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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Remember Iggy Screaming at Me...

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 3:41 PM

My memories of summer always begin with music. There's something about the warm months that creates a distinct and memorable period of time that's unlike any other part of the year. Maybe it's the fact that it's book-ended by long months of academic pressures (I'm only 21). Or maybe it's something to do with the green and the heat. But more distinctly than at any other time of the year, in summer, there's a vivid connection between the sounds I'm listening to and the people and places populating my life. My memories have a soundtrack. And the associations I make between the places where I play my favorite music has a grander effect; they define my entire memory of summer. I'm glad I live a place with such contrasting weather.

It's hard for me to separate the Charlotte Ferry on Lake Champlain where I worked for three months in 2008 from the psychedelic apocalypse of Comets on Fire's Field Recordings from the Sun or the space freak-out of Acid Mothers Temple's IAO Chant from the Cosmic Inferno. It helped that I weathered a couple lighting storms with my iPod plugged into my brain, my socks soaked, guitar feedback blazing in my ears. 

In 2007 I had a long drive from my home in Vergennes to Burlington to visit a lady friend. The ride gave me sufficient time to have Elton John's Madman Across the Water and The Stooges Fun House implanted in my head. Now every time I stop at the main intersection in Shelburne I hear Iggy screaming at me. As I sit and write this I'm listening to David Gilmour's screams on the Live at Pompeii version of 'Saucerful of Secrets.' And my morning drives through downtown Burlington are always filled with the carefree sound of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's debut or Asobi Seksu's Hush.

Music-induced nostalgia outdoes any other memory association ten-fold. Music is pervasive. I still spin Fun House and Field Records to the point exhaustion, and they'll continue to be a soundtrack. It's possible to have such a personal and profound relationship to music  — it's a constant vehicle for memory.

Solid State, what are some of your favorite or most vivid summer music memories?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm On a Boat … Really!

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Happy Friday, Solid State!

Things may be a little quiet round this little corner of cyberspace for the next week or so as I am embarking on a long overdue vacation. With any luck, a few of our freelance blog contributors will chime in from time to time — 7D intern Will Ryan, looking in your direction … ahem. But I make no guarantees.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass along this little video before I go. Enjoy, and have a wonderful week.

 


Thursday, July 23, 2009

This Just in: Trey is Loaded

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Er, I mean, he's really wealthy. Like, really wealthy.

According to several media outlets, and first reported by the New York Post, Phish front man Trey Anastasio recently purchased Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco's $2 million "cottage" in the Hudson River Valley. Guess ticket sales for the summer tour must be pretty brisk, huh?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Press Clip of the Day! Or, Just Shoot Me

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Once again, this is my life. From Higher Ground's website, regarding the Metro Station show on August 8:

METRO STATION
http://www.metrostationmusic.com
Metro Station is an American pop band, formed in 2006 in Los Angeles, California. In late 2006, the band signed a recording contract with Columbia/Red Ink. They are best known for their Top 10 Billboard hit single "Shake It" from their self-titled debut album. Popularized mainly by their co-frontman Trace Cyrus, older brother of Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, and Mason Musso, older brother of Mitchel Musso from Hannah Montana, the band has experienced a recent boom in their record sales.

Now I ask you, Solid State, what's worse? Using your own sexuality to move records — re: the ongoing Grace Potter thread. Or, using your little sister's? Stay classy, Hollywood!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fair Weather Friends

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 11:02 AM

It's still only July and I've already made my annual trip to the Champlain Valley Expo. Except this time I traded in the cotton candy and pig races for a night of American rock legends. We're talking bona fide legends here, not has-beens or might-bes like Foreigner or Kid Rock.

I am of course referring to last Friday's "Bob Dylan Show" with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. The fairground is a great place to see a big show like this. The open air gives you volume AND clarity. I love that Dylan is playing minor league ballparks and fairgrounds, rather than hockey arenas or stadiums. Or civic auditoriums. Luckily, the weather cooperated. And by that I mean at least the wind wasn't blowing while it rained. It didn't matter much anyway, because all the mojo working on stage distracted me from the sporadic downpours. I would say Mellencamp impressed me the most, but all three guys put on a good show.

Willie started things off with a rousing set of blues and gospel standards, as well as his own best-known songs. "On The Road Again" and "Always On My Mind" sounded fine alongside "Hey, Good Lookin'," "May The Circle Remain Unbroken" and "Moonlight In Vermont" — the last of which he proclaimed to be his favorite song of all time.

Mellencamp came out blazing with "Pink Houses" and played a generous mix of old stuff and new. His band was impressive; they followed his every move as he prowled around the stage like a … oh, forget it. Both the fiddle and accordion players added some nice color to their sound, especially during folky acoustic songs like "Small Town." They kicked out the jams on the last two numbers — "Crumblin' Down" and "Authority Song" — like The Stones circa '72. It was easily the loudest and hardest rocking part of the night.

