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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A YouTube Debate, Solid State Style

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 12:57 PM

As Americans, it is of course incumbent upon us to look not to intellectuals, scholars or even leaders for spiritual, moral and political guidance, but rather, to our celebrities. It is especially important in this troubled and tumultuous political season and economic climate. And who better to inspire and moderate these increasingly grave discussions than our most treasured public icons, musicians?

When looking for answers to really tough political questions, in this case McCain vs. Obama, like most red-blooded Americans, I first turn Mr. Shockin' Y'all himself, Toby Keith. Here, he weighs in on Obama (this clip is sound only, and you can skip to the 33 second mark to get to the good stuff).

So it seems Keith is, surpisingly, behind Obama — or at least half of Obama. But to make an informed decision, one really needs to hear both sides of the argument. Representing the McCain camp, Mr. John Rich with his Fox News smash "Raisin' McCain" — Note: here, "Raisin'" is short for "raising" and is not a commentary on the condition of septuagenarian McCain's skin.

Damn. That was persuasive. Lots of flashy red, white and blue stuff, redneck machismo and a hot girl playing the fiddle. And I kind of feel like watching Monday Night Football to boot. Dude's really appealing to my sensibilities as an American.

But to be fair, I can't justify voting for McCain without hearing a musical rebuttal. Thank goodness for Brookfield, VT pop composer, Bobby Gosh. Gosh, 72, wrote the 1976 Top-10 smash single "A Little Bit More" made (sort of) famous by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show. Here, he offers his direct response to Rich's tune, with "Mama's Votin' For Obama." Take it away, Bobby.

Not bad. But this is why Republicans always win. They've got a slickly produced, high-energy, bumpersticker wisdom-laden rock video — with a hot girl playing the fiddle! Democrats get an old guy with a Casio keyboard, a drum machine and soccer moms holding signs. I'm no closer to a decision than I was when we started.

When in doubt, I find it's best to turn to old friends. In this case, Messrs Stuckey & Murray, a comedy duo from NYC who have a new vid out entitled "We Support Bush" — full disclosure: I went to high school with Jon Murray. As always, with S&M videos (not that kind of S&M, sickos), please view at your own discretion. If you're easily offended, click here instead.

And lastly, in a preview of this Thursday's VP debate between Joe Biden and Tina Fey, er, Sarah Palin, I leave you with this. Sigh.

 

God Bless America.

05451 hits 90210

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Is anyone else out there a "90210" fan?

Back when the original "90210" series aired, I was in elementary school. The whole "DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES!" movement happened in '93, when I was still a full year away from my own graduation - from 5th grade. And so being the responsible parent that she is, my mom ruled 'No' on allowing us to watch the teen melodrama.

Now that I'm 25, I'm catching up on the cultural phenomenon, Netflix style. I am currently on the last episode of Season Three. That gives me SEVEN more seasons to watch. God I love TV on DVD.

Of course, there's also TV on TV. As in, the NEW "90210." I have yet to check this out, because A. I don't have cable, B. I don't want to watch the second generation while I'm still absorbed in the first, and C. Does the whole "90210" concept work without the goofy 90's clothing? I'm not sure.

But last week, Diane Sullivan, Seven Days Art Director Extraordinaire and member of the Dirty Blondes, pointed out a great reason to check out Episode 4, "The Bubble". Its soundtrack features "Day I Die" by Drug Rug.

Much like the "OC" did, "90210" is heavily promoting the music on its soundtrack. While I always felt that weird familiar pang when songs I loved made it onto the "OC," I still supported the artists, and felt happy that the show would help them reach a new audience. So I think its really cool that some Vermont names are receiving similar celebrity on this new series.

Drug Rug is Diane's niece Sarah's band. She lives in Boston now, but grew up in Essex and used to be in a band called The Implants that some of you might remember. Here's what Diane says about Drug Rug being featured on the show:

"I didn't pay any attention to what was going on in the show 'cuz I was just listening for the song. Anyhoo, it was on for about a minute and a half. There was a little dialogue going on, but you could actually really hear the song. It was verrrry exciting."

