TNB Music’s staff picks for December, 2012. All the folk, pop, electronica, hip hop and metal a stocking can hold.

 

With the November release of Adler’s Back from the Dead, former Guns N’ Roses timekeeper and notorious reality TV underdog Steven Adler has transcended the milieu of improbable comebacks and released one of the finest rock albums of 2012. At the year’s outset, few would have registered surprise that a member of the classic Guns lineup would record one of 2012’s most bracing releases; it’s just that nobody would have bet on Steven.

The thing about superstitions is that usually there is some anecdotal evidence, however tenuous, to bear them out. Take, for instance, the myth that misfortune visits in groups of three. Laugh if you will, but for Oakland’s Machine Head—arguably the biggest underground metal band in the world—a trio of recent mishaps suggests there just might be something to that old wives’ tale.

November 15, 2012

The one-story building sinks back into the row of small businesses along San Diego’s Adams Avenue, all but imperceptible to passersby. At some point, perhaps those jaunty 70s, when they couldn’t make concrete and tinted windows fast enough for the architects of the day, this business likely contained a cozy neighborhood bank, although the rushing torrents of commerce have long run dry. The sign above the front door now reads “Gerson Institute.”

Inside, the walls are spangled with colorful tapestries accented by warm, low lighting. There is not a deposit slip in the entire joint, although one couldn’t swing a celery stalk without hitting a book about holistic medicine on one of the clunky desks scattered about the lobby.

Is it that time again already?

Hell yeah, Dre.

Welcome to the 2012 holiday season. Are you ready for it? If you’re anything like the staff of TNB Music, you are most certainly not. But that’s OK, because once again, we’ve got you covered.

 

“Anytime you’re playing music for the crowd instead of yourself … you’re fucked.” … Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, in I’m Now.

Who the hell is Mudhoney?

I asked that same question of my students. I teach American history and music at a small college near Philadelphia. Last week, before mentioning Mudhoney, I asked the 18 to 20 year-olds if they had heard of Pearl Jam. Nearly every hand went up. I then inquired about their familiarity with Mudhoney. Blank stares. So, as with my students, I will provide you with a little Grunge 101.

Ten Surprising People Associated with KISS

Bob Dylan

Back in 1992, Simmons arranged to spend time with Dylan and work on some material, namely so he could say, “I worked with Bob Dylan.” Simmons took what was done and later created a song he initially titled “Laughing When I Want to Cry.” When working on his 2004 solo album, Asshole, he brought in the song for possible recording. It was reworked into “Waiting for the Morning Light” for the album.

Lou Reed

Another famous singer-songwriter, who had first won notice in the band the Velvet Underground. Bob Ezrin produced Reed’s controversial Berlin album in 1973 and was asked to help throw around some ideas during the recording of Music from “The Elder.” Reed came up with the title for “A World Without Heroes” and worked a bit on the song. Supposedly there is also video of Reed in the studio singing the song. Reed also co-wrote “Mr. Blackwell” with Simmons for the album as well as some additional lyrics to be used if there was to be a second album in the series. Speaking of Reed . . . .

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie SimmonsFor the past thirty-five years, author Sylvie Simmons has imbued the pages of music’s most important print outlets with an engaging style and her incisive views of the industry. The London-born journalist (now based in San Francisco) has written for the likes of SoundsCreemQRolling StoneMusic Life, and MOJO; she’s also had articles appear in The GuardianThe TimesThe IndependentThe San Francisco Chronicle, and other newspapers.

Beyond her proficiency in all things pop, Simmons penned a catalog of pivotal features on the emerging L.A. metal scene in the 1980s; perhaps most notably, she was the first journalist to devote serious attention to then-unknowns Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe.

Editor’s Note:

Welcome to the October edition of Head Candy, snuck in just under the wire.

Formed in those halcyon, hard-rocking 80s, Armored Saint wasted little time carving their mark into the arm of the L.A metal scene. Built atop heavy riffs, ambitious songwriting and gritty, soulful vocals, Armored Saint battled through the death of guitarist and founding member Dave Prichard, the unpredictable and ever-changing tastes of the music scene, being dropped from a major label and ever-eluding the critical acclaim that their body of work so richly deserved. Yet in the face of one punishing challenge after another, Armored Saint has defiantly soldiered on, recording multiple albums, cultivating a loyal fan base and converting their three decades of making music into one of west coast rock’s most enduring legacies.

So you’re sitting around with some folks discussing musical tastes. One says he’s into the Who and glammy rock. The other likes psychedelia.  A third mentions his fascination with death metal, but he also appreciates Britney Spears.  That third person doesn’t exist, does he?

He does if he happens to be Mark Brooks.

Might as well just drop the testicles into a vice and start spinning the gears. It certainly presents a less painful alternative to releasing a sophomore follow-up to a mega-successful debut. Call it the “sophomore jinx,” or call it “the hot, blistering envy of your critics,” but second albums carry a far higher degree of difficulty than any other album in a band’s career. The bottom of rock and roll’s dark, abandoned well is littered with the bones of bands who frittered their careers away chasing the success of a massive debut. If the second album tanks, the band’s legacy is reduced to a trivia question under the “One Hit Wonders” category; but if the band pulls off a compelling, groundbreaking follow-up, then someday they might just have a date in Cleveland.

TNB Music reviews an outdoor rock festival in Irvine and a Red Hot Chili Peppers show in San Diego.

EPICENTER FESTIVAL
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Irvine, CA
September 22, 2012

Fans holding tickets for this year’s Epicenter Festival have reason to be concerned. This past Monday night, Epicenter headliners Stone Temple Pilots channeled their inner Guns ‘N Roses and strolled onto the stage two hours late for a show in British Columbia. The half-hearted apology from singer Scott Weiland, followed by zero in the way of explanations, proved to be an exasperating precursor to their subsequent cancellation of the next evening’s show in Alberta. Although the band eventually issued a statement that Weiland was ordered on 48-hour vocal rest, speculation raged that perhaps there was another explanation. After all, Weiland has never been regarded as a paragon of sobriety, and with back-to-back snafus, as Epicenter opens its doors on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon, fans and promoters are left wondering if STP will even show up for their only Southern California appearance of the fall.

New music reviews and staff picks for September, 2012

 

AMANDA PALMER & THE GRAND THEFT ORCHESTRA
Theatre is Evil (Kickstarter Deluxe Digital Edition)
8FT RECORDS

Kickstarter: Believe the hype

In May of this year, Amanda Palmer launched Kickstarter campaign with a $100,000 goal to fund the completion of this album; she reached her goal in a mere seven hours. By the time the after-party yellow-book pages had settled on the evening of May 31, nearly 25,000 people had pledged just shy of $1.2 million. Palmer’s Kickstarter success built up huge expectations for Theatre is Evil. Does it live up to the hype?

If you can recall the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, then you have a crystalline picture of the present state of the music industry: absolute carnage on all fronts. Record labels have begun suing people for illegally downloading new albums, while paradoxically, more and more bands, such as Green Day, are streaming their new albums for free. Technology has leveled the playing field, allowing anyone with a MacBook to release an album, and the price of gas continues to push more and more up-and-coming bands off the road because they can no longer justify driving a hundred miles to split $50 four ways. It seems like nobody’s making a living anymore, except the lawyers and maybe the toothpaste companies buying ads on American Idol.

An artist would have to be plumb crazy to walk away from a well-oiled support team and try to enter this fray alone. Right?