Dylan's set was mostly newer songs with some old favorites at the beginning and the end. It was cool to hear a minor gem like "Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat," which he opened with. Another song I was psyched to hear was the slide guitar classic "Rollin' And Tumblin'." Just like his last time here, Dylan started out on guitar, playing lead for the first two songs before switching to the organ for the remainder of the show. He also threw in some tasteful harmonica licks here and there.

His voice has clearly suffered a bit over the years, and is now kind of a phlegmy groan. It might have sounded better if it were buried in the mix a little, since I couldn't understand what he was saying anyway. I didn't even recognize "Highway 61 Revisited" until the chorus. But part of that is because he never plays the songs like they sound on the records, even changing the melodies. There has been a lot of talk about this: some folks like it, some don't. I think he's had more success at reinterpreting his own material than other artists, like Lou Reed to name one.

A Dylan song is fluid, morphing through the years and tours — just like all the old folk and blues songs that he grew up on. Don't get me wrong, I do love to rock out and sing along to all the old hits. But that's why God gave us classic rock radio.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Work? What Work?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 12:26 PM

So, it's actually a beautiful day in the 802 — at least for the moment … stupid Summer of 2009 — and I seem to have a severe case of of the fuckoffs. It's not that I don't have plenty of things I technically should be doing — reviewing CDs, returning emails, putting together my column, etc. But the sudden burst of moderately not shitacular weather has essentially turned my brain to mush and my already questionable work ethic to something else entirely. I also seem prone to cursing much more than usual. Fuck.

Anyway, whilst avoiding my ever expanding to do list today, I decided to peruse the Tweetscape and see what sort of sub-140 character shenanigans my fellow Tweeps were up to. Amid the usual nonsense, I found that an old friend of mine, IDMPhoto, was tweeting a running playlist of albums he was enjoying. This is something I like to do from time to time as well, and my voyeuristic side always enjoys seeing what other folks are listening to — if only to marvel at the superiority of my personal tastes. Ahem.

In his his last post, IDM Photo informed the world that he had just transitioned from the Specials to Squeeze. A bold move, perhaps. But one that tickles my personal fancies. And really, go big or go home, right? I responded with the following: "Ooh! Pulling Muscles for Michelle!" in reference to that bands classic tune "Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)." I love that song. But until some years ago, I honestly thought the lyrics were "Pulling muscles for Michelle." Really.

In my slack-tastic state of mind, that got me thinking about other famous tunes for which people always fuck up the lyrics. Regular readers know I'm a "lyrics guy." So I hate it when people screw 'em up. Unless it's funny.

This led to a quick interwebs search which led me to my new second favorite time-wasting webspace (FailBlog will always be numero uno. Always.). It's called Kiss This Guy: The Archive of Misheard Lyrics. As you might guess, it is a veritable treasure trove of those tunes we all know and love, and that some drunk asshole is almost guranteed to slaughter when it comes on the jukebox at your favorite dive. A few of my favorites:

Robert Palmer, "Addicted to Love": You might as well face it you're a dick with a glove.

Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody": The algebra has a Devil for a sidekick eeeeee!

Steve Miller, "Jet Airliner": Bingo Jed had a light on.

Trust me, there are many, many more. So if you're struggling, as I am, to get anything done today, you could do worse than spending a few minutes perusing Kiss This Guy.

Is it five o'clock yet?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Digital Darling: The Self-Released Debut from I Come to Shanghai

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2009 at 3:37 PM

(Editor's Note: Solid State, meet Will Ryan. Will, Solid State. Will is a current intern at 7D as well as a local musician in the band Neon Magus. If you like what you read, you can check out more of his music musings at his blog, Psychpunk. -DB)

I Come to Shanghai's debut outgrows the stigma of self-released music, especially after using a unique visual style seen on their website and album cover. It is a modern pallet of innocence and satire; almost a sarcastic imprint of their home of San Francisco, CA. Or the self-proclaimed "Texachusetts" stamp that alludes to the duo's respective places of birth and upbringing — I'll leave that one up to you. The music covers the same type of thematic grounds, and it's very good at that. 

ICTS employs a Radiohead-homage "pay what you want" sales tactic that seems balanced upon those modern elements of music and style. But more power to you if you can pull it off without a major label following and six-album discography to back you up. It would be interesting to mark the "donations" the duo has raked in to date. It's probably nowhere near the pioneers, but I'm sure it's something.