Cool! The full episode is available online, but you can also check out Drug Rug's music on their MySpace page. The art featured is pretty awesome, too!

And if you're at all interested to see what other music the new "90210" is featuring, they have an episode by episode guide available here. For now, I personally remain partial to David Silver's budding rap career - 1994 style.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holiday! Celebrate!

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 1:48 PM

Good morning, Solid State! And Happy National One-Hit Wonder Day! Today, September 25, we honor all those artists who have achieved one (and only one!) top 40 record.

The top of my one-hit list includes "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, and "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Riders. And then of course there are the classics; "Rappers Delight" by Sugar Hill Gang, "We're Not Gonna Take it" by Twisted Sister, and Club Nouveau's "Lean on Me". Damn. The campfires that song has seen.

Plus, who could forget this little gem?

Leave your favorites in the comments, and happy celebrating!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

G-Music

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Do any of you Solid State readers have gmail accounts?

I do, and I will admit that I always scan the links gmail fills its sidebars with, even if I rarely click on them. I'm generally amused by what google thinks I will be interested in. As if the content of my emails could determine my life needs.

Well, today came an especially amusing link. My friend Amanda in Portland has been doing some research into the world of online dating. And this afternoon, using gmail, she sent me her conclusions.

Photobucket

I realize that is really hard to read, like, REALLY hard, but basically, Amanda was complaining that everyone on dating sites says the same things about themselves. For instance, "I like all music". Her repsonse was, "No, no you don't like all music. You like all the music on the RADIO."

And based on this email, gmail sent me a link to download the new Lifehouse CD.

Well played, gmail.

I hope you were all as amused by that as I was.

Now on with your days!

No Vacancy

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Hey there, Solid State. How's it hangin'?

You'll notice I'm writing in italics today. That's because I have something a little different on tap for your bloggy pleasures. Read on.

Every so often - like, every other day it seems - we receive unsolicited materials for publication from aspiring writers eager to get a foot in the alt-weekly door. Like most papers, we have a general policy of not accepting pieces we didn't ask for. Mostly, it's because we rarely have the space. Well that, and the majority of those types of submissions just ain't very good. However, once in a while, we get something from a writer that we really dig. This is one such case.

What follows is a piece submitted by a Burlington ex-pat named Sean Tierney. Since his time in VT, Sean has moved on to Florida's sunnier climes. But he was recently back in town and happened to catch a set by Burlington's The Vacant Lots, a band that's been on my radar for a while, but I have yet to catch live. After reading Sean's take on the band, I may have to rectify that sooner than later. Hope you enjoy.

Take it away, Sean.

I remember waking up in a sweat after a boring night of local music shows around the city. The air was muggy, and of course the air conditioning was broken. Music these days, I thought, is muggy and unsettling. Nothing is being said worth listening to, and the kids aren't all right. Every show I attend I try to drink wine or cheap beer until the band sounds good, but alcohol only makes the body feel good. It's wishful thinking to expect some generic college indie singer/songwriter to suddenly transform into Tom Verlaine, and shake the place into a frenzy. I had breakfast at one of these little mom and pop joints here in Burlington, with a friend whose been living here for a few years now. Even if the music scenes suck around the world, at least here the eggs are farm fresh. We were getting ready for another night of local music, hoping this time will be different, and it was.

