Category Archives: Rock

Steve Vai offers statement on Prince’s death

I spoke with guitarist, singer and songwriter Steve Vai nearly a month ago for the Union Leader‘s Weekend section to preview their Generation Axe — A Night of Guitars concert at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.

Vai, along with guitarists Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi, will appear at the ballroom on May 7.

But in light of the news that Prince was found dead April 21 at his Paisley Park Studios in Minnesota, and considering Prince’s tremendous impact on other guitarists and the world of music, I reached out to Vai’s representative yesterday to find out how Vai felt about Prince and his legacy.


Here’s Vai’s statement:

“Deep sadness… Prince, you were extraordinary and we are grateful, but please hurry up back so you can reinvent music once again.”

Watch for my upcoming preview on Generation Axe for Union Leader’s Weekend section.

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Filed under Guitar rock, Music News, My work at Union Leader, Rock, Steve Vai, Uncategorized

Cathedral organist brings David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ to the sacred masses

Nicholas Freestone, an organ scholar at St. Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, England, decided to play David Bowie’s “Life On Mars.”

The video has since gone viral, receiving more than 1.7 million views on Facebook, and Freestone responded.

“I’m the organist playing this – it’s rather humbling to read your comments. Thanks everyone for sharing! x”

St. Albans is the oldest place of continuous worship in England, so it’s fitting that one of rock’s most revered artists has been honored on hallowed ground, with one of his most stellar songs.

See more links at the Telegraph.

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Filed under Art rock, artpunk, British rock, Glam Rock, Rock, Space rock, Uncategorized

What David Bowie means to me

I wrote these few notes on David Bowie at 2:30 a.m., after I found out the news that the longtime rock legend had died.
There’s nothing I can really say that isn’t going to be said or felt by every Bowie fan, but I just wanted to offer some thoughts about his impact on the world of music.

David Bowie color

Bowie was one of the first things I wrote about for this blog. His name or influence would pop up every now and then in stories, whenever art, music, culture and life collided or intersected. I wrote about his exhibit at London’s V & A in 2013 — where his unique fashions and music memorabilia paid a visit — and that time he invited everyone to check out his book list. When he tweeted to the astronaut Chris Hadfield after Hadfield performed “Space Oddity” in space, confirmed he knows how to stay relevant in every decade he’s lived through. David Bowie’s been everywhere, but always on his own terms.

The body of work he’s left us is immeasurable.
By not bowing to industry pressure and not compromising his sound or views, he’s created his own style of music, his own “coolness,” that no other artist has ever been able to duplicate.

I was lucky enough to see David Bowie at Lollapalooza in the early ’90s, performing with Nine Inch Nails. From what I recall, Bowie’s performance at Mansfield in Boston was a surprise — the crowd wasn’t expecting him. I admit I didn’t know a lot about Bowie at the time — I was too sheltered in my tiny worldview of music and didn’t understand his huge impact early on.

David Bowie

But that night, seeing him from a hundred rows back, solitary, standing still, the Thin White Duke in a long black coat, you knew with one look that he was in a class by himself, that you were in the presence of rock royalty. He commanded the crowd. It’s one of those concert memories that stays with you.

Whether it was the Jareth the Goblin King, Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, or whether you have strong feelings about the quality of “Modern Love,” Bowie owned whatever persona he embodied at that time. He stood by every decision he made, including his choice to have Blackstar be his farewell.


David Bowie arrives at the 11th annual Webby Awards at Chipriani Wall Street on June 5, 2007, in New York City.

So if you haven’t heard his music before or don’t know much about him, there’s a really good chance you’ll find a song in his catalog that you can relate to or reminisce about.

David-Bowie-vert Wartermark

That’s what made him great — his ability to reach across the aisle toward any genre he felt an attraction to. No one can really fill that void, but he’s left behind an amazing collection of music that we can turn to, to stay in touch with the weird in all of us.

