaughter and Julie Doyle of The Polyphonic Spree.

From the opening notes of "Caught In My Trap," one can conjure images apropos for each song. This climaxes with the epic "Jekyll and Hyde Suite," and concludes with the quirky, yet infectious and dramatic "So Long." When the curtain falls, one cannot help but search for a lighter, raise it to the sky, and flick away.

Kelly Carr (lead vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, and chief songwriter) has crafted the ultimate escape from the daily grind. Water Sphere, while not a concept album per se, has an introduction, body, and conclusion, which would make for a literary masterpiece. Combined with a musical proclivity that harkens bands such as Styx, of course, Sgt. Pepper Beatles, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Carr and Pilotdrift have shaped an opus that will have one screaming both "Bravo!" and "Encore!"

On TGB scale, Water Sphere earns an encore from the Sun!!!

TGB recently spoke with drummer Ben Rice of Pilotdrift.

Describe the band's relationship with Tim DeLaughter and Julie Doyle.

Well, oddly enough, our relationship has been more than the usual label/client relationship in the sense that they have taken us under their wing in a sort of way, and our relationship with them has far surpassed any business level, and has wonderfully enough become a relationship with similarities often found in that of a parent and child. And as strange as that may sound, I'm specifically drawing from specific instances to where they have been as supportive and encouraging to us as a parent would be. With eyes glazed over with tears, and a smile from ear to ear, we have seen from both Tim and Julie after many a show upon its conclusion. And having that sort of belief from a label is worth as much and more than promotional dollars and priceless connections.

Let's talk about Kelly's musical vision. Do you, as drummer, have tobe ablee to get inside his head to interpret that vision? Or is it simply, 'Okay, Ben, here's the song. Now do this.'?

I would say that as a drummer, I definitely try to get in his head to get a peak at the picture he's painting, and from there, I try to collaboratively shape the piece of the puzzle that is my own to the shape best-fitted for the picture that the song should create. So yes, it is more than just playing some beats here and there that sound cool. Ha. I definitely want to add my contribution that will musically give character and structure to the vision Kelly has.

'Water Sphere' is such a grand piece of work. Kelly Carr called it "a little movie rental store." What movies do you see when listening to the album?

I see bits of Pulp Fiction, bits of the X-files, bits of Vanilla Sky, and maybe a few scenes from The Simpsons.

When the band put these songs on tape, did it require each musician to see the piece as well as hear it?

Yes, most definitely. And that is due most in part that we write and record simultaneously. And if each of our contributions were nothing more than just blind, default, musical notes and rhythms, then the vision would never be captured in any adequate fashion whatsoever.

CMJ wrote, "Small towns sure have a funny way of causing little boys to think big." Would you agree?

I could definitely agree to that. I guess in any environment, especially those small in nature, one would have two choices: 1. Live in comfort, without any desire to grow beyond your boundaries, be it musically, mentally, literally, or spiritually; or 2. to have a certain drive that leads you toward all that this world, in a literal sense, has to offer, and what we as individuals can offer back to it. We've always chosen the latter.

I'm having a difficult time seeing this music transferred to the stage.
a. Can you replicate it?
b. Do you try to replicate it exactly? and;
c. What, if anything, do you have to lose to get a pure sound?

Yes, we can and do replicate it. And yes, we do try to replicate it exactly, and we do so successfully with the exception of two things that we sample, those of which being the electronic beat found in 'Passenger Seat,' and the children's choir found in 'So Long.' And if we could have that choir perform with us at every show, we would definitely do so! And as far as losing something so that a pure sound is not sacrificed, I'm not quite sure what inhibitions would be present towards a pure sound in our successful pursuits of replicating what has been laid down on tape.

Obviously, a band has to have confidence in what they do, but was this album a roll of the dice?

I wouldn't say that it was a roll of the dice necessarily, but despite our confidence both together and in Kelly's leadership, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that we were slightly worried, or better described, anxiously curious towards the response we would get.

Did it help that you are from a small town? Do you think you would have been lost in the myriad of sounds in the big city?

Honestly, it's hard to say for sure, but I could definitely see the advantages of being in a small town, for there is a certain obscure quality of location that makes a band's music and story very interesting. So to answer your question, yes, maybe.

The album is a tremendous accomplishment, and I wish you nothing but success. What are the plans for the coming months?

Our plans consist of hardly anything more than overwhelming feelings of exploding anxiety as we await the opportunities to tour and perform. But in this waiting period we're in, we're going to make the most of our idle time, and start working on recording some new material for a release in the distant future.
Good Records:

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Giant Drag

She plays guitar, she sings, and she claims to have been a weird youngster. "I think I hung a few (dolls) from a noose with some red nail polish "blood" on them when I was 13."

Weird or not, Annie Hardy of Giant Drag is unique. Come up with all the comparisons you can, but you will never be able to pin down Annie Hardy. As one half of the Los Angeles-based two piece, Annie Hardy, along with Micah Calabrese, have forged a sound that Spin Magazine described as "Fuzzy, haunting melodies that combine the Beach Boys with Mazzy Star and Nirvana."

(By the way, Giant Drag officially consider themselves a three-piece with Calabrese's left-hand playing keyboards.)

High praise, indeed, but one listen to Giant Drag's latest, Hearts and Unicorns, will undoubtedly assure you that they got it right. At the least, Hardy will brag about Giant Drag's album outselling the Spin Doctors in the first week of its release.

Here now, Annie Hardy of Giant Drag.

What music did you listen to growing up? Do you count yourself among the legions fortunate enough to have parents/older siblings with a passion for music?

I listened to a lot of what my dad listened to. He was pretty much the only person around me that had good taste in music. I don't have any brothers or sisters that I grew up with, so I was pretty much on my own. I started out with the Beatles, lots of classic rock and 'oldies' and then Guns 'n' Roses and then my dad got into grunge and stuff. Well, we got into it together, I guess. Meanwhile, my mom was listening to Barbara Streisand.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having only two musicians/members in the band?

The biggest advantage is when we write songs, I come to Micah with a new song or idea and it's finished within half an hour. The down side is not being able to do everything we want to, but usually we don't want to do anything else.

In listening to 'Hearts & Unicorns,' the boundaries in the music are limitless. Was that a goal or circumstance? Explain.

I don't really know. We don't think about stuff very much, we just do. Stuff pops into our heads and we orchestrate it.

Assuming you are familiar with Sylvia Plath, it sounds like she would have made a great friend?

I don't know. She might have been a bum-out. I like to hang around with funny people.

Who is Kevin?

A friend who hacked onto our website once and wrote some silly (stuff) in our news section. In my reply, I wrote "Thanks to Kevin for writing that stupid (stuff) on our site. Come see us play tonight as we'll be debuting our new song 'Kevin is Gay'"

Pitchfork claimed that "Hardy could be a far more interesting frontperson than 'Hearts and Unicorns' lets on." So, Annie, what are you holding back?

Nothing. That dude needs to come to a show, I guess.

Finally, I loved the interview between Micah and yourself on your website. Anything you would have wanted to ask him that didn't end up on the interview? Any you wish he would have asked you?

No, that is our version of a bio because bio's are so stupid. I guess it could use an update since it's pretty dated and a lot has happened since then.