After all the usual boring ensembles of trendy hipster wannabes got off stage, we were ready to give up. We started heading back to my friend's apartment, and came to a small cafe on the way. Before we got to the door I stopped and put my palm over my heart, because I swear I could feel it beating harder than ever. I realized it wasn't my heart, but the sound of a floor tom being whipped like Jesus; with his hands tied up and on his knees in the sand. It was blasphemy, if I was a religious man, to hear such a beat. We walked closer to the cafe door, and the guitar started with a rushing crash, then a chooglin' charge, then a sharp surf twang. Me and my Vermonter friend looked at each other without saying a word, and went inside. Without even a glance around to see what kind of place this was, my eyes went straight for the stage. I was shocked to see that the beat that stopped me in the street was coming from a small boy who looked maybe fifteen. The guitarist was tall and thin, with black framed Roy Orbison glasses. He could have been the drummer's older brother maybe, around 23 years old. He stood like Zarathustra might; come to send the evil veil, that's fallen over rock n' roll, back into its shallow pond with muddy waters. Muddy waters give a deep impression, in even ankle deep puddles. His name was Jared Artaud. He played a beautiful black Gretsch like it was a rifle, and he was charging into battle. I felt like I was transported to another dimension, a good dimension full of thought and meaning. I had finally found the band I've been waiting for. In 2008 it's almost a miracle that such a thing could happen. The scenes are too thick with ignorance to allow it. But here I was, in Burlington Vermont, listening to something that has the power to squash even the biggest ugliest egos. It was like a very loud thunder, with a pitch above human ears, a dog whistle, only I was the dog. I heard it loud and clear. I heard it like a tone never uttered in this era of cellophane rock n' roll stars.

Jared Artaud and Brian MacFadyen are The Vacant Lots. A two piece rock n' roll band, with influences from Bo Diddley to The Velvet Underground to Spacemen 3. There music is as a clear ocean, with no cloudy impressions, but real honest depth. Minimalism at it's best. As the sun rises and falls with two beats, it still gives life to the world. The Vacant Lots have taken the veil of a superficial rock n' roll era, and set fire to it for everyone to see. Bryan's drumming is the rumbling thunder that represents the primitive passion of the Native Americans. A beautiful set of floor toms and cymbals that are played standing up, ready to lead the rowers of a viking ship. Jared's guitar twangs and chugs and lifts spirits. It resonates with the purity and emotion of what rock n' roll stands for. His notes mean something, and so do his lyrics. His voice is raw and real, no gimmicks. Lines like "put your head on the floor now, and step on it" make you want to break these chains of conformity that are tied so tightly around music today. They even dig deeper to the chains we tie around ourselves, in daily life. When I first heard them it was like something powerful shook me by the shoulders, and said "Get It?" These songs could last the final judgment. He plays from a heart that pumps ancient blood. If you are sick and tired of the world around you, The Vacant Lots are here to destroy and rebuild. Listen for the raven's flight, the walk of God, it can change tides.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Phoenix vies for "Blockhead" status

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 10:58 AM

The other day Dan came across a great link, and knowing my NKOTB-Reunion obsession, passed it along. Basically, David Thorpe of The Boston Phoenix promised that if enough readers dared him to do so, he would buy and review the newest addition to the New Kids on the Block catalog. The readers fulfilled their end of the bargain, and so Thorpe was forced to fulfill his.

The best part is that Thorpe not only promised to review it, he promised to "write an enthusiastic review worthy of a PR clipping." The resulting copy features tongue-in-cheek lines like, "each and every member of the band is every bit as distinct andmemorable as the guy who preceded him, and the guy who follows."

Priceless.

You can read Thorpe's full "review" here.


Monday, September 22, 2008

And That's What's Good

Posted By on Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:27 PM

A little over a week ago — maybe even two weeks now — I received a lengthy, irate missive from a member of our little music scene who had big problems with yours truly. At this point, I'm fairly used to the occasional letter or voice mail — or anonymous blog comment — questioning anything and everything from my ability and credibility to my brain power and manhood — and no, I'm not kidding about that last one. Whatever. It comes with the territory.

But this particular diatribe was notable not because of what its writer had to say about me — there was a lot — but for what this individual had to say about the Burlington music scene. And no, I won't reveal the author's identity. And I quote:

"Burlington is a once great music mecca of the northeast that is dying into the college town mold it has fought for so long." Whoa. Now that's a serious claim. And with all due respect, I beg to differ.

Flash forward to last Thursday night at Nectar's and Club Metronome, the site of the "Bands of Burlington" showcase/Radiator benefit show. Now before I go any further, yes, Seven Days put the party together. And yes, I had a hand in its planning, especially where the lineup was concerned. But I'm not writing this to pat myself, or the paper on the back, although the evening was successful beyond anyone's expectations. But that had very little to do with me or my illustrious employers. It had to do with you.