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Filed under Art, Art rock, Artpop, Electro-pop, Experimental, Glam Rock, Photography, Pop, Rock, Space rock, Uncategorized

Bill Withers grants rare interview ahead of Carnegie honors

Bill Withers posing for a portrait around 1973.

Bill Withers posing for a portrait around 1973.

OkayPlayer has put out an interview with musician Bill Withers ahead of a tribute honoring the legendary musician.

The interview is part of several retrospectives about Withers, who penned the romantic acoustic classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” when he barely had experience as a musician.

Earlier this year Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tomorrow (Oct. 1), Withers will be honored at Carnegie Hall by artists like Michael McDonald, Anthony Hamilton, Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran and others. D’Angelo bowed out today due to unspecified illness.

In the interview, Withers speaks about his songwriting skills, his concerts, such as his Zaire event in 1974, and sampling. He also acknowledges he’s 77 and admits he fits squarely in that age group:

I would like to run and jump and roll over and stuff like that, but I don’t want to hurt myself.

Check out Withers’ scathing, honest funk-driven “Use Me”:

And watch him as he sings “Ain’t No Sunshine,” one of the most iconic songs of the 1970s. What has always been striking to me is the song’s simplicity, and beginning with just a minimal acoustic guitar melody sets the tone as the song builds, and then quickly fades. “Ain’t No Sunshine” seems built to go on and on, and the melody is so beautiful that you wish it would last longer than a couple minutes.

Maybe that’s part of the song’s appeal, but Withers packs in so much soul, from the lyrics to his pained voice to the tune’s rolling beat, it’s almost too much to bear. Like all good things, it’s over much too soon.

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Filed under Acoustic, Blues, Funk, R & B, Rock, Soul, VIdeos

Jack White gives a drum lesson in lead-up to Dead Weather video

Allow Jack White to teach you a thing or two about the drums.

In a story on NME, the solo artist, guitarist, singer and member of Dead Weather breaks down the terminology of the drum kit and how to play drum pieces from the band’s song “Hang You From the Heavens,” the video of which is embedded in the instructional video.

jack white drum video

White begins by saying one of the most important part of the band is the bass — the bass drum, that is. “Without this kick, we can’t kick IT,” he says in the video, titled “Drumming Technique, Design and Discussion With Dead Weather Drummer Jack White.”mickey dolenz drums

The video is part lesson and part tongue-in-cheek, as White mentions why Ringo Starr’s drum kit was level so fans could see him — while showing a picture of the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz behind his drum kit, which was not level. We’re not sure why he chose a drive-by on Dolenz here, but there it is.

Watch the video below — it’s educational.

Be sure to continue watching after they finish playing “Hang You From the Heavens.”
Dead Weather’s album “Dodge and Burn” is out Sept. 25.

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Filed under Punk-rock, Rock

Check out an unreleased Garbage song, “Subhuman Supersize Mix”

On Oct. 2, the 20th anniversary edition of Garbage’s self-titled debut album will be out — it includes all remixes and previously unreleased tracks from the rock band’s hugely popular album.
One of those unreleased songs is the blissfully long and grunge-y “Subhuman Supersize Mix,” which of course features Shirley Manson’s vocals — she can morph her voice from a growl to a pretty soar to a drugged-up cokehead. No one does it quite like her.

Credit: Joseph Cultice

Credit: Joseph Cultice

“Garbage” was originally released Aug. 15, 1995, and included the songs “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.”

While we’re in a new generation of music, and 1995 is in NO WAY like 2015, the band’s mix of electronic, grunge and rock sounds still resonates.