Truth be told, the concept seems harmoniously humble and pretentious all at once, and the latter only because of the way music has been treated over the past decade — which is to say as nothing but a clusterfuck of ones and zeros. Don't worry though, for $10 you can still get a hard copy of the self-titled release. And having the ability to drag your fingers across some sort of printed surface, existing to package the music and give it a smile is a bit comforting. That might be especially true when there's no label to find stamped on the case (aside from the conjoined imprint of MA and TX as copyright). 

It feels right to find something this good existing outside the realm of MySpace Music, labels and ambiguous play counts. That goes tenfold because the ten tracks I Come to Shanghai have put together are very, very good. Like, this could be some of the best music I've heard in 2009, good. And I don't say that lightly — I've been having a pretty good year (Sunn O))), Mono and Grizzly Bear not to be forgotten). 

The debut itself takes a form of psychedelic pop in an almost disconnected way. The music seems to discover an almost ironic voice of pop structure and aesthetic before finding its way deeper into a less earthbound dynamic. Robert Ashley's voice on the album's opening, "Pass The Time" is gravelly and right against your eardrum, before the whole song is able to take a cathartic step back and lose itself within a wash of reverberation and nostalgic synthesis. It's a theme the duo employs throughout the entire album. And that fluctuation of gravity gives the whole thing weight and consistency.

The idea of structure in sonics rather than explicit verse-chorus-verse formula is apparent within the duo's layering of sound and use of production. Each movement is paced perfectly. Those moments where the sound sheds its skin and renders atmosphere are deliberate and memorable.   

I Come to Shanghai's sound seems seeped into the effects of the world. Nostalgia and a zen-like absorbance permeate the album's interior. It's very aware of the world within which it exists — allusions to Eno-eque synth treatments and vocal doo-wop harmonies included. It is dreamy and beautiful. But at times it's intentionally stark and honest. Contrasts are where the group's dynamic begins to ascend into the foreground and creates a lasting thematic and musical effect.

Darlings of the digital enforcement on music, I Come to Shanghai have taken the initiative to create a unique mystique on their own digital island of the internet. You have to give it to those who want to sit down and just write and record some good music. ICTS's debut is a self-released album. And it's one that doesn't need establishment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

She Said: GPN's Response

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 10:06 PM

This just in from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' Cado Burr: the official band response to former GPN bassist Bryan Dondero's claims on his blog earlier today. It reads:

Many of the statements made by Bryan about the facts surrounding his leaving the band are inaccurate. Since Bryan left the band, we have accommodated many of his requests for additional compensation which go above and beyond the original contract he, and all band members, signed upon joining GPN. That original contract clearly states all compensation any departing band member will be entitled to upon leaving the band. The additional compensation that we are offering him goes beyond any contractual obligations we have with him and we offered this in the hopes of continuing a positive relationship with someone that we have great respect for. We are surprised and saddened by Bryan’s recent show of public disdain for us, particularly since we believed that an understanding had been reached that was acceptable to everyone. Despite Bryan’s response, we wish him only the best in his future endeavors.

Well, that should just about cover it, right? (Cue chirping crickets)




Das Boot? I Vant Vone! An Interview With Broken Lizard's Kevin Heffernan

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 5:35 PM

Count yours truly among those very excited for this Saturday's Higher Ground Ballroom performance by comedy troupe Broken Lizard (Super Troopers, Club Dread, Beerfest). In advance of that show, I had the pleasure of speaking with troupe co-founder Kevin Heffernan by phone last Friday. We covered a range of topics, including beer, beer games, BL's upcoming movie — a restaurant comedy starring Michael Clark Duncan as a retired (and crazy) heavyweight champ/ restaurant owner deeply indebted to the Japanese Yakuza — beer festivals, comedy and why Super Troopers was set in Vermont. And beer.


Kevin Heffernan: I hear there's like a big beer fest in Burlington.
Seven Days: Ha! Yeah. It's a brewers' fest, actually. It's down on … there's like a waterfront park. And like four or five thousand people get drunk on ounce and-a-half beers.

KH: That's awesome.
7D: It is fun. But it takes a long time [to get drunk].

KH: When is it? Is it next weekend?
7D: Um … yeah. I guess it is. I think I have to work at it, actually.

KH: We've been getting tons of emails about it [from people in Burlington]. They're like, "You're coming and we're having a beer fest!" So I imagine when we come do our show, everyone is just gonna be shitfaced.
7D: Thaaaaat's a distinct possibility.

7D: So let's start with the new movie, The Slammin' Salmon. This is your directorial debut, right?
KH: It is. It's my first time.

7D: How did that work out for you?
KH: It was awesome. It was  a situation where we put this movie together, and it came together really fast. The last couple of movies we did with studios and we used private financing for this one. So it came together very quickly. Jay [Chandrasekhar] was committed to doing a Warner Brothers picture at the time, so he couldn't commit to this. So I said, "I'll do it." All along we've edited our films and sort of learned the process together, so it was a pretty simple thing to just start doing it. And there is a comfort level with the crew that we usually use and using the same actors and stuff like that. So, it was seamless.