All totaled, we raised $2400 for the Radiator, which will hopefully keep their lights on for some time to come. Divided by the $5 donation, that means 480 people showed up on a Thursday night, for an entirely local lineup. But here's the kicker: I hardly recognized a soul there.

When you spend enough time taking in the sights and sounds of the live music scene in and around Burlington, you tend to run into a lot of the same people. It's the blessing — and sometimes, the curse — of life in a small city. While many of the usual suspects were in fact in attendance, the bulk of the crowd that night appeared to be newbies. And they received quite an introduction to what Burlington has to offer.

Cannon Fodder — with the estimable Brett Hughes playing the role of Kelly Ravin on drums — kicked things off upstairs with a delightfully laid-back set of twang-tinged rock. For the uninitiated, the group is something of a revolving collective. And while they have a significant catalog of originals, they're perhaps best known for serving as the backing band for a host of local and nationally touring solo artists at The Monkey House. On this night, frequent collaborator Maryse Smith joined the band. I had never experienced Ms. Smith's music in person prior — MySpace never does an artist justice, I'm afraid. But I found myself thoroughly engrossed. She has a subtly engaging delivery and a slyly cool approach to melody. She's the sort of singer that people actually stop to listen to — that's a quality my high school chorus teacher would love: when you want people to pay attention, get softer. Make them work.

Scene stalwarts Swale followed. It had been a long time since I'd seen them — they've been a little busy starting a family and shows have been few and far between of late. I had (almost) forgotten how much I love that band. It was kind of like running into an old friend — who is now married and has a kid. Long my favorite female B-town vocalist, Amanda Gustafson sounded as brilliant and commanding as ever. Welcome back, guys.

Husbands A.K.A. — don't call them fourth wave — was up next and inspired a (semi)genuine pit near the front of the stage. The last time I saw these guys, they were a little on the ragged side. But oh, what a difference six months makes. Tight and energetic, they delivered blistering set of ska-punk that kinda makes me wish I hadn't hung up my pork pie hat and skinny ties. Their new album is hotly anticipated.

I was sort of shackled to the festivities upstairs as the de facto"stage manager." Basically, I was responsible for making sure we keptto the schedule — which of course, we didn't, really. However, I was able to sneak downstairs and catch a good chunk of The Aztext, who may have been my personal highlight of the evening. And I'm not alone — on more than one occasion during their 30-minute throwdown, I heard the following bewildered sentiment uttered: "These guys are local?" Yup. And they more than lived up to their growing reputation as the area's premier hip-hop outfit.

Zipping back upstairs — duty calls! — I caught the last half of In Memory of Pluto's set. Much like Husbands, they've seriously cleaned up their act, which was already pretty tidy to begin with. Standing next to Radiator co-founder Lee Anderson — who'd just arrived from playing a Cccome? show at Higher Ground — I remarked that IMOP might be my guiltiest local pleasure. They're sooo pop-a-licious. But so damn good at it. He seemed to agree, saying that Burlington needs a band like this. In a scene teeming with sonically challenging groups — like, for example, Cccome? — more universally accessible groups like IMOP play an important role in raising the entire scene's profile. Pop is not a four letter word, dammit.

The Vanderpolls closed out the night upstairs, taking the stage shortly after one in the morning. Unfortunately, a typically immaculate performance was wasted as much of the crowd had begun to filter out. As the guy in charge of the schedule, I'll take the blame on that one. I haven't played a show in a while and I suppose I'd forgotten than "headlining" on a Thursday in Burlington can often be a kiss of death. But crowd or no, the band exhibited admirable professionalism. And they really did rock.

Sadly, I missed most of the show downstairs. But I'm told by reliable ears that Lowell Thompson was his typically swoon-inducing self, Japhy Ryder brought some serious jazz-prog to the proceedings and Greyspoke more than filled the evening's jammy-jam quota. And Nectar's was pretty much packed from start to finish. All told, it was an excellent evening, and hopefully provided a healthy sampling for the next generation of Burlington music fans.