Check out the audio of “Subhuman Supersize Mix”:

From Manson:

This is a very special occasion for all of us in garbage. We are particularly excited about the upcoming tour ­- the intent of which is pretty much the celebration of a 20 year long affair between us and those who have loved us. ­

You can buy the CD and digital configurations starting Oct. 2. A double-vinyl LP will be available Oct. 30 in Europe.
Details on 20th anniversary “Garbage” release:

The 20th Anniversary Edition of Garbage will be released in the following configurations:
Garbage 20th Anniversary Standard Edition (Remastered) (12 tracks)
Garbage 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Remastered) (original 12 tracks + 9 G-sides)
-Garbage 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition  (Remastered) (original 12 tracks + 9 G-sides + 29 Remixes + 12 Alternate Versions):
-Garbage 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition  (Remastered)  (CD 1: Garbage original 12 tracks / CD2: 9 G-Sides)
Garbage’s debut album remastered from the original analogue tapes.
Includes- “g-sides” compilation.
Garbage 20th Anniversary Standard Edition (2LP: Garbage original 12 tracks)
Double LP of Garbage’s debut album remastered from the original analog tapes.
Includes download card.
Garbage 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (3LP: Garbage original 12 tracks / G-sides / fan zine)
Garbage 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – (3LP box set)
Garbage’s debut album remastered from the original analogue tapes.
180gm Vinyl – Exclusive limited edition fan generate zine.? Do you mean generated?
Includes “g-sides” compilation.
Includes download card and autographed photo of band.
UNRELEASED TRACKS (on digital super deluxe edition)
“Vow” (Joan of Ark Mix)
“Vow” (Stripped Down Mix)
“Vow” (Tuesday Night Club Mix)
“Fix Me Now”(Alternate Subbass Mix)
“Subhuman” (Supersize Mix)
“#1 Crush” (Early Demo Mix)
“Strokes of Luck” (Early Demo Mix)
“My Lovers Box” (Early Demo Mix)
“Not My Idea’ (Early Demo Mix)
“Only Happy When It Rains” (Early Demo Mix)
“Supervixen” (Early Demo Mix)

Their 20 Years Queer tour begins in October:

October 6, 2015
San Diego, CA
Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay
October 7, 2015
Oakland, CA
Fox Theater
October 8, 2015
Los Angeles, CA
Greek Theatre
October 10, 2015
Las Vegas, NV Blvd Pool @ Cosmopolitan Hotel
October 13, 2015 Houston, TX Bayou Music Center
October 14, 2015 Austin, TX Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
October 15, 2015 Dallas, TX South Side Ballroom
October 17, 2015 Chicago, IL The Riviera Theatre
October 18, 2015 Madison, WI Orpheum
October 19, 2015 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Theater
October 21, 2015 Boston, MA Orpheum
October 23, 2015 Westbury, NY The Space @ Westbury
October 24, 2015 Brooklyn, NY Kings Theater
October 26, 2015 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
October 28, 2015 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
October 29, 2015 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
October 31, 2015
Cologne, Germany Palladium
November 2, 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark Store Vega
November 4, 2015 Tillburg, Holland 013
November 5, 2015 Brussels, Belgium Forest National
November 7, 2015 Paris, France Zenith
November 8, 2015 London, UK Brixton Academy
November 9, 2015 London, UK Brixton Academy
November 11, 2015 Moscow, Russia Crocus City Hall*
November 13, 2015 Manchester, UK Academy
November 14, 2015 Edinburgh, UK Usher Hall
*Support TBC

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Filed under Electronic, Garage rock, Grunge, Reissue, Rock, Tour Dates

Foo Fighter’s “Million Dollar Demos” leaks on Reddit

Foo Fighters’ early version of “One By One,” what’s been dubbed “The Million Dollar Demos,” has leaked online.

According to Consequence of Sound, 11 songs are on the demo, and 10 were mulled for their 2002 album “One By One”: “Walking A Line,” “Tired Of You” and “Normal,” but just three were released. “Have It All” and “Come Back” were later leaked.

Apparently someone on Reddit released the download link — his only post — visit it here.

“One By One,” is home to their influential hits “All My Life,” “Have It All” and others. These newly leaked versions were reportedly recorded while the Foo Fighters’ were heading for a possible breakup amid strife between members.

