Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Name Game: Crocodiles vs. Alligators

Photo by bobster 855 from here.

Has every possible band name based on the English language been used already? Probably not yet, but the tipping point may be coming soon. This series of posts is being created to ensure you can tell the which from the what.

Crocodiles are a much-buzzed-about band from San Diego who put out a little album called Summer of Hate. Flaunting influences like Jesus & Mary Chain and Echo & the Bunnymen on their sleeves instead of hearts, the band sounds like fuzzy joy that all the cool kids can like. Free mp3s for ya here courtesy Stereogum.

I Wanna Kill - Crocodiles

Alligators is a Seattle band coming at things from a much more smooth, dreamy hyper-melodic pop angle - sounds a bit like the pop genius of Nada Surf. Free mp3s here courtesy of Largehearted Boy. Unfortunately, there's another band called The Alligators that has received some attention. The band from Provo, Utah includes a female frontperson and is a little more herky-jerky indie pop than my Seattle pals. You grab some free mp3s here or here courtesy of You Ain't No Picasso and Skatterbrain.

Where Does It Hide - Alligators

As a bonus, here's some reference points for both Crocodiles and Alligators.

I Like What You Say - Nada Surf

Just Like Honey - The Jesus And Mary Chain

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Adrian Belew is Cooler Than You

Thanks to Matt Jordan at You Ain't No Picasso, I've been re-introducing myself to the brilliance of Adrian Belew. The two commercials below are odd mostly because of the weird looks on Belew's face - like he can't believe he's doing it, can't believe he's getting paid for it, or maybe just wants to laugh but isn't allowed.

It's not so surprising Belew was commisssioned to show off his animal sound mimicry: Belew has released about a thousand critter-related songs such as Young Lions, The Lone Rhinoceros, Big Electric Cat, Animal Grace, Tango Zebra, Cruelty to Animals, Monkey With a Bow and Drum, Sexy Rhino, Fish get the picture. The guy's creature-obsessed.

But like the monkey covering his ears in that second commercial, a lot of people have somehow failed to realize the man's versatility. Aside from lengthy sideman roles for Zappa, Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Nine Inch Nails, Belew has played on records by Paul Simon, Tori Amos, Crash Test Dummies, Michael Oldfield, Cyndi Lauper, and even William Shatner (!), among others. He's also released umpteen solo records showcasing his guitar virtuosity, unique worldview, vocal dexterity, offbeat sense of humour, multi-faceted approach to songcraft - the guy can do just about anything. He also really liked the Beatles, check out his version of I'm Down:

Belew's love for the Fab Four has shined through a fair amount on Belew's under-appreciated power pop band The Bears:

Another from The Bears - Trust:

Belew also managed to bring a pop sensibility to that most proggy of bands, King Crimson. Is it possible to make progressive music accessible to non-musicians like Scruffy the Yak? Yes, if you're A.B.

Even the somewhat challenging, eccentric side of King Crimson slowly became necessary listening thanks to Scruffy's brother Clean-cut Yak:

For a brief overview of Adrian's career in his own words, check out this video
Adrian's Life in a Nutshell:

For further info go to Belew's site, he'll even give you some free downloads if you go here.

Cheap Trick Get Sick, Go Old World Again

Cheap Trick has released a new single for Sick Man of Europe, which may confuse longtime fans who know that in 1972, the band's name was...Sick Man of Europe. As far as I can tell so far, it's a new song, but it would be just like these guys to repackage one of their own songs and sell it as a shiny new toy. But you know what? It doesn't matter when it was written, because it's the coolest thing the band's done since about 1980. Welding a gritty garage-rock feel to the band's natural power-pop tendencies has sprung a single that we can expect to hear on Little Steven's show, probably on Rock Band, maybe even on high school hallway iPods. New album The Latest is coming out June 23rd on cd, download, vinyl, and...EIGHT-TRACK! Cheap Trick may be the first band that actually put out albums on the eight-track format back in the day to do it again in the new millenium.

Billboard reports:

The Latest is certainly an album likely to curry favor with the Cheap Trick faithful, filled with anthemic power pop tunes such as "Miss Tomorrow," "California Girl," "Alive" and a cover of Slade's "When the Lights Are Out," Beatlesque songs like "Miracle," "Everybody Knows" and "Times of Our Lives," and the power ballads "These Days," "Closer..." and "Smile." "We wanted to make a record that sounded like 2009, get something that sounds like us this year," drummer Bun E. Carlos explains.

Uh, three "power ballads"? Now I'm a little concerned. And what's California Girl? Trick already recorded the great California Man when I was a wee pup. Maybe the band's going forward by looking backward, including a Slade cover - see below.

In other band news, Trick has also recorded the theme song for Transformers 2:

With Bun E. Carlos garnering attention for his other band Tinted Windows, it's safe to say the band's 2nd "comeback" into the public eye is complete ("The Flame" would be the first, lighters up). I was going to list their tour dates, but there's too damn many of 'em! Go here or here for dates. How old are these guys? How can they keep it up? Maybe they're robots - isn't that what Transformers are? (remember the evil robots impersonating Kiss in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park). Last time I saw the band was at the House of Blues in L.A. in '94 or '95 for the Woke Up Up With A Monster tour - not their best album, but still an amazing show. Not robotic at all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Watchmen: More than a classic rock nostalgia trip?

Further to my previous post on The Watchmen and questions concerning touring on old songs, drummer Sammy Kohn has indicated that some new songs will be floating our way on the Web some day soon. A message sent to Alan Cross explains:

"Our agent has received several requests for dates this summer and we’ve accepted a few. In an effort to not completely be living in the past we have some new songs in preparation that we plan to offer as free downloads in the coming months."

Curiouser and curiouser. The last cd the band put out was electronic-flavoured, but the last disc Daniel Greaves (Doctor) put out was pretty straightforward rock. Will new songs follow in the vein of Silent Radar, the last one Sammy Kohn played on? And how many is "some" - 2 songs? 3? An ep or a full album? Heck, I'd probably settle for properly recorded version of songs like Everywhere is Grey or Seven Times, songs I've heard live that never made it onto commercially available discs. At any rate, maybe the group's gonna stick around for a while, because a new website was launched - although there's not much on it yet.

Reil Munro, A Winnipeg film maker also has a band documentary in the works that will be completed in September. Here’s the trailer.

What's your vote for song for Danny to perform a cappella? I'm pumping for him to cover Valerie, the Kooks tune as covered by Amy Winehouse. Comment below.