So no, Burlington's music scene ain't dying. Far from it. It's changing, sure. But it always does. And like it or not, this is a college town. In fact, it's a safe bet that current college students will form the next wave of Burlington bands — and music critics, for that matter. There is no "mold" that the scene is trying to break. It's just doing what any healthy scene does. Which is to say it's evolving — and on both sides of the stage, no less.    

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's Good: The Reckoning

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Hey there, Solid State.

I'm sure you haven't read quite enough about Thursday night's "Bands of Burlington" Radiator/Big Heavy World benefit at Nectar's and Metronome yet. OK, I'm lying. You probably have. Still, I thought you might like to know what's happening and when. So to that end, here's the schedule of bands for tomorrow night's throwdown (all times are approximate, since there's really no way this thing will go off exactly as planned):

Metronome
9:00: Cannon Fodder
9:30: Swale
10:30: Husbands AKA
11:30: In Memory of Pluto
12:30: The Vanderpolls

Nectar's
9:30: Lowell Thompson
10:15: The Aztext
11:00: Japhy Ryder
12:30: Greyspoke

Local comedian Alex Nief will handle emcee duties on both floors and we'll also have giveaways from Burton Snowboards, Sugarbush and Crystal's Spa. Sick.

Additionally, I'll be appearing on Jim Lockridge's Radiator show, Rocket Shop, tonight at 8 p.m. to talk about the show and spin some tunes — including new stuff from In Memory of Pluto and Husbands AKA!

If you can't make the shindig in person, WRUV will be simulcasting from Metronome, and we'll have a podcast from both floors available. I should have more particulars about that (ie. where you can get it) after the show.

So that's what's good. Come on out and support some killer local music and a great local cause. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Poll Stars

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 4:56 PM

In the wake of the stunning news — broken here first! — that Barack Obama hates white people and John McCain eats puppies, I have another urgent matter to bring to your attention concerning the three-legged race to the White House. And this actually has to do with music. And local music at that!

On Tuesday, November 4 — that would be Election Night — local favorites The Dirty Blondes are throwing a ballot box stuffing, mud slingin', baby kissin' extravaganza of potentially epic proportions. Dubbed "Exit Poll '08" the evening promises to be more political fun than a Minneapolis Airport men's room. Though there are still loads of details in the works, here's the lineup so far:

The Dirtminers
Alice Austin
Cccome?
Hot Neon Magic
Party Star
Blowtorch
James Kochalka
Nose Bleed island
Fish

In honor of this stirring tribute to democracy, I urge you to check out this clip from Saturday's episode of SNL featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin — because NBC are a bunch of corporate stooges, I can't embed the video. Trust me, it's worth your time.

God bless America (and The Dirty Blondes).

Friday, September 12, 2008

XWinonaX

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2008 at 2:52 PM

I was at the gym the other morning — you know, running my butt off on the elliptical and catching up on my back issues of People magazine — when I stumbled across an interesting tidbit. Apparently, Winona Ryder and Blake Sennett (of both Rilo Kiley AND Salute Your Shorts fame) are no longer a couple.

Really? Winona dated, and broke up with, another indie rocker? Shocking.

In case you don't follow celebrity gossip as closely as I do, Ryder's exes include Conor Oberst, Pete Yorn, Jack White, Ryan Adams, Beck and David Grohl. Among others. Many, many others.

I feel for these men. Back in college I dated a good-for-nothing guy named Ethan _____, who at first seemed perfect and each and every way. The summer after we graduated, a girl pulled me aside in my hometown bar.

"Hey, you dated Ethan _____, didn't you?" She asked.

"Um, yes," I admitted, curious as to why she wanted to bring it up.

"Don't worry," she told me, "I fell for it, too."

That is how I imagine all conversations between the members of the "Winona Ryder broke my heart" club. You know, like when they run into each other backstage at Coachella, or whatever.

Alright, that's enough catty celebrity gossip for now. On with the show.

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