“Currently jizzing in my pants” one Redditor commentor writes, over Dave Grohl’s death-ripping scream in “Lonely As You,” a song that varies greatly from the official version, below:

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Filed under Demos, Punk-rock, Rock

Foals blow the top off music videos for “Mountain At My Gates”

Have you ever been to the Mugar Omni Theatre in Boston–the one where Leonard Nimoy narrates as you fly over the city of Boston, passing historical buildings and waterways? Foals have done something like that with their new video for “Mountain At My Gates,” but it puts the control squarely in the viewers hands.

Foals have released an interactive, virtual-reality video for the song, the second single off “What Went Down,” out Aug. 28.

The video was directed by Nabil — who’s worked with Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Alt-J and Frank Ocean. The video was shot using GoPro equipment — (used in extreme-action photography) — specifically, GoPro’s spherical Virtual Reality technology.

Click on anywhere in the video and turn it at your leisure. Guitarist and vocalist Yannis Philippakis and the rest of the band is there, wherever you look. Suddenly there’s multiples of the same band members in different poses while they play. It’s unsettling in a way but makes you glad there’s technology out there to finally bring videos into the future. Make sure you watch it full-screen too.

In a press release, Nabil says simply:

“We are at the beginning of what we can really do with this technology. It has the power to transport you.”

That’s saying quite a bit, but they seem to have pulled it off. You can look almost anywhere in the video — just stare up at the sky if you want, but don’t be alarmed at the darting birds. It’s all very trippy and energetic and you really should check it out. By the way, it’s a damn good song too.

mountain-at-my-gates-foals pic

Philippakis explained how “Mountain At My Gates” evolved during a track-by-track rundown on the new album with NME recently:

“I’d recorded the beginning riff on my phone ages ago. At the beginning it had a baggy feel, but became less so with more work. The central image – ‘I see a mountain at my gates’ was from me getting more interested in seeing what would come out lyrically where there wasn’t a pre-conceived idea. Normally I write voraciously in books and journals, then harvest a lot of that for the record. This, though, came out instantaneously in the room.”

Check out a behind-the-scenes of how they shot “Mountain At My Gates”:

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Filed under Art rock, Rock, VIdeos

Titus Andronicus releases film “The Magic Morning”


Punk/indie band Titus Andronicus has released a short film, “The Magic Morning,” which incorporates music from his upcoming album, “The Most Lamentable Tragedy.”

The music stems from what he says is the second act of “Tragedy,” which is Tracks 7-12, or Side B of the first disc.

Singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles wrote and directed the video, which you can see below:

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the lyric video for the punk blast of “Dimed Out.” One of the best lines has to be “Don’t wanna buy an ounce– For me the right amount is the entire pound.” If you don’t smile at its rebellion, you’re missing something.

Also today, the lyrics to “The Most Lamentable Tragedy” are out on Genius: See it here, complete with annotations.

“The Most Lamentable Tragedy” is out July 28 on Merge Records.