7D: So I was talking to a friend of mine recently, who is a huge fan. And he was talking about the new movie and he said, "You know, I think it kinda sounds like Waiting 2. So if you talk to those guys, could ask them not to do that?"
KH: [Laughing] It's definitely not Waiting 2. It definitely has a strong Broken Lizard vibe. It's set over one night in this restaurant. So it's almost like a parlour comedy, you know? It's like a stage thing. What we did is we just went a built this set [ of a restaurant] inside of a soundstage and just went and shot for 25 days, in this one room. And it was really a blast. It was like doing a stage thing. But it is a little bit different than like a Waiting thing, in the sense that it's  more like comedy contained in the restaurant over the course of one night.

7D: Gotcha. Do you know when that's coming out?
KH: We're trying to seal the deal right now. We have a company that's going to distribute it in the fall. So we're supposed to sign the contract within the next week or so. But we haven't gotten the official word.

In the meantime we're going to keep showing it. We're bringing it up to Montreal for the Just for Laughs festival, like three days after we're in Vermont. Every time we have a screening it's been great. We took it to South By Southwest and had some awesome screenings there. It seems like fans of Broken Lizard really like it.

7D: Well, as someone who spent a lot of time working in bars and restaurants, it looks like a pretty great premise.
KH: Yeah. Well, between the different guys, everyone has had some good experiences. The funny thing was, it was all about these characters we put together. We got Michael Clark Duncan to play our boss. And he's kind of this crazy Mike Tyson kind of guy. He's really hysterical and the whole movie really centers around him terrorizing us.

7D: He's a pretty imposing figure …

KH: Yeah, he's like 6'6" and 300 pounds. And he has the deepest voice you've ever heard in your life. And he was like, "I just lost 80 pounds, actually." It was like, "Holy shit."

He's also a guy who had unbeliveable comic abilities. He's always kind of a heavy, so you never see him do comedy stuff. But he has some great comedic turns.

7D: I'd like to talk about Beerfest, if we could. That's my personal favorite BL movie.
KH: I'm always happy to talk about Beerfest.

Continue reading »

Behind the Music: Bryan Dondero

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 11:38 AM

So, remember a couple of months ago when Grace Potter & the Nocturnals bassist — and occasional Solid State contributor — Bryan Dondero left the band? To refresh your memory, when the news broke Bryan and I sat down for an interview, an abridged version of which appeared in the paper and which was printed in its entirety on this very blog. Though guarded in moments and obviously still struggling to make complete sense of the matter, he was generally candid throughout that interview and gave what seemed to be a fairly telling glimpse of life in GPN.

Um, yeah. About that …

In a post published on his blog today entitled "The Truth of Why I Left Grace Potter & the Nocturnals," Dondero unburdens himself, dishing a no-holds barred — and potentially libelous — account of his side of the story. To borrow a phrase, hold on to your fucking hat.

Among the highlights, Dondero dishes on the predicably sticky legal complications of extricating himself from the group (royalties, severence, etc), Grace's attempt to go solo and — *donning my best Perez Hilton outfit* — a blow-by-blow account of the conversation that ultimately led to his decision to leave the group. A snippet:

When I talked to Grace today, I said that I was leaving the band and“that I need to be explicitly clear about my reasons for leaving. I amnot leaving because I have lost faith in our music, I am not leavingbecause I have lost faith in our business decisions, I am not leavingbecause of the direction we have decided to go with our music or thebusiness. I am leaving because of what you (Grace) said to me lastnight. The things you said to me have wounded me beyond repair and Ican not recover from something like that. If you (Grace) really feeland believe the things you said to me last night, and you really arethat kind of person, then I can not play music with you.”

Grace: I feel like the things you do go against the grain of the rest of us.

Me [Dondero]: Like what? Give me an example.

Grace: This may sound vain, but the things you wear on stage… I thinksome of the things you do like putting your foot on the monitor or jumpon the riser are at really inappropriate moments.

Grace: I feel closer to Chuck and Bobby than I do you. (our tourmanager and front of house crew that was on the road for severalmonths, compared to the 6 years that I have known Grace)

Grace: You have incredible integrity, and I feel like I don’t, and your integrity really scares me.

Grace: I don’t think you will ever be happy in this band.

And that's just the first bit. It goes on for quite a while and gets much, much stickier. When you've got a spare thirty minutes or so, I heartily suggest reading Dondero's retelling in its entirety. Guess he finally decided to eat that peach.

No response yet from the GPN camp, though an email was sent to GPN's Cado Burr earlier this morning. I'll keep you posted …

In other Potter news news, there is a midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie tonight at the Sunset Drive-In.

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