titusandronicus record

Titus Andronicus on tour:
+@ on tour:
Jul 24–28 Brooklyn, NY – Shea Stadium [ALL DATES SOLD OUT]
Sep 11 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church*^
Sep 12 Washington, DC – Black Cat*^
Sep 13 Richmond, VA – The Camel*^
Sep 14 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle*^
Sep 15 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade*^
Sep 16 Nashville, TN – The Stone Fox*^
Sep 18 Dallas, TX – Trees*^
Sep 19 Houston, TX – Walters*^
Sep 20 Austin, TX – Red 7*^
Sep 23 Phoenix, AZ – Rebel*^
Sep 24 San Diego, CA – Irenic*^
Sep 25 Pomona, CA – The Glass House*^
Sep 26 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy*^
Sep 27 Visalia, CA – Cellar Door*^
Sep 28 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst*^
Sep 29 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel*^
Sep 30 Petaluma, CA – The Phoenix Theatre*^
Oct 02 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios*^ + in-store at Music Millennium
Oct 03 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret*^
Oct 04 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile*^
Oct 05 Boise, ID – Neurolux*^
Oct 06 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court*^
Oct 07 Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre*^
Oct 09 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock*^
Oct 10 Madison, WI – Frequency*^
Oct 11 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall*^
Oct 12 Detroit, MI – UFO Factory*^
Oct 13 Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern*^
Oct 14 Montreal, QC – Le Ritz*^
Oct 15 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall*^
Oct 16 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw *%
Nov 05 London, UK – Village Underground
Nov 06 Bristol, UK – Thekla
Nov 07 Brighton, UK – Bleach
Nov 08 Oxford, UK – The Bullingdon
Nov 10 Birmingham, UK – Hare & Hounds
Nov 11 Manchester, UK – Deaf Institute
Nov 12 Liverpool, UK – Kazimer
Nov 13 Glasgow, UK – Stereo
Nov 14 Leeds, UK – Beacons Metropolitan Festival
Nov 16 Nottingham, UK – Bodega Social Club
Nov 18 Paris, FR – La Mécanique Ondulatoire
Nov 19 Opwijk, BE – Autumn Falls Festival
Nov 20 Utrecht, NL – Le Guess Who Festival
Nov 22 Dublin, IE – The Hangar

* with Spider Bags
^ with Baked
% with Ex Hex

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Filed under Indie, Noise Punk, Noise rock, Punk, Rock

Torres, Garbage in mammoth tour

torres pic

Singer-songwriter Torres (Mackenzie Scott) will head out on tour with ’90s Garbage this summer through October. Torres is fresh off the release of her album “Sprinter” and its fiery single of the same name.

Garbage has one of THE alt-rock hits of the ’90s with “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.”

Put these two groups together and you have a mammoth rock tour.

Check out a live version of “Sprinter” on WFUV:

Watch the video for Garbage’s gorgeously sad “Only Happy When It Rains”:

TORRES Tour Dates (new dates in bold):

Thu. June 25 —Allston, MA @ Great Scott

Fri. June 26 —New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge

Sat. June 27 —Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle

Sun. June 28 —Washington, D.C. @ DC9

Tue. June 30 —Durham, NC @ The Pinhook

Wed. July 1 —Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Thu. July 2 —Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm & Brews

Wed. July 22 —New York, NY @ Terminal 5 w/ Courtney Barnett, Speedy Ortiz

Fri. Sep. 4 — Doreset, UK @ End Of The Road Festival

Sun. Sep. 6 — Vlieland, NL @ Into The Great Wide Open Festival

Tue. Sep. 8 — Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso

Wed Sep. 09 — Koln, DE @ Degebaude 9

Fri. Sep. 11 — Brussels, BE @ Beursschouwburg

Sat. Sep. 12 — Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik

Sun. Sep. 13 — St. Galleen, CH @ Palace Theatre

Mon. Sep. 14 — Milano, IT @ Circolo Magnolia

Tue. Sep. 15 — Munich, DE @ Strom

Thu. Sep. 17 — Paris, FR     @ La Maroquinerie

Mon. Sep. 21 — Bristol, UK @ Louisiana

Tue. Sep. 22 — Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute

Wed. Sep. 23 — London, UK @ Scala
Tue. Oct. 6 — San Diego, CA @ Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 7 — Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater w/ Garbage
Thu. Oct. 8 — Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre-Los Angeles w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 10 — Las Vegas, NV @ The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas (Boulevard Pool) w/ Garbage
Tue. Oct. 13 — Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 14 — Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre w/ Garbage
Thu. Oct. 15 — Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 17 — Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre w/ Garbage
Sun. Oct. 18 — Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theater w/ Garbage
Mon. Oct. 19 — Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 21 — Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre w/ Garbage
Fri. Oct. 23 — Westbury, NY @ The Space at Westbury w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 24 — Brooklyn, NY @ Kings Theatre w/ Garbage
Mon. Oct. 26 — Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 28 – Thu. Oct. 29 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Garbage

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Filed under Punk-rock, Rock, Tour Dates